Cal Petersen

NHL Scores
Getty

The Buzzer: Werenski, Gaudreau, and Ovechkin all shine in big wins

1 Comment

Three Stars

1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. He recorded his league-leading 12th multi-goal game of the season in the Capitals’ 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, scoring two goals from his signature spot on the ice. He is now at 45 goals for the season and is just two back of Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak for the league lead. You can read more about Ovechkin’s big game and the Capitals’ big win right here.

2. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames. Gaudreau found out on Saturday that his grandfather passed away before their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He came back on Sunday with a huge performance for one of his biggest supporters. Gaudreau was dominant for the Flames in a 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers, scoring a goal, recording an assist, and even drawing a penalty shot in the first period. After a slow start to the season offensively Gaudreau’s production has really started to pick up in recent weeks, averaging a point per game (25 points in 25 games) since the start of January.

3. Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets. Werenski was a beast for the Blue Jackets in their come-from-behind win against the Vancouver Canucks, playing 25 minutes, scoring the game-tying goal (his 20th of the season) in the third period, picking up an assist, and finishing the night as a plus-two. The Blue Jackets desperately needed this win and it is not a stretch to call it a potential season saver. With Seth Jones sidelined due to injury a lot of the Blue Jackets’ workload on defense is going to fall on Werenski, and he has been brilliant this season. You can read more about their big win on Sunday night here.

More Standout Performances From Sunday

  • Cory Schneider recorded his first shutout in more than a year for the New Jersey Devils in a 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
  • Anze Kopitar scored two goals and Cal Petersen was a wall for the Los Angeles Kings by stopping 42 out of 43 shots to help them put a stop to the Vegas Golden Knights’ winning streak. Read more about the Kings’ win here.

Highlights of the Night

Trevor Lewis helped the Kings pull the upset over the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday night with this beautiful spin-o-rama goal to beat Marc-Andre Fleury.

Derek Grant had a huge game for the Philadelphia Flyers with an assist on Michael Raffl‘s shorthanded goal, and this beautiful goal for himself. Read more about the Flyers’ big win here.

Ovechkin’s second goal of the night came on this beautiful passing play between him, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Blooper of the Night

Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson absolutely levels Devils forward Kevin Rooney behind the net and earns himself a two-minute minor for interference.

Factoids

  • Werenski is the first Blue Jackets defensemen to ever score 20 goals in a single season. [NHL PR]
  • Artemi Panarin extended his point streak for the New York Rangers. [NHL PR]
  • Ovechkin now has 144 multi-goal games in his career, putting him into fifth place in NHL history. [NHL PR]

Scores

Philadelphia Flyers 5, New York Rangers 2
Calgary Flames 3, Florida Panthers 0
New Jersey Devils 3, Anaheim Ducks 0
Columbus Blue Jackets 5, Vancouver Canucks 3
Washington Capitals 4, Minnesota Wild 3
Los Angeles Kings 4, Vegas Golden Knights 1

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.

Kings put an end to Golden Knights’ winning streak

The NHL’s longest winning streak came to an emphatic end on Sunday night when the Los Angeles went into Vegas and stunned the Golden Knights with a 4-1 win.

The Kings’ win snaps what had been an eight-game winning streak for the Golden Knights and continues their recent run of playing spoiler in the Stanley Cup Playoff race.

They may have one of the league’s worst records, but they are now 6-2-1 in their past nine games with five of those wins coming against teams that are either in a playoff spot right now, or are fighting for a playoff spot. Those wins have been against Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, and now Vegas.

A few things that stood out from Sunday’s game.

Cal Petersen was great again for the Kings

After stopping 35 out of 36 shots against the Penguins on Wednesday night, Petersen was even better against the Golden Knights by turning aside 42 of 43 shots to pick up his third win of the season.

When the Kings traded Jack Campbell to the Toronto Maple Leafs before the trade deadline it gave Petersen an opportunity to get a look at the NHL level as Jonathan Quick‘s backup. He has done nothing but impress in his limited action so far.

His performance on Sunday improved his save percentage to .926 for the season in his first six appearances.

Anze Kopitar set the tone early in this game

One player you can not blame for the Kings’ overall performance this season is Kopitar.

His offense has bounced back a little this season and he continued that on Sunday with a pair of goals to open the scoring in the first period.

That performance gives him the 11th 20-goal season of his career.

After scoring just 22 goals and 60 points in 81 games a year ago, he is now on pace for 25 goals and 75 points in 82 games this season.

The goal of the game came from an unlikely source

Trevor Lewis busted out the spin-o-rama move to extend the Kings’ lead to 3-0 in the second period. This was pretty much the exact moment the Golden Knights had to know it was not going to be their night. This goal gives Lewis five goals in 52 games this season, and is only his eighth since the start of the 2018-19 season (a span of 96 games).

Golden Knights miss chance to gain more ground in Pacific Division race

At the end of the day you can not be too disappointed when your team has an eight-game winning streak come to an end.

That is a lot of wins, it extremely difficult to do, and at some point you are going to run into a game where the result doesn’t go your way.

That happened for Vegas on Sunday, even if it wasn’t a bad overall performance. The Golden Knights ended up owning a 43-17 edge on the shot chart (including 38-7 over the second and third periods), a territorial advantage that will a lot of times result in a win.

But Petersen was outstanding in the Kings’ crease while the Kings made the most of their limited opportunities.

Even if the overall process was mostly fine, this was still a missed opportunity for the Golden Knights to gain some ground in the Pacific Division race.

Vegas still sits in first place with a four-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers, but the Oilers still have two games in hand. The loss combined with Calgary’s shutout win over the Florida Panthers also helped the Flames close their gap to five points.

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.

Kings face key stages of rebuild with trade deadline, 2020 NHL Draft

NBC’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Saturday’s Stadium Series matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings from Falcon Stadium at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

While the Avalanche hope to become true Stanley Cup contenders, the Kings wonder how to reclaim that form.

The next few months are crucial for both teams, only in dramatically different ways. After looking at Colorado’s climb to contention, let’s ponder how the Kings are handling their rebuild.

Kings get off to strong start with rebuild

Experts already rave about the building blocks the Kings have amassed.

The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler (sub required) and The Hockey Writers’ Josh Bell both ranked the Kings’ farm system number one in recent articles. In fact, Wheeler ranked the Kings first with “no hesitation.”

They seem to be combining quantity with quality. Wheeler’s Athletic colleague Corey Pronman placed six Kings prospects in his top 100 rankings (sub required), with Arthur Kaliyev finishing highest at seventh. Five of those six landed in the top 50 of that list, with Samuel Fagemo barely missing at 53.

You can nitpick elements of that pool, as with just about any. But overall, it seems like the Kings are pressing many of the right buttons. So far.

Trade deadline provides opportunities as Kings rebuild

Rob Blake could accelerate this rebuild with deft trades.

To his credit, he was already aggressive in landing a nice haul for Jake Muzzin last season, and once again extracted a solid package from Toronto in the Jack Campbell trade.

Neither Tyler Toffoli nor Alec Martinez boast the same trade value as Muzzin, but maybe the Kings can seize some opportunities anyway? This year’s deadline market seems pretty shallow, so perhaps Blake may take advantage.

Who should stick around?

Looking further down the line, it’s tough to imagine the Kings shaking loose from Jeff Carter or Dustin Brown. Moving Jonathan Quick also sounds unlikely.

(That said, the Kings should pull the trigger if there are suitors, and if Carter and others would comply.)

Ultimately, your optimism may vary regarding the futures for veteran stars Kopitar (32, $10M AAV through 2023-24) and Doughty (30, $11M AAV through 2026-27). Actually, go ahead and take a moment to wince at those contracts. That’s a natural reaction.

There’s only so much the Kings can do about the aging curve, at least since they already signed the extensions. The Kings could at least take steps to be proactive, though, with hopes that Doughty and/or Kopitar can still help out once the prospects (hopefully) bloom.

Right now, Doughty is averaging almost 26 minutes of ice time per game (25:56) while Kopitar is logging almost 21 (20:46). With the Kings far out of contention, I must ask … why would you run them into the ground? Wouldn’t it be wiser to take measures to keep them fresher for 2020-21 and beyond?

That’s where Todd McLellan creates an interesting dialogue. On one hand, there’s evidence that he’s a good or even very good coach, including in Hockey Viz’s breakdowns. That data argues that McLellan positively impacts his teams on both ends, especially lately:

McLellan HockeyViz

The Kings can’t judge their coach based on structure alone, though. McLellan received some criticism for how he handled young players like Jesse Puljujarvi in Edmonton, so Los Angeles must be wary about McLellan’s development impact.

If McLellan can’t be convinced to scale down minutes for the likes of Doughty and Kopitar (at least after the deadline, in particular), then that’s a contextual problem, too.

