Around the Rink
Tuesday was a night of returns around the league. Patrick Roy returned to Montreal, site of his first two Stanley Cup victories, as the coach of the Avalanche. His return wasn't the only excitement in Montreal. Thomas Vanek broke the seal and netted the first three goals of his Canadiens career, including the game-winner in a late three-goal flurry that buried Colorado.
Over in Pittsburgh, Chris Kunitz returned to the lineup and joined the top line in leading the team to a 5-1 rout of Dallas. Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Lee Stempniak combined for eight points (1-1, 2-1, 1-2 respectively), which was bad news for Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who returned to action from "concussion like symptoms." He let in five on 32.
Heading back up the east coast, Matt Moulson returned to Nassau Coliseum on Long Island for the first time since they traded him to Buffalo in October. Moulson was met with a lot of love from Isles fans, who cheered for both of his goals, including what wound up being the game-winner.
It was an ugly night for the Isles, who fell 6-0 at the hands of the Wild. A wildly disenchanted New York fan base spent the end of the game alternating chants of "We Want Moulson" and "Snow must go," which I don't believe was supposed to be taken as a vote of confidence in owner Charles Wang and GM Garth Snow. (In fact, fans protested Saturday's game, which is never a good sign for a franchise...though neither is their cap floor-scrapping salary year in and year out.)
Among Tuesday's less exciting returns was the return of Scott Gomez to San Jose. It's only notable because of the very kind cheers Gomez got the first time his mug graced the jumbotron despite, as Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area put it, "his performance [in SJ] last season."
One last note: The story of Sam Tageson last night completely melted me down in the Sharks game. What a nice story of a dream coming true. Kudos to the Sharks — who took a franchise record 29 shots in the third period last night — for signing him and giving Sam the chance to skate with the team. (At the time of publication there was no video available online from the CSN broadcast of Tageson skating out of the Shark head, standing with the team on the blue line during the national anthem, or saluting the crowd during his standing O, but you should go find that. We'll be right here to talk about some more hockey when you get back.) Update: You can watch that video here.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Toronto Maple Leafs (James Reimer), 7:00 PM
St. Louis Blues (Ryan Miller) at Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford), 8:00 PM
Colorado Avalanche (Reto Berra) at Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec), 8:00 PM
Nashville Predators (Pekka Rinne) at Vancouver Canucks (Eddie Lack), 10:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday
Tampa Bay Lightning
Slater Koekkoek, D - (shoulder) is out for the season and will require surgery
Toronto Maple Leafs
Jonathan Bernier, G - (groin) has been diagnosed with a low-grade muscle strain
Dave Bolland, C - is week-to-week
St. Louis Blues
Jordan Leopold, D - (illness) will not play Wednesday
Magnus Paajarvi, LW - (upper body) is considered close to returning to the lineup
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW - (hand) will have surgery and miss the rest of the regular season
Brandon Saad, LW - (upper body) could be back Wednesday
Michal Rozsival, D - (lower body) remains out
Alex Tanguay, LW - (hip) is out for the season
John Mitchell, C - (back) will travel with the team for Wednesday's matchup
P.A. Parenteau, RW - (MCL) is likely out for the season
Ondrej Pavelec, G - (lower body) will miss a couple of games
Chris Thorburn, RW - is out indefinitely
James Wright, C - (ankle) is out indefinitely
Grant Clitsome, D - (back) will miss the rest of the season
Mark Scheifele, C - (knee) remains out
John Albert, C - (upper body) won’t play Wednesday
Jim Slater, C - (lower body) is considered day-to-day
Daniel Sedin, LW - (hamstring) skated on Friday, but won't be back tonight
Ryan Kesler, C - (knee) is out a couple of weeks
Andrew Alberts, D - (concussion) remains out
Brad Richardson, C - (undisclosed) remains out
Mike Santorelli, C - (shoulder) is done for the season
Chris Tanev, D - (hand) is likely out Wednesday
Hunter Shinkaruk, C - (hip) is out for the season
Jarome Iginla, RW, BOS: I'm just going to read from pre-season notes on Iginla: "He's getting older and his production is down, you probably won't get much from him. You're certainly not going to see a big point streak..." Iginla hasn't exactly dropped off the way many thought he would. He's currently riding a six-game point streak with seven goals and an assist. There's been a lot of talk about the streak though and I'm going to share what any Iginla owner already knows: He's been hot for far longer than this streak. Since January 25th Iginla has 13 goals and 14 assists through 20 games. Verdict: Iginla on the east coast isn't much different than Iginla on the west coast. He's damn good.
