James O'Brien

Opposite directions: Caps keep winning, hand Habs another loss


In early December, Capitals vs. Canadiens was a clash of division-leading titans. It sure feels like a different story as this month draws to a close, especially with Montreal’s Atlantic edge in peril.

Each team continued recent patterns on Saturday night via Washington’s 3-1 win against Montreal.

Winning Washington

This decision gives the Capitals an impressive seven-game winning streak, fattening edges in the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division. They’ve won seven in a row, and it goes deeper than that, as Washington is now 14-1-1 in its past 16 games.

If they’re not the best team in the NHL, they’re certainly the hottest.

… And Braden Holtby continues to be a factor.

Malaise for Montreal

Meanwhile, Montreal might just be the iciest bunch of them all, at least among contenders.

This marks six straight losses and and 10 regulation defeats in their past 11 games. What was once an enormous margin in the Atlantic is now a paper-thin edge; the Canadiens are only four standings points removed from sixth-ranked Tampa Bay as of this writing.

The Canadiens haven’t necessarily played poorly on a nightly basis, but there results leave the Habs hobbling into 2016.

This treacherous eight-game road trip ends with opportunities for their division foes to knock them down the ladder, too:

Monday: at Tampa Bay
Tuesday: at Florida
Friday: at Boston
Jan. 5: at Philadelphia


Maybe the message is really for the Capitals: things can go south quickly during an 82-game season. They needed only to look at their opponents on Saturday to see as much.

Alex Ovechkin getting a little banged up punctuates that thought.

Eichel erupts as Sabres stun Bruins, leaving Julien in disgust


Jack Eichel‘s special nights in Boston won’t just be limited to his college days.

The Buffalo Sabres rookie enjoyed the best night of his career so far on Saturday as his first four-point night spurred his team on to a stunning turnaround against the Boston Bruins.

Eichel hit the two-point mark twice before this season, so this is easily the biggest output of his young NHl career.

You’re not going to believe this, but Bruins head coach Claude Julien had negative things to say about the B’s after a third period lead of 3-1 dissolved into a staggering 6-3 loss.

It was already a rough night for the Bruins with Torey Krug going down with an injury, but this is a painful way to return from the holiday break.

No doubt about it, this is a big night for Eichel, formerly of Boston University.

Testy in Tampa: Stamkos scores, Hartnell gets ejected, Johansen fights

Steven Stamkos

The Tampa Bay Lightning are doing their part to make a recent 1-for-10 power-play night a distant memory, even if it leaves the Columbus Blue Jackets bitter.

There’s a lot going on in this Saturday game, so this post will be updated with videos and a final score when available.

For now, observe Scott Hartnell‘s charging major on Ben Bishop in GIF form:

(Hartnell also received a game misconduct.)

During that same span of time, Ryan Johansen fought Vladislav Namestnikov in one of those rare “finesse player” bouts.

This rough stuff at least in some way overshadowed quite an impressive span of power play work by Steven Stamkos, who is enjoying a three-point game already.

Stamkos already has two goals and one point on the man advantage as Tampa Bay is currently 3-on-7 in this game.

This video includes both Stamkos goals, which happened in a span of 32 seconds.

Update: The Lightning ended up winning 5-2. John Tortorella was not happy with the penalty Hartnell received.

Torey Krug’s night ends early for Bruins

Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug makes a pass from his knees during the third period of the Boston Bruins 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL hockey game in Boston Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

The Boston Bruins lost defenseman Torey Krug for at least the rest of Saturday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot of information, as the Bruins didn’t even reveal if Krug is suffering from a lower or upper-body injury. Naturally, that means there’s no word regarding how serious this issue is (beyond sidelining him for the night).

It’s not clear how Krug was hurt, although it may have happened midway through the first period.

So far, it sounds like Krug’s absence may mean a larger workload for Zdeno Chara.

Click here for what’s believed to be Krug’s last shift, via Stanley Cup of Chowder/“Crazy Canucklehead.”

Bruins make Pastrnak available for World Juniors

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 31: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates a goal against the Florida Panthers at the TD Garden on March 31, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins made it official on Saturday: David Pastrnak will be allowed to play for the Czech Republic in the 2016 World Juniors.

That won’t be an immediate move, it seems, as it appears that the loan would kick in following the roster freeze on Dec. 28.

If all comes to pass – CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty mentions that injuries have the potential to be a caveat – the ideal scenario for Boston would be Pastrnak getting the same boost this time around that he seemed to generate from a strong WJC experience last year.

Injuries and the occasional moment in Claude Julien’s doghouse have meant for a rocky start to Pastrnak’s season, but perhaps this will be a springboard for him once more?