Pre-season quick recaps – September 21st

Since it’s just the pre-season, we’re going to keep this really simple and not get too excited about things. Cut us some slack here though folks, the season is fast approaching and this is our first taste of the year. Pre-season hockey is our really crappy appetizer that we totally love despite how unhealthy it is for us.

Columbus 5 – Atlanta 2

Plus: Bryan Little and Fredrik Pettersson played well for Atlanta scoring a goal a piece. Columbus appears to have a strong unit of guys ready to play for Springfield in the AHL next year.

Minus: Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec played the full game and saved just 21 shots in the loss. Not exactly an inspiring performance.

Florida 4 – Carolina 1

Plus: Panthers 2010 #1 pick Erik Gudbranson had a goal and an assist. Anton Babchuk scored in his pre-season re-debut with Carolina.

Minus: Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward sleep-walked through his 30 minutes on the ice allowing three goals in 20 shots.

Philadelphia 4 – New Jersey 3 (F/SO)

Plus: Adam Mair had a goal for New Jersey. Mair is with the Devils on a professional tryout. Scoring should help his case. All other goal scorers were important players for both squads (Dainius Zubrus and Jamie Langenbrunner for New Jersey; Daniel Briere, Jeff Carter, and Darrol Power for Philly). It’s nice to see them get on the board right away.

Minus: What’s worse than a pre-season game going to overtime? A pre-season game that goes to the shootout. I know it’s the rules of the game, but putting the shootout aside for the pre-season isn’t the worst idea. After all, even baseball has tie games in their exhibition season.

Ottawa 5 – Toronto 0

Plus: Sens prospect Robin Lehner stopped 24 shots in earning the shutout. Chris Neil had a goal and two assists while virtually permanent AHLer Corey Locke had a goal and an assist for Ottawa. Toronto’s Jay Rosehill fought and ruined Ottawa’s Zack Smith. If this game were judged on fights rather than goals, Toronto would win going away.

Minus: Everything Toronto did in this game stunk. Their power play went 0-for on the night and looked hapless in doing so. Ottawa’s Swiss hero Roman Wick was a no-show.

Colorado 3 – St. Louis 1

Plus: Colorado’s rough penalty kill from last year was nowhere to be seen in this game. Injury-recovered forward David Jones scored for the Avs as did prospect defenseman from Boston University Kevin Shattenkirk.

Minus: Not an inspiring start for Jaroslav Halak stopping just 15 of the 18 shots he faced. Despite the Blues outshooting the Avs 34-18 they still lost by two goals. Apparently the Avs wanted to keep up what they did last year in getting outshot wildly while still winning. After all, if it ain’t broke…

Tampa Bay 4 – Dallas 2

Plus: Tampa’s Adam Hall, fighting for a spot with the Lightning, got off to a great start scoring two goals. Dominic Moore also scored as did Mattias Ohlund. It’s a funny thing for Ohlund as he scored zero goals last season. Tomas Vincour had two assists for Dallas. Dan Ellis played well stopping 17 of 19 for Tampa.

Minus: Uninspired goaltending from both Brent Krahn and Andrew Raycroft for Dallas as both guys gave up two goals in split duty. They’ll be battling all during camp to win the backup goalie job behind Kari Lehtonen. A special minus goes to us for not knowing that Dallas had Swiss Olympic favorite defenseman Severin Blindenbacher in camp trying to win a job with the Stars. We are sieves.

Calgary 3 – Vancouver 1 (Vancouver)

Calgary 3 – Vancouver 2 (Calgary)

Plus: Kudos to Calgary for sweeping the split-squad, split-city affair with the Canucks tonight. Great job by both teams to bring a heated rivalry to both cities to kick off pre-season action.  It was also nicely done for both teams to feature some of their bigger stars in their home rinks to make it work. Heck, even Ales Kotalik scored tonight.

Minus: Vancouver dropping both games. We’re sure the fans in Vancouver are already lathered up in a panic of some kind.

Phoenix 4 – Anaheim 1

Plus: Phoenix’s youth showed up to play. Kyle Turris and Victor Tikhonov each scored while AHL lifer Brett MacLean and journeyman Andrew Ebbett also tallied. Bobby Ryan notched Anaheim’s lone goal showing no rust after a tumultuous off-season off the ice.

Minus: It’s not much of a minus, but getting goals from both Turris and Ebbett only helps to make coach Dave Tippett’s job harder deciding who stays and who goes back to San Antonio. This camp is a big one for Turris as he’s been the Coyotes top prospect for the last few years running. Now is his time to show he can stick in the NHL and getting a goal and assist right off the bat should help out. Ducks first round pick Emerson Etem had no points and was a -2 in the game while playing just 10:59 of the game. First steps can sometimes be the hardest.

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    Math may help build Vegas Knights, but biggest aim is not being boring

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    Unlike Pierre Dorion, it sounds like Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee would rather listen to analytics-minded people rather than … you know, hit them.

    As McPhee readies for the expansion draft, he told The Star’s Kevin McGran in Q&A that they’ll at least be factored into decisions.

    I’ve been really fascinated by how revealing that data can be. You have these kids speaking a different language. But I’m convinced it has a really important place in this game. You have to pay attention to it, and you have to use it.

    Naturally, the real question with McPhee and other executives comes down to how much they will lean on analytics. Some teams seem to pick and choose when to listen to such voices, ending up with an odd mix of moves that please and unnerve the “fancy stats” community.

