Around the League
The Flames picked David Schlemko off waivers last weekend and the move paid immediate dividends Thursday when the 27-year-old with nine goals in 213 career NHL games scored in the eighth round of a shootout to secure a 4-3 win over the Bruins.
Not only did Schlemko score, he pulled off the one-handed Forsberg move, beating Tuukka Rask cleanly and channeling some circa 2005 Marek Malik with a ballsy and glorious move in a must-win game for Calgary. It’s moments like these that serve as reminders that even with 20 games left to go in the season, some of the league’s clutch moments and heroes have yet to be realized. With the win, Calgary moves into third place in the Pacific, tied with the Kings with 74 points but leading the tiebreaker in wins, 35 to 31. The Kings were also winners Thursday night with Anze Kopitar scoring the shootout winner against Montreal, keeping them in the playoff race while distancing themselves from the Sharks, who have 72 points.
Wearing Dion Phaneuf’s old No. 3, perhaps Schlemko can provide the boost for Calgary to sneak into the playoffs, cushioning the blow of losing captain Mark Giordano (torn bicep) for the season. At a time when the smallest mistakes can create the biggest faults and the smallest of edges can be the difference between a win and a loss, anything that could happen may happen.
The Canucks fought hard to force overtime against Arizona but couldn’t get the full two points, and sit just two points ahead of Calgary. Though the team feels it has two capable timeshare goalies in Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, goaltending hasn’t been a strong point for the Canucks recently. Calgary is likewise having trouble deciding between Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo, and whichever team gets their goaltending situation settled first will have the edge.
Jason Pominville scored two goals to give Minnesota a 2-1 win over the Caps on Thursday night and now sit one point ahead of the Jets in the wild card race. Even with a depleted Blackhawks roster, it’s unlikely the Wild will catch them and claim the third Central Division spot, which makes hanging onto the lead in the wild card race all the more important.
A win for the Caps would’ve pushed them into a tie for third place in the Metro Division, which is shaping up to be quite a four-team battle even though it was considered one of the weaker divisions coming into the season. A win over Nashville by the Islanders means the boys of Long Island retain top spot in the Atlantic, though the Rangers have three games in hand. With the loss, Nashville one again relinquishes the league lead to Anaheim.
Friday game notes:
- New Jersey’s Schneider has been excellent in his past seven appearances at home, allowing just 10 goals and recorded two shutouts. Bobrovsky makes his return, but it doesn’t really matter who is in net since nearly one-third of the BJ’s regular players are hurt or unavailable.
- Ward wasn’t very good in a 5-2 loss to Chicago but he’s begun to take back the playing time he ceded to Khudobin earlier this season. Either way, both goalies have a tough matchup against Minnesota, winners of four straight and seven of their past eight. Dubnyk made 24 saves for a win last night with Backstrom as the backup and Kuemper as the healthy scratch, which means that if the Wild rest Dubynk, Backstrom may get the start with Kuemper backing up. It’s an odd three-man juggle in Minnesota.
- Johnson will make his Sabres debut and the Sens have yet to name their starter, but it would be a little odd to not start Hammond, who has won six of his past seven games and is coming off a 35-save win over Winnipeg. The Sens should go with the hot hand and shouldn’t have trouble dispatching the minor league squad masquerading as the Sabres.
- Howard was brilliant with 39 saves in his previous start, a 2-1 win over the Rangers, and should get the call again. Karri Ramo has started five straight games for the Flames but is unlikely to play the second half of a back-to-back tonight against Detroit. Hiller is struggling and doesn’t have a good chance of beating the Wings.
- Scrivens allowed five goals in his previous start against LA but the Oilers don’t have a better option. Crawford rarely loses the easy ones and he’s coming off two straight wins over the Hurricanes and Panthers.
- Fleury has allowed three goals in three consecutive starts while the Ducks have rattled off four straight wins while giving up just five goals in the process. The Ducks will be fresher with new bodies and Andersen but it’s likely the game will turn into a barnburner. Both teams have lots of skill and speed to burn.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky*) at New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider*), 7:00 PM
Minnesota Wild (Niklas Backstrom) at Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM
Buffalo Sabres (Chad Johnson*) at Ottawa Senators (Andrew Hammond), 7:30 PM
Calgary Flames (Jonas Hiller) at Detroit Red Wings (Jimmy Howard), 7:30 PM
Edmonton Oilers (Ben Scrivens) at Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford*), 8:30 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Anaheim Ducks (Frederik Andersen), 10:00 PM
* = confirmed
Injury News For Teams Playing Friday
Columbus Blue Jackets
Jack Skille, RW (shoulder surgery) – out for the season.
David Clarkson, RW (torn oblique) – out 4-6 weeks.
Matt Calvert, LW (concussion) – no return date set.
Boone Jenner, LW (back) – no return date set.
Ryan Murray, D (ankle) – skating; no return date set.
Jeremy Morin, LW (upper body) – skating; no return date set.
