scottbilleck

Associated Press

The Buzzer: Price comes up big, Barbashev too

2 Comments

Three stars

1. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Even before the Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the Edmonton Oilers, Price’s 27-save shutout of the New York Islanders was huge, helping them at least keep pace if Columbus was to win.

Instead, the Edmonton Oilers did the Canadiens a solid, beating Columbus to allow the Habs to leapfrog the Blue Jackets into the second and final wildcard in the Eastern Conference.

Price has been solid over his past five starts, allowing just six goals across that span.

2. Ivan Barnashev, St. Louis Blues 

Barbashev had exactly one goal in his previous 18 games heading into Thursday’s action against the Detroit Red Wings. He now has four in his past 19.

Barbashev recorded his first career hat trick in a 5-2 win as the Blues strengthened their hold on third place in the Central Division. With the Dallas Stars losing on Thursday, the Blues moved four points clear of Dallas.

Barbashev netted the game-winner in the second period.

3. Malcolm Subban, Vegas Golden Knights

Subban never had a shutout heading into a game against the Winnipeg Jets. It’s doubtful even he thought it might come against the Central Division leaders.

But after 60 minutes and 20 shots against, Subban drew his first donut on the scoresheet.

Subban was solid, if not spectacular in a game the Jets didn’t show up to. But when called upon, he was up to the test. The Golden Knights played a solid team game, allowing just one shot on goal during two Winnipeg power plays.

Subban has started three straight now with Marc-Andre Fleury out. He’s doing just fine.

Highlights of the night

Here’s a double tap from Ben Bishop:

Marchand –> Pastrnak

Flossin’:

The Price wasn’t wrong on this save:

Factoids

Scores

Panthers 4, Coyotes 2
Bruins 5, Devils 1
Lightning 6, Hurricanes 3
Canadiens 4, Islanders 0
Blues 5, Red Wings 2
Penguins 2, Predators 1 (SO)
Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1
Avalanche 3, Stars 1
Flames 5, Senators 1
Oilers 4, Blue Jackets 1
Golden Knights 5, Jets 0
Kings 4, Sharks 2


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

It’s time to push the panic button in Columbus

Associated Press
14 Comments

Or maybe it’s time to push it a second time. Or hammer it. Yes, maybe that.

After a tough loss to the Calgary Flames, a visit to see the woeful Edmonton Oilers was where the bleeding should have stopped for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It should have.

Instead, the gash only grew on Thursday night.

The Blue Jackets loaded a ball into that noisy cannon of theirs, lit the fuse and found out it was a dud in a 4-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers, a game Columbus managed just 20 shots against a team that’s given up the sixth most goals this year.

Columbus opened the scoring in the game in the second period and held Edmonton’s forwards to just four shots through two periods. They allowed just 10 shots total through 40. And then the third came and the wheels fell off and the shots kept coming and the Oilers scored three unanswered send Columbus to their second consecutive defeat.

What’s worse, their poor outing allowed the Montreal Canadiens, who were on the right side of a 4-0 decision against the New York Islanders, to leapfrog them into the final wildcard in the Eastern Conference.

Matt Duchene said he felt his teammates have become paralyzed by the pressure.

John Tortorella said, “I just don’t think we understand the level that we have to play at right now.”

The hockey world agreed with both assessments.

A team that desperately needs to string together multiple wins, the Blue Jackets have taken two points just four times in their past 10 games. Montreal hasn’t been much better with five wins in the same span, but those extra two points are looking might big right now.

Columbus sold the farm and next year’s crop to pick up Duchene and others at the trade deadline. They now stand to lose a playoff spot, and that might be the least of their concerns if names like Bobrovsky, Panarin, Duchene and Dzingel go bye-bye after the season ends.

There are no games in hand for Columbus. Both they and the Canadiens each have eight games remaining. The Blue Jackets need to square away their issues and figure out who to win.

They still hold their own playoff fate in their hands, with a meeting next week against the Canadiens likely the decider on who makes it and who doesn’t. But their next test awaits in Vancouver on Sunday, a game they can ill-afford to look past.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Lightning’s Gourde ejected after hit to the head of Hurricanes’ Staal

Sportsnet
6 Comments

Jordan Staal already missed 32 games earlier this season thanks to concussions, and he’s incredibly lucky to not have suffered another on Thursday night.

The Carolina Hurricanes forward was flattened by a hit to the head from Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde during the first period.

Gourde, coming across the ice, drove his shoulder through the face of Staal, who was leaning forward, not looking in Gourde’s direction given where the puck was, and beginning to fall after getting tripped up by Ryan Callahan.

Regardless of how you look at the hit, and any events leading up to it, it was completely avoidable.

While Gourde’s intention probably wasn’t to drill Staal, the video is plenty damning for the Lightning’s young gun.

