Saturday, October 18, 2014

Video: Downie leaves feet to deliver hit, fight ensues


Pittsburgh Penguins agitator Steve Downie was at it again Saturday night leaving his feet to deliver a hit on New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen early in the third period.


Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic took exception to the hit and dropped the gloves with Downie.


Even the Penguins’ broadcast couldn’t deny the charge from Downie.


The Penguins forward was assessed a minor for charging and a fighting major.


Hamonic meanwhile picked up five for fighting, a two minute instigator and a 10 minute misconduct.



P.K. Subban powers up out of penalty box, scores lovely goal (Video)


The Colorado Avalanche had an opportunity to tie their game with the Montreal Canadiens late in the second period on the power play. It didn’t happen. And when the penalty expired Lars Eller dumped the puck off the boards and out of the zone, catching up with a racing P.K. Subban, who had just exited the box.


It would end up being ten seconds Tyson Barrie would like to forget:


Poor, lonely Tyson Barrie:




Calvin Pickard, making his first NHL start, likely thought he had some help with Barrie coming back, but soon found himself one-on-one with Subban, a situation that doesn't usually end well for netminders.


The Avs would get another power play chance not long after Subban's goal, but that soon became the fourth man advantage opportunity that Colorado would fail to capitalize on -- not a surprise for a team that is 1-for-22 so far this season.


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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!




Video: Stars’ Nemeth suffers arm laceration


Dallas Stars forward Patrik Nemeth suffered an arm laceration early in the first period after R.J. Umberger‘s skate caught him in the right arm.


Nemeth left the game immediately and it was announced soon after that he would not return due to the injury.



Video: Jackets’ Curtis McElhinney injured in Ottawa


Columbus starter Curtis McElhinney was injured midway through the second period of the Blue Jackets game in Ottawa.


Jackets’ forward Nick Foligno re-directed a pass from Erik Karlsson past McElhinney and crashed into his own goaltender.


McElhinney was replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky.


The Senators goal was reviewed and then credited to Karlsson.



Video: Sens’ Mike Hoffman denied on a penalty shot


Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked by Blue Jackets’ defenseman James Wisniewski midway through the first period.


Hoffman’s attempt was fairly ugly and was easily stopped by Columbus’ starter Curtis McElhinney.


Have a look:



Video: Sens’ Stone takes dirty knee from Jack Johnson


Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone took a nasty looking knee-on-knee hit from Columbus Blue Jackets’ defenseman Jack Johnson during the first period tonight.


Johnson was assessed a minor penalty for kneeing on the play.


Stone was helped off the ice favoring his right knee; however, he did return to the game for the second period.



Video: Bruins’ Miller appears to injure right arm during fight


Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller took exception to a hit from Sabres’ Nicolas Deslauriers and dropped the gloves during the first period tonight.


However, as Miller went down towards the end of the fight, he appeared to injure his right arm. Miller went to the room holding his right shoulder awkwardly.


Here’s a second look:



Red Wings put Howard on IR, recall Mrazek


The Detroit Red Wings hope to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs on back-to-back nights, but they’ll need to make such attempts with either Petr Mrazek or Jonas Gustavsson in net on Saturday. The team put Jimmy Howard (pictured) on 48-hour goalie IR because of a groin injury, according to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan.


Red Wings GM Ken Holland told Khan that Howard, 30, will be eligible to play against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. That obviously doesn’t mean that Howard will be fully healed by then, but it at least gives the impression that his issues aren’t too severe.


Howard only played in 51 games last season as he dealt with an array of nagging issues, making him far from unique among a Red Wings team that was plagued by injuries. Detroit obviously has to hope that this early repeat in issues is just a hiccup and not a sign of things to come in 2014-15.


The odds seem in favor of Gustavsson starting over Mrazek, who was recalled from the AHL today. That said, many believe that Mrazek could very well push Howard for the starting job in the longer term future, so the Red Wings have a choice to make.



Avalanche shrug off doubters, slow start to season


MONTREAL -- The Colorado Avalanche came into this season with many in the hockey world doubting their ability to build off their surprising performance in 2013-14.


The percentages simply didn't add up to long-term success.


So when the Avalanche came out of the gates with back-to-back losses by a combined score of 8-0 to the Minnesota Wild, the team that eliminated them from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference First Round, it appeared as though those predictions of regression were not so off base.


Those whispers were heard by the Avalanche in the offseason, and they're still being heard now. But the only affect it has had on Colorado is to strengthen the resolve to prove those people wrong.


"We certainly know that there are doubters out there. They're always going to be there," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said Saturday prior to facing the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, TVA, CITY) to close out a four-game Atlantic Division road trip. "As long as we in this group, in this room, believe in ourselves, we know what we can do, we know that we can accomplish a lot of good things. Sometimes, that only motivates you when people start doubting you, saying last year was a fluke and all those things. But we know what we can do in this room, that's what's most important."


Since those two losses to the Wild, the Avalanche beat the Boston Bruins on a last-second goal by Daniel Briere, lost in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs after leading 2-1 midway through the third period, and lost to the Ottawa Senators 5-3 on Thursday in a game they led 3-1 after 20 minutes.


"Everyone's talking about our slow start, but I'd rather face adversity now than later in the year," center Matt Duchene said. "We're right there. We should have won the last two if we just closed out the third period. We just need a little bit more relaxation in there and just get the job done."


Colorado's high shooting percentage and exceptional goaltending last season were the two areas that appeared ripe for a drop. The loss of starter Semyon Varlamov and his backup Reto Berra in consecutive games in Toronto and Ottawa certainly doesn't help maintain the goaltending numbers, but the Avalanche are also having trouble scoring at the same rate as last season.


Through five games the Avalanche are scoring on 5.1 percent of their shots at 5-on-5, down from 8.8 percent a season ago, according to the website war-on-ice.com.


"Scoring goals seems to be a little bit of a problem," Briere said. "When you look at the lineup it's the last thing you would think, but we've had a hard time finding ways to score goals. It's been the case all through training camp, it's been the case maybe until last game. If we were able to score a couple more goals every game we'd be 3-1-1 instead of 1-3-1."


Avalanche coach Patrick Roy doesn't seem overly concerned with the offensive output, pointing out the consecutive shutouts against his team to start the season can skew the numbers. If you remove those two games from consideration, Colorado's 5-on-5 shooting percentage jumps to 7.5 percent, still below last season's rate.


"In the last three games it's been much better, especially in Ottawa when we scored three goals in the first period," Roy said. "We feel it's coming, guys are starting to take higher quality shots and going to the net a little more. So for us, it's very positive."


The fact Roy's team is facing key injuries early is also a big change from last season, when the Avalanche were relatively healthy, at least when it came to their important players. Roy doesn't necessarily mind going through the early health problems, but he also suggested it shows the Avalanche still have organizational issues that need to be addressed dating to when they finished last in the Western Conference in 2012-13.


