Petr Mrazek starts for Detroit as rotation continues
Jimmy Howard turned aside 22 of 24 shots in regulation en route to a 3-2 shootout win over Minnesota on Saturday, but Red Wings coach Mike Babcock announced well in advance that Howard and Mrazek would split Detroit’s goaltending duties this weekend. That’s nothing new for the Wings as Howard’s recent struggles have thrown his status as the team’s number one netminder in question.
The debate was also fueled by Mrazek’s strong play in March (2.18 GAA and .932 save percentage in six games), but he allowed three goals on 25 shots against Boston on April 2.
It remains to be seen if Detroit will enter the playoffs with a clear starting goaltender. Then again, it remains to be seen if Detroit will enter the playoffs at all. A loss against Washington tonight could certainly complicate matters for the Red Wings.
It’s not clear who will play between the pipes for Washington, although it wouldn’t be shocking to see Braden Holtby start on no rest.
Habs at Panthers: No confirmed goaltenders yet for this one, but Carey Price is rested so odds are Montreal will start him. Dan Ellis might get the nod for Florida after Roberto Luongo surrendered four goals on 22 shots on Saturday.
Sens at Leafs: Andrew Hammond vs. Jonathan Bernier
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues at the United Center, with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.
With just a week worth of games left, the battle for the Central Division title is fierce. Nashville leads the pack with 104 points in 79 contests while St. Louis and Chicago are just one and two points back respectively and have each participated in one less game than Nashville. So clearly the stakes will be high tonight and on Thursday when the Blue and Blackhawks battle (Thursday’s rematch will also air on NBCSN).
“It’s amazing,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You play all these games and it always comes down to the last week or the last game. We’re both chasing Nashville. We’re both (trying) to finish in first place overall. We know (Sunday’s game is) a big one and we’re excited for it.”
“Twice in the next three games — huge games for us,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “They’re four-point games with little time to make up ground. We know they’re meaningful (because) there’s still a lot to be sorted out.”
Even the winner of the Central Division will likely face a difficult first round opponent given that the Minnesota Wild – which are 26-7-3 during goaltender Devan Dubnyk’s run – and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings currently occupy the two Wild Card seeds. However, the Western Conference being that tight only adds to the importance of possessing Game 7 home-ice advantage as deep into the playoffs as possible.
It certainly has been a factor when Chicago has played St. Louis in recent years as the Blues haven’t won in regulation in the United Center over their last 13 regular season and three playoff contests. That’s not all St. Louis will have to overcome tonight as Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen are both dealing with lower-body injuries. Those are the Blues top two scorers, but their absence hasn’t stopped St. Louis from outscoring its adversaries 11-6 over its last two games.
Meanwhile Chicago, which is without Patrick Kane (clavicle), has won four straight contests. One of those winning streaks will end tonight and the fight for the Central Division will draw closer to its conclusion.
John Gibson will get another chance to show he should be the Anaheim Ducks’ playoff starter when he goes up against Colorado tonight at Honda Center.
Gibson’s last start was a good one; the 21-year-old stopped all but one of the Devils’ 27 shots last Sunday in a 2-1 victory, after which he was named the game’s first star.
Still, neither Gibson nor Andersen has made it an easy decision for coach Bruce Boudreau. Both young goalies have had excellent performances, and both have had their hiccups.
“I think they both want the starting role,” Boudreau said recently, per NHL.com “We had a tough game in New York and Columbus [last month] and when [Andersen] played two really good games, it was like [Gibson] said, ‘Oh, yeah? OK,’ and he came in and played great. I think they both would like to have it.
“If we go far they’re both going to play, and if we don’t go far, they’re both going to play, because if we’re losing, we’re going to make switches. That’s the way I think of it right now. We’re not married to thinking one is better than the other. When they’re on top of their game, they’re as good as there is.”
Reto Berra will start for Colorado.
Scott Darling likely for Chicago versus Anders Lindback for Buffalo.
Dustin Tokarski for Montreal versus Keith Kinkaid for New Jersey.
Brian Elliott for St. Louis versus Kari Lehtonen (likely) for Dallas.
Louis Domingue for Arizona versus Antti Niemi for San Jose.
No supplemental discipline for Bollig after boarding Jackman
Calgary’s Brandon Bollig won’t face any disciplinary hearing for his hit on St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman Thursday night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.
Here’s the incident in question. Bollig was given a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct:
Jackman left the game momentarily but did return, and finished with over 17 minutes of ice time.
The Department of Player Safety opted not to further punish Bollig despite his history as a repeat offender; during last year’s playoffs, he was suspended two games for boarding Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Ballard.