Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning will be well represented as the team hosts this year’s All-Star Game. Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy were selected to the Atlantic Division team. The four selections to an All-Star game are the most the Lightning have had since sending three in 2002-03. That doesn’t include Jon Cooper who will be the Atlantic Division bench boss.
Tampa’s back to back wins over Detroit (Sunday) and Carolina (Tuesday) was the first time in franchise history the team went back to back games without a power play opportunity.
Only the Vegas Golden Knights with 18, have more home wins than Tampa at 17.
The Lightning host Calgary on Thursday coming off back to back wins over Detroit and Carolina scoring five goals in each. No team has scored more than the 160 goals by the Lightning. The Winnipeg Jets are next up with 151.
The team headed into its bye week on an 11-game point streak (8-0-3), outscoring the opposition 47-18.
The B’s return to action from their five-day vacation on Saturday when they host Montreal. Boston has been on quite a roll going 17-3-3 in their past 23 games and when play started today (Thursday), Boston was tied in points with Toronto for second place in the Atlantic with a whopping five games in hand.
Talk about age just being a number. Zdeno Chara at 40 years old leads the team in average time on ice (23:30). The “Big Z” is paired with rookie, Charlie McAvoy who leads all rookies in average time on ice (22:54). McAvoy also has a “Gordie Howe hat trick” that he added to his resume earlier in the season.
The Bruins surprisingly sit third in goals against. Look no further than Tukka Rask, who was named the NHL’s First Star for the month of December as he posted a 9-0-1 record with a .955 save percentage. That’s pretty, pretty good.
Brad Marchand is the Bruins lone rep for the All-Star game
Toronto Maple Leafs
James Van Riemsdyk had career high 11 shots on goal in Wednesday’s loss against the Senators. The Maple Leafs as a team had 48 shots on goal and a season high total of 93 shots directed at the net.
Prior to Wednesday’s 4-3 regulation loss to Ottawa the Maple Leafs had played three straight games that were either decided in overtime or a shootout, winning two and losing one.
The Maple Leafs overtime loss to Columbus on Monday was just their second loss when leading after two periods (15-1-1).
Auston Matthews was the only Maple Leafs players selected to the All-Star game.
The Maple Leafs now have the next five days before returning to play Tuesday at home to the St. Louis Blues
Columbus Blue Jackets
For the first two months of the season, Sergei Bobrovsky appeared to be a lock to be one of the goalies for the Metro Division at this years All Star Game in Tampa. But with his play tailing off the last couple of months, Bobrovsky will get the weekend off.
The Jackets love working overtime. Columbus is 11-3 in games that go past 60 minutes and they join the Golden Knights as the only teams without a loss in three on three overtime as they are both a perfect 6-0.
When Brandon Dubinsky returns to the lineup after recovering from a broken orbital bone, who will do so wearing a visor attached to his helmet. Dubinsky was the only member of the Blue Jackets not to have a face shield on his helmet.
Look for Alex Wennberg to be back in the lineup for Thursday’s game at Buffalo. He had been out of the lineup since December 21, with back issues. Originally, the Jackets said Wennberg would be gone from 4-6 weeks. With his return on Thursday, he would have missed less than 21 days.
The Jackets will start their five day break on Saturday.
New York Islanders
The Islanders return action from their five-day vacation on Saturday when the visit the Rangers at MSG. Their 46 points in 43 games is just two points ahead of last seasons pace when they had 44 points after 42 games.
The Isles are going to have to tighten things up in own zone if they are wanting to make the playoffs. 12 times in the last 17 games they have given up four goals or more losing 12 of those contests. Eight times during that time span they have surrendered five or more.
No team has given up more goals than the Islanders 157 and their 143 goals scored is third most in the league.
John Tavares who sits sixth in the league in scoring and Josh Bailey, eighth in the league will represent the Islanders at the All-Star game in Tampa. There wasn’t enough room for Anders Lee and his 25 goals.
Jordan Eberle with 14 goals and 16 assists in 43 games. Eberle is on pace for 27 goals which would be the most since 2013-14 when he scored 28.
To no one’s surprise Alexander Ovechkin will be making his seventh All-Star appearance end the end of the month in Tampa. Ovechkin is tied with Nikita Kucherov with 27 goals. At 32 Ov is looking to become the first player aged 32 or older lead NHL in goals since Phil Esposito at age 33, in 1975-76.
Congrats to Barry Trotz who will be the head coach for the Metro Division at the All-Star game in Tampa. In his three plus seasons in Washington, Trotz has a winning percentage of .685, better than any other Capitals coach in team history.
It would not have been surprising to see the Capitals take a dip this season with the departures of Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson and Daniel Winnik. But the Caps entering Thursday find themselves atop the Metro Division four up on Columbus and five better than New Jersey.
The Capitals have gone 17-4-2 in their last 23 games.
John Carlson is set to be a UFA at season’s end is setting himself up for a hefty pay day. He has five goals and 29 assists which has him second in scoring amongst defenseman, trailing only John Klingberg of Dallas (33 points).
New York Rangers
Chris Kreider underwent successful rib resection surgery on Sunday. He will be reevaluated in six weeks and remains out indefinitely.
The Rangers offense is in need of an infusion with just four goals in their last three games.
