So, your humble and gregarious author is now in the Lonestar State. I believe it’s called that because of the cheap beer that emanates from Texas, but I’ll need to double-check with my sources on that one.
On a similar note, I don’t think you’ve lived or truly been publicly humiliated until you’ve legitimately run through an airport to catch a flight.
(At least the doors hadn’t shut yet.)
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BRUINS 3, PENGUINS 0
-- As of this writing, Sport Club Stats gives the Pittsburgh Penguins a 33.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Granted, it's a silly time to get too bent out of shape about such odds, as losing to Boston shot them down 10 percent ... but still.
The reality is only building that the Penguins really might not make it. I don't know this for sure, but I wonder if Mike Sullivan's promotion was a Band-Aid when the club maybe needed something more.
Of course, this could also boil down to the "Let Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin cover up our mistakes" strategy finally starting to crater. Either way, they've been limited to two wins and three extra charity points in their last nine games. Yikes.
-- Sidney Crosby stats update: six goals on 86 SOG (seven shooting percentage), just 19 points in 30 games. Not good.
-- It's funny that the criticism - often at least partially accurate - about Marc-Andre Fleury has dissipated to the Penguins being in a ton of trouble without him.
-- Max Talbot scored his first goal with Boston against the team he was most relevant with (it’s tough to believe he was the Mike Rupp of the Penguins, scoring two goals in a Game 7). I almost wonder if the Pens should acquire him for peanuts just to lighten things up a bit in the locker room. LET HIM DRESS UP LIKE SID AGAIN SO WE CAN ALL SMILE ONCE MORE.
-- To be fair to the Penguins, they've run into two hot goalies in Braden Holtby and Tuukka Rask (conveniently Wednesday's two winners) in being limited to a single goal in two losses since Sullivan took over.
Rask stopped all 34 Penguins shots to grab his fourth win in a row and fourth shutout of the 2015-16 season. Rask generated two shutouts and only allowed two goals in this four-game span. He also is on a nine-game point streak (7-0-2).
His December numbers are especially resounding: 4-0-2 with a stupendous .965 save percentage and those two shutouts.
-- Jimmy Hayes scored a goal and an assist despite only receiving 9:21 TOI in this one. Maybe he deserves a little bump in ice time here and there?
(Not like Boston's hurting right now, mind you.)
-- Pretty quiet debut for Trevor Daley, who didn't generate a point or a SOG (or a penalty) while finishing with an even plus/minus. He received 18:40 TOI, including 3:03 on the power play (just 10 seconds fewer that Evgeni Malkin).
Those PP TOI numbers seem especially promising.
CAPITALS 2, SENATORS 1
-- I might repeat this once per week at this rate, but I feel like I must: Tom Wilson is just 21. I shudder to imagine the kind of damage he may cause during his career, especially since he's not really backing up the "can score" from the "big, hard-hitter who can score" description that was attached to him when Washington picked him 16th overall in 2012. He only has seven points in 30 games and 34 in 179 career contests, so at the moment, there's no sense denying why he's on the ice.
The NHL could at least address this by being proactive about disciplining his hits, but sometimes the league feels like an old man who doesn't even have the energy to get up from his recliner to yell at those darn kids for breaking his window with a baseball when it comes to discipline.
Sadly, the broken windows might equate to shattered careers.
-- Again, Rask and Holtby are among the hottest goalies in the NHL, if they're not flat-out the top two.
Holtby's 20 wins (20-4-1) leads the NHL and he's also 12-0-1 in his past 13 games. I'm sure people will lavish Barry Trotz in a lot of the praise in Washington, and he's accomplished plenty, but who knows where they'd be without Holtby.
The Capitals are one win (22-6-2 for 46 points) behind the league-leading Dallas Stars (23-6-2 for 48 points), by the way.
-- John Carlson scored the GWG. He now has two tallies and three assists for five points in his past four games.
-- Andrew Hammond returned to the Senators net for the first time since Nov. 12. Yes, he lost, but I think Ottawa would be wise to squeeze in some rest for Craig Anderson here and there now that he's back.