Kings need some lottery ball luck for next phase of rebuild

Right now, the Kings rank as the worst team in the West, and second worst in the NHL. The Senators could sink below the Kings and grab the second-best lottery odds:

via NHL.com

Shrewd moves propel rebuilds forward, but luck is crucial, too. As excited as people are about their prospects, the Kings’ rebuild could swing based on getting the chance to draft Alexis Lafreniere, landing another blue-chipper like Quinton Byfield, or slipping just out of the truly elite range.

[Mock Draft for 2020; prospect rankings heading into the season]

Up to this point, the Kings are doing a good job “making their own luck.” Even so, the trade deadline and 2020 NHL Draft represent the biggest make-or-break moments of all.

Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, and Brian Boucher will call the matchup. On-site studio coverage at Air Force Academy will feature Kathryn Tappen hosting alongside analyst Patrick Sharp and reporter Rutledge Wood.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Flames cough up costly loss to Kings

Getty Images

Todd McLellan’s crew can argue that they are better than their record indicates. Even so, the Flames may rue a loss like this to the Kings, with Los Angeles winning 5-3 on Wednesday.

Flames could regret this loss to Kings

Calgary came into the night with a chance to distance themselves in the Pacific and West bubble races. Instead, the Flames dropped from the Pacific’s third spot, and squandered quite a bit of margin for error:

Pacific 3: Golden Knights (28-22-8, 64 points in 58 games played)

West Wild 1: Flames (29-23-6, 64 points, 58 GP)
West Wild 2: Coyotes (28-23-8, 64 points, 59 GP)

9th: Jets (29-24-5, 63, 58 GP)
10th: Wild (27-23-6, 60, 56 GP)
11th: Predators (26-22-7, 59, 55 GP)
12th: Blackhawks [in progress] (25-23-8, 58 in 56 GP)

Again, the Kings stand as a scrappier opponent than their worst-in-the-West record indicates. Really, they could carry real upset potential down the stretch.

Even so, the Kings beat the Flames in three of four games this season, with Calgary only managing three of a possible eight points. Los Angeles broke a five-game losing streak and earned just their second win in 12 games. Since Dec. 19, the Kings are now 5-15-2.

Flames missed opportunities in loss to Kings

A few factors stand out in Calgary’s defeat:

  • The Flames began the game a little flat, losing the shots on battle 13-8 during the first period. Eventually Calgary finished with an edge of 38-33.
  • Calvin Peterson was sharp for the Kings … aside from the Flames’ 1-0 goal. Yes, Calgary opened with a lead.
  • The teams combined for the first three goals in less than 90 seconds, including two Kings goals in 39 seconds. David Rittich looked incensed by the Flames’ defensive lapses during that span.
  • Calgary received a lengthy 5-on-3 power play opportunity during the third period, but couldn’t connect.

Quite a night for Kurtis MacDermid

Players stood out for both teams, even beyond Peterson. Elias Lindholm gave the Flames life with two late goals, cutting the Kings’ lead to 3-2 and 4-3. Jeff Carter nabbed an all-too-rare point, scoring the game-winning goal. MacDermid may not forget this one, though:

  • MacDermid fought with Milan Lucic early in the game. No word on if they fought because of a joke about Lucic’s frosted tips.
  • While it wasn’t the game-winner, MacDermid’s 3-1 goal was significant.
  • Overall, he finished with that goal, the fight, a +3 rating, three hits, and a blocked shot in 12:17 of time on ice.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Face-Off: Petersen’s opportunity; Can Elvis enter Calder race?

2 Comments

It’s Monday, which means it’s time for the PHT Face-Off to break down some of the trends and topics around the NHL.

Ilya Kovalchuk is making his case to stick in Montreal

By now, if you pay attention to the NHL at all, you’ve probably heard about Kovalchuk’s incredible comeback. After parting ways with the Los Angeles Kings earlier this season, the veteran waited until January to sign with the Montreal Canadiens. It was a one-year, two way contract for “small” money.

At the time, it wasn’t viewed as a terrible signing, but it wasn’t expected to be a home run, either. Things couldn’t have worked out much better for the Habs and Kovalchuk.

He has six goals and six assists in 15 games with Montreal. He’s scored three game-winning goals, including Saturday’s overtime goal against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s also added two key goals during shootouts. He’s helped the Habs get back into the playoff picture. They have a long way to go, but whether or not they make the playoffs is irrelevant in Kovalchuk’s case.

He’s been so good that general manager Marc Bergevin has to consider keeping him beyond this season. It might be a simple one-year deal with performance bonuses attached.

Check out the passion after the goal against Toronto. Holding on to him beyond the trade deadline almost looks like a no-brainer right now.

