Buffalo Sabres

Goalie nods: Kinkaid, Montoya give starters a break

All the latest from the blue paint…

Kinkaid gets second start in five games

The New Jersey Devils will lighten Cory Schneider’s load a bit, as rookie netminder Keith Kinkaid gets another start this evening at home against the Isles.

Schneider, who played nearly every game through the first two months of the season, faced 42 shots last night in a 3-0 loss to Boston, hence Kinkaid’s start tonight. But there is reason to suggest Kinkaid also got this assignment on merit; he’s been pretty good this season, posting a 2.01 GAA and .928 save percentage while earning at least a point in three of his last five starts.

For the Islanders, Jaroslav Halak will be in goal.

Al faces Flames

After last night’s emotional win in Vancouver, Roberto Luongo will be given the night off and Al Montoya will face Calgary at the Saddledome.

Montoya, in his first year with the Panthers, last played on Sunday in relief of Luongo during a 4-3 loss to the Capitals (Luongo exited the game after getting bowled over by Alex Ovechkin.) Montoya’s last start, though, came in a loss to the Rangers in which he allowed five goals on 34 shots.

The 29-year-old is 2-4-2 for Florida this season, with a 2.61 GAA and .904 save percentage.

For the Flames, Jonas Hiller will be in goal.


Jackets at Leafs: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Jonathan Bernier

Sabres at Bolts: Michal Neuvirth vs. Ben Bishop

‘Hawks at Oilers: Ben Scrivens for Edmonton, no word yet on a Chicago starter.

Cam Ward is probably not the answer for Minnesota


The Minnesota Wild have inquired about Carolina goalie Cam Ward, according to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.

And according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, they’re not denying it.

But is that a path GM Chuck Fletcher should go down?

True, the Wild have serious issues between the pipes — issues that may end up costing them a playoff spot.

And yes, Ward could be had for next to nothing, given the not-going-to-the-playoffs Hurricanes would surely love to be rid of his contract, which features a $6.3 million cap hit that runs through next season. The ‘Canes might even be willing to assume some of that hit. They’d be foolish not to consider it.

The only problem for the Wild? It’s sort of a big one. Ward isn’t a very good NHL goalie, and save for a few spurts here and there (he’s actually been in decent form recently), hasn’t been for a while now.

This season, among netminders that have played 1,000 or more minutes, the 30-year-old former Conn Smythe Trophy winner ranks 24th out of 28 in five-on-five save percentage, only slightly better than Darcy Kuemper, who ranks 27th.

We’d like to say we had a brilliant idea for Fletcher; alas, we don’t. He’s in a tough spot. Jhonas Enroth, another goalie that’s been linked to the Wild, hasn’t exactly been lights out in Buffalo. Though, at the very least, his cap hit is only $1.25 million and he’s not under contract past this season.

The best plan, as hard as it might be for frustrated fans to accept, may just be to gamble that one of Kuemper or Niklas Backstrom can figure it out.

The Wild host Nashville on Saturday.

Goalie nods: Talbot goes for Rangers in Cup Final rematch vs. L.A.


All the latest from the blue paint…

Cam gets Kings

After Henrik Lundqvist beat Anaheim last night, the Rangers will give Cam Talbot the start this evening when they take on the Kings for the first time since last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

Talbot, who’s emerged as one of the league’s better backups over the last season-and-a-half, last played on Dec. 21 against Carolina, stopping all 18 shots faced for his third shutout of the season. The 27-year-old is 3-3-1 on the year with a 2.02 GAA and .928 save percentage, and has just one loss in his last four outings.

No official word yet on who’ll start for the Kings, though Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice at today’s morning skate.


Devils at Bruins: Cory Schneider for New Jersey, no word yet on a Boston starter.

Caps at Flyers: Steve Mason for Philly, no word yet on a Washington starter.

Sabres at ‘Canes: Jhonas Enroth vs. Cam Ward

Blackhawks at Wild: Corey Crawford vs. Niklas Backstrom

Stars at Preds: Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas, Pekka Rinne likely for Nashville.

Sharks at Blues: Antti Niemi vs. Brian Elliott

Sens at Avs: Craig Anderson vs. Semyon Varlamov

Jets at Coyotes: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Mike Smith

Panthers at Canucks: Roberto Luongo vs. Ryan Miller

Report: Wild are gauging goalie trade market


Considering the fact that head coach Mike Yeo called out a particular overtime goal and plenty have pointed out the Minnesota Wild’s problems in net already, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the team is reportedly looking for a netminder.

Just in case you were wondering, that does indeed seem to be the case, as GM Chuck Fletcher is testing the goalie trade market, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

What General Manager Chuck Fletcher is gauging is this: Do you give up significant assets now to get a short-term fix when there’s no guarantee a goalie can save the season or do you stay patient, continue to ride out the instability and wait for the right move to come along that will address the long-term need?

Fletcher didn’t comment on the issue, yet it’s hard to imagine a general manager who wouldn’t ask around at this point.

The Star-Tribune lists the following goalies as possibilities: Cam Ward, Antti Niemi, Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth, Viktor Fasth and Martin Brodeur.

Obviously, those netminders represent a wide array of different considerations, from pricey with term remaining (Ward), expensive but expiring deal (Niemi) and cheap-but-big-name (Brodeur).

With Yeo letting loose on his team during a recent practice and tension seemingly coming to a head in general, the Wild must at least explore avenues to improve. Who would you target if you were in Fletcher’s shoes?

PHT Morning Skate: Girgensons rap, more Ovechkin kindness


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.

Finding some good news in the seemingly familiar situation for the Toronto Maple Leafs. (The Hockey News)

Henrik Zetterberg scored two points in the 800th game of his NHL career last night. (MLive.com)

A look at the “Birthplace of Hockey.” (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting an $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Thursday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

In case voting him into the 2015 All-Star Game wasn’t enough of a clue that Zemgus Girgensons has his native Latvia’s attention, feast your eyes (and ears) on this (H/T to Josh Flynn):

Alex Ovechkin is enjoying a hot streak in the best way lately, as it seems like heartwarming stories about his kindness toward fans keep popping up. Apparently a fan wanted a stick from warm-ups for her birthday last night:

But he did it one better: