The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article.
The Islanders are without John Tavares. The Senators defence is looking shallow due to injuries. Patrick Eaves is having himself a nice little season. Cam Talbot gets his 40th win during a phenomenal season.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 2, 2017
The New York Islanders were already in tough to make the playoffs after their poor start, but losing Tavares essentially seals the deal.
The Islanders are five points back of the Ottawa Senators for the last playoff spot with four games remaining, and the Senators have a game in hand. The Sens also play Detroit twice, making that five-point difference incredibly difficult to make up this late in the season. Ottawa and New York play each other for both of their last games, but Doug Weight’s crew will have to run the table if they want any hope of making it. The Islanders won last night against Buffalo, so maybe a streak is on the horizon?
This also complicates Tavare’s future in Long Island if the season ends without the playoffs. Some hockey insiders have wondered if Tavares might get moved if he isn’t signed to an extension by the summer, and you’d have to wonder if this might help given Cal Clutterbuck’s comments about the ice at Barclay’s Center.
SENS INJURY WOES
Erik Karlsson hadn't missed a single game from April 25, 2013 to March 28, 2017. His 324 game @Senators iron man streak will end tonight.
— Gino Reda (@GinoRedaTSN) March 30, 2017
It would take a lot for the Senators to miss the playoffs at this point, and well, injuries to Erik Karlsson, Marc Methor, and Cody Ceci, plus a surging Tampa Bay Lightning, might do it. The Senators are currently without three of their top four defencemen, but the big loss is Erik Karlsson. Ceci and Methot are nice players, but you can pretty much fill in the rest if Karlsson is healthy and playing 26 minutes a night. The good news is they play the Red Wings twice, and it’s not like Tampa Bay doesn’t have injury issues of their own.
A three point gap is a lot to make up within four games, and Ottawa does hold a game in hand between the teams chasing them. Ottawa should be able to hold on, and they signed first-round pick Colin White, so maybe that helps them outscore their mistakes with all those defencemen out.
EAVES GETS 30
— x – Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) April 3, 2017
Patrick Eaves has his first 30-goal season of his career at age 32. He’s been a nice pickup for Anaheim, playing mostly with Ryan Getzlaf and on their power play. Eaves has gone from depth player to top-liner, and is probably a player you don’t want your team overpaying in free agency, unless it’s for a short term complimentary role. Eaves is still an underrated winger who puts up good possession numbers and seems to be a fit on the power play, but he’s also 32 and this is only his third time putting up more 30 points.
Anaheim is a win-now mode, so a conditional second-round pick for Eaves has turned out well for them so far. Eaves probably isn’t a 30 goal scorer going forward, but can still help a team if he stays healthy and plays a complimentary role with good linemates.
TALBOT TIES FUHR
With this victory, Cam Talbot also ties #Oilers record for most wins in a season, matching Grant Fuhr's 40 wins in 1987-88
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) April 2, 2017
With Saturday night’s overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks, Cam Talbot is about to break an Oilers record for the most wins in a season. Talbot matches Grant Fuhr’s 40 wins from 1987-88, which might be a little bit more impressive due to the lack of 3-on-3 and shootouts back in the ’80s, but Fuhr also played behind an all-time great Oilers team.
Talbot has also gone from playing 36 games two years ago to starting over 70 games this season. He has been arguably the Oilers second most important player behind Connor McDavid, and has provided immense value with how many games he’s started. Talbot’s 70 games started lead the league by seven, and his save percentage isn’t too far off from the best of the goalies to start over 60 games.
There’s a case to be made for a Vezina nomination for Talbot, but he probably loses out to the likes of Devan Dubnyk, Braden Holtby, Carey Price, and Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky is the clear-cut favourite at this point, and while Talbot’s durability should make a compelling arguement against the rest of the pack, he doesn’t stack up to the Bobrovsky’s gaudy save percentage.