All the latest from the blue paint…
Interesting times in D.C.
Curious situation in Washington — after Braden Holtby stopped 25 of 26 shots in a 2-1 win over Ottawa last night, the Caps look like they’re turning to Philipp Grubauer, not Justin Peters, in the second of a back-to-back tonight against Anaheim.
Grubauer, who has spent all of this season in AHL Hershey, hasn’t played in the NHL since March of last season but has shown well in the past — posting a .925 save percentage and 2.38 GAA last year.
Peters, meanwhile, has struggled in his first year in Washington, going 2-5-1 with a 3.58 GAA and .870 save percentage. The 28-year-old has only played twice since the calendar turned to 2015, allowing five goals on 26 shots in a loss to Dallas and four goals on 40 shots in a loss to the Blues on Sunday.
As for Anaheim, no word yet on who gets the start tonight.
Leafs at Devils: James Reimer vs. Cory Schneider
Blues at Blue Jackets: Brian Elliott vs. Curtis McElhinney
‘Hawks at Jets: Corey Crawford vs. Michael Hutchinson
Pens at Flames: Jonas Hiller for Calgary, Marc-Andre Fleury likely for Pittsburgh.
The New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues earned some noteworthy wins on Thursday, especially relative to what previous Islanders and Blues teams have done.
The Blues set the best point streak of their long franchise history when they beat the Buffalo Sabres tonight, as they’re 12-0-1 in their last 13 games. They’ve also won seven straight.
That win prompted head coach Ken Hitchcock to set a fake record for taking the most circuitous route to describing a player as “clutch” when he praised Vladimir Tarasenko (via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford):
So, basically he’s clutch.
Anyway, the Islanders broke a three-game losing streak and ended the Philadelphia Flyers’ four-game winning run via a shootout victory tonight. They also tied their best start in 51 games played as they’ve won 33 times, tying a mark they set during the beginning of their golden era in 1978-79.
It seems like both teams are the best their franchises have seen in quite some time.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Pekka Rinne will start in goal for Nashville — for the first time since Jan. 19 — when the Preds host the Ducks tonight at Bridgestone.
Rinne, the NHL’s wins leader (29), had been playing at a Vezina- and Hart-worthy level prior to suffering a sprained knee three weeks ago, posting a .931 save percentage and 1.96 GAA. While Nashville did well in his absence (Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec combined to go 4-2-2), Rinne’s return will be a massive boost, especially against a Ducks team that’s tied on 72 points with the Preds, but trails in the standings because of the regulation wins tiebreaker.
For Anaheim, Frederik Andersen will get the start in goal.
Blues at Sabres: Jake Allen vs. Jhonas Enroth
Isles at Flyers: Jaroslav Halak vs. Steve Mason
Caps at Sens: Braden Holtby vs. Robin Lehner
Kings at Panthers: Roberto Luongo for Florida, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.
Bolts at Stars: Andrei Vasilevskiy for Tampa Bay, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.
Wings at Avs: Petr Mrazek for Detroit, no word on a Colorado starter.
‘Canes at Coyotes: Cam Ward vs. Mike Smith
Sharks at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.
The New Jersey Devils announced today that Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens and Claude Lemieux would be among the participants in a March 7 alumni game that will comprise part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the club’s first Stanley Cup title.
Others scheduled to participate include Jacques Lemaire, Jacques Caron, Tommy Albelin, Sergei Brylin, Bob Carpenter, Shawn Chambers, Tom Chorske, Danton Cole, Ken Daneyko, Jim Dowd, Bruce Driver, Bill Guerin, Bobby Holik, John MacLean, Chris McAlpine, Randy McKay, Mike Peluso, Brian Rolston and Chris Terreri.
But it’s the recently retired Brodeur that led the release.
Brodeur, of course, raised more than a few eyebrows last week when he announced his retirement in front of a backdrop featuring the logo of the St. Louis Blues, the optics of the press conference leaving many wondering about his relationship with New Jersey president/GM Lou Lamoriello, and the Devils franchise in general.
“For anybody that thinks that me and Lou are not on the same page, everybody’s wrong,” insisted Brodeur.
It’s possible, we suppose, that the Devils could stage their own retirement ceremony for Brodeur as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations.
Related: Here’s why Brodeur is working for Blues (instead of Devils)
David Backes had a short game on Sunday as he was ejected early in the second period for boarding Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner. The blueliner was left bloodied, but he was able to continue playing and went on to log 19:34 minutes.
The NHL decided not to punish the St. Louis Blues captain further over the incident, but it wasn’t until today that Backes offered a public defense of his actions.
“Yeah, it’s nine years now and I’ve had one major penalty that was quickly rescinded right after that,” Backes told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Now this one, where I think it’s pretty benign — he hops back up and doesn’t miss a shift.
“Never looking to hurt anyone out there. The rules are the rules, I guess, and if there’s blood, (then the ejection was warranted). But the result is, the guys had one heck of a penalty kill for that five minutes, really got momentum off that and played a heck of a game … They really picked me up.”
As far as his one major penalty note, for what it’s worth Backes has 24 major penalties and 17 misconducts in 616 career games, according to CBS Sports. Boarding Alzner was his second major penalty of the 2014-15 campaign, although it was his first game misconduct. That being said, he might not be counting his fights and those do account for most of his major penalties.
Here’s the hit in question: