Author: Mike Halford

Ben Scrivens

Goalie nods: Oilers start Bachman, look to avoid another Kings blowout


All the latest from the blue paint…

Bachman returns for Oilers

Richard Bachman will return to the Edmonton net tonight when the Oilers host the playoff-hungry Kings at Rexall.

Bachman, who’s been away from the team following the death of his brother, will look to regain the form shown in his last two starts — a 29-save effort in a 4-1 win over Colorado, and a 29-save shutout in a 4-0 win over Dallas.

But it won’t be easy.

The Kings absolutely crushed the Oilers two games ago, lighting up Ben Scrivens and ECHL recall Tyler Bunz in a 8-2 victory. It marked the first time in five years L.A. scored eight goals in a game, prompting Oilers forward Jordan Eberle to lash out at his team’s performance.

“That was embarrassing,” Eberle said. “They treated us like a junior team. They pushed us around.

“You’re a professional hockey player. You have to be able to push through whatever it is, or there will be guys who will take your spot.”

No word yet on who’ll start for L.A. Jonathan Quick played last night in Vancouver and fared well, stopping 37 of 38 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss.


Rangers at Devils: Cam Talbot vs. Cory Schneider

Isles at Flyers: Jaroslav Halak vs. (No Philly starter yet)

Pens at Sens: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Andrew Hammond

‘Canes at Wings: (No Carolina starter yet) vs. Jimmy Howard

Jets at Blues: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Jake Allen

Wild at ‘Hawks: Devan Dubnyk vs. Corey Crawford

Preds at Avs: (No Nashville starter yet) vs. Semyon Varlamov

Coyotes at Flames: Mike Smith vs. Jonas Hiller

‘Hawks rule out Richards (upper body) for rest of regular season

Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks

On Tuesday, Chicago announced that veteran center Brad Richards would miss the rest of the regular season — three games — with an upper-body injury, per the Tribune.

Richards is expected to return for the playoffs.

It’s unclear exactly what’s ailing the 34-year-old. Richards played in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Blues and took regular shifts throughout the game, getting more in the third period (nine) than in the first and second (six each).

While a potential injury might be cause for alarm — Richards has been a good fit in his first year in Chicago, with 12 goals and 37 points in 76 games — it’s possible the ‘Hawks are resting veterans as the playoffs draw near. Defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who’s appeared in 16 games since coming over from Philly at the trade deadline, was hurt early in Sunday’s  and will also sit tonight with an upper-body ailment.

Richards and Timonen (39) are two of the oldest players on the team and could very well need some rest and recuperation. What’s more, the ‘Hawks do have some youngsters to turn to, like former Colgate standout Kyle Baun — who’ll make his NHL debut tonight after signing as a free agent on Mar. 26 — and ex-Vermont defenseman Michael Paliotta, who also signed in late March and could soon make his big-league debut as well.

Sounds like Bolts will get Hedman, Coburn back for playoffs

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens

In last week’s PHT Extra we mentioned the beleaguered state of Tampa Bay’s defense, which had seen the likes of Victor Hedman, Braydon Coburn, Jason Garrison and Andrej Sustr all go down to injury.

Today, the Lightning received some good news on that front:

Coburn’s been out since Mar. 10 with a lower-body injury while Hedman’s missed the last three games with a lower-body ailment as well (Sustr’s been out since Mar. 28). The Bolts also got decent news on Garrison, who was ruled out 3-4 weeks on Mar. 30 but skated before practice this morning.

All of this bodes well for the Lightning, who’ve been operating with a patchwork defense lately — not coincidentally, they’ve lost four of their last six.

Case in point: During Saturday’s 4-0 win over Florida, the club rolled with a six-man unit of Anton Stralman, Matt Carle, Nikita Nesterov, Luke Witkowski, Mark Barberio and Slater Koekkoek; Nesterov played 20-plus minutes for just the second time in his career and Koekkoek played just over 16 in his third-ever NHL contest.

The Bolts can still mathematically catch Montreal for top spot in the Atlantic Division but, trailing by two points with two games left, are probably going to finish second and face either Boston or Detroit in the opening playoff round. If the likes of Hedman, Coburn and Sustr are ready for Game 1, it’s going to make life a lot more difficult for the Bruins or Red Wings.

Oilers keeping tabs on Pens, ‘hoping for another pick in the lottery’

Taylor Hall

Several Eastern Conference teams are tracking the ongoing free-fall in Pittsburgh, but there’s a team out west that’s keeping an eye as well — the Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton owns Pittsburgh’s first-round pick at this year’s draft, thanks to January’s David Perron trade, and the Oilers could very well end up with a second crack at the lottery should the Pens miss the playoffs.

“It’s another chip on the roulette table, you could say,” Taylor Hall said, per the Edmonton Sun. “You don’t root for teams to lose or anything like that, but it would certainly be nice to have another shot at that No. 1 pick.”

Rob Klinkhammer, who came to Edmonton in the aforementioned Perron trade, was even more direct.

“Obviously, everyone here is hoping for another pick in the lottery,” he explained.

The Oilers host Los Angeles tonight in a game that’ll go a long way in deciding odds for their own pick. Currently sitting 28th in the NHL, Edmonton has an 11.5 percent crack at the No. 1 pick but, should it slide into 29th (a spot currently held by Arizona, three points back), those odds would increase to 13.5 percent.

As for that potential Pittsburgh pick? If the Pens miss, they’d have between a two and one percent chance of getting the first overall selection — slim, but still a chance. It’s a ray of hope for an Oilers team that hasn’t had many good moments this year, and wants to have something positive to build on.

“We put ourselves into a situation to have a good chance, and that sucks,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you want to do well in that lottery.”

Habs rule out Pacioretty after Kulikov hit

Max Pacioretty

Montreal leading goalscorer Max Pacioretty will miss his first game of the season on Thursday when the Habs host Detroit at the Bell Centre.

Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien made the announcement on Tuesday, 48 hours after Pacioretty exited Sunday’s 4-1 win over Florida after an awkward fall into the boards following a hit from Panthers d-man Dmitry Kulikov:

Kulikov received a two-minute interference minor on the play, and Pacioretty didn’t return to action. Lars Eller moved into his spot on a line with David Desharnais and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Pacioretty, who sits tied for fourth in the NHL with 37 goals this year, will also see his personal ironman streak snapped by missing Thursday’s tilt against the Wings: