Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings can reminisce a bit about better times that happened not that long ago. Winning tonight could help one of them inch a little closer to those glory days.
Things aren’t as dire for the Kings.
At the moment, they have a loose grip on the first wild card spot out West, and games in hand are to their advantage. It’s not exactly a bullet-proof position, but all things considered, they’re surviving.
The Lightning must continue to wrestle with questions regarding their relevance, at least as far as the 2016-17 season goes. Their 52 points in 53 games isn’t catastrophic – look at the Avalanche and their 30 out West – it’s still bad enough that the Bolts are ranked last in the East.
Is it time to punt or should they keep fighting for the playoffs? Nights like these could make an impact on such decisions.
You can watch the action on NBCSN, online and via the NBC Sports App.
Jeremy Roenick went “Off Script” with Kathryn Tappen on NBCSN on Monday, resulting in the former NHL providing insight on a variety of topics.
Roenick’s been a dream fit for the studio in many ways, but a more free-flowing conversation is an even better fit for a player who once traded barbs with Patrick Roy … and plenty of other players and coaches.
Speaking of his interactions with coaches, Roenick said that he has some regrets for how he interacted with Darryl Sutter:
It’s no secret that Roenick believes that “Iron” Mike Keenan helped to mold his rugged game, making him more than just a potent scorer. You can hear him discuss how that fear factor impacted JR in this clip.
There was rarely a dull moment in Roenick’s playing career, so it makes sense that he was such an engaging guest on “Off Script.”
Islanders rally for zany OT win vs. Leafs; Bruins drop out of playoff position
The next month-and-a-half could bring the Doug Weight honeymoon period to a screeching halt for the New York Islanders, but the good feelings lasted at least one more night.
Mike Babcock? He’s probably not feeling too happy.
The Toronto Maple Leafs did salvage a standings point, and their young guns did look great on Monday, but Babs is likely fuming about a 6-5 overtime win for the Islanders. He’ll be unhappy with the wide-open game, and also probably with the fact that Andrew Ladd‘s tying goal came with just 1:29 left in the third.
Still, those Leafs kids are alright:
The Maple Leafs squandered leads of 2-1, 4-2 and 5-4 in eventually losing to the red-hot Islanders. Brock Nelson was one of the Islanders’ biggest heroes, scoring two goals, including the overtime-clincher.
The good and the bad for each team
Looking at the big picture, it’s more of a mixed bag for both teams.
Yes, the Maple Leafs suffered from the downside of a wide-open style:
Frederik Andersen has an .888 save percentage since the start of January. That's the other side of firewagon hockey.
Still, it’s easy to forget that the Maple Leafs were closing off a six-game road trip. Tuesday begins a four-game homestand and they play eight of their next 10 games at home. Even with a congested schedule, the Maple Leafs gain great opportunities to put even more distance between themselves and the Boston Bruins.
Tonight’s single point pushes Toronto to third in the Atlantic while the B’s fell out of the East’s top eight altogether:
Top five in Atlantic:
Canadiens – 68 points in 54 games
Senators – 60 points in 50 games
Maple Leafs – 58 in 51
Bruins – 58 in 55
Panthers – 56 in 52
East wild card races
Rangers – 67 in 52
Flyers – 59 in 54
Bruins – 58 in 55
Islanders – 56 in 51
Panthers – 56 in 52
Devils – 56 in 54 (New Jersey beat Buffalo 2-1 on Monday)
As you can see, the Islanders find themselves in a remarkable spot. When you consider their games in hand edge over the Bruins and Flyers, their playoff dreams seem surprisingly reasonable right now.
There’s some reason to believe that Weight & Co. might stumble, however.
The Islanders play three of their next four games on the road, but the challenges get scarier as you head into mid-March. Just three of their next 16 games take place in Brooklyn, with a nine-game road trip from Feb. 21 – March 11 standing as the biggest hurdle to clear.
So, yeah, the Maple Leafs’ and Islanders’ schedule argue that these two teams could be feeling very differently in the next few weeks.
Then again, such thoughts cement this as a pretty important win for the Islanders. They might just be able to withstand the challenges ahead if they continue to gather momentum.
Blues climb into West wild card spot as Flyers’ scoring slump continues
The St. Louis Blues managed to grind out a 2-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, moving into the Western Conference’s wild card spot, at least for the time being.
The Flyers remain in the East’s final spot as well, which might be where the good news ends for Philly. For the second straight game, they failed to score a single goal as Carter Hutton stopped all 26 shots.
It was a frustrating night for the Flyers, who were unable to capitalize on an 11-1 shots on goal advantage in the first period. They were shut out 1-0 in overtime against the Kings on Saturday and have lost three of four, being limited to a single goal in those three losses.
The Flyers are currently 1-1-1 on a five-game homestand. The fourth game in this stretch is especially important as they’ll host the rising New York Islanders on Thursday. Philly needs to shake this one off quickly, then.
St. Louis didn’t exactly dominate Philadelphia here, yet the Blues have won two of their last three games. This is the way they wanted to begin the Mike Yeo era and also the way they wanted to start the week, as this win begins what could be a daunting five-game road trip.
#stlblues with just 16 shots on goal…Tarasenko with zero. Agostino with 4
Travis Konecny’s return to the Philadelphia Flyers’ lineup might be short-lived.
He was a healthy scratch for two games, but he got the nod on Monday – while Shayne Gostisbehere remains in street clothes – against the St. Louis Blues. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury during the second period and will not return.
Flyers GM Ron Hextall said that an update will likely come on Tuesday.
The Flyers didn’t specify much beyond that, yet it could be a lower-body injury if this was the moment he got hurt. It certainly looked painful: