Tyler Myers isn't worried about a sophomore slump

tylermyersistall.jpgGoing into last season, the odds-on favorite for the Calder Trophy seemed to be John Tavares. Though he had a solid year, he didn’t even earn one of the top three nominations for the award as Jimmy Howard, Matt Duchene and Calder winner Tyler Myers earned that honor.

Many didn’t see Myers coming … figuratively, at least. It’s hard to miss him in a literal way, considering his substantial talent and near-Zdeno Chara height (he’s listed at 6’8″ in his player profile).

The sizable rookie had a big year, with 11 goals and 37 assists for 48 points and a +13 rating in 82 games in 09-10. Some might wonder if Myers will follow in the footsteps of the previous Calder Trophy winner Steve Mason and suffer from a “sophomore slump.” The tree-sized defenseman is not one of them, though, as he told John Kreiser from NHL.com.

Don’t try to tell Tyler Myers there’s a sophomore jinx. He’s not buying it.

Myers had the kind of rookie season every player dreams of. The Buffalo Sabres’ No. 1 pick (No. 12) in 2008 stepped into the NHL last season and immediately became an impact player. He led all first-year defensemen — and all Buffalo blueliners — with 11 goals and 48 points, then capped his season by taking home the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

That’s quite a performance for a player who started the season as a 19-year-old (he turned 20 on Feb. 1), and seemingly could set him up for a fall. But Myers isn’t concerned about any dropoff in performance in his second year.

“I know there are things I have to improve, and the coaches, especially James Patrick, are working with me,” he told NHL.com. “But as far as a ‘sophomore jinx — I’m not worried about that.”

The Buffalo Sabres will need Myers to at least match his rookie output this season. The team essentially traded big minute blueliners Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder for Shaone Morrissonn and Jordan Leopold in free agency (by my standards, a downgrade). That puts a lot of pressure on Myers and goalie Ryan Miller – two players who seemed to max out their potential – to do just as well in 2010-11.

I’m not so sure that the Sabres will win the Northeast Division again next season, but it’s not ridiculous to think that Myers might be even better in 10-11. Just ask him.

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    Habs’ win was a showcase for P.K. Subban, Connor McDavid

    Montreal Canadiens defensemen  P.K. Subban (76) holds off Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
    AP
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    Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.

    Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.

    Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.

    Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:

    From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.

    Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?

    The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.

    That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.

    If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.

    Rangers beat Flyers in a shootout, but lose McDonagh

    Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason, left, looks towards New York Rangers' T.J. Miller, center rear, as his teammates finish celebrating Miller's goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan 16, 2016 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
    Associated Press
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    The New York Rangers got a big divisional win on Saturday afternoon, but it came at a price.

    Captain Ryan McDonagh was knocked out of the game after he took a sucker-punch from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

    McDonagh wasn’t innocent here. He delivered a cross-check to Simmonds’ head moments before the punch.

    To watch the entire sequence, click here.

    Getting back to the game…

    With the Flyers leading 2-1 in the dying moments of the game, defenseman Keith Yandle beat Steve Mason to force overtime.

    Philadelphia’s struggles continued in the shootout.

    They missed on both their attempts (Sam Gagner and Claude Giroux) while the Rangers converted on both their attempts (Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan).

    After the game, both sides addressed the Simmonds/McDonagh incident.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the NHL’s Department of Player Safety handles this situation. Both McDonagh and Simmonds are at fault here, but Simmonds’ action caused an injury.

    The shootout loss puts an end to Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak. The Flyers are three points behind the Red Wings for the final Wild Card spot in the East.

    Capitals’ Carey ties it late before Ovechkin beats Devils in the shootout

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    The 2015-16 Washington Capitals always seem to find a way to get the job done.

    That’s exactly what they did in Saturday’s matinee against the New Jersey Devils.

    The Capitals opened the scoring when Andrei Burakovsky beat Cory Schneider in the second period, but the Devils answered with back-to-back goals by Joseph Blandisi and Adam Henrique.

    Washington got the game-tying goal from an unlikely source as Paul Carey scored his first career goal with under six minutes remaining in regulation.

    In overtime, Ovechkin dished out this huge hit:

    And in typical Ovechkin fashion, he finished the game off in the shootout (top of the page).

    The Caps have now won back-to-back games and they remain 15 points ahead of the Rangers, who beat Philadelphia 3-2 in a shootout this afternoon, with two games in hand.

    For the Devils, the loser point allows them to move ahead of the Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan division, but New York still has four games in hand.

    Here’s an updated look at the division standings:

    division

    Video: Flyers’ Simmonds gets tossed for sucker-punch after retaliating to McDonagh’s cross-check

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    Some rough stuff in Saturday’s matinee between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.

    Wayne Simmonds was thrown out of the game after he punched Ryan McDonagh.

    As you can see from the video at the top of the page, McDonagh nails Simmonds with a cross-check to the head before the Flyers forward went after him.

    McDonagh left the game with a possible concussion.

    Here’s how the referees handed out the penalties:

    penalties

    Simmonds received a five-minute major and was tossed from the game while McDonagh received two separate two-minute penalties.

    The Rangers were unable to score on the ensuing power play, and that’s when more weird stuff happened.

    Here’s how the New York Daily News described the moments after the penalty expired:

    The Rangers were already upset with Simmonds’ sucker punch, but then Alain Vigneault lost his mind all over again at the end of the Rangers’ unsuccessful power play: The Flyers had forgotten to put a player in the penalty box, with Simmonds having been sent off.

    Illegally, during the flow of play, forward Jake Voracek just jumped off Philly’s bench as the power play expired and was sprung on a breakaway. Lundqvist made the save but the Rangers were flabbergasted at the officials’ lack of control or apparent knowledge of the rule book, which would require the Flyers in that situation to wait until a whistle to put their fifth man back on the ice.

    By the way, the referees for this game are Dave Lewis and Kelly Sutherland.