Cory Schneider

Goalie Nods: Wings will start Mrazek for second straight day

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Detroit sticks with Petr Mrazek

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard’s recent slump has been bad enough spark speculation about him potentially losing the starting job to 23-year-old netminder Mrazek. That debate only intensified after Mrazek posted a 23-save shutout against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Under these circumstances, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has decided to start Mrazek against the New York Islanders despite the lack of rest. The only other time Detroit attempted to start Mrazek on back-to-back days this season, he allowed three goals on seven shots to the Buffalo Sabres before being pulled just 13:37 minutes into the second game.

There’s no word yet on who the Islanders will counter with.

Elsewhere…

Capitals at Rangers: Braden Holtby vs. Cam Talbot

Panthers at Senators: Craig Anderson will start for Ottawa; Roberto Luongo is the probable goaltender for Florida.

Bruins at Hurricanes: Tuukka Rask is expected to be fine for today’s game after dealing with dehydration issues on Saturday, so there’s a fair chance he’ll be between the pipes for Boston. Carolina will likely go with Anton Khudobin after using Cam Ward on Saturday, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

Flames at Predators: Jonas Hiller is confirmed for Calgary while there’s a fair chance Nashville will counter with Pekka Rinne.

Ducks at Devils: It’s not know who Anaheim will start, but Cory Schneider will be in goal for New Jersey.

Sharks at Penguins: Alex Stalock vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Blackhawks at Jets: Corey Crawford vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Goalie nods: Hackett goes for Sabres in McEichel Derby

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All the latest from the blue paint…

No Lindback for Buffalo

The NHL’s two worst teams — standings-wise, anyway — will do battle tonight when the Sabres host the Coyotes in Buffalo, and Buffalo will start little-used Matthew Hackett in net ahead of Anders Lindback, who’s been quite solid of late.

Hackett, 25, is 0-3-0 this year with a .893 save percentage and 4.34 GAA. He’s spent the majority of the season AHL Rochester, but was summoned to the Sabres after Chad Johnson went down to injury almost immediately after being acquired via trade.

In hist last outing, a 3-0 loss to Nashville, Hackett allowed three goals on 43 shots, good for a .930 save percentage.

For the Coyotes, Mike Smith will get the start in goal. Smith’s turnaround after a dreadful start has been one of the few bright spots in Arizona this season, and is worth mentioning — the veteran has been very good in nine games this month, allowing just 21 goals on 326 shots for a .936 save percentage.

Elsewhere…

Anaheim at Boston: Frederik Andersen vs. Tuukka Rask (probable)

Kings at Isles: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Jaroslav Halak

Devils at Caps: Cory Schneider vs. Braden Holtby

Pens at ‘Canes: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Cam Ward

Preds at Bolts: Pekka Rinne (probable) vs. Ben Bishop

Sharks at Wings: Antti Niemi vs. Jimmy Howard

Rangers at Sens: Cam Talbot vs. Andrew Hammond

Panthers at Leafs: Roberto Luongo vs. Jonathan Bernier

Habs at Jets: Dustin Tokarski vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Avs at Canucks: Semyon Varlamov vs. (No Vancouver starter yet.)

Goalie nods: Price versus Rinne in potential Vezina showdown

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Elite battle at Bridgestone

Two goalies most have penciled in as Vezina candidates will square off tonight in Nashville when Carey Price and the Habs take on Pekka Rinne and the Preds.

Price, widely considered to be the Vezina favorite, has been nothing short of brilliant all season long and heads into tonight’s action leading the NHL in wins (40), save percentage (.938), GAA (1.86) and shutouts (nine). The 27-year-old’s dominance has led to serious discussion about Hart Trophy consideration as league MVP.

Rinne, meanwhile, has been solid as well. He’s second to Price in both GAA (2.09) and wins (38), sitting fifth overall in save percentage (.927). What’s interesting about the two, however, is that Price has never been named a Vezina finalist over the course of his seven-year career; Rinne, who’s in his ninth NHL campaign, has been a finalist twice and fell just short of capturing the Vezina in 2011, when he finished a few votes shy of eventual winner Tim Thomas.

