Game recaps, plus updates on Alexei Emelin, Eddie Lack, Andrew Hammond, Nikita Nikitin and the Jets goaltending.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Anaheim Ducks 6-3. Rookie Johnny Gaudreau scored twice for the Flames, reaching 50 points on the season. He’s only three points behind Nashville’s Filip Forsberg in the rookie scoring race.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember when some folks suggested “Johnny Hockey” was too small to compete in the NHL? Don’t hear very much of that nowadays. While I still believe Florida’s Aaron Ekblad will win the Calder Trophy as this season’s rookie of the year, Gaudreau definitely belongs among the finalists. And the Flames are making a believer out of me regarding their playoff hopes. Like many observers, I thought captain Mark Giordano[s season-ending bicep surgery was a death blow to their postseason dreams, but the Flames simply refuse to quit. Whatever happens over the rest of this season, they’ve certainly given their fans their money’s worth.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Overshadowing the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 victory over the equally hapless Buffalo Sabres was the news Nazem Kadri would be scratched an extra two games over incidents stemming from his immaturity.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sheriff Shanahan returns and Kadri pays the price. Sounds like the Leafs center suffers from the same problem Tyler Seguin did during his tenure with the Boston Bruins. To paraphrase the title of a late-70s disco hit, “He apparently loves the nightlife.” I’ll have more on the speculation over Kadri’s future with the Leafs in my Rumors section.
LA PRESSE: Sidelined Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin (right shoulder injury) might return this week.
THE PROVINCE: Can the Vancouver Canucks afford to give goalie Eddie Lack a chance to rest down the stretch?
WINNIPEG SUN: A recent spate of poor goaltending could scuttle the Jets’ playoff hopes.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators should ride Andrew “Hamburgler” Hammond until he’s no longer capable of providing the goaltending they need to challenge for a playoff spot this season.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Struggling Oilers defenseman Nikita Nikitin has draw criticism this season over his conditioning and performance.