So, Mackenzie Skapski’s NHL debut didn’t get off to the greatest of starts.
In net for the New York Rangers against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, Skapski was beaten on a deflection from a wide open Matt Moulson just 14 seconds into the opening period, after a faceoff in the New York zone.
It did get better for Skapski. The Rangers tied the game almost six minutes later, and took the lead early in the second period.
The Buffalo Sabres could soon be without defenseman Josh Gorges for the remainder of the season due to a lower-body injury, according to the Buffalo News.
A decision hasn’t been made yet, but one is on the way, and soon for the veteran blue liner.
“It’s leaning that way, but we’ll see in the next little bit here,” said Sabres head coach Ted Nolan, as per Buffalo News.
“He’s getting final information. He’ll make a final decision in probably 24 to 48 hours.”
The 30-year-old Gorges last played on Feb. 10 against the Ottawa Senators. The Sabres host the New York Rangers on Friday.
This season, Gorges, traded from Montreal to Buffalo last July, has zero goals and six assists in 46 games for the last-place Sabres.
There have been no discussions for a new contract between Buffalo and pending UFA goalie Michal Neuvirth, player agent Patrick Stefan told PHT on Friday.
Neuvirth, 26, assumed the Sabres’ No. 1 gig following Jhonas Enroth’s trade to Dallas and has been the goalie of record ever since. Over that stretch, the Czech netminder — who’s in the last of a two-year, $5 million deal — has played very well, allowing just five goals on 103 shots (.951 save percentage) while earning high praise from onlookers:
Neuvirth’s numbers on the year remain unimpressive — 4-15-2, .310 GAA, .913 save percentage — though his playing opportunities were limited earlier in the year with Enroth in the fold.
Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if Sabres GM Tim Murray opts to begin negotiations, as the current state of Buffalo’s goaltending behind Neuvirth and Anders Lindback (another pending UFA) is murky. Matt Hackett, 24, and Nathan Lieuwen, 23, could still turn into NHL-caliber netminders, but they’re not there yet; the club’s three most recent draftees (Linus Ullmark, Cal Petersen, Jonas Johansson) don’t project to be ready anytime soon.
As for heading to free agency… Neuvirth would be one of the youngest and most intriguing UFAs on the market, and could probably garner more interest than, say, Antti Niemi or Viktor Fasth. Problem is, this projects to be a buyer’s market for goalies and there aren’t many starting opportunities available.
The Boston Bruins’ recent slide has created an opening for teams trailing in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but Philadelphia hasn’t been able to capitalize on that. Tonight was another example as the Flyers suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres.
Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth was superb as he stopped 36 of 38 Flyers shots. He also had a strong game against Philadelphia on Sunday, but in that case he wasn’t rewarded for his efforts as Buffalo suffered a 2-1 loss. Still, he’s kicked out 98 of 103 shots over a three-game stretch, which is good for a .951 save percentage.
“For a young goaltender trying to establish himself as a number one, the difference makers, that’s how you’ve got to be,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said, per the team’s Twitter feed.
This was a big night for Brian Gionta too as he found the back of the net early in the second period to earn his 500th career point in 821 games.
Brian Flynn netted the winner in the shootout.
Philadelphia has only won two of its last seven contests. It has earned four consolation points over those five losses, but the Flyers haven’t gained nearly as much ground as they could have over Boston’s recent five-game slump. Instead the Florida Panthers are in a better position to overtake Boston.
A couple of Olympic gold-medal winners will be between the pipes tonight in Montreal, where the Canadiens’ Carey Price will be staring down the Bell Centre ice at the Panthers’ Roberto Luongo.
Both Canadian netminders are enjoying excellent seasons. Price is a serious Hart Trophy candidate, while Luongo has helped keep Florida in the playoff race with a .920 save percentage in 46 appearances.
With a win, the Panthers would move to within one point of the Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the East.
So let’s hear those “Go Habs Go” chants, Boston sports fans!
Jaroslav Halak will look to rebound from a shaky performance versus the Rangers when the Islanders host the Predators, who are likely to go with Pekka Rinne.
Cam Talbot for the Rangers versus Ryan Miller for the Canucks.
Curtis McElhinney for the Blue Jackets versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.
Ondrej Pavelec will see his first action in a week when the Jets visit Washington to take on Braden Holtby and the Capitals.
Michal Neuvirth for the Sabres versus Ray Emery for the Flyers.
Antti Niemi for the Sharks versus Kari Lehtonen (likely) for the Stars.