Off The Draw
With his recovery progressing on schedule Pekka Rinne could be back between the pipes for the Predators as soon as Feb. 3. Perfect timing to kickstart Nashville's promising stretch drive ... but maybe too late to regain his momentum in the Vezina Trophy race.
In terms of awards, the injury came at a terrible time for Rinne, who ranks among the league leaders in goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.931) and still sets the pace with 29 wins. With Carter Hutton struggling to hold the fort (2-1-2 with a miserable .879 save percentage), Rinne's absence makes it clear just how valuable he is to his Nashville's hopes of contending for the Stanley Cup.
But once he returns, Rinne will need to be even better down the stretch in order to hold off the hard charge at the Vezina by Carey Price. The Canadiens keeper has been otherworldly of late, allowing two goals or fewer in 14 of his past 15 starts while closing in on Rinne's numbers (26 wins, 2.00 GAA, .931 save pct.). He even manages to top Rinne in one key category: even-strength save percentage (.940 to .939).
"No shocker. That's just Carey Price," said Canadiens centere Manny Malhotra in the wake of Price's 40-save performance against the Dallas Stars last Tuesday night. "You almost don't get wowed by it anymore. It's just his norm. Hats off to him every night. He comes up with the saves you'd expect him to make, and every night he gives us a highlight reel saves that he has no business making. That's typical Carey Price."
After blanking the Rangers on Thursday night, Price has stopped 97 of the last 100 shots he's faced and is now 6-1-1 with a .943 save percentage in January. His numbers would be even better if he played New York more often. As Steve Mears pointed out last night on Twitter, Price has beaten the Blueshirts in seven of his past nine starts against them while posting five shutouts in the process. In all, he's blanked them six times during his career and is the only active netminder other than Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury (4) to have served New York a goose egg more than twice.
Then there's this: The Canadiens allow 30.6 shots per game, eighth-worst in the league—and yet they're 15-8-2 when being outshot, a .600 winning percentage that ranks third-best. Only one team, the Ducks, has been outshot more often yet remains in playoff contention. That's the full measure of Price's impact there.
Rinne may have been the Vezina favorite when he went down, but it looks like he'll be playing catch-up in the race when he returns.
What to watch this weekend
Blackhawks at Ducks (10:30 p.m. EST; SNE, SNO, SNP, WGN, PRIME)
Two of the best teams in the league come into this one looking for a rebound effort. Chicago blew three one-goal leads in a 4-3 loss to the Kings on Wednesday and has now dropped five straight games against Western Conference opponents. But a trip to the Anaheim might cure what ails the Blackhawks. They've won their past two visits to the Honda Center, including a 4-1 victory back on Nov. 28. The Ducks coughed up five second-period goals in Thursday night's 6-3 loss to the Sharks, so they're hoping to get back to the form that saw them allow a total of only six tallies in their previous five games. Goalie Frederik Andersen, who is 17-2-1 with a 2.09 GAA since Dec. 1, is expected to get the start for Anaheim.
Rest of the schedule:Penguins at Devils (7 p.m. EST; TVA, ROOT, MSG+); Blues at Hurricanes (7 p.m. EST; FS-MW, SPSO); Predators at Avalanche (9 p.m. EST; FS-TN, ALT); Sabres at Canucks (10 p.m. EST; NHLN-US, MSG-B, BELL TV, SNP)
Capitals at Canadiens (1:00 p.m. EST; NHLN-US, SN, CSN-DC, RDS)
The Capitals pulled themselves out of a four-game losing skid that had them sinking toward eighth spot in the East with an impressive 4-0 win over the Penguins on Wednesday. The trick now is building on that momentum in order to stay ahead of the hard-charging Rangers. Washington will be up against a Habs squad that's on a four-game roll after knocking off the Broadway Blueshirts with a postseason-style effort on Thursday. Carey Price, who earned his third shutout of the season in the victory, will try to finish the month on a 7-1-1 roll.
Rest of the schedule:Islanders at Red Wings (2 p.m. EST; MSG+, FS-D); Coyotes at Senators (3 p.m. EST; RDS2, TSN5); Kings at Bruins (7 p.m. EST; NHLN-US, TVA, SN, FS-W, NESN); Panthers at Devils (7 p.m. EST; FS-F, MSG+); Hurricanes at Rangers (7 p.m. EST; FS-CR, MSG); Maple Leafs at Flyers (7 p.m. EST; CBC, CSN-PH); Stars at Jets (7 p.m. EST; CITY, TXA 21); Blue Jackets at Lightning (7:30 p.m. EST; FS-O, SUN); Oilers at Flames (10 p.m. EST; CBC, TVA); Blackhawks at Sharks (10:30 p.m. EST; SN, CSN-CH, CSN-CA)
Blues at Capitals (1 p.m. EST; NBCSN)
A bunch of early games today—how convenient for those who may have something else to do this evening—and this one looks like the best of the bunch. The Blues have lately been doing their best impression of the 1980s Oilers, scoring 4.44 goals per game during an 8-0-1 stretch that's pulled them within four points of the Central Division-leading Predators. They'll need to keep up with that pace just to stay ahead of Alex Ovechkin. The Great 8 has fully engaged his Beast Mode, scoring seven goals in his past five games and dominating with his physical play. That guy's fun to watch again.
