Even with wildly different expectations, Tuesday serves as an awkward-yet-interesting experience for both the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Sabres sold off key components for the future while the Lightning (mostly) loaded up to be a more dangerous playoff team. We’ll see if the two teams play those parts on NBCSN or if there’s an upset in store.
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Even after making big investments for reinforcements, the Chicago Blackhawks likely still feel a little shaken up without Patrick Kane … but hey, they still have a healthy Jonathan Toews.
Their captain scored the first two goals (and later added an assist) as they cruised to a 5-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.
The Blackhawks showed off their still-deep offensive attack, as Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa scored their 20th and 18th goals of the season respectively (Marcus Kruger also broke a scoring slump with his sixth).
The game was essentially over in the third period, when Carolina scored its two goals. The only moment of real concern came when Corey Crawford was slow to get to his feet late in the contest, but he finished out the night for his 25th win of the season.
Neither newcomer scored a point, but Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette got their feet wet in their debuts with Chicago.
Despite a -1 rating, Timonen seemed to fit in quite nicely for a 39-year-old who’s dealing with career-threatening blood clot issues. He logged 17:29 TOI and may have been OK for more if it wasn’t such a lopsided game. Either way, Chicago has to be happy about its investment so far (though it’s obviously very early).
Vermette was quieter in his first game, only receiving 12:55 of ice time.
Beating up on a deflated Eastern Conference afterthought doesn’t prove a whole lot, but the Blackhawks at least looked dangerous in their first game after the trade deadline.
Being a San Jose Sharks fan has to be challenging.
As good-to-great as the team has been for more than a decade, they’ve also suffered some cruel defeats, and that can’t be easy to deal with. It’s been a frustrating season, too, as the franchise is seemingly mired in an identity crisis thanks in large part to that “reverse sweep” against the Los Angeles Kings.
Still, the Sharks aren’t that far from a wild card spot – Sports Club Stats give them a 17.5 percent chance to make the playoffs, which isn’t ideal but at least gives them a shot – so seeing San Jose fans wearing paper bags on their heads comes off as a touch melodramatic.
The Mercury News’ Curtis Pashelka caught three Sharks fans doing just that:
Three fans don’t represent an entire group, just like Maple Leafs fans shouldn’t be judged solely on a few jersey-chucking tantrums.
It’s mostly an amusing sight, although it does highlight the angst of fans of the Sharks, not just members of the team and front office.
(H/T to Chemmy.)
Update: The Sharks looked pretty impressive on Monday, beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Perhaps the bags came off at some point?
If the New York Rangers are “mortgaging their future,” at least their home looked like a mansion on the night of the trade deadline.
The Rangers defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Monday, and while Rick Nash’s empty-netter inflated the score, New York looked more than comfortable against the NHL’s current standings leader.
Speaking of standings, the Rangers stepped into first place in the Metropolitan Division with this win.
They’re tied with the New York Islanders at 84 points, yet they have two games in hand and two more regulation/overtime wins. They’re not that far from the top spot in the East, either.
Really, all the numbers look pretty splendid for a team pushing the envelop. Their +43 goal differential is the best difference in the entire league right now. They’re now 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
Even this win was more than just its 4-1 score, as the possession was clearly in the Rangers’ favor:
(via Natural Stat Trick)
Keith Yandle didn’t really make much of an impact in his debut (-1 rating, three shots on goal in 19:41 time on ice), but clearly didn’t have to.
The other lingering question is about the Predators. Nashville has now lost three games in a row and five of its last seven, with just one regulation win in that span.
Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli could be labeled as the Preds’ trade deadline gains, but some might be a little more worried about GM David Poile staying put after a loss like this.
On Sunday, it seemed like Mats Zuccarello was on the verge of being traded from the New York Rangers. A day later, he has a shiny new contract extension and already has two assists against the Nashville Predators with about a period remaining.
One of the smallish winger’s more ridiculous nicknames is “Norwegian Hobbit Wizard.” He showed some magical skills on this Chris Kreider goal, which was his second helper of the night:
Moments like these help explain why he’s beloved by a lot of Rangers fans.
Predators forward Taylor Beck might have actually provided the best pass of the night, though, as you can see here: