The Nashville Predators may not have an elite center like Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews, but with the addition of Cody Franson from Toronto, their defense could line up as follows in the postseason:
Roman Josi — Shea Weber
Seth Jones — Cody Franson
Mattias Ekholm — Ryan Ellis
Now put goalie Pekka Rinne behind that blue-line corps, and you can see what GM David Poile was thinking when he made the trade.
The Blue Jackets have placed forward Brian Gibbons on waivers, per TVA.
Gibbons, 26, has been sidelined since mid-December with a lingering knee injury that kept him out longer than his initial 2-3 week recovery timetable. The former Penguin, who signed with Columbus last summer on a one-year, $750,000 deal, has only appeared in 21 games for the Blue Jackets this season, scoring five points while averaging 14:09 TOI per game.
Will be curious to see if any team takes a chance on Gibbons. An undrafted free agent that worked his way up to the Penguins after two years in the minors, he occasionally played on a line with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh and showed good offensive flair, scoring five goals and 17 points in 41 games last season (and another two goals and three points in eight playoff appearances.)
On paper, a Chicago Blackhawks – Pittsburgh Penguins matinee screams finesse and high-end skill. It’s not to say there was a total deficit in either on Sunday, but Chicago also earned a 2-1 shootout win thanks to “sandpaper” and strong goaltending.
Corey Crawford earned his 23rd win of the season (and fourth in five games) by stopping 36 out of 37 shots.
Marc-Andre Fleury couldn’t overcome some dazzling shootout work from Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, but he was strong in regulation, turning aside all but one of the 32 shots he faced.
For teams that rarely see each other, there was a decent amount of bitterness in the air.
Maybe most memorably, Andrew Shaw caught a comically bruised Paul Martin with a big hit at the end of regulation.
There also seemed to be some competitive tension between Toews and Sidney Crosby:
One could argue that the Penguins carried some of the play with a slight shot and possession advantage:
(via Hockey Stats.ca)
The Blackhawks and Penguins largely find themselves where they were entering Sunday. The Penguins remain close – but still behind – the New York Islanders for the Metropolitan Division lead while the Blackhawks at least stay in the running for the Central Division crown.
In a way the game captured the two teams as they’re still showing promise, yet they also have some work to do to regain their all-world form.