not only the final day of 2019, but it is also the final day of the decade. The
National Hockey League is sending the year out in style with a full day of
action and 13 big games on the schedule. Before all the action gets started, we’ll
look at a big return and an injury update in Columbus. A playoff hero gets two
honors in one day while the All-Star goaltenders have been named.
Returns to Columbus
One of the
most intriguing games on today’s schedule is the Florida Panthers visiting the
Columbus Blues Jackets. This will mark Sergei Bobrovsky’s first appearance at the
Nationwide Arena since he signed his seven-year, $70 million contract with the
Panthers on July 1.
Bobrovsky spent the previous seven seasons with the Blue Jackets where in won a pair of Vezina Trophies, for being the league’s top goaltender, in 2013 and again in 2017. He was also in net for their huge first-round upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning last spring, the only Stanley Cup playoff series win in franchise history.
be the second time Bobrovsky will face his former teammates this month. He made
33 saves in a 4-1 Panthers home victory back on Dec. 7. The current members of
the Blue Jackets do not seem all too concerned with his return.
is a bigger story, I think, for our fans than for us,” Blue Jackets captain
Nick Foligno said Monday. “We’ve already played against [Bobrovsky].
That story’s been written for us. Now we look at it as we have to get a big win
against a good team.”
Bobrovsky’s first season in Florida has not been a great one. While he has 14 wins, his 3.26 goals-against average (GAA) and .898 save percentage (SV%) is far below his career averages. He comes into this game struggling as he has given up 15 goals over his last three starts. Somehow, the Panthers managed to win two of those games.
Panthers will not have to face Joonas Korpisalo, who spent four years as
Bobrovsky’s backup. Korpisalo injured his right knee while facing Chicago Blackhawks
captain Jonathan Toews on Sunday. Head coach John Tortorella told the media his
starting goaltender will be out “weeks.”
Gets Second Star Honors
named their Three Stars from the previous seven days as they at the start
of every week. Victor Hedman of the Lightning took home First Star honors for
six assists and eight points in three games. Toronto Maple Leafs captain John
Tavares was named the Third Star after scoring two goals and seven points.
St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington was named the Second Star for a big week with the hottest team in the league. The defending Stanley Cup champions won all three of the games last week to extend their winning streak to eight games and Binnington earned the win in all of them.
a 1.96 GAA and .929 SV% in one win against the Los Angeles Kings and
back-to-back victories over the Winnipeg Jets. He is one a personal six-game
winning streak and now leads all NHL goaltenders with 19 wins. He has won 43
games during 2019, which is a franchise record for the most victories in a calendar
Star of the Week was not the only honor Binnington earned on Monday. He was
also named to the Central Division team for the
2020 NHL All-Star Game. The Blues are hosting the event and he will be
joined by teammates Ryan O’Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo. This will be Binnington’s
first All-Star Game.
Hellebuyck of the Jets will join Binnington on the Central Division team.
Hellebuyck is tied for the league lead in shutouts with three and his .923 SV%
is good enough for ninth among all goaltenders.
Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes were named to the Pacific Division squad. The Atlantic Division will have a formidable duo in Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs workhorse Frederik Andersen. Korpisalo and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals will represent the Metropolitan Division.
As we mentioned earlier, Korpisalo will be out weeks with a knee injury so he will miss the game on Jan. 25. Kuemper is currently considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury so it is doubtful he will play either. Possible replacements include Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks.
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