Get your game notes: Red Wings at Blackhawks

3 Comments

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

MATCHUP/TOP STORYLINES

• Both 3rd in their respective divisions…CHI has 2 more points this season but has played 2 more games.

• Top PP (DET) vs. top PK (CHI)…1st meeting of season: DET 0-3 on PP (4-1 home win on Nov. 14)

• Last game: On Monday night, DET lost to MTL, 2-0…On Sunday afternoon, CHI beat PIT, 2-1 (SO).

• Tonight DET-CHI meet for the 729th time in the reg.-season – tying BOS-MTL for most in NHL history.

• Before DET was relocated to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 season, DET and CHI were in the same division for 31 consecutive seasons, most recently together in the Central Division from 1993-2013.

• DET minor slump only sees a tougher road ahead…1 week ago the Wings were considered one of, if not the, hottest team in the league having won 9 of 10…since last Wednesday however:

• DET: 3-game losing streak (0-2-1)

• Worst stretch since dropping 6 straight in mid-December (0-2-4).

• DET last lost consecutive games in regulation back on Mar. 25 & 27, 2014.

• Despite the slump, the Wings are still well positioned in the Atlantic but face a brutal upcoming schedule:

• Detroit is through 3 games of a 12-game stretch in which it faces 10 teams currently in a playoff position, including 3 of the top 5 teams in the NHL (NSH, MTL, ANA).

• Tonight’s game is the start of a 6-game road trip (ties a season high) where DET will leave the Midwest and head west (@ DAL next on Saturday) before a California trip through ANA, LA & SJ, and then close out the stretch at league-leading NSH…DET is not home again until Mar. 4 vs. NYR.

• Who is in net for DET?…Last Wednesday, All-Star selection Jimmy Howard returned for the Wings, after injuring his groin back on Jan. 10 (missed 10 games), when he played the 3rd period at PIT for Petr Mrazek, who was pulled (4 GA). Howard has started DET’s 2 games since and fared much better in his 2nd start: vs. WPG on Sat.: 4 GA on 38 shots (5-4 SO loss) vs. MTL on Mon.: 1 GA on 28 shots (2-0 loss)

• Mrazek, who started all of Detroit’s games while Howard was out, has been sent back down to Grand Rapids (AHL) after going 8-2-0 with a 2.78 GAA since Jan. 13.

• Hawks 2-0-2 so far on the home stand: Tonight CHI plays its 5th gm of a season-high (and long; 16-day) 8-gm home stand…CHI got off to a poor start with consecutive losses, though both in extra time (to AZ & VAN), but has won 2 straight & looks for its first 3-gm win streak since running off 8 straight wins from Nov. 26 – Dec. 11.

• Central Division scope: Though the Hawks have points in 6 straight games (4-0-2 record), reaching 1st place in the Central is looking increasingly less likely.

DETROIT TEAM/PLAYER NOTE

• DET ranks first in the league on the power-play at 26.0%. The Wings PP goal streak of 5-games was snapped vs. MTL but they are still 7-for-their-last-20 (35.0%) over the last 6 games.

• Tomas Tatar has 7 points (2G-5A) over his last 6 games.

• Tatar has 41 points in 55 GP this season (23G-18A) establishing new career highs in goals & points.

• Henrik Zetterberg has 51 points (19G-32A) in 53 career games vs. CHI

• No active player has ever scored more goals in a Red Wings uniform against CHI than Zetterberg.

• His 51 points are the 3rd-most among active players vs. CHI (D. Legwand – 62, R. Nash – 52)

• Pavel Datsyuk has 7 pts (2G-5A) in his last 7 games including a 3-point performance (2G-1A) vs. WPG on Sat.

• Datsyuk is in the top-3 on the team in goals, assists & points despite playing just 44 of the team’s 55 games.

CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Chicago has the league’s best penalty kill at 87.9%. The team is 14-for-15 on the PK (93.3%) in the last 8 games.

• Patrick Kane has 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 6 games and ranks 1st in the NHL in scoring with 63 points.

• No American has ever won the Art Ross Trophy, and only one American (Billy Burch from Yonkers, NY in 1925 playing for the Hamilton Tigers) has won the Hart Trophy as league MVP (Kane is from Buffalo, NY)

• Stan Mikita in 1968-69 was the last Blackhawk to lead the league in scoring.

• Marian Hossa was held without a point vs. PIT snapping a 4-game goal/point streak in which he had 8 points (7 goals) including 3 straight 2-goal games to begin the stretch.

