Around The Rink – October 9th

The last two days of the NHL season felt like an appetizer for what’s to come today. The NHL is still in Europe with two more games getting the afternoon delight treatment. Meanwhile, the rest of the league comes to the table to check things out.

Oddly enough, a handful of teams are playing the second day of back-to-back games already. Slow down guys, the season goes until April. Anyhow, here’s today’s schedule with all times set to Eastern because we’re fancy that way.

12:00 pm

Phoenix @ Boston (Prague, Czech Republic)

It’s the first game for both teams as the NHL takes over the Czech Republic. Boston might be the home team today, but expect the Coyotes to get a lot of love with Czechs Petr Prucha, Martin Hanzal, and Radim Vrbata. David Krejci of Boston is sure to have a lot of fans himself.

3:00 pm

Columbus @ San Jose (Stockholm, Sweden)

Columbus will look to bounce back after dropping a tough one yesterday. They’ll also look to be a bit better on their special teams after giving up two power play goals.

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Buffalo

The new look Rangers look to get off to a big start in Buffalo while the Sabres look to build off an oddly-inspiring victory over Ottawa last night. I say that because they just never beat Ottawa.

Ottawa @ Toronto

The Leafs already took care of one rival team on Thursday beating Montreal. Can they go two-for-two to start the year?

Dallas @ NY Islanders

No Streit, no Okposo, no Schremp, but Rick DiPietro will get the start in goal. Odd, isn’t it? Dallas looks to go 2-0 on their season-starting east coast swing.

Montreal @ Pittsburgh

Don’t suppose the Pens faithful will have anything left over to yell at the Habs do you? The Pens look to break in their new arena with a win while the Habs look to bounce back after a lack-luster effort on Thursday against Toronto.

New Jersey @ Washington

The Caps have their home opener and both teams come into this one off of tough losses last night. Alex Ovechkin was kept off the score sheet against Atlanta, meanwhile his Russian friend Ilya Kovalchuk debuted with two assists. Expect big games from both of them.

7:30 pm

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay

Atlanta looks to get off to a hot start after beating Washington last night but will have to go through the rebuilt and well-hyped Lightning.

8:00 pm

Philadelphia @ St. Louis

St. Louis will be showing off their statue of Brett Hull before the game. No word on whether or not Chris Pronger will try to deliver a body check to it in reverence for his past efforts in St. Louis.

Anaheim @ Nashville

No Sergei Kostitsyn for Nashville, meanwhile no Andy Sutton for Anaheim. If the Preds were hoping to impress the hometown fans with an offensive explosion, they’ve got the right team to open up against. Jonas Hiller could be a very busy guy all year for the Ducks.

8:30 pm

Detroit @ Chicago

The Blackhawks’ home opener means lots of pomp and circumstance for the home team as well as the raising of the team’s Stanley Cup championship banner. Don’t think that it was a coincidence that their hated rivals from Detroit just happened to be scheduled for this game. Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson will likely miss the game with back spasms.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Vancouver

More pageantry in Vancouver, this time of a self-congratulatory kind with the Canucks celebrating their 40th anniversary this season. Both teams will be in throwback jerseys, with the Kings wearing these purple beauties from a bygone era.

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    Let’s look at the all-important U.S. Thanksgiving standings

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    If you haven’t heard, U.S. Thanksgiving is pretty significant among NHL folk — and no, not just because everybody got the night off.

    (Well, most people got the night off. I’m here. But I’m Canadian and don’t mind working what we refer to as “Thursday, But With More Football.”)

    See, turkey day has major ramifications for the NHL playoffs. As CBC put it, conventional wisdom says American Thanksgiving is “a mark on the calendar where essentially the playoffs are decided.”

    To further illustrate that point, the Associated Press (courtesy STATS) ran a report last year showing that — since the 2005-06 season — teams in a playoff spot entering the holiday have gone on to make the Stanley Cup postseason 77.3 per cent of the time.

    So yeah. Late November standings are worth paying attention to.

    And a quick glance at those standings reveals that 16 clubs — Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, New York Rangers, Washington, Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, Detroit, Dallas, St. Louis, Nashville, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver, Chicago and Minnesota — currently have, according to the above statistic, better than a 75 percent chance of making the dance.

    The other 14 clubs — Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Florida, Carolina, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Toronto, Columbus, Arizona, Winnipeg, Anaheim, Colorado, Calgary and Edmonton — have less than a 25 percent chance.

