Brandon Davidson

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks face off against Predators on NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

After a losing six straight games (0-5-1) in December, Nashville has rebounded with a five-game point streak (4-0-1) since New Year’s Eve. Their latest win was an impressive 4-0 victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday. Rinne had 18 saves in his third shutout of the season.

Filip Forsberg returned to the lineup on Monday after missing 17 games with an upper-body injury. The team was 8-7-2 without him. Monday was Nashville’s first game since Nov. 10 with Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, and P.K. Subban all in the lineup.

The Blackhawks have climbed out of the basement of the NHL by going 7-4-2 since mid- December, but still have several teams to leapfrog if they want to make the playoffs. Still, they have become a tough out, as evidenced by their 4-3 loss to the Conference-leading Flames on Monday.

Patrick Kane has been red hot with 19 points (9G, 10A) in his last 11 games. He also has had multi-point games in four of his last six games. Jonathan Toews had a six-game point streak snapped on Monday, but still has 39 points (17G, 22A) in 45 games overall. Toews is on pace for 71 points and 30 goals, which would be his most productive season since 2010-11.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks
Where: United Center
When: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Predators-Blackhawks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

[P.K. Subban sends inspirational message to young fan after racist taunts]

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BLACKHAWKS
Alex DeBrincat – Jonathan Toews – Dominik Kahun
Artem AnisimovDylan Strome – Patrick Kane
Brandon SaadDavid Kampf – Drake Caggiula
John HaydenMarcus KrugerBrendan Perlini

Duncan KeithErik Gustafsson
Carl DahlstromConnor Murphy
Brandon Davidson – Henri Jokiharju

Starting goalie: Collin Delia

PREDATORS
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin FialaColton SissonsCraig Smith
Calle JarnkrokNick BoninoAustin Watson
Ryan HartmanFrederick GaudreauRocco Grimaldi

Roman JosiRyan Ellis
P.K. Subban- Mattias Ekholm
Matt IrwinDan Hamhuis

Starting goalie: Pekka Rinne

Six-time Emmy Award-winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk, and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will have the call from United Center. Kathryn Tappen hosts NHL Live alongside analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones, as well as NHL insider Bob McKenzie.

MORE: Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat can’t stop scoring

Blackhawks add Cam Ward, Chris Kunitz on one-year deals

Getty
5 Comments

After missing the playoffs for the first time in nine years the Chicago Blackhawks are not ready to throw in the towel on their core and opened the free agent signing period by adding a couple of veterans to their roster.

The team announced on Sunday, almost exactly at noon, that they have signed goalie Cam Ward and forward Chris Kunitz to one year contracts.

Ward’s deal is reportedly worth $3 million and carries a complete no-trade clause.

That contract is obviously the notable one given the uncertainty surrounding starting goalie Corey Crawford. Crawford missed most of the 2017-18 season due to an unspecific “upper-body injury” and the team has been tight-lipped about his recovery and status for the upcoming season. With Crawford sidelined the team’s revolving door of backups badly struggled and played a significant role in the Blackhawks’ struggles.

Adding another goalie to the mix was a necessity for the Blackhawks this summer.

The big question is going to be whether or not Ward is the right goalie.

On one hand, if Crawford is healthy and able to take on his normal workload Ward should be okay as a backup. Crawford is one of the best goalies in the league when he is on the ice and, if all goes according to plan, should continue to be that.

But if they need to rely on Ward to play an increased role because Crawford is not yet ready to return — or unable to return; or if he gets hurt again — it may not be much of an upgrade given that he has been one of the league’s least productive goalies for several years now.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks also added the 39-year-old Kunitz after he spent the past season as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. During his year in Tampa Bay he finished with 13 goals and 29 total points in 82 games. He’s already started to slow down from where he was in his prime years, but he can still play all over the lineup and can still provide a little offense in a complementary role.

Along with the Ward and Kunitz deals, the Blackhawks also signed defenseman Brandon Manning to a two-year contract.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Caps stay perfect outdoors; five points for Stamkos

Getty Images

Player of the Night: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning captain had himself quite a game during an amazing tilt Saturday afternoon. Stamkos scored twice, assisted on three others and put home the game-clinching shootout goal during a wild 7-6 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The five points are a career high for Stamkos. Victor Hedman had two goals and four points while Nikita Kucherov kept his march toward a Hart Trophy with three helpers. Tampa has won six of their last seven games.

