The Buffalo Sabres haven’t been that much better as a team lately – at least as far as any reasonable stat goes – but Michal Neuvirth is on such a hot run that it’s not as safe to write them off as an easy win.
Yes, the Nashville Predators won 2-1 via a shootout on Sunday, but they had to sweat this one thanks almost entirely to Neuvirth’s efforts. They trailed for most of the third period until Mike Ribeiro was the only Predator who could thwart Neuvirth in regulation (and on the power play, to boot).
Overall, Neuvirth stopped 37 out of 38 shots. While he’s still not really winning, just look at what the 26-year-old goalie’s done in February:
1-3-2 record, .944 save percentage, 1.93 GAA.
One almost wonders if Neuvirth might just play himself out of Buffalo, as his strong work may just be a threat to what many believe is a tank job.
In other words, there’s at least some room for concern that the Sabres’ bid for a guaranteed top-two pick could even hit a wall:
When word surfaced that the Columbus Blue Jackets made James Wisniewski a healthy scratch, it only seemed natural that trade rumors would percolate. It sounds like such rumblings were unfounded, however.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline that “there is no pending trade” for the expensive-but-marketable defenseman.
There are two ways to look at this from a trade perspective (there are plenty of ways to interpret Wisniewski sitting, on the other hand):
1. The Blue Jackets simply have zero interest in trading him.
2. Kekalainen is using tricky wording by saying nothing is pending, yet he still wants to shop Wisniewski.
Overall, it sounds like we can turn that hot stove down to medium for now. Could we hear a different tone from Columbus as the March 2 trade deadline approaches, though?
It’s been a highly disappointing season for Colorado Avalanche sophomore Nathan MacKinnon, who many believed was only destined for bigger things after an impressive rookie campaign.
He scored his 10th goal of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, and while that’s a big letdown of a total, he at least provided quality over quantity. It was a remainder that he’s still really fast and really dangerous:
He came into today with just a five percent shooting success rate, so it’s obvious puck luck hasn’t gone his way. If that wasn’t obvious with that stat, he also hadn’t collected a goal since Jan. 17.
Whether the bounce back comes soon or in 2015-16, you get the impression that this slow second season will just be a bump in the road.
Update: MacKinnon did not take long to turn it into his first career hat trick. He didn’t even need three periods to do so:
Boy, has puck luck shifted his way tonight, too: