Just A Thought
@ESPN_Burnside: So far the jury is very much out on the Nashville Predators' decision to go with untested netminders as they wait out the recovery of starter Pekka Rinne from a hip infection. Rinne is expected to miss a month and since he went down, the Predators are 1-1-1 although the jury is definitely leaning toward a guilty verdict, given Carter Hutton's play the past two games. The untested 27-year-old has allowed nine goals on 51 shots while dropping his last two games. Most damning was the Predators' 5-4 shootout loss Thursday night in Phoenix. The Preds jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead but Hutton failed to react properly to a shot deflected by Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein near the Preds' blue line while allowing the Coyotes' first goal, by Jordan Szwarz, early in the second. In all, Hutton made only 21 saves on 25 shots. The lost point was especially disheartening given that it came in the first game of a marathon seven-game trip. GM David Poile is fond of saying that Preds hockey suggests that if they score three goals, they should be in a position to win most games. Right now, that's simply not the case and unless things change, this trip could be a defining moment in the Preds' season.
@CraigCustance: He made 44 saves on 46 shots and has nothing to show for it. Another strong performance by Ryan Miller wasted by a Sabres team that just doesn't look interested in competing on a nightly basis, this time losing 2-0 to the Rangers. Can't say Miller isn't interested in competing, though. He's got a .919 save percentage this season and has faced more shots and made more saves than any other goalie in the league. His payoff? A league-high 10 losses and just one win. Please, somebody rescue him from the Sabres so his nightly effort and competitive professionalism can go to a team that will reward it.
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: I guess when you're in a division with the sizzling 10-1-2 Sharks, or the impressive 10-3-1 Ducks, or John Tortorella's 9-5-1 Canucks, or the 2012 Cup champion Kings (9-5-0), maybe it's hard to get a little attention for yourself. But the Phoenix Coyotes have carved out a 9-3-2 start in the NHL's toughest division, thank you very much, the latest victory Thursday night a come-from-behind, 5-4 shootout affair over the visiting Nashville Predators, a game the Coyotes were trailing 3-0 after the first period. Perhaps most interesting so far is just how un-Coyote like the start has been, the team tied for third in NHL scoring with Toronto at 3.36 goals per game -- third! -- while placing only 23rd in goals against per game at 3.07 a game. Normally those stats would be reversed, and certainly you figure Dave Tippett's men will find their defensive grounding as the year goes on. But the offseason addition of Mike Ribeiro was supposed to spark the offense and while he has been OK, he's only fifth in team scoring with 10 points (5-5) in 14 games. Really, the scoring has been spread out (nine players with eight or more points), including veteran blue-liner Derek Morris beginning the year with nine points (4-5) in 12 games. Don't sleep on the Coyotes, folks!
@KatieStrangESPN: Does it seem bizarre to anyone else that, two days removed from spending the night in jail on domestic violence charges against his girlfriend, goaltender Semyon Varlamov is back with his Colorado Avalanche team as if nothing has happened? Legally, Varlamov absolutely deserves the presumption of innocence and his rightful day in court, but out of respect to the gravity of the allegations -- a second-degree kidnapping charge and a third-degree assault charge -- it seems a bit jarring that he'll travel with the team and, according to the Denver Post, start against Dallas Friday night. Yes, the judge in his case granted permission to travel, but that same court also imposed a restraining order on the 25-year-old. I'm not saying Varlamov shouldn't be allowed to return to doing what he does best -- play hockey -- until his day in court, but perhaps suggesting he take a few days off to sort through this very serious matter would've been a good move by the Avs organization, both in showing the proper sensitivity to the situation and limiting distraction to the team.
Quote Me On That
"If we want this to stop, it will stop. Everyone has to increase their intensity. When everyone wants this to stop, it will. You have to work your way out of it."
-- Ryan Miller on the Sabres' league-worst 2-12-1 record
• Henrik Lundqvist (NYR): 29 saves, 47th career shutout, passing Ken Dryden and Nikolai Khabibulin for 27th all time
• Zdeno Chara (BOS): Second goal of season (ends five-game streak without a point)
• Ducks: 0-4 on power play (1-23 on PP in past six games, all on road)
• More from ESPN Stats & Information »