Sportsnet.ca's Ian Mendes tweeted: Murray on Lehner vs Bishop for back-up job next season: "Now we have competition. Performance will dicate who will be that person."
Jack Johnson is making his debut with the Columbus Jackets as I write this and he's paired with James Wisniewski. He's already making his physical presence felt and his ability to move the puck will help his new team's transition game immensely.
Marek Zidlicky is also beginning his time with the New Jersey Devils in a separate game and the offensive defenceman is teamed up with defensive stalwart Anton Volchenkov. No power plays for Jersey in the first period, but clearly he'll be a PP1 regular with Kovalchuk, Parise, etc. Solid stretch run value in any format.
The Sens are down a goalie with this whole freak hand cutting accident of Craig Anderson, so with back-up Alex Auld's contract set to expire this summer we saw Bryan Murray go for more than just a stretch run rental. He acquired Ben Bishop, who is posting excellent numbers in the AHL (2.26/ .928 with six shutouts) and apparently (not 100% confirmed at this writing) signed him to a one-year, one-way deal. The price? A second round pick.
We knew there was no room for Bishop to advance in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, so now at least there's a chance for him to get his foot in the NHL door as a back-up to Anderson next season (in addition to fighting Auld for time this season while Anderson is out). This also seems to be a sign the Sens want even more development time for blue chip prospect Robin Lehner, who has seen his stats balloon in the AHL this season after last spring's outstanding Calder Cup/ MVP run.
Bishop talks about how he's excited to get his focus solely back on hockey, going with a team now vs. what would have been UFA status this summer and reuniting with Sens goaltending coach Rick Wamsley. Classy kid.
If you're a Lightning fan and you're wondering why Steve Yzerman didn't get Bishop, he told reporters that he wasn't willing to surrender a second round pick in this deal. "We've made our major moves here. As far as acquiring impact players, it's more likely at the draft"
Flames. Ouch. A 3-0 lead more than halfway through the game turns into a 5-4 shootout loss against the Flyers. Whoops.
I loved what HNIC showed shortly after this one finished though. Andrej Meszaros had rolled his eyes after another weak goal got by Ilya Bryzgalov early on, which they showed a few times during the game. But when Meszaros had a chance to score an easy one himself and didn't, we got to see good team spirit from Bryzgalov by giving Meszaros a tap and giving him some encouraging words. Bryz is fighting it, no question. I touched on that subject enough last week, but it's nice to see those good teammate moments highlighted.
Another matinee to kick off a tantalizing Saturday of NHL action and, yet again, it begins with a prodigious push from prominent Pittsburgher Evgeni Malkin. 3G, 1A, +3, 4 PIM and 5 SOG, including a dazzling effort where he danced through the entire Lightning squad and their extended family to make it 6-1 at the time in what ended up being an 8-1 shellacking. Linemates James Neal (3A) and Chris Kunitz (1G, 1A) added another five points, while Jordan Staal (2G, 1A) and Steve Sullivan (3A) picked up six skating together again. Staal has seven points in nine games since getting back into the lineup.
The only bright spot for Tampa Bay was Dwayne Roloson only suffered third degree burns from the bright red glare behind him all afternoon. Seriously though, at least Teddy Purcell kept it from being a shutout and his February totals have risen to 4-11-15 in only 12 GP. Ryan Malone has points in four of five, but if he’s on your team he’ll need to be fitted with an injury GPS to track whether he’s actually in or out of the lineup on any given evening.
Andy McDonald has a point in five of eight since being activated from his latest concussion. David Perron scored in regulation and has 12 points in 13 starts. Both guys converted their shootout chances in that 3-2 win over the Jets.
Dustin Byfuglien, Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane have six-game point streaks rolling along. Byfuglien has two-pointers in seven of his past nine with 15 multi-pointers in his 48 starts. Slag on his defensive game all you want, but that is downright dominance for poolies on the blueline. Wheeler scored twice today, has 51 points on the season and has 13 points on his current streak. Kane has 4-5-9 in that time.
Typical game for the Coyotes in that 3-1 win over the Oilers, in terms of getting another steady contribution from Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney. Vrbata has 13 points this month, while Whitney has 14 points in those 11 games. Martin Hanzal, who completes that trio, had a pair of assists here too. Keith Yandle has points in five of six, but he’s still 24 points shy of last year’s watershed mark of 59.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in his return from the latest shoulder injury. He said afterward it felt fine and he sure played like it, logging 21:34 TOI. He had Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky on his wings.
In his past two starts and one relief appearance, Michal Neuvirth has stopped 72 of his last 75 shots with wins in both starts. Caps beat the Leafs 4-2 and of note was Keith Aucoin, who tears it up and then some at the AHL level but has yet to do so in the NHL, winging it with Marcus Johansson and Alex Ovechkin. The trio combined for a pair of goals and Alexander Semin continued to build on his turnaround as well.
Mike Green has no points in five games back, but you have to cut the guy some serious slack with all the time he’s missed. He could still be strong down the stretch and if he’s turned the corner health-wise, he should, I believe, still be a seriously good deal in keeper leagues.
Sens lost to the Bruins again, but Erik Karlsson’s six-game point streak now includes 15 points. 15! He has 63 on the season. Jason Spezza has a point in eight in a row and has 19 in that span. Milan Michalek has 10 points in seven games and Daniel Alfredsson secured his first two-goal game since near the start of the season. His overall points totals have been solid for awhile now though.
Good night for Patrice Bergeron, who had 2G, 1A. That makes three straight seasons of at least 52 points and he’s only six back of recording his highest point total since ’06-7, before the concussion. On the opposite side of productivity? David Krejci scored tonight, but had just one other February point before this game. From mid-December all the way through the end of January he was insanely hot, but then the calendar flipped and blanks began to appear nightly. He certainly hasn’t been the only one struggling, but that’s a pretty dry stretch.
Ryan Callahan’s seventh GWG of the season also happened to be his 24th marker, which is a new career high. In the pursuit of shiny, round numbers it was also his 100th career goal. Rangers beat the Sabres 3-2 in overtime and the captain opened with Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin on his line. Marc Staal quietly has points in four of seven on D, while Michael Del Zotto has points in eight of 12 and he continues to see a steady diet of prominent power play time.
Derek Roy’s overall totals are miserable this season, make no mistake, but playing between Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville with the capaigns they’re having would be good for anyone and that's where the centre is these days. Roy has eight points in his past six clashes. Linemates Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis have points in four of five and five of six respectively.
Wojtek Wolski was dealt from the Rangers, where he’s been keeping a press box seat warm, to the Florida Panthers. Does his value go up? Sure. In the same way your odds of winning the lottery go up if you buy a ticket vs. not buying one. You still won’t win, but at least with a stake in the game there’s a chance you could come away with something. Wolski began the game with Shawn Matthias and Mike Santorelli on what’s effectively Florida’s third line. He had second unit power play time and he did manage to connect for the GTG late in the third period, which earned his team a point in the standings. Again though, it’s Wolski. Talented? Yes. Consistent? No.
Carolina *cough* lost that game 3-2 following the shootout and Jerome Samson, who has been paired with Eric Staal of late, has points in three of four. This was the first time in 10 February starts where Jiri Tlisty, also on that line, did NOT record a point. Justin Faulk, who does see some time with the man advantage on the blueline, has a point in five of eight.
Jeff Skinner’s totals have been far from overwhelming of late, but it’s just another window of opportunity to talk up his owner in your keeper league and see if a former untouchable is now at least available. It’s not like Skinner’s owner would be foolish enough to give him away in that setting, but sometimes the victory is just being able to actually GET those young stars in the first place during the times they struggle.
Steve Downie is really making a splash with the Avs. After three games, he’s already up to 2G, 3A, +5, 2 PIM, 5 hits, 12 SOG and, most importantly, three straight wins. He’s alongside the steady Ryan O’Reilly and surging rookie Gabriel Landeskog. The first-year winger scored twice today and has 7G, 4A in his past nine games. He also has 54 SOG in 11 games this month alone.
Crazy game though. Mike Babcock shuffled the lines when his team was trailing and instead of keeping Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi on Henrik Zetterberg’s wings, he shifted Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula there. The result? That trio accounted for three Wings’ goals in the third period and nearly gave Joe Sacco a heart attack. Avs hung on for the 4-3 win.
Kings whitewashed the Hawks 4-0 and while the story was set to be all about Jeff Carter’s debut with his new team (on the wing avec Mike Richards and Dwight King), it turned into the Dustin Brown show. Brown’s name has been bandied about in trade rumours like crazy of late, but today he turned in a forceful night with his third career hat trick and a career high in points with four. On the trade front, he offered this after the game: “I've been a King my whole career and I expect to be a King beyond the next few days.”
Jarret Stoll had a tortured four points to his name in 2012 before this three-assist result. Also of note... Jonathan Quick, who has been generally wondrous this season, earned his seventh career shutout. That’s a high for him after recording six last year.
Two-point games for each member of the Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski line was the lone bright spot for the San Jose Sharks, who gave up two late goals to the Preds and lost 6-2.
The trio of Sergei Kostitsyn with Mike Fisher and Martin Erat has been a steady force for Nashville and Jordin Tootoo continues to provide depth production for poolies. He has points in six of eight. That’s also actually nine straight games without a trip to the sin bin and he only has three minors dating back to his last “good” PIM game, which was January 5 against Dallas when he had 9 of them. He gets hits too, which is a big, inexpensive bonus for owners in those leagues. He was with Nick Spaling and Colin Wilson tonight.
Monday is the NHL trade deadline and I’ll be live tweeting deals and reaction to them as they happen. Should you be so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter.
Get a full rundown of tonight’s action in the Live NHL Recap, which runs nightly on Sportsnet.ca.