Habs forward Dale Weise was awarded a penalty shot early in the second period after being hauled down by Bruins’ Dennis Seidenberg.
• Should the Montreal Canadiens hire Mike Babcock? (Montreal Gazette)
• The Devils have been struggling badly on special teams. (All About the Jersey)
• How easy will it be to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs? (Pension Plan Puppets)
• The Coyotes goalie tandem has been terrific this season. (Five For Howling)
• The Bolts can benefit from this difficult start. (NHL.com)
• Where is the San Jose Sharks’ offense? (Rotoworld)
• Sheldon Keefe has a quiet confidence about him that should help him guide the Leafs. (TSN)
• There’s a lot of questions facing Keefe and he’ll success will depend on answering them. (Editor in Leaf)
• The Blue Jackets have added Paul MacLean to their staff (NHL.com/BlueJackets)
• Isles goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin wants to be in the NHL next season. (The Sports Daily)
• Kris Versteeg left the Rockford Ice Hogs on Sunday and the team isn’t in a rush to name a new captain. (Second City Hockey)
Turning over new Maple Leafs
One streak did end, although Sheldon Keefe has to hope that his NHL head coaching career will begin with a streak that goes beyond a debut win. The Maple Leafs ended their losing streak at six games by beating the Coyotes 3-1 in their first game after Mike Babcock fired. Read up on that win here.
From hot streaks to cold
The Islanders maintained their now-franchise-record breaking point streak of 16 games by beating the Penguins in overtime. In doing so, the Isles are also on a five-game winning streak. The Dallas Stars matched that winning streak with their fifth victory in a row, and are pretty hot in their own right, going 9-0-1 in their last 10 games. They’re also 12-1-1 in their last 14 contests.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Flames put forth a painful, pitiful effort in dropping their sixth straight loss. The Predators were more competitive in many ways on Thursday, but Nashville has also lost six in a row. Tense times for two teams that expected to be Western Conference contenders.
1. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Heading into Thursday’s game, Giroux was on a three-game pointless streak, and only had a single point (one goal) over his past six games. The veteran forward exploded with a two-goal, two-assist performance to help the Flyers beat the Hurricanes.
Giroux’s two assists were primary assists, and his second goal ended up being the game-winner. He even threw in a 17-10 mark on faceoffs for good measure.
2. Zach Sanford, St. Louis Blues
Despite a modest 13:19 in ice time on Thursday, Sanford helped lead the charge as the Blues humiliated a flustered Flames team. Sanford scored the game’s first goal (thus getting a GWG) and added three assists during a four-point performance that was almost as impressive as Giroux’s output.
If you’d prefer handing this star to Jordan Binnington for his 40-save shutout, that’s totally understandable.
3. Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Florida found itself down 4-0 with less than two minutes remaining in the second period, yet managed to enter the third period down a more palatable 4-2. From there, Ekblad took over, scoring a goal and an assist during the third period, then adding the overtime game-winner to lock up a comeback win for Florida. Like Giroux, Ekblad came into the night’s action on a cold streak, having only managed a goal over seven games.
For me, Ekblad’s little trot after the OT-GWG breaks the tie with other players who scored three points on Thursday:
Highlight of the Night
Benn the Bulldozer
- The Panthers have now overcome four-goal deficits to win games twice in 2019-20, joining the 1983-84 Oilers as the only teams to manage such wins twice in the same season, according to NHL PR.
- Sportsnet notes that the Flames are on a streak of 362:46 without taking a lead, the longest stretch in franchise history. Um, at least they haven’t squandered any leads, then? The Maple Leafs’ run without a lead ended at 446:47 when Tyson Barrie scored the opening goal on Thursday, also according to Sportsnet.
- Via NHL PR: Cale Makar is the first Avs/Nordiques rookie defenseman to generate at least 15 points in a single month, and sixth overall among the franchise’s defensemen.
BOS 3 – BUF 2
FLA 5 – ANA 4 (OT)
NYI 4 – PIT 3 (OT)
PHI 5 – CAR 3
CBJ 5 – DET 4
STL 5 – CGY 0
VAN 6 – NSH 3
MIN 3 – COL 2
TBL 4 – CHI 2
DAL 5 – WPG 3
TOR 3 – ARI 1
SJS 2 – VGK 1 (OT)
LAK 5 – EDM 1
If it weren’t for Vinnie Hinostroza spoiling Frederik Andersen‘s shutout with 17 seconds left, Thursday would have been just about perfect for the Toronto Maple Leafs during their first game post-Mike Babcock.
Most importantly, the Maple Leafs ended their six-game losing streak with a win. (Yes, that makes brand-new head coach Sheldon Keefe 1-0-0.)
The symmetry starts to go up a notch when you consider that, on this night, Tyson Barrie finally scored his first goal of the 2019-20 season, which is also his first with the Maple Leafs. Barrie is up there when you picture Leafs with relief of Babcock grief, so scoring here almost feels on-the-nose:
That Barrie goal gave the Maple Leafs a coveted 1-0 lead, and that’s quite a reversal from how things could have felt if Andersen didn’t make this great glove save (which would have stood out even more if Tuukka Rask didn’t give Marc-Andre Fleury competition with an absolutely ludicrous stop).
The underlying numbers are promising, too. In particular, it has to be uplifting to see that the Maple Leafs managed an impressive 18-7 advantage in high-danger chances at all strengths, according to Natural Stat Trick.
There’s a lot to like for the Leafs, but there’s also no denying that the Maple Leafs have a lot of work to do — and a hole they need to dig out of. That win merely brought them back to “.500,” as they’re now 10-10-4 for 24 standings points in 24 games. They wouldn’t make it into the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs if they began on Thursday night, and Toronto’s ninth place standing is even inflated when you realize that teams right behind them hold games in hand. (Toronto’s 24 games played ties for the most in the NHL, while teams like the Lightning [22 points in 19 GP] loom large.)
Ultimately, though, the Maple Leafs can only control what they’re doing on the ice. So far, so good then, when you consider how they’re playing with Keefe pulling the strings instead of Babs.
More on Babcock, Leafs:
- What might be next for Babcock?
- Life after Babs.
- Our Line Starts’ take.
- Why Maple Leafs needed to make this change.
These are painful times for the Calgary Flames … sometimes literally.
By falling 5-0 to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, the Flames have now dropped six consecutive games. It’s hard not to think a little bit about the Toronto Maple Leafs firing Mike Babcock amid their slump when considering the Flames’ own struggles, both now and in their own disappointing showing in Round 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Talk of big changes (to coaching, Johnny Gaudreau, the GM, or anything else) can wait for another day … maybe one soon? For now, let’s bask in the fearful glow of Vince Dunn‘s hit on Andrew Mangiapane, as you can witness in the video above this post’s headline.
Is that hit symbolic of the Flames’ pains lately, or could you best embody that agony by comparing the team to its most snakebitten player, Sam Bennett?
Either way, these are uncomfortable times for the Flames, and not just Mangiapane.