Kevin Connauton, D (foot) – will not play.
New Jersey Devils
Ryane Clowe, LW (concussion) – out for the season.
Bryce Salvador, D (back) – out indefinitely.
Keith Ballard, D (concussion) – out indefinitely.
Josh Harding, G (illness) – out indefinitely.
Jason Zucker, LW (broken clavicle) – out three months.
Marco Scandella, D (undisclosed) – out one week.
Ryan Carter, C (shoulder) – skating; no return date set.
Matt Cooke, LW (hernia) – skating; no return date set.
Jared Spurgeon, D (concussion) – did not play Thursday; questionable.
Nino Niederreiter, LW (lower body) – did not play Thursday; questionable.
Ryan Murphy, D (ankle sprain) – out indefinitely.
Zac Dalpe, RW (personal) – did not practice Thursday; questionable.
Patrick Kaleta, RW(lower body) – skating; no return date set.
Josh Gorges, D (lower body) – no return date set.
Mark Pysyk, D (heart) – no return date set.
Zemgus Girgensons, C (ankle) – no return date set.
Evander Kane, LW (shoulder surgery) – out for the season.
Cody McCormick, C (blood clots) – out indefinitely.
Robin Lehner, G (concussion) – no return date set.
Clarke MacArthur, LW (concussion) – no return date set.
Chris Phillips, D (soreness) – no return date set.
Chris Neil, RW (thumb) – out 4-5 weeks.
Zack Smith, C (wrist) – practiced Tuesday; game-time decision.
Jared Cowen, D (illness) – did not play Wednesday; questionable.
Craig Anderson, G (hand) – did not start Wednesday; questionable.
Ladislav Smid, D (upper body) – skated Thursday; no return date set.
Joni Ortio, G (lower body) – out 6-8 weeks.
Mark Giordano, D (bicep) – out for the season.
Paul Byron, C (lower body) – out indefinitely.
Detroit Red Wings
Jonathan Ericsson, D (soreness) – did not practice Thursday; probable.
Darren Helm, C (oblique) – no return date set.
Johan Franzen, RW (concussion) – no return date set.
Taylor Hall, LW (leg) – out six weeks.
Anton Lander, C (shoulder) – no return date set.
Iiro Pakarinen, RW (knee) – no return date set.
Tyler Pitlick, RW (spleen) – practiced Monday; no return date set.
Nikita Nikitin, D (shoulder) – practiced Monday; no return date set.
Viktor Fasth, G (knee) – out indefinitely.
Patrick Kane, RW (left clavicle) – out 12 weeks.
Johnny Oduya, D (upper body) – game-time decision; doubtful.
Pascal Dupuis, RW (blood clots) – out indefinitely.
Olli Maatta, D (shoulder surgery) – out for the season.
Christian Ehrhoff, D (concussion) – did not play Wednesday; questionable.
James Wisniewski, D (foot) – game-time decision; questionable.
Korbinian Holzer, D (concussion) – game-time decision; questionable.
Sami Vatanen, D (leg) – out 2-3 weeks.
Tim Jackman, RW (lower body) – out 4-6 weeks.
Matt Beleskey, LW (shoulder) – no return date set.
Sheldon Souray, D (wrist) – out indefinitely.
Joe Pavelski, RW, Sharks – Little Joe is on a big four-game point streak for the Sharks, who are fighting for a playoff spot. Pavelski has assists in four straight games and has been held pointless in just three games in February. When the going gets tough Pavelski always seems to come through, and right now he’s trying to will the Sharks into the playoffs.
Andrej Nestrasil, RW, Hurricanes – The former Red Wings castoff has been relatively quiet in Carolina this season but is currently on a three-game point streak with back-to-back games with two assists. He has 15 points on the season and five of those have come in the last week. The Hurricanes are auditioning for next year and several young players could end up seizing the opportunities. He’s listed as a center in most leagues but doesn’t play there.
Curtis McElhinney, G, Blue Jackets – It’s going to be tough for the BJ’s to win games for the rest of the year, but it doesn’t help when McElhinney goes winless in his past five starts with 15 goals allowed. The team’s defense isn’t very good right now but McElhinney isn’t giving the team a chance. The good news is that Bobrovsky back tonight.
Thomas Vanek, LW, Wild – The Austrian sniper has one goal in his past eight games and was held to just one shot on goal in his past three games. After two 40-goal campaigns in Buffalo and a $50 million payday (thanks to Edmonton in 2007), Vanek has regressed to a borderline second-line forward. He has 39 points on the season despite signing a $19.5 million, three-year contract with Minnesota this past summer.
Michael Del Zotto, D, Flyers – Del Zotto scored his ninth of the season last night in a surprise 3-1 win over the Blues. Even though the Flyers’ playoff chance look slim, Del Zotto still has lots of reasons to finish the season strong as an impending RFA. After a disastrous campaign last year Del Zotto has re-established himself as a promising offensive defenseman. He’ll want to cash in this summer.