Cory Schneider

Kassian scores twice but Canucks lose to Devils


A rare Friday night tilt between the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils produced plenty of storylines.

— For starters, the Canucks had a dreadful opening period and got off to an even worse start in the second period, and that was costly. Playing the second game of a back-to-back and of a five-game road trip, they lost to the Devils by a final score of 4-2, after falling behind by three goals early in the middle period.

— The Canucks entered the game second in the Pacific Division. The surprising Calgary Flames were also hosting the Anaheim Ducks, with the Flames having a chance to leapfrog the Canucks in the division standings with a win.

— Zack Kassian was inserted back into the lineup, after Alex Burrows did not play due to a lower-body injury. Initially, Burrows took the pre-game skate, but a decision was made that he wasn’t good enough to go.

— Further to that development, Kassian, who has expressed frustration and confusion over being a healthy scratch in recent games, looked impressive on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. He scored twice, getting the Canucks back into the game in the third period. Now, if Burrows can’t go Sunday against the New York Islanders, will head coach Willie Desjardins trust Kassian enough to play on a line with the twins?

— Devils goalie Cory Schneider recorded his first victory against his former team. Schneider was traded from the Canucks to the Devils for the ninth overall pick, which has turned into Bo Horvat, at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Goalie nods: Gibson’s struggling, but starts fourth straight for Anaheim


All the latest from the blue paint…

Ducks stick with Gibson

The Anaheim Ducks, losers in seven of their last 10, will keep rolling with John Gibson as they look to get things on track tonight in Calgary.

Gibson, forced into action with Frederik Andersen injured and Ilya Bryzgalov struggling, hasn’t played especially well of late — in four games this month, he’s allowed 13 goals on 101 shots for a .886 save percentage, and has just one win.

“My biggest worry on it is that we are allowing way too many goals,” Bruce Boudreau said following a 4-1 defeat to Tampa Bay on Wednesday, per the O.C. Register. “We’re not losing pretty.”

The Ducks are hoping Gibson, a highly-touted prospect that broke onto the scene late last year — can reclaim some of the form shown earlier this season. In a three-game stretch in late October, the 21-year-old allowed one goal in a win over Columbus, posted a 38-save shutout against the Blackhawks and stopped 27 of 29 shots in a loss to St. Louis.

For the Flames, Jonas Hiller will start in goal.


Rangers at Sabres: No word yet on starters for either team.

Canucks at Devils: Eddie Lack vs. Cory Schneider

Leafs at ‘Canes: James Reimer vs. Cam Ward

Bruins at Blues: Malcolm Subban vs. Jake Allen (more on Subban’s NHL debut here.)

Avs at ‘Hawks: Semyon Varlamov vs. Corey Crawford

Wild at Oilers: Devan Dubnyk for Minnesota, no word yet on an Edmonton starter.

Ranking the possession stats of all 30 teams, from most to least improved


To mark the debut of “enhanced stats” (also known as “advanced stats”) on, we compared the shot-attempt percentages with the score close (also known as Corsi close) of each team, this season to last season, to see if it can tell us anything.

Here’s the list of all 30 teams, from most improved to least:

% diff
1 Edmonton Oilers 4.2
2 New York Islanders 3.9
3 Nashville Predators 3.7
4 Pittsburgh Penguins 3.5
5 Toronto Maple Leafs 3.1
6 Washington Capitals 3.0
7 Minnesota Wild 2.8
8 Montréal Canadiens 2.7
9 Winnipeg Jets 2.7
10 Tampa Bay Lightning 2.5
11 Detroit Red Wings 2.4
12 Carolina Hurricanes 1.1
13 Anaheim Ducks 0.8
14 Dallas Stars 0.2
15 Florida Panthers 0.0
16 Philadelphia Flyers -0.5
17 Chicago Blackhawks -1.5
18 St. Louis Blues -1.5
19 Calgary Flames -1.5
20 Vancouver Canucks -1.6
21 Boston Bruins -1.6
22 Arizona Coyotes -1.6
23 Los Angeles Kings -2.2
24 Ottawa Senators -2.3
25 New York Rangers -2.3
26 San Jose Sharks -2.4
27 Colorado Avalanche -2.5
28 Columbus Blue Jackets -3.6
29 Buffalo Sabres -5.9
30 New Jersey Devils -7.2


