Wednesday night was a very light schedule in the National Hockey League with just two games, but we did see more dominance from a hometown boy in Montreal. Also, we have a new All-Star goaltender and one of the all-time greats has a new role in New Jersey.
Crawford Loves Coming Home
Every player loves playing in their hometown, but it is hard to imagine anyone who loves it more than Corey Crawford. The Chicago Blackhawks have not had a regulation loss in Montreal since March 31, 2009. Since then, they have gone 6-0-2 and the one constant in those games is Crawford in goal.
Crawford got the start at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night and continued the dominance in his hometown in a 4-1 win over the Canadiens. He now has a 1.12 goals-against average (GAA), a .971 save percentage (SV%) and two shutouts in his career in Montreal. Crawford stopped 32 of 33 shots last night and his career SV% actually went down!
“He loves playing in Montreal,” said Blackhawks All-Star forward Patrick Kane. “He’s had so many good games here over the years. Sometimes you come home and you have a little extra motivation; a little more focus. He’s been unbelievable here throughout his career.”
Crawford became just the fourth goaltender in NHL history with a personal point streak of eight or more games in Montreal to start his career and just the second who wasn’t a member of the Canadiens. The most recent to accomplish this feat was Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals who went 8-0-1 in his first nine games in Montreal between 2011-2017.
The other two goaltenders to this were both Hall of Famers for the Canadiens. Bill Duram with 23-02 from 1943-1944 and Ken Dryden went 16-0-3 from 1971-1972 to start their great careers.
Rittich Added to Pacific All-Stars
When the Pacific Division All-Star team was first announced the goaltenders were Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes. When the team actually takes the ice next Saturday in St. Louis, they will be led by two different netminders.
Fleury decided to decline the invitation and he will have to serve a one-game suspension as league rules state. He was replaced by Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks. Kuemper has been on the sidelines over the past few weeks due to a lower-body injury and he will not be healthy enough to play. The league announced that David Rittich of the Calgary Flames will take Kuemper’s spot.
“This means a lot for me,” Rittich said when he heard the news. “Right now, I can kind of say I’m with the best players in the world in the All-Star Game. It’s going to be huge for me and it for sure can help me, for my next steps in my career.
“I’m just going to enjoy the time and I want to try my best there. I just want to have fun.”
Rittich is 18-11-5 on the season with a 2.79 GAA, .913 SV% and two shutouts. This is his first All-Star Game appearance and he will be joined by teams Mark Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk.
Brodeur Embraces New Front Office Role
The New Jersey Devils surprised a lot of people when they fired general manager Ray Shero on Sunday. The team elevated Tom Fitzgerald to assistant general manager to interim general manager. However, he isn’t taking on this job without a little help from one of the greatest goaltenders to ever lace up a pair of skates.
Martin Brodeur joined the Devils two years ago as the executive vice-president of business development. He has now moved over to the hockey operations side of the building to help support Fitzgerald and assistant general manager, Dan MacKinnon.
“I’m excited to get back in the hockey part of it,’’ Brodeur said on Tuesday. “It’s something that surprised me a little bit. It came down pretty quickly. I had a good conversation with Hugh Weber (company president) and Josh (co-owner Josh Harris) when they decided to make the decision. I’m excited to have that responsibility to help them out, evaluate what we have here. … It’s nice to get back at it. I’ve got some catching up to do, which is why I’m with the team here now.’’From “Why collaboration is key for Devils new front office” by Pierre LeBrun, The Athletic – 1/15/20
This is not Brodeur’s first taste of working on the hockey operations side of things. Before returning to the Devils he served as Doug Armstrong’s assistant general manager with the St. Louis Blues.
LeBrun doesn’t feel Brodeur is a serious candidate for the Devils general manager job only because he feels that he doesn’t want it. He left his job in St. Louis because he didn’t want the daily grind of the job to take away from time with his family. LeBrun points out that he might groom himself for a president of hockey operations type job like Brendan Shanahan has with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Cam Neeley has with the Boston Bruins.