    Owner Bill Foley gave a good idea of how much they’ll lean on stats vs. more traditional approaches in an interview with the Vegas Hockey Hotline back in February, which was transcribed by The Hockey Writers’ Keith Scheessele.

    “Analytics is not going to drive how we draft,” Foley said. “Analytics are going to supplement what the scouts are seeing. We’re going to rely on the scouts and what they recommend.”

    (Foley also spoke of rating players in 10 different categories, which started to make one think about how old sports video games could only quantify skills in so many ways. Anyway …)

    So, it sounds like McPhee & Co. will take a modern approach – a mixture of the old and the new – rather than going full-on bold and revolutionary like, say, the Cleveland Browns or Golden State Warriors.

    Considering the mystery of roster quality one faces with the Vegas Knights, it honestly might be most important that McPhee is repeatedly stating that he doesn’t aim to put together a boring hockey team.

    Hey, if it takes a while to be good, at least the Vegas Knights might fit with their environment and put on a show.

    Tarasenko’s two goals help Blues tie series with Predators

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    One of the (many) remarkable things about the St. Louis Blues dispatching the Minnesota Wild was that they didn’t need a ton of production from Vladimir Tarasenko. He didn’t score a goal until the clinching game of that series.

    The Blues needed more from him tonight, and he responded with two huge goals to help St. Louis win 3-2 in Game 2, tying the second-round series at 1-1.

    Tarasenko scored the opening goal on that major power-play opportunity from the Vernon Fiddler knee on Colton Parayko, while Joel Edmundson wisely got out of the way to let Tarasenko nab the game-winner.

    That ended up being the decisive factor as the Nashville Predators finally lost their first game of the postseason.

    St. Louis must be breathing a sigh of relief for a number of reasons. The series shifts to Nashville for Games 3 and 4, so going down 2-0 might have been lethal.

    Even beyond that, the Blues had some breaks go their way that likely won’t repeat to the same degree in future contests. The Predators didn’t receive a single power-play opportunity while St. Louis spent significant chunks of the contest on the man advantage, going 1-for-5 (but again, that includes a major).

    The Blues also won despite what must have been a frustrating start. They only managed a 1-1 tie after the first 20 minutes despite holding Nashville to a mere three shots on goal.

    The Predators also managed leads of 1-0 and 2-1, yet the Blues kept fighting to get back in this series. Game 3 will air on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App (Click here for the livestream link).

    * – That said, he made a lot of commotion to set up Edmundson’s overtime game-winner from Game 1. That connection continued on Friday, as you likely noticed.

    WATCH LIVE: Game 2 for Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks

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    P.K. Subban certainly made his presence felt to begin the Predators’ series vs. the Blues. Leon Draisaitl stole the spotlight in helping the Oilers beat the Ducks in their Game 1. Who will step up in Game 2 of each series? We’ll find out soon.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (Preds lead 1-0)

    Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

    Check out the highlights from Nashville’s 4-3 win in Game 1.

    Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks (Oilers lead 1-0)

    Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

    Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

    Check out the highlights from Edmonton’s 5-3 win in Game 1.

    Hagelin might be available for Penguins in Game 2

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    WASHINGTON (AP) Carl Hagelin could be bringing his trademark speed back to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup.

    Coach Mike Sullivan said Hagelin will be a game-time decision to return for Game 2 against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night after being out since March 10 with a lower-body injury. The lightning-quick wing took part in a full-contact practice Friday and has progressed far enough in his recovery to be an option to play.

    “He brings that element of speed, his ability to stretch the ice, his pursuit game, forces turnovers all the time and we can create a lot of offense off of it,” Sullivan said. “He’s a good penalty killer, he’s a solid two-way player, so we can use him in a number of different capacities, but I think his speed certainly helps us play the type of game that we want to play and we’re a more competitive team when he’s in the lineup.”

    Hagelin called it a “step in the right direction” but said it’s difficult to determine if he’ll feel good enough to play.

    “You always want to play,” the 28-year-old Swede said. “It’s always hard to say, but out there today it felt good. It felt like I was moving, and I’m excited, that’s for sure.”

    Pittsburgh leads the best-of-seven second-round series 1-0. The Penguins are a much stronger team with the return of veteran wing Chris Kunitz and Hagelin, whose speed could make it even more difficult on the Capitals.

    “He can put teams back on their heels,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “He doesn’t need a lot of room to make a play. … He can help in a lot of different areas.”

    If Hagelin is cleared to return, Sullivan says it will be a difficult decision who comes out. Depth is one of the Penguins’ strengths, so it’s incredible that former first-line wing Conor Sheary could be the odd-man out after being demoted to the third line and struggling in some areas.

    “We know Conor has a much better game, and that’s what we’re trying to help him get to,” Sullivan said. “The last couple I don’t think have been his best, but certainly he’s a guy that’s played a lot of really good hockey for this team.”

    So has Hagelin, who was part of the famed “HBK” line along with Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel during Pittsburgh’s 2016 Stanley Cup run. He had 16 points in 24 games last season.

    “Haggy’s a great two-way player,” Kessel said. “He’s a fast player out there. He brings speed, and he’s a smart player out there. Whenever you get a guy like that back it’s big for your team.”

    It’s especially big if Hagelin can get his wheels back right away. Being out of the lineup for six weeks makes that a challenge but one he’s eager to undertake.

    “Speed should be there,” Hagelin said. “You don’t know that till you’re in the game. “That’s what’s fun about hockey. You go out there and usually you feel like you pick it up right where you left off.”

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