"We're learning from it," Roy said. "Sometimes you take things for granted, but now you realize how important the depth is for your team. That's why we made those moves this summer and we're very happy we've done that. Saying this, we're not going to fix everything in a year and five games. We have to remain patient. I like the plan that we have, I like the structure right now and I think we're heading in the right direction."


Roy said prior to the start of the season that the Avalanche will give up shots, and he insisted again Saturday that their open style of play will not change. In the past three games the Avalanche were outscored 7-5 and outshot 71-68 at 5-on-5. When it comes to shot attempts, however, the difference was more drastic.


The Avalanche allowed 128 shot attempts against at 5-on-5 in three games and took 100, or 43.9 percent of the total shot attempts in those games. It is the same problem that plagued them last season, when they were at 46.9 percent, and one of the main reasons they were targeted to take a fall.


"We can't listen to what everybody else thinks, whether it's good or bad," Landeskog said. "Sometimes people try to pump your tires and try to give you compliments, but you have to set that aside. Sure, it wasn't the start that we wanted, but we feel like we've got our game back to where it should be."



Saturday Mashup: Wings Again Tonight


Re Posted


Time to fish or cut bait


Looking at the scoring chances and TOI , it looks like the 2nd line, Percy and Polak got eaten alive


Top line looked ok but played less than normal


The team can't get firing on all cylinders


Record in is now 4-15post L.A. miracle game in March. A loss tonite would put our record at 4-16 , 20 % of possible points


If they don't show up tonite, Shanahan needs to fire Carlyle and Nonis , trade Ph9 for futures, consider moving Kessel and coaSt into the lottery. They got the coasting down pat, that shouldn't be a problem.


You might have to hire extra staff to pick jerseys off the ice



Shattenkirk's defensive gem paid off for Blues


The St. Louis Blues lost to the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 in a shootout Thursday at Staples Center.


They can thank defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for the one point they got out of the game against the defending Stanley Cup champions. It was Shattenkirk’s extra effort late in the second period that kept the game scoreless.


Shattenkirk, who’s in his fifth NHL season, denied Kings forward Jeff Carter on a prime scoring chance with less than a minute left in the second period.


Carter moved in behind Shattenkirk after Kings defenseman Alec Martinez stripped the defenseman of the puck near the blue line in the St. Louis zone.


Shattenkirk’s defense partner, Jay Bouwmeester, went down to the ice to try to block Kings left wing Dwight King’s subsequent cross-crease pass to Carter, but crashed into Blues goalie Brian Elliott. With his legs tangled with Bouwmeester’s, Elliott struggled in his attempt to lunge across the blue paint to stop Carter’s seemingly imminent shot on goal.


Fortunately for Shattenkirk and the Blues, who are 1-1-1 heading into their game Saturday at the Arizona Coyotes, Carter had trouble accepting King’s saucer pass and the puck popped up in the air.


As Carter was waiting for the puck to settle on the ice so he could shoot it into a nearly empty net, Shattenkirk got back into the play. He swatted the puck out of the air and into the corner with 39 seconds left in the period, denying Carter of what very likely would have been his fourth goal and a 1-0 Los Angeles lead.


Carter did score the deciding goal in the shootout to extend Los Angeles’ winning streak to three. But there’s a good chance the game never would have made it to overtime or the shootout without Shattenkirk’s hustle play.


Shattenkirk finished the game against the Kings with four hits, one block and five shots on goal in 25:35 of ice time. The 25-year-old native of New Rochelle, N.Y., has three points and is plus-2 in three games this season after he had career-highs in goals (10), power-play goals (7), assists (35), points (45) and shots on goal (188) in 2013-14.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Scrivens believes Oilers are ‘starting to build winning habits’


The Edmonton Oilers didn’t play poorly Friday.


In fact, they were much tidier in their own end against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, showing vast improvement in that area of the game after getting lit up in losses to L.A. and Arizona. Against the Canucks, the Oilers surrendered two goals, one of them being into an empty net.


The other, which saw Radim Vrbata finish off another passing play from the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, was the result of a defensive breakdown that saw the Oilers chasing the puck in their own end.


It all amounts to five straight losses, one coming in a shootout. It’s now the worst start in franchise history for the Oilers. Not the best way to start a seven-game home stand.


“They got one quality chance and buried it. We couldn’t do the same on ours. We’ve got a lot of work left to do,” said goalie Ben Scrivens, as per the Oilers’ Twitter account.


“We’re starting to build winning habits… This is a good first step, but we have a lot of steps to go,” he added.


These are difficult times for the Oilers’ fan base, which has witnessed its team finish out of the playoffs in eight straight seasons. This start to the season isn’t doing anything to help the situation.


“We’re trending in the right direction in that regard (defence)… It’s frustrating we weren’t able to pull through tonight,” said David Perron.



‘It’s stupid’: Tempers flare after Kesler’s late charge on Granlund


The Anaheim Ducks managed a third-period comeback and 2-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild on Friday, but it was a late hit at the buzzer that caused tempers to flare.


Ryan Kesler caught Wild forward Mikael Granlund with a hit along the boards in the neutral zone just as time was about to expire in the third period. Not only was it a heavy hit, Kesler had Granlund lined up for quite a bit, coming from the middle of the ice to get his shot in.


Kesler received a major penalty for charging. Minnesota’s Zach Parise, a past U.S. Olympic teammate of Kesler, jumped into the bout and was given a major penalty for cross checking.


“Game’s over. It’s stupid,” Parise told Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


The Wild entered this game having not allowed a goal, shutting out the Colorado Avalanche in back-to-back games. That streak looked like it might continue, until Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano scored short handed at the 4:02 mark of the third period.


Corey Perry scored the winner just past the midway point of the third period.


Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper saw his shutout streak to begin the season end at 163 minutes and 46 seconds, according to Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register.


Below is a clip of the Kesler charge:


source:



It’s official: Oilers off to worst start in franchise history


Five games into this new season, and the Edmonton Oilers have yet to win.


The losses continue to pile up. On Friday, while the Oilers may have played a better overall defensive game minus one costly lapse, they still came away defeated, dropping a 2-0 decision to the Vancouver Canucks.


The last time the Oilers got off to such a horrid start was in 1992-93, when they had an 0-4-1 record, according to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal. That’s back when games finished in a tie if overtime didn’t settle the score; there was no shootout.


Five straight defeats for the 2014-15 group. One of those did come in a shootout to the Canucks last weekend.


And the pressure continues to mount on Dallas Eakins, who is in just his second year as Edmonton’s head coach. He did get a vote of confidence from management this spring, but this start has only increased frustrations with the fan base.


The Oilers recently returned from a three-game road trip. They allowed a combined 13 goals in two games against L.A. and Arizona.


Ben Scrivens, who had endured his share of criticism of late, got the start in goal for Edmonton. Earlier in the day, Eakins shared a story that Scrivens, in a determined state of mind, told the coach he was “going to win that game.”


It didn’t work out that way, although Scrivens was hardly to blame. He made 28 saves on 29 shots faced.


