02/28/12 - Studs & Duds
With a multitude of games in the NHL tonight, stars shone while falters failed. Here are the studs and duds for Tuesday, February 28th, 2012. However, this will not include the two late games. If anything interesting happens, I'll update in a separate post.
3) Hank the Tank
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the top teams in the league. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the worst. On paper, a matchup between these two must seem like an extreme mismatch, however it was not. Tied 1-1 heading into the 3rd period, Derek Mckenzie scored to put the Jackets up by 1. With the hockey world in shock, Henrik Zetterberg decided to put matters into his own hands.
Zetterberg recorded the primary assist on the game tying goal, and scored the one immediately after to spark the Wings on a 4 goal run. In turn, Detroit won the game and survived a scare. With the win, the Wings got their 87th point, and have yet again contended for the top spot in the West.
2) Troy the Saviour
With every game being more and more important in the close Eastern Conference, the Capitals had a must win against the New York Islanders. Halfway through the 3rd period, it seemed like a lost cause with the team down by 2. However, somebody stepped up, and it wasn't the likely candidate. Troy Brouwer scored 2 goals in the final 4 minutes to send the game to overtime, where Alex Ovechkin netted the game winner. The team has been criticized for having little heart, but it is very clear that Troy Brouwer showed a lot of that tonight.
1) Leaning On Lehner
After Craig Anderson was sidelined with an injury resulted from cooking, the Ottawa Senators had to find a replacement in goal. Despite signing Ben Bishop, the team decided to give Robin Lehner a try, and against the powerhouse Bruins. The Bruins, who are one of the top offensive teams in the league, were expected by many to light up the young goalie. The team fired 32 shots at him, but the Swede surprised all.
Lehner recorded a shutout and Erik Karlsson scored again to lift the Senators over the Boston Bruins. Boston might have 4 games in hand, but the Sens pulled within 1 point of the division lead. Some predicted Ottawa to make the playoffs, but nobody thought they'd have a season quite like this. If Karlsson stays hot and their goalies produce, this team could pull an upset in round one.
3) Backstrom to Basics, Perhaps?
Nicklas Backstrom did not have the game he had hoped for. With the team's playoff hopes hanging on, Backstrom completely under performed against one of the worst offensive teams in the league. The Finnish goaltender allowed 4 goals on 15 shots, en route to a 4-0 loss. With the loss, the Wild severely hurt their playoff chances, and better goaltending could have helped the team against the Kings.
2) Deadline Deal (No) Dividends?
The past week, there have been plenty of trades. On Tuesday, many new acquisitions made their debut or second outing for their respective teams. Among the notables were Jeff Carter, Jack Johnson, Paul Guastad, Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian Rolston, Matt Gilroy, Mike Commodore, Tom Gilbert, and Brian Lee. To say their nights were average would be an understatement. Combined, the 9 players got no points and a couple penalties, adding very little to their respective clubs. While this will likely change with time, it was rather amusing to see all of these new additions fail to contribute.
1) Not the Greatest Start
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been on a very publicized freefall. With inconsistent goaltending, shady defence, and a lack of scoring depth, the team is in danger of not making the playoffs for a 7th consecutive season. However, a victory over the Florida Panthers would have made any hope a much larger possibility. Unfortunately, the game was over just as it started.
Similar to Saturday night, the Leafs surrendered two goals in the opening minutes, to put the game out of reach and lose the game 5-3. Luke Schenn fanned on a pass only 13 seconds in, and Mike Komisarek made an ill-advised pinch to lead to 2 separate chances, both impossible for James Reimer to stop. If this game was an indication of anything, it proves that Toronto is not a playoff team, and will need lots of luck to make it this season.