To the surprise of no one, Gourde was given a match penalty on the play for an illegal check to the head. Staal, meanwhile, left the game for the rest of the first period but was back on the bench to start the second, which is fantastic news.

Coming back from his last concussion was hell, as Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer chronicled in a great story about Staals’ road to recovery last month, just days before he returned to lineup.

UPDATE:

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Oilers CEO apologizes for comments about Tobias Rieder

13 Comments

If Bob Nicholson is to be believed, it’s Tobias Rieder’s fault the Edmonton Oilers aren’t in the playoffs at the moment.

Yes, a fourth-liner who is averaging 12:42 of ice time this season is the scapegoat for the disaster the Oilers have been this season.

The Oilers CEO said so.

Of course, Nicholson is wrong about that, and he’s since apologized and backtracked on the comments he made on at a season ticket holder event on Thursday, where he bashed Rieder and blamed him for the team’s failings.

The Edmonton Journal’s Bruce McCurdy reported that Nicholson said Rieder would not be re-signed by the team at the end of the season.

He went on to say that Rieder was wanted by other teams but chose Edmonton because he wanted to play with fellow German-born player in Leon Draisaitl, and if not with his compatriot, then he could play with Connor McDavid, where he’d score 15 or 16 goals and re-up with the club at higher price point than the $2 million he’s making on a one-year deal this season.

And then he said that if Rieder had 10 or 12 goals this season, “we’d probably be in the playoffs.”

*facepalm*

Rieder might be the last reason why the Oilers won’t sniff the postseason this year.

Peter Chiarelli is the name that Nicholson should have uttered (and he kind of, but not really, did). If you’re going to throw someone under the bus, at least throw the guilty party and not the innocent victim. And let’s not forget all of the draft duds and all the good players that were traded away.

What the Oilers really need is to throw a stick of dynamite into the country club that still runs the organization, clean up the mess and start fresh. Get rid of everybody from the long-gone glory years and stop trying to rekindle something that couldn’t catch a spark if it was rolling around in Death Valley.

Nicholson, himself, said that the insane contract handed out to Mikko Koskinen was a decision made by the organization, and all of those go through him before they’re made final.

As mentioned, Nicholson told TSN’s Darren Dreger that he apologized to Rieder, saying that he “stepped out of bounds.”

Apparently, Nicholson and Rieder laughed about it and will move on.

Who hasn’t moved on yet is Rieder’s agent Darren Ferris, who expressed his unhappiness to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.

“I am totally astonished and disappointed that the president of an NHL team can make such a callous and reckless statement about a player,” Ferris said. “This is unacceptable.”

Ken Hitchcock, who was probably just as blindsided as Rieder was with the comments, defended his player follow Edmonton’s big win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“From our standpoint, you want to see a guy score and have success offensively because it makes him feel good,” Hitchcock said. “But if he’s not doing that, he helps us in a number of other areas, Hitch said of Rieder.

An already awkward situation is even more so given that Rieder has to play for an executive who doesn’t want him.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Vasilevskiy endures 58 shots, still wins; Hellebuyck gets first shutout

Associated Press
1 Comment

Three stars

1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vasilevskiy will still be stopping pucks when he goes to sleep tonight.

The Washington Capitals fired 58 shots in the direction of the young Russian superstar netminder. He stopped 54, which was enough (and more than should have been required) in a 5-4 overtime win.

Vasilevskiy is well on his way to winning the Vezina this season, and Wednesday was just another brilliant performance in what’s been a season full of them.

2. Loui Eriksson, Vancouver Canucks

To be fair, Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson or Alex Edler could be here, too. But Eriksson’s the one with the four-point night. The other three each had three-point nights, so let’s give it to Loui.

The Canucks had a 5-0 lead in the third period before the Ottawa Senators scored four unanswered to claw their way back into the game. Eriksson provided an assist on Horvat’s 6-4 goal and then scored the 7-4 marker to put the game out of reach.

Eriksson’s season isn’t much to write home about, but he had a solid night on Wednesday.

3. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets

A Vezina runner up last season, Hellebuyck’s season hasn’t mirrored that this time around. He’s been solid lately, despite a tough start to the year, and getting his first shutout of the season is a monkey off his back.

Resting Hellebuyck is something the Jets are doing in the last couple of weeks here. He didn’t play Monday and won’t play against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, either, with the Jets electing to save him for a pivotal matchup against the Nashville Predators in Winnipeg on Saturday night.

Highlights of the night

This passing is unfair:

One-hopper to perfection:

Pretty tip on this one:

Don’t give Victor Hedman all day:

Factoids

Scores

Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 2
Lightning 5, Capitals 4 (OT)
Canucks 7, Senators 4
Jets 3, Ducks 0


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck