All the latest from the blue paint…
Ottawa sticks with Andrew Hammond
Ottawa is seven points back in the battle for a Wild Card spot with just 15 games remaining in its schedule. Under those desperate circumstances, the Senators are putting their fate in the hands of 27-year-old rookie Andrew Hammond. Given that Hammond hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of his 11 appearances this season, it’s hard to fault Senators coach Dave Cameron for his desire to ride the hot hand.
The Senators will be challenged by the Philadelphia Flyers, which are coming off of a 7-2 victory over Detroit on Saturday. Steve Mason played in that contest, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see former Senators goalie Ray Emery start to provide Mason with a breather.
Panthers at Rangers: Dan Ellis will probably start for Florida while Cam Talbot has been confirmed for New York.
Canes at Blue Jackets: No word yet on Carolina, but there’s a good chance it will be Anton Khudobin after Cam Ward played Saturday. Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod for Columbus.
Blues at Stars: Jake Allen will start for St. Louis. Nothing’s confirmed for Dallas, but it will likely be Kari Lehtonen.
Bruins at Capitals: Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn’t reveal Sunday’s starter, but Braden Holtby will probably play for Washington.
Preds at Ducks: Nothing’s confirmed, but it will likely be starters Pekka Rinne and Frederik Andersen between the pipes.
If there’s a building goaltending narrative in 2014-15, it’s been about netminders unexpectedly redeeming themselves or almost appearing out of the blue.
Devan Dubnyk went from a wayward soul last season to a possible Vezina nominee for the Minnesota Wild. The New York Rangers somehow didn’t miss a beat when Cam Talbot took over for Henrik Lundqvist. The question in Ottawa went from “Who is Andrew Hammond?” to “How do we beat him?”
It’s pretty early to add the man who was the Florida Panthers’ third goalie to the mix, but Dan Ellis certainly made a case that he should be in the argument with another strong performance Saturday.
Ellis stopped all 27 Carolina Hurricanes shots to grab a 2-0 win for Florida. He’s now currently on a three-game winning streak (and is 3-0-1 since taking over) after spending most of his year in the AHL.
Ellis, 34, comes into this situation in a fittingly weird way, as Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured in the same odd game.
He doesn’t fit into the story of many others who were virtually unproven – Ellis now has 208 regular season games under his belt – yet the league soured enough on him that he wasn’t offered one of 60 NHL goaltending jobs to start 2014-15.
The Panthers still face a very, very long shot to get into the postseason, especially as Tuukka Rask really builds back into “totally worth $7 million” form.
If nothing else, it’s a cool story that follows an interesting pattern, though.
Skapski starts vs. Sabres
Mackenzie Skapski will make his second career NHL start tonight as the New York Rangers visit the Buffalo Sabres. The 20-year-old got his first NHL win with a 24 save performance defeating the Sabres 3-1 on Feb. 20. Skapski was 12-7-3 to go along with a .914 save percentage and a 2.38 in 24 AHL games prior to being recalled.
Anders Lindback gets the nod for Buffalo.
Blackhawks at Sharks: Corey Crawford vs. Antti Niemi
Leafs at Canucks: Jonathan Bernier vs. Eddie Lack
Panthers at Hurricanes: Dan Ellis vs. Cam Ward
Canadiens at Islanders: Carey Price vs. Michal Neuvirth
Jets at Lightning: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Wild at Blues: Devan Dubnyk vs. Brian Elliott
Devils at Coyotes:Cory Schneider vs. Mike Smith
Flames at Avalanche: Karri Ramo vs. Semyon Varlamov
Predators at Kings: Pekka Rinne vs. Jonathan Quick