Meanwhile, the Canucks, after their massive overhaul in the summer and with their franchise sellout streak about to end Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, are off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season.


Three straight wins for Vancouver. All of those have come against teams from Alberta, and neither the Oilers or the Calgary Flames are thought to be in contention in the Western Conference this season.


The Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, did their thing. That top line of the Sedin twins and Radim Vrbata combined for six points on the night. Vrbata got the winner, finishing off a sweet passing play from the twins, and Daniel Sedin secured the win with an empty-net goal.


Ryan Miller recorded his first shutout as a member of the Canucks, and is now 9-0-0 against the Oilers for his career.


Vancouver’s defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who took a high stick to the face in the second period and needed several stitches, left the game briefly but did return, sporting a full face shield.



Video: Fan throws Maple Leafs jersey on the ice in Toronto


For the second time this season, a fan has thrown a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey on to the ice at the Air Canada Centre.


This act, whether it happens in Edmonton or Toronto, is getting old. So old. The latest episode comes after the Leafs lost to the visiting Detroit Red Wings by a final score of 4-1 on Friday. Toronto’s record fell to 2-3 in five games.


The Leafs also lost two forwards – Brandon Kozun and Daniel Winnikto injury in this game.


From the CBC:


The incident occurred with about six minutes remaining in the third period.


The Leafs have lost three of their first four home games.


For the record, the sweater number was Dion Phaneuf’s No. 3 — a player who usually draws most of the fans’ scorn.


Now, there was a report via Twitter that this may not have been the work of a Maple Leafs fan.



Randy Carlyle Post Game – Red Wings 4 vs. Leafs 1




Randy Carlyle addresses media following the Leafs 4-1 loss against the Red Wings on Friday night.





Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited unofficial team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast). Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, a weekly feature piece, the "Leafs Notebook", along with a Web TV show the "Maple Leaf Hangout".




Leafs’ Kozun leaves game, reportedly unable to put weight on left leg


Brandon Kozun was one of the best underdog stories of the preseason, showing off a display of speed and skill that eventually landed him a spot with the Toronto Maple Leafs out of training camp.


However, on Friday, the 24-year-old forward had to be helped off the ice after taking a hit and falling awkwardly into the boards during the second period against the Detroit Red Wings.


More to come.



Sharks’ McLellan shoots down possible comparison to 2011 Bruins


The San Jose Sharks lead the Western Conference – after four games.


They have yet to lose in regulation and had a three-game winning streak snapped in a shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.


It’s a decent start to the season, following what was a tumultuous summer with many questions in the wake of the club’s disappointing elimination from the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Up 3-0 in their first-round series to the L.A. Kings, the Sharks imploded and lost the next four games, getting ousted from the post-season by their California rivals.


As pointed out by Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area, the 2010 Boston Bruins held the same advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers, then lost four straight to get eliminated. The 2011 Bruins then went on to win the Stanley Cup, erasing a 2-0 series deficit to the Vancouver Canucks.


Sharks head coach Todd McLellan pretty much put any possible comparison between the 2011 Bruins and 2014-15 Sharks to rest on Friday. It is the middle of October, after all.


“The most recent analogy has been to compare us to Boston, and I don’t think that’s fair at all,” said McLellan, as per CSN Bay Area.


“Boston has its own organization, its own way of doing things, as do we. To say that history will or will not repeat itself is very unfair to our group. We have to go and play a long season and deal with the days as they come.”



Report: Grabovski won’t travel with Islanders to Pittsburgh


The New York Islanders will be without forward Mikhail Grabovski when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, according to a report from Arthur Staple of Newsday Long Island.


Grabovski was injured after being on the receiving end of a heavy open-ice hit from San Jose Sharks tough guy John Scott on Thursday. He left the game and did not return.


It was also reported following the game that his injury was not a concussion; identified only as an upper body injury.


In four games with the Islanders this season, Grabovski has two goals and three points. He signed a four-year deal with the Islanders in July.



Leafs’ Rielly: Gardiner ready to prove he’s a ‘top-end’ blue liner


Earlier in the day, it was widely reported Jake Gardiner will be in the lineup for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they host the Detroit Red Wings Friday evening.


Gardiner, 24, has appeared in only two of Toronto’s four games to start the season, and was a healthy scratch the other two times.


It’s an opportunity for Gardiner to try and show the Leafs’ coaching staff, led by Randy Carlyle, that he can be in the lineup on a full-time basis.


“He knows I can play better,” Gardiner told NHL.com. “I have to elevate my game to where it was last year and I’ll be fine.”


Of course, this storyline – not to mention the trade rumors surrounding the young defenseman last season, as well as talk of possibly converting him to a forward – is nothing new for Toronto, even after Gardiner signed a five-year, $20.25 million contract in the summer.


“Jake’s a true professional and he knows why he didn’t play but I think he’s ready to come back,” teammate Morgan Rielly told The Canadian Press.


“He’s going to play well. He’s driven. He wants to prove to Randy that he’s a top-end (defenseman) in this league.”



Flames likely to scratch Gaudreau tonight vs. Jackets


Looks as though Calgary’s tapped the brakes on the Johnny Gaudreau hype train.


Gaudreau, who’s gone pointless through five games this season, is expected to be a healthy scratch when the Flames take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Friday.


The reigning Hobey Baker winner hasn’t definitely been dropped from the lineup, though — at least that’s what Calgary head coach Bob Hartley said during his pregame media availability. Hartley was coy about who’d be in and who’d be out; that said, the Flames did announced that recently-recalled Josh Jooris will draw in and make his NHL debut tonight while Gaudreau was skating with the extras during morning line rushes.


The 21-year-old phenom wowed onlookers during Calgary’s rookie camp and exhibition campaign, but has struggled to find similar form during the regular season. He played a season-low 10:21 against Chicago on Wednesday night and hasn’t registered a shot on goal in four games.



The Edmonton Oilers can’t possibly be this bad, can they? (Trending Topics)



Oct 14, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins reacts against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. The Kings defeated the Oilers 6-1. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)



Devils take mostly positives from four-game road trip


NEWARK, N.J. -- When the 2014-15 schedule came out in June, New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer immediately noticed a major challenge his team would have to overcome.


DeBoer looked down the schedule to mid-December and counted 21 road games in 17 buildings. He counted 11 games at Prudential Center.


He knew right then that if the Devils were going to give themselves a fighting chance to break a two-year Stanley Cup Playoff drought -- the longest the franchise has had in 27 years -- they were going to have to pick up points in a lot of unfriendly buildings, including 11 in the Eastern Conference, in the first two-plus months of the season.


They're off to a good start.


The Devils open their home schedule Saturday against the San Jose Sharks fresh off a 3-1-0 road trip that featured wins against the Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. New Jersey is the last team to play a home game this season.


New Jersey might still be smarting from a 6-2 loss to the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Thursday, but in the big picture what the Devils did in Philadelphia, Florida and Tampa Bay was enough to give them a quiet sense of confidence and relief early this season.