Highlight of the Night: Jamie Benn scored 3:04 into overtime to give the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win over the struggling St. Louis Blues. To celebrate, the Stars captain decided to snap his stick over his knee:

MISC:

Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and Evgeny Kuznetsov each scored a goal and added two assists to help the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 Stadium Series game at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. Alex Ovechkin hit the 40-goal mark for the ninth time of his career while scoring his 598th NHL goal.

• The Los Angeles Kings melted down in the final 10 minutes of the third period as they watched a 3-1 lead evaporate in a span of 7:14 as they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks. LA scored three times in the second period, but then Artem Anisimov, Vinnie Hinostroza and Jonathan Toews turned the game quickly, thanks to a pair of power play goals.

• The Blues have now dropped eight of their last nine games. They sit one point out of a Western Conference wild card.

Jake DeBrusk tied the game with 2:45 left in regulation and Brad Marchand netted the winner 2:06 into overtime as the Boston Bruins topped the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. The win gave Boston the season-sweep over Montreal for the first time since 1994-95.

Charlie McAvoy left the game in early with a lower-body injury and did not return.

Sidney Crosby scored his 22nd goal of the season in overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders. Derick Brassard scored his first goal with the Penguins.

Brandon Davidson opened the scoring for the Islanders thanks to this blooper reel from Tristan Jarry:

Jordan Martinook‘s second period goal was the difference as the Arizona Coyotes edged the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Antti Raanta made 23 saves for his third straight win and fifth win in six starts.

• Behind Alexandar Georgiev‘s 35 saves, Chris Kreider‘s first goal since returning from a blood clot and two points from Mika Zibanejad, the New York Rangers got by the Edmonton Oilers 3-2. New York has now won three straight games while being outshot 143-88. Connor McDavid potted his 30th of the season, making him the first Oiler with consecutive 30-goal seasons since Ryan Smyth in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Factoid of the Night:

Scores:
Lightning 7, Flyers 6 (SO)
Stars, 3, Blues 2 (OT)
Blackhawks 5, Kings 3
Penguins 3, Islanders 2 (OT)
Bruins 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)
Coyotes 2, Senators 1
Capitals 5, Maple Leafs 2
Rangers 3, Oilers 2

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Slumping Islanders hit new low after home loss to Canadiens

Getty
5 Comments

The New York Islanders had been playing some bad hockey of late, but they had a good opportunity to get back on track this week, as they had a home-and-home date with the Montreal Canadiens. Not only did the Isles fail to sweep a team that has been out of the playoff picture for months, they managed to drop both games.

The Habs went up 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 in the first two periods, but the Islanders managed to tie the game each time. In the third frame, Montreal went up 5-3 thanks to goals by Paul Byron and Noah Juulsen (his first NHL goal). The Canadiens added an empty-netter to bury the Islanders by a score of 6-3. Alex Galchenyuk, who played in his 400th NHL game, finished the night with three goals and an assist.

The Isles now find themselves four points behind Columbus for the final Wild Card spot in the East. They’ve also been passed by Carolina and Florida this week. Since beating the Hurricanes on Feb. 16, New York has dropped five games in a row.

Sure, they were without Jordan Eberle (undisclosed) and Casey Cizikas (attending the birth of his first child) tonight, but that’s no excuse to lose a home game to a horrible road team. To top it all off, the Canadiens lost defenseman Victor Mete to injury in the first period and captain Max Pacioretty (lower body) in the third period, and the Islanders still couldn’t get the better of them.

Check out this note that beat reporter Arthur Staple tweeted out before tonight’s game:

General manager Garth Snow added Chris Wagner and Brandon Davidson before the trade deadline, but those moves clearly didn’t give the players in the locker room added hope.

The Islanders will now hit the road for four games in Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Even though three of those four teams aren’t in the playoffs, they still won’t be easy outs.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

NHL Trade Deadline: Winners and losers

30 Comments

We are trying something a little different with this week’s version of the PHT Power Rankings.

Instead of ranking each team on its current play or spot in the standings, we are looking at their performance in the days and weeks leading up to the NHL trade deadline.

Consider this your winners and losers post because, well, rushing to judgements on trades is one of the most entertaining aspect of trades.

Again, I can not stress enough these power rankings are not a reflection of play on the ice or where they stand based on their performance this season. This is strictly ranking teams based on their roster moves leading up to the NHL trade deadline. 

To the rankings!

