Author: Jason Brough

Corey Crawford, Jori Lehtera

Goalie nods: Crawford gets chance to put Blues game behind him

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Corey Crawford went into Wednesday’s game against the Blues with a stellar .938 save percentage. He came out at .924.

That’s still a pretty respectable save rate, but Wednesday was definitely a struggle for the Blackhawks’ starter. Crawford allowed six goals on 29 shots as Chicago blew a 5-2 lead and lost 6-5 in overtime.

“As a goalie, when your team has a good start, especially five goals, you want to be able to shut it down,” Crawford said afterward. “It seemed like, no matter what was happening, everything seemed to find its way in.”

Crawford will get a chance to redeem himself tonight in New Jersey.

While some may be wondering if this would’ve been a good chance to give Scott Darling a start, it’s worth noting that Darling has not been all that good this season. In three starts, he’s 1-2-0 with an .880 save percentage.

Cory Schneider will start for the Devils.

Elsewhere…

Petr Mrazek for Detroit. James Reimer goes again for Toronto, after Jonathan Bernier was placed on IR.

Kari Lehtonen probable for the Stars. Eddie Lack for the ‘Canes.

Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers. Reto Berra for the Avs, after Semyon Varlamov lost another one last night in Arizona.

— Jeff Zatkoff gives Marc-Andre Fleury a rest and starts for the Penguins. Anders Nilsson for the Oilers.

Curtis McElhinney for the Jackets, after Sergei Bobrovsky was excellent last night at Staples Center. Frederik Andersen likely for the Ducks.

Five surprising stats, headlined by Dutch Gretzky

Dale Weise,
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8 —  Goals for Canadiens winger Dale Weise. Only two players — Jamie Benn (10) and Tyler Toffoli (9) — have more. This from a guy who’s never scored more than 10 goals in an NHL season, though he did rip up the Dutch league during the lockout, so he had that going for him. It’s not like Weise has scored on half his shots either. He has 36 shots, third most on the Habs.

1.83 — The goals-against average of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the second lowest in the league. For all the talk about the Pens’ scoring woes — and that talk is justified, to be sure — credit should be given to how well they’ve played defensively. Sure, much of the credit goes to Marc-Andre Fleury, whose .939 save percentage ranks right up there among the goalie leaders. And Pittsburgh still needs more from its highly paid scorers, because maintaining a .939 save percentage all season is highly unlikely for any goalie. But the Pens are finding ways to win. They’re 8-4-0, and that’s not bad at all.

32.7 — Shots per game for the Buffalo Sabres. No team in the NHL is averaging more. Pretty remarkable stuff from the team that finished dead last in the same category last season, at just 24.2. Now it’s simply a matter of, um, scoring on those shots.

45.7 — The percentage of faceoffs the Predators have won, the lowest success rate in the NHL. This only falls in the “surprising” category because so much emphasis is put on faceoff stats, when in reality there isn’t an ironclad correlation between winning teams and good faceoff teams. The Preds are 8-2-2. They’re still an excellent possession team, and that’s a much better predictor of success. In the end, faceoffs are one of those things where it’s nice to be good at them, but if you’re not, it’s not the end of the world. Just go win most of the other battles.

90.5% — The Anaheim Ducks’ penalty killing, the highest success rate in the NHL. Yet another statistic that underscores how badly this team has struggled to score. The Ducks are 3-7-2, and they have the best PK in the league. Amazing. In case you’re wondering, their power play has been awful (10.8%, 28th).

Poll: Who will miss the playoffs in the Central?

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This is one of the questions we asked in our season preview. I chose Colorado and Winnipeg. The Avs were a slam dunk for me, but I seriously considered every other team before I settled on the Jets. If I had to pick again today, I might choose Minnesota. Or maybe even Chicago. Or, I might just throw six team names in a hat.

Anyway, I’m glad it was one of our questions, because the Central Division is every bit as strong as we thought it would be, if not stronger.

Here’s what the standings look like today:

Central

Remember, only five teams can make the playoffs from any division.

We won’t include Colorado in the poll, because, well, you know. (Prove me wrong, Avs!) So assuming only three Pacific Division teams qualify, who’s going to be the one out of the six to miss in the Central?

Ryan Miller returns to Buffalo, finally

Ryan Miller
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The last time Ryan Miller played a game in Buffalo — on Feb. 25, 2014 — he was in goal for the hometown Sabres.

He didn’t play there after he was traded to the St. Louis Blues, and a knee injury last season kept him from starting for Vancouver when the Canucks traveled there in February.

Tomorrow afternoon, finally, he’ll play there again.

“To be there so long, then go cold turkey, it is a little bit strange,” Miller told the Vancouver Sun. “My parents are coming because going to Buffalo was a big part of their lives as well. And we’re going to be there a little early so there’s a chance to say hi. They have friends in Buffalo.”

Miller is enjoying a fine — and busy — beginning to the 2015-16 season. He’s started all but one of the Canucks’ 13 games, and has a .923 save percentage to show for it.

Vancouver announced yesterday that backup Jacob Markstrom (hamstring) was off to the AHL on a conditioning assignment, so Miller could see a few more days off shortly. Tomorrow’s game marks the start of a seven-game road trip for the Canucks.

But by the sounds of it, Saturday could be an emotional return for the 35-year-old, because Buffalo really was home.

“You really have to live there,” he told the Sun. “If you just drive into town, you’re not going to see what Buffalo offers. You have to get out and experience it and feel it. I enjoyed my time immensely.”

Flames GM: ‘averaging north of four goals against’ won’t cut it

Alex Tanguay, Karri Ramo

At least Brad Treliving has kept his sense of humor.

In speaking with the Calgary Sun, the Flames’ GM chose an amusing way to criticize his team’s inability to keep the puck out of its net this season.

“We’re averaging north of four goals against a game,” Treliving said. “I don’t care if you are playing Mary’s Sisters of the Poor, you aren’t going to win like that. That’s plagued us from Day 1.”

Treliving also said all the predictable stuff about not making a trade just for the sake of making a trade, etc.

But he’s right that the Flames (3-9-1) need to figure it out defensively, and that includes the goaltenders. No team has a higher goals-against average than they do (4.23). Columbus is 29th at 3.69.

Heading into tonight’s action, the Sisters of the Poor are two points up on the Flames in the Pacific Division, but Calgary does hold a game in hand.