Drop the Puck
Another solid weekend of sports as the NFL playoffs produced some doozies. However, I will still take a best-of-seven series over the one-and-done single game format. I know there is little comparison between the two sports, but could Seattle beat New Orleans in a best-of-three series? Or even in a two-game aggregate scoring format?
I believe we saw a preview of playoff hockey when the Red Wings rolled into Vancouver and came away with a 2-1 shootout win. Tremendous hockey played on the Wet Coast Saturday, which is all the more impressive considering Detroit was without Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Stuart and a couple of others.
Sunday Night Summary
There were five games on the docket Sunday, three of which ended in shutouts... The highlights include:
Atlanta – 3 @ Carolina – 4 (OT)
Backup goalie Justin Peters got the nod Sunday and won his second straight start, while the Hurricanes moved to 5-0-2 in their last seven games in yet another late start in the chase for the playoffs. Erik Cole tallied the overtime winner for his 11th goal of the year and Joe Corvo had a pair of helpers. Rookie star-in-the-making Jeff Skinner, quietly becoming a ROY candidate, scored his 14th of the season, giving him 32 points at the halfway mark. On the other side of the ice, Bryan Little scored twice and Ondrej Pavelec made 30 saves to steal a point on the road.
Tampa Bay – 3 @ New Jersey – 6
The Devils began life without former captain Jamie Langenbrunner by recording their highest goal total of the season, storming back from a 2-1 deficit with five goals in the final frame. David Clarkson scored his second of the game to tie the score before Jason Arnott redirected a puck in the net with his hand (reviewed and called a good goal) to open the floodgates. The biggest story here is that Martin Brodeur appeared to find old magic, making some stellar saves against Steven Stamkos, Martin St Louis and company.
Dallas – 4 @ Minnesota – 0
One day after blanking the Penguins 4-0 in Pittsburgh, the Wild returned home and had the favor returned to them by Andrew Raycroft and the Stars. In a battle of the backups, Raycroft made 26 saves for the shutout win, giving his team their seventh straight road win. The loss snapped Minnesota’s four-game win streak. Jamie Benn scored twice while Trevor Daley (1G, 1A), Brad Richards (2A), and Brendan Morrow (2A) all added two-point nights.
New York Islanders – 0 @ Chicago – 5
Corey Crawford made 29 saves to record his first shutout since March of 2008. He got lots of help in front of him - Marian Hossa scored once and added a pair of assists, and Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Niklas Hjalmarsson each recorded a goal and an assist.
San Jose – 0 @ Anaheim – 1
Make that back-to-back shutouts for Jonas Hiller and the Ducks, but it is Hiller who deserves the focus. The Swiss Miss pitched his fourth shutout of the year and his third in his last eight games, over which he is 6-2-0. The game’s lone goal came from Bobby Ryan, his 18th of the year, from Toni Lydman and Lubomir Visnovsky. Sharks’ goalie Antti Niemi made 27 saves - one too few.
Around The Rink
The Kings gave budding star blueliner Jack Johnson a seven-year, $30.5-million contract extension Sunday. The new deal will prevent the former first rounder from hitting restricted free agency during the summer. His cap hit will be about $4.3 million annually.
The Flames’ Tom Kostopoulos was hit with a six-game suspension for his brutal shoulder-on-jaw hit on Detroit’s Brad Stuart. The hit was nasty, uncalled for; and if it weren’t for a statute of limitations on the repeat offender moniker, Kostopoulos would have gotten more (his last vicious hit, the check from behind on Toronto’s Mike Van Ryn, came over 18 months ago). This guy is dirty – plain and simple.
Another suspension was handed to the Thrashers’ forward Ben Eager, who got four games for a sucker punch on Leafs’ Colby Armstrong. I am all for some extracurricular face washing of the boys from Toronto, but these types of shenanigans are not needed.
Alexander Ovechkin scored in his last game... is this news or just the beginning?
Jonas Hiller – take another glance at the Ducks’ game recap above.
Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks are starting to get on a little roll. Kane picked up two goals and three assists in the last four games, leading his team to a 3-1-0 record over that span.
Carolina’s Jamie McBain has long been on my radar, and his five assists in five games to start the New Year should have given notice to many other fantasy owners. Get on board now while he is showing his stuff in the absence of Joni Pitkanen.
Sidney Crosby... just because he hasn’t put up any points in Pittsburgh’s last two games. Yes, I know he is taking time to prove a point on head shots…er, is suffering from a minor case of post-concussion syndrome that will last exactly a week. Either way, he isn’t helping fantasy owners, and the points gap separating him from the Canucks’ twins, or the pair from Tampa Bay, is closing.
What has happened to Dion Phaneuf?
Two goals in 17 games is not what Ottawa is paying Dany Heatley for...that’s San Jose’s job. Oh yeah, if the playoffs were to start today, the Sharks would be golfing. Way to go Heater!
Jamie Langenbrunner was recently shipped from New Jersey back to his old team in Dallas, so he could find a new vitality playing with a Stars team that is surprisingly solid. Langenbrunner will likely fit into a second-line role when he gets back up to speed, and he may be sitting on the waiver wire due to his disappointing four-goal, 10-assist season (to date). The Stars are averaging nearly one more goal per game than the Devils; so don’t be surprised if Langenbrunner’s production picks up.
Monday Game Information – Four Games on the Slate
Boston @ Pittsburgh, 7:30pm EST
Probable starter – Tuukka Rask
Nathan Horton – Questionable; an undisclosed injury may keep Horton out of the lineup Monday
Probable starter – Marc-Andre Fleury
Sidney Crosby – Out; a mild concussion will keep Sid the Kid in the press box for approximately a week
Erik Goddard – Questionable; Goddard suffered a broken nose and may need a few more days to heal
Phoenix @ St Louis, 9:00pm EST
Probable starter – Jason LaBarbera
None of note.
Probable starter – Jaroslav Halak
No new injuries to report, nor any updates on the status for T.J. Oshie (ankle), Andy McDonald (concussion) or David Perron (concussion)
Detroit @ Colorado, 9:30pm EST
Probable starter – Jimmy Howard
Valterri Filppula – Questionable; missed Saturday’s game in Vancouver and is not likely to play Monday
The timelines for Pavel Datsyuk (late January, broken wrist), Brad Stuart (mid- to late-March, broken jaw), Dan Cleary (early February, broken ankle) and Mike Modano (indefinite, wrist surgery) remain the same
Probable starter – Peter Budaj
Kevin Shattenkirk – Questionable; maybe his foot issue has been part of the reason for his one assist and minus-3 rating in the last ten games
Cody McLeod – Questionable; Penalty minutes will be needed from someone else while McLeod nurses a groin injury
Chris Stewart – Questionable; though his broken hand has healed enough for him to take part in pratice, he isn’t likely to suit up until maybe Wednesday against Chicago
Toronto @ Los Angeles, 10:30pm EST
Probable starter – James Reimer
Fredrik Sjostrom – Questionable; watch out for those nasty charley horses
Jean-Sebastien Giguere – Out; with no need to rush Giggy back into action, he remains in the press box
Probable starter – Jonathan Quick
None of note.
Boston (Tuukka Rask) @ Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7:30pm EST
Phoenix (Ilya Bryzgalov) @ St Louis (Jaroslav Halak), 9:00pm EST
Detroit (Jimmy Howard) @ Colorado (Peter Budaj), 9:30pm EST
Toronto (James Reimer) @Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick), 10:30pm EST
**For complete starting goalie details, please visit the Projected Goalies grid