Sergei Bobrobvsky

Getty Images

The Buzzer: Star Wars Storm Surge; Bob beats Blue Jackets

3 Comments

Three Stars

1. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes

Heading into Saturday, Aho only scored in one goal (a goal and an assist) in his past five contests. He made up for that dry spell in a big way against the Wild, generating a hat trick plus two assists.

His third goal was an empty-netter, but Aho’s first tally ended up being the game-winner. Aho was really clicking with Teuvo Teravainen, who finished the night with three assists.

Aho now has 27 points through his first 30 games in 2019-20.

2. Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning made life miserable for the Sharks on Saturday, feasting by way of a 7-1 score.

Killorn was a big part of that, generating a goal and three assists for four points. Killorn now has three goals and three assists for six points during a three-game streak, giving Killorn 22 points in 25 games in 2019-20.

As effective as Killorn has been over the years, his career-high is 47 points. Chances are, he’s going to slow down (example a 15.7 shooting percentage so far this season, against a 10.5 career average), but if reasonably healthy, Killorn should blow that previous number out of the water.

There were other Lightning players who played really well, as you’d expect from a blowout. Steven Stamkos ranked among those who collected three points, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves to exaggerate the distance between the two teams.

3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Really, you can take your pick between Malkin and Jake Guentzel, as they both enjoyed one-goal, two-assist nights on Saturday, and they both clearly play off each other quite well. As much as Guentzel has been conjoined to Sidney Crosby during his young (and underappreciated) career, it seems like he can click with Malkin, too. Obviously, it’s not difficult to transition from one “NHL 100” player to another who should have made the “NHL 100,” yet … we’ve seen wingers who cannot find chemistry with one or more of Malkin and Crosby. So credit to Guentzel for being deadly with both, and likely making life a little easier for each of them.

Malkin now has a fantastic 26 points in just 19 games, and may very well have his biggest year in a while if he can stay healthy — an uncomfortably familiar phrase for the Penguins for quite some time. (Heck, even spanning back to Mario Lemieux.)

Guentzel now has 31 points in 30 games, and a solid chance to exceed last season’s excellent career-high of 76 points.

Highlight of the Night

Uh, you think the Kings were expecting Johnny Gaudreau to pass when he did? (Don’t lie.) This is just a tremendous combination of speed, skill, and vision as he set up Sean Monahan:

Star Wars Storm Surge

Yay or nay on the Star Wars-themed Storm Surge from the Hurricanes? I’d say solid enough, although it lacked a Bunch of Baby Yoda so … maybe not ideal.

Factoids

  • The Blue Jackets spoiled Sergei Bobrovsky‘s shutout bid a bit more than halfway through the third period. Still, Bob had a strong night with 33 saves. Hot take: Columbus is still probably relieved to not be spending to the tune of Bob’s $10M AAV, considering how infrequently Bob has looked this good.
  • NHL PR notes that the Avalanche extended a point streak to 14 games, while they also gave the Bruins their first regulation loss at home this season.
  • Brady Tkachuk received a fine from the Department of Player Safety for cross-checking Scott Laughton. More on that wild game here.
  • A bit esoteric, but interesting, from NHL PR: Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid are the fifth pair to generate at least 300 points each in 320 games or fewer. They’re the first pairing to pull that off since Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

Scores

PHI 4 – OTT 3
VAN 6 – BUF 5 (OT)
COL 4 – BOS 1
PIT 5 – DET 3
TBL 7 – SJS 1
FLA 4 – CBJ 1
CAR 6 – MIN 2
TOR 5 – STL 2
NSH 6 – NJD 4
DAL 3 – NYI 1
CGY 4 – LAK 3

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.

Bobrovsky won’t play for Russia at World Championships

3 Comments

Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t able to get the Blue Jackets to the playoffs this season and now it’s time for a break. 

Slava Malamud of Sport-Express reports Bobrovsky won’t be heading to Sweden and Finland to play in the World Championships. Instead, it’ll be Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov headed out there to try and win gold for the Russians once again.

Bobrovsky, as you know by now, helped Columbus to within a point of making the playoffs this year. It was the closest the Blue Jackets came to the playoffs since they made it back in 2008 and it was virtually all thanks to his play.

That kind of skill would’ve been helpful for Russia at Worlds, but Varlamov helped lead the way for them last year and things turned out all right there.

Flyers reflect on decision to go with Brian Boucher in net

3 Comments

To the surprise of just about no one, the Philadelphia Flyers will start Brian Boucher for Game 7 against the Buffalo Sabres. It’s probably not much of a surprise that Sergei Bobrovsky will be his backup after Michael Leighton’s disastrous first period performance in Game 6, either.

Of the three goalies the Flyers have already gone through in just six games, Boucher has all three of Philly’s wins. He’s 3-1 so far with an impressive 93.5 save percentage and 2.12 GAA while Leighton and Bobrovsky are 0-1 each with some unsightly individual numbers.

As easy as it is to be positive about his recent results, Boucher’s a journeyman backup who hasn’t played a Game 7 in many years. The most recent team to start three different goalies in a single series was the 2004 Vancouver Canucks, according to Elias Sports Bureau. That team ended up losing that first round series against Miikka Kiprusoff and the Calgary Flames after going through a rotation of Dan Cloutier, Alex Auld and Johan Hedberg.

All of those negatives aside, the Flyers said they feel comfortable playing in front of Boucher.

“Every time (Boucher) has come in, he’s brought a sense of calmness that, as a team, we need and he’s been able to give to us,” forward Kris Versteeg said. “He’s earned this start and obviously it’s been a long time since he’s started a Game 7 (May 26, 2000; 2-1 loss to New Jersey) but it doesn’t matter to us. We’re worried about going out there as a team.”

(snip)

“It doesn’t matter who’s in net,” Claude Giroux said. “We have confidence in any goalie that is giving us a chance to win. (In Game 6) we saw that Boucher came in pretty strong and made some key saves to keep us in the game.”

For his part, Boucher thinks he’s been strong except for the Flyers’ biggest nemesis so far in this series: a horrible stretch in the first period (Game 5 in Boucher’s case).

“Personally, I feel like I have had a solid series aside from three minutes (of Game 5), so I feel good about my game,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to my teammates. They have battled really hard in front of me and they really have given me a chance to get back in there with the way they played down 3-1 (in Game 6). A lot of credit goes to them.”

A Game 7 contest is an inherently nerve-wracking event. The Flyers need to be as confident as possible with their man in net, so Boucher provides that safety blanket. Ultimately, all that really matters is how Boucher and the team plays tonight, though.