1. Roman Josi
There was some exciting hockey on Monday, yet there weren’t a ton of performances where players put up gaudy numbers.
Oddly, the only two skaters who generated at least three points were both part of a losing effort for the Predators. Josi stands far above Ryan Johansen from an all-around standpoint, which is why he’s also standing above the Preds center in these three stars.
Josi generated two goals and one assist in helping Nashville salvage a standings point after the Predators dug themselves a 3-0 hole against the Senators. Josi fired six shots on goal and logged 23:54 in ice time in that loss.
The Swiss-born defenseman has been coming up big for a Predators team that’s dealing with all kinds of injury headaches, including to other go-to guys like P.K. Subban and Filip Forsberg. Don’t be surprised if Josi generates some Norris buzz if he keeps this up, as he has 26 points in 34 games.
Monday saw some strong goalie performances. Jaroslav Halak blanked his old team as Boston crushed Montreal, only needing to make 22 saves for a shutout. Thomas Greiss didn’t shut out the Avalanche, yet he kept Mikko Rantanen off the board, which should at least earn him a Kindergarten-style gold star.
But “Bob” might have had the best night of any goalie.
Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots for his first shutout of 2018-19. It’s been a bumpy contract year for the Blue Jackets goalie, as you can see from his poor .905 save percentage. Don’t count him out, though, especially since Columbus has been able to maintain a playoff position even without Bobrovsky authoring his usual regular-season heroics.
3. Ryan Johansen
Honestly, this feels like the quintessential Ryan Johansen game.
There was the very good: Johansen managed three assists, factoring into all of Nashville’s goals. It’s been a strong season for Johansen, who’s generated 29 points in 34 games, even if his offense has cooled off with Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson on the shelf.
If there’s one thing that’s maddening about Johansen, it’s that he shoots so infrequently, so it’s fitting that he had zero SOG on Monday, even with the Predators chasing the Senators for much of the contest. Johansen now only has 55 SOG in 34 games in 2018-19, which seems almost unthinkable for a top-line forward.
But, hey, it’s mostly working, so this is probably closer to nitpicking than a more profound critique. Probably?
Chances are, more people will bug Johansen about him giving up the puck on Thomas Chabot‘s pretty OT game-winner, though:
Since Dec. 12, Bryan Rust has a hat trick, six points in four games overall, and also provided a goaltending audition.
You may call these Ducks plucky.
Nice fodder for Senators GM Pierre Dorion, who recently said that their rebuild might be ahead of schedule:
Another reminder that Halak was a Hab:
ANA 4 – PIT 2
CBJ 1 – VGK 0
BOS 4 – MTL 0
OTT 4 – NSH 3 (OT)
NYI 4 – COL 1
On paper, Monday was an excellent night for Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders.
The Islanders topped the Colorado Avalanche 4-1, keeping the Avs’ scorching-hot top line mostly in check. Nathan MacKinnon grabbed an assist on Gabriel Landeskog‘s power-play goal, but Mikko Rantanen was held pointless for the first time in ages. Also, with the Pittsburgh Penguins falling to the Ducks in regulation, the Isles regained control of the third spot in the Metropolitan Division.
So, the Islanders mostly contained the NHL’s hottest scoring line, and with this win, would be in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs if they began right now.
It wasn’t all good news, though.
Two injuries hang over this win, and one brings potential controversy. As you can see in the video above this post’s headline, Avs defenseman Ian Cole seemingly engaged in a knee-to-knee hit on Isles forward Brock Nelson. Cole received a kneeing minor on the play.
Following the game, Trotz didn’t have much of an update, as Newsday’s Andrew Gross reports:
Hickey came into Monday’s game averaging 19:14 TOI per contest, a career-high, so it was clear that he was earning Trotz’s trust. Nelson broke a four-game pointless streak with an assist in this win, giving him 21 points in 32 games, good for fourth on the team in scoring. So these situations are worrisome for an Islanders team that’s vastly surpassing expectations.
The Vegas Golden Knights have been gathering momentum lately, but Monday was not kind to them.
Pacioretty wasn’t able to return to Vegas’ loss. After the loss, Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said more information could be known by Tuesday.
Pacioretty was already dealing with a different lower-body ailment amid confusion about an earlier unhealthy/healthy scratch, so “Patches” might need to rev up that “Wolverine”-style healing ability if he wants to get back into action soon.
The Blue Jackets managed this regulation win, even with Artemi Panarin out of the lineup. Maybe it wasn’t always pretty, but they’re likely feeling better than the Golden Knights right now.
Turris was once Ryan’s teammate with the Sens, but it’s unclear if that had anything to do with it. Either way, when you consider the players involved, this was a fairly passionate bout.
It looked like Ryan got the best of Turris, at one point seemingly leaving Turris dazed.
After falling behind 3-0, the Predators were able to secure a standings point by sending the game to OT at 3-3. The Senators got the last laugh, however, as Thomas Chabot scored this beautiful overtime game-winner: