Evgeni Malkin leads Penguins over Capitals…Alexander Ovechkin and Zbynek Michalek could face suspensions…Jonas Hiller the difference for improving Ducks…Bruins costly win over Flyers…No suspension for Henrik Zetterberg for hit on Nikita Nikitin…Sabres misery continues…Devils GM unconcerned over team’s record against top teams…Cam Ward improving…Nick Leddy becoming key defenseman for Blackhawks.
POST-GAZETTE.COM: Evgeni Malkin led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. It was a rough affair, however, which could result in possible suspensions for Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin and Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin has a suspension history, and leaving his feet to lay that hit on Michalek could prove costly. Michalek has no previous suspension history, but that hit on Hendricks is the kind the league now frowns upon. As for Malkin, he’s taken over the league points race, and is third in the goal-scoring race. At this pace, he could finish the season winning both titles, and is muscling his way into the lead for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Goaltender Jonas Hiller has made the difference for the Anaheim Ducks in their recent 8-1-1 surge, going “6-0-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hiller had been playing poorly in the first half of the season, but of late appears to have regained his form. The Ducks are 11 points out of the playoff chase, and it remains to be seen if they can maintain their current pace, but they’re among the hottest teams in the league right now, and could gain significant ground in the standings if they can keep this up.
CSNNE.COM: Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton was forced to leave yesterday’s game (a 6-5 Bruins win over the Philadelphia Flyers) due to a blindside hit by Flyer Tom Sesito. The Bruins also learned Andrew Ference had been suspended three games for charging Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in an earlier game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet on the seriousness of Horton’s condition. He has a concussion history so this is obviously being treated with concern by the Bruins. No word yet if Sesito will face disciplinary action for that hit.
DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg won’t face a suspension for his push to the back of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin, who suffered a knee injury after crashing awkwardly into the boards. The league felt there was no intent to injure on Zetterberg’s part. Nikitin is expected to miss the Blue Jackets next two games, but the injury isn’t believed to be serious.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve heard a few yahoos claiming league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is showing favoritism to his former team and Zetterberg, but it’s obvious Zetterberg made incidental contact and never intended to hurt Nikitin. Even the Blue Jackets aren’t questioning the decision, as Zetterberg is renowned as one of the cleanest players in the league. While Zetterberg was willing to face whatever discipline might’ve been handed down, this was a good call by Shanahan.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres return home from a road trip in which they went 0-5, dropping them to the bottom of the Northeast Division and 14th overall in the Eastern Conference.
NJ.COM: Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is unconcerned over his team’s 1-6 record against the top teams in the Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Probably because he’s more concerned over the team’s financial situation. Bazinga!
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward has gone 8-4-5 since regaining his focus after an on-bench meltdown during a loss against the Winnipeg Jets in early December.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: 20-year-old defenseman Nick Leddy is blossoming into a quality defenseman for the Blackhawks.