— Skeptics of using shots attempts to track possession will immediately point to Edmonton being at the top of this list. If the Oilers are so “improved,” why are they still such a bad team? It’s a good question, and it’s why you should never rely on one statistic as a be-all, end-all for anything. You always have to drill deeper. Oh, and yes, you still have to watch the games. The Oilers, for example, have had the worst goaltending in the NHL, even worse than it was last season. Their special teams have also been worse, and their defensive coverage continues to be abysmal at times. Oh, and let’s not forget, despite the “improvement” in possession, they remain among the worst possession teams in the league.

— The same goes for Toronto at No. 5. The Maple Leafs may have improved in shot-attempt differential, but it’s still a major problem for them. Especially with the relatively poor goaltending they’ve received compared to last season.

— The New York Islanders at No. 2 says something, no? And Nashville at No. 3? And Washington at No. 6? Three teams that missed the playoffs last season. They’re not missing them this season.

— Moving to the bottom of the list, what about San Jose, in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003, at No. 26? And New Jersey — not even close to making the playoffs this season, despite the excellent goaltending of Cory Schneider — at No. 30? That has to say something.

— As for the New York Rangers at No. 25, absolutely that could be a red flag. This is a team that’s relied on the third highest even-strength shooting percentage in the NHL (9.8, compared to just 6.9 last season). Is that sustainable over the long run? History says no.

Video: Devils defeat Sabres in the shootout


The New Jersey Devils ended a four-game losing streak on Tuesday. All it took was a visit from the Buffalo Sabres, the last-place team in the Eastern Conference.

Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson scored in the shootout for New Jersey, while the Sabres were unsuccessful in both of their attempts, as the Devils skated to a 2-1 victory.

The Devils, held to just one regulation goal for the fourth consecutive game, took over the game in the third period, despite giving up the tying goal to Tyler Ennis.

They outshot Buffalo 17-8 combined between the third period and overtime, with Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth making 34 saves.

Cory Schneider made 24 saves for the win.

Goalie nods: It has to be Johnson for the Isles… right? (Update: Yep)


All the latest from the crease…

Who goes for New York?

The Islanders won’t announce their starting goalie until 5 p.m. ET today, so we don’t know if it’s Chad Johnson or Jaroslav Halak in net for tonight’s affair against Carolina.

Update: It’s Johnson.

One would suspect Johnson gets the nod, given tonight is the second of a back-to-back; Halak played last night, and allowed six goals on 42 shots in an emotional loss to the Rangers.

That said, head coach Jack Capuano could possibly be persuaded to let Halak try and bounce back; the 29-year-old Slovak looked rattled and a bit shaky as the Blueshirts made a concerted effort to get into his kitchen.

Related: The Isles are surrendering too many goals

“I want to get shots,” captain Ryan McDonagh said, per Newsday. “We wanted to make it more difficult on Halak tonight than in other past games. He’s been a big difference in why we haven’t been able to beat them in the past.

“We talked about getting in front of the net and making it tough on him, make him fight through screens. We were a lot hungrier in front of him for sure.”

No word yet on who’ll start in goal for the ‘Canes.


Blue Jackets at Flyers: Curtis McElhinney vs. Ray Emery

Caps at Pens: Braden Holtby vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Sabres at Devils: Cory Schneider for New Jersey, Michal Neuvirth likely for Buffalo.

Panthers at Leafs: Roberto Luongo vs. Jonathan Bernier

Stars at Blues: Brian Elliott for St. Louis, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Sharks at Preds: Alex Stalock for San Jose, Pekka Rinne likely for Nashville.