Detroit Red Wings No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard described himself as doubtful to play against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. On the bright side, he also said his bruised hand isn’t a serious injury, earning a day-to-day label.
Another bright side is that Jonas Gustavsson looked very sharp against the Boston Bruins, earning Detroit a 3-2 win. Then again, it’s probably not the Red Wings’ preference to play the injury-prone netminder in back-to-back games.
Howard, 29, doesn’t receive a lot of attention as an elite goalie, yet the U.S. Olympic team brass would be foolish to ignore his strong work recently. He’s been sharp in 2013-14, too, as his individual stats (.922 save percentage, 2.39 GAA) are more impressive than his 3-2-0 record.
It might not be an ideal situation, but it does allow the Red Wings an opportunity to gauge how much they can lean on Gustavsson.
Jason Pominville has seen firsthand how a crowd can treat a returning player, as Nashville Predators fans absolutely tore apart Ryan Suter upon his return and second visit. It seems like his comeback to Buffalo should be a lot more positive Monday night, though.
The 30-year-old seems like he’s taking a “no hard feelings” approach, as the Buffalo News reports.
“It was weird coming in through the same door you usually go in, and having to go left instead of go right to go to the locker room was a little different,” Pominville said. “It’s good to be back, a lot of great memories, a lot of good times. Just excited to get the game going.
“I don’t hold anything against the organization or anything like that. I’m just happy to be where I’m at now and looking forward to get this game played.”
The Buffalo News guesses that Pominville will be received warmly, though Sabres fans have let people have it in the past, particularly with Brian Campbell and Danny Briere.
Two factors certainly help: the Sabres traded him and he’s in a different conference with a long-term deal. It’s not like he’ll be damaging his former team’s chances in a meaningful way, aside from the difficult-to-picture scenario of a Stanley Cup Final series.
Still, you never know, especially considering the fact that Buffalo is off to a pitiful start. The game’s on NBC SN, with a start time of 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Anaheim Ducks’ 4-1 Throwback Night win against the Ottawa Senators was so close to perfect, that it’s actually worth noting the things that didn’t happen:
- Paul Kariya didn’t play in that game, or any NHL game for that matter. He’s still just 38. (Pause for sadness.)
- Teemu Selanne only got an assist, not a goal. Kind of a ripoff.
- Daniel Alfredsson is no longer a member of the Senators, so no one could get revenge for Scott Niedermayer.
- Depending upon how Ducks fans feel, Bobby Ryan scoring Ottawa’s lone goal either provides a sense of closure or a certain amount of irritation
Overall, though, it was a great night for fans of a team that (eventually/maybe) transcended jokes involving a movie featuring one of the eventual stars of “Dawson’s Creek.”*
The Ducks fired a ridiculous 24 shots on net in the first period, an almost-as-absurd 21 in the second and 11 more in the third. Corey Perry scored two goals while Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist. Jonas Hiller was sharp by making 30 out of 31 saves, but really impressed by wearing the mask featured in the video below:
The game also featured the inaugural team taking part in the ceremonial puck drop, which may or may not represent the largest gathering of people to do so:
So, full marks to the Ducks. Although, if you ask Hiller, they should at least look like this every night, as he told Kyle Shohara of the team’s Web site.
“If it’s up to me, we could play the whole season like that,” Hiller said.
There are probably at least a few fans who would agree.
* – Should we pretend this wasn’t widely known?
Newly acquired Toronto Maple Leafs center Dave Bolland has three goals so far this season. Two of them were game-winners, including Saturday’s 6-5 OT stunner:
It’s not the solid scoring that has Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle raving. Instead, he glowed about the 27-year-old’s work ethic to the Toronto Sun on Sunday.
“He practices like a pro. He’s trying to make himself better every day,” Carlyle said. “Some of our young players could take notice of that and we’ve talked to them about it. Just to take notice of how he approaches practice and how intense he is and the level of commitment he puts in.
“It’s guys like David Bolland that sell your program and help coaches in leading by example and showing the way. Those are very, very important intangibles that happen within the team.”
Despite a red-hot start, Carlyle isn’t happy with everything that’s happening with the Buds, particularly last night’s hectic affair. Still, it’s clear that he’s pleased with Bolland.
When a .500 New York Islanders team is the best squad in the general New York/New Jersey* area, you know things are grim. The New Jersey Devils remain in the running for the worst of them all, as they still seek their first win after six games (0-3-3) following a dispiriting 3-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
The score might be a little misleading (strangely, Evander Kane made it 2-0 with an empty-netter and then Andrew Ladd collected the 3-0 goal moments later), but all that matters is that the Devils still have a big, glaring “0” in the W column.
It’s understandable if you feel some sympathy for Cory Schneider. He stopped 33 out of 35 shots as he watched a befuddled Devils offense continue to struggle to put points on the board.
Sure, New Jersey isn’t in as dire a situation scoring-wise as the New York Rangers (nine goals in five games) or Buffalo Sabres (six goals in six games), but the situation is still pretty bleak.
It says a lot that, despite being without a win, the Devils’ three points leaves them fifth in the Metropolitan Division ahead of the Rangers, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers (all with two points).
The debate regarding which team is the worst in the New York/NJ area – the Devils, Islanders, Rangers and Sabres – might also double as the question of who’s the worst team in the NHL early on this season.
(But you can vote on that very issue here.)
* – Dare we say, tri-state or metropolitan area?