Welcome to the Pregame Skate, a Five Minute Major Upgrade to Your Inbox
🦈Cleaning Out the Tank: San Jose also made a coaching change yesterday, firing Pete DeBoer and his three assistants following a road trip where the Sharks went 0-3-1.
The Flames are Catching Fire
What’s Happening: Heading into Tuesday’s matchup with the Coyotes, the Flames were winners of five straight—all of which came under new head coach Geoff Ward. Cam Talbot made 46 saves and the Flames defeated the Coyotes by a score of 5-2, giving Ward a 6-0-0 record to start his tenure.
What’s Working: Sean Monahan has increased his production, and Johnny Gaudreau seems to be coming along after a slow start to the season. Johnny Hockey has six points in eight games after a four game point-less streak in mid November when he was a combined -9.
Who Else: Zac Rinaldo initially joined the Flames on a professional tryout, but he has made his presence felt the past few games. Rinaldo scored his first goal as a Flame on Saturday before registering a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s win over the Coyotes.
The Bigger Picture: The Flames are just two points behind the first place Oilers in the Pacific Division, but more importantly, they seem to have moved on from the Bill Peters era. A mid-season coaching move with that much press coverage could have crippled the Flames, but they are responding to the change in coaching styles well.
Dig Deeper: Eric Francis, Sportsnet
What’s Happening: The NHL’s youngest team is off to a decent start to the season, especially given the talks of a “rebuild” that have surrounded the Rangers since last year. Their 15-12-3 record has them in the middle of the pack, leading to some potentially difficult decisions for general manager Jeff Gorton moving forward.
Tell Me More: The Rangers need to make a decision on what to do with unrestricted free agent Chris Kreider, and they could use a little more experience on the blue line. Gorton’s biggest decision, however, could relate to the Blueshirts goaltending situation.
In Between the Pipes: Alexandar Georgiev has been impressive to date (8-5-1 with a .926 save percentage), allowing Henrik Lundqvist to stay fresh and sharp. Georgiev’s play makes him a lock to stay in the NHL, but he could also find himself on the trade block ahead of the February 24th deadline. Here’s why: Igor Shestyorkin has long been considered Lundqvist's heir apparent, and he’s proving that he can excel in North America. The Russian netminder has a .930 save percentage in 15 appearances for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack this year.
The Bottom Line: Things are going a little better than anticipated in New York, so Gorton will use the next month to decide if they are “buyers” or “sellers” at the trade deadline. The Rangers do play in the Big Apple after all, so we tend to think they’ll make a run at the playoffs this year.
To Sell or Not to Sell? This Rangers blog is asking that question.
Dig Deeper: Brett Cyrgalis, New York Post
One Game to Watch: Blue Jackets vs. Penguins
When: Thursday, December 12th @ 7 p.m. EST
Watch: FSOH, ATTP
The Matchup: Columbus earned a big win on Monday against the Capitals, who sit atop the NHL. They will have to be prepared for the Penguins, who had a minor setback against the Canadiens on Tuesday. The Pens are 6-3-1 in their last ten and have been getting solid goaltending from Tristan Jarry, who recently set a franchise record for the longest shutout streak by a Penguins netminder. Columbus’ backup goaltender, Elvis Merzlikins, has not fared as well as Jarry this season—the Latvian is 0-4-3 in seven appearances.