"I'm not going to eliminate soccer because one guy gets a ball in the eye."
- Leafs GM Brian Burke on the possibility of banning soccer warm-ups after center Matt Stajan was hit in the face prior to Sunday's game against the Capitals.
"I'm not going to eliminate soccer because one guy gets a ball in the eye."
- Leafs GM Brian Burke on the possibility of banning soccer warm-ups after center Matt Stajan was hit in the face prior to Sunday's game against the Capitals.
The Calgary Flames pick is off to a sizzling start in his NCAA career and already has a world junior gold medal. Meet him and other future NHLers in our weekly wrap
Talk about program building. Penn State was ranked No. 1 in the NCAA by one of two national polls this week – pretty remarkable since the Nittany Lions didn’t even have a Division 1 team until five years ago. The team has tougher games ahead of them, but they've already beaten ranked opponents this season and it will be interesting to see if Penn State can qualify for its first ever Frozen Four in the spring. On top of that, the biggest name in the 2017 draft got back on the ice this weekend, so with all that in mind, let’s take a trip around the world of prospects.
Adam Fox, D (Calgary): With 19 points in his first 15 games with Harvard, Fox has been one of the great surprises of the NCAA season. To hit the ground running as a freshman while also taking classes at the most famous university in the world? Pretty impressive.
“It’s kinda surreal,” Fox said. “You’re not going to get a better education than at Harvard. Knowing the history of people who have gone there is something I take a lot of pride in. Playing hockey there is an honor and I’m happy to do it.”
Fox’s course load includes classes in writing, economics and another entitled “Understanding Darwinism.” Perhaps the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder can do an essay on the evolution of the defenseman, as his offensive hops are what make him just as a dangerous as the 6-foot-4 monsters of the past.
“From a young age I’ve always been able to handle and move the puck,” Fox said. “But obviously I’m a defenseman, so I still take pride defensively and shutting it down back there.”
Calgary landed Fox 66th overall in the draft this past summer and though players of his size are just now becoming more prominent in the elite ranks, it was hard to ignore the smarts and puck movement Fox was utilizing from the point for the U.S. National Team Development Program last season. Still, it’s stunning to see how well the kid has fared in the ECAC, which tends to be stocked with older, stronger collegians.
“The coaching staff has really helped,” Fox said. “Playing exhibition games against college teams last year with the NTDP helped prepare me for the competition and our forwards are really skilled up front, so getting the puck to them is definitely good for me.”
And good for any forward wearing the same jersey as the blueliner. Fox helped Team USA win gold at the world juniors and now he has Harvard off to a great start, with the Crimson ranked sixth in the nation.
In the Pipeline
Denis Gurianov, RW (Dallas): Gurianov was great at the world juniors, using his speed and skill to burn opponents. Now back in the AHL with Texas, the Russian teen is back at it. Just check out this highlight, which looks eerily similar to the overtime play he made to win bronze over Sweden.
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C (Boston): Coming into college, the only question about ‘JFK’ was whether he could be a top offensive threat; we knew he was a great two-way player. But with seven goals in his past four games, the Boston U. sophomore is now a point-per-game player and the Terriers are on fire.
Brett Murray, LW (Buffalo): Penn State, as I mentioned, is rolling. And the Nittany Lions got even bigger recently when Murray joined early from the USHL. The 6-foot-5 power forward was playing great for Youngstown and decided to take on a new challenge in college. Murray picked up an assist in his NCAA debut.
Christian Fischer, RW (Arizona): The AHL player of the week, Fischer has been excellent for the Tucson Roadrunners in his first pro season. The power forward has seven points in his past four games and is now a point-per-gamer, sitting second in team scoring overall.
2017 Draft Stars
Nolan Patrick, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL): It’s been a long time coming for Patrick, the consensus top prospect for 2017. The big, dominating center missed three months due to an undisclosed injury, but jumped right back in with a four-point night in his return against Kootenay. The best part? From the get-go, Patrick looked like he wanted to take over the game…and then he did.
Timothy Liljegren, D – Timra (Swe.): While Patrick was injured, Liljegren was loaned from Rogle in the SHL to the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-best circuit. While that sounds not-so-good, the highly-rated defenseman is playing big minutes for Timra, while still facing older, stronger competition. Scouts are getting a little nervous about his lack of production, however. This is already shaping up to be a very interesting draft year.
Micah Miller, C – Grand Rapids Thunderhawks (Minn. HS): With 38 points in 15 games, Miller is not messing around in high school. Fast, strong and hard-working, the St. Cloud State commit is just 5-foot-9, but don’t take him for granted or your team might get burned.
Conor Timmins, D – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL): The Hounds are red-hot and Timmins has been a great driver from the blueline. The puckmoving defenseman has 35 points in 43 games and has such great ability and patience when he’s controlling the offensive play.
Dynamic Duo: Ivan Chechovich and D’Artagnan Joly of Baie-Comeau are making it fun to watch the Drakkar this year. Chechovich, who leads the team in scoring, has great skill and vision, while Joly is a big dude who can move well and also has nice hands. Chechovich plays center and has a five-game point streak going, while Joly plays right wing and has four points in his past four games.
2018 Draft Star
Quinn Hughes, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL): His late birthday means the under-18 star will get picked a year later than most of his cohorts, but that’s just another season of development for scouts to drool over. Hughes has been described as a Kris Letang type of defenseman, with great puckhandling abilities. The Michigan commit leads all NTDP blueliners with 26 points in 37 games.
Connor McDavid netted his 100th point in his 92nd career game, but how does that compare to the rest of the league’s talented youngsters?
Connor McDavid found himself in some distinguished company Wednesday night.
With the lone assist on Zack Kassian’s game-opening goal against the Florida Panthers, McDavid celebrated his 100th point in his 92nd career NHL game. In doing so, McDavid became the fourth-fastest active player to reach the mark and you might recognize McDavid’s company. By reaching the mark in what amounts to little more than a full season, McDavid joins Alex Ovechkin (77 games), Sidney Crosby (80 games) and Evgeni Malkin (89 games) as one of the four fastest current players to reach the 100-point plateau, according to the NHL.
Reaching 100 points in so few games is another feather in McDavid’s cap and seeing McDavid alongside three of the game’s very best is yet another reminder that he’s already among the games elite players. Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin have each captured an Art Ross and Hart Trophy to go along with a Ted Lindsay Award, and with McDavid leading the scoring race with 54 points — four points clear of Crosby and Malkin and more than a dozen ahead of Ovechkin — it seems like McDavid could be well on his way to joining them in owning the trio of NHL honors.
McDavid’s rapid climb to 100 points also serves as a reminder that when it comes to young stars, the Oilers captain is, without a doubt, the cream of the crop. That said, though, how does his ascent to 100 points stack up against each team’s top youngster?
Anaheim Ducks: The Anaheim Ducks haven’t brought in many big-name stars through the draft since Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf came onto the scene, but Rickard Rakell has earned his place as the Ducks’ top young offensive star. Rakell notched his 100th career points earlier this season in his 192nd game.
Arizona Coyotes: Max Domi’s rookie season went much better than his sophomore campaign has gone, but he’s still on pace to become a 100-point player before he’s too deep into his career. He’s about 50 games shy of reaching the mark, so expect him to notch his 100th point around his 160th career game.
Boston Bruins: He’s not there yet, but David Pastrnak is inching ever-closer to the 100-point plateau. He has 86 points in 138 games, and is scoring close to a point per game. If he keeps it up this season, he should reach the 100 career points by his 156th career game. That’ll come in early March.
Buffalo Sabres: The choice at the 2014 draft was between McDavid and Jack Eichel, and though he went second-overall to the Sabres, Eichel is proving to be quite the offensive gem. At his current rate of scoring, expect Eichel to reach the mark by his 140th career game right before the season comes to a close.
Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau wasn’t a top draft pick but he’s become an almost instant star in Calgary. His scoring as a rookie was phenomenal and left him only 35 points shy of reaching the 100-point mark in his sophomore year. He was there by the 115th game of his career.
Carolina Hurricanes: At almost exactly half a point per game, Victor Rask was a model of consistency through his first two campaigns. He’s picked it up this season, though, and is starting to look like a two-way star in Carolina. He scored his 100th point this season in his 187th career game.
Chicago Blackhawks: McDavid finished third in Calder Trophy voting despite playing half a season, but not even rookie standout Artemi Panarin reached 100 points as quick as McDavid despite his 77-point freshman campaign. Panarin scored his 100th point this season, and it came in game No. 107.
Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon is like a miniature Sidney Crosby, right down to training with the Penguins captain in the off-season. It took MacKinnon quite a bit longer to notch his 100th point, however. MacKinnon’s 100th point was scored at the tail end of his sophomore year, in the 143rd game of his career.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have found a future top-six pivot in Alexander Wennberg, and in his third season in the league, the 2013 first-round pick is only a couple points from reaching the century mark. He sits at 96 career points in 180 games, and his 100th point could be coming any day now.
Dallas Stars: John Klingberg is the first defenseman on this list, but with good reason. He was a late-round find by the Stars who turned into an offensive juggernaut. He entered the season with 98 points in 141 games, and an assist four games into the season gave Klingberg 100 points in 145 career games. That’s better than a number of forwards.
Detroit Red Wings: The down year in Detroit hasn’t helped Dylan Larkin’s cause, but he still has all the making of a future offensive star for the Red Wings. His rookie season saw him net 45 points in 80 games and he’s 37 points back of reaching the 100-point plateau with 125 games under his belt. That might have to wait until the 2017-18 campaign, however, as Larkin’s battling through a sophomore slump.
Florida Panthers: MacKinnon was supposed to be the runaway star of the 2013 draft, but Aleksander Barkov has turned into quite the player himself. Selected second-overall, Barkov’s two-way game is great, and the fact he reached the 100-point mark in 173 games puts him only 30 games back of MacKinnon.
Los Angeles Kings: A big start to the 2015-16 campaign put Tyler Toffoli up to 100 points in a hurry. He had entered the season 17 points back of the mark thanks to a breakout sophomore season, and his 17 points in 18 games gave him 100 career points by the time he had played career outing No. 166.
Minnesota Wild: It’s taken a while for Jason Zucker to really piece together his entire game, but he’s starting to find it now, which is to say the rest of his skill set seems to have caught up to his speed. He’s already set a career-high this season with 29 points, and he’s only 10 points back of 100 for his career. Expect that around the 230th game of his career.
Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk has gradually built his way up to being one of the top offensive threats in Montreal. As for his 100th point, he netted that by the time he was wrapping up his third campaign in the league, registering an assist for point No. 100 in his 184th big league contest.
Nashville Predators: The trade that brought Filip Forsberg to the Predators will go down as one of the greatest steals in league history, even if it took Forsberg a while to find his way into the lineup full-time. After breaking out with 63 points in 2014-15, Forsberg kept up his pace and netted his 100th point in his 153rd game.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils’ tough time in the draft hasn’t brought them many young stars of late, but the trade that brought Kyle Palmieri to New Jersey gave them a 30-goal scorer right away, and he managed his 100th career point 14 games into his stay with the Devils. Altogether, it was his 212th NHL outing.
New York Islanders: Forget young stars for a second, and let’s look at the comparison between McDavid and John Tavares. Tavares burst onto the scene with a 54-point year and was a 100-point player by his sophomore year. However, the 100th point didn’t come until Tavares had played his 135th game.
New York Rangers: Mika Zibanejad didn’t start out as a Blueshirt, but he’s got the potential to become an impactful part of the roster for years to come. His 100th career point didn’t come in New York, either. In his 198th game with the Ottawa Senators, Zibanejad picked up an assist to reach the milestone.
Ottawa Senators: This is where Zibanejad would have fit in were it not for the off-season trade, but instead the nod goes to Mark Stone, who has been on a tear ever since cracking the lineup as a full-timer. A 64-point year put him 28 points shy of 100 for his career entering the 2015-16, and he proceed to get the required points in 29 games, making for 100 points in 132 career games.
Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere became one of the most beloved Flyers rookies in years for his scoring ways in his rookie season. He’s slowed this season, but the rearguard is 35 points back of the 100-point plateau. Give him another 60 or so games, and he should reach the century mark.
Pittsburgh Penguins: There aren’t any undrafted players on this list yet, but Conor Sheary seems like the surest bet to reach the 100-point mark in a hurry. He’s set career highs in his sophomore year with 13 goals and 29 points and the year’s only half over. He could be a near-60-point player by year’s end. If he stays on this pace, 100 points in 160 games seems possible.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the most dynamic scorers in the league and a superstar in waiting with the way he can fill the net. His first two seasons were only all right, but he broke out in 2014-15 with a 37-goal, 73-point season that saw him score his 100th career point in his 137th game with the Blues.
