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Saturday, October 11, 2014
The Carolina Hurricanes announced that Eric Staal and Patrick Dwyer will not return late to Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders. Staal is dealing with an upper-body injury while Dwyer has a lower-body issue.
Staal, 29, scored a goal in Friday’s loss to the Islanders and had an assist in tonight’s back-to-back rematch. The Hurricanes telecast indicated that a Brian Strait hit might have caused Staal’s discomfort.
Being that this issue cropped up late in the contest, it’s too early to panic, yet there’s no additional information regarding Staal’s condition. With his brother Jordan Staal hurting with a broken bone in his leg and Jeff Skinner dealing with another worrisome concussion, it’s a pretty worrisome situation for Carolina.
Staal contributed to Jiri Tlusty‘s hat trick tonight, but it wasn’t enough. The Islanders ended up winning 4-3.
It’s all over for Roberto Luongo tonight, aside from maybe a sardonic Tweet or two.
The New Jersey Devils chased the Florida Panthers goalies with five goals on just 14 shots on goal, ending Luongo’s night just 2:59 into the second period.
Many believed Luongo might be gone after the Panthers fell behind 4-0 entering the first intermission, with Damon Severson‘s first NHL goal coming with a little less than 30 seconds remaining in the opening frame:
The 35-year-old made it out for the second period, yet a Ryane Clowe 5-0 goal ended his evening quite early.
Luongo might produce some self-mockery, but the fans greeted his backup with a variation of a Bronx cheer:
It seems like the Miami Herald’s George Richards can give Luongo the day off, really:
The Devils scored six goals in a win against the Philadelphia Flyers, so they’re off to a hot offensive start so far.
Rangers at Blue Jackets.
The undefeated Rangers visit Rick Nash’s old haunt. Nash is on pace for 164 goals and 246 points, which would both be records.
Cam Talbot starts in goal, so Henrik Lundqvist gets the home opener Sunday against the Toronto Maple Leaves.
Tanner Glass (back) and Jesper Fast (hand/wrist) will play, so the only lineup change is Matt Hunwick, making his Rangers debut, replacing, Dan Boyle (broken hand, out 4-6 weeks). Hunwick will move over to the right on a pair with John Moore, while Kevin Klein takes Boyle’s spot with Marc Staal.
Kevin Hayes, Ryan Malone and Michael Kostka are prucha’d. Matthew Lombardi cleared waivers today and comes off the roster, so the Rangers are at 49 contracts. His release has no bearing on the salary cap since he wasn’t on it.
CBJ’s Brandon Dubinsky is out six weeks after abdominal surgery. Artem Anisimov will play, and Tim Erixon, the other piece of the Nash trade, played in the Jackets’ opener.
ICYMI, Chris Pronger was named to the NHL department of player safety. Yes, the same Chris Pronger who probably should have been suspended more often than he was, and the same Chris Pronger who is still being paid by Mr. Snider in Philly, and is providing the Flyers with much cap relief by being on their LTIR.
After the game, vote for the Three Rangers Stars in the poll on the left.
“It’s tough, but again, everybody is dealing with this at some point of their season,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “To be quite honest with you, it’s better news than I was expecting. I really was not hopeful (on Friday).
“So better news, but he is going to be out of our lineup for the near future.”
Kane collided with teammate Mark Schiefele early in the first period of the Jets season-opening 6-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
Kane and Schiefele connected knee-on-knee with the center favoring his right knee on his way to the Jets’ bench.
Kane had 19 goals and 41 points in 63 games for Winnipeg last season.
The Washington Capitals will have defenseman Mike Green in the lineup for the first time this season when they visit the Boston Bruins tonight.
Green, who missed the season opener nursing an upper body injury, will make his season debut as the Capitals look to bounce back from a 2-1 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens Thursday.
“Each day it was getting better and better and finally it’s strong enough to play,” Green told the Capitals website. “After a long summer, you’re excited to get back going. It’s a little bit deflating, but I thought the team played really well and hopefully we can build on that.”
Green is expected to be paired alongside 23-year-old defenseman Nate Schmidt.
Meanwhile there appears go be good news on the injury front for the Boston Bruins.
Additionally, Gregory Campbell continues to skate, but Haggerty reports the rugged forward has yet to be cleared for contact. Campbell is nursing a mid-core injury.
Lucic is still looking to bounce back from offseason wrist surgery. The Bruins power forward has been held pointless and without a shot through the team’s first two games while carrying a minus-1 rating.
Pre-game notes courtesy of the NYR:
The Rangers conclude their two-game road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena (7:00 p.m. ET —TV: MSG Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM). Tonight is the first half of back-to-back contests for the Blueshirts, as they play their home opener on Sunday, Oct. 12, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Rangers enter the contest with a 1-0-0 record (0-0-0 at home, 1-0-0 on the road), following a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues in their regular season opener on Thursday. Columbus enters the’s game with a 1-0-0 record (0-0-0 at home, 1-0-0 on the road), following a 3-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres in their regular season opener on Thursday.
RANGERS VS. BLUE JACKETS
All-Time: 7-7-1-1 (3-2-1-1 at home; 4-5-0-0 on the road)
2014-15: This is the first of four contests this season between the Rangers and Blue Jackets, and the first of two matchups at Nationwide Arena. Following tomorrow’s game, the Rangers and Blue Jackets will face off again on the following dates: Jan. 16 (at Columbus), Feb. 22 (at MSG), Apr. 6 (at MSG).
Last Season: The Rangers posted a 2-1-1 record (0-1-1 at home, 2-0-0 on the road) against Columbus last season. New York was 3-for-16 on the power play (18.8%) and 10-for-10 on the penalty kill (100%) over the four contests. Mats Zuccarello led all skaters with four assists and four points during the season series, while Carl Hagelin led all skaters with three goals in the four contests. Ryan McDonagh led all Rangers defensemen with three points (one goal, two assists) during the season series. Cam Talbot posted a 1-0-0 record with a 1.67 GAA and a .938 SV% in two appearances against the Blue Jackets.
The Rangers have won three out of their last four games in Columbus, allowing two goals or fewer in each of their victories.