"When you've got new people in a new year and you're putting your systems in place, it's important that you have some success early so it enhances the buy-in," DeBoer said. "I think we saw that. When we played the way we need to play we had success, and we've gotta continue building on that."


There were a lot of positives before the Capitals broke open what was a close game by scoring three times in the first 8:55 of the third period Thursday.


The Devils scored 11 goals to win against the Flyers and Panthers. They played tight defensively and got a strong performance in goal from Cory Schneider to win a 2-1 game against the Lightning. They lost their structure after a wide-open first period against the Capitals and were burned.


Consider that a lesson.


"We recognized the mistakes we made and we got away from our game in the second and third period," DeBoer said.


DeBoer, though, said he felt the game was winnable going into the third and that the Devils were even a bit snakebit. He said they could have had four or five goals earlier in the game because of the quality of the chances they were getting.


"It got away from us a little bit, but a couple of mistakes by me makes it look worse than it is," said Schneider, who was pulled in the third period in Washington after allowing five goals on 26 shots. "I thought we played better than the score indicated, but it was a good road trip nonetheless. I think we're feeling good about ourselves. We're feeling we can play with anybody anywhere and we're never out of a game."


A big reason for that is their offense.


"I said right from Day One that I'm confident we're going to score enough goals this year," DeBoer said.


The Devils didn't last season, and it cost them a playoff berth. Their lack of offense combined with strong defense landed them into 13 shootouts, where they scored only four goals on 45 attempts and went 0-13.


New Jersey fell five points short of a playoff berth despite giving up 2.38 goals-against per game (sixth in the NHL), having a League-best 86.4-percent penalty kill and allowing a League-low 25.5 shots on goal per game. The Devils were 27th in goals per game (2.40).


"The way the team played defense, the way the goals against were down, those factors are usually a formula to make a playoff team and a team that has a chance to win a championship," forward Mike Cammalleri said. "For whatever reason that wasn't the case here last year, but it was all of our hopes that that would be the case this year."


Cammalleri has done his part. He signed a five-year contract on July 1 with the promise of giving the Devils offense a jolt, and he has with four goals, six points, 18 shots on goal and 22 shot attempts in four games. He has fit in well on a line with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr.


"I was pretty comfortable even before he started scoring with just how he came into training camp, how hard he worked, how all-in he was as far as how we wanted to play," DeBoer said. "With guys like that you know the offense is going to be there at the end of the day. You might have to wait on it sometimes, but I was pretty comfortable with him, after spending training camp with him, that he was going to fit in with us."


Offense out of rookie defenseman Damon Severson has been a pleasant surprise.


Severson, 20, scored both of New Jersey's goals against Washington and has three through his first four NHL games. Severson had a team-high eight shots on goal against the Capitals. He has 15 on the season and a team-high 23 shot attempts.


"It's a little bit surreal for sure," Severson said. "Lucky could be another word. I'm just trying to get my shots through to the net and they've gotten through so far."


There are, however, issues that the Devils need to address, starting with their discipline. New Jersey has taken 23 minor penalties, more than all but five other teams entering play Friday.


The Devils were first in the NHL on the PK last season because for the most part they kept their penalties down. They had the sixth fewest minor penalties in the League, averaging 3.3 per game.


They're already averaging 5.75 minor penalties per game this season and have been shorthanded 22 times. Only the Colorado Avalanche had been shorthanded more times than New Jersey entering Friday, but they had played one more game.


"It's definitely been an issue the first four games here on the road," DeBoer said of the penalties. "The guys know it's an issue. Usually that's half the battle in fixing it."


DeBoer said the penalties are a big reason why the Devils have been getting outshot. Their penalty kill is yielding seven shots on goal per game. The Devils overall have been outshot by an average of 6.2 shots per game (32.0-25.8).


"It's way too early to look at some of those trends," DeBoer said.


He's right, particularly when the big picture, at least so far, looks good for the Devils even though the challenge DeBoer immediately noticed in June still looms quite large.


---



Could the move of Martin St. Louis back to wing mean Anthony Duclair’s days are numbered?


Here’s my unedited story from lohud.com:


By Rick Carpiniello


The Rangers made some relatively minor moves with potentially major impacts on Friday.


They sent forwards J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast, both of whom had been healthy scratches for two games since the home-opener debacle against Toronto, to Hartford of the AHL, and recalled center Chris Mueller.


What it means is, most likely, Martin St. Louis will move back to his natural Hall of Fame position on the wing, with Mueller taking over as third center.


And with St. Louis back on the wing – as he was, with center Kevin Hayes and winger Rick Nash, late in the 2-1 shootout win over Carolina Thursday – that could have significant impact on 19-year-old rookie Anthony Duclair.


Duclair fell out of coach Alain Vigneault’s shortened three-line rotation late in that game. If St. Louis is on the wing along with Nash, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin, Tanner Glass, Ryan Malone and Lee Stempniak, then Duclair could be scratched as early as Sunday vs. San Jose at the Garden.


If Duclair’s not going to get a sweater on a regular basis, then he’s surely going to be headed back to his junior team in Quebec. The Rangers don’t have to make that decision right away, and a lot (injuries, poor play) can happen to make that decision, either way, for them.


It’s also possible they will make a deal from strength (wingers) to fill an organizational need at center, and keep Duclair.old RR logo


Twitter: @RangersReport


Photo by Getty Images.



Vancouver’s 474-game sellout streak is over


Following last year’s John Tortorella-led debacle and subsequent playoff miss, the Vancouver Canucks were bracing for a hit in the ol’ ticket-selling department.


Well on Friday, they took it:


The Canucks addressed the news via an infographic on the team website.


Vancouver ended last season on a 473-game streak, then sold out its home opener against the Oilers on Saturday. That means the streak will end with a visit from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will play at Rogers Arena tomorrow night.


The snapped streak, while noteworthy, shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Upon being named new president of the club back in April, Trevor Linden sent a personalized message to ticketholders, offering a “fully refundable” season ticket deposit if they were unsatisfied with the moves made prior to July 11 (which was after the NHL Entry Draft and the start of free agency.)


Yesterday, Canucks COO Victor de Bonis told The Province that “in terms of overall sales for the regular season, we’re currently sitting at a base at approximately 97 per cent of last year’s season-ticket base.”



Rangers assign J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast to Hartford; recall Chris Mueller


It looked as if the Martin St. Louis-at-center experiment was about to end anyway. This kind of confirms it. So the centers for Sunday are: Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes, Dominic Moore and Chris Mueller. We think.


from the NYR:


RANGERS RECALL FORWARD CHRIS MUELLER


Blueshirts assign Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller to Hartford


NEW YORK, October 17, 2014 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the team has recalled forward Chris Mueller from the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) and assigned forwards Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller to Hartford.


Mueller tallied a goal, posted a plus-one rating, and recorded two shots on goal in Hartford’s regular season opener on Oct. 12 at Syracuse. He also registered three points (one goal, two assists), posted a plus-one rating, and recorded five shots on goal in four preseason games with the Rangers this year.


