The Chicago Blackhawks are playing so well, we might run out of ways to praise them.
Here’s a crack at it, though: the Blackhawks are as hot as Pekka Rinne is cold.
Chicago beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Tuesday to win their 12th consecutive game, a new franchise record.
It was difficult not to fixate on those dueling stories: the Blackhawks being so, so good and Rinne struggling so, so much.
Sure, there are moments when Nashville’s defense lets Rinne down (maybe on Patrick Kane’s 30th goal?). The larger body of work has to be troubling, even if GM David Poile seems more interested in boosting Nashville’s offense.
Maybe more specifically, Kane and Rinne may be going in exactly opposite directions.
Let’s not forget about the goalie at the other end of the rink.
It’s not as though the Predators didn’t compete tonight. They generated 39 shots on goal, an impressive total even if you factor in Nashville being in catch-up mode for much of the contest.
When you’re losing like this, it’s a combination of factors, and one undeniable issue tonight was “facing the buzz-saw that is the Blackhawks.”
Next up for Chicago: a 2015 Stanley Cup Final rematch that’s also a clash between two red-hot teams, as the Tampa Bay Lightning won their sixth in a row tonight.
As far as reports go, Michel Therrien’s job remains secure. Maybe a little less so, as losses burn a little bit more for the Canadiens when they come against the Bruins.
Boston beat Montreal 4-1 on Tuesday, giving the B’s three straight wins. They solidified their hold over one of the East’s wild card spots, even if the margin of error remains fairly minimal.
From margins of error to a comedy of errors: just about everything related to the Habs is unsettling, including their spot outside of the East’s playoff picture. It’s a mess that likely would have been unfathomable back in October, when the Habs seemed to be running away with the East’s crown.
Montreal is now on a five-game losing streak, with a mere standings point earned. They’ve lost six of eight games in 2018 alone.
The scene seems even grimmer according to onlooker’s such as Arpon Basu of LNH.com.
Yikes, just yikes. Are we absolutely certain Therrien’s job isn’t in jeopardy?
Are the Tampa Bay Lightning finally breaking through?
It’s a reasonable topic to broach at this point, as the Bolts (narrowly) beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 on Tuesday, giving them six straight wins. In case you’re wondering, that’s the Lightning’s longest winning streak of this up-and-down 2015-16 season.
(Really, they’ve been quite impressive in 2016 so far, winning seven of eight January games.)
With this win, the Lightning remain in third place in the Atlantic, as the Red Wings hold a game in hand. There’s plenty of incentive to keep this run going, too, as the floundering Florida Panthers’ grip on the top spot seems pretty loose.
Considering some of the lows of the Lightning’s campaign, it’s probably heartening just be in the thick of the playoff race.
Now they can once again set their sights a little higher.
Things have been pretty bad for Pekka Rinne lately.
You know who won’t make life any easier for him? Patrick Kane.
That showed on Kane’s 30th goal of the season, seen in the video above. Remarkably, this ties a career-high for goals, and Kane has months to keep piling them on.
Kane also drew an assist so far, so he’s at 71 points in 2015-16, leaving him just 17 points behind his career-high of 88 points.
Even before tonight’s game, it was clear that scoring-wise, it’s Kane and everyone else.
It wouldn’t be a Boston Bruins – Montreal Canadiens game without at least a controversial moment or three.
Brendan Gallagher provided one of them on Tuesday, as he may or may not be guilt of a slewfoot on Zach Trotman of the Bruins.
(Watch the video above and decide for yourself … with polite words, if you don’t mind.)