The winners

 1. Tampa Bay Lightning — The transformation into the New York Rangers is nearly complete after swinging another massive trade with the blue shirts. They added to an already loaded team by getting Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller without having to give up Mikhail Sergachev or Brayden Point. Vladislav Namestnikov is a good player, but what is the gap between him and Miller? Miller has also not spent most of the season riding shotgun next to Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

2. Winnipeg Jets — Hoo boy. An already loaded offense that is among the best in the league picks up Paul Stastny. They went years without doing anything of significance in terms of roster transactions them came out of nowhere on trade deadline day to say “yeah, we think this is our year.” Good move.

3. New Jersey Devils — This was a vintage Ray Shero trade deadline performance, swapping some draft picks and a mid-tier prospect for a couple of rentals. But they are good rentals! By adding Michael Grabner they add another speedy winger to a team that already has Taylor Hall and Miles Wood, and Patrick Maroon is scoring at a 25-goal pace again.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets — Thomas Vanek does one thing well at this point in his career: He can produce on the power play. The Blue Jackets have an awful power play. Ian Cole and Mark Letestu (also a pretty good power play option) are also nice additions for relatively little cost.

5. San Jose Sharks — I don’t think I would want Evander Kane on my team (too many headaches and problems and questions off the ice and he’s only okay but not great on it is a bad combination) but he was one of the top rentals available and they did not have to give up a lot to get him. So I guess that makes them a winner.

You paid a lot, but it might be worth it

6. Pittsburgh Penguins — Ian Cole will leave a bit of a hole on defense (especially when that hole is being filled by Matt Hunwick), and Filip Gustavsson is a really good goalie prospect, and they trade first-round picks like they are burning a hole in their pocket, but with Derick Brassard now in the mix after the three-team trade they might have an even better quartet of centers than they did the past two seasons.

7. Nashville Predators — They paid a steep price to get Ryan Hartman, but he is a pretty good player, he is still young, he is still under team control for a while, and even though he will be due for a raise after this season as a restricted free agent the Predators absolutely have the salary cap space to afford him. A really good depth player for a Stanley Cup contender, which the Predators will be for the foreseeable future.

8. Vegas Golden Knights — Their inclusion in the Brassard trade with the Penguins and Ottawa Senators was a little weird, but I admire their apparent strong push to land Erik Karlsson. The big question is should a first-year team that still needs to build an organization from the ground up trade so many draft picks for Tomas Tatar? It is a legitimate question, but Tatar adds another scoring option to a team that already has a deep, well-rounded group of forwards and the best record in the league (based on points percentage). I will allow it.

9. Boston Bruins — Given the price of rentals they paid a pretty steep one for Rick Nash, but he’s still a really good two-way player that can help in all three phases of the game. I am not sure what Brian Gionta and Tommy Wingels will do for them, but Nash is a good pickup for a team that has a legitimate shot to win it all.

The Sellers that did well

10. Chicago Blackhawks — Hartman could have been someone that was around for a while, but if his value is a first-round draft pick and a decent prospect you would be crazy not to cash that in when you have the chance. They did a nice job replenishing the draft pick cupboard by picking up four picks over the next two years.

11. New York Rangers — They turned Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, and Nick Holden into six draft picks (including two first-round picks and a second-round pick that could become another first) and eight other players. That is a lot of assets coming into the organization. The key questions though are whether or not any of those eight players are high upside players that can be a part of a rebuild, and what they do with those draft picks. That’s a lot of first-round picks, but they could all be really late first-rounders which don’t really carry a ton of value.

12. Detroit Red Wings — Not getting anything for Mike Green is a little tough but that may have been out of their control. His health was a concern, he had a big say in where he could go, and there just may not have been a huge market. They did add a ton of draft picks for Tatar and Petr Mrazek. They now have eight picks in the first four rounds of the 2018 draft and another six in the first round rounds of the 2019 draft. They have to rebuild sooner or later and they now have a ton of draft pick currency.

You didn’t hurt yourself

13. Philadelphia Flyers — They added Petr Mrazek, mostly out of desperation, and did nothing else of note other than claiming Johnny Oduya on waivers. That’s okay. The Flyers are a really good team that is playing extremely well over the past three months and has a lot of young talent. No need to mess with it right now. Their window is just opening.

14. Toronto Maple Leafs — Tomas Plekanec is a nice depth addition to a team that could use a responsible, veteran forward in its bottom-six.

15. Washington Capitals — They didn’t make the big trade they have been accustomed to making in recent seasons and instead went for a couple of depth moves on defense. Not the worst case scenario. They may not be as good as their record and you don’t want to do something crazy in a season where you are probably more than one player away. You don’t want to trade Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat. Again.