Fast has registered three shots on goal in three games with the Rangers this season.


Miller has recorded seven shots on goal and has been credited with four hits and three blocked shots in three contests with the Rangers this season.old RR logo


Photo by Getty Images.


Twitter: @rangersreport.



Friday Mashup: Wings back to back on deck


Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited unofficial team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast). Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, a weekly feature piece, the "Leafs Notebook", along with a Web TV show the "Maple Leaf Hangout".



Panthers' Ekblad, Sabres' Reinhart focused on future


BUFFALO -- When the Florida Panthers visit the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, the highlight of the matchup involves the top two players selected in the 2014 NHL Draft.


Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, selected first, and Sabres forward Sam Reinhart, selected second, will face off against each other for the first time in their pro careers. While they are good friends and were roommates during the Under-18 Tournament, they’re focused on what lies ahead in their careers.


"I come into every single game with just an attitude that I want to come out, be positive, work hard and be enthusiastic about the game every shift," Ekblad said. "And that's kind of the mentality I have going into every game. I don't really think about who I'm playing against. You can't cheat against everyone you have to play in this League because everyone is so good."


The top two picks in the draft haven't played against each other this early in the season since Oct. 11, 1997, when top pick Joe Thornton, then of the Boston Bruins, faced second pick and future teammate Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks.


"That's one day out of your lifetime," Reinhart said. "As excited as it was getting drafted here, that's the biggest priority going to a team that wants you and an organization that is going to give you an opportunity. I wasn't preparing for the draft, I was preparing for the work that comes now, what's surrounding me now."


Ekblad's start with the Panthers has been a positive one despite Florida starting the season without a win (0-2-1). Through three games he has an assist and has averaged 21:49 of ice time.


"It means a lot," Ekblad said. "I mean that's obvious that the coaches have the confidence to put me out there that much throughout a game. I'm really happy to have those kind of opportunities. I've been lucky I've been blessed my whole life to have those kind of opportunities to play a lot of minutes and all that good stuff. I have to try and take advantage of it and use those opportunities to my favor and hopefully contribute to my team win."


Reinhart's start to the season has been a bit slower. Through the first three games he was playing on the third line, but was moved to the fourth line on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes. He'll again be on the fourth line against Florida, but the Sabres (1-3-0) aren't down on him at all.


"His skill set is off the charts as far as his hockey intelligence; you can see that," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "Everything he does is calculated. He knows his position on the ice. It takes a lot to go from junior hockey [to the NHL]. You're dealing with young men and some boys at times. In this League there’s no boys; it's all men. He just has to learn to do things quicker than he has and he'll be fine."


The guy who might know best about Reinhart is the one he's grown up with and play against Friday.


"Just knowing that he's a really smart guy, on and off the ice he's a smart kid and he uses that on the ice to his advantage," Ekblad said. "He's a good player and someone to watch out for out there."



Scrivens isn’t ‘cowering,’ tells coach he’s going to win tonight


Ben Scrivens will be Edmonton’s starting goalie tonight at home versus the Canucks.


And he’s guaranteed his coach the win.


“In my conversation with him, he was like, ‘I’m going to win that game,’” Dallas Eakins said today. “The kid’s a battler. He’s one of those guys, undrafted, who’s fought his way to this level. He’s earned his spot. And that’s what you want out of your players. He’s not cowering from where we’re at right now (0-3-1), nor is any one of our players. That’s the kind of intestinal fortitude that you need.”


As we noted yesterday, Scrivens is off to a rough start. The 28-year-old is 0-2-0 with a 5.21 goals-against average and .800 save percentage. But with Viktor Fasth injured, it was either Scrivens or AHL call-up Richard Bachman getting the nod tonight.


It wasn’t a tough decision, according to Eakins.


“I think Ben’s in a good frame of mind,” he said. “He desperately wanted the start. He wanted to get back in there. He knows he’s the guy and we have confidence that he’ll play well.”



Babcock in Toronto, not answering questions on his coaching future


From Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press:


No real surprise there. The Red Wings said before the season that they didn’t want Mike Babcock’s uncertain future to become a distraction. The highly regarded coach is still without a contract past 2014-15.


In a related story, the Globe and Mail’s Cathal Kelly believes Babcock will “choose the Toronto Maple Leafs” when all is said and done.


Kelly sees Babcock statements like, “I want to be the best coach of my era,” as reason to believe the opportunity to lead the Leafs to glory will be too tempting to pass up.


That’s a popular theme when it comes to the Leafs, and it’s not just one that’s pushed by the media.


Remember what Brian Burke said when he took over in Toronto? “The guy that turns this team around and wins a championship here, they’re going to name schools after him.”


Outgoing MLSE president and CEO Tim Leiweke said something similar when he took the job.


Babcock, for the record, has said nothing of the sort.


The Wings are — yep — in Toronto to play the Leafs tonight.



Devils’ Havlat day-to-day with severe facial lacerations


New Jersey winger Martin Havlat is listed as day-to-day following what Peter DeBoer called “a pretty messy injury” on Thursday in Washington.


The gory details, per NJ.com:


Havlat was eventually escorted by a Devils team official and the facial damage was extensive. Havlat was badly cut across the bridge of his nose, which likely is broken.


But the more worrisome cut was a long, deep gash below his nose that evidently went completely through the skin. It appeared that Havlat’s visor may have caused the worst of the injury by slicing into his face just below his nose.


The injury occurred when Havlat was pushed by Caps forward Jason Chimera, and collided with a combination of both referee Darcy Burchell and the end boards.


The result was not pretty:


On Friday, a Devils spokesman provided some good news, saying that Havlat didn’t suffer any structural damage on the play.


New Jersey hosts Havlat’s told team, the San Jose Sharks, on Saturday night, then has two more home dates next week against the Rangers (on Tuesday) and Stars (on Friday). One would think that Havlat, who has three points through four games this season, would be highly unlikely for tomorrow’s game given he didn’t practice today.



Wild, Canucks back in action after lengthy break


Remember the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks?


They were hockey teams.


Used to play in the NHL.


Whatever happened to those guys anyway? Last we heard they won their first two games, then just disappeared off the face of the earth.


OK, maybe we’re making too much of the fact the Wild and Canucks haven’t played since Saturday. Scheduling quirks always look more extreme at the beginning of the season. But it is kind of remarkable that Minnesota and Vancouver have only played twice, while the Boston Bruins have already played six times.


Fun fact: all three of those teams have the same amount of points (4).


The Wild are back in action tonight in Anaheim against the Ducks, while Vancouver takes on the Oilers tonight in Edmonton.


In case you forgot, Minnesota opened its season with back-to-back shutout wins over Colorado. After such a strong start, Wild forward Zach Parise wasn’t exactly a huge fan of cooling his jets.


“I think once you start playing, you want to keep going,” he said. “It would have been nice to have this break later in the season when you get a little more tired. We’re still fresh. It’s not as if we needed the rest, but I think it was good to work on some different things and take advantage of things as much as we could.”