Rest of the schedule:Coyotes at Canadiens (1 p.m. EST; CITY, RDS); Predators at Penguins (2 p.m. EST; FS-TN, ROOT); Wild at Canucks (3 p.m. EST; FS-N, FS-WI, SNP)
What you missed
• The goal Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored from his own blueline five seconds into the third period against the hapless Maple Leafs on Thursday night set an NHL record for the fastest shorthanded tally after the start of a period.
• If the Canadian dollar continues to plunge in value, it will wreak some salary cap havoc on teams like the Rangers, Bruins and Capitals down the line.
• Flyers captain Claude Giroux says he'd put his money on his coach in a fight with Winnipeg's hulking defenseman Dustin "Big Buff" Byfuglien.
• The Sabres took the lead in the Connor McDavid Tank Battle by losing to the Oilers.
The numbers game
• On Thursday night, Tampa Bay's Cedric Paquette became the first player since Montreal's Oleg Petrov in Dec. 1993 to score a hat trick against Detroit as the Lightning set a franchise record of nine straight wins at home. The 20 victories and 41 points they've earned in their own barn lead the NHL.
• Boston's Tuukka Rask entered the weekend with a career mark of 8-0-0 in games in which he's made 40 or more saves.
• John Klingberg is now the fourth rookie defenseman in Stars/North Stars franchise history to record at least 20 points in a season. The others: Brad Maxwell (47 in 1977-78), Shawn Chambers (24 in 1988-89) and Matt Niskanen (26 in 2007-08).
• Hot links
• Kevin Oklobzija has been out front of the AHL Pacific Division story all along. Leave it to him to wrap it up perfectly.
• It sorta kinda sounds like Kimmo Timonen might play hockey again this season. Or not. We'll find out today.
• Val James, the first American-born black player in the NHL, says his toughest opponents weren't on the ice. They were in the stands.
• Here's a totally different take on how the falling Canadian dollar is actually good news for some NHL players.
GALLERY: Martin Brodeur Through The Years
Martin Brodeur Through the Years
Goaltending came naturally to Brodeur, whose father, Denis, played the position on the Canadian Olympic team that won the bronze medal in 1956. Raised in Montreal, Martin played forward as a kid—sewing the seeds of the stickhandling skills that would serve him so well in the NHL—before switching to goal at age seven. Though he idolized butterfly master Patrick Roy, Brodeur chose a standup style and developed superb mobility, instincts, positioning and puck-handling ability.
Drafted out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League by the Devils with the 20th pick in the 1990 draft, Brodeur made his NHL debut on March 26, 1992, with 24 saves in a 4-2 win over Boston.
After a full season in the AHL, Brodeur was added to the Devils' opening night roster for the 1993-94 season and went on to win the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year with a 27-11-8 record, 2.40 GAA and three shutouts, the first of his career coming on Oct. 20, 1993 vs. Anaheim.
As the Devils' new starting goalie, Brodeur played in 40 of their 48 games during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, going 19-11-6 with a 2.44 GAA. He was brilliant in the playoffs, holding Detroit to only seven goals in four finals games as the Devils won their first Stanley Cup.
During the 1995-96 season, Brodeur went 34-30-12 with a 2.34 GAA and .911 save percentage, beginning a record streak of 12 consecutive seasons of 30 or more wins, a run that included seven with 40 or more.
Blessed with a stifling defense in front of him, Brodeur led the NHL with a 1.88 GAA in 1996-97—becoming the first goaltender with a sub-1.90 since Bernie Parent of the Flyers in 1973-74. He also became the first since Montreal's Ken Dryden in 1976-77 to record 10 shutouts in a season.
In Game 1 of the 1997 Eastern quarterfinals vs. Montreal, Brodeur joined Philadelphia's Ron Hextall as the only goaltenders to score in the postseason by shooting the puck into the net. Brodeur's prowess with the stick and fondness for roaming from his crease to play the puck led to the current "Brodeur Rule" that confines such activity by goalies to a trapezoid that is eight feet out from each goal post and 28 feet wide at the boards behind the net.
In 1997-98, Brodeur led the NHL with 43 wins and posted 10 shutouts for the second straight season. He also became only the third goaltender (along with Hall of Famers Terry Sawchuk and Harry Lumley) to have back-to-back sub-2.00 GAA campaigns.
Again leading the NHL with 43 wins in 1999-2000 and tying Bernie Parent's combined mark of 59 combined regular- and postseason victories, Brodeur backstopped the Devils to their second Stanley Cup, which they won by beating the Dallas Stars in six games.
Seeking a repeat, Brodeur faced his childhood hero Patrick Roy in a memorable 2001 Stanley Cup Final, won by Colorado in seven games after the Avalanche rose from a three-games-to-two deficit. Roy denied the Devils a chance to win the Cup on home ice with a 4-0 win in Game 6, then completed the comeback with a 3-1 win in Colorado.