Defenseman, Ryan McDonagh has yet to find the back of the net and is on pace for his fewest goals scored since the four he scored in 47 games in 2012-13 season. But the blame can be passed around. Kevin Shattenkirk who was brought in for his offensive prowess hasn’t scored in 26 games and has just five on the season. Impending UFA, Rick Nash has just one goal in his last 15 and nine total.
The Rangers are back in action on Saturday when they host the New York Islanders.
New Jersey Devils
They return to action on Saturday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers and will try and put an end to a five game losing streak (0-3-2). The Devils currently sit in third place in the Metro.
Taylor Hall will be the Devils representative at this year’s All-Star game in Tampa. It will be his third consecutive All-Star appearance. His 15 goals and 27 assists leads the team in scoring. Last season, Hall’s first with the Devils, he had 20 goals and 53 points. Hall has a chance to surpass his career high in goals of 27 which he has done twice in his career.
Claude Giroux was the Flyers lone selection to the All-Star game in Tampa. Giroux who is tied for second in the scoring race is making his fifth All-Star appearance.
Despite leading the league with 43 assists, Jake Voracek was not selected for the All-Star Game. and Sean Couturier and his 23 goals also gets the weekend off.
The Flyers are the only team in the Eastern Conference that currently sit out a playoff spot with a positive goal differential (+1).
After winning just three of their first 11 home games (3-4-4), the Flyers have won eight of their next 12 (8-4-0)
Sidney Crosby entered the Penguins five-day break with seven points in his last two games with a goal and six assists.
Phil Kessel continues to lead the Penguins in goals (18), assists (29), points (47) and power play points (27)
If the Penguins can make the playoffs and find themselves in a division match up it could increase their chances of playoff success. The Pens 8-4-0 record inside the Metro Division is second to the Capitals at 7-3-1. Pittsburgh has won its first two meetings with the Blue Jackets this season. They have won 9 of their 10 playoff meetings with the Capitals.
The Penguins have been one of the NHL’s worst five-on-five teams this season, getting outscored by a stunning 101-63 margin.
Jim Rutherford has never been shy about playing Let’s Make a Deal. But his last few moves haven’t been home runs. Yes, his hands were tied by the salary cap. But the additions of Ryan Reaves, Matt Hunwick, Antti Niemi, Riley Sheahan and Jamie Oleksiak would not be one’s to highlight on your resume.
Noah Hanifan will make the trip to Tampa to represent the Canes at All-Star weekend. He is eighth among NHL defensemen with seven goals and also leads the Canes’ D-men in assists (14) and points (21).
Cam Ward sits 27th amongst all goalies with a 2.78 GAA, .907 Save% and has 11 of the Canes 19 victories. The numbers are not so great for Scott Darling who is 8-11-6 with an .893 Save%
After losing five straight the Habs entered the break on a modest two game win streak with a shootout win over Tampa and a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Before scoring five goals in last Sunday’s victory over the Canucks, the Habs had scored six goals in their previous five games.
Montreal returns to action on Saturday when they host the Boston Bruins. The Habs and Bruins will get to know each other even better than they already do, playing three times in an eight-day span.
GM, Marc Bergevin hasn’t given up on the season and says trades are not imminent. Montreal sits seven points out of a playoff spot and needs to climb over six teams to get themselves back in a post season position. Bergevin may want to re-think his position. “We’re not throwing in the towel,” Bergevin said. “We’ve put ourselves in a very difficult situation, but I’m going to fight, and I expect the same thing from our players.”
Bergevin announced last weekend that Victor Mete will return to the club on Friday. Mete was part of Team Canada’s World Junior Championship team that won Gold. In 27 games with the Canadiens this season Mete had zero goals and 4 assists.
The true mark of any good athlete is to have short term memory. Tuesday night Craig Anderson got the hook after giving up 4 goals on 26 shots in just under 30 minutes of play. Wednesday night Anderson was back in the nets and got the victory in the Senators 4-3 win at Toronto. Anderson is an impressive 16-6-1 the game after getting the hook with a 2.55 GAA, .923 Save % and a pair of shutouts.
Did you know that Craig Anderson is 40 something kind of guy? Anderson was forced to make 45 saves on Wednesday night in the Senators 4-3 win at Toronto. It was the 44th time in his career he has made 40 or more saves in a game. He’s 30-6-8 in those contests. Bring on the shots says Anderson.
More tough times for Bobby Ryan. The Senators forward who has dealt with broken fingers, hand was injured again on Tuesday and told me the hand is tender and majorly swollen. Ryan had started to pick things up of late scoring three goals and seven points in his last 11 games.
Matt Duchene in 21 games with Ottawa: two goals, three assists, -11. In his last 4 games Duchesne has 3 goals and 3 assist and is a (+2)
Erik Karlsson is the only Sens player to be making the trip to Tampa. There is a case to be made for Michael Stone and his 18 goals and 24 assists who was not invited to participate.
The Senators now have eight days off
The Red Wings came into the break winners of four of their last five. Detroit had their four game win streak snapped at Tampa last Sunday.
The Panthers snapped their three game win streak on Tuesday with a 7-4 road win at St. Louis. It was just their eighth road win in 23 tries away from home
The Sabres have lost 4 straight giving up 17 goals in the process