The Canucks were slightly less impressive in taking their first two games over Calgary and Edmonton, but wins are wins, and, after last season, Vancouver was happy to get them.


Still, new coach Willie Desjardins didn’t sound like a guy who was swimming in satisfaction.


“We have to make it a good week,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve got to be ready when we play Edmonton, because they’re going to be ready to play us. You get into game tempo when you play games, and obviously you lose some of that in practice.”



Capitals defense prospect Carrick has bright future


While Connor Carrick was waiting to hear his name called at the 2012 NHL Draft, his younger brother, Hunter, was sitting beside him, listening to hundreds of names he didn't recognize.


Joining in with the spirited crowd in Pittsburgh, Hunter began playfully booing each team that was called, eliciting a warning from his older brother that he'd better not boo when a team took him.


Five rounds later, Carrick was shaking hands with George McPhee, then the general manager of the Washington Capitals, and letting his new team in on a secret.


"I ratted my brother out," Carrick said. "I let them know, 'Hey, this kid was booing your staff.' He was as red as a goal light."


Connor Carrick would like to be back in the NHL but the 20-year-old understands the best place for him to continue his development is in the AHL. (Photo: JustSports Photography)


Now 20 years old and one season removed from his NHL debut with the Capitals, Carrick's humor and candor keeps him buoyant when surrounding circumstances threaten to sink him. Last season he made Washington's opening-night roster and had one goal in three games.


A week later he was loaned to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. He played eight games before sustaining an injury that sidelined him into December. However, he was healthy enough to play for the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.


"I came back to North America with a little more confidence than I had before I went over," he said. "It was just so important for me to remember what it was like to be a leader, and really, really just be yourself. It's your first year [in professional hockey]; you're nervous about everything."


Carrick's experience on the ice is impressive for his age. He spent two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program, and after the Capitals drafted him he spent the 2012-13 season with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League.


"He's a kid that’s still developing [but] he's got a tremendous upside," Hershey coach Troy Mann said. "One of his strengths is certainly his vision; he sees the plays very well. His breakout ability is another. He's an offensive defenseman who's going to have plenty of opportunities to anchor one of our power-play units."


During his season with Plymouth, Carrick had 12 goals, 44 points and a plus-27 rating in 68 games, seizing the opportunity given to him by the Whalers to play big minutes on the power play and the penalty kill. He will be counted on to log big minutes this season with Hershey.


"It's been fun to be able to come back and try and play bigger minutes," he said. "That way when you come into a game you're more used to handling the puck and you're more confident in being able to bring a play in."


The additions of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik in Washington have deepened the organization's defense group, something that isn't lost on Carrick. But knowing that there is always someone willing to take your place is a motivator to constantly play at a high level. And that's at the AHL level as well as the NHL.


"I think here in Hershey we've created a great environment for the players that once they settle in, they know that the ultimate goal is to get back to the NHL," Mann said. "But at the same time they need to work on areas they have to get better at to make sure that the next time they get called up they're up there full time."


Mann was an assistant coach with the Bears when they won the Calder Cup in 2010, and that Hershey team had current Capitals defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner. It's this success that has Mann confident in the Hershey formula.


"There's nothing wrong with developing at the AHL level, especially when it comes to defensemen, because they tend to mature a little bit later," Mann said. "We want to make sure they're 100-percent ready when they do get up there."


Like any line of work, pro hockey comes with its own set of unwritten rules: Where to sit on the bus, who to grab a quick lunch with, where to sit during film sessions. Little things that people on the perimeter of the game don't see as day-to-day issues become a nerve-wracking exercise of fitting into the bigger picture. Carrick isn't a stranger to this as he's still finding his way on and off the ice. But on nights where turnovers lead to goals, or plays go awry because of a misstep, Carrick's level of maturity far exceeds his age.


"I've gotten better as I've gotten older because I realized the ineffectiveness of sulking," he said. "The game is going to go on with or without you. You've just got to get back on the horse."


Nobody's future in pro sports is guaranteed. In an organization as deep as Washington's, the drive to be consistent every game is paramount, but knowing he is a part of something great helps keep that drive alive.


"There is a very, very qualified defenseman there to pick up some of the minutes you're willing to give up by not executing," Carrick said. "We've definitely got a really good defensive corps here. I'm proud to be a part of that."


For the latest news, scores and stats from around the American Hockey League, visit theahl.com.



Video: Kings’ Quick excellent, feisty in shootout, shutout win


Jonathan Quick, to say the least, was involved in the L.A. Kings’ 1-0 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.


Quick was spectacular, making 43 saves, not allowing a goal in the breakaway competition, to record the shutout. Yes, according to NHL.com, he was named the first star and quite deservedly so. That gives Quick 32 career shutouts, which ties him with Rogie Vachon for first on the Kings’ all-time shutout list, according to the league’s public relations department.


The Kings had only 18 shots on net, none in the overtime, through 65 minutes of hockey. Jeff Carter was the only skater to get the puck past a goalie, scoring in the opening round of the shootout. That was it.


Back to Quick, who has allowed one goal in the last 75 shots he’s faced. Not only did he have to make save after save to keep his team in this one, he didn’t mind sticking up for himself, either.


Quick and Blues forward Alexander Steen got involved in a scuffle in the second period, causing a raucous around the L.A. net and bringing St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott to his hash marks, should the situation have escalated. It didn’t. Quick was assessed a roughing minor and Steen a slashing minor.



Analytics say give backup goaltender a chance


As more people embrace the idea of analytics in hockey, one of the things they find out is it's more about ideas than statistics.


It's not all about a player's Corsi numbers; it is about his puck possession numbers and the principle of keeping the puck as a fundamental part of the way the game should be played. There are lots of principles in hockey analytics. Most started as an idea, and then someone or someones sought out a way to prove them.


One such idea is teams should never play the same goalie when faced with games on back-to-back nights. The premise of this is pretty simple: Goalies tax their body a great deal in any given NHL game, and when they do so on back-to-back nights it decreases their ability to perform at an optimal level.


Eric Tulsky wrote a definitive post for Broad Street Hockey on the subject, and the baseline for a new analytics philosophy was set: Even if the starter is elite, play the backup in a back-to-back situation.


Every theory needs to be tested, and re-tested when more information is available. Olivier Bouchard of LNH.com ran the numbers for every season dating back to 2007-08, and the results were pretty interesting.


Prior to the years of Tulsky's study (2011-12 and 2012-13), there was little difference between playing a "rested" goalie versus a "tired" one. Over a seven-year span, the difference is minor, but the gap has widened in favor of the "rested" goalie in the past three seasons.


Why is that? Well, the past two seasons have had condensed, quirky schedules because of a lockout and an Olympic break. That doesn't fully explain what looks like a trend that started in 2011-12 though.


Part of the puzzle is the rise of goaltending depth around the League. There are more competent goalies available now than there were in the past. Look at the number of guys who started the 2013-14 season at No. 3 on the depth chart who had success (Frederik Andersen, Cam Talbot, Martin Jones, Darcy Kuemper, Philipp Grubauer and Jeff Zatkoff just to name a few).