    Some thoughts:

    — The biggest surprises? Two conference finalists from last year’s playoffs on the outside looking in: Anaheim and Tampa Bay. The Ducks are 8-11-4 and with 20 points, five back of the final wild card spot in the West; the Bolts are 11-9-3, tied with the Wings and Isles on 25 points but on the outside looking in due to the tiebreaker.

    — To further illustrate how those two clubs have fallen: Last Thanksgiving, Tampa Bay was 15-6-2 with 32 points. Anaheim was 14-4-4 with 33 points. And yes, both were comfortably in playoff positions.

    — Three teams that missed from the Western Conference last year (Dallas, Los Angeles, San Jose) are in good shape to get back in. The same cannot be said for the Ducks and two other clubs that made it last year: Winnipeg (three points back of the wild card) and Calgary (eight back).

    — Other than Tampa Bay, the East looks remarkably similar to how last year finished. The Habs, Sens, Rangers, Isles, Pens, Red Wings and Caps were all postseason entrants.

    — Speaking of the Sens, they deserve mention. Ottawa was outside the playoff picture last Thanksgiving but, as has been well-documented, bucked convention by going on a crazy run down the stretch and pulling off the greatest comeback to the postseason in NHL history.

    — And it’s because of those Sens that I’m loathe to write anybody off. Of course, if I was going to write anybody off, it would be Carolina and Columbus and Buffalo and Edmonton.

    — If I had to pick one team currently holding a spot that I think will drop out, it’d be Vancouver.

    — If I had to pick a second, it’d be the Canucks.

    — Finally, it’s worth noting that, last year, only three of the 16 teams holding a playoff spot at Thanksgiving failed to make it: Boston, Toronto and Los Angeles.

    — In other words, 81 percent of the teams that were in on turkey day proceeded to qualify.

    Avs put big Swedish forward Everberg on waivers

    Dennis Everberg, Jason Pominville
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    Colorado made a minor roster move on Thursday, putting winger Dennis Everberg on waivers.

    Eveberg, 23, made his NHL debut with the Avs last season and had a fairly good rookie season, with 12 points in 55 games. This year, though, his offense was really lacking — Everberg had zero points through his first 15 games, averaging just under nine minutes per night.

    The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder originally came to the Avs after a lengthy stint playing for Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League, turning heads with a 17-goal, 34-point effort in 47 games during the ’13-14 campaign.

    Should he clear waivers, he’ll be off to the club’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

    As far as Benning is concerned, ‘the Sedins are going to retire as Vancouver Canucks’

    Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin

    You may recall over the summer when the Sedin twins were asked by a Swedish news outlet if they’d ever consider waiving their no-trade clauses and playing for a team that wasn’t the Vancouver Canucks.

    Their answer? They had no intention — none whatsoever — of leaving Vancouver, even if they were presented with an opportunity to join a Stanley Cup contender.


    Yes, there was a but.

    They didn’t definitively say they’d refuse to waive. If, for instance, management were to approach them during the final season of their contracts (2017-18), well, maybe they’d have to consider it.

    And, so, because it was the summer and there was nothing else to talk about, and because it had only been a short time since the Flames had made the Canucks look so old and slow in the playoffs, it became a topic of conversation among the fans and media.

    Today, GM Jim Benning was asked if he’d put an end to the rumors.

    “As far as I’m concerned, the Sedins are going to retire as Vancouver Canucks,” Benning told TSN 1040.

    Daniel Sedin currently ranks fourth in NHL scoring with 25 points in 23 games. Henrik is tied for 14th with 22 points. Even at 35, they’re still excellent players.

    “I don’t know if they’re getting better, but they’re not getting any worse,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Saturday, after the twins had combined for nine points in beating the defending champs.

    It’s also worth noting that there’s far more optimism in Vancouver about the Canucks’ youth. Last year, there was only Bo Horvat to get excited about. This year, there’s Horvat, Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen and Ben Hutton.

    True, the youngsters still have a ways to go. And yes, there are still some glaring holes in the Canucks’ lineup — most notably on the blue line, a tough area to address via trade or free agency. 

    It may be in Vancouver’s best long-term interests to miss the playoffs this season and get into the draft lottery. 

    But you never know, if they hang around a few more years, with a little luck and some good moves by management, the Sedins might not be done chasing the Cup after all.

    NHL has no plans to change waiver rules

    Manny Malhotra Ryan Stanton
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    Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.

    Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”

    “For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”

    Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.

    Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.

    In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.

    So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?

    Your call, Marc Bergevin.

    Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL