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Goalie nods: Howard gets consecutive starts for first time this season

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Mired in a five-game losing skid, the Red Wings will try something new on Tuesday night, giving Jimmy Howard his second straight start — for the first time this season.

Howard has primarily served as Petr Mrazek‘s backup, starting just four times through 13 games. But with Mrazek struggling — .904 save percentage, 3.18 GAA — Howard got an opportunity in Sunday’s game against Edmonton and did very well, making 26 saves on 28 shots in a narrow 2-1 loss.

That pushed Howard’s save percentage to a sparkling .965 on the year, and pushed head coach Jeff Blashill to start Howard against the Flyers.

Detroit hopes he’ll continue playing well.

Much of the Red Wings’ success this year has been predicated on good goaltending — this is a club that struggles to generate shots on goal, has just nine goals in the last five games and is without one of its top scorers in Thomas Vanek, who was placed on long-term injured reserve yesterday.

For the Flyers, Steve Mason‘s in net.


Cam Ward gets the nod for the ‘Canes, who are in New Jersey tonight. The Devils are going with Cory Schneider after Keith Kinkaid played on Sunday.

Cam Talbot, who’s become an absolute workhorse for Edmonton, gets the start in Pittsburgh. Matt Murray counters for the Penguins. He’s coming off a 32-save shutout in San Jose over the weekend.

— Battle of the backups at MSG as Jacob Markstrom and the Canucks take on Antti Raanta and the Rangers.

Braden Holtby is in goal for the Caps tonight, as they host the Sharks. No word yet on a San Jose starter.

Frederik Andersen, who’s rebounded nicely from a poor start, is in goal for Toronto. Looks like the visiting Kings will go with Peter Budaj, who posted a 24-save shutout over Calgary on Saturday.

— Montreal will start Carey Price in tonight’s rivalry game against the Bruins. Boston has yet to name a starter, but has been playing Tuukka Rask a ton lately.

Craig Anderson versus Pekka Rinne as the Sens take on the Preds in Nashville.

— In what has all the makings of a high-scoring affair, Dallas will start Kari Lehtonen in Winnipeg. Looks like the Jets are going with Connor Hellebuyck.

Calvin Pickard starts for the Avs tonight (and, potentially, for the foreseeable future) while Louis Domingue goes for the Coytes.

Already struggling on defense, ‘Canes now without Faulk (upper body)


Coming into the year, optimism was high for a young Hurricanes defense that played well last year and looked to have a bright future.

But now, 11 games in, things are less rosy.

On Tuesday, Carolina announced that minutes leader and alternate captain Justin Faulk is out week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered on Sunday against New Jersey.

News of the injury comes with the ‘Canes sitting at 3-5-3, dead last in the Metropolitan Division and 27th in the NHL in goals against (3.5 per game).

To hear Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer explain it, a big reason for that bloated GAA is the trouble Carolina’s had on defense.


Jaccob Slavin has been good, defensive partner Brett Pesce hasn’t been far behind and the rest of the blue line has been questionable. Faulk and [Ron] Hainsey have been surprisingly erratic in their own zone, and the pairing of [Noah] Hanifin and your-name-here has been a mess.

The Hurricanes auditioned prospect Roland McKeown for that spot but decided he was better served playing a full season in the AHL, which left them with late-signing Jakub Nakladal, waiver claim Klas Dahlbeck and [Ryan] Murphy, none of whom have been up to the task.

DeCock goes on to say GM Ron Francis “gambled that the group that finished the season would be able to pick up where it left off,” and that, so far, that gamble has failed.

All this falls in the lap of head coach Bill Peters, who’s spent considerable time piecing together his blueline. Dahlbeck’s appeared in six games, Murphy three and Nakladal two, and there’s a decent chance another d-man could soon be in the mix to fill Faulk’s spot on the roster.

But replacing Faulk will be no easy task.

One of the league’s premier power play quarterbacks — he finished second among NHL d-men in PPG last year, with 12 — Faulk plays over 24 minutes a night, and in all situations.

