Around the League
The Battle of Ontario isn’t what it once was anymore, since the Sens and Leafs haven’t met each other in the playoffs since the 2003-04 season, ending a stretch of five years in which the two teams met four times. When long-time captain Daniel Alfredsson signed a one-day contract to retire as a Senator, it truly marked the end of an era. After all, it had been 12 years since Alfredsson hit Darcy Tucker from behind and 10 years since Alfredsson guaranteed a victory over the Leafs. With Jason Spezza traded and Dany Heatley long gone, it was also a small reminder of a short period when the Sens were the most exciting team in hockey.
Alfredsson retires as the second highest scoring Swede in NHL history with 1,157 points, trailing only fellow countryman and Leafs rival Mats Sundin, who scored 1,349 points. He made six All-Star teams as a member of the Sens, though unfortunately he finished without a Cup title, even in his last-ditch effort with Detroit, mirroring Sundin’s last-ditch effort with Vancouver.
The Sens have already entered a new era with Erik Karlsson, but there’s little doubt that Alfredsson remains the face of the franchise and city, and it won’t be long until No. 11 is raised to the rafters, the first Senator to have his number retired in the modern era.
There will be plenty of debate whether or not Alfredsson is a Hall of Famer, having been an Olympic gold medalist and Calder Trophy winner, but otherwise whose trophy case is devoid of any major individual awards. Though, Sundin was inducted in 2012, and the two share similar resumes. Is there something to be said of his longevity and the class and dignity he had often carried himself with? It may sound cruel, but the Hall of Fame doesn’t admit players based on their personality, but you can’t deny that Alfredsson put Ottawa on the hockey map in a region that had been previously dominated by the Leafs and Habs faithful. Happy retirement, Alfie.
And recapping Thursday night’s action:
- The Sens couldn’t muster a win on Alfredsson’s special night dropping a 2-1 decision against the Isles. Jaroslav Halak stopped 20 shots for his 11th straight win while Casey Cizikas provided the game-winner. Jack Capuano is rolling all four lines, a recurring theme among the league’s winningest teams this year with Cory Conacher playing a team-low 10:40. With a Pens loss, the Isles move into a tie for first place in the Metro with 36 points.
- Eddie Lack proved that he was one of the league’s most capable backups once again with a 3-0 shutout of the Pens as the Canucks won their league-best 11th game on the road. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were good for stretches, but were held to just three shots combined. With the team already short on wingers, Patric Hornqivst left the game with an apparent head injury after receiving an open-ice hit from Ryan Stanton, perhaps paving the way for Brad Boyes, if the Pens are willing to pay the Cats’ asking price.
- The Caps aren’t an offensive powerhouse anymore (what do you expect from Barry Trotz’s teams?) but managed to eke out a 2-1 win over the Canes, moving them up for a tie for third-place in the Metro. Alexander Semin scored (!!!) his first goal of the season in his 20th game after going without a shot on goal in his previous two games. He just became slightly more tradable than a Ryan Leaf rookie card.
- With Peter DeBoer reportedly on the hot seat, the Leafs the Dunnville, Ont. native still had a job the next day after dropping a 5-3 decision against the Devils. Jonathan Bernier allowed an Eric Gelinas goal 4:53 into the game, marking the eighth time he’s allowed a goal in the first five minutes of the game. At some point, these kinds of shenanigans have to stop. The Leafs have some talented forwards but it’s difficult to win games when you’re behind the eight ball all the time.
- Drawing the Wings in his first start of the season, Jussi Rynnas couldn’t solve the Stars’ goaltending woes as he allowed five goals on 29 shots in a 5-2 loss. Stephen Weiss led the way with three points and now has nine points in seven games since returning from injury. Riley Sheahan, Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar, Kyle Quincey and Darren Helm each added two points. The Stars have now allowed 94 goals, four more than (gulp) the Oilers for the league’s worst total.
- Jhonas Enroth’s brilliant three-game stretch was halted in a resounding fashion as the Lightning stopped Buffalo’s momentum with a 5-0 stomping. Steven Stamkos led the way with three points and five different Lightning player scored a goal to show off their balanced attack, but the story of the night were the 110 penalty minutes handed out, including four fighting majors and six game misconducts. Ben Bishop had an easy night and stopped 13 shots for the shutout.
- The BJ’s nearly blew a 3-0 lead but prevailed to win in a shootout over the Panthers by a final score of 4-3. The Cats threw everything they had against Sergei Bobrovsky, but it looks like Bob has returned to form after making 52 saves on 55 shots. Kerby Rychel notched his first multi-point game with two assists and Dalton Prout and Cam Atkinson also notched two points apiece. Nick Bjugstad led the way with two goals and an assist.
- Mike Ribeiro spoiled Martin Brodeur’s St. Louis debut with three points as the Preds retained control of the Central Division with a 4-3 win. Alex Pietrangelo did all he could to help Brodeur with seven (!!!) blocked shots but to no avail as Brodeur continued to prove that he’s been one of the league’s weaker goalies in even strength play. There’s rumblings that with Broduer in the mix the Blues are shopping Brian Elliott and handing the reins over to Jake Allen, but given last night’s performance and the horrendous Ryan Miller experiment, that may not be such a prudent decision. Elliott and Allen have been good for the Blues, so why tinker with a winning formula? Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals and moves into a tie for second place and sits three behind league leader Tyler Seguin.
