Studs & Duds - Tuesday 3/26
Stepan Up And Getting Nashty
Derek Stepan netted 1 goal and 3 assists and Rick Nash scored 2 while assisting on 1 as the New York Rangers downed the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2, virtually ending the Flyers playoff hopes. Stepan and Nash were both a +3 on the night with Nash taking 5 shots and blocking 3 and Stepan taking 2 shots and 1 hit while winning 14 faceoffs. Michael Del Zotto also had a pair of assists was a +1, had 3 blocked shots and 2 hits; and Brad Richards had a goal and an assist was a +1 with a blocked shot and hit as well as 7 FOWs. Stepan now has 25 points this season and is firmly in second place in points on this team trailing Nash by 3. With 5 more minutes than Brad Richards last night and averaging nearly a minute and a half more per game on the season it appears that Stepan is wresting that number 1 center spot from Brad Richards much sooner than Glen Sather anticipated when he signed Richards to a 9 year $60 mil deal. The Rangers are still struggling for consistency and secondary, and tertiary, scoring and will continue to rely on a top 5 goals against per game to keep them in the hunt for that final playoff spot.
Kane Crushes Canes; Kane, Chicago Clear Calgary
Evander Kane powered his Winnipeg Jets over the Carolina Hurricanes last night with his 4 point effort. He had 1 goal, 3 assists, was a +2, had 2 PIMs, took 6 shots, blocked 1 shot and had 4 hits in a monster of a multi cat effort. The Jets are firmly in charge of their division at this point moving 6 points ahead of Carolina after this 4-1 win. Kane figured into every Jets goal and one of his assists was a PPP as well. Patrick Kane had a 2 assist night as his Chicago Blackhawks blanked the Calgary Flames 2-0. Patrick was also a +2 and took 2 shots. Patrick continues to remain around the top 5 in scoring this season only 2 points from 2nd and is a big part of the reason that Chicago remains atop the Western Conference.
Lupul Leads Leafs
Joffrey Lupul scored 2 goals on 2 shots with 2 blocked shots and 3 hits last night as Toronto beat Florida 3-2. Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel each assisted on both Lupul goals and going +1 each. Kessel had 3 shots and Bozak 2 shots as well as 1 blocked shot and 2 hits. Lupul now has goals in every game since coming back from his injury with an impressive 6 goals and 1 assist in his last 4 games. Toronto was in a bit of a free fall prior to Lupul coming back and were in danger of dropping down and out of a playoff spot. His return and boost to their offense seems to have halted that, not to mention the teams below them aren't exactly playing like they want to make the playoffs either.
Steven Stamkos, St. Louis Shoot, Score
Stamkos and St. Louis each had 1 goal and 1 assist to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Each finished a +1 on the night and had 1 blocked shot. St. Louis took 5 shots while Stamkos took 4 shots, 4 PIMs and won 13 of 16 faceoffs. Stamkos continues to lead the league in goals with 23 and is second in points with 43, while St. Louis is tied for third in points with 42. Looks like time is just about out for this team for this season, luckily St. Louis is looking like he can play into his 50s since it might take that long for this team to figure out the rest of this hockey thing.
Eberle, Edmonton Eliminate Early Expansion Entrant
Jordan Eberle led the way with 2 goals and 1 assist as the Oilers blanked the St. Louis Blues 3-0. Eberle was a +3 on the night with 2 PIMs, 4 shots and 1 hit. Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also got in on the action with Hall netting 1 goal and 2 assists and Nugent-Hopkins picking up 2 helpers. The pair were both +3 on the night with Hall also getting 3 shots and 1 blocked shot and Nuge with a shot, blocked shot and hit. Nikolai Khabibulin also stepped up big for the team stopping all 43 shots he faced. The win is timely for this team as they are 3 points out of a playoff spot and while the number of teams in competition for that spot make any chance at it a big hill to climb, it all starts with winning your games.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 of 25 saves last night before leaving the game to injury. Tomas Vokoun came in for the third period and stopped 12 of 12 shots as the Penguins beat Montreal 1-0.
Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky doubled the number of saves of Cory Schneider in last nights 0-1 shoot out loss to Vancouver. Bobrovsky made all 34 saves in regulation and overtime and at the other end Schneider made all 17 of his saves.
Flyers' Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek both had 2 points in last nights loss to the Rangers. After slow starts these two continue to come up big while their team continues to struggle.
Chicago's Ray Emery had a slow night stopping all 16 shots he faced. At 31 years old going into next season one has to wonder if he can parlay this seasons 'resurgence' into a starting or 1a gig somewhere.
Jamie, Joni, Jiri Junk; Semin Staal Suck
Jamie McBain, Joni Pitkanen and Jiri Tlusty were all -2 last night in Carolina's 4-1 loss to Winnipeg. Alexander Semin and Eric Staal didn't do any better each going -3 on the night. Justin Peters had a rough night allowing 4 goals on 35 shots for a .886 SV%. A team picked to be at the top of their division and contend for a top spot in the East coming into this season Carolina appears to have it's hands full just trying to get into the playoffs. They are still in the hunt for sure, however, they are going to need to clamp down on their defensive game if they want to get very far if they do make the playoffs.
Bryzgalov, Bad Breaks
Bryzgalov faced down Carl Hagelin and stoned his breakaway backhander on the first shift of the game. After that things just didn't go quite as well for him, as he allowed 5 goals on 31 shots for an .839 SV% in the Flyers 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers last night. Philadelphia is now 7 points behind the Rangers for that final playoff spot and are slowly on their way toward elimination. Bryzgalov isn't to blame for all of the Flyers problems this season, but like many of his predecessors he also doesn't appear to be the solution to their goaltending curse.
Allen Allows A Lot
Jake Allen was pulled less than halfway through the Blues game against Edmonton after allowing 3 goals on the first 7 shots he faced. Allen had an 8-2 record coming into the game and a 2.26 GAA and .915 SV%, and with the struggles of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott had started 11 of the last 15 games for the Blues. Older goalies have tough outings and at 22 it is not surprising to see Allen throw up a stinker after being solid for so many games. Halak could be quietly poised to take back his starting gig depending on how the next few games go for both Halak and Allen. One way or another St. Louis needs their goalies to buckle down as their playoff spot is in no way guaranteed given how close the Western teams are in points.
Odds & Ends
Timmonen Tops Thousand
Last week Kimmo Timonen played his 1000th NHL game and the Flyers organization honored him last night prior to the game against the Rangers. He was joined on the ice by his family during the ceremony, including his parents who both flew in from his native Finland. Kimmo became the 6th Finnish player to make it to 1000 games in the NHL.
Nash Nets Nice Number
Rick Nash scored his 300th career goal last night in the game against Philadelphia. It came on his first goal of the night.
Tortorella Top Thirty
John Tortorella became the 30th NHL coach last night to get 400 wins.