NHL Playoffs, Flyers v. Canadiens: Flyers get through mysterious skate issues

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Thankfully the Philadelphia Flyers won this game. If they had not,
then the uproar  would be incredible and there’s no telling what the
ramifications might be.

The Flyers were forced to continuously
deal skate-sharpening issues during the game today against the
Canadiens, as it was reported that some sort of sand-like substance was
wreaking havoc with the skate blades of a number of Flyers players
throughout the game. From Frank Seravalli of Philldelphia Daily News:

“We
had skate issues, that’s for sure,” coach Peter Laviolette
said. “You know, we lost [Mike] Richards
three times, Kimmo [Timonen] two
times, and I don’t know.

“I’m not familiar with the rumors, but we certainly had some skate
issues.”

Those “rumors”, first reported by NBC’s Pierre McGuire,
was that some some sort of substance had been spilled on the rubber mats
that players walk on from the locker room to the benches, which was
causing all sorts of problems with their skates not only being sharp but
having gouges nearly destroying the blades the blades as well.

The
Flyers didn’t exactly blame any sort of tampering or sabotage for the
sand ending up on the rubber mats, although according to Seravalli one
player did admit there was a substance on the mats that caused these
issues.

For those unfamiliar, any sort of sand or sand-like
substance is kryptonite for the sharpness of skates and for such a
highly skilled sport as hockey having your skates as sharp and in as
good condition as possible is tantamount for success on the ice. Yet the
Flyers lost players all throughout the game to have their skates
repaired, and likely had them ruined once more walking back out of the
locker room and to the bench as no one discovered the substance until
later in the game.

Eventually, towels were laid across the mats to
prevent further damage.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an issue like this affecting the on-ice play of a road team this seriously. I It’s unlikely that the ‘substance’ just randomly appeared on the mats and no one caught the problem, especially when the players had to repeatedly go back for skate repairs throughout the game.

I doubt anyone on the Canadiens or the
Canadiens staff did something to cause these issues, although I can
certainly imagine an overzealous and insanely loyal Bell Centre employee
‘spilling’ something on the mats and ‘forgetting’ to properly clean up
the mess.

Lehner (forearm contusion) to miss preseason game versus Maple Leafs

Matt Puempel, Alex Chiasson, Robin Lehner
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The Buffalo Sabres will not have goalie Robin Lehner in their lineup Friday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As per the Sabres, Lehner is dealing with a forearm contusion and will not dress for this preseason game. Jason Kasdorf will start in net for Buffalo.

Members of the media in Buffalo have noted that if this were a regular season game, Lehner would be able to play.

Lehner had ankle surgery in March, ending his 2015-16 season. His ankle issues dated even further back, to the beginning of last season when he suffered a high-ankle sprain.

The Sabres have some exciting young players on their roster, especially up front, but they need Lehner to be healthy if they are to take a run at a playoff spot this season.

Behind him sit Linus Ullmark, Anders Nilsson and Kasdorf, who have a combined 73 games of NHL experience between them all.

Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.

“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.

“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”

(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)

On a night when the No. 2 overall selection Patrik Laine is slated to make his preseason debut for the Winnipeg Jets, fans wishing to see Matthews don a Maple Leafs jersey in his anticipated debut will have to wait.

Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.

The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.

McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious

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It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.

The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.

He left the game and didn’t return.

Good news, however, from the Oilers: Head coach Todd McLellan told reporters on Friday that the injury — lower body — is not serious, as per the team’s Twitter account.

According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the 28-year-old Maroon is expected to be ready for Edmonton’s season opener against the rival Calgary Flames on Oct. 12.

The Oilers acquired Maroon at last season’s trade deadline, a move that certainly added size and an element of grit to their group of forwards.

In 16 games with Edmonton, he scored eight goals and 14 points. In 56 games with Anaheim that same season, he registered only 13 points before the trade.

Patrik Laine to make highly anticipated preseason debut for Jets

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Patrik Laine gives an interview after being selected second by the Winnepeg Jets during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.

The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.

Winnipeg’s roster tonight also includes forward prospects Kyle Connor, Nic Petan and Brandon Tanev, not to mention more NHL experienced forwards like Alex Burmistrov, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.

Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.

“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.

Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Patrik Laine