Ryan Getzlaf

Getty

Video: Two streaks end at once as Johansen scores against Dubnyk

Leave a comment

We saw a case of “Finally, already?” on Thursday between the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators.

Finally: Ryan Johansen scored his first goal since his scary surgery during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, not to mention signing that big contract. And someone finally scored a goal against Devan Dubnyk, who was riding a three-game shutout streak.

Already: Johansen managed that goal just 49 seconds into Thursday’s game:

In a lot of cases of noteworthy players not scoring goals, the message is not to panic, and that’s true to an extent with Johansen.

The concern with the talented center is that he’s just not shooting much at all. He came into Thursday’s action with just 23 shots on goal through 17 games, not that much more than one per contest. By Hockey Reference’s numbers, he’s gone from almost two-and-a-half SOG per game during his Columbus days (2.30, with those numbers climbing as he established himself) to less than two per night in Nashville (1.94).

Some of that comes from the linemates Johansen plays with, as Filip Forsberg is one of the NHL’s most underrated snipers and Viktor Arvidsson is one heck of a volume shooter. Still, there’s a balance to strike; even the Joe Thorntons of the world should “keep goalies honest” by firing the puck instead of making a play every now and then. In that regard, Johansen reminds a bit of Ryan Getzlaf, as there’s another shooting talent there that you’d ideally like to see him call his own number more often.

Perhaps scoring a goal like this – on a nice play, but from an odd angle – might encourage Johansen to fire a way just a bit more?

For more on Dubnyk’s streak, check out this post.

This game ended up being a high-scoring affair, with the Wild rallying for a 6-4 win. Bruce Boudreau’s feelings: mixed.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Power Rankings: The Lightning, then everybody else

Getty
18 Comments

A little more than one month into the NHL season and we are starting to see which teams are good and which teams are … well … not.

We are still at a point where one or two teams could emerge from the bottom of the pile or fall from the top, but once the NHL season gets to Thanksgiving there typically is not much change in the standings. At least not much of a significant one.

With that said, there should be no question at this moment as to who the best team in the NHL is. It’s the Tampa Bay Lightning, and really, there might not be anybody close to them.

At times this season the Lightning have looked like an on-ice version of the Harlem Globetrotters and have just been toying with their opponents. Entering the week the Lightning have the best record in the league (three points ahead of the next best team) and own a plus-25 goal differential. That is 11 goals better than any other team in the league.

Two of their four losses have come on the second end of back-to-backs (with one of them coming against a team that had been rested for three days). Their current four-game winning streak includes a perfect road trip through California that saw them beat the Kings, Sharks and Ducks (two of those teams are excellent at the moment) by a combined score of 12-4. The fourth win in that streak is against Columbus, another likely contender in the NHL this season.

They have the NHL’s leading goal-scorer (Nikita Kucherov has a three-goal lead over John Tavares) and the top-two point producers (Steven Stamkos and Kucherov), both of whom are at least seven points ahead of the No. 3 scorer in the league (Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler).

As if the talent up front is not enough, their starting goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy has a .930 save percentage in 15 starts.

Right now in the NHL it is Tampa Bay, then everybody else fighting for second.

So where is everybody else at the moment? Let us take a look.

Positively terrifying

1. Tampa Bay Lightning — They are, quite simply, the best team in the NHL right now for all of the reasons mentioned above.

The rest of the best right now

2. St. Louis Blues — I had little expectation for the Blues heading into this season, largely due to their injury situation, but they still have the second best record in the league, the second-best goal differential, and one of the best lines in hockey.

3. Los Angeles Kings — Dustin Brown has found the fountain of  youth. He has topped 30 points just once in the past five years with 36 being the high point during that stretch. He is pretty much halfway to that total just 18 games into this season.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs — They hit a little bit of a rut a couple of weeks ago but have come back strong with four straight wins. What is truly impressive is three of those wins heading into the new week came without Auston Matthews.

5. New Jersey Devils — The Devils are … fun?! Seriously, what is this? Who is this team? Fifth in the league in goals scored and coming off of a 7-5 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Brian Gibbons, out of the NHL for two years, somehow has eight goals so far.

6. Ottawa Senators — Everybody complains about watching them play but all they do is collect points. It is not pretty, but this is pro sports. Teams don’t have to apologize for doing what they need to do to win.

