James O'Brien

Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter

Royally relentless: Kings exert will over Panthers


With a record now at 9-5-0, it’s not easy to argue that the Los Angeles Kings are the NHL’s best team at the moment.

There are spans where they looks like they might be the most overwhelming, however.

The second period of their eventual 4-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Saturday was quite the display of the many things that make the Kings a squad that intimidates opponents when the games get bigger.

Los Angeles survived a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity – including a great stop by Jonathan Quick, which sent Jaromir Jagr looking at the ceiling – and really took off from there.

The Kings went from being down 1-0 to up 3-1 during about a four-minute span, a time in which it seemed like Los Angeles could score at will. The shots on goal tell a story, too, especially considering that 5-on-3: the Kings generated a towering 20-4 shot on goal advantage in the second period.

(This came after being down 1-0 despite a 10-5 shot advantage in the opening frame.)

Does this all mean that the Kings are the West’s best? No, and it’s glaringly early.

They might be the scariest when they really get roaring, though.

(Naturally, they’re among the top possession teams too, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

Boon for Blues: Kevin Shattenkirk returns

The St. Louis Blues are becoming progressively less black-and-blue.

They’ve enjoyed the rise of enormous rookie defenseman Colton Parayko, but even so, Kevin Shattenkirk‘s return is a sight for sore eyes (and bodies, really).

Shattenkirk missed the past 10 games with a groin injury that still might limit him, at least to start things off. The Blues take on a challenging Central Division opponent in the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

You won’t see many better matchups between defensemen who can score in this one, and Shattenkirk gives the Blues a chance to keep up with Roman Josi, Shea Weber, Seth Jones and the rest of the Predators’ dangerous D-men.

Ducks dynasty? (No, but three straight wins for Anaheim)

Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry

Things sure are looking up for the Anaheim Ducks, even if they dug themselves a significant hole.

Anaheim won its third game in a row on Friday, besting the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 4-2.

If that wasn’t enough, the Ducks’ dynamic duo is back together, and they are one of the main reasons for tonight’s win.

(The other being the under-the-radar play of Frederik Andersen, who’s been absolutely excellent despite his middling record.)

Both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry generated three-assist nights, a welcome sign that one of the NHL’s most dangerous pairings is revving up. This was Getzlaf’s first game back from getting his appendix removed, while Perry was riding off the high of his dramatic first goal of the season.

For those who were calling for patience with Bruce Boudreau even before his GM backed him up, this stretch seemed like it might serve as a balm for the Ducks.

This ended a three-game homestand – all wins – for this struggling team. They’ll face a back-to-back with Saturday’s squabble against the Sharks in San Jose, but after that, it’s three more home games for the Ducks.

All four of their wins have come at home, so having extra upcoming dates at “The Duck Pond” is promising.

Ultimately, it’s a great opportunity for the Ducks to get their fuzzy heads above water, and for maybe the first time in 2015-16, it seems like they might be capable of pulling it off.

Mostly good news for Pascal Dupuis

Pascal Dupuis

The bad news is that Pascal Dupuis has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames. Otherwise, the latest updates are highly positive.

Most importantly, Penguins head coach Mike Johnston announced that tests regarding blood clot issues came up negative.

Johnston notes that Dupuis will be re-evaluated on Saturday. One would assume that this is part of the reason that he won’t play, although it’s not necessarily true that it’s the only thing that might be causing an issue.

(He did go to the hospital tonight, after all.)

Another promising sign? He returned to congratulate teammates after their win.

Speaking of that win, this marks six straight victories for the Penguins, who’ve also won nine of 10 games.

Rangers overcome MacKinnon’s brilliance, Nash’s absence to win


Here’s how red-hot the New York Rangers are: they’re even hotter than Nathan MacKinnon at the moment.

You can see MacKinnon’s beautiful goal above, which gave the Colorado Avalanche a 1-0 goal lead against the Rangers on Friday.

Nifty stuff, but not enough, as the Rangers scored two goals in less than two minutes before holding on for a 2-1 victory.

With that, the Rangers have reeled off four straight wins and have also won five of six.

Free range

Going further, New York has points in eight straight, as its two losses came beyond regulation.

They did so without Rick Nash tonight, as he’s dealing with a back issue. Whether he’s back or not tomorrow, New York will need to roll with more punches thanks to a back-to-back with concludes against the Coyotes in Arizona tomorrow.

Ailing Avs

Speaking of rolling with the punches, the Avalanche were dealt a blow beyond the standings; Alex Tanguay was hurt by a hit via Oscar Lindberg, who notched New York’s game-winner.

With just two wins since Oct. 18, the Avalanche must continue to search for answers … maybe without one of their quietly productive veterans.