Getty

Goalie nods: As Nilsson trade winds swirl, Sabres give Ullmark season debut

3 Comments

Netminding duties in Buffalo have been handled exclusively by Robin Lehner and Anders Nilsson this year but, tonight, a third goalie will get in the mix.

Linus Ullmark, the 23-year-old Rochester farmhand, will make his first start of the season when the Sabres host the Preds. Ullmark spent considerable time at the NHL level last season — starting 20 games — but was sent to the American League this year for further seasoning.

He’s played quite a bit, going 20-20-2 with a 2.90 GAA and .910 save percentage, and the timing of this start has raised some eyebrows. The Sabres are believed to be in seller mode heading into tomorrow’s deadline, and there’s been a lot of talk around Nilsson, who’s a pending UFA.

For the Preds, Pekka Rinne is the likely starter in goal.

Elsewhere…

Mike Smith returns from a two-game absence (illness) to start in Boston. The Bruins will counter with Tuukka Rask, who has won four of his last five starts.

— Marquee matchup on Broadway, as Braden Holtby and the Caps take on Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers. This will, of course, be Kevin Shattenkirk‘s debut in a Washington uniform.

Steve Mason will start for the first time in seven games when the Flyers host the Avs at Wells Fargo. No word yet on a Colorado starter.

— Another really good matchup in Montreal, as Sergei Bobrovsky takes on Carey Price in a battle of former Vezina winners.

Cam Ward gets the nod in Florida, looking to snap a personal four-game losing streak. He’ll be up against Roberto Luongo, who has also struggled lately. He’s allowed 18 goals on his last 139 shots faced, for a poor .871 save percentage.

Connor Hellebuyck makes his seventh straight start for the Jets, who host the Wild. Darcy Kuemper will give Devan Dubnyk the night off, after Dubnyk beat the Kings on Monday.

— No surprises for Edmonton, as the Oilers will once again start Cam Talbot for the NHL-leading 57th time. Talbot will face Jake Allen.

Matt Murray gets the nod for Pittsburgh, fresh off a 36-save win over the Flyers in Saturday’s Stadium Series game. It looks as though the host Stars will go with Antti Niemi.

— The Kings didn’t have a morning skate, but it’s possible Ben Bishop makes his team debut when L.A. takes on the Flames in Calgary. Jonathan Quick played last night against Minnesota and looked rusty in a loss. For the Flames, Brian Elliott gets the start.

— Petr¬† Mrazek looks likely to start for Detroit tonight in Vancouver, while the Canucks are expected to go with Ryan Miller. Jacob Markstrom is out with an injury suffered during Sunday’s Super Skills contest.

— Finally, Frederik Andersen faces an old foe as the Leafs take on the Sharks in San Jose tonight. Martin Jones will be in the other net.

PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin will be rocking incredible custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

Leave a comment

–With only a few weeks remaining in the regular season, we’re starting to get a better idea of who will be in and out of the playoffs. With that being said, The Hockey News put together a list of five players that could benefit from playing on another team. Devils goalie Cory Schneider is at the top of the list. Schneider’s been solid since joining New Jersey, but the team hasn’t had much success. (The Hockey News)

Erik Karlsson has always been known as an offensive defenseman, but this year, he’s made several defensive improvements to his game. The changes have made him so effective that his head coach, Guy Boucher, believes he should be in the running for a Hart Trophy. (Canadian Press)

–The Washington Capitals will be hosting a Russian Heritage Night tonight. During the pre-game warmup, Alex Ovechkin will be rocking these custom skates honoring his home land and his American home. He’ll be auctioning off the skates too. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

–The New York Islanders trailed the Rangers 2-1 heading into the third period, but thanks to goals by Nikolay Kulemin and Andrew Ladd, they were able to come out on top. You can watch the highlights from last night’s “Battle of New York” by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Vegas GM George McPhee chatted with Sportsnet’s Gene Principe about being able to build a team from scratch. McPhee called the experience “fantastic” and “really neat”. He also discussed his vision for the team and how he’s approaching the expansion draft. (Sportsnet)

–The Detroit Red Wings have been a model franchise for quite some time, but they’ve on the verge of going through some pretty big changes. First, Joe Louis Arena will be closing its doors and secondly, their long playoff streak will be coming to an end this season. Sports Illustrated takes a deeper look at the old barn and the third-longest playoff streak in pro sports. (Sports Illustrated)

–Many people feel like the Calder Trophy race will come down to Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, but Bob McKenzie says there’s more than two worthy candidates because Zach Werenski has been equally good this season. But who is McKenzie leaning toward?

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

Getty
1 Comment

Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

1 Comment

Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

5 Comments

The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.