Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers’ Talbot records the shutout in battle of the goalies


Karri Ramo, the Calgary Flames goalie, might be grabbing the headlines. After all, he did make a spectacular glove stop Tuesday evening that might indeed be the save of the year.

We’ll see.

But it was New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot, who, in the same game, recorded the shutout, which counts as the seventh in his National Hockey League career.

As good as Ramo was, Talbot and the Rangers were better. They held on to beat the Flames by a final score of 1-0, which is a result that doesn’t help Calgary in its bid for the post-season.

“I have to give the guys a lot of credit, it was probably one of the most complete games we’ve played all year,” said Talbot, as per the club’s Twitter account.

Talbot, who has had to step in with the injury to Henrik Lundqvist — and remember, there was talk about who as a rental goalie the Rangers could target — has now won six of his last seven starts. The only blemish in that span came against the Canucks.

He stopped all 21 shots he faced against Calgary.

Meanwhile, as prefaced earlier, the loss hurts the surprising Flames, now losers of three straight. They now find themselves out of a Wild Card spot in the West, and the Ducks, Canucks and L.A. Kings have all resumed their winning ways ahead of them in the Pacific Division.

Rangers’ Mackenzie Skapski to make NHL debut against Sabres


Less than two full years after being selected by the New York Rangers, Mackenzie Skapski will make his National Hockey League debut in net against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

The decision, coming from head coach Alain Vigneault, comes after the Rangers lost to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout on Thursday. Cam Talbot got the start in that game, allowing four goals on 28 shots in regulation, and two more goals in the deciding skills competition.

From the Rangers’ website:

Vigneault said he had come to a decision last night following his team’s overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden, but that he had no spoke to either Skapski or Cam Talbot, who had started eight games in a row following a vascular injury to Henrik Lundqvist late last month.

It’s been a whirlwind season for the 20-year-old Skapski, who started with Greenville in the ECHL, before being recalled to Hartford in the American Hockey League.

Skapski was taken by the Rangers in the sixth round, 170th overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Larionov, Housley to play in Wings-Preds alumni game as Nashville honors Vokoun


The winningest goalie in Predators franchise history will soon be honored in style.

Tomas Vokoun — set to appear in Nashville for the first time since announcing his retirement — will be celebrated at Bridgestone Arena during the Red Wings-Predators game on Feb. 28, then participate in an alumni game featuring Hockey Hall of Famer Igor Larionov, Preds assistant coach Phil Housley and a host of others.

Vokoun was a member of the Predators from the expansion draft in 1998 through 2007 (recording a franchise-best 161 wins) and was in goal for some of the team’s finest moments, including its first-ever playoff appearance during the 2003-04 campaign.

The Czech netminder had his best season in 2005-06, recording a career-high 36 wins while posting a .919 save percentage and four shutouts. Vokoun finished fourth in Vezina voting that year — behind Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Brodeur and the eventual winner, Miikka Kiprusoff — and was one of only seven players to receive a first-place Hart vote as league MVP.

As for the alumni game, here is a list of expected participants from both teams, per The Tennessean:

Nashville: Stu Grimson, Jim McKenzie, Blake Geoffrion, Dan Keczmer, Jay More, Scott Nichol, Troy Vollhoffer, J.P. Dumont, Cliff Ronning, Housley and Vokoun.

Detroit: Eddie Mio, Dallas Drake, Petr Klima, Joey Kocur, Mike Krushelnyski, Igor Larionov, Kirk Maltby, John Ogrodnick, Mickey Redmond, Tim Taylor, Sergei Samsonov, Jiri Fischer, Jason Woolley and George Bowman.

Mrazek or Monster? Wings undecided on backup goalie


The NHL’s latest three-goalie situation has surfaced in Detroit.

With starting netminder Jimmy Howard (groin) healthy and set to make his return Saturday, the Red Wings are undecided on who should be the backup — Petr Mrazek or Jonas Gustavsson:

While carrying three ‘tenders is never ideal, you can forgive the Wings for taking their time with this decision, as there are arguments to be made for both guys.

Mrazek, 22, is the club’s goalie of the future and performed admirably with Howard and Gustavsson (shoulder) out. The Czech backstopper has gone 13-5-1 this year and while his save percentage (.909) and GAA (2.55) aren’t great, head coach Mike Babcock praised Mrazek’s “moxie” for bouncing back after rough outings.

Gustavsson, 30, is far more experienced and while he’s only appeared in three games this year, he did play extensively last season. “The Monster” went 16-5-4 during the regular season and provided nice relief of Howard in an opening-round playoff loss to Boston, posting a .917 save percentage in two games.

It’d be easy for the Wings to send Mrazek down to the American League, as he wouldn’t require waivers and would get plenty of playing time. Gustavsson, meanwhile, would need waivers and there’s a chance he could be picked up by a team looking for depth in goal (like the Rangers, who are without Henrik Lundqvist for up to a month, and could probably stomach Gustavsson’s $1.85M cap hit.)

But, does Mrazek deserve to stick? He could be ready for a full-time spot in the NHL, having already appeared in over 90 regular season and 30 Calder Cup games during his AHL career.

It’s a question Babcock and GM Ken Holland will need to answer, and soon — because nobody likes carrying three goalies.

Report: Mason to undergo knee surgery


Looks as though Steve Mason will go under the knife to try and solve his problematic right knee, according to CSN Philadelphia:

After multiple MRIs — more than three — the Flyers and Mason have decided they will scope his right knee to find the source of pain and why it’s been locking up on him, a source told CSNPhilly.com.

Mason’s latest injury came Sunday at the bench during a timeout at the Flyers-Capitals game. The 26-year-old goalie went to bench to stretch, then his right knee buckled.

He left the game and did not return while backup Ray Emery picked up a 3-1 victory in relief.

This is the third time since Jan. 6 that Mason has injured his right knee.

Losing Mason for any significant length of time would be disastrous for the Flyers, who have inched back onto the brink of playoff contention — just nine points back of Boston — thanks to a 6-3-1 record over their last 10 games. Mason has been a big reason for the improved play; as Brough wrote in his recent praise piece, Mason’s .924 save percentage ranks 6th in the NHL and puts him ahead of the likes of Semyon Varlamov (.923), Henrik Lundqvist (.922), and last year’s Vezina Trophy winner, Tuukka Rask (.921).

With Mason sidelined and veteran Robb Zepp injured in AHL Lehigh Valley, the Flyers have recalled Anthony Stolarz — the 21-year-old will back up Ray Emery for the time being, beginning with Tuesday’s game in Montreal.