Columbus played prototypical Blue Jackets hockey in a 4-0 whooping of the Minnesota Wild Friday night.
There was a winter weather warning for southwestern Ohio, so only 11,319 were in attendance, but the Jackets put on a perfect performance for fans with a second straight shutout. Columbus won 1-0 Tuesday over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the same week NHL icon Wayne Gretzky was back in the news, the man who famously – or if you’re from Edmonton, infamously – traded him to Los Angeles also was making headlines.
Former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington avoided imprisonment Friday when he posted a $100,000 appearance bond to a California judge who granted him bail.
We’re far enough into the season now that overachievers who aren’t falling back to Earth can be considered for real, while underachievers staying on those paces can be considered in trouble.
Here’s a look at 10 players who have fallen well short of their expectations, to the point where it’s harming their teams. Those who are starting to turn it around (e.g. Claude Giroux) were left off this list.
1. Craig Anderson, Ottawa
At the start of the season, Anderson was considered to be the only goalie who might be able to unseat Jonathan Quick as the starter on the USA’s Olympic entry (since Cory Schneider was still behind Martin Brodeur in New Jersey). But Anderson’s hold on the starting job in Ottawa has been slightly loosened. His GAA is up to 3.42 and his SP down to .897. This poor performance has been part of the reason why Ottawa has taken a rather large step back this season. In the end, a former backup of his, Ben Bishop, may overtake him on the American depth chart.
2. Michael Grabner, New York Islanders
The speedy Islanders forward started the season with seven points in his first four games, which was a huge confidence boost to the Islanders and their fans, since secondary scoring was a major question mark for the team heading into 2013-14. However, since then, Grabner has one (one!) point. He hasn’t scored a goal since the very first game of the season. It’s not solely Grabner’s fault the Islanders are in a tailspin, of course, but he has certainly been part of the problem. In the past three years, Grabner has scored 34, 20 and 16 (in 48 games) goals, but at this year’s pace, he’d be lucky to hit 10. Read more
Today’s Rumor Roundup reports the San Jose Sharks are looking into starting contract negotiations with pending UFA Patrick Marleau.
That’s a wise thing not just because Marleau is a productive producer who will be in demand by a lot of teams come July, but also because it’s a smart public relations move for the Sharks.
The second overall pick in the 1997 NHL draft has a ton of attributes that are worth pointing out.
Doesn’t it always seem nowadays like the best games are in the West? That’s certainly the case tonight, where tonight’s premiere tilt has to the be the Ducks and Hawks in Chicago.
As always, here’s the lineup, who to expect between the pipes, where to watch the games and who the experts think is a sure-thing.
Detroit @ New Jersey 7:00 PM ET
TV: RDS, FS-D, MSG PLUS
Probable Starting Goalies: Jonas Gustavsson vs. Cory Schneider
San Jose @ Carolina 7:00 PM ET
TV: CSN-CA, FS-CR
Probable Starting Goalies: Antti Niemi vs. Cam Ward
Minnesota @ Columbus 7:00 PM ET
TV: FS-N, FS-WI, FS-O
Probable Starting Goalies: Niklas Backstrom vs. Curtis McElhinney
Anaheim @ Chicago 8:00 PM ET
TV: NHLN-US, PRIME, CSN-CH
Probable Starting Goalies: Jonah Hiller vs. Antti Raanta
Colorado @ Calgary 9:00 PM ET
TV: ALT, SNET-W
Probable Starting Goalies: Jean-Sebastien Giguere vs. Karri Ramo
Phoenix @ Vancouver 10:00 PM ET
TV: FS-A PLUS, SNET-P
Probable Starting Goalies: Mike Smith vs. Roberto Luongo
Now that we’re into the thick of the season, the rookie race is beginning to take more shape. Players who boomed out of the gates have either maintained their pace or succumbed to the increasing attention enemy teams paid towards them. There are some exceptions however: players who have been called up during the campaign and are now proving that maybe they should have been in the NHL all season long. Here’s a look at the race for the Calder Trophy right now.
Tomas Hertl, San Jose
Still top of the scoring charts? Still top of the scoring charts. Hertl’s 14 goals and 22 points through 28 games are the high water mark for freshmen and with Brent Burns back in the lineup, it wouldn’t be shocking if the wild man’s rookie linemate even increases his pace in the near future.
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
Give it up for the kid on his first NHL hat trick, eh? When Kreider made the caps rain at Madison Square Garden on the weekend, he did so in the best of circumstances: in a big win over the Vancouver Canucks, the team now coached by John Tortorella. ‘Torts’ was bearish on Kreider when he was in New York, but now the youngster is proving his worth under Alain Vigneault.
By Garrett Perry, Curtis Ng and Nic Carafa
What do you need to know heading into tonight’s games? From Ryan Kesler’s goal scoring, to Chicago’s lackluster penalty-kill, THN gives you five things to look forward to as the NHL gets set for a six-game night.
And then there was light; a goal light
Ryan Kesler is lighting the lamp and the Vancouver Canucks couldn’t be happier. The Canucks have won back-to-back games for the first time in over a month, thanks in large part to the American pivot. “Kes,” as he is known by his teammates, has four goals in those two games and is showing signs of the man who scored 41 goals in 2010-11. Through the first 30 games this season, Kesler’s 14 goals lead all Canuck players and his 22 points rank him third, just behind the Sedin twins. He is currently on pace to score 38 goals and eclipse 60 points. Just last month, the Michigan native played in his 600th career NHL game, all in a Canuck uniform. If the Canucks can manage their third consecutive win tonight against Phoenix in regulation, they would leap over the Coyotes for fourth place in the Pacific. Read more