Angus here - one more post for the Province is up today. Handing out some (made up) hardware to a few Canucks players. Check it out and give it the thumbs up here. Thanks!
What’s your take on Milan Lucic clearly running Ryan Miller in a race for the puck tonight? Miller’s helmet came flying off as he went sprawling to the ice. The puck and play were around the faceoff dot to Miller’s right. Lucic received a charging minor, but what’s your general feeling when a goalie goes wandering? Miller had this to say to reporters after the game: "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of (s**t) I think Lucic is." And also, "Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It's unbelievable. ... That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of (s**t)."
Jeff Carter returned to action tonight and opened with Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger on the first line. That left Prospal-Letestu-Johansen/ Vermette-Pahlsson-Dorsett in the top nine. Ryan Johansen starred in this one though, with his first career multi-goal game at the NHL level. Nikita Nikitin was also in the line-up and he was paired with Fedor Tyutin. Not only did Nikitin pick up an assist, but he played a career high of just shy of 25 miutes. Top PP times with Carter back: Nash (3:36), Carter, (3:36), Wisniewski (3:33), Umberger (3:32), Tyutin (3:28). It’s also definitely worth noting that Steve Mason had a strong game. Dude needs some confidence and maybe Carter’s presence can help give this team a nudge in the right direction.
On the other side of that trade coin, Kris Russell scored in his debut with the Blues. He was paired with Roman Polak.
Three games for Ken Hitchcock. Two shutouts. Two wins. One OTL. Elliott was between the pipes tonight, but this is why I was excited for Jaroslav Halak when the coaching switch was announced. What Hitchcock did with Columbus was unreal, for both Steve Mason and Pascal Leclaire. He’s just a damn smart coach.
Dan Bylsma, another coach for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, used Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal together in the third period with his team trailing 3-0. Several wingers rotated in with that dynamic duo. It was James Neal on the line when the Pens collected their first goal. Staal and Matt Cooke were killing a penalty when Staal scored. Then it was Chris Kunitz with Staal and Malkin when PIT struck for No. 3. They lost the game 5-3 (see next paragraph on why), but fans love to see those two when they’re put together, especially when they produce so well.
Headed into Carolina’s game tonight Paul Maurice told The Raleigh News & Observer Eric Staal might be used some on the wing. “"Just trying to change the focus of the game to get him going again and get him skating a little bit more, free him up a little bit," Maurice said. "Clearly he's the driver of our offensive bus and we need to find a way to get him going." Maurice did have him winging it with Brandon Sutter and Chad LaRose, although both Sutter and Staal took faceoffs. Staal and LaRose combined for two clutch Carolina goals after Pittsburgh had erased a 3-0 hole. Jeff Skinner... wow. Another beauty game. Tuomo Ruutu, who’s on that line with Jussi Jokinen, had a pair of goals and it’ll be good to see him get something going offensively.
Lubomir Visnovsky owners had been suffering through a subpar season before learning the news that the talented blueliner will miss around a month with a broken right finger suffered Friday night near the end of the Canucks game. No surgery required. The upside is he’ll have time to rest the broken finger on his left hand that he endured a few weeks ago. Visnovsky is a power play TOI beast, so who will man the other point with Cam Fowler now? Francois Beauchemin and Luca Sbisa are next in line in terms of guys who currently see second unit time and Kurtis Foster might finally have the opportunity he needs to get something done. He’s had trouble even cracking the line-up this season, but his shot is a good power play tool.
Dustin Penner hasn’t done much this season, but he’ll be out with a hand injury for an unspecified length of time. Longer than day-to-day though. That moved Brad Richardson into the top six for tonight, with the lines opening Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams/ Richardson – Mike Richards – Dustin Brown.
Joni Pitkanen could miss a week with what may be an injured foot. Jamie McBain and Tomas Kaberle saw the most PP time this evening from the point.
Brooks Laich and Roman Hamrlik paired on defence? It happened tonight for the Caps. Here’s why.
Sheldon Souray and Trevor Daley were on the point of one power play unit for the Stars tonight, sans Alex Goligoski. Goligoski has been leading the team in PP TOI this season, with Daley, Souray and Stephane Robidas all within a few seconds of each other behind Goligoski. There’d be no better fit than Souray on the whole, IMO.
Niklas Kronwall didn’t start well offensively, but has crept up on poolies with a five-game point streak after tonight’s action. He’s still generally PP2 behind Nicklas Lidstrom and Ian White. White, incidentally, took a puck to the face as he dove to (successfully) prevent a goal and he left the game afterward. Johan Franzen scored again and has eight points in his past four outings.
1000 games for Barry Trotz behind Nashville’s bench. That’s truly just an incredible feat.
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