Goalies: 6-10

6 – Craig Anderson

Anderson was one of the real feel-good stories of last season, leading the Senators to overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final after missing much of the regular season to be be his wife’s side as she battled cancer. But Anderson was no flash in the pan – he’s quietly been very good for a while now. Since arriving in Ottawa in February 2011 from Colorado for Brian Elliott in a goalie-for-goalie trade, the 36-year-old has won 151 games, posting a .920 save percentage and 2.59 GAA.

7 – Tuukka Rask

Rask had a phenomenal first half last season before falling off in the second half as he battled some injuries while having a leaky defense in front of him. The key for the Bruins is to get some relief for the goalie, who has averaged 66 games over the past three seasons. If he can get under 60 – he started 58 games when he won the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14 – that could be the difference between the Bruins missing the playoffs outright or making the playoffs and winning a round or two.

8 – Henrik Lundqvist

I’m not sure if Lundqvist’s place among goalies all-time is as high as some feel it is, but he’s high. Lundqvist needs two wins to catch Glenn Hall for ninth all-time in victories. He had one of his worst seasons last year – Lundqvist’s .910 save percentage was a career-low and snapped a seven-year streak of plus-.920 campaigns. That may have been a 34-year-old goalie, or a bad Rangers defense, or a combination of both. We’ll see how Lundqvist performs this season behind an improved back end.

9 – John Gibson

Gibson has improved steadily over the past two seasons, winning the Jennings Trophy in 2015-16 before posting a .924 save percentage and 2.22 GAA last season. The addition of Ryan Miller will only help the 24-year-old.

10 – Jake Allen

We’ll see how this one ages. All I’ve heard on Allen is how talented he is and I think he really turned a corner with his second half performance last season. I think the Blues have a legit No. 1 here going forward.

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Thoughts Are Mine Only: How About That Laine Guy?

Thoughts from a quiet yet not so quiet night around hockey.

*You couldn’t have drawn it up any better. Auston Matthews gets stoned on a breakaway by Michael Hutchinson in overtime, Patrik Laine takes the feed from Dustin Byfuglien on the counterattack and puts a laser past Frederik Andersen for his first career hat trick.

*Speaking of which, who did I have in the hat trick challenge last night?

*Laine is unbelievable. His release is in mid-career form already. The first goal he scored on the night may have been his best yet, the poise in tight space along with ability to create space for himself before firing one past Andersen was quite impressive.

*High circle on the left side will now be named ‘Laine’s Office’.

*Going up 4-0 only to lose in overtime is the latest in Maple Leaf growing pains, something they’ve experienced plenty of through three games. Expect more over the course of the remaining 79. Such is expected of a young team flush with talent.

*Mark Scheifele with a three-point night. He’s up to six through four games.

*Jimmy Vesey talked the talk over the summer with his holdout until August 15 deadline for teams to sign drafted players, saying no to the Nashville Predators, who eventually traded his rights to Buffalo, where he said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ again. Signing with the Rangers days after being released into the open market, he’s walking the walk now. He has just one goal through four games, but he’s making things happen on the ice. On a breakaway chance in the first period of New York’s 2-1 loss to Detroit, he did everything but finish.

*Jimmy Howard looked like his old self on Wednesday, stealing the show with 32 saves as the Red Wings managed to win, 2-1, despite being outshot by a 33-18 margin. Since winning 130 games and posting a 2.35 GAA to go along with three seasons of .920-plus save percentages, Howard has won just 58 games with a 2.61 GAA and .909 save percentage in three seasons since. Petr Mrazek might have some competition on his hands.

*Chris Kreider’s three-game streak of multi-point games to begin the season was snapped, but he picked up an assist on Mika Zibanejad’s goal 1:09 into the game. He has points in 10 of 12 games going back to last season. He has 8-8–16 totals in those 12 games.

*Henrik Lundqvist has just an .875 save percentage through three games.

*Lightning prospect Taylor Raddysh with four more points for Erie Wednesday night in the OHL, now has seven goals and 21 points through eight games. The Bolts took him in the second round of this past draft. Can’t Steve Yzerman just catch a break for once?

*Minnesota prospect Dmitry Sokolov recorded his second hat trick in four games for Sudbury. All eight of his goals this season have come in his last five games.

*From the Western Canada U16 Challenge: Mitchell Brown had two goals and four points in British Colombia’s win over Manitoba. Brown, a defenseman already listed at 6-foot-1 and 176 pounds at 15 years old has his rights held by Tri-City. He plays for the Okanagan Hockey Academy in the CSSHL. He has a point in four games this season. He played at the bantam level last season, putting up 22 points in 25 games. Dylan Holloway scored with two seconds remaining to give Alberta the 4-3 win over Saskatchewan.

*First overall pick in the 2016 WHL Draft, Peyton Krebs, had two goals and an assist for Alberta. Krebs, who will suit up for Kootenay next season, has six goals and 15 points for the UFA Bisons AAA Midget team. He spent the last two seasons with the Rocky Mountain Raiders AAA Bantam squad, in which he put up 74 goals and 168 points in 60 games over the two seasons. He had 102 in just 27 games last year.

*Two more assists on Wednesday night for Cal Foote (son of Adam) a top defensive prospect for next year’s draft. He’s got eight assists in 11 games, but no goals.

*Medicine Hat hung 10 on Kootenay on Wednesday; the third time this season the Tigers have broken the seven-goal mark.

*Battle of Connecticut in college hockey as Quinnipiac took on UConn. The fourth-ranked Bobcats won 5-2 in a game closer than the score indicated.

Links

Five general managers around the NHL who might already be on the hot seat.

