Preseason quick recaps – September 26th

NHL.gifIt was a light night in preseason action and somehow the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t make an appearance. Tonight’s big game occurred in Edmonton. Big being a relative term considering it’s a preseason game.

Detroit 5 – NY Rangers 3

Plus: Brian Rafalski pretended like it was the Olympics once again scoring a goal and adding three assists in his first action of the preseason. Sean Avery played well and had a goal for New York. Norwegian Olympic hero Mats Zuccarello looked well playing the role of a pest and helping set up Erik Christensen for a shorthanded goal.

Minus: Referee Kelly Sutherland wrongly negating a Detroit goal because, you guessed it, Tomas Holmstrom was in the crease. Replays showed Holmstrom neither interfering with Rangers goalie Martin Biron nor standing in the crease. Reputation calls in preseason? Oy. Red Wings play while on the man advantage was sketchy allowing two-on-one breaks the other way, one leading to Artem Anisimov’s shorthanded goal.

Montreal 4 – Minnesota 3

Plus: Habs rookie defenseman Brendon Nash had a goal and an assist. He’s played well in the preseason and while it’s not expected he’ll get a shot with Montreal, it’s good to have young talent emerging in camp nonetheless. The Wild were able to score three goals tonight and Anton Khudobin did reasonably well in the start saving 24 shots.

Minus: So the Wild did score three goals, but they did so on just 14 shots, including just one shot in the second period. The Wild are poised to be an offensively-challenged team as it is. Showing some signs of life in the preseason would go a long way to helping the fans deal with things. Alex Auld stopping merely 11 out of 14 shots could be seen as a minus, or it could be seen as an example of what happens when you fall asleep in goal.

Edmonton 8 – Vancouver 2

Plus: Jordan Eberle showed off a little bit tonight for Edmonton scoring two goals and adding an assist. Shawn Horcoff did the same while Gilbert Brule had two goals and two assists. Save some for the regular season guys, you’re going to need it. Nikolai Khabibulin looked strong in his first game of the preseason stopping 26 out of 28 shots.

Minus: Everything Vancouver did defensively. They were slow, Oilers players routinely blew by them and goalie Cory Schneider ate all eight goals in the loss. Cody Hodgson was quiet in the game, not earning a point but managed to not eat a minus rating on the night, instead ending up a +1. At least he had that going for a hapless Canucks team.

St. Louis 2 – Colorado 0

Plus: Goalie Ben Bishop had a 29-save shutout for the Blues. Meanwhile, Brad Boyes and T.J. Oshie had the goals. Avs goalie Craig Anderson, despite the loss, made 37 saves in the effort.

Minus: Holy crap, Avs defense. 39 shots allowed again tonight and forcing Craig Anderson to put in a mid-season effort in a preseason game seems a bit unfair. Give the guy a break, would you?

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    Edmonton will have a captain by opening night, says McLellan

    Todd McLellan
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    After going without a captain last season, the Oilers will have someone wearing the “C” in 2016-17.

    “Will we have a captain? Yeah, we will,” head coach Todd McLellan said on Wednesday, per the Oilers’ website. “We will have a captain.”

    The last player to serve as captain in Edmonton was Andrew Ference, who inherited the position from Shawn Horcoff in ’13 and held it for two seasons.

    Last year, the veteran blueliner appeared in just six games, and underwent season-ending hip surgery. He was in no position to serve in the club’s leadership group and, ergo, the Oilers opted to play without a captain.

    So… who will be next to wear the “C?”

    Most are thinking about Connor McDavid. Though he’s not publicly campaigning for the role, the 19-year-old did say it would “be one of the greatest honors. ” Though he missed significant time to injury last year, McDavid still enthralled Oilers fans with a rookie campaign that saw him rack up 48 points in 45 games, finishing as a Calder Trophy finalist.

    Of course, there will be others in the mix.

    Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Matt Hendricks have all served as alternates in Edmonton, and Hendricks captained the U.S. at this year’s world championships. There’s definitely some leadership to choose from, and it’s worth noting Eberle is one of the most vested veterans in Edmonton, having appeared in 425 games over the last six seasons.

    Oilers’ Yakimov going back to KHL — this time, on loan

    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Bogdan Yakimov #39 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on prior to the start of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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    Bogdan Yakimov is on his way back to Russia.

