As much as I love the Olympics, it is with great sadness that I bring you the last official NHL-action column here at FHS until Wednesday, February 26th, but don't worry, we will still be posting regularly throughout the Sochi Siesta. And when the NHL returns, we will also start hosting weekly fantasy chats, so please join us with your best and most absurd questions.
During the Opening Ceremony at the Winter Olympics, particularly the entertaining
white red-washed history of Russia portion, I kept waiting for the tributes to appear in the arena, but Katniss was no where to be found. The familiar buzz of tracker jackers must have been digitally altered for television, much like the fifth Olympic snowflake-ring fail, and Putin was mostly hidden in his presidential box so no one could confirm that his breath does, in fact, smell like blood. I am not totally convinced that the Hunger Games of Sochi are not occurring somewhere in the mountain cluster, but go Team USA and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Flyers 2, Flames 1: Brayden Schenn kicked off the scoring in the second period after a gorgeous set-up from the side of the net by Wayne Simmonds. Scott Hartnell later added a goal in the third to make it 2-0, but Matt Stajan cut the lead in half with only 2:26 left in the game. The win is Philly's fourth in a row to bring them within one point of the Rangers in the Eastern Conference. Ed Snider, Flyers Chairmen, showing true Olympic spirit, called the Sochi break "ridiculous" with "no benefit to us whatsoever." Warm fuzzies all over.
Blues 4, Jets 3 (SO): This was a really entertaining, back-and-forth game - even with St. Louis going 0-for-8 on the power play. Brenden Morrow and Derek Roy each had a goal and an assist, with Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo chipping in assists in the first period, but streaky rookie Mark Scheifele knocked in two goals to tie the game in the second. Jaden Schwartz pushed St. Louis back into the lead, but the Jets tied the game again on Dustin Byfuglien's power play goal with 6:17 left in the third. Brian Elliot was perfect in the shootout, while Al Montoya allowed goals by Tarasenko and T.J. Oshie, who the crowd cheered on with chants of "USA! USA!"
Bruins 7, Senators 2: Yawn, this was never close. Brad Marchland had a goal and two assists, Patrice Bergeron had two goals and one assist, Jarome Iginla scored a goal and an assist, and David Krejci, Loui Eriksson, and Reilly Smith each added two assists as Boston demolished Ottawa on Saturday afternoon. Milan Lucic and Carl Soderberg also scored for the Bruins. Bobby Ryan and Patrick Wiercioch lit the lamp for the Senators, who were outplayed in every facet of the game.
Canadiens 4, Hurricanes 1: David Desharnais tallied two goals, Ryan White chipped in another, and Brian Gionta added an empty-netter for Montreal, while Carey Price had a fantastic final warm-up before heading off to Sochi for Team Canada. Desharnais could be a nice addition if you are looking for some streaky points; he is weak in other categories like shots and hits, though. Drayson Bowman had the only goal for Carolina. Although he has been on fire lately, Anton Khudobin finally had an off-night, allowing three goals on 23 shots.
Maples Leafs 3, Canucks 1: Heading into the third period, Vancouver was protecting a slim 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Ryan Kesler. But then the evening went to hell, as per usual. Mason Raymond tied the game, before Phil Kessel nailed the game-winner; James van Riemsdyk added an insurance goal with 7:55 left. This was Toronto's seventh win in a row at home and 11th overall in their past 14 games. Similarly, Vancouver has lost seven straight and 16 of the last 20. And by "similarly," I mean the complete opposite.
Lightning 4, Red Wings 2: Scoring from the right circle for his 1,143rd NHL point - second behind only Mats Sundin for highest scoring Swede in history - Daniel Alfredsson put Detroit up early, handling a sweet pass from Pavel Datsyuk, who added his own twist of history on the play, as the assist was his 800th career point. I have tried to sell-high on Alfredsson a few times this season, but he keeps impressing me - even if he is one bad hit from needing a walker. Ondrej Palat tied the game at one for Tampa Bay, Tom Pyatt and Tomas Jurco then knotted the game at two, and with just over three minutes left, Alex Killorn scored the game-winner from just outside the crease; Sami Salo had two assists and Palat added an empty-netter to round out the scoring. While it would have been nice for Steven Stamkos to work out his rustiness in Sochi, I prefer that he stays here and remains healthy, continues rehabbing, and gets ready to kick ass for my Virgins by the beginning of March.
Avalanche 5, Islanders 2: Regardless of who wins the Calder Trophy, the 2013-2014 Rookie of My Heart is undoubtedly Great Nate MacKinnon, who scored his 22nd goal of the season on Saturday. Matt Duchene then added two goals in less than three minutes (the first was his 100th career goal) to put Colorado ahead 3-0, a seemingly easy win. But then the third period happened. With 11:25 left, the Avalanche committed four penalties in less than four minutes, allowing John Tavares and Lubomir Visnovsky to score two 5-on-3 goals in 57 seconds and cut the lead to one; the Islanders, however, could claw no closer. Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny added empty-net goals to regain the three-goal cushion, and Tyson Barrie chipped in three assists on the day.
Capitals 3, Devils 0: This was much tighter than the score appears. The game was scoreless midway through the third until Julien Brouillette found the net for his first career NHL goal; he is being rewarded by being sent back to the AHL today. Martin Erat and Troy Brouwer also had empty-net goals, while Nicklas Backstrom tallied two assists. Alex Ovechkin had an assist, +2 rating, four shots, one blocked shot, and two hits. Everyone from New Jersey sucked.
Ducks 5, Roman Josis 2: Ryan Getzlaf had two goals and an assist, Hampis Lindholm had two assists, Emerson Etem, Mathieu Perreault, and Corey Perry scored one goal apiece, and Jonas Hiller made 36 saves as Anaheim beat Nashville for the fifth-straight time. Mike Fisher and Viktor Stalberg put the Predators on the board, with Patric Hornqvist and David Legwarn earning assists. Roman Josi had four shots on goal, three blocked shots, a -2 rating, and a six-pack meant only for Swiss Batman.
Stars 2, Coyotes 1: Kari Lehtonen was cruising along towards a shutout until Radim Vrbata put Phoenix on the board with 15 seconds left in the game on assists by Keith Yandle and Antoine Vermette. It was Vrbata's third goal in the past four games. But goals by Valeri Nichushkin and Ray Whitney were enough for Dallas. Now let's get excited for some ice dancing, bobsledding, and ladies' cross-country skiing. No? Okay, well, how about a world-class hockey tournament, curling showdowns, and the half-pipe? Ask not what you can do for your country, but how you can protect Peeta. Go Team USA.