The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-5 Sunday afternoon, and apparently they weren’t too impressed with the structural play of their opponents.
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Dejan Kovacevic:
I have only ever heard the Penguins speak derisively of another team’s system once in recent years, and that was right after Buffalo passed through with the laughably-over-his-head Ron Rolston at the helm. The Sabres were flat-out clueless. Just humiliating. And it wasn’t long, of course, before Rolston got canned.
I heard much the same yesterday about the Jets. One player said they have “no structure.” Another said they had “no real plan for what they’re doing.” Yet another called them “really just a strange team.” All concerned, it should be noted, praised the talented individuals on the Winnipeg roster. It was hard not to be impressed with some of them on this day alone. But the focus clearly was aimed at Claude Noel’s system or, if he has a system, the evident failure to execute it.
Predictably, Twitter has had a few things to say in the wake of the above’s publication.
From Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press:
uhm – just a question before we get all system crazy. what system were #penguins playing yesterday that allowed five goals to the #nhljets?
But getting back to the Jets, who’ve now lost three straight in regulation and sit well back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference — bad system, no system, or good system with not enough good players, it’s hard to see Noel keeping his job past this season if their consistency issues remain.
It’s also hard to see general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff not making any serious roster changes. Evander Kane’s name has come up frequently in trade rumors. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear Dustin Byfuglien’s name come up in a few going forward, especially given his recent struggles.
The Jets also need to figure out their goaltending situation, because Ondrej Pavelec (.901 save percentage) hasn’t been good enough and we’re not sure Al Montoya is starter material.
Stars’ Stephen Johns nears return after 22-month absence
DALLAS (AP) — Star defenseman Stephen Johns appears on track to return to Dallas’ lineup for the first time in 22 months on Saturday.
Johns, who returned from a conditioning assignment with Texas of the AHL, was not active for Thursday’s game but will travel with the Stars for their game at Minnesota.
He has not played in an NHL game since March 29, 2018, because of post-traumatic headaches.
”There’s a good chance he’ll play Saturday,” interim coach Rick Bowness said, ”so we’ll evaluate that (Friday) and Saturday morning.”
In two games for Texas, Johns had a goal and three assists.
The Stars could be in need of a defenseman after Miro Heiskanen didn’t play the second half of Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres because of an upper-body injury. Bowness said Heiskanen’s availability is considered day to day.
1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. Another milestone for the greatest goal scorer to ever play in the NHL. He recorded his 25th career hat trick on Thursday night and reached the 30-goal mark for the 15th consecutive season to start his career, a feat accomplished only by him and Mike Gartner. Read more about it here.
2. David Rittich, Calgary Flames. Huge night for the All-Star goalie as he stopped 35 shots during regulation and overtime and all three shots he faced in a shootout to help lift the Flames to a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flames have now won six of their past seven games. Thanks to the Arizona Coyotes’ loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the Flames are now tied for first place in the Pacific Division.
3. Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights won Peter DeBoer’s coaching debut on Thursday night, 4-2, over the Ottawa Senators thanks to a big game from Stone. He scored a goal and recorded an assist in his first game back in Ottawa as a visiting player. Stone played the first six-and-a-half years of his career with the Senators and was one of the team’s best players during his time there. He was a key part of their 2016-17 run to the Eastern Conference Final and became one of the league’s best two-way players. The Senators traded him to Vegas at the trade deadline a year ago. He received a lengthy ovation from the Ottawa crowd on Thursday.
Other notable performances from Thursday
Jaroslav Halak gave up a goal to Sidney Crosby just 24 seconds into the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, then slammed the door shut the right of the night to help the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 win.
John Tortorella recorded his 200th win as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets in their 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. It is a huge win for the Blue Jackets and a costly game for the Hurricanes as defenseman Dougie Hamilton exited the game with a nasty looking leg injury. Read about it here.
The Minnesota Wild snapped their four-game losing streak with an impressive win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Read about it here.
Ilya Kovalchuk continued his great play with the Montreal Canadiens by scoring two goals in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He now has three goals and seven total points in seven games since joining the Canadiens.
Rasmus Dahlin scored his third goal of the season to help the Buffalo Sabres beat the Dallas Stars.
John Gibson stopped 33 shots for the Anaheim Ducks as they hand the Nashville Predators their seventh defeat in their past 10 games.
Philipp Grubauer stops all 27 shots he faces in a shutout win for the Colorado Avalanche over the San Jose Sharks.
Cale Makar scored his 10th goal of the season for the Colorado Avalanche, tying him for the most in franchise history for a rookie defenseman. [NHL PR]
Patrice Bergeron reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th time in his career, the second most in Bruins franchise history behind only John Buyck. [NHL PR]
Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov is the 10th rookie goalie to ever win nine consecutive decisions during the regular season. [NHL PR]
Boston Bruins 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 1
Calgary Flames 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1 (SO)
Florida Panthers 4, Los Angeles Kings 3
New York Rangers 3, New York Islanders 2
Montreal Canadiens 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1
Washington Capitals 5, New Jersey Devils 2
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2
Vegas Golden Knights 4, Ottawa Senators 2
Anaheim Ducks 4, Nashville Predators 2
Minnesota Wild 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 2
Buffalo Sabres 4, Dallas Stars 1
Colorado Avalanche 4, San Jose Sharks 0
Vancouver Canucks 3, Arizona Coyotes 1
On Thursday, they went toe-to-toe with one of the NHL’s best teams and snapped their four-game losing streak with an impressive 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is just the WIld’s second win in their past eight games, and their first in regulation during that stretch.
The Wild desperately needed this to win because their recent slide has really started to bury them in the Western Conference playoff race. Their playoff hopes are barely flickering right now and every point the rest of the way is going to be massive. They have almost no margin for error.
The most impressive part of this particular win is just how strong they looked for most of the game, especially on the heels of such a lackluster performance on Tuesday night. Coach Bruce Boudreau said on Wednesday he had two options after that game — either “bag skate” the team, or send them home and tell them to get away from hockey (via Michael Russo). He chose the latter, saying they would find out on Thursday if it was the right decision. It seemed that it was as they took what has been one of the NHL’s hottest teams (11-1-0 in their previous 12 games entering Tuesday), and one of the most dominating offenses, and for the most part completely shut it down.
The Lightning were on a 16-5-1 run since the start of December (second best record in the league behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins during that stretch) and averaging more than 32 shots and 3.5 goals per game. On Thursday, the Wild limited them to just two goals and only 20 shots. That shot total is the Lightning’s third-lowest of the season, and the lowest since a November 19 against the St. Louis Blues.
Thursday’s game is the first of a 12-game stretch where the Wild play 11 games on home ice, where they have actually played extremely well this season. If they are going to make any sort of a move toward a playoff spot, this is their chance.