• Hossa became the 6th Blackhawk all-time with a multi-goal game in 3 straight team games of one season.

• Hossa’s performance last week earned him the NHL’s first star of the week.

• Back in 2008-09, Hossa had 71 points (40G-31A) as a member of the Red Wings. Hossa signed with DET as a free agent, lost to PIT in the SCF that season, then signed a 12-year deal with Chicago, where he has been ever since.

• Career vs. DET: 27 points (11G-16A) in 33 games.

• 19 points (5G-14A) in 22 games vs. DET since 2009-10.

• Jonathan Toews has 5 points (1G-4A) during a 4-game point streak after going the 4 previous games without a point.

• Career vs. DET: 25 points (11G-14A) in 34 games.

• Brandon Saad has 4 points (1G-3A) during a 3-game point streak and 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 6 games.

• Saad needs 2 goals to tie his career high of 19 set last season.

• Patrick Sharp, last season’s team leader in goals (34) & points (78), has been quiet lately (0 points in last 5 games) but has 35 career points (16G-19A) vs. DET (46 GP)…Sharp scored the shootout winner vs. PIT after Toews & Kane made their attempts.

• Since returning from a foot injury which kept him out for 3 weeks (occurred Dec. 1), Corey Crawford has finally gotten back on track:

The Buzzer: Streaks good and bad around NHL; Leafs turn the page

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Three Stars

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

No doubt about it, that goes Tuukka Rask, whose save rivals Marc-Andre Fleury for the save of the week/month/year. This post has more.

Benn the Bulldozer

On a less busy night, Jamie Benn trucking Mark Scheifele than scoring a pretty game-winning goal would be the top dog. It’s at least worth watching:

Factoids

  • 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.

Scores

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

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Maple Leafs end skid in first Babcock-less game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Blues’ Dunn levels Flames’ Mangiapane with huge hit

1 Comment

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.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Islanders’ point streak hits 16 games, a new franchise record

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Penguins spoiled the Islanders’ 10-game winning streak, but not the Islanders’ point streak, back on Nov. 7. The Islanders really haven’t slowed down since then, as Thursday’s 4-3 OT win against Pittsburgh extended their latest winning streak to five games, and allowed them to set a new franchise record.

By going 15-0-1 in their last 16 games, the Islanders set a new franchise mark for longest point streak. Yes, that means Barry Trotz’s odds-defying group has accomplished something the dynastic Mike Bossy-powered ’80s group never did.

At this rate, the Islanders might just bank enough standings points that it might not matter much when/if they “come back to Earth.”

In the spirit of Derek Jeter wedging his jersey number into a word where it only kinda sorta works, the Islanders embraced the history of the 16-game streak:

When you’re winning (or at least getting a point) as often as the Islanders have been, you’ll need to win in different ways. After some comeback wins recently, Thursday’s game against the Penguins was a back-and-forth affair where the two teams traded leads, and the Penguins needed a last-minute goal to even get the game to overtime. Brock Nelson‘s two goals were key, including his OT-winner:

There’s been a “cardiac kids” element to this run, especially lately. Thursday’s win marks the third consecutive game where the Isles’ action went beyond regulation, and six of the Islanders’ wins (plus their lone OT loss to the Penguins) have come via either a shootout or overtime goal.

This also marks the best 20-game start in franchise history for the Isles, according to The Athletic’s David Staple.

Just resounding stuff.

It says a lot about the Capitals’ own hot start (16-4-4, 36 points in 24 games played) that the Islanders still aren’t in the lead in the Metro. Of course, the Islanders could close a ton of ground considering their games in hand, as they’re 16-3-1 for 33 points in just those 20 games played.

Looking ahead, the Islanders will go on the road quite a bit as they try to extend this point streak even beyond 16 games. To start, they’ll take a California road trip, and the away-heavy stretch doesn’t end there.

Nov. 23: at San Jose
Nov. 25: at Anaheim
Nov. 27: at Los Angeles
Nov. 30: vs. Columbus
Dec. 2: at Detroit
Dec. 3 :at Montreal
Dec. 5: vs. Vegas
Dec. 7: at Dallas
Dec. 9: at Tampa Bay
Dec. 12: at Florida

As you can see, the Islanders face a run where eight of their next 10 games are on the road. You’d think that maybe there will be stumbles (dare I wonder, *gasp* maybe even a single regulation loss?) along that way, but the Islanders keep buzzing along, and they’re 6-1-0 on the road thus far this season … so who knows?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.