New York lists three former Blue Jackets on its roster: Derick Brassard (2007-08 – 2012-13), John Moore (2010-11 – 2012-13), and Rick Nash (2002-03 – 2011-12)
Columbus lists four former Rangers on its roster: Artem Anisimov (2008-09 – 2011-12), Brandon Dubinsky (2006-07 – 2011-12), Tim Erixon (2011-12), and Fedor Tyutin (2003-04 – 2007-08)
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS VS. BLUE JACKETS|
Cam Talbot – 2 GP, 1-0-0, 1.67 GAA, .938 SV%
Lee Stempniak – 39 GP, 6-17-23 – Stempniak has registered more assists against Columbus than any NHL opponent, and his 39 games against the Blue Jackets are tied for the most he has played against one NHL opponent (he has also played 39 against Chicago)
Martin St. Louis – 15 GP, 7-7-14 – St. Louis has tallied a point in seven of his last nine games against the Blue Jackets (four goals, five assists over the span)
Dominic Moore – 15 GP, 1-8-9
Dan Girardi – 9 GP, 2-3-5 – Has tallied three points (one goal, two assists) in four career games at Nationwide Arena
Power Play: New York was 0-for-3 (4:50) on the power play at St. Louis on Thursday
Leaders in PP ice time: McDonagh (3:08), Brassard (2:32), Kreider (2:31)
Leaders in PP shots on goal: McDonagh (1)
Penalty Kill: The Rangers were 5-for-5 (8:22) on the penalty kill at St. Louis on Thursday
New York is tied for first in the NHL on the penalty kill this season (5-for-5; 100%)
Leaders in PK ice time: McDonagh (4:47), Girardi (4:47), D. Moore (4:46)
Leaders in PK blocked shots: McDonagh (1), Staal (1)
BACK-TO-BACK: The Rangers begin the first of 13 back-to-back sets this season tomorrow. Last season, the Blueshirts posted a 14-9-1 record in 24 games that were part of back-to-back matchups, including a 9-4-0 record in road games that were part of back-to-back sets. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, the Rangers have posted a 33-15-2 record in the second half of back-to-back contests.
AV SQUAD: Alain Vigneault has reached the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons, including each of the last six seasons. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2006-07 Jack Adams Award winner leads all NHL coaches in wins (359), is tied for first in games coached (623), and ranks seventh among all coaches (minimum 300 games coached) in win percentage (.627) since the start of the 2006-07 season.
CAPTAIN MAC: Ryan McDonagh was named the 27th captain in Rangers history on October 6. The Rangers’ Team MVP in 2013-14 is the fourth-youngest captain in franchise history, and is the 11th defenseman to receive the honor. Last season, the 25-year-old established career-highs in goals (14), assists (29), points (43), power play points (13), shorthanded goals (three), game-winning goals (four), and average ice time (24:49). In the 2014 Playoffs, McDonagh tied for first among NHL defensemen in assists (13), and ranked second among NHL defensemen in points (17). He established a franchise record for assists by a defenseman in one playoff series with eight during the Rangers’ six-game series victory over Montreal in the Eastern Conference Finals.
PERFECT 10: Henrik Lundqvist is in his 10th season with the Rangers. Lundqvist is the fifth goaltender to play at least 10 years with the Blueshirts, joining Mike Richter, Ed Giacomin, John Vanbiesbrouck, and Gump Worsley. By starting against St. Louis on Thursday, the Rangers’ all-time wins and shutouts leader became the third goaltender in franchise history to start at least nine consecutive regular season openers (2006-07 – 2014-15), joining Giacomin (11 – 1965-66 – 1975-76) and Worsley (nine – 1954-55 – 1962-63).
Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Lundqvist leads all goalies (minimum 200 appearances) in appearances (575), wins (310), GAA (2.26), and shutouts (50), and ranks second in SV% (.920).
ROAD WARRIORS: The Rangers established a franchise record for road victories in one season with 25 in 2013-14. The Blueshirts are the only team that won at least 24 road games in three seasons between 2010-11 and 2013-14, and they are tied for second in the NHL in road victories (84) since the start of the 2010-11 season.
RICK ROLLING: Rick Nash tallied three points (two goals, one assist), including the game-winning goal with 1:50 remaining in regulation, on Thursday against St. Louis. The five-time NHL All-Star is the only player in the NHL to have an active streak of 10 consecutive 20-goal seasons. Since joining the Rangers prior to the 2012-13 season, Nash leads all NHL players in 5-on-5 goals per 60 minutes. Nash, who was selected by Columbus with the first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, is the Blue Jackets’ all-time leader in games played (674), goals (289), assists (258), points (547), power play goals (83), shorthanded goals (14), and game-winning goals (seven).
SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS: Martin St. Louis tallied two assists in the season opener against the Blues. He leads all NHL players in points (398) and ranks third among NHL players in assists (266) since the start of the 2009-10 season. St. Louis is also one of two players in NHL history to skate in at least 1,000 career games, record 600 or more assists, register at least 950 points, and not amass more than 300 penalty minutes (along with Jean Ratelle). St. Louis is 17 points away from tallying the 1,000th of his NHL career.
1,000 MEN: Dan Boyle, Anthony Duclair, Tanner Glass, and Lee Stempniak all made their Ranger debuts on Thursday against St. Louis. Over the Blueshirts’ 89-year history, 1,000 players have appeared in at least one regular season or playoff game with the team.
FUTURE BLUE: Pavel Buchnevich (3rd round, 75th overall, in 2013 Draft) has registered four points (one goal, three assists) in two games this week with Severstal Cherepovets (KHL). The 19-year-old is tied for the team lead in goals (six) and points (13), ranks second in shots on goal (42), is tied for third in assists (seven), and is tied for fifth in plus/minus rating (plus-seven) this season.
Brandon Halverson (2nd round, 59th overall, in 2014 Draft), recorded his fifth win of the season on Wednesday as the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) defeated the Sudbury Wolves, 6-1. The 18-year-old has posted a 5-0-0 record, along with a 2.00 GAA, a .935 SV%, and 1 SO in his first five appearances this season. Halverson is tied for first in the OHL in wins, is tied for second in shutouts, ranks third in GAA, and ranks fourth in SV% and saves (144). Dating back to last season, Halverson has posted a 9-0-1 record, along with a 2.09 GAA, a .938 SV%, and 2 SO in his last 10 OHL games.
