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In this edition of NHL Talk, these are the top storylines with quotes from players, coaches, managers, and more:
Predators’ Rinne to Have Number Retired on Thursday
The Nashville Predators will retire former goaltender Pekka Rinne’s No. 35 when the team hosts the Dallas Stars on Thursday. Rinne, who retired at the end of last season, played 15 seasons with the Predators and is the franchise’s all-time leader in wins (369), shutouts (60), saves (17,627), goals-against average (2.43), games (683) and minutes played (39,413:29). He helped Nashville reach its first-ever Stanley Cup Final in 2017 and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender in 2018.
“He’s such a good person, such a great competitor,” Predators general manager David Poile said. “After every home game, you’d go down to the locker room and, win or lose, 15 minutes after the game he’d be out there with guests from the Children’s Hospital.”
“They could fill the stadium for it,” Predators goaltender Juuse Saros said. “It’s pretty special for the whole city.… Probably not going to be many dry eyes in the stands and I think that comes from how Pekka is as a human being, so likeable and treats everybody with respect. It’s just who he is.”
Blue Jackets’ Laine Extends Point Streak to 10 Games
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine extended his point streak to 10 games with two goals, including the game-winner, in a 4-3 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 22. The 23-year-old has tallied 20 points (12 goals, eight assists) during his latest hot streak, good for an average of two points per game. Laine has rediscovered his scoring touch, and believes he and the Blue Jackets could have scored even more on Tuesday.
“We had a chance to score more,” Laine said. “Four was enough. I was happy to get two of them and help get the two points that we need.”
“He’s got some confidence with the puck,” Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen said. “He wants to shoot the puck because he believes it is going to go in.”
Senators’ Chabot Posts Three Points in 300th Game, Return From Upper-Body Injury
Ottawa Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot scored two goals and an assist in a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. It was the 25-year-old’s 300th career NHL game, and his first game back after missing four contests with an upper-body injury sustained on a hit from Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson on Feb. 13. Chabot’s pair of goals were both very significant for the Senators, tallying the game-opening goal at 2:09 of the first period and the game-winning goal at 14:15 of the third period.
“It definitely gets you into the game right away when you score, and I think it was my second shift,” Chabot said. “I skated a lot during the week, but there’s nothing like actually playing a game.”
“He changes the complexion of our team, obviously,” Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said of Chabot. “We know how much he plays and how much he’s out there, but yeah, he’s a difference-maker.… He took over tonight’s game and won it for us.”
Sharks’ Winless Skid Hits Seven Games, Players Not Focusing on Trade Deadline
The San Jose Sharks are bombing out of the Western Conference playoff race, winless in its last seven games, after falling to the Anaheim Ducks, 4-3 in a shootout, on Tuesday. The future is uncertain in San Jose, especially with the NHL Trade Deadline approaching on March 21. The Sharks are trying to stay focused on finding the win column again, and pushing trade speculation to the back of their minds.
“It’s natural when you get to this point, if you’re on the outside looking in, you start to think about the [NHL Trade] Deadline [on March 21],” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. “[Sharks head coach Bob] Boughner told us to let it go and just play.”
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.