Everywhere in the city, deep blue and reddish-orange jerseys dot the streets, as bars inflate their cover prices and overcharge for pitchers of beer, tourists navigate mass transportation with the assistance of volunteers sporting bright yellow, and ticket prices now cost more than cosmetic surgery. As everyone counts down until today's big game, I am not sure what the hype is here on Super Boring Sunday; I can only get so excited for the Jets vs. Canadiens, you know?
Flyers 2, Kings 0: Wayne Simmonds scored the 100th goal of his career and 18th of the season (along with three shots on goal, two hits, a +1 rating, and a power-play assist on Claude Giroux's late third-period goal); the winger has been on fire over the past month and shows no sign of slowing down. More good news, Philadelphia. Steve Mason has remembered how to play hockey, posting his second shutout in the past three games. I am sure you are now wetting yourself in excitement over that three-year contract extension. I am also sure his shutout had nothing to do with the fact that the Kings have scored three goals total in their last six games. Worse, all three goals were scored by one player, Anze Kopitar. Los Angeles' offense makes Chris Christie's administration seem competent.
Avalanche 7, Sabres 1: I would totally rob the cradle for you, Nathan MacKinnon, rookie scoring leader and statistical heartthrob. You may have been born in 1995, which freaks me out and makes me feel ancient, but with another goal (20 total), two more assists (20 total), +3 rating, four shots on goal, and a hit, someone please bail me out of jail if I ever cross paths with him. He arguably had a mediocre game compared to his teammates: Jamie McGinn had two goals and an assist, Gabriel Landeskog also chipped in two goals, and Eric Johnson added three assists. After being a healthy scratch for the past two games, P.A. Parenteau made a cameo and gifted his team with an assist. Semyon Varlamov was nearly flawless with 27 saves, while Colorado chased Ryan Miller from goal to start the third period.
Lightning 2, Canadiens 1 (OT): With 24 seconds remaining in overtime, Victor Hedman found Nate Thompson alone in front of the net for the game-winner (and Thompson's second goal of the game, although the first one was deflected into his own net by P.K. Subban). But this game was really about how much Montreal hates Ben Bishop. At the end of the second period, Brandon Prust started jawing at Bishop and he must have said something hilarious, because Bishop responded by punching the forward in the head; Prust hit back before the refs separated them, but not before everyone on the ice was fighting. Although Celine Dion vows the heart will go on, her fellow Canadians beg to differ; they booed every time Bishop touched the puck, chanted his name repeatedly, and laughed when he stumbled and fell into the net. Daniel Briere reminded us that he is not completely useless, scoring his second goal in the past two games on a Brian Gionta assist.
Bruins 4, Oilers 0: I have been following Ben Scrivens primarily because I am amused by his wife's well-documented love affair and surprise trade from Los Angeles, not to mention his incredible 59-save performance on Wednesday. He kept Edmonton in it until early in the second period, when David Krejci scored on the power play. Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, and Torey Krug then scored in the third period to put the game away, getting two helpers apiece from Jarome Iginla and Zdeno Chara. Boston also received another strong effort in goal from Chad Johnson. Keep an eye on him. He has started four games in the past 17 days, winning all of them, and his role is expected to increase after the Olympics.
Blue Jackets 4, Panthers 1: Columbus jumped out to an early lead with two assists from Nathan Horton, a goal and an assist by Ryan Johansen, and a goal and an assist from Boone Jenner. Brad Boyes teased us by cutting the lead to 2-1, but Nick Foligno and Mark Letestu added insurance late in the game. Sergei Bobrovsky was fantastic, shutting down Florida's increasing pressure and improving to 11-2 in his past 13 starts.
Blues 4, Predators 3 (SO): We can finally gossip about the Swiss God of Blue Lines, a.k.a. The Rippling Gorgeous Glacier of Nashville. How he continues to rock my world, scoring his eighth goal of the season and 11th point in the past ten games. How his endurance is legendary, logging a ridiculous 30:32 on the ice, nearly four minutes longer than any of his far less attractive teammates. People who are not Roman Josi also played hockey and did stuff.* I guess. I was too busy writing my latest fan fiction, Swiss Family Josi, wherein our protagonist gets stranded on a small snowy island off the coast of Norway with a very lucky attorney/stalker, who melts his heart but not the glittering ice palace igloo castle he builds for her using nothing but his bare hands and a hockey stick, later home to their adorable tundra toddlers and pet polar bear, Sizzurp.