Teams on the rise

7. Winnipeg Jets — Could this be the year the Jets finally turn all of that individual talent into something good?

8. New York Rangers — What a difference a couple of weeks can make. After a disastrous start the Rangers have ripped off six wins in a row. Big time move in this week’s rankings.

9. Nashville Predators — No team improved more in the big Matt DucheneKyle Turris-Colorado trade than the Predators thanks to the addition of Turris at the expense of nothing significant from their roster. The defending Western Conference Champs enter the week 7-3-1 in their past 11 games.

10. San Jose Sharks — Entering Monday the only team that has beaten them over their past seven games is the Tampa Bay juggernaut. Just when you think the Sharks are going away they always find a way to still be hanging around in the Western Conference.

11. Washington Capitals — Don’t look now but here come the Capitals! After a slow start they are starting to look like the team that has dominated the regular season the past two years. Entering the week 6-2 in their past eight games while only allowing 16 goals during that stretch.

12. Montreal Canadiens — The overall record still stinks, I get it, but like the Rangers the Canadiens are starting to erase all of the memories from a miserable start to the season with wins in seven of their past 10 games. That qualifies as a team on the rise even if there are a lot of teams in the league that still have a better overall record.

Teams still looking good

13. New York Islanders — Nikita Kucherov’s start has kind of hidden the fact that John Tavares is scoring goals whenever he feels like it as well. Mighty fine time for a contract year, eh?

14. Calgary Flames — Mike Smith is giving the Flames exactly what they need in net. If he can continue to do that they are going to be a tough out in the Western Conference with that defense and that young talent up front.

15. Dallas Stars — I may have underrated them a bit a couple of weeks ago. They are solid, and in a bizarre twist from recent Stars teams are 20th in the league in goals scored and third in goals against. John Klingberg is playing fantastic hockey right now.

Teams on the decline

16. Columbus Blue Jackets — I still like this Blue Jackets team an awful lot and think they can be right there at the end of the season when it comes down to winning the Eastern Conference, but they have slipped a bit in recent weeks with just five wins in their past 12 games.

17. Vegas Golden Knights — Being down to their fourth and fifth goalies is not helping, but they are starting to expansion team results in recent weeks. They still have a lot of forwards playing really well and producing.

18. Philadelphia Flyers — Brian Elliott has started to look better in his recent starts. With their top forwards going the way they are this could still be an interesting team if they can get that goaltending spot solidified.

19. Chicago Blackhawks — After starting the season 3-0-1 with 21 goals in their first four games the Blackhawks are just 5-8-2 with only 32 goals in the 15 games since.

20. Anaheim Ducks — Injuries have decimated this team this season and they just keep getting worse with Ryan Getzlaf being sidelined for another two months.

Still need some work

21. Pittsburgh Penguins — The schedule with all of these back-to-backs is hurting them. So is the bottom of the roster. The depth problems that plagued them from 2010 through 2015 are back in a bad way.

22. Minnesota Wild — It has been the Jason Zucker and Devan Dubnyk show lately, but other than them nobody else is really doing much of anything to help the cause.

23. Carolina Hurricanes — Everything about this team looks good. They are exciting. They play hard. They once again have dominant underlying numbers. But there is still something missing.

24. Vancouver Canucks — They had a great start to the season that seemed to have them exceeding expectations but things are starting to return to normal for the Canucks. The early start was a mirage.

25. Boston Bruins — A very top-heavy roster. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are great, but where else is the offense going to come from?

26. Detroit Red Wings — Anthony Mantha has been a nice bright spot so far this season with a team-leading 16 points. He has been especially strong lately with eight points, including four goals, in his past seven games.

27. Colorado Avalanche — They picked up some intriguing young players in the Matt Duchene trade but an already bad team ended up getting worse in the short-term.

28. Buffalo Sabres — They have scored more than two goals just twice in the past seven games.

29. Edmonton Oilers — Not to keep hitting this same point over and over again, but Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have more points than every player on the Oilers not named Connor McDavid.

30. Florida Panthers — Only two wins in their past nine games with 37 goals against.

31. Arizona Coyotes — In their first 19 games of the season the Arizona Coyotes have exactly zero wins in regulation. Their only two wins, as of Monday, coming by way of overtime or a shootout. That is … really something.

