Flyers bolster goalie depth by signing Johan Backlund to 2-year extension

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Thumbnail image for Backlund.jpgHe’s not a big name goalie and he contributed little to their unexpected run to the Stanley Cup finals, but Johan “don’t call me Bob” Backlund – not Michael Leighton – is the latest goalie to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers. TSN reports that the Flyers extended the contract of the Swedish goalie (who managed to start one game this season thanks to the team’s goalie apocalypse) for two years.

There is one paragraph from that TSN story that I think is a little bit confounding.

Backlund is expected to serve as the Flyers main backup next season. Who he will be backing up remains to be seen as both Michael Leighton and Ray Emery are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st.

Odd, I was under the impression that the resilient Brian Boucher would be the team’s go-to backup while Philly sorts through Emery (unlikely), Leighton (somewhat unlikely) or Free Agent Goalie X. Unless, of course, the Flyers go even more against public opinion/rational thought and roll with a Boucher-Backlund duo as their goalie tandem …

That actually brings me to another question: is this deal a two-way contract? Perhaps I’m a little rusty on the age limits for this type of contract (at 28, is Backlund too old to be eligible?) but if not, I’d assume the Flyers would prefer some minor league maneuverability with such a “green” goalie.

If it’s a two-way deal, then I’d say it’s an OK move by the Stanley Cup runners-up. They learned last season that they need plenty of depth in net.

My guess is the next couple of weeks will be heavy with contract extensions, rumors about negotiations and – of course – the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Keep checking Pro Hockey Talk for the latest news regarding the always-busy month of June.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.