Hello, everyone. It’s Dan Mount again and I’m back with another edition of Three Periods. I’ve had a couple weeks off, so I’m ready to go with the latest news. This week I’ll give an all too late shoutout to our veterans and a possible Winter Classic game at West Point. The Second Period will talk about the big injury to Steven Stamkos and the third period will discuss the red-hot New York Rangers. This week’s bit of internet goodness will show Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller making a play that a shortstop would smile with delight. Let’s drop the puck.
Last week was Veteran’s Day, but we should always take time to honor the men and women that have served and sacrificed for this country. Hockey teams usually wear camouflage warm-up outfits and had ceremonies that said thanks to the fighting men and women. The NHL might be taking that to the next level as there’s talk of having an outdoor game at Michie Stadium in West Point. The league is looking for venues other than football and baseball stadiums and the scenic stadium at West Point would be a fantastic place to hold a game. The legendary football stadium is on the Hudson River and it would be awesome for the cadets to see a high-profile game. West Point is a wonderful campus and is close enough to the New York City area. The Rangers, Islanders and Devils would all love to be a part of this. The Devils and the Florida Panthers played an exhibition game at Tate Rink on campus, and the event got a tremendous reception. NHL teams have also trained at the academy, with the Panthers being the last team to do so in 2014. Let’s hope an outdoor game at Michie Stadium gets done soon because it would be an awesome sight.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have held the power in the Atlantic Division the last couple of seasons, but that grip might be slipping this season for a couple of reasons. Tampa Bay received some tough news as star sniper and captain Steven Stamkos is out for four months after knee surgery. “Stammer” suffered a meniscus tear in Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. He was off to a great start with 20 points in 17 games, including nine goals. He’s formed a devastating partnership with Nikita Kucherov. The injury does hamper the Ning’s shot at getting back to the final like it did in 2015, and the Montreal Canadiens might have a say in that as well. Carey Price won his first 10 starts and the defense is flourishing since the acquisition of Shea Weber from Nashville in the offseason. The Habs got off to a hot start last season, but the wheels fell off when Price got injured. Montreal looks like they’ve fixed the issues that plagued them, but the former gold medalist is going to have to play a lot of games. Al Montoya was lit up for 10 goals a couple of weeks ago against Columbus. Montreal coach Michel Therrien might be a little hesitant to play Montoya and that could wear down Price. The one thing working in Tampa’s favor is that Stamkos can recover quickly. He came back after just three months form a broken leg in 2014, and he returned for Game 7 against Pittsburgh after coming back from blood clots. Stamkos could return and the race for the division might be in doubt if the Lightning can keep close.
Don’t look now, but the New York Rangers are firing on all cylinders right now. The Blueshirts have been scoring goals left and right and racking up wins. I originally had the Rangers fighting for their playoff lives early in the season because I thought they would be thin on the bottom six and on defense. The team had to shed a lot of salary in the offseason and was still trying to shop players like Derek Stepan and Rick Nash to relieve some stress on their cap. However, general manager Jeff Gorton couldn’t find many suitors. New York did a good job of getting some bargains like Michael Grabner and Brandon Pirri have shored up their depth. J.T. Miller and Chris Krieder have had bounce-back seasons on offense, while Marc Staal and Dan Girardi have done the same on defense. The Rangers have averaged nearly five goals a game in this great stretch and that has allowed Henrik Lundqvist to not have to make 45 saves a night and allow just one goal a game in the hopes of keeping his team in games. The defense can take chances and make plays when they feel they have a shot at it. New York’s special teams have also been on point as it is third in the power-play rankings behind Philadelphia and Columbus. The Blueshirts are also in the top 10 in penalty killing, as they’re eighth when down a skater. All of these ingredients are part of the Rangers’ fast start, but the test will come Monday when they face the defending champion Penguins. The Blueshirts top the recent power rankings, but the only ones that matter are the ones at the end. Internet goodness: Last week Ryan Miller made a one heck of a glove save a week ago against the Detroit Red Wings. The Canucks’ goalie was almost caught out of position when Henrik Zetterberg lofted a shot into the zone from center ice. Miller had to scramble and make one heck of a diving save to spare him from being embarrassed. It’s an early candidate for save of the year and Miller made one heck of a play in front of his family and friends. He played his college hockey at Michigan State. That’s it for this week. Take care and I’ll see you next week. Enjoy Thanksgiving and hockey. Dan Mount is a producer for Spadora on Sports. He’s also a writer for NHL on the Ice, the Nashville Predators beat reporter for The Hockey Writers and a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times in Watertown, NY. He can be found on Twitter @DanMountSports.
Courtesy of SpadoraOnSports.com