    On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they’ve loaned Yakimov to KHL club Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, the same team he joined after leaving AHL Bakersfield last season.

    The 83rd overall pick in 2013, Yakimov has appeared in one game for the Oilers since getting drafted. He’s spent almost all of his time in North America in the AHL, and didn’t impress the club last year when he bolted the farm team to return to his native land.

    “He made a career decision to return to Russia and I’m not sure how he played or how many games he played,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said at the time, per the Edmonton Sun (McLellan was then informed Yakimov was away for 11 games).

    “Well, that’s 11 games he didn’t spend with us. During his time away, there were a number of players recalled. I would have preferred to see him in an Oilers uniform and he was real close. Now he has to reset his Oiler clock and get playing again.”

    All told, Yakimov played in 36 games with the Condors last season, scoring five goals and 15 points.

    At 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, Yakimov has impressive size and is still only 21 years old, so he’s got some value. But it remains to be seen whether he wants to try and push for an NHL career, or opt to stay in the KHL.

     

    Max is back: Lapierre to attend Rangers camp on PTO

    PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 01: Maxim Lapierre #40 talks with Craig Adams #27 of the Pittsburgh Penguins before a face-off during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Consol Energy Center on April 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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    After a year abroad, Maxim Lapierre is getting a shot to rejoin the NHL.

    Per TVA, Lapierre has agreed to join the Rangers in training camp on a professional tryout. The news comes after he split last season between Swiss League outfit Lugano and Swedish League side Modo, with midseason rumblings there were NHL teams interested in bringing him back.

    In New York, Lapierre will be reunited with Alain Vigneault, his former head coach in Vancouver. Vigneault has brought in a few former Canucks during his time with the Rangers, including Tanner Glass, Nicklas Jensen and Michael Grabner.

    Lapierre, 31, last played in the NHL during the ’14-15 campaign, splitting time between Pittsburgh and St. Louis. A known agitator, he finished the year with 11 points in 80 games, and appeared in all five games of the Pens’ opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers.

    Prior to his time in Pittsburgh and St. Louis, “Yappy Lappy” played in Montreal, Anaheim and Vancouver. His best season came in 2008-09, when he scored a career-high 15 goals and 28 points, earning a handful of Selke votes.

    Ready for No. 1 duties, Elliott wants to be ‘backbone’ for Flames

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    At 31, Brian Elliott will be one of most experienced guys on the Calgary roster next season.

    But he’s also ready to embark on something unique.

    Elliott will have the chance to be a clear-cut, unquestioned, No. 1 starting netminder for the first time in his career when the Flames open play in October — an opportunity he’s ready to embrace.

    “As a goalie you want to be wanted. You want to have that opportunity,” Elliott said on Wednesday during his introduction to the Calgary media. “I’m going to do my best to be the backbone of the team and try to be a leader and just do whatever I can to be the rock for the guys on the back end and let the guys do the rest of the work.”

    There’s little doubt about Elliott’s role in Calgary for next season. He was stellar in ’15-16, posting a .930 save percentage and 2.07 GAA, helping the Blues advance to the Western Conference Final. And the Flames further anointed Elliott as the No. 1 by signing career backup Chad Johnson to fill the No. 2 role.

    So, next year is sorted.

    But what about after that?

    Elliott is a UFA after this season, and so is Johnson. Flames GM Brad Treliving did say at the draft that Elliott’s contractual status and cap hit played a role in the acquisition, adding that discussions about a new deal could be in the works.

    “As part of this deal, Doug [Armstrong, Blues GM] allowed me to talk to [Elliot’s] representative, so there may be the opportunity to look at an extension,” Treliving said at the time. “We’ll look at that. There’s no need to rush, but maybe there is a need to look at something.”

    It’s been long rumored that Calgary wasn’t looking for a long-term solution in goal, but rather a “transitional guy.” That’s why Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, currently under contract for two more years, had been tied to the Flames.

    Looking down the road, it’s clear Calgary is anticipating one of their draftees pans out in goal. The club took Providence standout Jon Gillies 75th overall in 2012, Mason McDonald 34th overall in ’14, and Tyler Parsons 54th overall this  year — but none of them are close to being NHL ready.

    Which brings us back to Elliott.

    Given how erratic things were in Calgary’s net last year both performance- and contractual-wise, one would assume Treliving would like to keep “Moose” around for more than just this season.