San Jose Sharks: It’s going to be hard to forget Tomas Hertl’s four-goal debut, but injuries have slowed him down since his rookie year. His best season to date came in 2015-16 and it was also the same season he scored point No. 100. It took him until his 187th career game.
Tampa Bay Lighting: Steven Stamkos’ absences have shown just how important Nikita Kucherov is to the Lightning. By his second season, he was already flirting with a 30-goal year and only a handful of points shy of 100 for his career. He hit the 100-point mark 29 games into the 2015-16 season, and 163 games into his big league career.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Let’s take a look at this with Auston Matthews. Right now, Matthews has 38 points in 42 games, putting him on pace to earn his 100th point around the 111th game of his career. The thing is that he’s only getting better as time goes on, so hitting 100 points in 100 games doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat is heading to the All-Star Game to represent the Canucks, and he could be celebrating his 100th point before he heads off to Los Angeles. He’s sitting at 95 career points in 196 games, and he has a shot at nice round numbers if he can net five points in the four games before the break.
Washington Capitals: Things haven’t gone Evgeny Kuznetsov’s way this year, but he still has all the skill in the world and is capable of putting up big numbers like he did in 2015-16. That 20-goal, 77-point year saw Kuznetsov net his 100th career point in his 149th career game.
Winnipeg Jets: If we looked at Matthews’ chase for 100 points, it’s worth taking a look at Patrik Laine’s numbers, too. Before falling injured, Laine had 37 points in 42 games, which puts him in the same range as Matthews. Laine has had some slumps, but he’s got the potential for a few big games. He, like Matthews, could be eying up point No. 100 by the time his career is a mere 100 games old.
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Ryan Kesler. Image by: Michael Martin/Getty Images
The usual suspects -- Bergeron, Kopitar, and Toews -- appear to be out of the discussion for the Selke Trophy. Here are five names that seem to have the best chance at stepping in.
When it comes to handing out hardware at the NHL Awards, the Selke hasn't been all that tough to figure out in recent seasons. For the last five years, the same three players have dominated the voting. Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews have accounted for all five wins, as well as eleven of the fifteen finalist spots.
But this year is shaping up like it could be different, with all three players slumping offensively. Maybe that shouldn't matter, since the Selke is supposed to be a defensive award. But over the years, it's morphed into a trophy that recognizes two-way play, which means you need to be scoring to get much consideration. If you pro-rate the lockout year, nobody has won the Selke with fewer than 55 points in the salary cap era. None of the Big Three are on pace to get there this year.
With half a season left to play, that could still change. And it's always possible that in the absence of a slam dunk candidate emerging somewhere else, voters could opt to play it safe and go back to one of the old familiars. But for the first time in years, the Selke really does seem up for grabs.
So who has a shot? Assuming that Bergeron, Toews or Kopitar don't take the trophy home this time, here are the five names that seem to have the best chance at stepping in.
Ryan Kesler, Ducks
The case for: The veteran is having his best season since 2011, and is on pace for about 65 points while playing tough minutes for a first-place Ducks team. His advanced stats won't blow anyone away, but they're good enough that the analytics guys shouldn't push back too hard, and everyone loves a good comeback narrative.
The case against: While it wouldn't be held against him by voters, Kesler doesn't really fit our "new blood" theme; he was the last player to win the award before the Bergeron/Toews/Kopitar trinity took over, and he finished third in the voting last year.
More importantly, there's at least an argument to be made that linemate Andrew Cogliano deserves the award, too. If that line of thinking catches on, the two could end up splitting votes and knocking each other out of the running.
Mikko Koivu, Wild
The case for: While it's meant as a single-season award, voters tend to like to treat the Selke as more of a career achievement; it's rare for somebody to win the award without having built up a resume over the years. That works in Koivu's favor, as he's been considered a strong defensive forward for a decade now, finishing as high as fourth in the Selke voting back in 2009. He hasn't come especially close since, but he's had votes every year.
New coach Bruce Boudreau has leaned heavily on Koivu in the defensive zone, and his ability to handle the duties has been a big part of Minnesota's unexpected success. With the Wild emerging as one of the one of the year's best surprises, voters will be paying attention.