- Mike Smith’s nightmarish season continues as he was pulled in a 4-0 loss to the Kings and Devan Dubnyk is becoming a real threat to steal the No. 1 job. The Desert Dogs mustered just 26 shots against Jonathan Quick and didn’t look dangerous at all throughout the night despite dominating in the faceoff circle. Dustin Brown’s offense finally came alive as he notched a three-point night. After recording just one point in the first month of the season, Brown has nine points in November.
- Dennis Wideman scored two goals and Kris Russell added three assists but th hero for the Flames was Sean Monahan, who scored the overtime winner in a 4-3 triumph over the Avs, who blew leads of 2-1 and 3-2. The Flames have been the league’s best never-say-die team this year with Bob Hartley instilling a work ethic that would make Boxer from Animal Farm cower in shame. Asides from Arizona and Edmonton, the Pacific is shaping up to the league’s most competitive division. What was going to be a three-team race with the California teams has become a five-team race with Vancouver and Calgary joining the fray. However, advanced stats show that Calgary’s recent success can’t be sustained so… they’re your 2013-14 Avalanche?
- The Sharks threw everything but the kitchen sink against Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, scoring seven goals on 44 shots (including 24 in the second period alone) en route to a 7-4 victory. Twelve different Sharks hit the score sheet, though oddly enough Logan Couture didn’t register a single point. Instead, Tommy Wingels and Tyler Kennedy scored two apiece while Reilly Smith responded with two goals for the Bruins. It’s been an uncharacteristically average season for Rask, who has now allowed 10 goals in his past two games. The B’s are certainly hurting for Zdeno Chara’s return on a night in which Claude Julien elected to spread the minutes around.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Anaheim Ducks (Frederik Andersen) at Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper), 8:00 PM
Colorado Avalanche (Reto Berra) at Winnipeg Jets (Michael Hutchinson*), 8:00 PM
Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price) at Chicago Blackhawks (Antti Raanta*), 8:30 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Friday
Stefan Noesen, RW (Achilles) – out four months.
Dany Heatley, LW (groin) – no return date set.
Ben Lovejoy, D (finger) – out 1-2 weeks.
Sheldon Souray, D (wrist) – out for the season.
Eric Brewer, D (foot) – no timetable for return.
Francois Beauchemin, D (broken finger) – out 4-6 weeks.
Jason LaBarbera, G (hand) – out 2-3 weeks.
John Gibson, G (groin) – no return date set.
Ryan Suter, D (mumps) – game-time decision; questionable.
Matt Cooke, LW (hip flexor) – no return date set.
Gustav Olofsson, D (shoulder) – out four months.
Brad Stuart, D (hamstring) – game-time decision; questionable.
Marc-Andre Cliche, C (oblique) – out two weeks.
Jamie McGinn, LW (back) – no timetable for return.
Jesse Winchester, LW (concussion) – no timetable for return.
Ryan Wilson, D (shoulder) – out for the season.
John Mitchell, C (leg) – did not play Thursday; doubtful.
Ben Street, C (hand) – no timetable for return.
Patrick Bordeleau, LW (back) – no timetable for return.
Dennis Everberg, RW (shoulder) – no timetable for return.
Grant Clitsome, D (undisclosed) – out two weeks.
Zach Bogosian, D (lower body) – out 4-6 weeks.
Toby Enstrom, D (lower body) – out three weeks.
Patrick Sharp, LW (leg) – will return next week.
Corey Crawford, G (left foot) – out 2-3 weeks.
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D (broken kneecap) – no timetable for return.
Tyler Johnson, C, Tampa Bay – With another assist last night in a 5-0 win over the Sabres, Johnson stretched his points streak to five games, during which he’s collected seven points. The undrafted former Spokane Chiefs star now has 20 assists on the season, good for fourth in the league. With so many options on the power play and Stamkos acting as the main trigger man, Johnson has just two power play points, but regardless the versatile 5-foot-9 forward has become an indispensible part of Jon Cooper’s attack.
Joffrey Lupul, LW, Toronto – When he’s healthy he’s great, but the problem is that he’s never healthy. Traditionally, Lupul’s been excellent coming back from injury and it’s no different this time with five points in four games since his return. When he gets back into game shape and gets stronger Randy Carlyle will ramp up his ice time and Lupul’s shown point-per-game ability in previous years. Just hope he stays healthy.
Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg – The talented forward hasn’t set the league on fire this year like many thought he would, but the former Barrie Colts star has just two assists in his past six games. He managed an assist last week against Boston, but offense has come few and far between. Savvy fantasy owners who made Scheifele a late draft pick are certainly disappointed, especially those thinking that they found a diamond in the rough.
Kari Lehtonen, G, Dallas – Lehtonen has been so terrible that Lindy Ruff opted to start Rynnas against the red-hot Red Wings. The Finnish netminder has allowed 10 goals in his past two games, though some of the blame has to be placed on the team’s porous defense. Lehtonen sits fourth in the league with 21 appearances, but his 65 goals against are a league-worst and has just nine wins to show for his efforts.
Mike Santorelli, C, Toronto – Like Lupul, when Santorelli is healthy, he’s great. A versatile forward who can play center or the wing and has the dogged and aggressive mentality that Carlyle loves, Santorelli has been on fire with nine points in his past five games. He’s a streaky scorer so ride the hot hand while it lasts then dump him once the cold spell kicks in.