Monday Musings: Moulson, Tavares had on-ice chemistry | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: Moulson, Tavares had on-ice chemistry

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 | 07:54 AM

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Matt Moulson (26) had plenty to celebrate as wingman for centre John Tavares, middle, ranking 10th overall in goals scored. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Matt Moulson (26) had plenty to celebrate as wingman for centre John Tavares, middle, ranking 10th overall in goals scored. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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This week's Monday musings takes a loot at the Matt Moulson-Thomas Vanek trade, the playoff prospects of the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets, Jarome Iginla's start in Boston and the New York Rangers return home to MSG.

Some Monday morning musings from the NHL and rest of the hockey world to get you started for the week that will see:

  • Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff will return to Buffalo on Monday to face the Sabres for the first time since he was fired last February.
  • Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will play a NHL game in his hometown for the first time when his team visits the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
  • Patrick Roy will face his old team, the Montreal Canadiens, for the first time as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Saturday. The Avalanche also will retire the sweater No. 52 of dependable defenceman Adam Foote on Saturday.
  • The Vancouver Canucks will retire the No. 10 worn by Pavel Bure on Saturday, prior to their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Moulson, Vanek

The hype surrounding Ruff's homecoming in Buffalo on Monday certainly took a back seat to the big trade on Sunday evening. The Sabres landed plenty in return for Thomas Vanek in a package from the New York Islanders that included a 2014 first-round draft pick, a second rounder in 2015 and 29-year-old Matt Moulson.

Even if Moulson's goal-scoring ways cool without playing alongside John Tavares, he could fetch more assets for the struggling Sabres at the trade deadline. Both Vanek and Moulson are eligible to become unrestricted free agents in the summer.

The Islanders, meanwhile, made a risky move with this deal. Vanek is seven seasons removed from his career-high 43 goals, when he played primarily on a line with playmaker Derek Roy in 2006-07. Will he have chemistry with Tavares the way Moulson and Tavares clicked?

Vanek certainly is skilled. But Moulson, who signed as a free agent with the Islanders in 2009, shortly after Tavares was selected first overall in the entry draft, was complement to Tavares. Moulson has a knack to score goals in the tough areas down low.

Moulson and Tavares had a connection prior to becoming teammates on Long Island. Moulson's younger brother Chris Moulson, who followed his brother to Cornell University, was a teammate of Tavares on an assortment of minor hockey and lacrosse teams growing up in the Toronto area.

Vanek has a tough act to follow. Moulson was the 10th leading goal-scorer since the beginning of the 2009-10 NHL season:

1. Steve Stamkos 193              11. Bobby Ryan 117

2. Alex Ovechkin 162              T12. Rick Nash 116

3. Patrick Marleau 136            T12. Daniel Sedin 116

4. Corey Perry 135                   T12. John Tavares 116

5. Phil Kessel 126                      15. Sidney Crosby 114

6. Jarome Iginla 123                   16. Jonathan Toews 113

7. Marian Gaborik 122              T17. James Neal 110

8. Jeff Carter 121                       T17. Thomas Vanek 110

9. Ilya Kovalchuk 120               T19. Patrick Kane 109

10. Matt Moulson 118             T19. Martin St. Louis 109

Jets, Oilers

Is it too early to worry about the playoff possibilities for the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers after their early-season woes? Well, the Oilers have gone 3-8-2 for eight points; the Jets have been better at 5-6-2 for 12 points.

Since the shootout was instituted for the 2005-06 season, the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference has gone to the team that has reached between 91 and 97 points and has averaged 94.

That means the Oilers need a minimum 83 points and more likely 86 points in their final 69 games to make the playoffs. The Jets will require a minimum 79 points and more likely 82 points in their final 69 games.

October blahs

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien wasn't worried about newcomer Jarome Iginla and his inability to bury chances early this season. Julien remarked that his veteran has played well and fit in nicely with the reigning Eastern Conference champs.

Julien's faith was rewarded. The 36-year-old Iginla has caught fire. After his first eight games in a Bruins sweater without a goal, he scored in back-to-back games last week and now has a four-point game streak with two goals and seven points in this stretch.

"It's been longer than I would've liked, but it sure felt good to get it here and to get it at home," Iglina said after he scored his first goal in a game against San Jose last Thursday.

There was a time when Iginla enjoyed plenty of early-season goal-scoring success, just not in recent years. Here is a look at his Octobers since the 2004-05 lockout-cancelled season. He still has two games remaining this month:

2013-14 - 10 games, two goals, eight points 

2012-13 - 10 games, one goal, six points*

2011-12 - nine games, two goals, four points

2010-11 - 11 games, two goals, seven points

2009-10 - 12 games, four goals, nine points

2008-09 - 10 games, six goals, 12 points

2007-08 - 11 games, eight goals, 19 points

2006-07 - 10 games, six goals, 11 points

2005-06 - 13 games, five goals, 10 points

*We just took the first 10 games of the lockout-shortened season.

Home sweet home

After a difficult nine-game road trip to begin the season in which they went 3-6-0, the New York Rangers will finally return home to play Montreal at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

The reason the Rangers spent the first 26 days of the season away from Manhattan was to allow for the three-year, $1-billion US renovation to the Garden to be completed.

Among the many new features are the Chase Bridges, 430 seats that are situated in two bridge-like structures suspended from the ceiling. These structures were inspired by New York City's many bridges and will give fans a unique view of sporting events and concerts inside the historic arena.

Canadian Olympic goalies

Each week, we rank the top contenders for the three goalkeeper spots on the Canadian Olympic team based on their play to date.

1. Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh) - He suffered back-to-back losses, but surrendered only four goals against in those two outings.

2. Roberto Luongo (Vancouver) - He finished off a lengthy road trip with two wins, including another victory over his former teammate, New Jersey's Cory Schneider.

3. Carey Price (Montreal) - The Habs goalie has lost three of his last four games, but it's hard to ignore his impressive .937 save percentage.

4. Mike Smith (Phoenix) - He's been up and down, winning three of four. But in the outing he failed to win he allowed four goals on 15 shots in a period versus Los Angeles.

5. Josh Harding (Minnesota) - Okay, he's a long shot and he's currently injured. But in the five periods before suffering a lower-body ailment, the 29-year-old who deals with multiple sclerosis stopped 36 of 37 shots in two wins.

By the numbers

50-19-8 - Combined record for teams from the West versus the East this season.

2 - Stanley Cups in a row for the West with the Los Angeles Kings winning in 2011-12 and the Chicago Blackhawks last spring.

6 - Ottawa Senators defencemen registered a point in their win against the Detroit Red Wings last Wednesday. It was the third time in club history that each of the Senators blue-liners had checked in for at least one point in the same game.

32 - Goals in his last 32 games for Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. The last player to score 30 or more goals in a 30-game span was Pavel Bure. He scored 30-in-30 for the Florida Panthers from Jan. 31 to Oct. 4, 2001.

470 - Consecutive games played by Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. The 26-year-old native of Toronto has not missed a game in his six-plus NHL seasons.

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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