Update: Bernier wins after Reimer gets pulled


Update: This round definitely goes to Jonathan Bernier. He stopped all 15 shots he faced between regulation and overtime along with both Ottawa Senators shootout attempts as the Toronto Maple Leafs came back from down 4-2 to win 5-4 (SO).


James Reimer started in the Leafs net on Saturday, but Bernier might finish with the advantage.

Head coach Randy Carlyle decided to give Reimer the hook midway through the second period after the Ottawa Senators beat him four times on 21 shots.

Specifically, allowing two goals in 15 seconds is what did Reimer in.

First, Jared Cowen capitalized on some great play by Kyle Turris to make it 3-2:

Moments later, Jason Spezza’s tally was the last straw for Carlyle:

Big-picture, it’s likely that this will be a seesaw battle for a good chunk of – if not all of – the 2013-14 season.

Pens add to Sabres’ misery


There isn’t much good news for the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, but here’s one thing: at least they didn’t get shut out twice in a row. Thomas Vanek ended Buffalo’s scoreless streak at 122:30, but it was too little too late, as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Sabres 4-1.

Marc-Andre Fleury was mere minutes away from getting his second straight shutout while also ensuring that the Sabres would be shut out for the second time in a row.

Even though that splashier scenario didn’t play out, it still paints a picture of two teams going in remarkably different directions.

In the case of the Penguins, it seems like they have check marks in every category* except goalie, which is a question. On the bright side, Fleury, 28, is off to a hot start, allowing just one goal on 48 shots in two wins.

The Sabres’ only strength might be in net with Ryan Miller … and he’s already banged up.

Buffalo has only generated two goals in three games, and it’s not like the Sabres are suffering from bad luck alone. Their three opponents generated a disturbing 115-76 shot disparity, outscoring Buffalo 7-2 in the process.

The only saving grace might be the quality of the Sabres’ three opponents, as all three – Detroit, Ottawa and Pittsburgh – made it to the second round of the 2013 playoffs and are generally respected around the league. If the results are the same against less dominant competition in their next two games (home contests vs. Tampa Bay and Columbus), then Buffalo will really gather more “worst team in hockey” hype.

* – Many will quibble with this, but they at least have talent at many levels, can we agree on that?

Caps’ Hillen undergoes surgery, expected out 4-6 months

Washington Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen underwent surgery on a fractured right leg (right tibial plateau) on Saturday, with the expectation that he’ll be out about four-to-six months, CSNWashington.com reports.

Hillen, 27, was hurt thanks to a check by Lance Bouma of the Calgary Flames on Thursday:

The blueliner missed about half of 2012-13 with an upper-body injury, so he’s having some hard luck lately.

Head coach Adam Oates is being forced to do something he doesn’t like: pair two right-handed defensemen (Connor Carrick and Steve Oleksy) together.

It’s well-documented that Oates strongly prefers right-handed shooters to play on the right side and left-handed players on their left. He explained why he feels that way and why this situation leaves him that much more unsettled.

“The game is so fast you get into situations where you’re stuck,” Oates said. “Your back is to the play, you have blind spots and you don’t know where your outs are and you end up making tough passes because you think a guy’s open and he closes on you fast.”

Maybe he’ll warm up to being a little looser with that restriction after this forced experiment? (Probably not.)

Burrows’ injury doesn’t make Torts budge on shot-blocking


It didn’t take long for John Tortorella’s “everyone blocks shots” policy to claim a high-profile victim, as Alex Burrows will miss a couple weeks with a leg injury resulting from doing just that. Tortorella didn’t flinch when discussing it, as the Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford reports.

For better or worse, Tortorella is confident in his strategies and policies, which will surely make for some press conference fireworks in his new market.

The Vancouver Canucks blocked 22 shots in a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Burrows and Alexander Edler’s three blocked shots tied for second that night, with only Christopher Tanev’s five topping them.

For those who are very much against star players “sacrificing their bodies” in front of slappers, at least the Sedin twins didn’t register a single blocked shot. Yet.

Sabres expect Miller (groin) to be back Tuesday

The Buffalo Sabres are downplaying the injury Ryan Miller reportedly suffered on Friday, but it appears that he’ll be sidelined with a sore groin until Tuesday, the Buffalo News reports.

Miller, 33, isn’t even dressing for Saturday’s game. Instead, Jhonas Enroth is starting with Matt Hackett serving as his backup based on an emergency call-up.

Head coach Ron Rolston doesn’t seem to think it’s a major issue, alluding to it as mere maintenance.

Through the first two games of the season, one could argue that Miller was close to the lone bright spot for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost both games, scoring just one point while Miller allowed three goals on a whopping 80 shots, including Friday’s 45-for-46 masterpiece.