NHL NETWORK RADIO PRESENTS TWO MAN ADVANTAGE – NEWS AND NOTES, WEEK OF DECEMBER 20TH

NHL

Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights handles bench duties behind (L-R) Jon Merrill #15, Cody Eakin #21 and Brendan Leipsic #13 during their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at T-Mobile Arena on December 14, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights won 2-1.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The NHL Holiday Roster Freeze officially goes into effect tonight across the league at 11:59pm local time, and is lifted on December 28 at 12:01am local time.

 

PACIFIC DIVISION

Vegas: The magic continues in Vegas as the Golden Knights scored 4 power play goals on Tuesday night.  The final one coming with 2.8 seconds left in regulation off the stick of Shea Theodore as the Golden Knights knocked off the league’s best Lightning, 4-3 sending the building into a frenzy and the Golden Knights into first place in the Western Conference.

If you had any question about whether Knights fans would be into hockey.  Here’s this from Gerard Gallant after Tuesday’s game.

“I’m trying to change the lines and I can barely hear the guys talk on the bench. The guys can barely hear me. Its unbelievable. They’re an extra player for us and its really true because the guys feel it and it just gives them momentum.”

Eric Haula continued his third period heroics on Tuesday.  His goal that gave the Golden Knights a brief 3-2 lead, was his 13th of the season and his 10th in the “final 20”, this season.

The Golden Knights .853 winning percentage on home ice is tops in the league.  Their 14 victories on home ice is tied with the Capitals and Rangers for the most in the NHL this season.

There was some definite head scratching when the Golden Knights let back-up goalie, Calvin Pickard go and picked up Malcolm Subban off waivers.  Give the credit to Golden Knights goalie coach Dave Prior who had a strong belief in Subban’s potential even though in his 2 NHL games with the Bruins he gave up 6 goals on 22 shots.  He has struck gold in Vegas going 8-2-0 with a 2.30 GAA and a 922 save percentage.

Los Angeles:  Blueliner, Christian Folin suffered an upper body injury in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and as a result was placed on IR.  At the time of this column the team had yet to recall anyone from their AHL team in Ontario.  If the Kings want to replace a right shot defenseman with another, it could open the door for Paul LaDue to get the recall from the Ontario Reign.  LaDue played 22 games with the big club last season registering 8 assists.

One concern of late for the Kings who snapped a three-game losing streak on Monday night when they ended the Flyers six game win streak has been the propensity to give up late goals. This goes back to the final two wins in their most recent 8 game win streak when they gave up the tying goal with 10 seconds left in regulation before defeating the Senators 4-3 in overtime.  It continued in the final game of the win streak when the Hurricanes were held off the scoresheet until scoring two goals in the final seven minutes of regulation, including the tying goal with 2:22 left in the third.  LA would escape with a 3-2 OT win.

This past Saturday against the Islanders. Anders Lee scored with 3:16 left in regulation before Anze Kopitar tied the game with 13 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.  The Kings would lose that game 4-3.  The night before in Brooklyn, Rick Nash scored the game winner with 3:27 left in regulation.

Anaheim: The Ducks have dropped three straight.  Monday, they blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads and lost to the Devils 5-3.  Brandon Montour was a (-3) against the Devils and found himself a “healthy scratch”, the following night when the Ducks played the Rangers.

 Courtesy of Eric Stephens at the Orange County Register here is the latest from Randy Carlyle on the progress being made by Ryan Kesler.

“He skated today and it’s like he’s skating every second day,” Carlyle said. “And it seems that he has his good days and then when he goes through a work day, there is still some issue. So we’re going to try to be as prudent as we possibly can.

“Dates are only something that put deadlines in place. With injuries, they don’t really mean anything. If it’s one day later, one day earlier, two days. It doesn’t mean anything. He’s going to play when he’s ready.”

Vancouver:  Brock Boesser must have a very high threshold for pain.  Sunday night, he looked like he was ticketed for injured reserve when he blocked a shot midway through the second period and could only crawl off the ice as he couldn’t put any pressure on his leg. Following the game, he was seen leaving the arena on crutches. Tuesday, he was back in the line-up vs Montreal.  Boesser played 20:11, tops among all Canucks forwards, scored a goal, and an assist.

After the game, Boesser told the media his foot did not bother him. “There’s a lot of adrenaline out there, so I didn’t feel it.”

Edmonton: Ryan Strome scored the 10,000 goal in team history on Monday night when he scored his 5th of the season at 18:51 of the opening period.

With their win over San Jose on Monday, the Oilers are now 5-1 vs the Pacific Division, outscoring their division rivals 28-13

Not sure if this is a good thing.  Brandon Davidson who was re-acquired by the Oilers on waivers recently played the third most minutes amongst Oilers blueliners (19:47) against SJ Monday night.

