I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
Henrik Lundqvist basically faced a game’s worth of shots in the first two periods of Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, and he finally bucked in the final frame.
The Sharks scored three goals in a little more than third period to beat the New York Rangers by a score of 4-1, firing a ridiculous 52 shots on goal overall.
With a closed-door meeting after the game and plenty of angry quotes, it was clear that the Rangers realized how poorly they played today.
New York Newsday’s Steve Zipay collected some blistering comments from the Rangers following that loss, with some highlights being:
“Not competing hard”
Hanging Lundqvist out to dry
While the Sharks continue to stick with it in the competitive Pacific races, the Metro situation suddenly looks a little less comfortable for the Rangers. The Pittsburgh Penguins are closing fast in that regard, and maybe that fuels that fire a little bit more?
The Rangers get a chance to respond with a home game against the Florida Panthers on Monday.
With Tyler Seguin merely hoping to be healthy by the time the playoffs start, the Dallas Stars could use some good injury news.
It looks like they’re getting some on Saturday, as John Klingberg looks all but ready to return as the Stars face the New York Islanders.
If the warm-ups are any indication, the Stars are opting to ease Klingberg back into the lineup, though the time on ice numbers may ultimately tell a different story:
The Stars are facing an Islanders team that should have plenty of motivation after seeing the Pittsburgh Penguins take the third spot in the Metropolitan Division. Klingberg may be enough for Dallas to win what could be a high-scoring game.
It looks like the NHL will get a steep* increase in Niklas(es?) this weekend.
Probably most importantly, the Detroit Red Wings are getting Niklas Kronwall back from a knee injury as they face the Florida Panthers in an important game. There was some back-and-forth about how long he might be out, with some wondering if he’d barely play at all, so getting him in the lineup tonight is a nice bonus for a Red Wings team that needs every point right now.
The other Niklas is a fascinating one: the Calgary Flames are playing Niklas Backstrom in net on Sunday. It will be the former Minnesota Wild goalie’s first start in more than a year.
Maybe it’s a stretch to call this a theme, but either way, the Red Wings in particular have to be happy that they’re getting their Niklas back.
* – OK, just two guys.
During a season of firsts for Jack Eichel, Saturday presents an unpleasant one: first missed game.
In today’s case, Eichel isn’t playing for the Buffalo Sabres against the Toronto Maple Leafs because he has the flu.
The Sabres recalled Daniel Catenacci in his place.
All things considered, it’s not such a bad thing for Eichel to miss tonight’s game, especially since a loss to the Maple Leafs could help Buffalo improve its odds in a certain lottery that helped them land their curly haired rookie sensation last time around …
(Granted, the Sabres aren’t likely to “catch” the Maple Leafs, specifically.)
With four losses in their last five games and a highly paid forward glued to the bench, things were looking a little tense for the Minnesota Wild going into Saturday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
They can relax their shoulders at least a bit after grabbing a 3-2 shootout win, however.
While the Wild still trail the Colorado Avalanche by a standings point for the West’s final wild card spot, just about every reaction to this win reeked of relief.
From a fist bump:
To a good response:
To outright saying “that felt good.”
The Wild are a little banged up as they pivot to a huge challenge against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, on the same day that the Avalanche also play.
At this point, it’s all about “finding ways to win,” and the Wild did so at least on Saturday.