Michal Neuvirth

Goalie nods: Neuvirth starts second straight for Isles

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Don’t call it a controversy

The Islanders will start Michal Neuvirth for the second straight game tonight against the Leafs — but it isn’t a sign of potential goalie drama.

Tonight is the first of the Isles’ back-to-back set, which culminates tomorrow with a crucial tilt against the Rangers. Jaroslav Halak will face the Blueshirts, a team he’s fared well against this season, going 3-1-0 with a 2.51 GAA and .935 save percentage. Tomorrow’s game also represents the fifth and final meeting of the season between the two New York-based clubs, and a chance for the Isles (and Halak) to beat the Rangers in four of the five meetings.

As for Neuvirth, tonight’s game gives him a chance to make up for his debut — a shootout loss to the Panthers on Saturday, in which he allowed three goals on just 18 shots.

For Toronto, Jonathan Bernier will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

Oilers at Red Wings: Ben Scrivens vs. (no Detroit starter yet)

Ducks at Canucks: (no Anaheim starter yet) vs. Eddie Lack

Preds at Coyotes: (no Nashville starter yet) vs. Louis Domingue

Pens at Sharks: (no Pittsburgh starter yet) vs. Antti Niemi

Goalie Nods: Hutchinson gets a sixth straight start

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Michael Hutchinson gets the nod in Nashville

Michael Hutchinson will look to right the ship tonight in Nashville. The Jets’ goaltender allowed three goals on 17 shots in a loss to the Senators on Wednesday. Hutchinson has lost three of his last five games while posting a 2.57 GAA and .906 save percentage. The Jets have not won in Nashville this season and will look to avoid a third straight loss to the Preds.

Pekka Rinne, who has lost four in a row, gets the nod for Nashville.

Elsewhere…

Blues at Leafs: Brian Elliott vs. Jonathan Bernier

Stars at Lightning: Jhonas Enroth vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Islanders at Panthers: Michal Neuvirth vs. Dan Ellis

Sabres at Capitals: Anders Lindback (unconfirmed) vs. Braden Holtby

Avalanche at Blue Jackets: Semyon Varlamov vs. Curtis McElhinney

Canadiens at Coyotes: Carey Price vs. Mike Smith

Penguins at Kings: Marc-Andre Fleury (unconfirmed) vs. Jonathan Quick (unconfirmed).

Canucks at Sharks: Eddie Lack vs. Antti Niemi

Leafs’ Panik latest to be fined for diving

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Toronto forward Richard Panik has become the seventh player to be fined for diving this season, the NHL announced on Thursday:

Panik was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 824 at Montreal on Feb. 14. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 936 at Washington on Mar. 1.

Capitals defenseman Mike Green received a minor penalty for holding on the play, at 10:57 of the second period.

Here’s video of the incident against the Caps:

With that, Panik joins Islanders goalie Michal Neuvirth (fine occurred while with Buffalo), Montreal’s P.K. Subban, the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and Nashville’s James Neal as the seven players to be publicly outed as divers, under new rules put forth by the league this season.

NHL on NBCSN: Lightning kick off homestand against Sabres

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Buffalo Sabres at the Amalie Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The trade deadline has past and with it, every player knows where they stand for the rest of the season. The Lightning got a significant reinforcement on Monday in former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn and with that settled they’ll have to look to each other in their final push before the playoffs.

Tampa Bay’s first step to that end will be to try and sweep this three-game homestand against Buffalo, Toronto, and Dallas. Those are squads that are out of the playoff picture and consequently the Lightning should be able to take these games. If they successfully secure those six points then they’ll be in a strong position against the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens when they meet on March 10.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

It’s not a foregone conclusion that the Lightning will run the table though. After all, they’ve been merely treading water since the start of February with a 6-5-2 record. They’re also still missing defenseman Matt Carle, who hasn’t played since Jan. 15 due to an abdominal injury.

Additionally, while the Buffalo Sabres look terrible on paper — especially after trading away Brian Flynn, Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell, and Michal Neuvirth on Monday — they might not be the pushovers some are expecting. Buffalo as a team doesn’t have much left to play for in 2014-15 and from a long-term perspective, it probably would be best for the franchise if the squad remained in 30th place to secure either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 draft. However, on an individual level they have plenty of motivated players.

Take goaltenders Chad Johnson and Anders Lindback for example. They’re coming off rough stints with the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars respectively, but now find themselves in a situation where they have a legitimate shot at competing for the starting gig. They’ll want to make the most of this opportunity to prove that they still have value on an NHL squad.