A good sign for the Oilers is the recent play of Oscar Klefbom who has been a plus 6 in his last 11 games.

Cam Talbot back after missing 7 games with an upper body injury has won back to back games over Minnesota and San Jose and has stretched his win streak to 5 games.

San Jose: The Sharks who have been struggling to score goals will be without their leading scorer, Logan Couture, because of a shoulder to the jaw hit from Vancouver’s Alex Burmistrov last Friday. Couture is considered day-to-day with what is believed to be a concussion.

Martin Jones is going through a rough patch of late.  He has given up at least 4 goals in six consecutive games (five once). It may be time to give Jones a breather.  I would not be surprised to see Aaron Dell and his 1.75 GA and .939 SV% the final two games before the break against Vancouver and Los Angeles and let Jones have some time to clear his head.

Dell a UFA at seasons end is headed for a raise on the $625,000 he’s making this season. He might also be an interesting trade chip for the Sharks closer to the Feb. 26 deadline although keeping him is not out of the question either.

It was a slow start to the season offensively for Sharks defenseman Brent Burns who scored 29 goals last season but since scoring his first goal of the season on November 24 in Vegas, Burns now finds himself with 6 goals and 8 assists in the last 12 games

Calgary:  The Jaromir Jagr experiment may not survive the season in Calgary.  Jagr has been seeing fourth line duty with Troy Brouwer and Matt Stajan.  The trio has a combined 3400 plus games of NHL experience.

The Flames who are just two points out of a playoff spot as of December 20 are still a minus (-5) in the goal differential department.

Backup goalie David Rittich has won all three of his starts this season

Arizona:  Since their 3-game win streak (Nov16-20), the Coyotes have gone 2-9-2.  Following their 3-2 loss to Florida on Tuesday, here were the words from Rick Tocchet, “I’m kind of embarrassed for the fans because we had this game and we gave it to them. A couple of individuals, I don’t understand what they’re doing on those plays. It’s probably as disappointed as I’ve been in this team all year.”

CENTRAL DIVISION

Minnesota: The Wild found themselves down 3-1 to Ottawa on Tuesday and then scoring five unanswered as they knocked off the Senators 6-4.  Miko Koivu scored his fifth of the season for his first points in 12 games.

Nashville: Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Jets was the Predators first regulation loss since November 30 to Vancouver. It was just the teams fifth loss in 18 games since the Kyle Turris trade (13-3-2)

Kevin Fiala has been on a roll.  He has scored a goal in seven of the teams last eight games and chipped in four assists.

Dallas:  Ken Hitchcock is still stuck on 799 wins.  Hitch and the Stars have dropped three straight to the Devils, Flyers and Caps.

Following Tuesday’s 4-3 OT loss to the Caps, this from @joshbogorad, the Stars finished a stretch of five straight games against Metro Division teams who are a combined 34 games over .500. They went 2-1-2 (.600). Now the next four come against clubs from the Central (Blues, Predators, Blackhawks and Wild)  The Stars are 0-6-0 vs top 3 central teams.

Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Dallas Stars on Tuesday for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

STL:  Injuries to Jaden Schwartz, Jay Boumeester and Alex Pietrangelo may have caught up to the Blues.  Pietrangelo did return in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Winnipeg but the Blues managed just 3 goals in 4 games last week.  St. Louis split a home and home with Winnipeg before dropping games to Tampa and Anaheim.

Blues defensemen were the talk of the league the first two months scoring a combined 21 goals in the first 21 games of the season. They then went seven straight games without a defensive goal.   Blues d-man have scored just 3 goals in their last 13 games but still lead the league with 24 goals from their back end

Winnipeg:   The Jets broke out of their six-game winless streak on the road in a big way as they knocked off the Predators 6-4.  Patrick Laine scored his 17th and Nik Ehlers had a pair of goals giving him 17 to tie him with Laine for the team lead. Mark Scheifele has 15 making the Jets the only club in the league with three players who have at least 15 goals.

Steve Mason made his return to the nets last Saturday against the Blues in a 2-0 loss.  It was his first game since November 25.  The loss marked the first time a Jets goalie had a save percentage in a game over 900 in a loss. Mason’s save percentage was 933 in the game.  Mason’s last six games, he has a 948 save percentage and a 1.71 GAA.

Chicago:  After an exhausting run of 10 games in 18 days — including a rare five-in-seven stretch — the Hawks suddenly have loads of time on their hands, with three games in a 13-day span, including the upcoming three-day Christmas break. Just as they’re heating up, too.  The Blackhawks won’t return till the UC until Jan 5

The Hawks answered a 5-game losing streak with a 5-game win streak.  The Blackhawks will have a chance to build on the win streak before the Christmas Break with games at Dallas and New Jersey.  Corey Crawford continues to be on a roll giving up just 7 goals during the win streak.

