02-13-2019, 06:23 AM
COLUMBUS http://www.avalancheshoponline.com/authe...non-jersey , Ohio — The Toronto Maple Leafs carry a four-game winning streak into Nationwide Arena on Friday night to face a team that’s even hotter.The Columbus Blue Jackets (22-12-3) returned from the Christmas break on Thursday night with their fifth consecutive victory, a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Pierre-Luc Dubois‘ goal 31 seconds into overtime.The Maple Leafs (25-10-2) will be the more rested team, playing their first game since the layoff, but coach Mike Babcock said afterpractice on Thursday in Toronto that he doesn’t think that’s necessarily an advantage.Article continues below ...“It concerns me a little bit that Columbus is playing just from the fact that if you watched this practice you know we’re a little bit rusty to say the least,” Babcock said. “But we’ll be better tomorrow and get ready for them.”Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly liked being able to have a practice before a game.“I think we should all be fresh and ready to go,” he said “We’ve got some big games coming up here. … It works to our advantage to have a practice today and play tomorrow.”The Maple Leafs kept their winning streak intact on Sunday with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings. John Tavares scored the tying goal in the final seconds of the third period and Kasperi Kapanen the winner in overtime.Tavares leads the Maple Leafs with 24 goals in his first season with the club and Mitchell Marner has a team-best 38 assists and 50 points.Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews was named this week in fan voting as the captain of the Atlantic Division team for the NHL All-Star game next month.“To be selected is a huge honor and to be the captain of a division is pretty special,” Matthews said. The 21-year-old Matthews has accumulated 19 goals and 34 points in 23 games this season.“It’s exciting for our franchise,” Babcock said. “Obviously, he’s a good player and it’s a real compliment for him from the fans.”The Maple Leafs are running into one of the hottest goaltenders in the league. Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky was honored as the NHL’s First Star of the Week. Bobrovsky was given the first night of the Blue Jackets’ back-to-back off on Thursday after posting a 5-0-1 record with two shutouts in six straight starts. He made 34 and 39 saves in his last two games. “He’s playing at the top of his game, really, with a lot of confidence and he gives us a lot of confidence and keeps us calm on the bench Patrick Roy Jersey ,” Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson said. “We expect him to make those saves, and it’s amazing what he does for morale and then our team on the ice and the bench. He picks us up when we need him.” Although the Blue Jackets keep winning, coach John Tortorella was not particularly impressed with the how the team played last weekend at Philadelphia and New Jersey in victories.“I thought we sucked in both games,” he said. “It’s time to get back to work. It’s simple. You had your break. Christmas is over. It’s a National Hockey League season. I hope we play better after the break.”Besides Bobrovsky, Atkinson has provided a significantcontribution for the Blue Jackets with four goals in the last four games and 23 for the season.“He’s one of the top players in this league,” Tortorella said. “I think we feels that.”Against the Rangers, the Blue Jackets let an early lead slip away before defenseman Zach Werenski scored the tying goal with 2:20 left in the third period and then Dubois ended it. “You’ve got to find a way to get points and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Werenski said. “It’s crunch time now. These are huge points. Every game matters.” Things can change quickly in the NHL. Three days ago the Colorado Avalanche were flying, having lost once in regulation since Nov. 9 and seemingly unstoppable reality hit with a 7-1 drubbing at Tampa Bay at the end of a four-game road trip. The rout wasn’t the only thing that hit the Avalanche hard. They lost forward Vladislav Kamenev to a shoulder injury, and the youngster might not play again this season.“It’s long term, might be for the year Womens Samuel Girard Jersey ,” coach Jared Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com after Monday’s practice. “I don’t know the whole scenario there.”Article continues below ...Colorado (17-8-5) recalled forward A.J. Greer from the Colorado Eagles of the AHL, and he will be available when the Avalanche face the Edmonton Oilers at home on Tuesday night. Kamenev has two goals and three assists in 23 of Colorado’s 30 games.The Oilers (16-12-2) have turned around their season since coach Ken Hitchcock was hired to take over for the fired Todd McClellan. Edmonton is 7-2-1 under the new boss and is riding a three-game winning streak. The Oilers are coming off a 1-0 win over Calgary on Sunday.“I think we’re playing a little tighter, and it’s easier to close the games,” Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson told the Edmonton Sun after Sunday’s win. “Even when we were up two goals in the beginning of the season, we would tend to give up chances still, even when we tried to close games out. I don’t feel like we’re doing that now. We’re playing a system where you really need to work hard, and all the guys are buying into it and doing the right things out there. It pays off.”Like every team that plays the Avalanche, the key is stopping their top line. Entering Monday’s action right-winger Mikko Rantanen (12 goals, 36 assists) and center Nathan MacKinnon (20 goals, 25 assists) were 1-2 in the NHL in scoring. The third member of the line, left-winger Gabriel Landeskog (17 goals Semyon Varlamov Jersey , 17 assists) was 16th in scoring.The Oilers have some talented players, too, starting with Connor McDavid. He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP in 2016-17 at age 20, the third youngest player to earn the honor. The only ones younger were Sidney Crosby (2006-07) and Wayne Gretzky (1979-80), who were both 19.McDavid (16 goals, 25 assists) was fourth in the league in scoring before Monday’s action.The top lines for both teams could even out, leaving it up to secondary scorers to decide this one. Losing Kamenev is tough, but Colorado could also be without second-year center Alexander Kerfoot. He didn’t practice Monday due to an undisclosed injury, and if he can’t go Tuesday it will be the first game he has missed this year and just the fourth in his career.Greer could make up for Kerfoot’s absence if needed. Greer has played well for the Eagles with nine goals and 12 assists in 20 games. He has played one game with Colorado this season and had four assists in 22 games last year.