Another weekend, another quality showing across the board in the National Hockey League. We had some flat out wild games like the 7-6 Islanders/Red Wings contest on Friday while the Winnipeg Jets could use some of that craziness as they’ve scored just three goals in two games since Mark Scheifele’s return. If you had adult stuff to do, especially Sunday afternoon, chances are you missed some NHL action. You need not worry as the Puck Show Weekend Wrap has got your back as we fill you in on what transpired over the last three days.
Look out for the champs
It’s been a trying season for the Penguins, but after an 11-3-1 stretch including a convincing 4-1 win on Sunday in St. Louis, Pittsburgh finds itself in possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division. They still reside four points behind Washington with the Capitals holding two games in hand, but on the backs of their superstar centers the Penguins are re-establishing themselves as a major threat in the east. With two more goals on Sunday, Sidney Crosby has rattled off 28 points over his last 16 games while Evgeni Malkin, fresh off Player of the Month honors for January, has 28 points over his last 18 games. Sunday’s win in St. Louis was impressive, and after notching a point in a shootout loss Friday in Dallas it appears the Penguins have cleaned up their play on the road. Still, Pittsburgh is 11-15-3 away from PPG Paints Arena and will need to continue to play better on the road to stay in contention for top spot in the Metropolitan. Hopefully you didn’t write off the reigning champs quite yet!
I certainly didn’t believe I would be criticizing the Jets’ play at home this season, but it was a poor showing for Paul Maurice’s club on home ice over the weekend. The Blues thoroughly took a 5-2 decision in Winnipeg on Friday before the struggling Rangers handed them a 3-1 loss on Sunday. This was all after Winnipeg narrowly got by the last-place Coyotes Tuesday in Winnipeg while managing just 23 shots in the process. The Jets entered the weekend full of excitement thanks to the return of star center Mark Scheifele, but two games later they find themselves regrouping while hearing footsteps from the Blues who now sit just a pair of points behind them in the Central Division. Connor Hellebuyck stood with just one regulation loss all season at home entering the weekend, but after dropping back-to-back home games and surrendering nine goals over his last three starts (.883 Sv%), Hellebuyck has officially been cooled off at the Bell MTS Centre.
Taking a lickin’
No one had a more disastrous weekend than the New Jersey Devils. The Devils were throttled by a 6-1 count on Saturday night in Columbus before giving up a five-spot in a 5-3 defeat Sunday in Boston as part of their current four-game losing streak. He’s been okay at times, but Keith Kinkaid is not getting it done for the Devils in Cory Schneider’s absence. While Eddie Lack took the loss Sunday in Boston, Kinkaid sports an .875 Sv% in five January outings and an .892 mark for the season. It doesn’t sound like Schneider is going to be back imminently, so for the time being it’s going to be Kinkaid logging the bulk of the starts, especially after Lack allowed four goals on just 26 shots in Sunday’s loss. The offense hasn’t given the goaltenders much support as they’ve scored just six goals over their last three. They aren’t going to mortgage the future in any trade deadline deals, but I would look for GM Ray Shero to be looking for upgrades within the next two weeks. The Devils need to capitalize on their surprising success and get into the playoffs and it looks like they may need some help from their GM to do so.
Other news and notes from the weekend…
Penguins C Sidney Crosby scored career goals 400 and 401 in Sunday’s win over the Blues…The Blackhawks’ 3-0 loss in Minnesota on Saturday pushed them ten points out of a playoff spot with three teams to climb in front of them… With two wins over the weekend including an impressive 4-1 win in Vegas on Sunday, the Flyers have won four straight and have moved back into the third spot in the Metropolitan Division… The Red Wings scored 11 goals in two weekend games, but also gave up 11 which hurts the value of Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek who form a good chunk of the trade market for goaltenders… With their 6-3 win over Ottawa on Saturday, the Maple Leafs are 7-1-0 over their last eight and have scored 4.13 goals per game during that stretch… The Sharks won back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday and quietly sit second in the Pacific Division, but still eight points back of the Golden Knights.