Welcome back everyone. I hope the last few days for you all were filled with rest and relaxation. The Thanksgiving benchmark has passed and we are on to the second quarter of the season. These next few months are going to be important for teams who want to play well into the spring. Let’s get you caught up with the highlights over the last week.
NHL Atlantic Division Notebook
Bruins Continue To Roller Coaster
It seems as if you never know what Boston Bruins team is going to show up. A week and a half ago, they were in the midst of a four-game losing streak and on the second leg of a four-game road trip. They had fallen below .500 and were set to face some of the strongest teams in the league.
After losing to the Anaheim Ducks, the Bruins captured wins against the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks before returning to the East Coast to defeat the Metropolitan Division leading New Jersey Devils. The Bruins then made it four in a row with a black Friday matinee win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. This run brought the Bruins within a point of a playoff spot in the division and they have games in hand on the third place Detroit Red Wings. The team then lost to the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 on Sunday.
What stands out the most during the last week and a half, is the goaltending situation. During the four-game win streak, Anton Khudobin was in net. This season, Khudobin is 7-0-2 with a save percentage and goals against average both ranking in the top four league wide. The team was clearly riding the hot hand and it was paying off. Then, on Sunday, Tuukka Rask got the nod against the Oilers and the momentum was halted. This season, Rask has been just a shell of himself and as the third highest paid goaltender in the league, it’s starting to raise some eyebrows.
Next on the schedule is the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Bruins hands are going to be full trying to slow down that offense. It’ll be interesting to see who is between the pipes but the paragraph above should say at all.
Ottawa’s Trending South
The Ottawa Senators have played themselves out of a playoff spot over the last two weeks, after going 0-5-1 in their last six games. Prior to this six-game skid, they went through a 10 game stretch where they scored 3.9 goals per game. However, during this most recent stretch, they have found the back of the net just eight times. While they have games in hand like the Bruins, the Senators have let a huge opportunity slip away and desperately need to get back on track but things aren’t going to get any easier as their next seven games are on the road. Could be a turning point for the season.
Squeaking Out Points
The Detroit Red Wings struggled this past week but managed to avoid it becoming catastrophic. Although they have lost four in a row, they escaped the week with three points after losing three of the four in overtime. At the moment, 10-9-5 is good enough for 25 points and third place in division, but the Bruins and Senators have games in hand and sit only a few points behind. Jimmy Howard was in net for the last four contests and will need to bounce back quick, as Petr Mrazek is in the concussion protocol.
– The Tampa Bay Lightning have finally hit their first breaking point of the season. This past week, the Lightning went 1-3-0 and were brought to overtime in that win against the Chicago Blackhawks. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who have both supplied the firepower for the offense this season, have only recorded a point a piece during the last week.
– With the week the Tampa Bay Lightning had, the Toronto Maple Leafs had the opportunity to take over first place. But, after a 1-2-1 week, they still find themselves three points back. Toronto should be kicking themselves having lost to The Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers, two teams that sit at the bottom of the league.