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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    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’