The major news yesterday was the blockbuster trade between the Buffalo Sabres and the St. Louis Blues. Both clubs were in action on a lightly scheduled Friday night where the rookies took center stage. It all leads up to a Saturday full of afternoon games and the next game in the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Stadium Series.
Enroth Replaces Miller Late, Comes Up Big – Buffalo Sabres 4, San Jose Sharks 2
Jonas Enroth made 36 saves in an unexpected start to give the Buffalo Sabres the victory, their third win in a row. Buffalo coach, Ted Nolan, received word just thirty minutes before the start of the game that their starter, Ryan Miller, had been traded to the Blues, leaving Enroth very little time to digest the trade before putting on the pads and starting the game. San Jose lost both games to the Sabres this season, prompting their captain to claim the Sabres “just have our number for whatever reason.”
Enroth is excited about the opportunity he was given with the Miller trade. “If you don’t call this a chance, I don’t know what a chance is,” the goaltender said. “I truly believe I can be the number one guy here.”
Varlamov Debuts With 40 Save Performance After Olympics – Colorado Avalanche 4, Phoenix Coyotes 2.
Semyon Varlamov did not get the result he wanted in Sochi. He and the rest of the Russian national team were eliminated early in the Olympic games, failing to provide a medal to the home country. His performance in Friday night’s game against the Coyotes showed he can put the past behind him. Varlamov made 40 saves and winger Gabriel Landeskog contributed three points as the Avalanche put a dent in the Coyotes’ playoff hopes. Coyotes captain, Shane Doan, said his team needs to figure out a way to get more points and that it always comes down to these final games.
Colorado rookie, Nathan MacKinnon, added two assists for the Avalanche, extending his point streak to 10 games. It is the longest point streak for a rookie in the NHL since 2007, when Chicago superstar, Jonathan Toews, accomplished the feat.
Long Shootout Extends Wild Win Streak, Vancouver Woes – Minnesota Wild 2, Vancouver Canucks 1
The NHL playoff race can change in an instant, so teams need to find success where they can. For the Wild, it is the play of their rookies that have helped them win the last four games in a row. Rookie goaltender, Darcy Kuemper, made 30 saves in the game and stopped all seven attempts in the shootout, while fellow rookie, Justin Fontaine, scored the shootout gamewinner to get the win.
Vancouver has scored only two goals in the last two games, earning a 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night. It was the only win in Vancouver’s past nine games, leaving the possibility of missing the playoffs a very real one.
Tight Defensive Game Ends With Anaheim Victory – Anaheim Ducks 1, St. Louis Blues 0
Jonas Hiller faced only 18 shots to give his club the 1-0 win in their first game back from the NHL Olympic break, while St. Louis goaltender, Brian Elliott, allowed only one in the 19 shots he faced. And while the shot totals were surprisingly low in a match between two of the elite teams in the Western Conference, the game was anything but boring. Anaheim blocked 27 shots and the Blues missed the net with 30 more, ending in a deceiving 1-0 score.
The Blues made a trade late last night to solidify their goaltender for a deep playoff run, but their offense has completely dried up in the process. The game was their second 1-0 loss in a row, losing to Vancouver by the same score on Wednesday night.
This article is one in a series, provided daily, which provides coverage, analysis, and projections for NHL fans.
By Jonathan Gardner