Goalie crisis in Vancouver? What goalie crisis?…Flames lose Mark Giordano for longer than anticipated…Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins once again the NHL’s top rookie…Evander Kane’s off-season shot work paying off…Erik Karlsson playing his way to a big raise with Senators…James Reimer return to the Leafs delayed…A gloomy forecast for the Canadiens.
VANCOUVER SUN: Cam Cole examines the roller-coaster ride that is the Canucks goaltending this season.
CALGARY HERALD: The Flames blueline has suffered a serious blow, as Mark Giordano has partially ruptured tendons in his left leg, sidelining him indefinitely. GM Jay Feaster dismissed the notion of replacing a player of Giordano’s caliber via trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s their best all-round defenseman. Unless another Flames blueliner can step up , the loss of Giordano could be the final nail in the coffin for their playoff hopes.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was NHL rookie of the month for the second consecutive month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last rookie to turn that trick was Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin in 2006, so RNH is in elite company. It’ll be interesting to see if he can make it three in a row, especially with linemate Taylor Hall sidelined for at least the next two weeks.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forward Evander Kane credits his off-season work on his shot, using the old fashioned “Shooter Tutor”, as part of the reason for his improved play this season.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is playing his way toward a lucrative new contract when his entry level deal expires at season’s end, Regarding term, he might accept something comparable to Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman’s new five-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not sure if Karlsson would earn the same salary, but a five-year deal is certainly possible. Don’t worry, Senators fans, they’ll get Karlsson re-signed, probably before July 1st, when he’d become eligible to entertain offer sheets from rival teams.
SPORTSNET.CA: Toronto Maple Leafs fans will have to wait a little longer for the return of goalie James Reimer, as head coach Ron Wilson confirms Jonas Gustavsson will be in net to face the Boston Bruins in tonight’s game.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Mike Boone paints a gloomy forecast for the remainder of the Montreal Canadiens’ season, noting for the Habs to net 96 points, which could be the minimum required to make the playoffs, they’ll need 71 points over their next 56 games. Do-able, according to Boone, but likely? “Not so much”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recently caught flak from a few Habs fans for saying the Canadiens aren’t a Stanley Cup contender. Right now, they’re a marginal playoff contender, and it’s going to take significant improvement, especially with their offense, to clinch a post-season berth. Buddha help them if Carey Price gets injured, because he’s been saving their bacon. The truth hurts, gang. Right now, the Canadiens aren’t playing like a playoff contender, and must significantly improve if they hope to make the spring dance in 2012.