INJURIES (2 Man-Games Lost to Injury):
Derek Stepan (non-displaced fractured fibula) – placed on long-term injured reserve
Dan Boyle (fractured hand) – 4-6 weeks
Oct. 10 – Recalled Michael Kostka from Hartford (AHL)
Oct. 7 – Assigned Chris Mueller to Hartford (AHL)
Oct. 6 – Assigned Cedrick Desjardins, Ryan Haggerty, Marek Hrivik, Steven Kampfer, Michael Kostka, Oscar Lindberg, Matthew Lombardi, and Dylan McIlrath to Hartford (AHL); Acquired Joey Crabb from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Steven Kampfer and Andrew Yogan
“I was shocked, but at the same time, it was impressive. You could tell already in the preseason he’s been playing with more of an edge. It’s good for the team.” – Henrik Lundqvist on Mats Zuccarello’s first career fight in the season opener against St. Louis
Photo, top, by Getty Images.
Dion Phaneuf’s effectiveness always seems to be a popular matter of debate in the world of hockey.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone when citing a player who captains an NHL team in a hockey-crazed market like Toronto while carrying a beefy cap hit of $7,000,000 per annum. Last season, Dion was subject to incredibly difficult usage at the hands of head coach Randy Carlyle. His teammate Corsi For percentage of 43.4% was the 16th lowest among all defensemen since 2007-08, while his offensive zone start percentage of 37.7% ranks lower than all but 23 blueliners in the Behind the Net era. As you can imagine, his observable possession rates weren’t pretty. Number 3 in blue and white sported a career-worst CF% of 40.8% (0.3% worse than the infamous Douglas Murray the same year).
The issue is that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to assess Phaneuf’s 2013-14 performance within the context of his deployment. There simply isn’t a sufficient sample of defensemen who have faced comparably laborious ice time. Another possible factor is coaching. Randy Carlyle has a well-documented track record of dragging down a team’s possession numbers. These two factors intertwined serve as the source of controversy, actively inspiring an array of varying opinions regarding Phaneuf’s value.
The solution to the evident lack of basis for evaluation is grouping Phaneuf’s single season data into two separate three season sets: pre-Carlyle era (2009-2011) and Carlyle era (2012-14). This method normalizes Dion’s usage to an extent due to a larger sample size. It is then possible to analyze Phaneuf’s adeptness given the strain of his minutes and measure the way his observable results have responded to tougher minutes under the tenet of Randy Carlyle.
Pre-Carlyle Era (2008-09 to 2010-11)
It is well documented that Phaneuf’s observable possession rates were much better before Randy took authority behind the pine. His CF% of 51.5% from 2009 to 2011 was good enough for 85th among 316 defensemen who played within the same time frame. On the flip side, his usage was relatively easy in terms of the strength of his linemates, opposition and high offensive zone start percentages. It is crucial that these factors are accounted for before we jump to any conclusions.
A preferable way of doing so involves comparing Dion’s offensive output, specifically Points/60 and Corsi For per 20 (CF20) to twenty defensemen who have been deployed comparably in the past. Comparable players are selected by averaging the number of standard deviations each of their usage variables (QoT, QoC, Zone Starts) deviates away from the usage variables of the player of interest (Dion Phaneuf in this case). It is important to note that the standard deviation of QoT metrics are also applied to QoC metrics in order to avoid overstating the significance of quality of competition which suffers from a serious lack of spread.
Here are Dion’s 2009-2011 production and possession rates matched up against twenty other defensemen who have faced similar deployment within an analogous time period…
As you can probably tell from the visual, Phaneuf was a key contributor offensively considering the type of minutes he played. His CF20 of 20.243 is only bested by Mike Green’s rate from 2010 to 2012, which was essentially the pinnacle of Green’s career. This means that Dion outperformed the likes of Brent Seabrook, Mark Giordano, Drew Doughty and Kimmo Timonen while playing similarly difficult minutes over a comparable period of time. Production-wise, his numbers weren’t as sexy. Phaneuf’s 0.73 points per hour places better than only nine of twenty blueliners used comparably. That rate stands to be 0.02 points per 60 minutes below the chart median. Overall, we can conclude that Dion Phaneuf outperformed expectations offensively, pre-Carlyle, as his possession rates were excellent and his production was typical given the difficulty of his usage.
Measuring Corsi Against per 20 (CA20) will be our basis for evaluation on the opposite side of the puck. Twenty comparably used defenders (within a 3-Year span) will serve as our measuring stick yet again.
The results are visibly concerning. Dion Phaneuf is vastly outperformed by his twenty closest comparably used defenders. To the extent that Dion’s CA20 sits 1.276 shot-attempts above the chart’s median rate of 17.757. Limited time on the penalty kill and somewhat cushy usage at even strength indicates that Phaneuf’s coaches (Keenan/Sutter/Wilson) were well aware of his defensive inefficiencies. Syndicate his poor observable shot suppression results with his amply impressive shot generation numbers and it becomes clear that Phaneuf was a high event offensive weapon with some serious issues in his own zone in the three consecutive seasons preceding the arrival of Coach Randy Carlyle.
Carlyle Era (2011-12 to 2013-14)
No one saw a more drastic change with respect to the way they were played than Dion Phaneuf following the hiring of Head Coach Randy Carlyle. It seems as though Randy quickly neglected the messages that Dion’s past analytics conveyed. No longer was Phaneuf seen as an offensive player with defensive short-comings but instead a hulking two-way blueliner who played with a mean streak that screamed compete level. Carlyle quickly decided that Phaneuf was going to be Toronto’s source of stability from the backend. In the coming years, Dion would be exposed to top opposition night in and night out. Defensive zone starts radically increased in frequency. He was also given an array of sub-par d-partners that ranged from inexperienced defensemen like Korbinian Holzer and Mike Kostka to a battered Carl Gunnarsson with nagging hip issues.
As expected, Phaneuf’s observable numbers took a major hit. His CF20 plummeted while his CA20 sky rocketed. The goal is to re-access these results by once again comparing them to other defensemen who have faced similar deployment. Once more we will compare Phaneuf’s 2012-2014 production and possession rates to twenty defenders who have faced equivalent deployment within a similar period of time.
