James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Video: Ryan Miller’s falling glove save vs. Corey Perry

The bounces haven’t been going Corey Perry‘s way very often so far in 2016-17.

You can back up this statement in plenty of ways.

Despite firing 110 shots on goal (tied for 19th-most in the NHL), Perry has just seven goals, giving him a 6.4 shooting percentage. That isn’t even half as good as his career average of 13.3 percent.

He’s been especially snake-bitten lately, managing two assists but zero goals despite firing eight shots on goal in his past two games. Perry’s normally a virtual lock for 30+ goals in any non-lockout-season, but he’ll really need some bounces and a blistering finish to flirt with his usual goal production this year.

If you’d rather not dive into those numbers, maybe you merely need to tell the story of the season for the Anaheim Ducks’ power forward by playing Ryan Miller‘s glove save (and Perry’s reaction) on an endless loop.

Check it out in the video above, or if you prefer, this GIF:

The Canucks needed that save, too, as they eventually were able to tie Friday’s game and beat the Ducks 3-2 in overtime. Miller stopped 24 out of 26 shots overall.

No one claims Jaroslav Halak, so he’s off to the AHL

Getty
7 Comments

The New York Islanders announced that embattled goalie Jaroslav Halak cleared waivers on Saturday, so he’ll report to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

One would assume that the league’s other 29 teams simply believed that Halak isn’t worth the risk considering his pricey cap hit ($4.5 million), especially since that deal won’t expire until after the 2017-18 season.

Meanwhile, this likely comes as a relief for the Islanders, even if it’s far from a pretty situation.

Halak’s agent made noise about the awkward three-goalie rotation that the Islanders have been employing for some time, a measure that reportedly prompted GM Garth Snow to send out an email fielding trade offers for the veteran goalie.

Snow either received no takers or wasn’t happy with the offers, as the Islanders risked losing him to a waiver claim.

Instead, Halak is bound for Bridgeport while the Islanders are down to two goalies (Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube). They’ll also save a decent chunk of change:

Overall, the last few months have been quite unkind to both Halak and the Islanders. Don’t be shocked if this is far from the final chapter in this dramatic (and often dismal) saga.

Clash of winning streaks between Wild, Blue Jackets is indeed historic

Getty
10 Comments

Sometimes people get very specific in order to hype something as truly unique. The clash between the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 14-game winning streak and the Minnesota Wild’s 12-gamer really is special, though.

Consider this: Elias Sports Bureau reports that we’ve never seen a game between two teams on active winning streaks of 12+ games in NHL history … and that hasn’t happened in NFL, NBA or MLB history, either.

Actually, they cast the net wider to really drive home how unusual that New Year’s Eve game in Minnesota really is:

If the team’s two starting goalies end up playing as expected, it will be a pretty rare duel between red-hot netminders, as well. Sergei Bobrovsky is currently on a 12-game winning streak while Devan Dubnyk has won 10 in a row.

Rob Mixer’s preview adds a few other bits of history to the mix:

The Blue Jackets have won 14 straight games. That’s a franchise record. The Wild have won 12 straight games, also a franchise record. Columbus’ 14-game streak is tied for fourth-longest in the 99-year history of the NHL, and only four teams have boasted a longer streak than what the Blue Jackets are currently on. The last team to win 15 in a row was the 2012-13 Pittsburgh Penguins, and they also own the NHL’s record-long win streak of 17, which they accomplished during the 1992-93 season.

Special stuff.

NHL.com provided some great tidbits on the two teams’ streaks, including pointing out moments when each run could have ended. That article points out that the Blue Jackets outscored their opponents 55-24 (+31) during their 14-game winning streak while the Wild generated a 46-22 differential (+24).

All the linked bits are worth a gander, but if you’d rather just watch a video that captures some of the teams’ best moments from their streaks, you’ll enjoy this as well:

Long story short, if you’re a hockey fan and you’re not working this game into your plans tonight, then other fans might give you the same look John Tortorella shot toward someone recording with a cell phone:

You’ve been warned.

Aaron Dell might just earn himself more opportunities with Sharks

Getty

There’s no discussion about it: Martin Jones is the unquestioned man in the San Jose Sharks’ net. After nights like Friday, it’s reasonable to wonder if Aaron Dell might be a diamond in the rough, though.

Much has been made of Dell cracking the NHL at the advanced age of 27, but he’s quietly been excelling when given opportunities … which are sometimes pretty rare.

Dell only needed to make 21 saves to grab his first career shutout in a 2-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers last night, yet it’s interesting to note that he’s been putting up nice numbers in small sample sizes for a while now.

2013-14: 19-7-3, .920 save percentage in 29 ECHL games
12-0, .922 save percentage in six AHL games
2014-15: 8-1-2, .902 save percentage in 12 ECHL games
15-8-2, .927 save percentage in 26 AHL games
2015-16: 17-16-6, .922 save percentage in 40 AHL games
2016-17: 4-1-0, .936 save percentage, one shutout in six games with Sharks

If nothing else, Dell is accustomed to paying his dues. Jones has been pretty impressive in his own right (19-11-1 with a .920 save percentage over a much larger sample size of 31 games this season), yet Dell could provide valuable insurance if injuries strike or Jones experiences a slump.

With four straight wins and victories in eight of their last nine games, San Jose might just build up enough of a buffer in the Pacific to get an idea of what they have in Dell by giving him an extra look or two down the stretch.

Matt Puempel collected his first career hat trick on Thursday

Getty
1 Comment

Maybe Matt Puempel really will flourish now that he’s with the New York Rangers after struggling to accomplish much of anything with the Ottawa Senators.

He indicated as much upon his departure from Ottawa, and Thursday served as his creative peak; the 23-year-old generated his first hat trick as the Rangers beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-3.

Remarkably, all three of Puempel’s goals came on the power play. Here’s video of the trio:

In 13 games with the Senators this season, he couldn’t generated a point. Last night represented his 12th game with the Rangers, where things are going much better, especially lately. He has four goals and one assist in his last four games despite limited ice time.

(Speaking of that, 4:05 of his 12:20 in ice time came on the man advantage. Perhaps Alain Vigneault sees Puempel as a Sam Gagner-type specialist?)

It’s still unclear if Puempel will be able to make good on his potential as the 24th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, but the Rangers look pretty bright for giving him a chance.