The case against: Koivu's all-around numbers are good but not great, and he's benefitting from a sky-high on-ice save percentage and PDO that's unlikely to continue. With Devan Dubnyk looking like the Vezina favorite and Boudreau having a shot at the Jack Adams, voters might figure that their ballots are already getting crowded with Wild names.
Mikael Backlund, Flames
The case for: Backlund seems to have emerged as a trendy dark horse pick in recent weeks. It's well-deserved: his numbers are excellent, and he's posting them in tough minutes for a young Flames team that asks a lot of him. His offensive numbers aren't jaw-dropping, but he's leading the team in scoring, and that should be enough to satisfy those "two-way" demands if he can keep it up.
The case against: While Backlund's been an underrated defensive player for a while now, he's never received a Selke vote. Again, you can argue that that shouldn't matter, but history has shown that it does. That could make it tough for him to get enough votes to win outright.
Aleksander Barkov, Panthers
The case for: At 21, Barkov would fit the new blood narrative perfectly. And he's already on voters' radars after finishing sixth in last year's balloting. He checks most of the boxes that voters tend to look for, posting solid offensive stats and strong possession numbers. And in a season where the biggest story has been the emergence of the next generation of star players, you could see the voters turning to one of the best young two-way forwards in the game.
The case against: Barkov is hurt right now and has already missed two weeks, so if he's not back soon he probably falls out of the running. He's also been playing a more offensive role this year under new coach Tom Rowe, which may be good for the Panthers, but probably not for his Selke chances. And given how things are turning out in Florida this year, voters may not be interested in having many Panther names on their ballot.
Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
The case for: If building up enough support to win the award is a long-term process, this could be your guy. Backstrom generated plenty of Selke buzz last year, but finished just outside the top ten for the second straight year. It helps that he's putting up the sort of big offensive number that voters like to see. And after years of largely playing in Alex Ovechkin's shadow, he seems to be settling in as one of those guys that everyone in the hockey world decides has been underrated for too long. What better way to make it up to him than with some awards ballot love?
The case against: In terms of pure numbers, you could make a good case that Backstrom's defensive game was better last year than it is now. That won't necessarily hurt him with voters who feel like he's finally due, but it could keep him from getting the kind of widespread groundswell of support that would help push him past a strong candidate like Kesler.
Honorable mentions (and why they won't win):
- Brad Marchand (Bruins): He's getting some buzz, and has earned votes in the past. But has he really become a better option than Bergeron right now? And if not, how can you win the Selke when you're not the best defensive forward on your own team?
- Nazem Kadri (Maple Leafs): He's a relatively new candidate who'll face the same uphill climb as Backlund, with the added disadvantage that plenty of people don't seem to like him.
- Sidney Crosby (Penguins): He's been underrated in his own end for years, and you could see him getting some consolation ballots if voters decided to break for Connor McDavid for the Hart. But right now, the Crosby focus is still on the MVP race.
- Joe Thornton (Sharks): He gets votes every year and finally had his first top five finish last season, so the timing seems right. But his offensive numbers are down this year.
- Ryan O'Reilly (Sabres): He's been in the mix before. But the Sabres' disappointing season may doom him; there's never been a first-time Selke winner from a team that didn't make the playoffs.
- Jordan Staal (Hurricanes): He'd face the same hurdle as O'Reilly if the Hurricanes miss the playoffs, although these days that seem less and less likely. He may have the best case of anyone in this section.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
After giving up three goals in five games, the Capitals gave up eight in one on Monday night, but still don't have a regulation loss in 2017.
The Washington Capitals are hoping that history repeats itself. The last time goalie Braden Holtby was pulled in a game prior to Monday night’s wild 8-7 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals went on to win five straight games.
