There’s no doubt in my mind that the Penguins’ ugly 5-4 loss to the Senators can be placed on Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulders. Sure, the team didn’t look particularly sharp, but Fleury allowed hare brained goal after hare brained goal, castrating Pittsburgh’s spirits and letting a similarly unimpressive Brian Elliott off the hook.
As Brandon said, Fleury’s rebound control was horrendous. It’s not as if Ottawa’s superstars controlled the game, either; the Senators benefited from a goal each from Chris Neil, Chris Kelly and Jarkko Ruutu.
I hate to say it, but while this was an unusually bad performance by Fleury, the goals he allowed seemed all-too-familiar. The 2003 No. 1 overall pick gave up some awful goals against the Red Wings early in the Stanley Cup Finals (two words: Justin Abdelkader) and belched out a few embarrassing early goals in the epic Capitals series to boot.
It’s funny how a Stanley Cup can heal all wounds, because Fleury wasn’t nearly as sharp in 08-09 (90.8% save percentage and a 2.67 GAA) as he was in 07-08 (93.3% save percentage and a 1.97 GAA). I’m not saying he was (or is) horrible, he’s just a notch – or a few notches – below “elite.”
Whatever way you slice it, the Penguins need a better performance from their franchise goalie.
NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday’s matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Capitals have hit their biggest road block in their title defense after going 3-5-2 in their last 10 games, including four straight losses (0-3-1). The last time Washington lost four straight games was in March of 2017. During this four-game losing streak, the Caps have been outscored 12-1 in 5-on-5 play, and the lone goal in that scenario came against Nashville with the team trailing 7-1 late in the third period.
The last time the Capitals lost five straight games was Oct. 26 to Nov. 4 2014.
Alex Ovechkin enters this game tied with Dave Andreychuk for 14th place on the all-time goals (640) list. He is also only five points away from tying Hockey Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov for the most in League history by a Russian player (1,179).
The Blackhawks have lost seven of their eight games in the new year (1-4-3), including five straight losses (0-3-2) and are once again last in the NHL. Since Jeremy Colliton took charge on November 6, Chicago has lost 24 of their 34 games under their new head coach (10-18-6) after going 6-6-3 in 15 games under Joel Quenneville. The Hawks are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Thursday.
A bright spot for Chicago has been its power play which has now scored in seven consecutive games (9-for-21, 42.9 percent). That hot streak has put them in the middle of the pack in the NHL at 18.9 percent for the season.
The Golden Knights have been pretty hot lately (now eight wins in their last 10 games), but Marchessault isn’t having the easiest time. Heading into Saturday, he only had a goal and an assist in his last 10 contests.
Marchessault broke out during Vegas’ lopsided win against the Penguins, generated his second career hat trick. He’s the second Golden Knights player to generate a hat trick, with William Karlssonproviding the other two.
This gives Marchessault 17 goals and 34 points in 50 games this season.
The Avalanche lit up the Kings on Saturday, and Barrie played into that, collecting three assists. Barrie now has five assists in his last three games.
It’s quite the season so far for the underrated offensive defenseman, as he has 37 points in 44 games. The Avs blueliner was quite impressive last season, too, as his 57 points came in just 68 contests last season.
Consider this a 3b (or maybe 2b?) for the three stars: Mark Giordano generated a goal and two assists for three points in this one. Giordano now has an outstanding 52 points in 48 games this season, leaving him just four points behind his career-high of 56 from 2015-16.
Hey, at least Milan Lucic is heating up for the Oilers, right bummed out fans?
Vincent Trocheck wasn’t even supposed to be playing for the Florida Panthers this soon, let alone seemingly jumping right back to full-strength, as if his ankle was never fractured.
Heading into Friday, the Panthers were on a seven-game losing streak, facing a weekend that sure looked like it would set the stage for one or two additional losses.
Instead, the Panthers now have back-to-back wins, and they’ve done so against two legitimate NHL contenders.
On Friday, the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Trocheck assisted on Mike Matheson‘s game-winning goal, posted highly impressive possession stats, three shots on goal, and seven (!) hits.
That would have already been a highly impressive effort for a player coming off a pretty traumatic injury, but Trocheck was arguably even better during Saturday’s 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators.
While his fancy stats were a little choppier, Trocheck showed up on the scoreboard even more, generating a goal and an assist. He looked awfully spry on that goal, by the way:
That breakaway score ended up being the game-winner, actually.
After generating three points in his two games back, Trocheck now has 17 points in 20 games this season.
Now, the Panthers points as a team? They’re now at 46 points in 47 games played, leaving them at least 12 points behind the Penguins (who have 58 points, and could add more against the Golden Knights during a Saturday game that’s in progress). To put things mildly, the odds are stacked high against the Panthers for a credible push toward a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Then again, the odds were also against Trocheck returning as soon as mid-January, and he’s instead making a big impact for Florida.
In these trying times, sometimes you just need to see a zany mishap where a hockey player loses a skate blade, and hilarity ensues.
OK, that might be highly specific, but such bits of bad luck usually do provide some real comedy. Even by those standards, this was some good stuff, as Blues forward Ivan Barbashev got a boost from an on-ice official, and it was quite a boost down the ice.
You can watch that moment in the video above this post’s headline, and likely have a nice chuckle.
The Blues ended up beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Saturday, so Barbashev & Co. can share a bigger laugh after the game.
Speaking of comic relief and needing a push, enjoy the Zamboni from Saturday’s Oilers game: