After a 14-0-3 run, the Canucks finally lost in regulation time…The Canadiens played their 3,000th home game…Miikka Kiprusoff is fighting the puck in Calgary…The Senators snapped a six-game losing streak by scoring six times…The Maple Leafs win four in a row…Taylor Hall is scoring for the Oilers.
Here’s a look back at how the NHL’s Canadian teams have been faring – and a look ahead to what’s coming up.
The week that was: For the first time in 18 games, the Canucks failed to gain at least one point when they were blanked 1-0 by the Rangers on Thursday. Backup goalie Cory Schneider(notes) turned in another solid performance, making 34 saves while registering his first loss in 11 outings this season. Vancouver trounced Edmonton 6-1 last Friday and nipped the Islanders 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday, with a 5-4 overtime loss in Detroit on Saturday sandwiched in between. The Canucks are hitting on all cylinders and have been so good, you almost want to them to back off a bit and save something for the playoffs. But maybe they are; there’s a different swagger in Vancouver this season, and perhaps the team’s stellar play of the past six weeks is just a hint of things to come.
The weekend that will be: The Canucks conclude a five-game eastern swing with a big game in Washington on Friday and a divisional matchup in Minnesota on Sunday.
The week that was: The Canadiens have stabilized after an up-and down stretch, winning two of three games last week. In the franchise’s 3,000th home game last Saturday, Montreal rallied past Boston with two late goals in the third period and Max Pacioretty’s(notes) overtime winner. (In case you’re wondering, the victory improved the Habs’ all-time record at home to 1,833-748-382-37.) Top-line forward Mike Cammalleri left during the game due to illness, and hasn’t played since. Backup goalie Alex Auld(notes) made 25 saves to lead the Canadiens past the Rangers in New York on Tuesday, but penalties killed Montreal on Wednesday as Pittsburgh scored four power-play goals en route to a 5-2 win.
The weekend that will be: The Habs host the Rangers on Saturday night.
The week that was: Whether they were blowing leads or pulling off monumental comebacks, the Flames were ultimately shot down last week. Calgary had a two-goal lead late in the second period on Detroit last Friday … but lost in the shootout. Calgary faced a three-goal deficit late in the second period in Carolina on Tuesday, then rallied to tie the game in the third … but lost in the shootout. Perhaps the most stinging fact is the Flames scored nine times in the two contests – losing 5-4 to the Wings and 6-5 to the ’Canes – but skated away with only two “loser” points to show for it. It was a tough week for goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff(notes), who surrendered four goals on 27 shots against Detroit and four on eight shots against Carolina before being replaced by backup Henrik Karlsson(notes) early in the second period. Coach Brent Sutter called out Kiprusoff after the game, saying “…it’s that time of year when we can’t afford to not have good goaltending. Kipper is obviously a very good goaltender, but right now he’s fighting it.”
The weekend that will be: The Flames are on an eastern road swing, and play in Ottawa on Friday and at Toronto on Saturday.
The week that was: Thank goodness for the New York Islanders. The offensively challenged Senators skated into Long Island on Thursday and scored six times, snapping a six-game losing skid in the process. Ottawa managed just seven goals during its six-game freefall, and Thursday’s six-goal showing represented a season high for the Sens. Teenage rookie goalie Robin Lehner(notes) was called up from the AHL and earned the win over New York; starter Pascal Leclaire(notes) remains on the shelf indefinitely with that groin injury (where he’s joined by Jason Spezza(notes) and Alexei Kovalev). The big story in Ottawa remains the Cory Clouston watch, as the coach has been on the hot seat for most of the season. The question becomes, though, if Clouston goes, will GM Bryan Murray be dismissed along with him?
The weekend that will be: The Senators host Calgary on Friday and visit Washington on Sunday afternoon.
The week that was: The Leafs matched their season-opening four-game winning streak, including three consecutive road wins, before falling in Phoenix to the Coyotes on Thursday. Toronto hammered the Thrashers 9-3 in Atlanta last Friday, then followed up with impressive victories in Los Angeles and San Jose. Rookie goalie James Reimer(notes), called up from the AHL with Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes) recovering from a nagging groin injury, started all four road games and excelled, with two 40-plus save performances. However, Giguere’s return is imminent, forcing the Leafs to make a decision: do they keep Reimer up, or send him back to the minors? In other news, Toronto obtained winger Fabian Brunnstrom(notes) from Dallas; Brunnstrom was highly sought after as a free agent a couple years back, but he’s played most of this season in the AHL.
The weekend that will be: Toronto hosts the Flames on Saturday night.
The week that was: In the midst of a five-game road trip, the Oilers downed San Jose on Thursday after dropping the first two games away from home. A 6-1 defeat in Vancouver was stinging way to start the trek; Edmonton rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit in Dallas on Tuesday, only to see James Neal(notes) score a contested goal to pull out the win for the Stars. Rookie Taylor Hall(notes) clicked for two goals and an assist against San Jose, and the teenage wunderkind has four goals and 10 points in his past 12 contests. Hall, in fact, is leading the Oilers with 14 goals.
The weekend that will be: Edmonton ends its road trip in California, facing off in Los Angeles on Saturday and at Anaheim on Sunday.
- Miikka Kiprusoff