NHL Notebook: Flames are hot
Let’s recap some of the major NHL headlines from on and off the ice over the last week.
Calgary catching fire
The Calgary Flames are the hottest team in hockey, having won six games in a row. Johnny Gaudreau has a six-game point streak, and Elias Lindholm is riding a four-game scoring streak.
But the lion’s share of the credit should probably go to goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who got the start in each and every game of this run. He’s tallied two shutouts in this span to go with a .945 save %. That includes the Flames’ 6-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.
Calgary has now caught and passed Vegas in the Pacific Division betting, going from +205 second-choices before the All-Star break to -106 favorites. The Golden Knights slipped from -134 to +125.
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Vegas Golden Knights
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Oddsmakers have also dropped the Flames from +2000 to +1500 to win the Stanley Cup.
Marchand appeals six-game suspension
Bruins forward Brad Marchand was handed a six-game suspension on Wednesday for sucker-punching and high-sticking Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry in the closing moments of a 4-2 loss. He was given a minor roughing penalty and a match penalty immediately after his actions.
Marchand is appealing the suspension – the eighth he’s garnered over 13 seasons in the NHL – saying, “Was it stupid? Of course it was stupid, I’m not denying that. I absolutely should not have done it, but was it suspension worthy? I don’t think so.”
After sitting out Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Senators, Marchand made the trip with his team to New York, and evidently intends to play against the Rangers.
St. Louis hired to helm Habs
The Montreal Canadiens’ house-cleaning continued on Wednesday, when it was announced that Dominique Ducharme was relieved of head coaching duties. Martin St. Louis – the former Tampa Bay Lightning great who has no experience coaching professional hockey whatsoever – was named the interim head coach of the Habs.
The move has been met with some criticism, but only time will tell if it was wise. With a league-worst 23 points through 48 games, it would be hard for St. Louis to do much worse than his predecessor.
Following a failed comeback bid from offseason hip surgery, goaltender Tuukka Rask announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday after 15 seasons, all spent with the Bruins. Rask was 2-2-0 with an uninspiring 4.28 GAA and .844 save % in four games this season.
“Over these last few weeks, I’ve realized that my body is not responding the way it needs to for me to play at the level I expect of myself and that my teammates and Bruins fans deserve,” Rask said in a statement. “Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from the game of hockey.”
Widely considered among the best netminders of his generation, and arguably the best Bruins goalie of all-time, Rask will likely be elected to the Hall of Fame sooner rather than later.