Monday night’s crazy encounter not withstanding, the Capitals have still been the hottest team in the league despite the loss, compiling a record of 9-0-1 in their past 10 and gaining at least a point in 13 of their past 14 games. They're also the only team in the NHL that has yet to lose a regulation game in 2017. That’s why they’re at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.):
THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Washington Capitals (2)
2. Minnesota Wild (6)
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (1)
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (7)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (3)
6. Edmonton Oilers (16)
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (13)
8. Anaheim Ducks (8)
9. New Jersey Devils (25)
10. Vancouver Canucks (22)
Defenseman John Carlson, who missed the loss to Pittsburgh Monday night, will likely miss his second game of the season Thursday night against St. Louis…The Wild have a league-high 33 points in the road, including a point in 12 straight road games…The Penguins haven’t lost in regulation on home ice since Nov. 21, a span of 13 games…Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky had 47 goals between them last season, but got just their 12th, 13th and 14th in a 4-1 over Carolina Tuesday night…Good news for the Hawks – in Tuesday night’s win over Colorado, all five goals were scored by their bottom-six forwards…The Oilers are rolling, but Jordan Eberle isn’t. He hasn’t scored a goal in his past 18 games…Morgan Rielly, who has been the Leafs’ all-round best defenseman this season, will miss Thursday’s game against the Rangers and is out day-to-day with a leg injury…The Ducks haven’t given up more than two goals in a game in their past eight games…The Devils picked up seven of a possible eight points on a four-game road trip to get back into the hunt for a playoff spot…Only four teams in the NHL have zero or one regulation loss in their past 10 games. The Canucks (6-1-3) are one of them.
THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Detroit Red Wings (27)
12. San Jose Sharks (5)
13. Montreal Canadiens (9)
14. Calgary Flames (14)
15. Ottawa Senators (12)
16. New York Islanders (23)
17. New York Rangers (4)
18. Boston Bruins (11)
19. St. Louis Blues (15)
20. Carolina Hurricanes (10)
Darren Helm, out since mid-November with a shoulder injury, could be back in the Red Wings lineup this weekend…After missing the past two games with an upper-body injury, Joonas Donskoi was placed on the injury reserve list…Alex Galchenyuk had a goal in his first game back after missing 18 with an upper-body injury…The Flames are in the middle of the pack in penalty killing this season after finishing dead last in that category last season. And they need a better PK, since they’re on pace to be shorthanded 304 times this season, compared to just 233 last season…The Senators have the league leaders in hits – Mark Borowiecki with 197 – and takeaways – Mark Stone with 55. Erik Karlsson is tied for second in blocked shots with 110…After firing coach Jack Capuano, Islanders GM said he was, “not hiding from the fact that it starts with me.”…This is mind-boggling. Henrik Lundqvist has allowed 16 goals on 76 shots in his past seven periods of work for a save percentage of just .789. “It’s embarrassing, frustrating and disappointing,” Lundqvist said…Bruins star Patrice Bergeron is on pace for exactly half as many goals this season as he had in 2015-16. Last season, Bergeron had 32 and he’s on pace for 16…Vladimir Tarasenko, who had a seven-game goal drought earlier this season, has gone five without a goal. But what’s more concerning according to Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, “he isn’t getting any chances.”…If the Hurricanes miss the playoffs, they can look to their play on the road as a major reason why. They’re just 6-12-6 away from the PNC Arena.
VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Los Angeles Kings (18)
22. Dallas Stars (26)
23. Philadelphia Flyers (20)
24. Florida Panthers (17)
25. Nashville Predators (21)
26. Tampa Bay Lightning (30)
27. Buffalo Sabres (19)
28. Winnipeg Jets (24)
29. Arizona Coyotes (28)
30. Colorado Avalanche (29
Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed Monday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay with a stomach virus, but said he’ll be ready to go tonight against San Jose…Cody Eakin had a Gordie Howe hat trick in the Stars 7-6 win over the Rangers Tuesday night in his first game against the Rangers since earning a four-game suspension for bowling over Henrik Lundqvist Dec. 15…Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers recently announced his engagement and the Flyers are hoping that will spark them. After all, they won eight in a row after Claude Giroux announced his engagement Nov. 30…The Panthers are 9-8-7 since Tom Rowe took over behind the bench for a points percentage of .521, which is just slightly worse than the 11-10-1 record and .523 points percentage Gerard Gallant had as coach…The Predators are one of only two teams that are out of the playoffs despite having a positive goal differential. The other is Carolina…The Lightning hopes to have defenseman Victor Hedman back against the Sharks tomorrow night. He’s missed the past two games with an illness…First, the Sabres couldn’t score. Now they don’t know what to do when they score. In eight of their past 10 games they’ve scored first, but have won only three of those games…In what can only been seen as a desperation move, the Jets will give Ondrej Pavelec his first start of this season tonight against Arizona…The Coyotes, who play in Winnipeg tonight, are tied for last in the league in road wins this season with Vancouver. They have five each…It’s not easy to be this bad in today’s parity-driven NHL, but the Avs are finding a way to do it.