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Blackhawks’ winning streak goes bye thanks to Talbot, Oilers

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If you wanted to escape bye week talk, turn away from this one.

The Chicago Blackhawks went into their break on a five-game winning streak, yet they saw theirs end much like the Washington Capitals’ did earlier on Saturday. In Chicago’s case, the Edmonton Oilers handed them that loss via a score of 3-1.

A result like this will annoy different people for different reasons.

  • Some will be annoyed by bye weeks, period. This will make them more annoyed.
  • Others will be annoyed that the bye week narrative persists. This will not help.

  • A reasonable portion will be annoyed that such discussions take the focus of great performances, like Cam Talbot standing on his head against Chicago.

The workhorse Oilers netminder stopped 38 out of 39 shots and deserves a ton of credit for this win. Connor McDavid‘s 20th goal of the season was an empty-netter, so Talbot’s margin of error was that small.

Milan Lucic‘s first goal since Dec. 6(!) ended up being the decisive tally, one that might bug Corey Crawford a little extra:

It’s not as though the Blackhawks slept through this one. They managed that 39-22 shots on goal advantage, also making the Oilers block 26 shots (to 11 for Chicago). Every indication was that the Blackhawks generally played like a well-rested group.

Regardless, their winning streak is over and Edmonton gets a nice confidence-boosting win.

Also of note: Jonathan Toews‘ assist gave him his 600th career point.

Report: Term the big sticking point between Radulov, Canadiens

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It’s easy to forget all the years Alexander Radulov spent overseas and to assume that he’s in the beginning of his prime. The reality is that he’s already 30, making a long-term deal considerably riskier for the Montreal Canadiens.

During Saturday’s edition of Sportsnet’s Headlines, Nick Kypreos reported that Radulov is looking for a six-year deal from Montreal. Failing that, the Habs might need to pay up big for a shorter deal; Kypreos puts a potential compromise at a costly $21 million over three years.

Elliotte Friedman said it well during that segment: Radulov would likely be a top target if he hit the free agent market. So, should Montreal pay up?

Canadiens’ cap questions

Looking at the Canadiens’ roster on Cap Friendly, it’s clear that there’s a select group of players – particularly forwards – who have lengthy deals. And if they do, they’re generally locked up for bargains.

Max Pacioretty‘s $4.5 million bargain runs through 2018-19. Brendan Gallagher‘s at $3.75 million through 2020-21. Andrew Shaw‘s value is more up to debate, but either way, it’s similar to Gallagher’s but ends after 2021-22.

With the lengthier deals generally going to cheaper scorers, the highest cap hit among forwards right now is Tomas Plekanec, whose $6 million mark slightly edges Radulov’s current $5.75 million hit. If Montreal wants to sign Radulov for a shorter deal, Kypreos indicates it would be similar to Plekanec’s deal … just more expensive.

The biggest deals on the books right now are actually for defense (Shea Weber at almost $8 million through 2025-26) and Jeff Petry ($5.5 million through 2020-21). Overall, the Canadiens have a fairly clean slate, all things considered.

How big a part of their future is Radulov, really?

On one hand, some might see a relatively clean cap situation beyond that Weber deal and wonder if that “surplus” could go to a Radulov deal.

Of course, a longer Radulov deal would possibly put Montreal in a bind when they need to re-sign Carey Price after 2017-18 and pay Pacioretty closer to market value once his deal expires. Not to mention Alex Galchenyuk‘s pending RFA status after this season.

That’s the downside to Radulov being such a smash hit for Montreal. Now Marc Bergevin must determine if he’s a core member or if it’s worth paying a premium to give him something a bit more mid-term.

It’s not the worst problem to have, yet it’s still a bit of a head-scratcher. It also explains why Radulov doesn’t have a deal just yet.

Video: Gryba throws weight around with hit, fight vs. Blackhawks

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Considering the successes of the Blackhawks and failures of the Oilers, it might be challenging to drum up a potential rivalry between the two teams.

Maybe someone like Eric Gryba could really get the ball rolling by throwing his body around?

The big defenseman made an impression during Saturday’s game, delivering a big hit on Tanner Kero and then dropping the gloves with Ryan Hartman.

If the team’s listings for each player is correct, Gryba has about four inches and almost 50 lbs. on Hartman, so it’s not too shocking he held the advantage. Credit Hartman for courage and for standing up for his teammate here.

At least the Panthers want to be trade deadline buyers

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For years now, it’s been foolish to take a day off strictly for NHL trade deadline day.* It’s just about guaranteed that “people who took the day off” will be listed under trade deadline “losers.”

Just look at a few stories from around the league. The Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks essentially said they’ll sit this one out. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Blue Jackets will probably lean more in the modest direction, too. There’s the chance that seemingly reluctant teams are merely playing coy, but there’s also the possibility that they’re trying to help fans avoid a letdown.

Well, that’s no fun. So who’s going to at least give us some fodder for baseless speculation? Message boards aren’t going to fill themselves, right?

/Cues the Florida Panthers’ theme music.

“The goal is to be buying,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon told NHL.com. “I like where we’re at, but I’d like to add some offense to get our power play going.”

Thank you Dale. Thank you.

Tallon even provides some specifics. He wants a boost on the power play and is willing to move prospects in the system if the deal is right.

Should we get a Panthers sweater ready for Radim Vrbata or would that be too hasty? That would probably be too hasty.

Perhaps the East’s wild card races are where to look when pondering trades. Maybe the Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and others will be on board with paying a price in order to make the playoffs and possibly make a Cinderella playoff push?

If nothing else, it gives rumor enthusiasts something to chew on.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

* – Now, if that’s the excuse you need to give yourself to justify a break? By all means …

Video: Did Evander Kane sneak an elbow on Ryan Reaves?

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There’s no denying that there is some snarl to Evander Kane‘s game. He’s named after a boxer who tormented Mike Tyson, after all.

Still, there are weight divisions in boxing for a reason, and Kane would have been punching – some might argue, elbowing – above his weight in tangling with Ryan Reaves.

He wisely avoided doing so during the Buffalo Sabres’ eventual win against the St. Louis Blues. But did he get a way with an elbow during that exchange? See for yourself in the video above.

(Also, wouldn’t you love to hear what Dan Bylsma said to Kane? Probably something along the lines of “Smart move not fighting Reaves.” Maybe with an extra expletive for good measure.)