Colorado: Monday’s 4-2 win over the Penguins was the second win in a week over the defending Cup champs marking a season sweep over Pittsburgh. The Avs improved their record to 16-15-2 (34 points). Pittsburgh continues to hover just over NHL 500 at 17-15-3 (37 points).

Nathan MacKinnon has 7 goals in his last 8 games, 15 goals and 39 points on the season good for 10th in the scoring race.

METRO DIVISION

Just 10 points separate the 8 teams in the division and if the belief is that six teams from the Metro will make the playoffs no team is more than 4 points out of a playoff spot.

Columbus:  Sergei Bobrovsky was torched for all seven goals (the most he’s ever allowed in a game during his 358-game career with Philadelphia and Columbus) as the Jackets got blasted by the Bruins, 7-2.  As a result, Bobrovsky’s goals against average jumped from 2.27 to 2.44 and his save percentage dropped from .923 to .919 save percentage.

From Aaron Portzline (The Athletic) …….. Blue Jackets forwards totaled eight shots on goal in the entire game. Artemi Panarin, Foligno, Alexander Wennberg and Boone Jenner — four foundational players on this roster — totaled zero shots on goal.

The 18 shots on goal are the fewest Columbus has generated in a game this season and the 45 shots on goal against are the most they’ve allowed in a game this season.

NY Islanders: All smiles with the Islanders as they have won the bid to build an arena at Belmont Park.  The Isles are looking at a new 18,000 seat arena

The Islanders are in a dog fight for a playoff spot in the tough Metro Division are doing so with Josh Bailey and John Tavares tied for 3rd in the scoring race.

27-5-5: That’s the Islanders’ record against Western Conference teams at Barclays Center after their OT win last Saturday vs LA

Washington:  Caps have won 4 straight and 8 of their last 9.  There was a lot of chatter after last season as the Capitals once again bowed out to the Penguins in the playoffs that Alexander Ovechkin had lost a step.  His 33 goals was his fewest in a full 82 game season since scoring 32 back in 2010-11.  OV with 23 goals is tied for NHL goal-scoring lead this season. The last time a player aged 32 or older led NHL in goals? Phil Esposito, then 33, in 1975-76.

Jakub Vrana, became the first Capitals rookie to reach the 10 goal mark since Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 11 in the 2014-15 season.

Oshie, who has missed the past six games, returned Tuesday at Dallas

Since Barry Trotz took over behind the Caps bench no NHL team has had a better record in December than the Capitals at 35-8-7.  Caps fans would like to see him improve upon the teams record in May and June.

New York Rangers:  Their +15 goal differential is tops in the division.

The Blueshirts currently sit in third place still have 31 road games left on the schedule.  To date they have won only 5 of their first 12, while winning 14 home games.

New Jersey: Sami Vatanen posted his first point, in nine games with New Jersey, an assist, Monday night versus his former team, the Anaheim Ducks.  Vatanen had a goal and three assists in 15 contests with the Ducks

Stefan Noesen scoring two goals in the third period in his first game against the Ducks since they tried to sneak him through waivers last season

Monday also featured Brian Boyle with his first career three-assist game – on his 33rd birthday, no less – and his second straight three-point game and just the third three-point game of his career.

Monday also featured, Miles Wood’s third multi-goal performance of the season, his second two-goal outing to go with his first career hat trick?

Philadelphia:  They could have tied a bizarre NHL record: most consecutive victories immediately following a winless streak of at least 10 games.  Instead, the Los Angeles Kings ended their six-game winning streak dropping the Flyers 4-1. John Stevens, ended a three-game skid and handed the Flyers I was the Flyers first loss since Dec. 2.

During their streak, they had been 6 for 22 on the power play while their opponents have been 1 for 9.  The Flyers were outscored by a 14-2 margin after the second period during the 10-game skid. Conversely, they have outscored their opponents, 8-1, after the second period in the last six games.

Pittsburgh: Have lost five of seven games and are currently out of playoff position. Now comes word they could be without Patrick Hornqvist for an extended period of time due to an Upper Body Injury.

The Pens made two deals over the past couple of days, trading Josh Archibald, goalie prospect Sean Maguire and a sixth-round pick in 2019 to the Coyotes for veteran AHL goalie Michael Leighton and a fourth-round pick in 2019.

The Penguins sent the fourth-round pick from the trade with Arizona to the Dallas Stars in return for 6 foot 7 defenseman, Jamie Oleksiak.  Pittsburgh is hoping that they can do for him what they did for Justin Schultz’s career.  Both players being former first round picks that struggled with the teams that drafted them.

