The New York Rangers haven’t exactly gotten off to the greatest start so far in 2014-15, but Rick Nash is looking revitalized with four goals and one assist in his first three games. Hopefully the “birth of his first-born child” thing won’t throw him off, then.
The Rangers allowed Nash, 30, to leave an ugly 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs before the third period on Sunday for about as valid a reason as you can get: his wife was apparently expecting to give birth.
Apparently the red-hot power forward was questionable to play last night, as it looked like his child was on the way Sunday afternoon:
You don’t get the opportunity to mark someone down as “questionable (probable birth of first-born child)” every day, but it’s a delightful reminder that “real life” can often intrude upon the escape that is professional sports.
There hasn’t been an update yet regarding how everything went for the growing Nash clan, so for now let’s just enjoy the beautiful goal he scored on Sunday, with a splendid assist from Martin St. Louis:
Naturally, the Rangers’ loss and this news prompted some jokes, including this bit:
Hey, at least people aren’t questioning his commitment to the team for leaving the game yet, right?
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Gabriel Landeskog says he “can’t put his finger” on why the Colorado Avalanche haven’t been able to score a single goal in two games against the Minnesota Wild. How long will it take for Colorado to find some answers? (Denver Post)
Speaking of the Wild, head coach Mike Yeo thinks his team has a chance to win it all … yet he’s also scared about missing the playoffs altogether. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock believes that his team got its “identity back.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $5,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $800. Starts Wednesday at 1pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
Chris Kunitz’s remarkable journey from “never being drafted” to becoming Sidney Crosby’s partner-in-crime … not to mention winning Olympic gold. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Despite the fact that the 2014-15 season is in gear, there are six interesting goalie options out there if injuries or poor play force a general manager’s hand. (The Hockey News)
Meet “the original” Nazem Kadri, grandfather of the rising Toronto Maple Leafs forward. (Sportsnet)
Evan Sporer put together a nifty profile on hot 2015 NHL Draft prospect Jack Eichel. (SB Nation)
When people think of the NHL’s peskiest players, Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw might not be on the tip of every tongue, but that doesn’t mean that he’s modest about getting under opponents’ skin. He did that to Buffalo Sabres’ defenseman Tyler Myers on Saturday, who paid back his spear below the belt with quite the shot:
CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers indicated that Shaw, 23, is just fine (and there was no real mention of “damage” in this gamer). Only Myers, 24, received a penalty (roughing) following that “exchange of ideas,” so perhaps Shaw won this one.
Granted, he also won a punch to the head, but still.
Chicago ended up beating Buffalo 6-2 tonight thanks to a four-goal third period.
Here’s the good news for the Colorado Avalanche: they didn’t get blown out tonight. Their penalty kill did an outstanding job. Semyon Varlamov didn’t get bombarded like he did on Thursday night. An empty-net goal inflates the difference of tonight’s contest, too.
The list of bad news is still a little disturbing, however. The Minnesota Wild won 3-0 on Saturday, giving Darcy Kuemper a two-game shutout streak (the best run of his brief career), all against the Avalanche. Minnesota outscored Colorado 8-0 in this opening duo of games.
(Aside: Zach Parise fired an absolutely absurd 19 shots on goal through two games. That almost seems like a typo.)
There’s also the ugly news, as the Avalanche exhibited some serious moments of frustration. As this post shows, both Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog did some things that might draw some attention from the league. Here’s the video of Johnson’s hit on Erik Haula, who appears to be OK.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo points out a moment in which officials might have defused some late-game ugliness:
Interesting stuff. Granted, there’s no guarantee that anything nasty would have surfaced from that, but it could provide some precedent if the league wants to limit nonsense at the end of testy and/or lopsided contests.
While it seems like score effects probably played a role in Colorado looking better, at least tonight’s loss doesn’t look as horrifying in fancy graph form via Hockeystats.ca:
It’s probably foolish to say that all is well in Colorado, especially if some kind of reprimand comes from the Avalanche’s less desirable moments. Call it faint praise, but they still looked a lot better in their second game than they did in that disastrous first.
The Dallas Stars might have lost their season-opener against Chicago, but they gave the Blackhawks all they could handle. Perhaps that explains Jamie Benn’s disappointed reaction after the Nashville Predators overwhelmed his team 4-1 on Saturday.
Benn admitted that he was part of the problem, too, as the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika reports.
“We have no excuses in here,” Benn said. “It starts from the top and I could have been the worst player out there tonight.”
The numbers argue that the 25-year-old wasn’t the Stars’ worst player by any means, yet despite the team’s strides this offseason, the bottom line is that they need him to be dominant. Head coach Lindy Ruff backed that thought up.
“We haven’t found it yet,” Ruff said. “I think our top guys have struggled and it’s probably hurt us more than anything and if they’re going well, we’re going to win and they’ve struggled. They’ve had a little bit of a tough preseason and I think we’re seeing a little bit of that still now.”
The Predators’ superior play stands out whether you judge things through a traditional or “fancy” prism. Nashville took the shot advantage in every period tonight, and they really poured it on in the final two periods. Overall, they out-shot the Stars 33-18, including 26-13 in the final 40 minutes.
It’s early, but some won’t be able to resist noting that while the Stars drew all the hype as a Central Division team on the rise, they’re 0-1-1 while the Predators are 2-0-0 under new head coach Peter Laviolette.