Miikka Kiprusoff

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The Buzzer: Stamkos seen, rising Rangers, Crosby’s back

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Three Stars

1. Steven Stamkos

The Lightning did not take it easy on the other team from Florida in the first full game since Vincent Trocheck‘s jarring ankle injury. They hung seven goals on the Panthers, and Stamkos was leading the charge with a goal and three assists for four points.

After a relatively quiet start to 2018-19, Stamkos is heating up, even if there are still some scoreless nights here and there. Wednesday’s surge represents Stamkos’ fifth multi-point game since he generated three on Oct. 30.

Tampa Bay can win in a lot of different ways, and they might need more offense here and there as Andrei Vasilevskiy heals up. A keyed-in Stamkos could make a big difference in that regard.

The Lightning needed this win to maintain their lead in the competitive Atlantic. They’ve played the same number of games (22) as the Maple Leafs and Sabres, maintaining a slim one-point lead.

2. Sidney Crosby

After anxiously awaiting a return from an upper-body injury, Crosby wasted little time in making an impact for the struggling Penguins.

Number 87 generated a goal and two assists as Pittsburgh handled the Stars on Wednesday. Crosby extended his point streak to four games (three goals, five assists for eight points) with one of his better performances of 2018-19.

Will the Penguins right the ship? Outputs like these sure provide optimism.

3. Alexandar Georgiev

The 22-year-old Rangers goalie earned the first shutout of his NHL career, making 29 stops. He’s now won four of his last five games.

There are a lot of things to point to when you explain how the surprisingly strong Rangers are winning games, but noting that they’re currently able to stay in games even when Henrik Lundqvist is getting a breather is a good place to start.

The Rangers are on a dizzying 9-1-1 tear in their last 11 games, including an active three-game winning streak. How much longer will this go before we should forget any notion of a rebuild?

Factoids

This is bad … but at least the Senators are scoring enough goals to make their stumbles more palatable to watch than some expected.

Through thick and thin, Mike Hoffman is scoring for his new team, the Panthers:

Pekka Rinne‘s been awesome so far this season, and he’s also enjoyed an outstanding career. Need more to cement that? He broke his tie with Miikka Kiprusoff for the all-time record for Finnish goalie wins:

Highlight of the Night

It’s been a tough season for the Ducks, who’ve had to lean on John Gibson way too much most nights. Still, Ryan Getzlaf alone means you can’t take them lightly, either.

Lowlight

Bad hit by Stars forward Brad Ritchie on Jusso Rikkola of the Penguins:

Scores

NJD 5, MTL 2
NYR 5, NYI 0
PIT 5, DAL 1
WAS 4, CHI 2
CAR 5, TOR 2
BUF 5, PHI 2
DET 3, BOS 2 (OT)
TBL 7, FLA 3
NSH 4, STL 1
MIN 6, OTT 4
VGK 3, ARI 2 (OT)
ANA 4, VAN 3
CGY 6, WPG 3
COL 7, LAK 3

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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 goalie prospect: ‘Nobody can replace’ Kiprusoff

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With Miikka Kiprusoff no longer with the Calgary Flames – his retirement was announced earlier this week – the opportunity for a young goalie to take hold of the starting job is wide open.

Kiprusoff is originally from Turku, Finland. There’s a Finnish goalie currently in the Flames camp, and that would be Karri Ramo. As Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald reports, there are four candidates to take over from Kiprusoff, including Ramo, Reto Berra, Joey MacDonald, and  Joni Ortio.

No pressure, right?

“Because I don’t think it’s the pressure of being Miikka — nobody can replace him,” Ramo told the Calgary Herald.

“Obviously, nobody can be the new Kiprusoff. But to be a go-to guy here — or anywhere in the (National Hockey League)? It’s a high-pressure spot. It would be the same thing even if Miikka was here. You would still feel the pressure (because) you would want to beat him.

“But you can’t think about him. Like, ‘Oh, Kiprusoff would have made this save and I couldn’t make it.’ You have to be yourself and play your game.

Kiprusoff, who turns 37 years of age in October, joined the Flames for the 2003-04 season and then backstopped that team to within one win of a Stanley Cup championship.

