2/23/12 - Studs & Duds
Thursday had its fair share of action in the NHL. Between the 9 intriguing games and excitement off of the ice, there was no shortage of stars and strugglers. Here are the Studs and Duds of Thursday, February 23, 2012:
3) King Carter I
Assuming his physical is deemed acceptable, Jeff Carter will be boarding a plane for LAX faster than the speed of light. Carter, the former 46 goal-scorer has had an underwhelming campaign in Columbus, riddled with controversy and injury. For weeks, people have been speculating that Carter could be on the move, with Los Angeles emerging as a favourite. On Thursday, the Jeff Carter saga finally ended.
Carter was shipped to the Kings for Jack Johnson and a 1st. This deal earns a "stud" position because it benefits both teams. The Kings address their struggling offence, and gain a sniping center that has chemistry with Mike Richards. On the other side of the deal, the Jackets get a very smart offensive-defenceman, and on a long term deal. In addition, they gain valuable cap space and a 1st rounder to boot. It will take time to see who wins this deal, but on the surface it seems like a sensible deal from both sides.
2) Laddy and the Jets
With games in hand over all the other bubble teams and striving to make the playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets have understood that every game is a must-win. For the most part, they have delivered. On Thursday, the Jets continued to do so, with a decisive 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Out of the team, there was no player who was more prevalent than that of captain Andrew Ladd. The 26 year old forward was dominant, scoring his 20th of the season, adding 2 assists, and firing 7 shots on goal. If the Jets are going to continue this fantastic run, Ladd will have to keep up his strong play and be the best captain he can be. He is certainly doing a fantastic job now.
However, the Jets did show signs of struggling late, letting in 3 goals in the last 9 minutes. While it was too late for the Lightning to come back at that point, it shows that the Jets do need to work on holding a lead, after blowing a 5-4 lead on Tuesday night.
1) Future Western Playoff Matchups Are Awesome
The top two games on Thursday were both potential playoff matchups in the Western Conference. Not surprisingly, each game was exciting and very close. The first was a potential first round series, between the St. Louis Blues and the Nashville Predators. The two Central Division rivals could possibly be the two most evenly matched teams in the league, and did not disappoint. In a goaltending duel and end-to-end action, the teams had to decide the match in a shootout. Despite having two of the hottest goalies in the league, one team to prevail and that was the St. Louis Blues. Despite a strong effort by the Preds, Oshie and McDonald scored for the Blues to win the game. If this is a playoff series, be sure to watch all of the games. They're all nailbiters.
The second game is a potential Western Conference final. The Detroit Red Wings hosted the Vancouver Canucks, a contest between the two top teams in the league. In a game that involved constant action, a goal with 16 seconds left by Daniel Sedin tied the game at 3, sending that too to a shootout. In a goaltender's shootout duel, Alex Burrows ended it and ended the Red Wings' home winning streak at 23. When the playoffs come around and there is no more shootout, hope that this is the conference final. These teams have competitive games that are tons of fun to watch.
3) Shun the Shootout
Of the first 5 games ending tonight, 4 of them went to overtime. All being close, the teams battled back and forth for the win. However, after 4 games ended 65 minutes of exciting play, their scores were still tied. How a winner was decided? In a gimmick. While the shootout is fun to watch, the fact that close games are being decided by a skills competition seems somewhat outlandish. Perhaps there is no other way to end the game, but that should be a huge discussion at the next General Manager Meetings.
2) Struck Down
Amidst the Tampa Bay Lightning's fire sale, the team has managed to stay competitive. Despite trading away Pavel Kubina, Dominic Moore, and Steve Downie, the team has remained competitive against tougher teams. However, the Lightning had the tough task of playing at the MTS Center in Winnipeg. While some teams manage to be successful in the 'Peg, Tampa was not on Thursday.
In an embarrassing performance, the Lightning got beat 4-3. With the only bright spot being Steven Stamkos' 43rd of the year and a couple late goals, Dwayne Roloson allowed 4 on 18 shots, and the Lightning only mustered 15 shots on goal through the first 2 periods. While they came on strong, the team is clearly a seller at the deadline, and names such as Brewer, Malone, and Roloson could be on their way out.
1) Odd Injuries
The NHL has seen its fair shares of injuries this season. There have been injuries to stars such as Claude Giroux, injuries from blatant headshots like the one sustained by Nicklas Backstrom, but most of all, there have been weird injuries. Taylor Hall was cut after falling in practice, Jamie Benn had an appendectomy, and even Dustin Penner was injured eating pancakes. On Thursday, two more injuries were added to the list.
The first occurred late Wednesday night, when Senators' goaltender Craig Anderson cut himself on his blocker hand while preparing a meal after their win against the Capitals. While Anderson is apparently no Iron Chef, he is a rock in the crease. He's gone for 10 or more days, and his 4 wins in his last 4 games will certainly be missed. The second injury went was courtesy of Jonathan Toews, after he crashed his car into a pole around 10 a.m. central time. Toews, who was already battling an upper-body injury, was taken away in an ambulance without any major injuries. He should be fine and return once his upper body is healed. Regardless, it was an odd injury that is rarely seen in the NHL.