3/8/12 - Studs & Duds
A busy Thursday with 22 teams in action. Some shone, while few fell. Here are the Studs and Duds for Thursday, March 8th:
3) Jack & Johnson Redemption Inc.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Kings travelled east to play the Columbus Blue Jackets. On paper, the game seemed to be no more than just a playoff-bubble Kings against the basement-dwelling Blue Jackets. However, the interesting storyline that made this game so interesting was the fact that Columbus' blueliner Jack Johnson was prepared to play his former team for the first time since being traded. To add up to the hype, Columbus even offered to replace anybody's Carter nameplate with a Johnson nameplate for free. With that in mind, Johnson and the Windbreakers were prepared to Jeff Carter and the Regal Royals.
In a stunning performance, the Blue Jackets got revenge on Jeff Carter for his underwhelming time in Columbus, by winning 3-1. As a whole, the entire team played very well. The goaltending stopped 29 of 30 shots, Mark Letestu potted 2, and only 2 players recorded a negative rating. Most importantly, Jack Johnson scored the game winning goal by notching his 10th past Jonathan Bernier and extracting revenge on the team that dumped him.
Since the all-star break, Ilya Kovalchuk has been on fire. The Russian sniper has scored 24 points in 18 games, including a streak of 9 points in 3 games. He continued this remarkable stretch on Thursday night. In a 5-1 rout of the New York Islanders, Kovalchuk scored a hattrick (his 27th, 28th, and 29th) to lead the Devils to their win. Kovalchuk has had a pleasant change of pace for Devils' fans and fantasy owners alike, from his incredibly unimpressive 2010-2011 NHL season.
1) It's only a shutout...Why you heff to be mad?
Ilya Bryzgalov has received his fair share of criticism this year. People have booed him for his terrible numbers, others have mocked him for his long tirades, and some are sick of realizing that he's signed for 6 more years at over 42 million dollars. Amidst the controversy, some still forget that he is still a very good goaltender, that strived in Anaheim and Phoenix. On Thursday, he yet again reminded people of that.
Bryzgalov stopped 28 shots and recorded a shutout against the Florida Panthers. The win was his 4th straight in his 10th consecutive start, and his 2nd shutout in this stretch. There is no denying that a .903 save percentage is not acceptable, there is still hope that Bryz can come out clutch in the playoffs.
3) Avalanche of Poor Ratings
The line of Steve Downie, Ryan O'Reilly, and Gabriel Landeskog has been stellar since the arrival of the first name. However, every player has an off night, and these 3 had exactly just that. The three players combined for a -9 rating, and only 2 shots. To add to the horrible rating, a fourth player (Steffen Elliott) also recorded a -3.
2) You're no Hank, Marty
The New York Rangers expect nothing but stellar goaltending, and rightfully so. Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist looks primed to win the Vezina Trophy, and has the ability to steal games when the players in front of him don't excel. However, every goalie needs a night off and that was exactly what Lundy got. As a result, Marty Biron got the start against the Ottawa Senators, and did not do as well as the Rangers had hoped. Biron let in 3 goals on 21 shots, and was a main reason for the loss. The Rangers better hope that Lundqvist doesn't get injured for any reason, or they might have to deal with quite average goaltending in the playoffs and lose their serious advantage that they hold over others.
1) Evgeni ".750" Nabokov
The title here says it all. The New York Islanders are not a great team. They do have some very talented players in Tavares and Okposo, and also have some very talented prospects, but are not yet a great team. However, they have remained competitive and have beat some of the top teams in the league. However, in order to remain competitive they need solid goaltending, which did not come tonight. Nabokov let in 5 of 20, which included allowing 2 goals in a minute. Nabby is usually solid, but just was not up to the standards needed to win tonight.