Jason Pominville, RW, MIN: Speaking of six-game point streaks, Jason Pominville's got one too. He's tallied four goals, three assists, and a plus-3 rating through that stretch. He's pulling this off on a team that, until their aforementioned 6-0 win last night, had been struggling to score lately. Despite that, Pommer's got six goals and eight assists over the last 15 games.
Ondrej Palat, LW, TBL: And we're moving along to Tampa Bay Lightning superstar... Ondrej Palat. No, it's not Stamkos that has been tearing it up lately for Tampa, but a rookie winger who has points in five straight games. In that stretch he's got four goals, five assists, a plus-7 rating, and is averaging three shots per game. He's proven himself to be a dynamic player in general this season, but he's benefitting from gaining a tough linemate in Ryan Callahan at the trade deadline. He's also a part of the top power play unit there with Callahan and Stamkos up front. Palat might be one of the best waiver pickups of the season if you were lucky enough to grab him.
Alexandre Burrows, RW, VAN: John mentioned him on Monday, but Burrows has continued to be the only player in Vancouver worth mentioning in a positive light. Burrows' last regular season goal was April 15, 2013. After going as dormant as Pompeii, Burrows has five goals and three assists in his last four games. That comes with a plus-5 rating and an average of 3.75 shots per game. Should you pick him up? I wouldn't. Still. Wow. That's a hot four-game stretch.
Eddie Lack, G, VAN: It seems like Vancouver players have been ending up in the cold section of The Daily Puck a lot lately. Honestly, I'd welcome any player from Vancouver on my team like I'd welcome John Stamos to the Beach Boys. (With a wild amount of regret for the organization that once was.) In some ways that isn't fair to Lack. For one, he's probably as good a drummer as Stamos, but doesn't pretend he knows how to play. Two, he's a rookie goaltender who had been playing solid in a back-up role. He was thrust into the starting role just as the team around him began to collapse like the shrine room in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nonetheless, Lack has only one game with a save percentage over .900 in his last five games. His save percentage over the last seven games, where he's 3-4, is .862.
Mike Richards, C, LAK: Richards is without a point in his last five games. He's got two goals in his last 20 games. He's got just nine goals on the season, which is three fewer than he scored last year despite playing 21 more games so far this season. Richards should be one of the players that is a solution to the Kings' goal scoring woes, but he's been anything but.
Brad Richards, C, NYR: If I didn't love Starship Troopers so much I might think I had something against people with the last name Richards. Ahem. For a eight-time 20-goal scorer, Brad Richards has been too inconsistent for my comfort. He's without a goal in eight games and on pace for 18 goals this season, which would be the first time he didn't hit the 20-goal mark in a full season since 2002-03. (He's missed that mark twice in that span, but neither miss saw him play more than 56 games in the season.) The Rangers can be a playoff team and they need every offensive weapon they've got on point if they're going to make a run. Richards needs a big stretch run and I don't think it's going to happen.
Here's my recommendation: Go to your waiver wire, see who is available and plays for Boston. If they're a forward and on one of the top three lines, grab them. There's no one on that team that's slacking right now. Even their third line — Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, and Carl Soderberg — is looking fantastic. In fact, that's arguably the best third line in the league. The only downside is that on a team where every line is doing exactly what it needs to be doing, you're not getting many 20-minute performances from forwards. Reilly Smith, Brad Marchand, Lucic, Bergeron, Krejci, Iginla, and on and on are posting stats you want on your team, but none of their minutes are doing anything but neutralizing the minutes you gained from having Ryan Suter on your team. If that doesn't detour you, you won't regret a Soderberg or Smith in your lineup.
Brandon Pirri, C, FLA: Pirri showed a lot of potential in Chicago, but with a stacked lineup it was tough for him to carve out a consistent role. He seems to have found a comfortable place in Florida. He's been with the Panthers for eight games and has three goals and four assists. That's a significant chunk of his eight goals and eight assists through 35 games this season. He's worth a look if you're desperate down the stretch. Something's working for him in Florida and they're a team that's focusing on scoring goals since they have nothing to lose any longer.