Although just three games were played yesterday, all had exciting moments to make up for the lack of action. Carolina and Washington went to a thrilling shootout, Atlanta exploded in the first period against Boston, and Detroit and Columbus locked up in the last half of a home-and-home Central Division tilt.
The Night that Was:
That demotion for Marcus Johansson seems to have done him well. Over his first six games this season, the young Swede had just one point in six games. Since being recalled, he’s got four points in his last nine and three in his last two when his third goal of the season opened the scoring. Carolina overcame that first period deficit with goals from Erik Cole and Eric Staal, but Alexander Ovechkin was the only player to score in the shootout, as a 38 save performance by Cam Ward got his team just a single point in a 3-2 loss.
After playing the hero so often during last year’s playoffs, Dustin Byfuglien hasn’t lost his flair for the dramatic, even as a defenseman. With nine goals on the season, five of them (including last night’s goal) have been game-winners—the same amount he had during four rounds of action last year, despite playing on the blueline. Quietly, Evander Kane also picked up his ninth of the season, putting him on pace for 30 goals in just his second NHL year. Blake Wheeler had the only Boston goal as Ondrej Pavelec continues to frustrate shooters. He stopped 40 of 41 shots and has allowed just three goals over his last five games.
Detroit scored another win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night, and thanks to their two victories they now hold a four-point advantage in the Central division. The Wings did all of their scoring on even terms as RJ Umberger had the only power play goal for either team. Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen each had two assists as Dan Cleary, Valtteri Fillpula, Niklas Kronwall, and Darren Helm did the heavy lifting.
What’s on Tonight?
Five games in total as Carolina plays on back-to-back nights when they host Dallas, while it’s all-Canadian fun with Edmonton and Ottawa. There are also three divisional matchups: Pittsburgh at the Rangers, Minnesota at Calgary, and Los Angeles visiting the Ducks. Hopefully minus the orange-laden jerseys.
The Injury Bug:
Both Teemu Selanne and Lubomir Visnovsky are questionable for Anaheim’s game tonight. Selanne’s groin is acting up while Visnovsky is going through back spasms.
In a big blow to Colorado, Chris Stewart was lost to a broken left hand on the weekend. There’s currently no word as to how long the big, mean power forward will be out.
Mike Modano underwent surgery on his wrist this past weekend. A skate slashed it in a game against Columbus, causing some nerve damage and severing a tendon.
There also seems to be a bout of the flu circulating the NHL, and it has been for a few weeks. Nothing like the Oilers had a few years ago, but still powerful enough to knock guys out for a game or two.
Rumours and News Around the League:
Chris Chelios won’t be heading to the KHL. He had expressed an interest in playing for them, but no one came forward with a contract.
And according to the Vancouver Province, there could be some legs to the Kevin Bieksa-Washington Capitals rumour.
This one is just for personal reasons, but normally I don’t discuss the rumours on HockeyBuzz. Over the weekend though, I had looked at Andrew Cogliano and wondered if he would fit in with the Toronto Maple Leafs and their long, drawn-out search for a workable centre. Apparently HB was thinking the same thing. While it could be true, I backed off of my stance because of two reasons: 1) Cogliano would become the smallest Leafs centre at 5’10/180lbs and 2) Tim Brent, John Mitchell, and Mike Zigomanis can already fill the third or fourth line centre role.
The glut of players on the low lines for the Leafs makes adding another two-way centre difficult to justify, and while the size overall isn’t a problem, if the Leafs were to try and move Cogliano back into a purely offensive role, he would become the smallest of their top-six forwards on a unit that desperately needs a big, physical body to wear down defenses.
The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:
Niklas Kronwall did it all last night with a goal, a plus-two rating, four penalty minutes and four shots. It seemed like the night of the defenseman too, as Dustin Byfuglien had a whopping four points.
All Photos courtesy of YardBarker images.
Bryan Thiel is a columnist for Hockey54.com—The Face of the Game! and TooManyMenOnTheSite.com. If you want to get in contact with Bryan, e-mail him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.