Last night was kind of interesting. There were 10 games played, with four shutouts.
Goalies Steve Mason (CBJ), Ryan Miller (BUF), Ty Conklin (backup; STL), and Nik Backstrom (MIN) each kept the red light off behind them.
So is this a sign defense is back in the NHL? Is the NHL reverting to its pre-lockout lockdown defensive mode?
Flipping around, it seems more like a sign the NHL season is just too long. Teams are out of gas and seem to be having trouble bringing the proper energy levels to each game.
Although, to be fair, Miller’s night against the Caps included some pretty amazing saves. But Minnesota-Colorado was pretty devoid of energy as was the Blues win over a tired-looking Detroit. Columbus played a strong defensive game against Florida, but the Panthers have looked tired since American Thanksgiving.
I don’t have data on the last time the NHL had this many shutouts in a night, but it seems to be a pretty rare thing. You can look at it as some strong goalies having solid games, but the reality is probably more that some strong and some struggling teams had a night where they didn’t have very much steam.
The NHL is cramming in games to make room for the Olympics and we’re starting to see the effect in the on-ice product. It’s good for goalies but probably dull for fans. Does anyone want to watch a bunch of exhausted men skate around?
Speaking of on-ice product, why is Ottawa both mad and surprised Alex Kovalev’s been slumping this season? How did they not realize this is what Kovalev does?