The New Jersey Devils made their big trade for Ilya Kovalchuk almost specifically for his offensive firepower for the playoffs. Yet through three games, he has just one goal (an empty-netter), and six shots and his line is causing nothing but frustration for the Devils fans and their coach.
Rich Chere of the The Star-Ledger talked with Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, who said this about the line:
“I look at the whole line. The whole line didn’t get much. They
didn’t get a lot of shots or create a lot,” Lemaire answered. “They
worked more individually at times. Probably because they’re not getting
any points and they want to get points. It’s not the proper way to work.
“We always say your top players have to be the best players on the
ice. That’s how it’s going to be for the team that will win.”
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who has had a very frustrating past month or so himself, defending Kovalchuk and blamed himself for not giving Kovalchuk the chance to be the “finisher” he’s known to be. Langenbrunner has just one assist and seven shots and has been completely invisible for the Devils; not exactly the effort and production you need from your captain.
The Devils should have been wary. Even though it’s just a small sample size, Kovalchuk had just two points in four games in his previous playoff experience, and he’s not exactly used to playing in the pressure cooker atmosphere that comes with playing in the playoffs.
Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: