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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    Hitch’s recipe for more goals is a pretty simple one

    Ken Hitchcock, David Backes, Dmitrij Jaskin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund
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    Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.

    Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.

    “To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.

    “When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”

    According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.

    The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).

    Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.

    The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.

    St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.

    Goalie nods: Lindback ‘really excited’ for first start in almost three weeks

    Anders Lindback
    AP
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    Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.

    The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.

    Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.

    Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.

    Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.

    Elsewhere…

    — No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.

    Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.

    — Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.

    A ‘pretty solid two-way player,’ Sundqvist to make NHL debut for Penguins

    Pittsburgh Penguins' Oskar Sundqvist (49) collides with Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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    The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.

    Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.

    “Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.

    “I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”

    Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.

    Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.

    Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury

    John Scott’s wife gives birth to twin girls

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    As if John Scott wasn’t already having a great week, now he’s the proud father of twin girls.

    The Montreal Canadiens shared the good news via their Twitter account today.

    Scott, the unlikely 2016 All-Star Game MVP, is currently back home in Michigan; however, he’s expected to resume his career at some point with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

    When, exactly, he suits up for the IceCaps remains to be seen, but it won’t be tonight or tomorrow.

    Related: Therrien on Canadiens possibly recalling John Scott: ‘You never know’