Detroit benefits from questionable call, for once

I am so tired of the NHL doing it’s best to ensure the Detroit Red
Wings keep winning. It’s almost a certainty at this point that Gary
Bettman and the NHL officials are doing everything in their power to
keep the winningest NHL franchise in the past 20 years on top, keeping
every other team down along the way. Right?

Wait, that’s not it is it? It’s the other way around, right? “The NHL
is holding the Red Wings back; it’s a conspiracy that starts at the
very top.”

I don’t know about any sort of conspiracy and frankly I don’t
understand why the NHL would even consider trying to hold back such an
insanely well-run and successful sports franchise. I do believe the Red
Wings have been the bearers of some bad luck call recently, but when you
have Tomas Holmstrom on your team there’s bound to be some controversy
surrounding plays that happen around the crease.

Yesterday, the Red Wings were actually the benificiaries of
questionable call that disallowed a goal, when Patrick Kane appeared to
have scored on the power play to put the Blackhawks up 3-0. Yet the goal
was called back, when it was ruled that Dustin Byfuglien had interfered
with Jimmy Howard. The biggest tell to me on the play was the fact that
Howard didn’t even react to the “interference”, which is usually
automatic when a goaltender feels he was wronged and then a goal was
scored.

“You look back on that and it was a turning point,” coach Mike
Babcock said. “I talked (to the officials), because they bumped our
goalie and got the goal called back and no penalty. We bump their goalie
(Tomas Holmstrom) and we get a penalty. I guess we have to clarify that
first.”

It was certainly a turning point in the game, as the Red Wings were
able to overcome the 2-0 deficit, score five second period goals on
route to a thrilling 5-4 win. The good news is that the Chicago players
aren’t using that one play as an excuse.

“Against a team like Detroit, we put it on cruise and we
paid for it really quickly,” forward Kris Versteeg said. “I don’t think
we played our game anymore (in the second). It was almost like we
started to let up. We needed to play the whole game like we played the
first (period).”

Scroll Down For:

    Plenty of opportunity on revamped Blackhawks defense

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    For almost a decade, Niklas Hjalmarsson was a mainstay on the Blackhawks’ back end, quietly providing some of the most effective defense in the league.

    But with Hjalmarsson in Arizona now, traded to the Coyotes for the younger-though-less-proven Connor Murphy, it remains to be seen how Chicago’s blue line will roll out next season.

    In addition to Hjalmarsson, the ‘Hawks also bid adieu to Brian Campbell, Johnny Oduya, and Trevor van Riemsdyk this offseason.

    Add up all the good-byes, and that’s a lot of minutes to replace.

    “We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we’re going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

    The way it looks right now, the top four will be comprised of Keith, Seabrook, Murphy, and Michal Kempny. That’s two left shots — Keith and Kempny — and two righties — Seabrook and Murphy.

    Read more: After major changes, Bowman thinks Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

    The bottom pairing, though, is anyone’s guess. Newly signed Czech defenseman Jan Rutta is in the mix. But so too are Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Forsling, Ville Pokka, Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg, and possibly even Luc Snuggerud.

    Once training camp starts, it’ll be up to those young players to prove themselves.

    “Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more,” said Oesterle, whom the ‘Hawks signed July 1. “I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

    Veteran Michal Rozsival is also under contract for next season. However, he turns 39 in September, and with all that youth champing at the bit, the Blackhawks will be hoping they won’t need him much, if at all.

    Chicago’s defense in 2016-17, ranked by total time on ice

    Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

    Getty
    1 Comment

    Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

    “Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

    Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

    That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

    Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

    “We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

    Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

    You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

    Just don’t bet the house on it.

    Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

    The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

    Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

    From the press release:

    Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

    Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

    Getty
    2 Comments

    Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

    According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

    Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

    “Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

    But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

    Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.