Goalie nods: Dubnyk goes again for Wild in key game vs. Flames


All the latest from the blue paint…

All Devan, all the time

Devan Dubnyk has been the goalie of record for Minnesota since coming over from Arizona two weeks ago, and that won’t change tonight when the Wild face the Flames in Calgary.

Dubnyk, who’s posted a .911 save percentage and 2.04 GAA in five games, is coming off a 2-1 win over Edmonton in which he stopped 23 of 24 shots. He’ll need a similar performance tonight if the 12th-place Wild want to stay within striking distance of the eighth-place Flames, who are currently seven points up in the standings:

For Calgary, Jonas Hiller starts in goal.


Bruins at Isles: Jaroslav Halak for New York, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Habs at Rangers: Carey Price vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Jets at Flyers: Michael Hutchinson vs. Steve Mason

Jackets at Panthers: Curtis McElhinney vs. Roberto Luongo

Wings at Bolts: Petr Mrazek vs. Ben Bishop

Stars at Sens: Robin Lehner for Ottawa, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Coyotes at Leafs: Mike Smith vs. Jonathan Bernier

Preds at Blues: Carter Hutton vs. Brian Elliott

Sabres at Oilers: Jhonas Enroth vs. Ben Scrivens

Ducks at Sharks: Ilya Bryzgalov likely for Anaheim, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.

Oilers, Sabres face off in ‘McEichel Bowl’ tonight at Rexall


With a 12-27-9 record and 22 points, Edmonton currently sits second from last in the NHL standings. The only team below?

Buffalo, the Oilers’ opponent tonight at Rexall!

This evening’s tilt will be a vital one in jockeying for 2015 NHL Entry Draft lottery chances — a draft that, as you may have heard, is believed to be one of the deepest in the last 15 years and features two supposed “generational” talents at the top end: OHL Erie’s Connor McDavid, and Boston University’s Jack Eichel.

Just don’t ask any Sabres or Oilers about the potential benefits of tanking.

“That’s no factor in our room. No one is looking at the draft,” Tyler Myers told the Buffalo News.

“If anybody even insinuated to me … that I was trying not to win or was going, ‘Hey, you should take tonight off,’ we’d have a fight,” Ben Scrivens added.

OK then!

To be fair to those asking questions, it’s hard not to discuss how losing might be advantageous to both of these clubs. Even with the revamped draft lottery process — the NHL adjusted odds of winning the first overall pick to “more appropriately reflect the current state of competitive balance” — it still behooves bad teams to finish as low as possible.

The team with the worst overall record will hold a 20 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick (down from 25 under the previous format). The second-worst team’s odds are at 13.5 percent (down from 18.8) and the third-worst is at 11.5 (down from 14.2).

As for the Oilers and Sabres…

It really is between these two for the No. 1 spot. Carolina and Arizona are on the outskirts of the conversation; they’re six and five points up on the Oilers, respectively, and each has a game in hand.

Tonight marks the second head-to-head matchup of the season, as Edmonton already defeated Buffalo earlier season (a 3-2 win on Nov. 7). That, combined with the fact the Sabres have lost 12 in a row, suggests Buffalo is really in the drivers seat with regards to winning the McEichel Bowl.

But again… don’t ask the players about it.

“Never in my life have I ever heard of losing on purpose,” Josh Gorges said earlier this month. “That’s a joke to even think about.”

Sabres GM bemoans ‘very, very quiet’ trade market


The Buffalo Sabres are going to make some trades prior to the March 2 deadline. Of that you can be sure. The NHL’s worst team has a lengthy list of pending unrestricted free agents, and in an interview with WGR 550, GM Tim Murray promised he’s “not going to lose a guy for nothing, if I can help it.”

The problem for Murray?

“It’s been quiet, to be frank,” he said. “It’s been very, very quiet. We’re fairly close to the deadline and I didn’t expect it. I don’t expect every team to be active, but there usually are a small amount of teams that don’t wait for the deadline, that like to get it done before the deadline.”

In December, there were reports that Murray was asking too much for the likes of 27-year-old winger Chris Stewart, who many believed would be traded to the then-struggling Boston Bruins.

Did Murray overplay his hand? Too early to say. But it sure sounds like he’s in the mood to make some deals.

Stewart, by the way, has scored in consecutive games for the Sabres.

Report: No punishment for Emelin after boarding Spezza


Montreal blueliner Alexei Emelin won’t face any supplemental discipline for his hit on Dallas’ Jason Spezza from Tuesday night, per La Presse.

Here’s the hit in question, which earned Emelin a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct:

Spezza’s nose was cut on the play, but he did return to action.

As for Emelin, the decision not to punish further comes after he’d already run afoul of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety earlier this season. In November, the 28-year-old was fined $11,021.51 for an illegal check to the head of Buffalo Sabres forward Brian Gionta.

Sabres lift Zadorov suspension


After a one-game ban for returning to the team late following the All-Star break, Sabres rookie d-man Nikita Zadorov is no longer suspended:

Zadorov, 19, was punished by the club after failing to show up to Monday’s practice. He was reportedly bumped off an oversold return flight form the Dominican Republic — where he was vacationing with his girlfriend — and while the club said his actions weren’t intentional, Zadorov still needed to be reprimanded.

“The kid did not do this purposefully, but there’s still a lesson to be learned,” Murray said, per WGR Radio.

Sabres head coach Ted Nolan, who watched his Zadorov-less troops fall 4-1 in Calgary last night, said the Russian blueliner is eligible to play Thursday in Edmonton.

“He’s here,” Nolan explained, per the Buffalo News. “We’ll have a good talk, sit down with him and have a grown-up talk.”