No one was safe in Kings’ wild comeback against Ducks

12 Comments

Every now and then, a game just sort of leaves you bleary eyed and confused, like you just watched an intense movie with an insane twist ending.

In the case of the Los Angeles Kings’ 4-3 OT win against the Anaheim Ducks, even M. Night Shyamalan would agree that these teams threw out an almost incomprehensible wave of swerves.

Mere hours after learning that captain Ryan Getzlaf will miss two months thanks to the unlucky bounce of a puck, the Ducks showed serious heart in taking on the red-hot Kings. They built leads of 2-0 and 3-1, but the Kings were just relentless in coming back.

This game seemed to have a bit of everything.

There was controversy in goal reviews, from a negated tally thanks to John Gibson‘s masked being knocked off to a clearer instance where a would-be Kings goal was ruled offside. Los Angeles just would not be denied, with shockingly rejuvenated forward Dustin Brown shaking off those near-goals in OT, ultimately setting up Nick Shore for the game-winner.

The game featured heaping portions of violence, with this medley being an appetizer that’s the size of a buffet:

(Click here for more of the violence … but somehow not all, because this game was bursting at the seams with bad blood.)

Ryan Miller was forced into duty as Gibson left the ice either because he was hurt, due to concussion protocols, or both. Here’s a GIF of Gibson getting his lid lifted:

Gibson isn’t the only injury situation to watch, as a low hit left Anze Kopitar shaken. The red-hot Kings star did manage to return to the game despite that event taking place in the third period, yet it’s still a situation to watch. We’ve seen players return from painful moments with the adrenaline firing, only to miss serious time once that passion levels out.

As the announce team mentioned, both teams will deploy ice packs thanks to this game (or extra ones, maybe one should say). The Ducks will also need to monitor Ondrej Kase because of this hit that got Kurtis MacDermid ejected, as another example:

Phew. Here’s a good rule of thumb for a wild game: if Jonathan Quick going after Corey Perry is a spicy subplot rather than the driving narrative, you’ve witnessed something zany.

All things considered, both teams deserved a standings point in this one. Tonight’s game is one of those rare moments in which the “loser point” feels more like an acknowledgment that no one should go home totally empty-handed.

Granted, the Ducks probably aren’t happy about squandering a lead to the hated Kings on the same day that they got bad injury news about Getzlaf, but they probably would admit that they worked hard in this one.

Now both teams’ medical staffs will need to work overtime, too.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks

Getty

The Anaheim Ducks can attest that injury luck can be cruel.

They already came into 2017-18 with some bumps and bruises, including a lengthy injury for bread-and-butter center Ryan Kesler. Tuesday presented more bad news: an even more important center (and Ryan) is out for two months, as Ryan Getzlaf needed surgery after a puck to the face left him with a broken cheekbone. Brutal.

Also brutal: their local rivals the Los Angeles Kings, who are on a hot streak and are unlikely to take it easy on the Ducks.

Enjoy the latest battle of California on NBCSN to close out today’s doubleheader. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

For more, check out this preview.

Ryan Getzlaf out two months after surgery to repair fractured cheekbone

Getty
4 Comments

The Anaheim Ducks have been crushed by injuries so far this season and the news did not get much better for them on Tuesday.

General manager Bob Murray announced that center Ryan Getzlaf underwent surgery to repair a fractured cheek bone that could sideline him for two months. Getzlaf has only appeared in six games this season for the Ducks.

Along with him their list of injured players this season has included (and in some cases still does) Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Ryan Kesler, Sami Vatanen and Patrick Eaves, who is currently sidelined after he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Getzlaf was injured back on Oct. 29 when he was hit in the face by a puck in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

When healthy this season Getzlaf has been his usual productive self for the Ducks with seven points (one goal, six assists) in the six games.

That list of injuries has obviously had a negative impact on the Ducks season and is a big reason they are sitting at 6-6-2 through their first 14 games and has them in sixth place in the Pacific Division.

Along with the update on Getzlaf, Murray also updated the status of Fowler and Kesler.

Fowler, who has been sidelined since October 20 with a knee injury, is still on his original six week timeframe while Kesler (sidelined since offseason hip surgery) is still expected to return sometime around Christmas.

With Getzlaf and Kesler injured the Ducks’ center depth is obviously depleted at the moment.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.