If the quality of the backup option is better, the coach will be more willing to rely on him. And teams are clearly starting to use the backup more in these situations.


Here is a look at the data just from 2013-14 (with many thanks to Bouchard for collecting it). First up, here is each team's decisions for its back-to-back games:
















































































































































West
"Tired" "Rested" East "Tired" "Rested"
Anaheim410Boston711
Arizona75Buffalo412
Calgary57Carolina616
Chicago712Columbus107
Colorado48Detroit511
Dallas85Florida312
Edmonton49Montreal414
Los Angeles510New Jersey913
Minnesota68NY Islanders613
Nashville78NY Rangers59
San Jose37Ottawa98
St. Louis510Philadelphia68
Vancouver116Pittsburgh414
Winnipeg55Tampa Bay48
Toronto711
Washington611

Now here is how each team did with respect to performance. Again, the sample size is small and one great or bad game would affect these numbers a lot.


Still, it is pretty clear that just saying "oh, this team has a great backup," or, "this team has an elite guy so ride him," doesn't play out consistently in the numbers.



It is quite possible the 2014-15 season will play a large role in helping determine the future of this analytics principle. If the "tired" goalies have a bounce-back season, does that cast some questions about the data from 2011-14?


The answer here might go beyond the numbers. Like a lot of analytic principles, the numbers are rooted in common sense. Teams are looking for chances to rest their No. 1 goaltender because they've clearly decided to scale back the number of games even a workhorse goalie is going to play.


If that's the case, then back-to-back games is a perfect spot. Not only does it give the starter a rest, it might give the backup a chance to play against a tired team if each club is pulling back-to-back duty.


If a team has 15 back-to-backs over the course of a season, that's 15 games a coach could pencil in for his backup and he might only need to find 5-7 more depending on injuries.


For what it's worth (not much yet), there have been 14 chances for an NHL coach to play a rested goalie in a back-to-back situation through the games Wednesday, and 11 times he has done so.


It just makes sense and the numbers, from the past three seasons anyway, back it up.


DISCLAIMER: While the Super 16 is NHL.com's weekly power rankings, it focuses more on the "power" than the "rankings" when determining the order. It's not always going to look like the League standings and likely will take more of a long view than a short one. If two teams are close the tiebreaker almost always is this: If the two teams started a seven-game series right now, who would prevail? Stop by to see where your favorite team ranks, but stay for the information.


1. Chicago Blackhawks (2-0-1)


The Blackhawks attempted to shoot the puck 96 times against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. That's the most in a regular-season game for Chicago, according to War on Ice since the start of the 2008-09 season, six more than a game in October 2009 against the Florida Panthers. At 74.42 percent, it wasn't the team’s highest Corsi-for percentage, regardless of situation. That was March 3, 2010, when the Blackhawks out-attempted the Edmonton Oilers 80-25 (CF percentage of 76.19).


Calgary won in overtime. Sometimes it isn't supposed to make sense.


MUST READ: Mexico is trying to qualify for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in women's ice hockey and it's a pretty incredible story, writes Jorge Arangure, Jr. for Vice Sports.


2. Los Angeles Kings (2-1-1)


Social media is great for a lot of things, but unquestionably one of the biggest stars of this modern era of communication is the Stanley Cup. Fans love posting photos with the Cup on various social media platforms, but the real boon has come from when the Stanley Cup champions spend the summer celebrating with Lord Stanley's silver chalice.


Instagram, Twitter and the like have allowed fans access to "Summer with Stanley" in a way like never before. One of the most famous stories about a Cup celebration was from the early 1990s when it reportedly ended up at the bottom of Mario Lemieux's pool.


Fast forward to 2009 and the Cup returned to Lemieux's pool after the Pittsburgh Penguins won a third title, but this time there were Facebook photos to prove it.


The Los Angeles Kings have been the NHL's leader in social media, from the famous Twitter account to the way the Cup's travels were documented this summer. There was an amazing collection of "Summer with Stanley" photos, so consider this a power rankings inside a power rankings.


Here are the best photos from this past summer as Kings celebrated their title:


1. This photo from Dave Sanford, which ended up on the cover of The Hockey News, is an iconic portrait of the NHL's rise in Southern California:


http://instagram.com/p/pT6ef1JCf2/?modal=true


2. Gustl, unofficial first dog of the NHL, and his pal Anze Kopitar enjoyed breakfast:


https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/488216962225672193


3a. Colin Fraser took an updated family photo:


https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/501058331444649984


3b. Here was the original version in 2012:


https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/226149608164827137/photo/1


4. Martin Jones hung out with … an owl?:


https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/502522705053118464


5. An ALS Ice Bucket challenge with coach Bill Ranford and his nephew Brendan combined the forces of the Stanley Cup and the Calder Cup:


https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/502613923565428736


6. Jeff Schultz looked awfully dapper for this pool photo:


https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/500064969350586369


7. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was a big hockey fan and owned a rink, so general manager Dean Lombardi took the Cup to his museum and Snoopy's doghouse:


http://www.trbimg.com/img-54039599/turbine/la-sp-sn-dean-lombardi-stanley-cup-20140831


8. Stanley Cup in a Delorean? Check:


https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/515199421525794816


MUST READ: Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times writes about how the Kings' acquired taste for winning motivates them to defend their crown.


3. San Jose Sharks (3-0-0)


Despite all the wackiness during the summer, the Sharks are still really good and can still be great. If everyone gets along this well and keeps saying the right things about letters on jerseys and playing time, it is going to be a far less wacky regular season than a lot of people probably anticipated.


MUST READ: Craig Custance of ESPN.com writes about how the Sharks have tried to move on from an unorthodox offseason.


4. Anaheim Ducks (3-1-0)


Giving up six goals in the first real game after giving up six goals to end the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff run wasn't an ideal start, but three straight road wins was a nice rebound. The Ducks have five in a row at home coming up, and there's still a lot of moving pieces in the Anaheim lineup. What they did to the Buffalo Sabres was mighty impressive, even if Ted Nolan compared his team to a peewee outfit.


MUST READ: There is a lot of pressure on coach Bruce Boudreau with expectations as high as they can be, writes Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register.


5. St. Louis Blues (1-1-0)


The Blues are going to be stuck measuring themselves against the Blackhawks and Kings until they can beat one of them (and maybe both of them) in the playoffs. They're in a similar situation to the issue for the Sharks and Ducks, in that what happens during the regular season is not exactly going to define 2014-15.