So with Price and Rinne likely to both be finalists this year, the conversation turns to who’ll be the third nominee. Right now, it seems like a three-horse race between New Jersey’s Cory Schneider, Washington’s Braden Holtby and Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk.

Elsewhere…

Wild at Isles: Devan Dubnyk vs. Jaroslav Halak

Kings at Rangers: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Cam Talbot

Blues at Pens: Jake Allen vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Ducks at Jackets: John Gibson vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Coyotes at Wings: Mike Smith vs. Jimmy Howard

Panthers at Bolts: Roberto Luongo vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jets at Canucks: Michael Hutchinson vs. Eddie Lack

Goalie nods: Red-hot Schneider looks to deliver playoff blow to Kings

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Schneider looks to stymie L.A.

The Los Angeles Kings are desperate for points in the Western Conference playoff chase, and will look to get two against one of the NHL’s most in-form goalies tonight at Prudential.

Cory Schneider gets the start for New Jersey, looking to continue what’s been an outstanding month of March; he’s gone 3-3-1 with a 1.94 GAA and .939 save percentage in seven starts, bumping his overall numbers on the season to .929 (second-best save percentage in the NHL) and 2.16 (fifth-best GAA).

The Kings have lost three of four and their offense has sputtered over that stretch, scoring just five times. That doesn’t bode well for a matchup against Schneider, who has held opponents to two goals or fewer in 25 of his last 31 appearances.

For L.A., no word yet on who’ll start but Jonathan Quick appears likely.

Elsewhere…

‘Hawks at ‘Canes: Corey Crawford vs. Anton Khudobin

Wild at Leafs: Devan Dubnyk vs. Jonathan Bernier

Sharks at Sens: Antti Niemi vs. Andrew Hammond

Sabres at Stars: Anders Lindback vs. Kari Lehtonen

Avs at Flames: Semyon Varlamov vs. Karri Ramo

Jets at Oilers: Ondrej Pavelec (probable) vs. Ben Scrivens

The Penguins ‘finally got a bounce’ this weekend

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Granted the opponent was only the Coyotes, but Saturday’s 3-1 victory by the Pittsburgh Penguins was a welcome one for a team that had spent much of last week in the cross-hairs of its critics.

Case in point, this is how Ron Cook, columnist at the Post-Gazette, led his most recent piece:

“So what was more surprising Saturday night? That the Penguins actually scored three goals and won a game against the lousy Arizona Coyotes? Or that they didn’t whine to the referees over every call and no-call?”

Can’t score.

No composure.

Those have been the two major criticisms lobbed at the Penguins, summed up in one paragraph by Cook. Neither criticism is particularly unfair, given the Pens haven’t been scoring very many goals and showed a decided lack of composure in a recent game versus the Red Wings.

But that’s not to say the Pens have been playing altogether terrible hockey. The four-game losing streak, the one in which they were outscored 11-2, actually saw them outshoot their opponents by a combined 140-100.

And with the caveat that there’s more to winning than a good Corsi (ask the 2014-15 Kings), it’s still worth noting that, in their last 20 games, the Penguins have the second-best score-adjusted Corsi in the league. In a good number of their losses during that stretch (10-8-2), the opposition goalie was named first or second star.

Evidence of Pittsburgh’s frustration? Here’s what captain Sidney Crosby said of the tying goal versus the Coyotes, one that Arizona goalie Mike Smith mistakenly banked off Brandon Sutter and into the net: “We finally got a bounce.”

Not that Crosby was willing to let his team off the hook in previous losses. (“[Cory Schneider] did make good saves when he had to, but we could have given him more,” he said after a 35-shot shutout loss to New Jersey.) But he clearly felt the bounces weren’t going the Pens’ way.

The Penguins have the day off today. They host the Blues tomorrow in what will be one of their toughest tests before the playoffs start.

“St. Louis is a top team in the West,” said coach Mike Johnston. “We had a good game against them out there. Now it’s coming in against them against a top team and really bringing our game to that level.”