James O'Brien

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 07:  Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of his teammates look on from the bench in the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 7, 2017 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

How worried should the Philadelphia Flyers be after loss to Sabres?


Things haven’t been going well for the Philadelphia Flyers since their 10-game winning streak came to an end.

Tuesday represented the latest setback, as Philly fell to the up-and-down Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-1. While the Flyers have gotten some “charity points” for their trouble here and there, the bottom line is that they’ve only won two games since Dec. 17. They’re now 2-6-3 during that span.

Much like with the slightly stumbling Columbus Blue Jackets, it’s silly to panic, though the Flyers have bigger issues than Columbus right now.

The best news is that, regardless of how the rest of Tuesday goes, they’re still comfortably in the East’s final wild card spot. The not-so-good-news is that their margin for error is getting slimmer.

The rest of January could also be challenging. Beginning with Thursday’s home game against the upward-trending Vancouver Canucks, the Flyers will play four of six on the road and five of eight away from Philly to end the first month of January. That isn’t a murderous schedule, but it’s not a cakewalk either.

Ultimately, the Flyers are still in a good spot. They still have some work to do.

Cause for concern? Canes hand Blue Jackets their third loss in four games

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 15:  David Savard #58 of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Victor Rask #49 of the Carolina Hurricanes battle for control of the puck during the third period on March 15, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Carolina defeated Columbus 3-2. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

When you experience unexpected success at the level the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 2016-17 season, people look for the other shoe to drop. Those types might be alerted to a relative slump for Columbus.

The Carolina Hurricanes scored twice in the third period to pull away from the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, handing Columbus a 5-3 loss. With that, the Blue Jackets have lost three out of their last four games after winning 16 games in a row (not to mention going undefeated in December).

Most will write that off as a blip on the radar. Especially with Sergei Bobrovsky needing to miss tonight’s game thanks to an illness.

The Blue Jackets showed some fight, too, tying the game back up twice (once when Carolina went up 2-1, the second time when the Hurricanes briefly build a 3-2 lead). The team notes that the possession stats came up mostly Columbus:

Jordan Staal and Victor Rask made the difference with goals in that final frame as Anton Forsberg gave up four tallies on just 27 shots (the 5-3 goal was an empty-netter).

The Blue Jackets began a three-game road trip in Carolina, with a back-to-back set in Florida (at Tampa Bay Friday, at the Panthers on Saturday). Overall, they’ll play seven of their next 10 games on the road. So, perhaps it’s a bumpy road ahead, but isn’t that also a great way to see just how “legit” these Blue Jackets really are?

Of course, David Backes gets in fight in return vs. Blues (Video)


There was a time when a sputtering St. Louis Blues might have expected David Backes to fight. They’re sputtering, and Backes fought, but it was in a Boston Bruins uniform on Tuesday.

Backes also received an instigator penalty and misconduct for dropping the gloves with Joel Edmundson, which you can watch in the video above.

As great as this game has been so far for the Bruins (with them currently leading 4-1), there have been some rough moments for the B’s. Adam McQuaid left the game and won’t return because of an injury, and David Krejci got banged up here:

(Krejci might be OK, but he certainly has had better nights.)

Two very different hustle plays from Oilers’ McDavid, Russell

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 12:  Connor McDavid #97 and Kris Russell #4 of the Edmonton Oilers discuss strategy against the Calgary Flames on October 12, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

With a mere standings point separating the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers – at least if you ignore San Jose’s games in hand – this is a fairly significant game between the two Pacific teams.

The Oilers are showing that, if it comes down to effort, they’re likely to stand a better chance than, oh, the last decade-or-so of Edmonton squads.

Two plays really make that stand out.

First, we have a reminder that Connor McDavid‘s blazing speed doesn’t just translate to points. It can also help the Oilers clean up messes in their own zone … and then turn ice upside down as he burns by everyone in transition:

On the other end of the spectrum, you have oft-criticized Kris Russell. However you feel about his overall presence (whether he’s a net-positive or something of an anchor), there’s little denying that he’s adept at blocking shots. That becomes clearer when a blueliner blurs the line between “blocked shot” and “save.”

Does any of this mean that the Oilers will beat the Sharks tonight? Nope, but they’re two fun examples of this team going all-out.

Blues a little too welcoming to Backes and Bruins, dominated early on

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Blues claimed that it would be “business as usual” on Tuesday as they faced David Backes and the Boston Bruins. So far, they’re not up to their best practices.

(They nailed the tribute part, at least.)

St. Louis started the game about as flat as you could get. Boston charged out to a 3-0 lead through the first period, holding the Blues to a mere two shots on goal. Yikes.

Fair or not, that slow start prompted the Blues to replace Jake Allen. Here’s the last goal he allowed:

Torey Krug didn’t take long to score on Blues backup Carter Hutton in the second period, underscoring the notion that it’s not all Allen’s fault.

Perhaps this will serve as a wake-up call for the Blues, as they’ve been playing better so far in the middle frame, including getting a goal from Colton Parayko.