With the All-Star break a little over two weeks away, Sean takes a quick look around the rink at some NHL news and notes that you can use in your daily handicapping.
Long Island blues
There was plenty of optimism on Long Island entering the 22-23 campaign but that is quickly vanishing as the Islanders have now lost 14 of their last 22 games. Goal scoring, or a lack thereof has been the main culprit lately with New York having scored a grand total of 10 goals over its last six games. On a positive note, goaltender Ilya Sorokin is having another fantastic season having posted a .925 save percentage in 32 games played. The 'under' is 13-6-1 in Sorokin's last 20 starts between the pipes. Next up is a matchup with the red hot Bruins at UBS Arena on Wednesday.
Wild nights are calling
The Minnesota Wild have quietly climbed back into the playoff picture, currently sitting in third place in the Central Division, just five points behind (with two games in hand) the Stars and Jets who are currently tied for top spot. Minnesota rides a three-game winning streak into Thursday's date with the Hurricanes in Raleigh. The Wild signed forward Matt Boldy to a seven-year contract extension with a cap-hit of $7 million per season earlier this week. He's actually been slumping, tallying a grand total of four assists over his last 11 games. Of note, Kirill Kaprizov was held off the scoresheet in their 4-2 win in Washington on Tuesday. Kaprizov has played in all 43 games this season and has only been held pointless in consecutive games on two previous occasions (not since November 3rd and 8th).
The injury bug has taken hold in Montreal with the Canadiens losing first overall draft pick Juraj Slafkovski for three months due to a 'lower-body' injury. He joins Jake Allen, Jake Evans, Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia who have all suffered injuries of varying severity in the past week. Things were actually looking up for the Habs as they delivered consecutive wins over the Rangers and Jets on Sunday and Tuesday. Many believe the Canadiens would be well-suited to take their lumps over the remainder of the campaign in an effort to give themselves a better shot at earning the coveted number one draft pick again this June (with highly-touted prospect Connor Bedard the ultimate prize). Montreal currently sits in 26th place in the NHL, 13 points clear of the last-place Blackhawks and Blue Jackets.
What happens in Vegas
The Golden Knights continue to hold down first place in the Pacific Division but their grip is loosening as they sit just two points ahead of both the Kraken and Kings and only seven points clear of the fifth-place Flames for context. Mark Stone recently joined the list of walking wounded with an upper-body injury, leaving a considerable hole at the top of the depth chart up front. Stone has contributed 38 points in 43 games this season and plays a key role on the power play (nine power play points this season), logging an average of nearly three minutes per game with the man advantage. The Knights will play their next two games at home before heading on the road for five-game trip that will take them all over the map, from Arizona to New York to Nashville and Minnesota.