Here’s an ICYMI: SI media columnist Richard Deistch does his NHL media roundtable. Lots of interesting stuff in here.

Matt Murray returned to the ice on Wednesday. There could very well be a goalie controversy brewing in Pittsburgh.

The Kane-Anisimov-Panarin line carrying the load for the Blackhawks once again.

Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts for the week.

 

Winter Classic: The Best, the Worst, the Best Performers, the Quirky Numbers

There’s been seven Winter Classics going back to its 2008 inception. The eighth will be played on Friday afternoon at Gillette Stadium when the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens take the outdoors for the latest installment of the hockey rivalry that is among the top one percent in sports lore.

Here’s a look at the first seven classics.

Ranking ‘em one through seven

  1. 2008, Pittsburgh def. Buffalo, 2-1 (SO) at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The first of anything most times is the best of anything, and the inaugural Winter Classic in Buffalo has been hard to top. The snow falling, the back-and-forth action between the two teams set the scene for great hockey and an even better sightline. Too often a buzzkill, the shootout added to the moment for once, with Sidney Crosby – the game’s biggest star – potting the winner in the skills competition. Nothing could’ve better set the tone for the event than this game.
  2. 2010, Bruins def. Philadelphia, 2-1 (OT). Mark Recchi scored with 2:18 left in regulation, setting up the B’s overtime win when Patrice Bergeron found Marco Sturm on the doorstep to give Boston the win. Though the B’s likely wished they saved that victory for May, as they lost to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, blowing a 3-0 series in the best-of-seven set.
  3. 2015, Washington def. Chicago, 3-2. The eventual Stanley Cup champs Chicago Blackhawks lost to the host Capitals, as Troy Brouwer scored with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. Eric Fehr continued his Winter Classic prowess, scoring 7:01 into the game to give the Caps the first lead, his third goal in two Winter Classic games.
  4. 2012, New York def. Philadelphia, 3-2. Drama is what makes the world go around, and there was plenty at Citizens Bank Park. Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was called for covering the puck in the crease, leading to a Flyers penalty shot, with 19.6 seconds remaining in regulation. Henrik Lundqvist turned aside Danny Briere’s bid to ice the game, but it didn’t end there, as Blueshirts head coach John Tortorella insisted the call was an inside job by the league to force overtime. The coach was fined $30,000 for the comments.
  5. 2014, Toronto def. Detroit, 3-2 (SO). The second of two Winter Classics to be decided by a shootout. Leafs netminder Jonathan Bernier stopped 41 shots in regulation and overtime before turning aside two of three bids in the skills competition.
  6. 2009, Detroit def. Chicago, 6-4. The highest scoring game by far. The defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings scored five unanswered goals in the second and third period to take control of the game. Jiri Hudler (2-1–3), Henrik Zetterberg (0-3-3), and Marian Hossa (0-3–3) each had three-point games.
  7. 2011, Washington def. Pittsburgh, 3-1. The game was pushed back to 8 p.m. due to weather concerns, delaying the Crosby-Alex Ovechkin showdown. Fehr scored the second and third goals to give the Caps the win.

Records

  1. Washington (2-0)
  2. Detroit (1-0-1)
  3. Boston (1-0)
  4. New York Rangers (1-0)
  5. Toronto (1-0)
  6. Pittsburgh (1-1)
  7. Buffalo (0-0-1)
  8. Philadelphia (0-1-1)
  9. Chicago (0-2)

All-Winter Classic Team

F- Jiri Hudler. Scored two goals and assisted on another in the 2009 Winter Classic, leading the Red Wings to the 6-4 win over Chicago at Wrigley Field.

F- Mark Recchi. Scored the game-tying goal with 2:18 remaining, setting up the Bruins 2-1 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park.

F- Eric Fehr. The Caps forward has three goals in two games (2011, 2015), playing a key role in Washington being the lone NHL team to win multiple Winter Classics.

D- Dion Phaneuf. The Toronto Maple Leafs captain did all the heavy lifting in the 2014 classic, a 3-2 shootout win for the Leafs, logging 28:24 of ice-time and assisting on both Toronto goals in regulation.

D- Dan Girardi. The Rangers blueliner was on the ice for 28:35 of the 60-minute game in 2012, which remains the standard for ice time in the Winter Classic.

G- Henrik Lundqvist. The marquis game of King Hank’s Vezina Trophy-winning campaign of the 2011-12 season, turning aside 34 of 36 shots. He stymied Philadelphia’s Danny Briere on a penalty shot with 19.6 seconds left in regulation to seal the win.

Winter Classic by the Numbers

*Washington Capitals (2-0) the lone team to win multiple Winter Classics.

*The Bruins become the sixth team to play in two Winter Classics, joining Washington (2-0), Pittsburgh (1-1), Detroit (1-0-1), Philadelphia (0-1-1), and Chicago (0-2).

*Five of the seven games have been decided by one goal, and none have been decided by more than two. Three have required more than 60 minutes of play, two have been decided by a shootout.

*No player has ever scored a hat trick, and no goalie has ever recorded a shutout.

*Gillette Stadium is the third NFL venue to host the event, joining Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium (2008) and Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field (2011). Four games have been held in baseball stadiums, with one being held in a college football venue, when Detroit hosted Toronto at Michigan Stadium in 2014.

*Four teams (Pittsburgh, 2008; Chicago, 2009; Boston, 2010; Chicago, 2015) won the Stanley Cup within two years after playing in the Winter Classic. The Blackhawks became the first team to win the cup in the same season after participating in the Winter Classic, when they won their third Stanley Cup since 2010 this past June.