What we learned in the NHL this week

Mats Zuccarello, Antti Raanta
New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello congratulates goalie Antti Raanta, who Sunday earned his second shutout in a row.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

What we learned from the last week of play in the NHL

Easy to be pro Antti.

The New York Rangers’ goaltending situation has taken an interesting turn, with longtime standout Henrik Lundqvist sitting the last three games while backup Antti Raanta has gotten a chance to shine. Raanta led the Rangers to victories in his last three starts, giving up one goal in 62 shots in that span.

In his last two starts he shut out the Blackhawks at Chicago on Thursday and blanked the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Lundqvist might sit for a while if Raanta can keep this up.


“It’s hard to argue when Antti’s playing this well,” Lundqvist said Sunday.

Blue Jackets becoming conditioned to win.

After John Tortorella became Columbus’ coach in October 2015, he frequently criticized players’ inadequate fitness, which he said prevented them from playing at the pace he wanted. They seem to have gotten the message and have gotten into better shape. They’ve won six consecutive games, are 7-1-2 in their last 10, and their power play is operating at a league-leading 24.6% success rate. Their goal differential is an impressive plus-31.

“I feel like we have a good feeling in the locker room here,” goalie Sergei Bobrovsky told the Columbus Dispatch. “We trust each other. We just come to the locker room and we’re ready to work. You know the guy next to you is going to do his job properly and you have to have the same response with your thing. That’s called confidence.”


Flyers, Flames stay.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ winning streak reached nine Sunday with goalie Anthony Stolarz’s 28-save performance in a 1-0 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Brayden Schenn, acquired by the Flyers from the Kings with Wayne Simmonds in the 2011 Mike Richards trade, scored his fourth goal in two games. The winning streak is the longest in the NHL this season and the Flyers’ longest since April 1995. They haven’t had a 10-game winning streak since 1985.

The Flames, rebounding after a rocky start, have won six games in a row and are 8-1-1 in their last 10. They’ve gotten a big lift from the return of dynamic forward Johnny Gaudreau, who sat out 10 games after he broke a finger and needed surgery. He has scored two points in each of the four games he has played since returning.

Hockey is a funny game.

Part 1: A day after the Avalanche was humiliated by the Canadiens in a 10-1 loss at Montreal on Saturday, goaltender Semyon Varlamov led Colorado to a 3-1 victory at Toronto. Varlamov, who couldn’t stop a beach ball Saturday — he gave up six goals on 16 shots — made 51 saves Sunday.

Part 2: Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine scored a beautiful goal off a rebound Sunday. Unfortunately, he put it into his own net. Trying to get rid of the puck quickly after a shot by Edmonton’s Mark Letestu caromed to him, Laine rifled it past his own goalie for the goal that gave the Oilers a 3-2 victory. Kudos to Jets captain Blake Wheeler for immediately putting his arm around Laine and consoling him when the youngster returned to Winnipeg’s bench.