Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators

Sens’ Anderson enters season as a wild card

NHL teams might hand out huge goalie contracts like breath mints, but the dirty secret is that the position remains arguably the most unpredictable in the sport. Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson might just be the poster child for such a thought.

Just look at the peaks and valleys of his career since escaping backup duty in Florida for starter and platoon with the Colorado Avalanche and Senators:

2009-10 with Colorado: 38-25-7 record, .917 save percentage in 71 games played
2010-11 with Colorado: 13-15-3, .897 save percentage in 33 GP; 11-5-1 with a .939 save percentage in 18 games with the Sens
2011-12 (all remaining games with Ottawa): 33-22-6 with a .914 save percentage in 63 GP
2012-13: 12-9-2 with a .941 save percentage in 24 GP
2013-14: 25-16-8 with a .911 save percentage in 53 GP

Excluding his shaky early years with Chicago, Anderson puts up solid numbers … yet looking at how much things vacillate (and considering that even in his best seasons, weird things happen like chicken-cutting-related-injuries), how much would you really trust the 33-year-old?

The wisdom in waiting

The Senators extended Robin Lehner, which might imply to some that the answer is “Not much.” Still, the organization has at least opened up the conversation about a deal for Anderson … yet maybe they should pump the brakes there.

For one thing, it’s pretty difficult to argue authoritatively regarding whether the Senators should expect to be cellar dwellers, contenders or a team fighting for wild card scraps.

With that in mind, would it really be wise to lock up two goalies coming off shaky (at best) seasons?

Besides, contract year motivation isn’t usually the worst thing for a netminder. The easiest example to point out is that all four netminders in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final were fighting for new deals. Cap Geek is basically littered with examples of goalies who’ve seen curious drops in production once they signed beefy long-term contracts. Why lock yourself into a situation one way or another, then?

It’s tough to forecast what kind of season Anderson will produce in 2014-15, so the Senators might be best served opening themselves up to all of the possibilities.

Malcolm Subban in stable condition, suffered fractured larynx

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The Boston Bruins updated Malcolm Subban‘s condition a day after the goaltending prospect was hospitalized after being struck in the throat with a puck.

“Malcolm Subban was struck in the throat with a puck Saturday night during pregame warmups. He was transported to Maine Medical Center and was diagnosed with a fractured larynx. He stayed overnight at Maine Medical Center and was transported to Mass General Hospital on Sunday for further evaluation. He is in stable condition and will be sidelined indefinitely. The team will provide additional details when they become available.”

Awful news, although at least he’s in stable condition.

PHT will stay tuned for further updates regarding the 22-year-old.

Subban did tweet a thanks for support:

A little context makes that a little sad, too.

P.K. Subban seems confident his brother will bounce back.

Fight video: Zack Kassian racks up penalty minutes, faces Brian Strait

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Pulling Anders Nilsson didn’t stop the bleeding for the Edmonton Oilers. Instead, it really just spread the “wealth.”

The New York Islanders are up 7-1, so don’t be surprised if there’s some ugly stuff in the final frame.

Zack Kassian is an author of at least one outburst, as he was tagged with 19 penalty minutes for a display that included fighting Brian Strait, as you can see in the video above.

It’s not the only fight stemming from the blowout, either, as Eric Gryba just tangled with Matt Martin.

Could there be more?

Update: The game ended on a muted note. The Isles ultimately won 8-1.

Isles chase Nilsson from Oilers’ net in less than 12 minutes

Edmonton Oilers goalie Anders Nilsson, of Sweden, makes pad save against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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There was a time when Anders Nilsson seemed like the best bet in the Oilers’ net this season. This … is not that time.

Less than 12 minutes into Sunday’s game, the New York Islanders roared to a 3-0 lead, and that was enough for Edmonton to give Nilsson the hook.

He allowed those three goals on 10 shots, so to be fair, that’s a pretty impressive chunk of chances (almost a shot on goal per minute).

Still, the Oilers were likely hoping to give Cam Talbot a breather, and instead he was rushed into action. Nilsson hadn’t played since Jan. 19, and he’s only appeared in three games in 2016.

As if this didn’t sting enough for Nilsson, consider the fact that he began his NHL career with the Islanders, who eventually decided he wasn’t worth keeping.

Ovi scores 30th as Caps beat Flyers for third straight victory

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Alex Ovechkin scored to join Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner as only players with at least 30 goals in each of their first 11 NHL seasons, and Matt Niskanen netted the game winner as Washington beat the Flyers 3-2 at Verizon on Super Bowl Sunday.

Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz replied for the Flyers, who suffered their second straight loss.

The win was the Capitals’ third in a row.

It didn’t always look as though Washington would emerge the victor, however. The Caps were out-shot 35-30 on the day and looked disjointed at times, finishing with 12 giveaways (Philly was credited with just five, for comparison’s sake).

But good teams find ways to win when they’re not playing especially well, and the Caps are a pretty good team — especially when Braden Holtby is on his game.

Holtby, atop many Vezina lists at the moment, had another terrific outing on Sunday, making 33 saves, perhaps none better than this one on Mark Streit in the second period:

Holtby’s counterpart, Steve Mason, had a solid outing as well, finishing with 27 stops.

Looking ahead, the Caps will now head out on a three-game Western Conference swing through Minnesota, Nashville and what promises to be a high-octane game in Dallas on Feb. 13.

The Flyers, meanwhile, will now kick off a three-game homestand against Anaheim, Buffalo and New Jersey.