Author: James O'Brien

Evgeni Nabokov, Ben Bishop

End nearing? Lightning waive Nabokov


In an ideal scenario, the Tampa Bay Lightning likely envisioned Evgeni Nabokov providing veteran experience behind Ben Bishop, at least until Andrei Vasilevskiy was ready for the jump.

That just hasn’t been the case in reality, however, and the Lightning responded as such by placing him on waivers Sunday (according to a wide variety of reporters including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman).

The team hasn’t officially backed that up yet, so we can’t be sure that Vasilevskiy, 20, will get the call to back up Bishop. That would certainly seem to be the logical case, especially since the promising prospect has three wins in four starts this season.

Hey, at least Bishop is playing extremely well:

Looking further, it’s difficult to shake the impression that Nabokov, 39, is approaching the end of the line.

The veteran netminder’s overall numbers are lousy (3-6-2 with a .882 save percentage). He hasn’t won since Dec. 11 and only saw the ice for two abbreviated appearances in January.

Nabokov floundered a bit in his third season with the New York Islanders in 2013-14, managing just a 15-14-8 record with a mediocre .905 save percentage. That disappointing output limited his offseason options to backup gigs, and now we’ll need to wait and see how many opportunities he gets going forward.

Of course, there’s always the chance a team scoops him up at full price and he shows that he still has something left in the tank …

Pens updates: Ehrhoff undergoing testing, Malkin targets Wednesday

New Jersey Devils v Pittsburgh Penguins

As they gear up for this afternoon’s game against the Nashville Predators, the Pittsburgh Penguins have almost as much going on when it comes to injury updates. Let’s go one-by-one, then:

A lot to soak in, huh?

To the Penguins’ credit, they’re still generating a nice amount of standings points with all of these injuries. The Predators (and returning forward James Neal) should present plenty of competition today, though.

Report: Rob Blake hasn’t spoken with Leafs, wants to stay with Kings

Rob Blake

Whether the Toronto Maple Leafs want to hire Rob Blake from the Los Angeles Kings or not, it doesn’t sound like the idea is getting much traction.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Blake hasn’t been contacted by the Leafs, and furthermore, he wants to stay in Los Angeles anyway.

“He’s in a great spot with the Kings,” Friedman told host George Strombolopolous on Hockey Night in Canada. “He has a home out there. He’s not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.”

Of course, those who might be confident in Toronto’s seductive powers may argue that a simple conversation – perhaps with Brendan Shanahan – could very well change Blake’s mind (or at least make him more open to the idea).

Then again, Blake may understandably prefer to stay in sunny California with a franchise that has two recent Stanley Cups rather than land in the pressure cooker that is Toronto.

Anyway, it sounds like those rumors can be put to bed, or at least put on pause.

NHL on NBCSN: Blues try to stay hot against Capitals

Washington Capitals v St. Louis Blues

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Washington Capitals host the St. Louis Blues at the Verizon Center at 1:00 p.m. ET today. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The Washington Capitals saw Braden Holtby fall just short in a goalie duel against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, and now they must take on the red-hot St. Louis Blues today.

Any way you slice it, the 31-13-4 St. Louis Blues are on a roll right now.

Regarding the team itself, the Blues have generated a point in 10 straight games (9-0-1), including wins in each of two contests since returning from the All-Star break. They’ve been getting great work in net from Brian Elliott while captain David Backes has generated a ridiculous 16 points during a nine-game tear.

The Blues beat the Capitals 4-1 in the two squads’ other meeting earlier this season.

While St. Louis is scorching, the Capitals are struggling a bit, at least after a hot run of their own. They’re now 1-3-2 in their last six contests.

One obvious advantage Washington has is home ice today. They’re 13-5-5 at the Verizon Center, although the Blues haven’t been pushovers away from their own friendly confines, as they have a 12-9-2 road record so far in 2014-15.

It all shapes up to be a serious challenge for the Capitals, yet there are times when overcoming such obstacles can shape breakthroughs.

Sens’ Methot may not ever top what he did yesterday

Marc Methot Chris Terry

Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot may get in a trade rumor or three, but he doesn’t make it onto the scoresheet very often. That’s kind of what made his play in Ottawa’s 7-2 romp against the Arizona Coyotes so special.

Really, it all comes down to this: will it be more difficult for him to top this absurd hip check, which the Senators deem “the hip check to end all hip checks”?

Or will it be the three assists he collected in that win?

To provide a little bit of context, the 29-year-old came into Saturday with two points (all assists) in an injury-ravaged 2014-15 campaign. Scanning some of Methot’s gamelogs, he generated one multi-assist output last season  and a pair of two-assist contests in 2012-13.

Long story short, it’s pretty fair to label Saturday’s performance as one of the best games of Methot’s career or the best one.

If nothing else, it’s tough to imagine Methot landing a more ridiculous hip check.