Author: James O'Brien

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers

Simmonds says even Gretzky may not have won for Flyers on Saturday


Perhaps getting dominated by an all-time great (Jaromir Jagr) and being without one of the game’s best forwards (Claude Giroux) had Wayne Simmonds thinking as the New Jersey Devils plundered his Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Saturday.

Either way, greatness was clearly on his mind, as this quote to can attest.

“The way we played tonight, we could have had Wayne Gretzky in our lineup and I don’t know if we would have won,” Wayne Simmonds said.

/Pauses for “Probably because Gretzky’s 53 years old now,” jokes.

It’s tough to say which NHL legend might have been able to turn this one around, especially when New Jersey wasn’t just sitting on its lead:

source:  (Chart via Natural Stat Trick)

The Flyers have lost five games in a row, but the good news is that they’ll be back in Philly for four straight home games. Even with a holiday break to soften some of the blow, that eight-game stretch is a challenge for any team, let alone an up-and-down group like the Flyers.

Carter calls Wild’s 7-1 loss to Stars ‘rock bottom’


Darcy Kuemper was pulled from Saturday’s embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, yet he wasn’t even the Minnesota Wild goalie with the worst numbers tonight.

Technically speaking, Niklas Backstrom was a little worse, as he allowed three goals on 14 shots (.786 save percentage) while Kuemper gave up four goals on 21 (.810 save percentage).

Really, though, when it’s 7-1, there isn’t much sense singling any one player out.

For forward Ryan Carter, it might just be a new low for the struggling team, as the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff reports.

“This one stings,” Carter said. “Feels like rock bottom.”

Things have been brutal for Minnesota during the last three weeks in particular. They’ve lost seven of nine games, including three in overtime, as questions continue to loom regarding their goalies and other areas of the game.

No doubt, the Stars deserve some credit for this situation.

Dallas has now won eight of nine games and four in a row, including a 13-1 mark in the last two contests. Minnesota won’t want to make excuses, but the Stars were probably the worst opponent at the worst time for the Wild.

Regardless, the Wild now find themselves searching for answers at 18-15-4.

Red-hot Price, Habs finish perfect trip by beating Pens

Carey Price, Brandon Sutter

David Perron’s goal was noteworthy because it was his first with Pittsburgh, but especially boastful Montreal Canadiens fans might say it was worth mentioning because goals have been so rare against Carey Price.

Price stopped 30 out of 31 shots as the Canadiens handily beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Saturday.

As’s Arpon Basu notes, Price is on a remarkable run in which he’s allowed two or fewer goals in nine straight starts.

It’s not too surprising that Montreal is rising with its elite goalie, but the results remain impressive.

The Canadiens have won six games in a row, including all five of a road trip they just ended.

Really, the Habs have just been unreal since a very tough stretch in which they dropped six of seven games from mid-November to early December. They’ve only lost one of their last 10 games with just one of those nine victories coming via a shootout.

It’s not too surprising, then, that Montreal sits atop the East with 54 standings points. The Penguins could have crept ahead of the Habs tonight, but their struggles continue to an extent.

The two teams meet again in Montreal next Saturday, so we’ll see where two of the top teams in the East stand once again.

Jets hand Leafs another jersey-chucking defeat

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs

Another dispiriting loss. Another fan minus a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.

The Winnipeg Jets pummeled Toronto 5-1 on Saturday, and even though the game took place in Winnipeg, there was a Buds fan on hand to display his or her contempt for the on-ice proceedings. TSN’s Sara Orlesky reports as much.

So, which fan base has thrown more jerseys on the ice so far in 2014-15: the Maple Leafs or Edmonton Oilers?

However that “score” shakes out, the numbers don’t look very good for Toronto tonight.

Mike Santorelli actually scored the first goal of the game to make it a 1-0 Toronto advantage, yet that same second period was a nightmare with Winnipeg tying it about one minute later and then bumping it to a 3-1 lead at the 10:04 mark of the second period.

It’s not something that can really be chalked up to poor play by James Reimer, even if some will be tempted to do so. Winnipeg fired 40 shots on goal to Toronto’s 21, and it simply seems like all those nights of bit shot disparities are wearing down the Maple Leafs.

While there have been some ugly moments at home for Toronto, this might be a crucial time for the Maple Leafs to catch their collective breath.

They play at home on Wednesday against the Capitals and Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets before a brutal run in which they only enjoy two home games until Feb. 6.

If this keeps up, a lot of expensive pieces of clothing will hit the ice, and we’re not talking about hat tricks.

Minnesota meltdown: Stars chase Kuemper

Minnesota Wild v Dallas Stars

Things have been looking up for the Dallas Stars and way down for the Minnesota Wild, and while it doesn’t all come down to goaltending, their netminders have experienced very different outcomes.

Kari Lehtonen has had the look of a franchise goalie as Dallas is on a hot streak. On the other hand, the Wild are stumbling, and one has to really wonder about Darcy Kuemper’s confidence at this point.

Kuemper was pulled from Saturday’s game after allowing four goals on 21 shots through a little less than 29 minutes.

The young goalie has now been pulled five times since Nov. 13, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo points out.

Here’s Vernon Fiddler’s 3-0 tally, which is noted in part because of theater puns.

The Stars are currently up 5-0, so it seems like both teams continue to trend in opposite directions.

The Pioneer Press’s Chad Graff illustrates an especially rough stretch for Minnesota: