Ryan Miller's sensational play continued last night - he now has back to back shutouts, after stopping 39 shots against the Sharks.
Cody Hodgson's line produced the only goal, but he didn't factor in to it. Stafford scored, from Ennis. Hodgson played over 18 minutes - by far his highest total of the season.
The Blues/Canucks game was very tight checking (another word for boring). Luongo was really good, Elliott was pretty good, but not tested all that much.
Vlad Sobotka had a standout game for the Blues - no points (shutout by Luongo), but he was physical and creating offensively.
Zack Kassian was really solid on the fourth line, throwing his weight around, and creating a few chances too. If he can keep this level of play going, he will find his way onto the second line for the playoffs, I have a hunch. He had four shots and four hits in just over 11 minutes of ice time.
The Sedin twins offensive struggles continue. The Blues played them really tight and didn't give them much space. I think it is a combination of fatigue and preparation for playoffs, but now could be a time in a one-year league to look to move them for a streakier forward (if you need to take the risk to win).
Marc-Andre Gragnani played over 15 minutes. He made a few mistakes defensively but showed why he has been so productive at the lower levels - fantastic skater, good passer, really aggressive offensively.
Steve Mason posted a shutout last night. If that isn't a sign of the return of the dead puck era, I don't know what is.
In an absolutely irrelevant season, Ryan Johansen continues to see scraps for ice time (8:14 last night).
Three points for Claude Giroux, and two for Jagr. Jagr now trails Mario Lemieux by 80 points for 7th overall on the career list – will he get there?
Matt Read, who is finally healthy after battling some nagging issues, and two goals and a helper – he also had five shots on goal. I believe Dobber mentioned the minor injuries a few days ago, and mentioned he would be worth watching now that he was healthy – if so, good call.
Two assists for Casey Cizakas, a prospect who I have mentioned in a few past Prime Cuts. He’s a big, strong, two-way center in the Islanders organization, and he is showing that he has much more offense this season than many had anticipated.
So….. the Jets were pretty decent last night, eh? Eric Gudbranson had a nice hit on Wheeler, but the rest of his game was ugly – a few bad turnovers and a minus-4 rating to reflect that.
Evander Kane is emerging as a star a few years before some had expected – four points for him in his 12th multi-point game of the season. He also had nine shots on goal.
Mark Stuart had a great roto game for the few who own him – two assists, plus-4, two shots on goal, and 14 PIM.
Blake Wheeler’s under-the-radar season continues with two more points.
Bogosian had an assist in his first game in over two weeks. He played over 22 minutes as well.
Montreal allowed three Minnesota goals in the final five minutes of the third period (some brutal non calls by the officials, especially near the end of the game), but they ended up getting the win in the shootout.
Enforcer Matt Kassian (no relation to Zack) scored his first two career goals. Nick Johnson had three helpers – he had a good stretch earlier in the season, but like most Minnesota forwards has been ice cold.
Foster, Gilbert, and Spurgeon all saw over three minutes of power play time (Foster saw the most with over five).
David Desharnais had three points for the Habs – he has been such an important part of their limited success this season. Is he the guaranteed second line center next season? I think he has to be with the way he has played.
Pacioretty had a goal, an assist, and seven shots on goal. He’s been by far the best Montreal skater all season.
Is there a team in the league that wishes they could hit fast forward for a few years more than the Wild? They have stellar prospects at both forward and defense, and not much at all there right now in terms of NHL talent.
Glad I flipped Lecavalier for Krejci a few weeks ago – got both younger and better (the second being debatable). Krejci had a hat trick last night against the Devils.
Seguin and Lucic both had two points. Brian Rolston played 15 minutes but didn’t really do anything worth noting, aside from take ice time away from Benoit Pouliot (less than nine minutes and still minus-2).
Clarkson, Elias, and Parise all scored for the Devils. If you asked me back in October who would have the most goals out of those three, I don’t think I’d go with Clarkson (he has 25, Parise has 24, and Elias has 20). Lupul is probably the comeback story of the year, but is there a bigger offensive surprise than Elias?
Brad Marchand was pointless last night, but he is on pace for a great roto season – over 30 goals, 30 assists, 65 points, plus-36, 120 PIM, and close to 180 shots on goal.
Marek Zidlicky had no points and was a minus-2 – he saw the bulk of the PP minutes among Devils defensemen. Zidlicky has looked awful in New Jersey, but the sample size of three games is much too small to make any sort of definitive statement.