Interestingly, Phaneuf’s CF20 still ranks better than the majority of other defensemen who fit the same usage specifications. While his shot generation results aren’t as striking as they were pre-Carlyle, they are still above expected. His production has also slightly decreased since Randy’s arrival, but it has actually improved relative to those who have historically been used in a similar fashion. The takeaway here is that Phaneuf is likely still an adequate offensive option. The drop in his raw shot generation results are virtually proportional to the increase in the difficulty of his minutes.
Comparing Dion’s Corsi Against per 20 minutes to comparably used defensemen suggests that he hasn’t changed much defensively either.
Dion surprisingly places marginally better defensively this time around. Conversely, he happens to be 1.693 CA20 above the chart median of 19.819 which is actually a worse deficit than he managed pre-Carlyle. It doesn’t seem fair to say that Phaneuf has suddenly become a train wreck defensively. Defense has always been an area of concern (Random note: T.J. Brodie is a beast).
A closer look at Dion’s underlying numbers, within two very different chapters of his career, lead us to the same conclusion: Phaneuf is above-average offensively and abysmal defensively. A victim of miscalculation. One now being used in a way that would ironically flatter a defensemen with a polarizing skillset. The perfect example of hockey minds falsely assuming that physicality equates to defensive efficacy.
There is no denying that Carlyle’s reliance on Phaneuf was one of the main reasons why Toronto surrendered 34.9 shots against per 60 minutes at even strength last season. Randy has hinted at lightening Dion’s workload heading into the 2014-15 regular season. We will see if Carlyle can avoid temptation and remain true to his word. Phaneuf has also been moved to the left side in an attempt to keep him off of his backhand and ultimately make breaking out of the defensive zone an easier task. A somewhat counter-productive move considering the fact that Dion has historically been more productive on his off-side. An offensive defenseman like him needs to be placed in a position that maximizes offensive output and hopefully the Leafs’ recent adoption of analytics can inspire a decision to do exactly that.
Erie Otters forward, and top rated prospect, Connor McDavid continues to make his case heading into next June’s NHL Draft.
The 17-year-old notched four points in his third consecutive game Friday night as the Otters defeated the Kitchener Rangers 8-3 in Ontario Hockey League action.
McDavid now has seven goals and nine assists through five games.
The center scored 28 goals and 99 points in 56 OHL games last season.
Trevor Gillies has had what you’d call “impulse control problems” during his hockey career.
Like the time he followed a nine-game suspension with a hit to the head of Cal Clutterbuck that then earned him a 10-game suspension. Or that time he sucker-punched Jarkko Ruutu, sparking a police investigation of the incident in Finland.
Gillies is now a player (term used loosely) for the Adirondack Flames of the AHL, who faced the Rochester Americans on Friday night ... and Gillies ‘faced his opponent, Amerks rookie winger William Carrier.
With 3:09 left to play, Gillies grabbed Carrier – a St. Louis Blues pick in 2013 who isn’t a fighter, let alone one with the work history of Gillies – and began pounding him with punches. Eventually, Carrier went to the ice in an attempt to avoid the onslaught, with no interest in fighting. Gillies wasn’t exactly a fan of this pacifism, and promptly grabbed Carrier by the jersey and slammed his head to the ice.
Thankfully, there was a visor and helmet preventing significant injury for Carrier.
"I felt my head get picked up and pulled down," Carrier said. Carrier wasn't injured. He even maintained afterward it was no big deal. "That's hockey," he said.
He learned from teammates that Gillies could have done serious damage to him. "They said, 'Well, you survived,' so that's good."
His coach found no humor whatsoever in the goon move.
"If there's room for that in hockey, I'm not sure I want to coach anymore," Chadd Cassidy said. "It looked bad; you spike a guy's head into the ice."
How dare Carrier chose not to fight a hair-trigger goon with more games suspended than NHL points!
So, what’s the suspension for Gillies here?
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Trevor Gillies
It would be hard for the Colorado Avalanche to put a positive spin on their 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and forward Matt Duchene isn’t trying to.
“We just weren’t ready for last night,” Duchene admitted, per the Denver Post. “We didn’t know what was going to hit us. We played terrible.”
Of course, playing against the Wild was nothing new for Colorado. The two teams met in the 2014 playoffs with Minnesota taking that first-round series in seven games. That experience clearly didn’t help the Avalanche in their season opener.
“They absolutely dominated us,” Duchene added. “They probably deserved to win 8-0.”
He feels the team needs to collectively take responsibility for that failure. He wants to see them get back to coming to games with enthusiasm and excitement, which wasn’t his experience last night.
The silver lining is that the Avalanche still have 81 games left and the next one is a rematch against Minnesota on Saturday.
It was just one game, but it’s a solid start for the New York Islanders.
After they endured a disappointing campaign in 2013-14, GM Garth Snow sought to remake his team and those new additions led the Islanders in their 5-3 victory over Carolina Friday night.
Mikhail Grabovski scored his first goal with the Islanders after inking a four-year, $20 million contract. Defenseman Nick Leddy logged 18:29 minutes following his acquisition from Chicago. And then there was Johnny Boychuk.
The former Boston Bruins defenseman was one of the best players on the ice tonight. He scored the opening goal of the game and added two assists while recording a game-high 23:11 minutes.
Sophomore Brock Nelson also had a big game with two goals and four points after recording just 26 points in all of 2013-14.
The Islanders enjoyed 3-0 and 4-1 leads, but the Hurricanes deserve credit for not quitting on this game. They continued to battle in the latter half of the third period and managed to pull within two goals. With less than six minutes left, Chris Terry fired a one-timer past goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who was also making his Islanders debut. Carolina forward Eric Staal then scored a power-play marker with just 1:34 remaining in regulation time.
It was too little, too late for a Carolina squad hoping to hand Bill Peters a victory in his head coaching debut, but it might provide the team with some momentum going into tomorrow night’s rematch at Nassau Coliseum.
The Hurricanes were without Jeff Skinner (concussion) and Jordan Staal (leg). The Islanders are missing defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (back), Matt Carkner (upper body), and Calvin De Haan (upper body).
