February 22, 2015

Thomas Drance

2015-02-22

The Kings are hot, Blake Comeau’s big night, and the Maple Leafs need to take a tanking class. 

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The New York Islanders stole a single point from the Washingon Capitals thanks to a late goal by Ryan Strome, but ultimately fell in the shootout. It was a fast paced, physical game and hopefully a playoff series preview. That would be more delicious than a Travis Hamonic sandwich

 

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The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 in the skills competition on Saturday night, with Wayne Simmonds managing a goal and the game-winning shootout tally. Simmonds had a monaster game overall with a goal, three shots on goal, and seven hits. He now has 23 on the season and an outside shot of registering 30 on the year.

 

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For the Predators, both Craig Smith and Colin Wilson scored goals, their 18th and 19th of the season respectively. Wilson added five shots on goal and a couple of hits for the well-rounded outing.

 

Last week I wrote that Wilson and Smith’s improvement this season was an under-rated cause of Nashville’s surprising dominance. Since then, the two American-born 25-year-old forwards have combined for four more goals in three games.

 

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have never been particularly good at tanking.

 

The Leafs dropped an opportunity to lose once again with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The win moved the Leafs four points clear of the NHL’s fourth worst team, the Carolina Hurricanes, and six points clear of the bottom-three. 

 

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No team tanks intentionally, and whether or not constructing an intentionally bad team at the management level is even a good idea is debatable. Joffrey Lupul made some salient points about why it might be a misguided endeavour yesterday. Hard to disagree with him. 

 

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Drew Stafford had two assists for the Jets, and now has three points in five games since coming over in the Evander Kane deal, while Dustin Byfuglien was a -2, only managed two shots and threw five hits playing as a forward at even-strength. Winnipeg has roughly a week to add some forward depth so they can keep their best defenseman on the blue-line. 

 

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Nazem Kadri had a nice game for the Maple Leafs, managing a goal and an assist, while James van Riemsdyk scored a pretty overtime winner to steal the extra point from Winnipeg (and earn the ire of Maple Leafs fans who aren’t looking to see their team win anymore). 

 

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The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 and are at the absolute top of the Eastern Conference table, which has to be something of a surprise.

 

The Habs have a tonne of personality and talent, and Carey Price is having a career year, but the club remains pretty limited at 5-on-5; both in terms of depth and in terms of puck possession. I love their top-end pieces and their youth, but I’d be somewhat surprised if the Habs entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the East, frankly. 

 

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Max P