Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson might not be ready for NHL just yet

The Edmonton Oilers are poised for a fresh start this season. After
all, there’s only one way to go from where there are now and that’s up.
They currently have the top pick in this season’s draft — unless they
choose to trade it away — and should be set to draft Taylor Hall. He’ll
be able to step in and make an instant difference, although the Oilers
will still be deep in a rebuilding process and are far from being just
“one player away”.

So let’s not forget last season’s first round
draft pick by the Oilers, the raw but extremely talented Magnus
Paajarvi-Svensson.

While gearing up for last year’s draft, MPS
had a reputation as a player with incredible upside but one who is still
more interested with just scoring goals and every other part of hockey
bores him to tears. After another year of playing in Sweden and then
being named to Sweden’s World Championships team, it appears that those
reports still hold true

today.

From David Staples of the Edmonton Journal:

Right now he tends to skate in wide circles in his own zone, arcing
and swooping about, hungry for a breakout pass. He doesn’t appear lazy,
just somewhat clueless. Along the boards, he’s tough enough, but not
effective, often pushed off the puck. He’s got to get stronger, he’s got
to start making quick stops and starts in his own zone, he’s got to
stop following the puck so much, and he’s got to start covering his man
adequately.

In his biggest game of the tournament, Sweden’s semi-final shoot-out
loss to the Czechs, his coach had enough faith in the kid to send him
out for a regular shift in over-time. Twice, though, Paajarvi was drawn
to the puck in his own zone, and forgot to cover the man, his man,
coming in late through the backdoor. Both times the Czechs had glorious
chances to score, one of those shots coming from Jaromir Jagr, who even
at his advanced age must not be left uncovered in the slot area, as any
veteran player would know.

From everything I’ve read, and the times I’ve been able to watch him
play, MPS has been one of the most frustrating hockey players to follow.
He has all the talent you could possibly want from a hockey player in
the offensive zone, but he never truly comes alive until the puck is on
his stick.

He’s one of those guys that just glides around on the ice, waiting
for the puck to come to him so can explode down the ice in the other
direction and do what he does best.

But in the NHL, that will never fly. Despite how much more
offensive-minded the league has become in recent years, a player that
can’t pull his own weight defensively will get the quick hook, no matter
how talented they might be with the puck.

MPS is certainly talented enough to make this Oilers team out of
training camp, but he needs time to further refine his game. Now, he
could always go back to Sweded but more likely the best option would be
for him to start the season in the AHL where the Oilers can directly
oversee his development.

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    Pretty or not, Senators aim to play their game vs. Penguins in Game 7

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    PITTSBURGH (AP) Craig Anderson is a realist, the byproduct of 15 years playing the most demanding position in the NHL.

    The Ottawa goaltender would like to chalk his 45-save masterpiece in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh up to his own brilliance. He knows that’s not exactly the case.

    “I think you need to be a little bit lucky to be good at times,” Anderson said.

    Ottawa has relied on a bit of both during its deepest playoff run in a decade and Anderson helped force Game 7 Thursday night. Yet here the Senators are, alive and still skating with a chance to eliminate the deeper, more experienced and more explosive Stanley Cup champions.

    So much for the series being over after the Penguins destroyed Ottawa 7-0 in Game 5.

    “I think, if you believe you’re beaten, you’re done already,” Anderson said. “If you believe that you can win, there’s always a chance.”

    All the Senators have to do to reach the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time in franchise history is take down one of the league’s marquee franchises on the road in a building where they were beaten by a touchdown last time out.

    No pressure or anything. Really. The Senators weren’t supposed to be here. Then again, in a way neither were the Penguins. No team has repeated in nearly two decades and at times during the season and even during the playoffs this group was too beat up. Too tired from last spring’s Cup run. The bullseye on their backs too big.

    Yet they’ve survived behind the brilliance of stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, coach Mike Sullivan’s impeccable decisions and a resiliency that has them one game from being the first Cup champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009.

    Those Red Wings, by the way, fell to the Penguins in seven games. There have been several Game 7s for Pittsburgh in the interim on both sides of the ledger, though the Penguins are 2-0 in Game 7s under Sullivan. They edged Tampa Bay in Game 7 of last year’s East finals and clinically disposed of Presidents’ Trophy winner Washington in Game 7 of the second round earlier this month.

    “It’s not something that’s new to them,” Sullivan said. “These guys have been involved in these experiences on a number of occasions, and they have those experiences to draw on. You know, I think they know what to expect, and now it’s a matter of going out and earning it and controlling what they can and doing your very best to get the result that we’re looking.”

    The Senators are 0-5 in Game 7s, the last setback coming in the first round to the New York Rangers in 2012. That was five years ago, a lifetime in the NHL. Ottawa rebuilt itself on the fly this season in coach Guy Boucher’s first year. Boucher favors discipline over daring, and while the stat sheet looked awfully one-sided in Game 6, the scoreboard did not.

    The Senators understand they’re the underdog and that the idea of a Cup final between first-timer Nashville and a Canadian club from one of the smallest markets in the league won’t exactly draw eyeballs to the screen. They don’t care. They’ll try to play the way they always play on Thursday night. To be successful, they don’t really have a choice.

    “We tried to win another way, and we got our butts kicked,” Boucher said.

    While both Boucher and Sullivan are doing their best to try and keep their teams focused on the process and not the outcome, in some ways it’s a fool’s errand. It’s the only game all year that will end with the Prince of Wales Trophy presented – but not handed – to the winners. They know. The players do, too.

