Goalie nods: Lundqvist won’t get to ease back in


All the latest from the blue paint…

Long live the King?

As already noted earlier today, it appears as though Henrik Lundqvist will make his return to the New York Rangers’ net as they face the Boston Bruins (who most likely will roll with Tuukka Rask).

Normally, this would be a cause for outright glee, and it’s true that “King Henrik” will be gladly welcomed back into the fold. Still, the Rangers have been on a tear thanks in a large part to Cam Talbot’s wonderful play in Hank’s absence, so it remains to be seen if New York sees a little fall-off.

Let there be no doubt that the Bruins will send their best at Lundqvist, so this isn’t exactly an example of easing a player back into the mix.

This is just one of several games during an unusually busy Saturday afternoon, so hopefully hockey fans already got their errands (and napping) done today.


Predators at Capitals: Pekka Rinne vs. Braden Holtby

Ducks at Islanders: Probably Frederik Andersen vs. Michal Neuvirth

Sharks at Flyers: Alex Stalock vs. (likely) Steve Mason

Coyotes at Penguins: Mike Smith vs. Thomas Greiss

Lightning at Red Wings: Likely Ben Bishop s. Petr Mrazek

Senators at Maple Leafs: Craig Anderson vs. James Reimer

Panthers at Canadiens: Roberto Luongo vs. Carey Price

Devils at Hurricanes: Keith Kinkaid vs. Cam Ward

Blue Jackets at Blues: Likely Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Brian Elliott

Kings at Wild: Likely Jonathan Quick vs. Devan Dubnyk

Sabres at Avalanche: ANders Lindback vs. Semyon Varlamov

Stars at Canucks: Maybe Kari Lehtonen vs. Eddie Lack

Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT


Thursday presented one of those classic “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” situations: who do you really deem the “winners” of an Arizona Coyotes – Buffalo Sabres game?

OK, in a literal sense, the Coyotes beat the Sabres 4-3 in OT.

Considering the tanking scenario, Buffalo really “wins” by generating one fewer standings point. Really, though, the Edmonton Oilers might be the “winners” in that the Sabres forced this contest to go to overtime with a late Brian Gionta goal.

Either way, it was an odd scene in which beat reporters were passing along notes about fans cheering for both Sabres and Coyotes goals in Buffalo.

Observe the ovation for Sam Gagner’s winning goal:

Here is how the race to the bottom looks now:

30. Buffalo – 48 points, eight games left
29. Arizona – 54 points, seven games left
28. Edmonton – 55 points, eight games left

Realistically, it’s probably just a battle for second-to-last, as it’s hard to imagine Buffalo winning enough to sabotage getting the best odds in the draft lottery. The good news for the Oilers is that Arizona and Buffalo face off again in Arizona on Monday.

Like a midnight showing of “The Room,” one gets the feeling that hockey fans will enjoy watching that next contest in a very sardonic sort of way …

Goalie nods: Hackett goes for Sabres in McEichel Derby


All the latest from the blue paint…

No Lindback for Buffalo

The NHL’s two worst teams — standings-wise, anyway — will do battle tonight when the Sabres host the Coyotes in Buffalo, and Buffalo will start little-used Matthew Hackett in net ahead of Anders Lindback, who’s been quite solid of late.

Hackett, 25, is 0-3-0 this year with a .893 save percentage and 4.34 GAA. He’s spent the majority of the season AHL Rochester, but was summoned to the Sabres after Chad Johnson went down to injury almost immediately after being acquired via trade.

In hist last outing, a 3-0 loss to Nashville, Hackett allowed three goals on 43 shots, good for a .930 save percentage.

For the Coyotes, Mike Smith will get the start in goal. Smith’s turnaround after a dreadful start has been one of the few bright spots in Arizona this season, and is worth mentioning — the veteran has been very good in nine games this month, allowing just 21 goals on 326 shots for a .936 save percentage.


Anaheim at Boston: Frederik Andersen vs. Tuukka Rask (probable)

Kings at Isles: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Jaroslav Halak

Devils at Caps: Cory Schneider vs. Braden Holtby

Pens at ‘Canes: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Cam Ward

Preds at Bolts: Pekka Rinne (probable) vs. Ben Bishop

Sharks at Wings: Antti Niemi vs. Jimmy Howard

Rangers at Sens: Cam Talbot vs. Andrew Hammond

Panthers at Leafs: Roberto Luongo vs. Jonathan Bernier

Habs at Jets: Dustin Tokarski vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Avs at Canucks: Semyon Varlamov vs. (No Vancouver starter yet.)

Will Dave Tippett be back with Coyotes next season?


Two prominent NHL insiders have weighed in on the future of head coach Dave Tippett in Arizona, with neither sounding particularly bullish he’ll be back behind the Coyotes’ bench next season.

Writes ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun: “Does Dave Tippett stay with the Arizona Coyotes? He’s under contract for three more seasons and loves the Phoenix area where he’s built a home, but I don’t think he’s interested in a long, long rebuild. He needs to know that the plan is to win sooner rather than later. At least that’s my sense. If he somehow became free, he’d be in high demand. But perhaps he stays put.”

And here’s TSN’s Darren Dreger, today on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa (audio): “The last time I spoke to someone close to Dave Tippett, which wasn’t that long ago, the message I got back was Dave and his wife are going to meet at the end of the season and they’re going to consider what’s best for their future. Now I don’t believe that anyone has come out and confirmed that Dave Tippett has an out in his contract. We know that he has term remaining on his contract. So until that happens it’s all very speculative, but if Dave Tippett and his wife are meeting, are going to discuss their future at the end of the year, that sounds to be like he’s got an out in his deal. If he has an out, I’d be surprised if he didn’t exercise it because I can’t imagine that Dave Tippett signed his contract extension again knowing that he was going to face a rebuild.”

Tippett signed a five-year contract extension in June of 2013. But that was before the Coyotes once again changed majority owners and embarked on an aggressive rebuild, with the understanding there’d be “some suffering involved” for the good of the long-term future.

In that way, Tippett’s situation is a lot like captain Shane Doan’s.

We’ll have to wait and see if either will be back next season.

Related: As Doan vents, Maloney says ‘we’re not in the Girl Scout business’

Red Wings descent continues with OT loss to lowly Coyotes


There was a time not too long ago when the Detroit Red Wings still had a shot at claiming the Atlantic Division title. Now their hold on even the third seed doesn’t look completely secure following a 5-4 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

Arizona has been one of the worst teams offensively in the NHL this season, to the point where the Coyotes hadn’t even recorded more than three goals in a single game since Feb. 3, but that trend ended tonight. Mark Arcobello stepped up with an assist and two goals, including the game-winner at 3:08 of the overtime period.

That ended the Coyotes’ eight-game losing streak and provided Arizona with just its third win over the span of 20 games. This victory might be good for morale, but it’s bad for the Coyotes as far as the McEichel sweepstakes go. Arizona is now five points ahead of Buffalo, making it very likely that the Sabres will finish in 30th place. That being said, Buffalo and Arizona will play each other twice over the next week.

Detroit is 3-6-1 over its last 10 games. It still has a five-point edge over Ottawa, but given how hot the Senators have been lately, they might close that gap if Detroit doesn’t break out of its slump before the season ends.


Red Wings make Kronwall late scratch with lower-body injury

Wings lose Erik Cole to upper-body injury