It’s true that IceArizona plans to sell 51% of the team to Andrew Barroway, but they want to make it clear that they aren’t doing this because times are bad, per FOXSports’ Craig Morgan, the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan, and our Jason Brough.
Over the course of a conference call following the announced sale, CEO and co-owner Anthony LeBlanc disputed the scale of the Coyotes’ reported losses, including the New York Post’s claim that the team lost $24 million over the first year under its new ownership. That being said, LeBlanc conceded that the Coyotes have lost money and will stay in the red this season. The hope is that they become profitable by their third season.
How much money they lose is particularly noteworthy because they have an out-clause in their arena lease deal that can be activated if their losses over the first five years reach $50 million. LeBlanc confirmed that the out-clause will remain intact after the sale, but IceArizona has repeatedly stated its commitment to Glendale. LeBlanc also said he “would be very surprised” if the clause was triggered. Additionally, IceArizona never discussed the possibility of relocating with Barroway.
Assuming the NHL’s Board of Governors approves the sale, LeBlanc will stay on as the team’s president, but Barroway will assume the titles of Chairman and Governor from George Gosbee.
Friday, October 10, 2014
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers turned back the clock Friday night, commemorating their first Stanley Cup championship.
The 1983-84 Oilers gathered at Rexall Place to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first of the franchise's five Stanley Cup titles in a span of seven seasons.
More than 17,000 fans attended the reunion; proceeds from the event went to the University of Alberta Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton. Earlier in the day the 1984 team visited the hospital.
"We cared about one thing," NHL all-time leading scorer Wayne Gretzky said to open the night. "We cared about winning the Stanley Cup. We were just kids and we thought we knew everything. We didn't. But we knew how to play hockey."
MORE FROM THE REUNION
- The 1984 Oilers are introduced at the event
- Kurri talks about his early days with the Oilers
- A look at the Oilers 15 playoff wins in 1984
The reunion was spearheaded by Gretzky and featured all seven members of the team who've been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and Glen Sather took turns discussing their days with the Oilers.
The evening began with Gretzky carrying in the Stanley Cup and passing it along to the other members of the team.
"This was a great place to play," Anderson said. "You fans made this place so special."
Former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington was also in attendance and received a warm ovation when he took his place on stage.
"I wasn't sure what was going to happen, as you can imagine," an emotional Pocklington said. "Before the Stanley Cups, I had the pleasure of talking to my team and told them a story how I remember [my wife] Eva and I were on a trip to Paris and we were driving past a field with a bunch of fellows working on big blocks of stone. I was interested in seeing what they were doing. Most of them said they were carving stone, but there was this one guy with bright eyes, said ‘I am building a cathedral.' I thought, 'This is what I want our team to do in this city, build a cathedral.' We ended up building five cathedrals.
"This kind of thing [reunion] just might just catch on in the field of sports. This is spectacular."
Center Kevin McClelland was the only member of the team unable to attend the reunion. McClelland is the coach of the Wichita Thunder, now of the ECHL, and was unable to make the trip to Edmonton. McClelland, who scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory against the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the 1984 final, did send a video message to his former teammates that was broadcast on the scoreboard.
Along with highlights of the 1984 playoff run, members of the team had an opportunity to share stories of the season that culminated in the Oilers' five-game victory against the Islanders in the Final.
"1984 was very special. I actually got to play a regular shift," enforcer Dave Semenko said. "After we beat Winnipeg, we went on to play Calgary and they put me on the left wing with Wayne and Jari and I managed to play the whole series with them, which was unheard of.
"They had the greatest hockey player in the world in the middle and one of the greatest right wingers on the other side, and me. It was quite an honor to play with them."
Defenseman Randy Gregg recalled a story in which an Oilers' jersey was tossed towards a laundry hamper in the dressing room and landed on the floor. Mark Messier made the player who tossed the jersey go and pick it up.
"Messier grabbed the guy by the scruff of the neck and said; ‘That Oilers crest never hits the floor,' " Gregg said. "Now when I see fans these days "accidentally" throwing their jerseys on the ice, I can't help but have a feeling that if that had happened 30 years ago somebody like Mark Messier would have picked it up and climbed back over the glass with it."
The event concluded with the seven Hall of Famers taking center stage.
Sather, now president and general manager of the New York Rangers, talked of the pressure on the Oilers to win the Cup in 1984, one year after they'd been swept by the Islanders in the Final.
"I think what we have to remember that all these guys came in as young players," Sather said. "There is a certain amount of pressure the media was putting on them constantly. I kept telling them to relax, have fun, play the game and enjoy yourselves."
Here’s my unedited story from lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
For a team that, half a day earlier had opened its 2014-15 season with a strong win against a very good team in St. Louis, the Rangers sure had a lot going on in Columbus Friday.
In the third period of that 3-2 victory, the Rangers lost Dan Boyle for four to six weeks with a broken hand. That’s a major problem because Boyle, a righty-shooting defenseman, was not only potentially the best power-play quarterback they’d had in years, but because they really don’t have another one.
So in practice to prep for Saturday’s game in Columbus, coach Alain Vigneault tried Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and Martin St. Louis on the power-play point in Boyle’s spot. Forward Lee Stempniak also has played there in his career, during the preseason and Thursday night against the Blues.
Cam Talbot will start in goal against the Blue Jackets, meaning Henrik Lundqvist gets the home opener against Toronto Sunday at the Garden.
The Rangers did get good news on Jesper Fast’s hand, which he injured blocking a shot. Fast said he’s OK and he will play Saturday. But Tanner Glass is questionable with tightness in his back.
If Glass can’t play, Vigneault said that rookie Kevin Hayes will make his NHL debut, probably in the middle, with J.T. Miller moving over to the wing after a terrible night at the faceoff dot. Vigneault said that Ryan Malone will be scratched again.
The Rangers made two roster moves Friday. They recalled defenseman Michael Kostka from Hartford (AHL), though Kostka, a right-hander, is not expected to play Saturday. Instead, Matt Hunwick, a lefty who has played both sides and made the team over Kostka during preseason, gets the nod. He is expected to play on the right with John Moore on the third pair, while Kevin Klein slides up to the second pair with Marc Staal, in Boyle’s spot.
The Rangers also unconditionally waived center Matt Lombardi, who refused his assignment to Hartford and will be released when he clears waivers Saturday. He is expected to return to Switzerland, where he played last season. The release will put the Rangers under the max 50 contracts again, but it has no bearing on the salary cap since he had been demoted to Hartford at the end of camp.
Photo by Getty Images.
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis said Thursday he believed he had a lot to prove heading into the Penguins' season opener against the Anaheim Ducks. After one goal and three assists in the Penguins' 6-4 victory, he proved as much as he could in a single game.
"It didn't feel too bad," Dupuis said Thursday.
He'll have a chance to create more good feelings Saturday when the Penguins play the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC).
Questions surrounded Dupuis, a 35-year-old in his 14th NHL season, who played Wednesday for the first time since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Dec. 23, 2013. Two months later he had surgery to repair the tear and missed the final 43 games of the regular season and all 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Dupuis' absence left a hole on Pittsburgh's top line, where he played right wing alongside center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chis Kunitz, but also in the locker room, where he was known for his vibrant personality.
New Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said during his introductory press conference that he thought Pittsburgh's locker room might have been too quiet in the latter part of last season, something that could have been attributed to the loss of Dupuis.
"As Pascal is, he's an energy player," coach Mike Johnston said Thursday. "He's a positive energy guy on the bench and he's a positive energy guy in the room. And I just thought he gave us a big lift [Thursday]. A big lift.
"Obviously the points are the points. But I just thought on the ice he was skating well … certainly for him it's nice to see him back and it's nice to see him respond in that way."
Prior to training camp Dupuis last spoke in May, at the Penguins' locker cleanout day following their seven-game loss to the New York Rangers in an Eastern Conference Second Round series. He said then his aim was to be ready for opening night.
About five months later Dupuis had one of the most productive games of his career.
"It was a long time coming," Dupuis said. "There's games like that where everything is rolling and it seemed to be one of those. … It's definitely been a while [since he had a four-point] game, but this one, just coming back in the first game, it's pretty big."
The line seemed to gel well, with each scoring at least one point. Dupuis assisted on Sutter's shorthanded goal 1:01 into the third period and Malkin got the secondary assist on Dupuis' goal at 13:14 of the first period that gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead.
"It's a very big performance," Malkin said Friday. "I remember my injury; it was the same. We see how he smiles; we see how hungry [he is] because he hasn't played in a long time. I'm glad for him and he's a very important player for our team.
"I hope he plays the same in every game."
Dupuis said his goal Thursday was emotional but he credited his teammates for making it easier for him.
"It felt good to get the first goal," Dupuis said. "To me, I think those two games in the preseason were huge. I knew what to expect, knew how hard it was going to be. Obviously the level went up a couple of notches for the first game but it felt great. It's great to get the first one out of the way, first win.
"It was a big team effort."
After that 3-0 lead, the Ducks tied the game 3-3 at 12:17 of the second period. But Crosby and forward Blake Comeau scored 54 seconds apart to give the Penguins a 5-3 lead.
Dupuis carried the puck into the offensive zone and assisted on each goal.
"I think you're just really happy to see him do well," Crosby said. "It's been a long time and we know how hard he's worked to get back to feeling and looking the way he does. But also, to start on time, it's not easy to come back from an injury and play in Game One of the season.
"So I'm really happy to see him do well and he's worked hard for it."
Dupuis said he could tell a few facets of his game still need to improve, starting Saturday at Air Canada Centre against the Maple Leafs. He mentioned his penalty killing could be taken to a higher level and also that he thinks his agility isn't quite where it could be. However, for one game he is satisfied.
"Maybe a little more [speed] can come," Dupuis said. "[More] explosiveness, but I worked hard on it. It was a long [absence], but it definitely paid off."
Perhaps the only guarantee in the world of sports is there are no guarantees. Players get injured, coaches get fired, and general managers trade away the past in order to make the future better.
In the American Hockey League, the stability of it all is often so precarious that many teams are unable to get out from under it. For the Texas Stars, a season removed from winning the franchise's first Calder Cup, stability is something they have in spades.
Of the 28 names recently engraved on the Cup, 18 are returning to Cedar Park for the start of the 2014-15 season, which begins Friday. This core knows not only how to win, but how to win together, a luxury not many other teams can tap into.
Stability is rare in the world of sports, but for the Texas Stars, a season removed from winning the franchise's first Calder Cup, it's something they have in spades. (Photo: Colin Peddle/AHL)
"It was a great experience for everyone last year, and it gives everyone that much more confidence and that much more experience getting to go on a big run like that," said second-year pro Curtis McKenzie. "Now everyone knows we can be champions."
McKenzie was Dallas' sixth-round pick (No. 159) in the 2009 NHL Draft. He became a key piece of the Stars offense in 2013-14 primarily skating on the left wing with Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour, scoring 27 goals and 65 points in 75 games.
"Last year was great because I was kind of playing catch-up with Morin and Sceviour, and trying to keep up with them," he said. "That was a huge stride to my development, playing with those two. Now this year I just have to find ways where I can keep improving so I can get to the next level."
His development paid off, earning him the AHL's Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the league's top rookie as well as a spot on the All-Rookie Team. Though Sceviour is now in Dallas, the new crop of players coming in will be able to step up in his absence.
"We still have high expectations with all the guys we have coming back, and we've got some young guys coming up that can help out too," Morin said. "Once you get to the top, you always want to be back because it's such a great feeling."
One of the original Texas Stars from their inaugural 2009-10 season, Morin is a core part of their leadership group. Morin led the AHL in scoring and was named most valuable player during the regular season, feats he then duplicated in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Under former coach Willie Desjardins, Texas stormed through the league with its unstoppable power play, a dominant goaltending tandem in Cristopher Nilstorp and Jack Campbell, and a puck possession game that often made it all look too easy. When Desjardins took the Vancouver Canucks coaching position in June, it gave way to a new voice in the locker room.
"We've had a few meetings, and in running the practices, they get a feel for who I am as a head coach," said Derek Laxdal, who was given the reins on July 3. "And vice versa, we need to get to know who these players are. It's going to be nice to get some games under our belt here so we get a chance to set the tone. Instead of being the hunters, you've become the hunted."
