Gabe Vilardi simply can't be stopped, even when he has an off night.
When the general consensus is you didn't have your best game, on a night you scored the game winning goal, you know things are going well. And that's exactly what happened with Gabe Vilardi. Who's team leading ninth goal was the difference on Saturday night.
Post game, Vilardi touched on this not being his best game and the confidence boost of still being trusted with shifts late.
"Yeah, for sure. Largely, two of those goals we were on the ice. The first one there, the Mikey Anderson own goal, that starts with me, I was the high guy and I didn’t do a good job, so that goal was largely on me. The other one, I felt like I dived in and Tkachuk made a nice play, but it is nice to help the team win offensively after that game. "
Todd McLellan then added his thoughts on Vilardi's game.
"He’s done a lot of good things for us, you know, he scored the winner tonight. You can’t play your best every night, it’s impossible. So what do you have in your “B” game and Gabe had a good enough “B” game to be effective tonight. He scored, we trusted him in the in the last few minutes of the game. He’s done a real good job this season."
It's a testament to Vilardi's growth over the last few months that McLellan is discussing his "B" game in such a positive light. Through the summer, his LA Kings career was hanging in the balance, and now his "B" game is scoring a game winner against the reigning President Trophy winners.
For anyone who's counting, Vilardi's nine goals have him tied for third in the league, and puts him on pace for 53 goals. The big question with Vilardi is now, what happens when everything isn't going right for him? Well, he went a long way to answering that Saturday, proving he can still be effective on off nights.
National Hockey Now & NHL News:
Boston Hockey Now: The saga of the Boston Bruins signing controversial prospect Mitchell Miller continues, as Gary Bettman weighed in on the signing.
“He’s not eligible at this point to come into the NHL," said Bettman. "I can’t tell you that he’ll ever be eligible to come into the NHL."
Bruins GM Don Sweeney said, "“I can’t categorically tell you this is the absolute right decision.”
So, the Bruins organization isn't 100% sure of this signing and the NHL is saying Miller isn't eligible to play. Leaving the question, why would the Bruins even sign him? Is Miller the player Boston wants to fall on its sword for? An odd decision for a team who has so much going right for them. Read the full story on Boston Hockey Now.
Florida Panthers: After sticking Jonathan Quick in the facemask, Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk will have a meeting with NHL Safety Sunday. Given Tkachuk's history, a suspension could be coming. I'd expect a decision before Florida's Sunday night game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Washington Hockey Now: The Washington Capitals lost on Saturday in their reverse retros, but Alex Ovechkin made history once again. This time passing Gordie Howe for the most goals with one franchise. Full story here.