Trouba ‘committed’ to Jets, rescinds trade request


Jacob Trouba re-joined the Jets on Tuesday for practice and, afterward, made it clear he’s very happy to be back.

And that he’s not going anywhere.

“I’ve committed to sign here,” Trouba said while confirming he’s rescinded his trade request, per the Winnipeg Sun. “When I signed that piece of paper, everything changed in my mind.”

“That piece of paper” is, of course, the two-year, $6 million deal Trouba signed yesterday, ending a lengthy contract squabble that saw him miss Winnipeg’s first 13 games of the year.

But while the contract ensured Trouba would play this year — he needed to ink before the Dec. 1 deadline — there was some question as to where he would play.

Agent Kurt Overhardt went public with the trade request in September, but revealed the Jets were informed of that decision all the way back in May, which suggested Trouba had been unhappy with his role in Winnipeg for quite some time.

Some saw yesterday’s bridge deal — complete with a very affordable $3M cap hit — as a mechanism that would facilitate Trouba being moved.

It was very similar to the deal Kyle Turris, another Overhardt client, signed with the Coyotes to end his contract squabble back in 2011.

After signing, Turris played six games for the Coyotes before being dealt to Ottawa.

In his press Monday availability, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff played it coy about whether Trouba had rescinded his trade request, only saying that the Jets were excited to have him back.

Trouba’s comments today should clear up any uncertainty.

“I’m part of this team,” he said, per the Sun. “Whatever I’m asked to do for these next two years I’m under contract is what I’m going to do.”

Calgary waives veteran d-man Grossmann


An aftershock on Tuesday, one day after team president Brian Burke laid into his club — Calgary has waived blueliner Nicklas Grossmann, per Sportsnet.

Grossmann, 31, had appeared in three games for the Flames this year, averaging just over 13 minutes per night. He caught on with Calgary after attending training camp on a PTO, and it was largely assumed his past relationship with head coach Glen Gulutzan (the two were together in Dallas) played a key role in translating that PTO into a guaranteed contract.

But now, Grossmann is up for grabs.

It’s worth pointing out this transaction comes on the heels of Burke’s rant on Monday to Sportsnet 960 The Fan. After calling out Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, Burke also took a shot at the club’s blueline, saying “Deryk Engelland, you can make a case, has been out best defenseman.”

While that was largely viewed as a shot at the likes of Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton, it didn’t do Grossmann any favors.

Looking ahead, it’s likely Grossmann will clear, at which time the Flames could send him down to AHL Stockton.


Torts drops Saad to fourth line


John Tortorella was fuming after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to St. Louis, calling out his “top guys” for not giving enough — but stopping short of naming names.

On Monday, he let his actions do the talking.

Brandon Saad, who got beat by Vladimir Tarasenko for the OT winner on the weekend, has been moved to the fourth line, per the Dispatch.

First, the Tarasenko goal:

And now, more on the Saad situation:

Saad, you’ll recall, was slow getting back in overtime on Oct. 26 in Los Angeles, when Alec Martinez — Saad’s guy — scored on a rebound putback to give the Kings a 3-2 win.

“You have to play all areas of the ice all the time,” Tortorella said. “For a number of guys — not just Saader, but for a number of our guys — that’s a continuing process of learning.

“The games are so tight. The swing in momentum is based upon maybe a little bit of lazy play mentally, maybe a little bit of lazy play physically, and it turns the tide so quickly in our game.”

Dropping Saad in this fashion is a fairly large statement, because the 24-year-old has been one of the club’s most productive forwards this season.

He has three goals and eight points through 10 games — third among forwards in scoring — and his production has come entirely at even strength (he’s also fired plenty of shots on goal, with 26.)

Saad’s demotion comes roughly two weeks after Tortorella did the same thing with Boone Jenner. Jenner got dropped for a 3-2 win over Chicago back on Oct. 21, but found himself back in the top-six forward group a couple games later.