Following the lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, Kiprusoff played 70 or more games a season in each of the last seven seasons prior to the 2012-13 lockout.

Ramo, 27, signed with the Flames in July. He has 48 games of NHL experience, all coming with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

‘Pisses me off’: Galiardi peeved at Calgary’s last-place projections

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One of the newest Calgary Flames isn’t happy with pundits picking his team to finish in the basement this season.

“It kinda pisses me off when I hear people say all these negative things, ‘Oh yeah, have fun finishing last,’ stuff like that, even from people from Calgary,” TJ Galiardi told the Calgary Sun. “People like that should just not bother talking.”

The 25-year-old winger, acquired from San Jose in July, is one of the new faces on a team that finished 25th in the league last season.

Other new faces include David Jones and Shane O’Brien (Galiardi’s former Colorado teammates), ex-Blues defenseman Kris Russell, a slew of rookies and a pair of goalies (Reto Berra, Karri Ramo) looking to replace recently-retired Miikka Kiprusoff.

The point is the Flames will be decidedly different from last year.

As such, Galiardi sees no reason to have low expectations.

“I don’t really care what the media says about where we’re going to finish and stuff like that. I don’t want to go out there and lose games,” Galiardi added. “I didn’t come here to do that, and I’m going to personally do everything I can to make sure we don’t.

“And I know there are 20-plus guys that are going to do the same thing.”

Poll: Where should Tim Thomas land?

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Free agent goalie Tim Thomas is reportedly zeroing in on his preferred NHL destination, but who knows if he’ll really make the best decision. He’s made some polarizing choices in the past, after all.

Still, when you consider his impressive resume, goalie-poor teams would be wise to give him a look. So let’s discuss where he should land.

Before you vote, note that many teams were canceled out because they have an incumbent No. 1 and/or the squad has been taken out of the mix (example: the New York Islanders).

Sure, some of these teams might make more sense than others, but that’s for you to decide.

Calgary – With Miikka Kiprusoff officially retired, the Flames have a crater-sized hole in net and new exec Brian Burke loves his American players. That being said, Thomas might not want to play for a team that’s finally embracing a rebuild.

Colorado – The Avalanche have two goalies locked up, but only for 2013-14. If any head coach would want to roll the dice with a high-risk, high-reward netminder, it would probably be Patrick Roy. This team has some intriguing sleeper potential and Thomas lives in the area, so the idea at least makes some sense on paper.

Florida – Thomas already made a lot of sense in Sunrise even before Scott Clemmensen’s injury. Now it looks even better, especially since the Panthers would gain more breathing room to develop Jacob Markstrom, whose contract is two-way in 2013-14 before going one-way the following season. Like Calgary, the bigger hurdle might be convincing Thomas to play for a struggling team.

Winnipeg – Of all these listed teams, knocking off the Jets’ No. 1 might be the toughest; the organization might find it difficult to stomach watching a $3.9 million goalie sitting on the bench. Still, Pavelec’s numbers look more like those of a backup netminder, and you have to wonder how much longer the honeymoon will last in Winnipeg.

Again, these aren’t ideal situations, yet they likely make the most sense for Thomas. (Feel free to dissent in the comments.) With all that in mind, pick the place that makes the most sense.

PHT Morning Skate: Greene ready to play after elbow surgery

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene feels “ready to go” after having elbow surgery over the summer. (LA Kings Insider)

Jordan Eberle, Andrew Ladd, and Sergei Bobrovsky talk about the possibility of playing in the 2014 Winter Olympics. (ESPN.com)

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) expected to start the 2013-14 campaign on the sidelines, Ryan Smyth might temporarily move up a bit in the depth charts and even get a bit of power-play ice time. (Edmonton Journal)

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Mark Alt suffered a concussion during a rookie game on Monday. The 21-year-old defenseman is entering his first full pro season after spending three seasons with the University of Minnesota. (CSN Philly)

New Jersey Devils goaltending prospect Keith Kinkaid admitted that he was “pretty upset” when he first heard about the Cory Schneider trade, but he’s focused on developing in the minors until he gets his shot. (The Bergen Record)

Looking back at Miikka Kiprusoff’s career as an NHL goaltender. (Flames.nhl.com)