In an era of “loser points” and three-point games, it’s rare to see a team win a night as conclusively as the Toronto Maple Leafs prospered on Thursday.
(It must be especially sweet for Toronto considering how glum Tuesday looked.)
Most directly, they didn’t just beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in regulation, they dominated by a score of 5-0. They chased Andrei Vasilevskiy early in a game that got out of hand quickly.
If that wasn’t positive enough, just about every other relevant team failed to muster even a standings point. The Islanders, Flyers and Panthers joined the Lightning as key East bubble teams who ended the evening with a goose egg (with the Flyers suffering a defeat that was arguably more embarrassing that Tampa Bay’s tumble).
About the only competitor who made gains were the Carolina Hurricanes (3-1 win against Minnesota) and it remains to be seen if they’ll be a legitimate contender for one of the conference’s final spots. The odds certainly aren’t in their favor.
Speaking of which, here’s an updated look at the race for the East’s final wild card spot:
Final spot: Maple Leafs – 78 points in 69 games (31 ROW, 32 W)
Islanders – 77 points in 70 GP (32 ROW, 33 W)
Lightning – 77 points in 70 GP (30 ROW, 34 W)
Flyers – 72 points in 70 GP (26 ROW, 32 W)
Panthers – 71 points in 69 GP (26 ROW, 30 W)
Hurricanes – 70 points in 68 GP (27 ROW, 29 W)
Yeah, that really has to sting for the Maple Leafs’ competition. Read more about the bubble teams botching Thursday’s opportunities in this post.
Larry Robinson has joined the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues made the announcement Thursday, revealing that Robinson has joined the organization as a senior consultant to hockey operations.
Based on the comments of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, it sounds like Robinson will work closely at times with head coach Mike Yeo. It could also further help the development of an already impressive defenseman in Colton Parayko.
“Bringing someone like Larry in, I just think, helps our hockey operations from top to bottom,” said Armstrong, per the Blues website.
“His ability to talk to Mike Yeo about coaching — that’s one area that we don’t have on our staff is a former head coach. You can think you know what Mike’s going through but I don’t know what Mike’s going through. Larry does. So he’s going to be able to relate to him on a lot of the things that he’s going to go through.
“He’s coming in as a consultant. I can learn a lot from him, our assistant coaches can, Parayko can. There’s not an area of our hockey operations he can’t touch to make us a better group.”
Robinson was most recently the director of player development with the San Jose Sharks, however it was reported in May that he would not return to that organization for this season.
According to reports, there is substantial interest from other teams in Matt Duchene. That said, he remains with the Colorado Avalanche for now and will, it appears, make his preseason debut Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
Earlier this week, Darren Dreger reported on TSN that as many as eight teams have interest in Duchene, with the Senators aggressively pursuing the 26-year-old forward.
According to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, Duchene will be in the lineup tonight versus the Stars.
Trade speculation has been swirling around Duchene for months now. He reported to training camp last week, and has since said his status with the Avalanche is a “day-by-day” situation.
“I love playing hockey. I want to win,” Duchene told The Denver Post. “That’s the biggest thing on my mind. I’m trying to get better every time I touch the ice right now.”
Tough news for the Montreal Canadiens and prospect defenseman Noah Juulsen on Thursday.
The Habs have announced that the 2015 first-round pick is expected to be sidelined six weeks after suffering a fractured foot on Monday.
The Habs selected Juulsen with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft following his 52-point regular season with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.
This past spring, Juulsen appeared in two playoff games for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. He turned 20 years old in April and it seemed like the Habs were going to give him a serious look to make the NHL club out of training camp.
“We like the way he skates and his transition game,” said head coach Claude Julien earlier this week, before the injury was revealed. “He’s going to get a chance to make this team and if he doesn’t he’s not going to be too far away.”
Who says players don’t care about preseason hockey?
Matt Puempel and Nick Lappin are trying to earn spots on their respective clubs, so they know they may have to do the little things others aren’t willing to do to stick around in the NHL.
On Wednesday night, that involved dropping the gloves against each other. These two seemed to be in mid-season form when it came to throwing punches.
Neither player is considered a tough guy. Lappin had 17 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Devils last season, while Puempel has 28 penalty minutes in 79 career NHL games.
Here’s the video footage of the scrap:
By the way, the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.