Current Dallas Stars players who spent time with Texas Stars (AHL)
Jamie Benn, 2009-10
Jordie Benn, 2010-13
Kevin Connauton, 2012-14
Brenden Dillon, 2010-13
Cody Eakin, 2012-13
Ryan Garbutt, 2011-12
Patrik Nemeth, 2012-14
Jamie Oleksiak, 2012-14
Antoine Roussel, 2012-13
Colton Sceviour, 2009-14
Laxdal, like his new players and his predecessor, knows how to win. His style is similar to that of Desjardins, an up-tempo game that won him two Western Hockey League titles and a Memorial Cup with Edmonton. That similarity is another constant Texas is grateful for; without having to learn a completely new system on the fly, the season can begin with far less bumps in the road.
"He understands that a lot of the guys are coming back and we've got a good thing going here. He's not going to try and redo everything we do," Morin said. "He's just going to put his touches on our game plan and our philosophy. He's a proven winner, so I think he'll be a success down here."
Wing Scott Glennie, a first-round pick (No. 8) by Dallas in 2009, agrees with Morin.
"I think Derek hasn't really come in here and changed much," Glennie said. "I know he's got a couple of things that are a little different, but for the most part, things haven't really changed that much at all, so that's been nice."
In fact, at first glance, the only thing that looks uncertain for Texas is the goaltending situation. With the departure of Nilstorp to the Swedish Hockey League over the summer, the other half of last season's tandem was left open. But even this problem is one Laxdal easily sees solved.
"We've got a great 1A-1B punch here with Jack Campbell and Jussi Rynnas," he said. "We've got two capable goaltenders that can help us win games, and if there's a call-up situation, one goaltender can go up and the other can hold the fort in Texas."
The Stars have the exact same toolkit from last season: High-powered offense, a strong defense and two goalies with unending upside. With three veterans wearing the letters, a return of the majority of last season's core and a new wave of promising Dallas prospects like Radek Faksa, Julius Honka and John Klingberg, there will be no Calder Cup hangover for this team.
"We're not going to change or reinvent the wheel at all," captain Maxime Fortunus said. "We're going to do our thing and if we do it hard and the way we're supposed to, other teams are going to have to adjust to us."
For the latest news, scores and stats from around the American Hockey League, visit theahl.com.
For only the sixth time in NHL history, all 30 teams will be in action on a single day during a 15-game Saturday.
It starts at 7 p.m. ET with nine games and will end on the West Coast with 10 p.m. ET starts in San Jose and Vancouver. During the first half of the 9 p.m. ET hour, 26 NHL teams will likely be playing at the same time.
The last time there was a 15-game day was April 7, 2012, which was the final day of the 2011-12 regular season. That day featured 88 goals, players representing 15 countries and 274,230 fans in attendance.
The first 15-game night in League history was Oct. 5, 2005, with every team playing on opening night after the 2004-05 lockout. It also happened once early in the 2007-08 season and twice in three weeks in October 2009.
This is the first of two 15-game days for the 2014-15 season. The last day of the regular season, April 11, 2015, will also feature all 30 teams playing.
Here is a look at an interesting storyline for each of the 15 games in the NHL on Saturday:
Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins , 7 p.m. ET -- Barry Trotz is still looking for his first win as Washington coach, but his team had a newfound physical edge in the season opener. That will be put to the test against bruising Bruins.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs , 7 p.m. ET -- The first Saturday for the new-look "Hockey Night In Canada" will feature two teams trying to mold their identity into a puck-possession team. Pittsburgh's new philosophy was a contrast from past years, while Toronto might be undergoing the largest shift in style of any team in the League.
Anaheim Ducks at Detroit Red Wings , 7 p.m. ET -- Each team has star forwards but a lot of the complementary guys up front are very young, and how well those kids are able to support the big guns will be something to watch all season.
Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning , 7 p.m. ET -- Each team has several players who were part of a Calder Cup championship. Ottawa's American Hockey League affiliate, the Binghamton Senators, won in 2011 and Tampa Bay's affiliate (then the Norfolk Admirals) won in 2012.
New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers , 7 p.m. ET -- Watch out for the young defensemen in this game. The Devils have second-year defenseman Eric Gelinas and rookie Damon Severson, while Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, looked solid in his debut Thursday.
Carolina Hurricanes at New York Islanders , 7 p.m. ET -- This is the last home opener at Nassau Coliseum, so expect lots of good memories and highlights from the Islanders dynasty in the early 1980s and a dramatically improved home team on the ice.
Montreal Canadiens at Philadelphia Flyers , 7 p.m. ET -- The Canadiens could be the first team to start 3-0-0, while the Flyers will try to avoid 0-3-0. Philadelphia had a rough start last season, but the Flyers made a better one a point of emphasis during training camp.
New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets , 7 p.m. ET -- Rick Nash playing at Nationwide Arena will probably never stop being interesting. It's also two recent Vezina Trophy winners and two teams expected to challenge the Penguins for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Calgary Flames at St. Louis Blues , 7 p.m. ET -- Two of the best defense pairings in the NHL will likely go head-to-head a lot in this game. Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester have been an elite pairing since the latter arrived in a trade from Calgary, while Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie were breakout stars for the Flames last season.
Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators , 8 p.m. ET -- The Stars played an incredibly entertaining game with the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. Will the new-look Predators, coached by Peter Laviolette, be able to skate with the speedy Stars?
Buffalo Sabres at Chicago Blackhawks , 8:30 p.m. ET -- If the Sabres' Jhonas Enroth needed an example of a goaltender who had a to wait a long time before earning the No. 1 job and then experiencing success as an NHL "late bloomer," Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks is a pretty good one.
Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche , 9 p.m. ET -- This game had enough juice considering the Stanley Cup Playoff series between these teams in April. Then they played in Minnesota on Thursday night and the Wild demolished the Avalanche, setting a franchise record for shots on goal during a 5-0 win. How will Colorado respond?
Los Angeles Kings at Arizona Coyotes , 9 p.m. ET -- The Kings ended the Coyotes' longest playoff run in franchise history in 2012, and this rivalry has been heated at times since. Each team got blown out in its opener and will be trying to bounce back.
Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks , 10 p.m. ET -- The Oilers played well and lost in their season opener against the rival Flames. The reaction to the loss showed the pressure for positive results Edmonton faces this season. Losing back-to-back games against fellow Western Canadian teams is not exactly an ideal start.
Winnipeg Jets at San Jose Sharks , 10 p.m. ET -- These are the two teams that trounced the Coyotes and Kings on Thursday night. Each team can score and each is leaning on young players to help support the top players. Bryan Little is one of the most underrated centers in the League, and he'll likely matchup with either Joe Thornton or Logan Couture for most of the night.
Tough start to the season for the defending Stanley Cup champs.
The Kings, who lost 4-0 in their season-opener against San Jose, will be without defenseman Jake Muzzin and forward Trevor Lewis for Saturday’s game against the Coyotes, L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter announced.
“They’re both frustrating injuries,” Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider. “There’s nothing you can do about it. When they’re ready, they’re ready. I mean, Muzz is doing everything. It’s frustrating.”
Muzzin, who missed the San Jose game with an undisclosed injury, took part in some of Friday’s practice but was held out of 5-on-5 work. Lewis, who recorded six shots and a minus-1 rating in 10:29 TOI on Wednesday, is reportedly day-to-day with a “mid- to upper-body injury,” per the L.A. Times.
With Muzzin out, the Kings will probably once again go with a top-six defense of Drew Doughty, Robyn Regehr, Alec Martinez, Slava Voynov, Matt Greene and Brayden McNabb. McNabb, who made his L.A. debut against the Sharks, played quite a bit (23:27) while Greene saw less than 14 minutes of ice time.
As for Lewis, it sounds like Jordan Nolan will likely to replace him in the lineup.
The Ottawa Senators tried their hand at a little 'guerilla marketing' to promote the addition of a Prime Ministers Race at home games.
Here's the thing: they went so 'guerilla' with the campaign around the city, they failed to notify the proper authorities and ended up breaking laws.
Throughout Ottawa, signs supporting the one of four prime ministers (Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Robert Borden and Sir William Lyon Mackenzie King) were placed among other candidate signs for the upcoming election. This confused the citizens of Ottawa.
Susan Jones, the city’s general manager of emergency and protective services, said the signs don’t comply with city bylaws.
“We weren’t aware, despite the good intentions, that this was in relation to a Senators campaign,” she said. “We … thought maybe they were being put up in relation to the municipal election.
“We’ve been removing them as we’ve been getting complaints.”
(I imagine the complaints received were very polite.)
Only candidates participating in the election can put up signs, but that wasn't the law the Sens broke. They didn't have a permit to put up temporary signs on city rights-of-way. OF COURSE. Let this be a lesson to all the future criminals out there. Have your paperwork squared away before unleashing a crime spree of this magnitude on your city.
Breaking the law didn't stop the introduction of the gigantic PMs, though. Even the mayor and the TOWN CRIER (!!) got involved in the festivities at city hall.
- Politics & Government
- Ottawa Senators
- guerilla marketing
- Sir Wilfrid Laurier
After what can be described as “not a defensive clinic” in Thursday’s 6-4 season-opening win over Anaheim, Pittsburgh made an interesting move by calling up Scott Harrington from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Harrington, 21, was Pittsburgh’s second-round pick (54th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and one of the club’s final roster cuts after finishing plus-1 in five NHL preseason games. He spent all of last season with the Baby Pens, scoring 24 points in 76 games.
The Pens looked a little shaky at times defensively against Anaheim last night, which could be the reason for this recall. The Ducks scored three times on the power play, erased a 3-0 lead and missed a penalty shot (awarded after Nate Thompson got his wrists hacked by Christian Ehrhoff.)
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas could be getting a call from the National Hockey League’s disciplinary department after catching Florida Panthers forward Scottie Upshall with an elbow to the head.
The hit occurred inside the Florida blue line. Upshall was turning up the ice with the puck when Gudas, at 6’0″ tall and 204 pounds, stepped up to throw a hit, catching Upshall with his right elbow. There was no penalty on the play.
Upshall hit the ice hard, his helmet popped off and he was attended to by a member of the Panthers’ training staff.
Below is an account of the incident from George Richards of the Miami Herald.
Jaromir Jagr, at the youthful age of 42, continues to climb the list for all-time scoring in the National Hockey League.
Jagr recorded an assist on Mike Cammalleri‘s first goal as a member of the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. That point pushed Jagr past Steve Yzerman and into sole possession of sixth all-time in NHL scoring, according to the league’s public relations department.
Jagr is now up to 1,756 points with that helper. He just keeps on going, doesn’t he?
Jagr, 42, trails Marcel Dionne (731 goals, 1,755 points) by 14 points for fifth on the all-time list. Jagr, who is in his 21st NHL season and second with the Devils, is also sixth on the all-time list with 705 goals, three behind Mike Gartner (708). His 1,051 assists rank eighth, 12 behind Yzerman.
It would also appear that the combination of Jagr and Cammalleri is slowly starting to build some chemistry. This was an issue toward the end of September during the pre-season. Yes, they were still trying to figure each other out.
“Especially good players and good offensive players, they need to get to know each other – where they like the puck, the areas of the ice they like to get to, those kind of things,” Devils head coach Pete DeBoer said last month. “So, they’re in the dating stage right now.”
Liam O’Brien had himself an impressive training camp with the Washington Capitals, dropping the mitts with some tough customers in the pre-season.
He’s carried that over into his National Hockey League debut Thursday.
O’Brien, 20 years old and never drafted, didn’t waste any time getting into his first regular season tilt, grabbing Montreal Canadiens scrapper Brandon Prust less than a minute into the second period.
O’Brien was reacting to a hit Prust threw on defenseman Jack Hillen behind the net. He quickly skated in, grabbed Prust and, well, it was pretty much on from there, as the two went toe-to-toe in a lengthy fight.
That’s an element of O’Brien’s game that got him noticed in camp. He got an invite to rookie camp, then earned a shot at training camp, where his toughness meshed with an ability to actually play hockey probably not many thought he had.
“He’s a player that’s demanded to be noticed,” Washington’s head coach Barry Trotz said earlier this week. “There’s still lots of stuff he needs to learn in the game, but at the same time he’s come in with injuries to a number of people in that role. He’s got an opportunity and he’s learning.”