Elvis is in the building

Elvis Merzlikins have given the Blue Jackets hope. The 25-year-old has five shutouts in his last nine games and he’s given up two goals or fewer in seven of his last nine outings. Look, head coach John Tortorella gets a lot of credit for keeping his team afloat because most franchises would’ve crumbled after losing Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

But you can’t deny that rockstar goaltending has helped get the Jackets back in a playoff spot. There’s credit that needs to go all over, but Merzlikins’ play has been shocking.

[NHL on NBCSN: Ovechkin’s chase for 700th goal continues Monday at 7 p.m. ET]

He owns a 12-7-4 record with a 2.19 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage this season. Those are incredible numbers in a small sample size. Can he keep it up? Can he turn the Calder Trophy race on its head?

Yes, Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes are the front-runners to win the rookie of the year award, but what happens if Merzlikins keeps this up? What if he keeps the Blue Jackets in one of the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division?

He might not win the Calder, but he might just be the most valuable rookie when the 2019-20 season is all said and done.

Door is open for Cal Petersen

Last week, the Los Angeles Kings traded Jack Campbell to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yes, the Kings need to accumulate draft picks, but they also had to make room for one of their top prospects.

Petersen made his first start of the season on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. He allowed three goals on 34 shots and he lost the game. The Kings aren’t going to win much between now and the end of the season, but that doesn’t mean this period of time won’t be valuable to the youngster.

The 25-year-old might be the goalie of the future. For now, he’ll split the workload with veteran Jonathan Quick, but the Kings would be wise to give him an extended look between now and the end of the season.

“It’s time to get him games in the NHL,” Kings General Manager Rob Blake said on Thursday, per the team’s website. “He’s done what we had expected in the American League. So, if we project him to be the starter in a few years, he’s now going to learn from a Hall of Famer in Jonathan Quick, the competitive nature and how he prepares every day.”

“We understand where we want to go with him, we want him to learn from Jonathan Quick, and Jonathan’s going to push him every day because he’s so competitive,” Blake added. “So that, going forward, kind of solidifies what we’re going to do for the next few years, but we felt a need to get Cal in games this year. We had to get a look at him and get him growing into that role.”

It’ll be interesting to see just how much he’ll develop over the next few months.

Flyers getting healthy

This is a big week for the Flyers. They’ve found a way to stick around in the playoff race despite losing some key bodies to injury, but they’re finally getting healthy.

It sounds like Carter Hart will be back in the lineup tonight. The 21-year-old has missed the last nine games with an abdominal injury. Brian Elliott has done a good job in his place, but they need Hart to play some critical games going forward.

19-year-old Joel Farabee has missed the last two games with an illness. He expected to return at some point in the near future, but he was at practice today.

And the really good news is that Nolan Patrick is continuing to practice with his teammates. Shayne Gostisbehere is still banged up. It’s unclear when he’ll return.

But give the Flyers some credit. They’re not in a playoff spot right now, but they’re tied for the final Wild Card spot with the Carolina Hurricanes. As they get healthier, the Flyers should only get better. They’re a long way from securing a playoff spot, but things are looking up for them.

What’s coming up this week?
• Ovechkin closing in on 700 goals: Ovie is two goals away and the Caps have the Islanders (Monday), the Avalanche (Thursday) and the Coyotes (Saturday).
• Sedin tribute night: The Canucks are retiring Henrik and Daniel’s jersey numbers on Wed. Feb. 12, 10:30 p.m. ET
• Crosby, Malkin vs. Stamkos, Kucherov: Tue. Feb. 11, 7 p.m. ET.

NHL on NBCSN
• Blue Jackets vs. Lightning, Mon. Feb 10, 6:30 p.m. ET (livestream)
• Islanders vs. Capitals, Mon. Feb. 10, 6:30 p.m. ET (livestream)
• Flyers vs. Islanders, Tue. Feb. 11, 7 p.m. ET
• Flyers vs. Panthers, Thu. Feb. 13, 7 p.m. ET

WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOCKEY
• Canadiens vs. Bruins, Wed. Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m. ET
• Flames vs. Kings, Wed. Feb. 12, 10 p.m. ET

NHL on NBC
• 2020 Stadium Series: Kings vs. Avalanche, Sat. Feb. 15, 8 p.m. ET

HOCKEY DAY IN  AMERICA – SUN FEB. 16
• Red Wings vs. Penguins, 12:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
• Bruins vs. Rangers, 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
• Blues vs. Nashville, 6 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

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.