Without Callahan, Hagelin saw 18 minutes of ice time (four shots, no points). Prust saw almost 15 minutes and scored a goal. Stepan and Gaborik continue to click, combining for four points and six shots on goal.
John Scott made his Rangers debut – no word on how intimidated the Hurricanes were.
The ice time Justin Faulk continues to receive is insane – he was minus-2 last night against the Rangers, but he doesn’t even turn 20 for a few more weeks.
Jiri Tlusty continues his impressive stretch, recording an assist, three shots on goal, and one hit (reaching a bit with the last one there). He saw over three minutes on the PK too, which interested me a bit. He was regarded as a two-way forward, and it is showing right now.
Jeff Skinner scored a goal and played over seven minutes on the PP. Strike while the iron is hot – a future 45+ goal scorer, could probably be had for a bit below value right now.
Nik Backstrom left early in the first period with a leg injury against Montreal last night. I’ll update his injury status when more news is made available.
Lidstrom won’t play until next week as he is suffering from a deep bone bruise. More opportunity for the likes of Kronwall, Kindl, and Brendan Smith (a prospect I am really high on).
Kris Letang looks to have suffered another concussion from the Nystrom hit, and he won’t play on Saturday. The Penguins are cursed this season, but they continue to win (goaltending, coaching, and Malkin, in no particular order).
Leland Irving was called up by the Flames, and he will play against the Ducks tonight. He seems to have leapt past Henrik Karlsson on the depth chart.
Mike Smith was named the NHL’s 1st star of the month for February – no doubt about this pick. He stopped 315 of the 331 shots faced (Dwayne Roloson usually allows that amount on 20 shots).
The Wild signed Charlie Coyle this week. He was a huge piece of the Brent Burns trade, and is among the best forward prospects in hockey. Big, strong forward with a well-rounded offensive skill set. I’ll have more on him in my 15 Prime Cuts this Sunday evening/Monday morning.
I continue to mention Cory Conacher – the ink is almost dry on a two-year, two-way deal with the Lightning. The undersized forward is having a hell of an AHL debut, and he should get a long look for a top six spot with the Lightning next year. As a small guy, he has still amassed 90 PIM in 57 games.
I’d be really pleased as a Ryan Miller owner with his game in Anaheim on Wednesday night. As I said yesterday, it was arguably his best game of the season. He’s been wildly inconsistent.
I spoke with Mike McMahon, a reporter who covers the Merrimack Warriors of the NCAA. The Canucks have a prospect goalie there, Joe Cannata, who is having a sensational season. McMahon even goes as far to compare him to Cam Ward in terms of playing style. Read our interview here.
Not surprisingly, Ray Emery is starting in goal for the Hawks tonight. Justin Goldman’s piece on him from yesterday is terrific.
Cody Hodgson skated with Tyler Ennis, and I think the two could make a nice duo in the future, especially with a big winger on the other side. Hodgson isn’t fast but he is really smart and can set his teammates up in great spots.
Brenden Morrow is back skating and could return to the Dallas lineup soon (no firm timetable yet).
Kings right wing prospect Linden Vey was named AHL rookie of the month for February, recording 14 points in 12 games. He’s not far off from the NHL. Vey had 116 points in the WHL last season with the Medicine Hat Tigers. A brief scouting report:
“Vey loves to hit, is a good skater with solid balance and knows how to shake off defenders to get his shot on net. His stick handling skills in tight situations are remarkable and the best part, like all young players who reach their potential in the NHL, is his knack for knowing what to do with the puck once he gets open – be it a tape to tape pass to the open man or finding the back of the net.
What he lacks in elite speed, he makes up in hockey sense and slick moves to get clear. This is the key to his game and why this writer believes he will accomplish his goal and do so in a big way”
One of the best lines in hockey right now – Landeskog-O’Reilly-Downie in Colorado. Three tough, skilled, physical two-way players. Peter Mueller can’t find a spot in the top six, and he doesn’t really play a bottom six kind of game. Thanks to O’Reilly’s emergence, Duchene has moved to wing. He’s really fast and can get after loose pucks, but he is great rushing the puck up the ice (typically the job of a center).
Craig Anderson is avoiding discussing his injury with the media – what is your take?
This is hilarious – Verne Fiddler had the Canucks coaching staff and players cracking up with his “angry Kevin Bieksa” impression… I’d have to say he is spot on, too:
Not Setoguchi’s finest moment…. Carey Price’s postgame quote: "You feel bad for the guy... Almost."
Florida’s defensive strategy last night – don’t play any: