Jason Brough

Pre-game reading: Philipp Grubauer is enjoying the compressed schedule

— Up top, Philipp Grubauer notched his third shutout of the season Sunday. The Capitals’ backup goalie now sports a 10-3-2 record with a sparkling .931 save percentage.

— Grubauer, 25, is one of the few players who’s enjoying the NHL’s compressed schedule. “You don’t have to wait two or three weeks to get a chance. It helps winning because if you lose it’s going to stick with you for a week or two weeks. If I lose I don’t want to be seen, I don’t want to be seen around the rink.” Grubauer’s strong play has likewise been good for starter Braden Holtby, who’s been able to get a rest whenever he needs it. (Washington Post)

— In praise of Oilers starter Cam Talbot, who’s been by far the busiest goalie in the NHL this season. “Talbot started his league-leading 49th game on Sunday, ran his league-leading minutes played total to 2,922:08, league-leading shots against total to 1,439, and league-leading saves total to 1,326. He also put up his 27th win, good for a second-place tie in the NHL, and a fifth goose egg, tying him for third.” Talbot has played almost 260 more minutes than the NHL’s second-busiest goalie, San Jose’s Martin Jones. (Edmonton Journal)

— Why it’s time to bring back the Quebec Nordiques, by Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News. “As in Winnipeg, a love for hockey never died in the city. You can still walk into sporting goods stores and find rafts of Nordiques gear, while major junior’s Remparts currently bring fans to the Videotron Centre. In fact, the Remparts are one of the top-drawing CHL franchises around, despite being a middling team this year. The team’s most recent game, against Rimouski, drew more than 12,600 fans.” (The Hockey News)

— A look at which teams have the easiest and hardest schedules down the stretch. Good news for the Carolina Hurricanes, who still have two games against both Arizona and Colorado. Bad news for the Vancouver Canucks, who kick off a six-game road trip tomorrow in Nashville. (TSN)

— The Islanders are hosting the Maple Leafs tonight, so of course the traveling Toronto media inquired about John Tavares‘ contract status (UFA 2018). Here was his response: “At this point, I’ve got enough to worry about with our team and trying to make the playoffs. I can understand and respect why the questions are being asked. It’s something to talk about, it’s something that’s coming up in the future. But for myself, I just try to worry about playing.” Tavares indicated at the All-Star Game that he’d be willing to negotiate an extension with the Isles this summer. (Toronto Sun)

Enjoy the games!

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    So… what do the Coyotes do now?

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    The Arizona Coyotes said it would be different this time. They said their ownership group was comprised of “people that can get this done.”

    And yet, who was surprised to hear Friday that the team’s plans to build a new arena in Tempe were dead?

    The answer is, nobody was surprised. Friday was just the latest setback on a long list. Once again, there is no plan for a new arena to replace the one in Glendale, and the Coyotes have made it crystal clear that they aren’t staying in Glendale.

    “Unfortunately, it appears the ASU deal will not being moving forward,” said Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. “We will continue to explore other options that will ensure a successful future for the team and our fans. We’re a determined bunch — on the ice and off the ice. We intend to do everything we can to keep NHL hockey here in Arizona.”

    Perhaps the Coyotes will now pursue an arena in Scottsdale. Maybe they’ll see about sharing one with the Suns in downtown Phoenix. There are reportedly other options.

    But according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Coyotes were “shocked” that ASU backed out. And that’s not a good look for ownership.

    It’s not a good look for the NHL either. This drama has been going on for years now. One day, the situation in the desert looks dire. The next, a plan comes together and there’s great optimism. The next, the plan falls apart and it’s back to dire.

    Regarding possible relocation, there is still no hard-and-fast arena plan in Seattle. That being said, there is a concerted push, with some big names attached, to get one built. The NHL has made no secret that the Pacific Northwest is on their radar. There’s an arena in Portland, Oregon, which could be an option as well.

    As for Quebec City, it is unlikely that the NHL would want the Coyotes to move there, as that would only worsen the league’s geographic imbalance.

    But the NHL cannot allow this situation to exist for much longer. It is beyond embarrassing now. Just recall what the commissioner, Gary Bettman, said after the now-dead Tempe deal was announced in November.

    “I think first and foremost it’ll stop all the speculation as to what may or may not happen to the franchise,” Bettman said.

    Nope!

    Agostino to get ‘good chance’ to prove he can produce for Blues

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    Kenny Agostino could not ask for a better chance to prove he can produce in the NHL.

    Tonight in Philadelphia, the 24-year-old winger will take Robby Fabbri‘s spot in the St. Louis Blues’ lineup. Fabbri, of course, is done for the season with an ACL injury.

    Agostino has been a prolific scorer in the AHL. This season, he leads the league with 60 points (18G, 42A) in 48 games for the Chicago Wolves.

    Against the Flyers, he’s expected to skate on a line with Jori Lehtera and David Perron.

    “(Agostino) has been having a great deal of success down there and I want him to come up and show us what he can do,” said Blues head coach Mike Yeo, per NHL.com. “I don’t want him thinking about too much or worried one mistake will take him out of the lineup. I want to see what he can bring us and we’ll give him a good chance tonight.”

    It will be Agostino’s first real game with the Blues. Signed as a free agent this past summer, he had a five-point game in the preseason, but it wasn’t enough to make the opening-night roster under coach Ken Hitchcock.

    Agostino has one goal and one assist in 10 career NHL games, all with the Calgary Flames.

    Penguins injuries: Hagelin has concussion; Malkin still out, but making progress

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without forwards Carl Hagelin and Evgeni Malkin tomorrow at home to Calgary.

    Head coach Mike Sullivan said today that Hagelin has been diagnosed with a concussion after being forced to leave Saturday’s victory over St. Louis. The 28-year-old winger was well enough to skate by himself this morning, so it seems unlikely that he’ll be out for too long. Hagelin was reportedly injured after taking a hit to the head from Blues forward Alex Steen.

    Malkin has not played since Jan. 24 due to a lower-body injury, but he too shouldn’t be out for much longer.

    “Geno will not play tomorrow,” said Sullivan. “He was in a non-contact jersey today, but we are very encouraged with his progress.”

    Tomorrow will be the fifth straight game that Malkin has missed. The Penguins have gone 3-1-0 without him.

    The Pens are also missing forward Conor Sheary, and they will for a while longer. Sheary is on IR with an upper-body injury.

    Ribeiro reports to AHL Milwaukee

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    When Mike Ribeiro was placed on waivers Friday, some observers doubted whether he’d report to the AHL if he cleared.

    Well, he did clear, and after being assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday, he has indeed reported.

    As you can see below, the 36-year-old forward arrived at Admirals practice this morning.

    The Admirals host Cleveland tomorrow at UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena.

    It’s been over a decade since Ribeiro played an AHL game. But as humbling as this demotion may be, at least he won’t have to watch from the press box as a healthy scratch anymore.

    On Friday, Predators coach Peter Laviolette explained the situation.

    “I think the lineup decisions we’ve been making as of late have found Mike on the outside,” Laviolette said, per The Tennessean. “He didn’t want to finish that way, being in the stands. He had a request for a trade, and we tried to help him with that, so he’s on waivers today to see if there’s somebody that’s going to pick him up.”

    Presumably, it’s still possible that the Predators run into injury problems and Ribeiro gets called back up. With a strong performance down in the minors, he might even have his wish granted and get traded.

    But it’s also possible that Ribeiro, a pending unrestricted free agent who turns 37 on Friday, has played his last game in the NHL.

    Related: Predators get Fiddler in trade with Devils