NHL News and Notes: February 1, 2019

Tim van Straten

Following the All-Star break, teams are now gearing up for a Stanley Cup Playoff run. Here’s a rundown of some of the latest happenings in the NHL.

Flyin’ High

Once one of the league’s worst teams, the Flyers are making a late-season push toward the playoffs. On Thursday, Travis Sanheim’s overtime goal gave the Flyers a 3-2 overtime win over the Bruins, their sixth straight victory. Claude Giroux and Oskar Lindblom also scored for Philadelphia, who at 50 points trails the Blue Jackets by nine points for the second Wild Card spot.

Hats Off to Zibanejad

Mika Zibanejad scored three goals to complete the hat trick as the Rangers beat the Devils 4-3 in New Jersey. Zibanejad now has 20 goals on the season, on pace to beat last seasons’s career-high of 27. Chris Kreider also scored for New York, his 23rd of the season. All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19 shots and got the win in his first game after the break.

Jetting to Victory

Kyle Connor is continuing his hot streak. His goal late in the third period gave the Jets a 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets. In addition to Connor’s 22nd goal of the season, Mark Scheifele, Jack Roslovic, and Mason Appleton also scored for Winnipeg, who leads the Central Division with 68 points. Connor Hellebuyck had 28 saves in the win, outdueling Sergei Bobrovsky and his 22 saves.

Singing the Blues

Now in his third stint with the Blues, forward David Perron has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Perron has missed the previous three games for the Blues, who haven’t played since January 23rd. Perron is second on the team with 35 points on 17 goals and 18 assists. Before the injury, he was riding a career-best 13-game point streak, where he scored six goals and had 10 assists.

Panarin Not Talking “Bread”

Earlier in the week, Blue Jackets star Artemi Panarin’s agent revealed that his client will not discuss any contract extensions until after the season. Panarin, 27, is in the final year of his two-year contract, where he is earning $6 million this season. Last season, Panarin put up 82 points, and is already on pace to beat that with 53 points in 46 games this season. In the event Columbus feels they will be unable to retain their star, the trade deadline is February 25th.

From Black to Blue

The big trade this week involved a former Stanley Cup-winning defenseman and a team in desperate need of blue line help. The Maple Leafs acquired Jake Muzzin from the Kings in exchange for two prospects and a 2019 first round pick. Through 50 games, the 29-year old Muzzin has 21 points on four goals and 17 assists. He practiced for the first time with the Leafs on Thursday, skating alongside Morgan Reilly on the top pairing. He is expected to make his debut Friday night at the Red Wings.

Sticking Around

The Hurricanes and forward Jordan Martinook agreed to a two-year contract extension worth an average of $2 million per season. Martinook, 26, has impressed Carolina this year with his strong two-way play. In addition to scoring 10 goals in 50 games, he leads the team with 125 hits and 28 blocked shots. Martinook, in his first season with Carolina, gets his extension a little over a week after teammate Teuvo Teravainen received a five-year deal from the Hurricanes.

Au Revoir, Vermette

One of the best faceoff specialists of the last several years is officially calling it quits. Center Antoine Vermette announced his retirement on Thursday following 14 seasons in the NHL. The 36-year old spent time with the Senators, Blue Jackets, Coyotes, Blackhawks, and most recently the Ducks. He won his lone Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2015. Since the league began tracking faceoff win percentage in 1997, Vermette’s 56.6 percent puts him ninth all-time. His 8,948 wins in the circle are the 14th most all-time as well. Besides faceoffs, Vermette put up 228 goals and 287 assists in 1,046 games.