It can't be a lot of fun to be in that position, and the Kings offered another example why Wednesday when defenseman Jake Muzzin signed a five-year, $20 million contract that has an excellent chance to provide incredible value to Los Angeles.
































































Team (players) Total cost Avg. age Control through Team (players) Total cost Avg. age Control through
LAK (Doughty, Muzzin, Voynov)$14.1624.32019 (Doughty/Voynov)NSH (Weber, Josi, Jones)$12.79*24.32016

(Jones - RFA)
CHI (Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson)$15.4429.02016

(Seabrook)
MIN (Suter, Brodin, Spurgeon)$11.1024.72016 (Spurgeon)
STL (Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester, Shattenkirk)$16.1526.72017

(Shattenkirk)
SJS (Vlasic, Burns, Demers)$13.4127.32016 (Demers)
PIT (Letang, Martin, Ehrhoff)$16.2530.72015 (Martin/Ehrhoff)MTL (Subban, Markov, Gilbert)$17.5530.32016 (Gilbert)
*If Jones reaches all of his bonuses, this total rises to $15.09 million
KEY: Total cost - in millions, against the salary cap in 2014-15; Avg. age - average age as of Wednesday; Control through - when is the soonest one of the three will become a free agent

Not only do the Kings and Blackhawks have great players, but Lombardi and Chicago GM Stan Bowman have been, with arguably an exception or two at most, excellent at managing the roster and the salary cap to ensure their team will compete for titles for years.


The Kings now have their top three defensemen (Drew Doughty, Muzzin and Slava Voynov) locked into team-friendly contracts for at least four years on each (and yes, Doughty at $7 million is very team friendly). They're all also young, making them if not the best 1-2-3 punch in the NHL then certainly the most enviable for opposing GMs.


MUST READ: Arik Parnass breaks down the potential shifting dynamics of how teams use the fourth line on AP Hockey.


6. Minnesota Wild (2-0-0)


The Wild's opening game of the season may have been the most impressive by anyone to date, as they obliterated the Avalanche in all facets. Colorado had a chance for revenge two days later, and Darcy Keumper shut them out again. It's hard to lose when the other team doesn’t score any goals.


MUST READ: The Wild appear to be at the forefront of what Parnass wrote about, opting for youth and skill in traditional grinder roles, writes Sam Hitchcock of Intelligent Hockey.


7. Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-1)


Steven Stamkos looks great and Victor Hedman looks even better than he did last season. Playing with Anton Stralman might be the final piece of a legitimate run at the Norris Trophy for Hedman. If the kids play well like they seem to consistently do for coach Jon Cooper, the top spot in the Eastern Conference is not that big of a stretch.


MUST READ: Speaking of lineup deployment decisions, Kyle Alexander writes about the curious case of Brett Connolly.


8. Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-0)


Yes, the Penguins looked fantastic in both of their victories. Patric Hornqvist is enjoying his time next to Sidney Crosby. The defense corps looks perfectly suited to handle coach Mike Johnston's system, which implores not just puck possession but retention at times when the traditional play would be to give it up. Neither Anaheim nor the Toronto Maple Leafs provided the neutral zone resistance other clubs certainly will. Let's see how the League adjusts before getting too crazy.


MUST READ: Justin Bourne of The Score writes about Sidney Crosby's unique way of fooling goaltenders.


9. Boston Bruins (2-3-0)


The Bruins are still trying to figure out the bottom of the roster. There's little penalty for picking the wrong guys at the end of training camp, and the top is so strong coach Claude Julien has plenty of time to decipher which guys will fill out the last few spots up front and who the sixth defenseman will be. If they get Milan Lucic going and keep this version of Carl Soderberg, they're still going to be great.


MUST READ: Lucic has struggled early on this season, but Evan Sporer breaks down where Lucic excels for Boston.com.


10. Dallas Stars (1-1-1)


Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin versus Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry is probably the final in a League-wide bracket for best line duo. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa (or Toews and Patrick Sharp) might have something to say about that. Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski too. Point is, Benn and Seguin are in that class and they provided a quality lesson Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


MUST READ: Josh Lile of Defending Big D breaks down how the Nashville Predators were able to frustrate the Stars in the neutral zone.


11. New Jersey Devils (3-0-0)


They don't have a home game until Saturday, but three wins away from Prudential Center is a nice way to start. The game at Tampa Bay was a good test after racking up 11 goals against two defense-deficient sides. Cory Schneider was at least one knucklehead's preseason Vezina Trophy winner [http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=733261], and so far so good on that front.


MUST READ: The Devils have found some forward depth, writes Alex Potts of In Lou We Trust.


12. Nashville Predators (2-0-1)


Maybe the Predators will be alright at center after all. The by-committee approach will look alright if Derek Roy continues to play well (not a given) and if Calle Jarnkrok remains a sturdy option in his first full NHL season (not a given). There are all sorts of fallback options though, and maybe guys like Roy, Mike Ribeiro, Olli Jokinen and Colin Wilson will take turns being impact players. Filip Forsberg has shown flashes of strong play, and he could help change the ceiling of this team.


MUST READ: Caroline Davis of On The Forecheck illustrates how well Roy is fitting in with the Predators.


13. Detroit Red Wings (1-1-1)


The Red Wings held the Bruins to 29 shot attempts Oct. 9. The 17 shots on goal is one thing, but 29 attempts is hazardously low for a bottom-feeding team, let alone the big, bruising, puck-dominating Bruins. Boston shot more in the rematch six days later, but the Red Wings still made it a low-event game (i.e. not a lot of shot attempts). If they keep playing this solidly and then add Pavel Datsyuk to the mix, the Red Wings will be near the top of the Atlantic Division.


MUST READ: The Red Wings will need to rely on speed, depth and youth, writes Katie Strang of ESPN.com.


14. New York Islanders (3-0-0)


Well, the new guys didn't wait very long to make an impact. Johnny Boychuk might not continue to maraud in the offensive zone like a young-ish Uwe Krupp, but he and Nick Leddy can continue to give the Islanders NHL-worthy depth and allow everyone to slot into proper ice-time roles. Jaroslav Halak's value was felt early in the blowout against the team from Manhattan. He made two or three very nice saves to keep the New York Rangers close, and then the Islanders capitalized on a couple of mistakes en route to a decisive win.


MUST READ: Michael Leboff of The Cauldron authors a stirring tribute to the curtain call for Fort Neverlose.


15. Montreal Canadiens (3-1-0)


Three road wins to start the season, though two were by shootout, but then … yuck. Tampa Bay sent a message about who might be top the challenger to Boston in the division with a thorough dismantling of the Canadiens. Still, it was at the end of a road trip so Montreal probably deserves a mulligan. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau has had a couple of nice games to become a fixture in the top-six forwards. They'll be fine.


MUST READ: Chris Johnston of Sportsnet writes about how Montreal's young leadership core could be on the verge of something special.


16. Washington Capitals (1-0-2)


In case it wasn't clear last season, shootout wins or losses aren't going to have a lot of effect on these rankings. The Capitals played well against the Canadiens and Bruins and survived being squirrelly at times to force overtime against the Sharks. Alex Ovechkin is scoring and Andre Burakovsky looks promising. Matt Niskanen has played well, but Brooks Orpik has been inconsistent.


MUST READ: Rob Parker of Japers Rink breaks down how Ovechkin found space to score an even-strength goal on Boston's mighty Patrice Bergeron-led line.