The NHL's hot starters are cooling off quickly.
Pittsburgh and Colorado led their respective conferences after a month of hockey. Both teams throttled opponents with blistering offenses. Keeping other teams on their heels masked the defensive liabilities both squads possess.
Eventually, offenses cool off. And when you don't have a strong blue line to begin with, those defensive flaws become exposed. That's exactly what the Penguins and Avalanche are experiencing right now, especially after low-scoring defeats on Saturday. The regression was inevitable, and so was its swiftness.
Unfortunately for both teams, their main competition in the West mostly took advantage. Chicago was overwhelmed by the Predators, but the Blues and Coyotes took care of their Eastern opponents with relative ease.
All the NHL Scores
Blues 4, Hurricanes 3
Predators 7, Blackhawks 2
Coyotes 6, Lightning 3
Panthers 4, Avalanche 1
Oilers 4, Flames 2
1. The Penguins are flat
Remember that team in Pennsylvania that had Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and James Neal? Remember how they used to score a lot? The Penguins don't. They've scored just four times at even-strength and are 1-4-0 in the last four games. Pittsburgh also has just 25 goals in the last twelve games after scoring 30 in its first eight. A 4-1 loss to the Devils on Saturday was a low point.
2. The Western Conference marches on
The West went 2-1 against the East on Saturday, yet another example of its dominance this season. The lone loss came in Colorado, where the Panthers won their second game since firing coach Kevin Dineen. Speaking of ...
3. The Avs are spiraling hard
A night after playing their worst game of the season, the Avalanche put up a poor effort against one of the worst teams in the NHL They've now lost three straight games and Matt Duchene to an oblique injury.
4. Saturday was filled with injuries
If you were playing hockey on Saturday, you were probably going to get injured. Evgeni Nabokov, Duchene, Alexander Semin and Marian Hossa all left their respective games due to injuries. That's a lot of star power lost on one night.
5. The night belonged to backup netminders
Jonas Gustavsson put up a respectable performance in a losing cause for Detroit, while Marek Mazanec became just the eighth goalie to win a game for the Nashville Predators. And some guy named Cam Talbot threw a shutout for the Rangers in Montreal.
The one play or moment from Saturday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days
The craziest moment of the night happened in Toronto, where Colton Orr recklessly came to the defense of Dion Phaneuf when the Leafs captain went after John Scott for a hit earlier in the period. But the real headlines were made after the game, when Scott called the Leafs captain a rather misogynistic phrase.
"My right leg took a beating today. I blocked a shot, then [Phaneuf] bailed on me and all of a sudden I'm not allowed to hit him anymore. He's Princess Phaneuf. It's a joke. My leg's fine. Everything's good. It's just something where I guess you're not allowed to hit the star guys anymore in this league."
Stat of the Night
The Rangers shut out the Canadiens in Montreal for the first time since they were both Original Six teams.
Post to Post
- The Stars might lose beloved broadcaster Ralph Strangis.
- Alex Pietrangelo's hit on Semin was pretty brutal. Clean, but brutal.
- The Leafs and Ducks made a big trade on Saturday.