* Karri Ramo recorded his first career shutout, which is mostly impressive because he did it playing for the Calgary Flames. His 23 saves was all they’d need to blank the Hurricanes 2-0.
— Bernard Graham (@cbcbernard) January 14, 2014
* Jack Johnson had two assists, because I’LL SHOW YOU FOR NOT PICKING ME, TEAM USA. The Blue Jackets beat Tampa 3-2 in a game that saw Nathan Horton score his 200th career goal on a seeing-eye PP wrister. * The Winnipeg Jets beat the Coyotes 5-1 (more on that and Mike Smith in “An Opinion”), the only man with two points was…forward? Dustin Byfuglien. The Jets outshot the Coyotes 38-19. * Jonathan Quick stopped all 28 shots he saw and Dustin Brown scored 24 seconds into the third period to give the Kings all they needed to beat the Canucks 1-0. The two teams combined for 109 penalty minutes, including multiple fights. The Kings went at the Sedins, the Canucks went at Doughty, and away we go.
Movin’ on up The Columbus Blue Jackets have been quietly climbing the Eastern Conference standings, and now find themselves just two points out of a wild card spot thanks in part to the two points they grabbed last night. The game winner came with under three minutes to go in the third on the powerplay.
Since Nathan Horton’s return they’re 4-1.
Not perfect, but good enough
This 3-on-1 by the LA Kings wasn’t exactly masterfully executed, but it provided them with all the offense they needed to win.
A better odd-man rush
The Flames third leading scorer now has 19 points (I share that info because I think it’s kinda funny), and his name is Sean Monahan. Great finish on this rush here.
It’s pretty incredible how much the Phoenix Coyotes have done with so little over the past handful of seasons. With a team in bankruptcy, near relocation, in a brutal division, with a budget of nine nickels and a tumbleweed, they’ve not only managed to make playoffs during the NHL’s past three full seasons, but they’ve managed to make some noise there too. You’ll recall they were in the Conference Finals just two seasons ago. What’s so remarkable about it, is how they’ve managed to squeeze every last drop of juice out of an orange (available on the streets there this time of year) that’s appeared dry and used up for years. Don Maloney has had to make near-flawless roster moves, Tippett has had to coach the team to not waste so much as a stride, and the players have had to do their part too. The problem with all that is that it means that if anything goes slightly wrong – like say, Mike Smith starts to struggle – it’ll fall apart. Last night Smith was relatively awful against the Winnipeg Jets, giving up five goals on 38 shots (.868 save percentage), and the team lost 5-1. While that game wasn’t remotely all his fault, his three appearances before that were .857 (in relief), .893 and .852, which equals a loss (not his), a loss, and a loss respectively. The Phoenix Coyotes record doesn’t entirely hinge on the play of their goaltenders, but an organizations who pays very few people to be above average needs those guys to at least not perform below it. The Pacific Division with Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles and Vancouver is deadly, and they’re starting to fall behind. The Coyotes margin of error is too small for Smith to struggle much.
* Tim Leiweke of MLSE thinks that the real Leafs team is the one that played in October, not the one that’s played since. Makes sense. (It doesn’t make sense.) They’ve just been unlucky. (Nah I’m kidding they were lucky in October.) They’ll get it straightened out. (No, but not really.) * The 2015 NHL Entry Draft, aka the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, will be held in Florida. * The Winter Classic made the NHL 20 mill of pure profit. I suppose that’s a pretty reasonable way to justify trying to hold 32,979,978 of them per season, or whatever they’re at now. * The Kings are a part of the Stadium Series game at Dodgers Stadium, so they wore Dodgers jerseys for warmups yesterday. * Bryan Murray signed an extension in Ottawa, and is ready to wheel and deal. Look at the Sens gettin’ aggressive up in hurr. * The Florida Panthers have a “beard bet” going. Tim Thomas is the front-runner, but concerned about his love of burgers and mayonnaise and how that will affect his wife, or something. And finally… * Claude Giroux is a bit of a yapper. Apparently he thinks JVR is a pigeon? (I think I like that chirp, assuming it’s looks-based? Neck-first-momentum-based? I have no idea. But I still like it.)