*Jaden Schwartz kicked things off with a power play goal; Chris Stewart, recently linked to Ryan Callahan in trade rumors, assisted on the play along with Vladimir Tarasenko, who also tied the game late in the third period and won the shootout for the Blues (the speedy bastard finds new ways on a weekly basis to make me regret trading him); David Backes scored his 19th goal of the season; Jay Bouwmeester, Derek Roy, Alex Pietrangelo, and Brian Elliot notched assists; and Paul Gaustad and Mike Fisher scored for the Predators.
Stars 2, Ducks 0: Dan Ellis bested his former team on Saturday night, which happened to be Anaheim's first shutout all season, a delicious side of vengeance for the back-up goalie. Trevor Daley scored early in the second period on a Cody Eakin assist, his third goal in the past 10 games after managing just one in the first 31 games of the season. Jamie Benn added an empty-net goal with 28 seconds left. The Ducks scratched the talented Dustin Penner, Kyle Palmieri, and Bryan Allen. It sounds silly, yet I wonder if Anaheim's extreme depth and, consequently, their constant roster conundrum, is a problem in and of itself.
Flames 4, Wild 3 (OT): After Sean Monahan's shot was stopped by Darcy Kuemper, Mikael Backlund was there to hammer the rebound from the air for the game-winner, his second goal of the contest. With the victory, Calgary closed out its home-stand with a surprising 5-0 record, their best since 1997. T.J. Galiardi and Dennis Wideman scored, with Mark Giordano adding two assists for the Flames. Matt Cooke, Dany Heatley, and Keith Ballard scored for Minnesota in the losing effort.
Sharks 2, Blackhawks 1 (SO): After two scoreless periods, Joe Pavelski found the back of the net with a short-handed goal late in the third period; with 29 goals, Pavelski is only two off of his career-high while only 56 games into the season. One minute later on the power play, Brandon Saad tied the game at one on Kris Versteeg's assist. Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Patrick Marleau all scored in the shootout, Brent Burns and Tommy Wingels each had seven shots on goal, and Antti Niemi made 29 saves to seal the victory.
Maple Leafs 6, Senators 3: It was a good night for my Virgins. Simmonds, MacKinnon, Josi, Saad, and now Phil Kessel, who outdazzled his teammates, both real and virtual, with a hat trick, an assist, a +3 rating, five shots, one blocked shot, and two penalty minutes. This was a much tighter game than the score reveals. Chris Neil put Ottawa on the board less than a minute into the game and Colin Greening stretched the lead to two goals in the second period. After Kessel cut the deficit in half, Nazem Kadri hit Cody Ceci hard from behind, forcing a turnover behind Ottawa's net, and set up Jeffrey Lopul to tie the game with 5:21 left in the second period. The Senators did not appreciate the dangerous hit and immediately pounced on Kadri, beating the crap out of him as he celebrated. Kessel then notched a power-play goal, but the lead lasted for less than two minutes, with Neil tallying his second of the night to knot the game at three. As a tense third period wound down and with less than six minutes remaining, the Leafs blew the game open: Kessel had a goal and an assist, Bozak had a goal an assist, and Kadri iced it with a late empty-netter. Check out Kadri's controversial hit, which will most likely be reviewed by the league:
Coyotes 3, Penguins 1: Zbynek Michalek certainly knows how to pick his moments. The defenseman lit the lamp against his former team for the first time in 83 games; ironically, his last goal occurred on March 5, 2012 while playing against Phoenix for Pittsburgh. Mike Ribeiro scored a goal, an assist, four shots, three hits, and a +2 rating, while Radim Vrbata added a goal, four shots, and two blocked shots, and David Schlemnko and Antoine Vermette each tallied two assists. Evgeni Malkin had the lone goal for the Penguins on James Neal and Jussi Jokinen's helpers, while Marc-Andre Fleury was mediocre at best, much to my annoyance.
In somewhat exciting news, we are going to start having weekly FHS Fantasy Chats on Tuesday nights, starting after the Olympics. So please check back in a few weeks!