16. Los Angeles Kings — Dion Phaneuf is a fraction of what he used to be but he will probably give them a little more value than Marian Gaborik would have, and Tobias Rieder adds a little bit of speed and upside to a lineup that was lacking in both of those things.

17. Montreal Canadiens — Their standing here is mostly do to the fact that they did not trade Max Pacioretty at a point where his value is so low. They really didn’t do much of significance. Maybe Mike Reilly can be okay? Basically I am just giving Marc Bergevin credit for not doing something that would hurt the team.

18. Florida Panthers — Frank Vatrano is a pretty decent buy-low gamble. Maybe a fresh start and a change of scenery where he can play a bigger role helps him realize some of that potential.

19. Arizona Coyotes — They sold Rieder at what might be a lowpoint, which isn’t ideal, but they did end up with a pretty good goaltending option in Darcy Kuemper.

The incompletes

20. Calgary Flames — Does Nick Shore for a seventh-round draft pick do much for you? No? Good. It shouldn’t. They did add Chris Stewart on waivers so I guess that is something.

21. Carolina Hurricanes — Every year we are told this could be the year Jeff Skinner gets traded, then he never gets traded. That is actually a good thing for the Hurricanes because Jeff Skinner is really good. Their only move was a minor league deal to send Josh Jooris to Pittsburgh for Greg McKegg.

22. Colorado Avalanche — They traded Chris Bigras for Ryan Graves. I have nothing else to add.

23. Dallas Stars — They did nothing. Nothing to see here.

24. Minnesota Wild — They lost Stewart on waivers and traded Reilly for a draft pick. Nashville and Winnipeg loaded up in their division in an arms race. At the moment, they would have to get through those two teams in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Oof.

What is happening here?

25. Ottawa Senators — They deserve their own category because I really do not know where to put them. They did pretty well for Brassard by getting a first-round pick and a really good goalie prospect, and they were able to flip Cole for another pick and prospect as an extension of that trade tree, but there are still a ton of questions here. The Karlsson situation remains unresolved and it is hard to imagine his value increasing at the draft when the team trading for him is guaranteed even less time with him. The rest of the team remains in place. Maybe you have not noticed but the rest of the team kind of stinks at the moment.

The losers

26. New York Islanders — You have John Tavares, Mathew Barzal, Josh Bailey, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee all having great seasons. You have an offense that can score goals at a level few teams can match. You had all season to do something to fix the shortcomings on defense and in net. You traded Jason Chimera for a younger version of Jason Chimera, and also traded a draft pick for a defenseman that was available on waivers a couple of months ago. Something tells me those Snow Must Go chants will not be going away anytime soon at the Barclays Center.

27. Edmonton Oilers — Maroon is a 20-25 goal forward, carries a relatively decent salary cap hit for the rest of this season, and all Edmonton has to show for him is a mid-level prospect and a third-round draft pick two drafts from now. Their trade deadline consisted of them trading Maroon, Letestu, and Brandon Davidson for Pontus Aberg, J.D. Dudek and two draft picks in 2019.

Actually, this might be the most damning statement of all when it comes to the 2017-18 Edmonton Oilers.

28. St. Louis Blues — One point out of a playoff spot and they trade one of their top scorers for futures. That six-game losing streak where the offense has disappeared is not sitting well with the front office it would seem.

29. Buffalo Sabres — Evander Kane was supposed to be one of the top rentals available and their return does not even guarantee them a first-round draft pick. They also got a 24-year-old “prospect” and a mid-round draft pick. Not sure if that says more about the Sabres front office or Evander Kane.

30. Vancouver Canucks — Jim Benning said he would have preferred a draft pick in the trade for Thomas Vanek but there just wasn’t an opportunity to get that. There were 18 draft picks that exchanged hands across the league on Monday alone. A team in the bottom-five in the standings re-signed Erik Gudbranson, traded Vanek for a marginal prospect and a player that is actually older than Vanek, and did nothing else.

31. Anaheim Ducks — They traded for a 38-year-old forward (Chimera) that has two goals and 11 total points in 58 games this season and signed a 35-year-old forward (Chris Kelly) that has seven goals and seven assists in 93 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season and managed zero goals and only two assists in 15 games in the AHL this season, presumably because he had a couple of good games in the Olympics against non-NHL talent.

MORE: PHT’s 2018 Trade Deadline Tracker.

————

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.