    “I think it’s fun to kind of get lost in those moments and to just do what you can do,” Penguins goaltender Matt Murray said.

    Just don’t confuse adrenaline with nerves.

    “These are the games, when you’re a kid growing up, that you’re playing in the backyard, the Game 7s and that,” said 40-year-old Pittsburgh forward Matt Cullen, who could play in his final NHL game on Thursday. “So for us as players, this is what it’s all about.”

    Game 7 offers the Penguins and their stars the opportunity to cement their legacy while the Senators can complete an improbable run to their sport’s biggest stage.

    “We’re against a really good hockey team, the Stanley Cup champion, and we have a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup finals,” Senators forward Derick Brassard said. “We can’t ask for anything better than this, but we just have to have fun with that.”

    —-

    More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

    Related: Boring style is not a new topic for Senators

    Predators are dominating the Stanley Cup Playoffs in rest

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    If the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a battle of attrition, then the Nashville Predators are the side that always makes sure everyone has rations and a good place to sleep.

    OK, that’s an esoteric way of saying that the Predators have managed to get rest while other teams work deep into playoff series. Consider the gaps that Nashville has seen during this postseason:

    April 20: Nashville sweeps the Blackhawks with 4-1 win
    April 26: Preds beat the Blues in Game 1 4-3. The Blues eliminated the Wild on April 22.

    May 7: Predators eliminated the Blues with a 3-1 verdict in a Game 6.
    May 12: They managed a 3-2 overtime win against the Ducks. Anaheim finished off the Oilers on May 10, generating such a quick turnaround that Randy Carlyle couldn’t resist grumbling about it after the series concluded.

    May 22: Predators bounce the Ducks with a 6-3 win in Game 6.
    May 29: They’ll face either the Penguins or Senators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Eastern Conference Final will end tomorrow (May 25).

    People often debate about “rest vs. rust,” but those discussions sometimes gloss over the invisible benefits of merely not playing a game. If the Predators played a Game 7 against the Ducks, they may have suffered another injury. Not sweeping the Blackhawks could have made for a very different series.

    Setting the table while others miss opportunities

    In no way is this a dismissal of the Predators’ accomplishments. Instead, it’s praise for their mascot-appropriate “killer instinct.”

    The Penguins, for instance, needed three tries to eliminate the Washington Capitals and now must face another Game 7 against a pesky Senators team. If Ottawa advances, they will have three more playoff contests under their belt, a highly relevant consideration when you consider how taxing this run has been for Erik Karlsson.

    Now, the Predators won’t begin the Stanley Cup Final 100 percent. Ryan Johansen won’t magically get to play just because they get a week of rest rather than a few days.

    Still, the Predators’ legs will be as fresh as they can be, which is a rare luxury for games played into June.

    They’ve earned these breaks by eliminating teams in unflinching ways and by winning road games in tough situations. If they win it all, that reduced fatigue has to at least be considered one of the advantages that they leveraged to victory.

    Young Mitch Marner meme isn’t lost on Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs

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    A couple of days ago, Mitch Marner was spotted at Pearson Airport in Toronto with a backwards baseball cap after flying back from a very impressive and productive run at the World Hockey Championship.

    Hockey Twitter exploded with well-meaning laughter as the dazzlingly talented 20-year-old looked even younger than 20.

    Even a few days later, it really is a sight to behold, whether you need a respite from politics or biting your nails about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final:

    As much as many of us deride this age of social media, it’s been a goldmine for self deprecating comedy from hockey players; as it turns out, Roberto Luongo doesn’t have that market completely cornered, either.

    Not long ago, Auston Matthews jumped in on the Marner meme, and it was glorious:

    To his credit, Marner himself joined in:

    Is anyone else eager to see what these young stars come up with both on and off the ice during the next, oh, couple decades?

    Johansen wishes he was there to shake Kesler’s hand after Predators won

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    Ryan Johansen isn’t backing down about his criticisms of the way Ryan Kesler plays. Not after the Nashville Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks. Not as he recovers from emergency surgery.

    That was the top bulletin-board material from a great interview Johansen participated in with TSN 1040 Vancouver on Wednesday, as the refreshingly candid forward discussed a wide array of topics.

    For instance, Johansen:

    • Praised the hockey acumen of Nashville fans, backing up P.K. Subban‘s praise of the market.
    • Went into detail about his harrowing injury. Johansen explained that, at first, the seemingly innocent hit by Josh Manson would just be one of those “that’s going to leave a bad bruise” moments. Toward the end of the game, he was a shift or two from telling Peter Laviolette that he’d be a liability to his team. After the contest, he couldn’t even walk out of the shower, and that’s when medical staff determined that a painful injury required emergency surgery.
    • The bittersweet feelings of seeing his team advance to a Stanley Cup Final without him.
    • He spoke about how confident he felt during a postseason run that’s drawn rave reviews.

    Still, the juicy stuff was about Kesler. That comes at around the 10:50 mark of an interview worth listening to in its entirety.

    Nice. That’s basically the opposite of Detroit Red Wings players regretting shaking Claude Lemieux’s hand and maybe the other extreme of Martin Brodeur snubbing Sean Avery, right?

    (It feels necessary to discuss Milan Lucic getting weird during the handshake lines, too. Ah, memories.)

    Johansen admits that he was a Vancouver Canucks fan growing up, and while Kesler wasn’t one of his favorite players, he certainly cheered his endeavors. That … won’t happen again anytime soon, as you can note.

    Johansen expects a full recovery from that surgery, so yes, we can all pencil in the rematch between those two Ryans in 2017-18.

    Hot take: there won’t be handshakes.