Unless you want to chat about the first few episodes of “The X Files” (good luck to my wife and I on catching up on that series before it resumes), I don’t have much for you lead-wise.
Although I will say that if you want to giggle, listen to Bob Hartley say “Throw.”
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PREDATORS 5, BLACKHAWKS 1
-- Patrick Kane kept his point streak going to 24 games, and this time he scored against a $7 million goalie instead of an empty net. It was a goal that required a review, as Pekka Rinne believed that he was bamboozled in a non-legal way.
The Blackhawks play four straight at home and five of six in Chicago, so Kane gets a slight boost toward keeping it going. I guess?
-- Craig Smith seems like he's capable of better results than these. Just six goals in 29 games. Granted, maybe you see an impressive shot and project too far beyond 23 and 24 goals, where he's stopped before.
-- Rinne broke a three-game skid by stopping 35 out of 36 shots to improve his record to 12-7-5 with a mediocre .908 save percentage. I guess I jumped the gun on the elite talk.
RED WINGS 3, CANADIENS 2
-- That's now four consecutive losses for the Habs, the first time this season and in quite a while in general. This marked just the second time we've seen Dustin Tokarski this season, and we may not see much more of the unorthodox netminder, as he gave up three goals on 29 shots.
-- Remarkably, the Red Wings might just sneak up on the Canadiens for the Atlantic crown. They're only four standings points behind Montreal and hold a game in hand.
Detroit headed into Nov. 16's game with an 8-8-1 record. They're now 16-8-5. Remarkable run, and comforting that I said nice things about this team in September after I've seen so many other predictions disintegrate before my watery eyes.
-- Petr Mrazek is on a three-game winning streak himself, improving his overall record with a 9-4-3 mark and a nice .924 save percentage.
-- Darren Helm scored more goals in Thursday's game (two) than he had in 24 previous games (one).
PANTHERS 4, CAPITALS 1
This is normally the time in which someone would say "Wow, imagine where he'd be if he didn't play three seasons in the KHL."
I've most certainly been guilty of that thinking before, but sometimes I wonder.
What if Jagr got hurt during that span, negating later production? What if the lower standard of living overseas revamped his love for the NHL life?
It's easy to go into your Stats DeLorean and forget that human factors mean quite a bit. I've pivoted from "What if?" questions with Jagr and mainly stick with "How is he still doing this?"
-- Tom Wilson was Tom Wilson again in this game, receiving a game misconduct for boarding Brian Campbell. The guy is just 21 years old; I shudder to think about how many careers he'll shorten with his hits considering how young he is.
Good for PIM though, I guess. *sigh*
-- Boy, Al Montoya sure is an unpredictable backup. These are largely small sample sizes - again, he's a backup - but look at the erratic stuff:
2011-12: .893 save percentage
Sign that guy every other year.
FLYERS 4, BLUES 2
-- Hey, lookitthat: Claude Giroux's getting close to being a point-per-game player now. He scored a goal and two assists to give him 27 points in 29 games. After a slow October, he has 22 points in his past 19 contests.
So he's looking good, is what I'm trying to say.
/camera pans to sad Jakub Voracek
-- Is Brayden Schenn going to put together a contract year push? He has five assists in five December games with a nice nine PIM bonus for fantasy owners.
-- Michal Neuvirth really is having a heck of a season so far. He's 4-0-1 in his past five appearances, and that loss involved a 16-for-16 save performance. He's now 7-3-2 with a fantastic .938 save percentage in 2015-16.
-- Tough December so far for the Blues, who've gone 1-3-1 in their past five games. The discouraging part of that is that they've played four of five at home. It's the sort of stretch that could really bury them in the Central with Dallas pulling away.
Then again, maybe the Blues would be better off hitting their bumps in December rather than April or later?
(Not that the bumps can't come at both times, naturally.)
LIGHTNING 4, SENATORS 1
-- While a chunk of the hockey world fixates on Steven Stamkos' social media leanings, the Lightning may just be showing some life.
They've now won three of four, and those are wins against formidable opponents: victories against the Ducks, Sharks and Senators with a defeat against the Kings.
If they can get through mid-December, the rest of 2015 stands as an opportunity for them to grind their way back into the East's top eight. Maybe.
-- Nikita Kucherov has two two-goal games in his past three contests. Much like most of the Lightning's scorers, he's been inconsistent, but the future still seems bright considering the fact that he's just 22.
-- Ben Bishop's strong work has really been lost in the Lightning's general funk and all the Twitter hysteria. He's won his last three decisions and is now 12-8-2 with a very nice .931 save percentage.
He's had a somewhat odd career - it's a bit bewildering that he's 29 already - but with a career .920 save percentage, he continues to build an argument that he's legit.
JETS 6, BLUE JACKETS 4
-- With Sergei Bobrovsky out until the beginning of 2016 (it seems), I wouldn't be surprised if CBJ games are shooting galleries. Start your scorers against Columbus if it's a tiebreaker type situation.
He seems like he could walk right onto the set of a Western film and need just a dusting of makeup/costume change to fit right in.
He's also been a very nice fit in Winnipeg since basically day one, so there's also that.
-- What to do with Dustin Byfuglien? He's just so good, and the Jets struggle to attract free agents, yet his one-of-a-kind size could be a bad thing if things start to fade.
Normally I'd say "sign him dummies" but this situation is admittedly a little more complicated.
FLAMES 4, SABRES 3
-- Good gracious, Rasmus Ristolainen is just unconscious.
He scored a hat trick(!) last night, giving him seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 29 games this season.
In very Sabres fashion, he suffered a -2 rating in this one.
Consider Rasmus the happy 21 to Tom Wilson's sad-destructive 21.
-- Ryan O'Reilly. So. Good.
-- T.J. Brodie is the fantastic Flames defenseman who doesn't get much press. He's now on a five-game point streak: six assists, including Thursday's single helper.
About the only gripe is that his peripherals are a little weak. You'd like to see someone as talented as Brodie generate more than 26 SOG in 19 GP, even if he generally prefers to pass.