Leading the NHL with 73 appearances in 2001-02, Brodeur became the third-fastest goaltender to reach 300 career wins when he beat Ottawa 2-0 on Dec. 15, 2001.
Like his father, Martin has represented Canada in international play, most notably winning the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City after posting a 4-0-1 mark with a 1.80 GAA in the tournament. It was the second of his four Olympic stints (he did not see action in 1998). He was also a member of Canada's 1996 and 2005 World Championship teams and '97 and '05 World Cup teams.
Brodeur, seen here with sons Jeremy, Anthony and William, won his first Vezina Trophy for a 2002-03 campaign in which he became the first NHL netminder to have four 40-win seasons (surpassing Sawchuk and Jacques Plante). He was a complete miser in the postseason, setting an NHL mark of seven shutouts, including three vs. Anaheim in the finals, as the Devils won their third Stanley Cup.
Setting a single-season record of 48 wins in 2006-07, Brodeur won his third Vezina while also posting 12 shutouts.
On Nov. 17, 2007, Brodeur beat Philadelphia 6-2 to join Patrick Roy as the only members of the NHL's 500-wins club. His overall mark of 44-27-0-6, 2.17 GAA and four shutouts earned him his fourth Vezina in five seasons.
Again playing a role in the creation of a rule, Brodeur saw his rivalry with Sean Avery bubble over in Game 3 of the 2008 Eastern quarterfinal when the Rangers agitator stood waving his stick in the goaltender's face—this after Avery's two interference penalties in the series. The NHL was moved to instantly invoke an "Avery Rule" prohibiting such antics. After the Rangers eliminated the Devils in five games, Brodeur snubbed Avery in the handshake line, leading Avery to famously remark "I guess fatso forgot to shake my hand."
With anticipation building for his assault on Roy's career wins mark, Brodeur suffered a tear of the biceps tendon in his left elbow on Nov. 1, 2008, ending his streak of 70-plus-game seasons at 10. Returning to action on Feb. 26, 2009, he picked up where he left off with a 4-0 shutout of Colorado in which he made 24 saves.
Brodeur joined Patrick Roy atop the NHL's victories list with a 3-1 win over the Canadiens on March 14, 2009. The night was made even sweeter because it came in Montreal, with his father (pictured w/camera) and Roy looking on, the banner bearing the former Canadien's recently-retired number (33) hanging over him, and the sell-out crowd chanting Brodeur's name.
Brodeur broke Patrick Roy's career record for goaltending victories, picking up his 552nd by turning back 30 shots in a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on March 17, 2009. The victory came in Brodeur's 987th game of a 22-year career he played almost entirely with the Devils. In the spirit of March Madness, Brodeur took out a pair of scissors and cut the net. ''It's definitely harder than I thought,'' he quipped. ''These basketball players, it's only a little net. This was a big net. I had help from a couple of my teammates.''
On December 12, 2009 Brodeur reached yet another milestone when he shuts out Penguins 4-0, breaking Terry Sawchuk’s career NHL shutout record of 103. Nine days later the Devils legend blanked the Pens yet again to shatter George Hainsworth’s pro record of 104 pails of whitewash.
By blanking the Thrashers 3-0 at the Philips Center in Atlanta on April 6, 2010, Brodeur became the first NHL goalie to reach the 600-wins mark. The victory, his league-leading 43rd of the season, also extended his career shutout mark to 110.
Coming off his 14th and final 30-win regular season, Brodeur blanked the Florida Panthers, 4-0, in Game 4 the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals on April 19 to break Patrick Roy's career postseason shutout mark (23) and become only the second goaltender to reach 100 playoff wins.
On May 25, 2012, the Devils beat the Rangers 3–2 thanks to Adam Henrique's goal in overtime, sending Brodeur to his fifth Stanley Cup finals appearance. New Jersey lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games in what would turn out to be the 17th and final postseason of his career.
After missing a month of action due to a nerve injury in his back, Brodeur returned to the net on March 21, 2013 with some of his old stick magic, scoring a power play goal against the Carolina Hurricanes that made him the only NHL goalie to record three career tallies, and the second after Evgeni Nabokov of the Sharks to light the lamp with the man advantage.
After defeating Blue Jackets goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky in an online vote in June 2013, Brodeur won the honor of being the cover athlete on EA's NHL 14 video game.
After the Devils acquired the 208th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft from the Kings, Brodeur was given the very special privilege of making the announcement that New Jersey had selected his son, Anthony, 18, a goalie out of Minnesota's Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school, in the seventh and final round.
Unsigned as a free agent, Brodeur inked a one-year, $700,000 deal with the injury-plagued St. Louis Blues on Dec. 2, 2014. He concluded his legendary career with seven appearances, a 3-3-0 record, .899 save percentage and 2.87 GAA. On Jan. 29, 2015, he announced his retirement as the NHL's all-time leader in games played by a goalie (1,266), saves (28,928), wins (691), shutouts (125), and playoff shutouts (24).