They’re not alone either. Buffalo is full of guys that are playing for their future or at least their pride. Meanwhile, the pressure is mounting for Tampa Bay as we move towards the postseason, so while the Lightning are expected to win this game, they certainly need to be careful or else these important two points will slip away.

Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline

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The dust has settled on another trade deadline, so now it’s time for hasty judgments. Let’s name the winners and losers mere moments after everything happened, then. For all the moves, click here.

Winners

source: AP
Source: AP

Buffalo

Deride “tank jobs” if you must, but Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray (pictured) is doing a masterful job of amassing a staggering array of assets. It’s genuinely difficult to keep track of all the futures Buffalo now possesses, yet Evander Kane + Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel should make the Sabres fun to watch starting in 2015-16.

(Assuming Buffalo gets one of the top two picks, which is fairly safe.)

Arizona

The Coyotes shifted into sellers far more abruptly than the Sabres, yet their takeaway has been resounding. They landed an enviable haul for Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle while “gently nudging” their way to the cellar by moving Devan Dubnyk before he won them too many games.

Anaheim

One of the biggest winners among the “buyers,” the Ducks reunited with James Wisniewski (pictured) while bolstering an already-young defense with an interesting piece in Simon Despres. They didn’t pay that big for a guy who may or may not help them in Tomas Fleischmann, who likely will get the benefit of the doubt from Bruce Boudreau thanks to their Washington days.

source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Chicago

A reasonably healthy Kimmo Timonen could be a game-changer. Antoine Vermette may be the second-line center they were looking for. The big prices they paid might put them in the “losers” category in hindsight, however.

Flyers

A nice job of “reloading” if not fully rebuilding.

The Leopolds

Jordyn Leopold’s adorable letter went viral and Jordan Leopold gets a chance to maybe make an impact with a playoff team in the Minnesota Wild.

Sven Baertschi

He clearly saw his stock plummet with the Calgary Flames, but now he gets a new lease on life with the Vancouver Canucks. Perhaps he’ll get up a little bit more for each rivalry game, too?

Teams that tweaked like Montreal, Detroit

The Canadiens grabbed some depth and also an interesting defenseman in Jeff Petry. The Red Wings get an aging but skilled puck mover in Marek Zidlicky and a top-six forward in Erik Cole. Maybe they didn’t knock their moves out of the park, but good teams like these (and maybe the St. Louis Blues?) are better equipped for the postseason without blowing up their futures.

Olli Jokinen

He went from barely playing for the Nashville Predators to complaining about being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs to getting a chance at his first-ever deep playoff run with the St. Louis Blues.

Relocated Sabres

Chris Stewart gets a chance to inflate his value as a free agent if he can score big goals for the Wild. Torrey Mitchell could barely contain his excitement about going home to Montreal. Michal Neuvirth is a Jaroslav Halak injury away from an interesting opportunity …

Everyone involved with David Clarkson

source:
Via Smashfest.ca

Sure, he was traded for the essentially retired Nathan Horton, but David Clarkson gets a desperately needed clean slate. Toronto gets crucial cap space and Columbus isn’t wasting its budget on a guy who cannot play. Everyone wins?

Days before the deadline

It’s becoming a trend that the days before the deadline contain the biggest deals. When you expand the scope to the likes of Evander Kane and Keith Yandle, all of a sudden the trade deadline has some solid star power.

Losers

Deadline day itself

That said, if you took a day off to follow the proceedings on March 2 … you only have yourself to blame.

Ottawa

Did they know that the deadline was today? (Cue bad term paper memories.) San Jose was pretty quiet, too.

Boston

The Bruins didn’t get help on defense and it remains to be seen if Brett Connolly and Max Talbot can give Boston much of a boost on the wings.

Edmonton

Pretty quiet deadline for a team in perpetual rebuild mode.

Rangers

OK, Keith Yandle definitely makes them an interesting team in 2014-15 (and isn’t a full-on rental) … but at some point you need to keep some first-round picks, right? GM Glen Sather isn’t being shy about going “all-in,” and we might look back at this and wonder what he was thinking.

(They’ll be a lot of fun in the short term, though.)

Pittsburgh

Penguins fans aren’t exactly thrilled about the return of Ben Lovejoy, at least for the price of a former first-rounder. Then again, if you count the David Perron trade, they’re among the bigger winners.

Chad Johnson

He was already struggling as a backup with the Islanders, now he’s going to get shelled in Buffalo, which could be a painful trial-by-fire. Not ideal for a guy who’s still trying to prove himself and stop people from making jokes about faded former NFL receivers.

Eric Brewer

Health hasn’t been on his side, and now he’s gone from being on a contender to playing out the string in Toronto.

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Who else would make your lists? Share your picks in the comments.