Carolina:  Congrats to Cam Ward as he became the 32nd goalie in NHL history with 300 wins.

Scott Darling is last among goalies playing at least 20 games in save % at .896

Last Saturday the Jackets notched their first three game win streak of the season when they beat the Blue Jackets, 2-1.  Their attempt at increasing it to four games was dashed rather quickly on Tuesday in Toronto as they trailed 4-1 after the opening period en route to an 8-1 drubbing at the hands of the Maple Leafs.

 

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Boston:  You have to give it to Charlie McAvoy for standing up for himself and dropping the gloves with fellow first-round pick Pierre-Luc Dubois for his first NHL fight, and that led its way to his first Gordie Howe hat trick. The fight was actually a pretty impressive one for McAvoy, who got a couple of punches in before scoring the takedown against the big-bodied forward. It was also part of a night where he scored the game-winning goal, finished with two points, a plus-2 rating, four hits and a blocked shot in 19:41 of ice time. McAvoy said afterward that the fight happened quickly, but you get the sense he’ll be able to defend himself at the NHL level.

David Pastrnank (12 game point streak) leads the Bruins with 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists)

Montreal:  The Habs put up 7 goals on Tuesday at Vancouver, none from the stick of Max Pacioretty.   In the last seven games the Canadiens have scored 26 goals without a goal from their Captain.

Tuesday at Vancouver saw the Habs re-unite Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Drouin on a line together with Paul Byron.

Shea Weber sent home by the Habs, shutting him down with a foot injury.  Shea Weber first injured his foot opening night in Buffalo, blocking a shot, I’m told. So played through it as much he could. Talk about pain tolerance.

With Weber out of the lineup, Jeff Petry led the Canadiens in ice-time (25:20), had a goal and added an assist.

Daniel Carr has been on a roll of late.  Despite playing on the Habs fourth line he has 9 points in 8 games.

10 times this season the Habs have given up back to back goals less than a minute a part including twice in one game and no surprise they have lost all 9 games.

Tampa: Lightning 7 game win streak comes to a crashing halt as Shea Theodore’s power play goal with just 2.3 seconds left gave the Golden Knights a 4-3 win.  Braydon Point was called for holding the stick of James Neal with 23 seconds left in the third period.

“Just a crappy way to lose a hockey game,” Stamkos said. “We fought back to tie the game. I don’t think anyone would have complained if he didn’t call that penalty on them. That’s an iffy call. And they think they need to make up for a mistake. It’s just the wrong call at the wrong time.”

Just the Lightnings second loss in 14 games this season versus the Western Conference.

Toronto:  Go to a Maple Leafs game and you are bound to see a lot of goals scored.  Leafs games have had a combined 215 goals scored. That is second most in the Eastern Conference behind the Islanders, 225.

Auston Matthews skated Tues morning at Air Canada Centre. The third straight day he’s been on the ice since that December 9 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  It lasted 19 minutes, before he left.

Mitch Marner had a career four points on Tuesday with a goal and three assists

Ottawa: The Sens were on course at notching their second three game win streak of the season on Tuesday as they built up a 3-1 lead only to see the Minnesota Wild score five unanswered as they were on the wrong end of a 6-4 score.

One bright spot was a 2 goal performance from Erik Karlsson.

Detroit:  Red Wings have now scored six shorthanded goals this season while allowing 19 power play goals. They lead the league in SHG (6) and have allowed fewer PP goals (13) than anyone.

Daley’s first goal as a Red Wing was a shorty, came in game 30  He hadn’t scored a goal since Jan.31 of last season. Wings tied for league lead with 6 SHG. Had 2 all of last season. Wings defense came into game with 5 goals, second-fewest in league. They have 2 tonight.

They may want to have all their Saturday games removed from the schedule.  The last two Saturday’s the Red Wings have been on the wrong end of 6-1 and 10-1 scores.  Their next Saturday tilt is December 23 in Boston.

Florida – The Panthers wrapped up their 5 games in 9 nights on the road rallying from down 2-0 for a 3-2 win at Arizona as they finished the trip at NHL 500 going 2-2-1.  With Roberto Luongo on the shelf (lower body injury), James Reimer has provided solid goaltending giving just 11 goals in the 5 games with five of those came in a 5-2 loss at Vegas. Reimer finished the road trip with a .936 save percentage.

Florida’s penalty kill has been up to the challenge, killing off 40 of 43 opposing power plays (93.02 percent) over their last 14 games.

Buffalo:  After getting blanked 3-0 by the Bruins on Tuesday, the Sabres have lost 16 of their last 19 games.  The line of Jason Pominville, Jack Eichel and Evander Kane were a combined minus-9 as all of the Bruins goals scored when they were on the ice.

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