Around the rink – Friday, November 5th

Remember, remember the fifth of November. It’s Guy Fawkes Day so fire up your copy of “V For Vendetta” and then head out to your local rink tonight wearing your Guy Fawkes mask to watch some hockey. After all, if Guy Fawkes were around today, he’d be a hockey fan – it’s the anti-establishment thing to do you know.

Here’s tonight’s schedule of action and all times listed are Eastern, because that’s the closest time zone we have to Greenwich Mean Time.

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ New Jersey

The Rangers looked rather shiftless last night losing to Philadelphia, meanwhile the Devils will be looking to build off of their win over Chicago the other night. As always, it’s worth watching to see what Rangers agitator Sean Avery does to try and get in the Devils heads, especially Ilya Kovalchuk. Think he’s got a little bit of material to work with now that the team and Kovalchuk are struggling?

Boston @ Washington

Thanks to the wonders of the NHL schedule, this is already the third meeting between these two teams with Boston winning the previous two battles 3-1 and 4-1. Tim Thomas will face off with Michal Neuvirth once again and for Washington, they’ll be looking to find a way to crack through Thomas. Working in their benefit, Thomas finally allowed more than one goal in a game in his last outing against Buffalo. Downside? He only gave up two goals in a 5-2 win. The Caps could use a breakout by the offense but looking for it to happen against Boston might be asking a lot.

7:30 pm

Montreal @ Buffalo

Buffalo is struggling. Badly. Facing a stingy Montreal team might not be the medicine they need to get things right. While Montreal might be giving up goals, they’re not giving up a ton of shots and for a struggling Sabres offense. The Sabres have to get things turned around here and cracking through Montreal would make for a good start there, otherwise the clamoring for someone to get fired in Buffalo, be it Lindy Ruff or Darcy Regier or both, will continue to get louder.

Carolina @ Florida

Two teams in search of some kind of consistency get to face off with each other in the front end of a home-and-home set. Carolina is coming off a 7-2 curb stomping of the Islanders the other night, meanwhile Florida is coming off a frustrating 4-3 loss to Atlanta where Thrashers goalie Chris Mason stopped 52 shots. For Florida, many of their losses have been in a similarly frustrating manner. Carolina, meanwhile, is hoping that their stomping of the Isles will be the spark they needed to go on a run. Rookie Jeff Skinner continues to be the pace-setter for Carolina as he leads the team in scoring.

8:00 pm

Calgary @ Minnesota

While the two are tied in the standings, the Flames are coming into the game struggling losers of three in a row. Over those three games, the Flames have allowed 15 goals against. That’s not going to win you many games averaging five goals against each night. Minnesota, meanwhile, is inconsistent but playing tough. They don’t give up many goals (they’re sixth in goals allowed in the league) but finding the net more often could help them rise up. The goaltending from Nik Backstrom has been solid and consistent, but as the offense goes, so go the Wild.

8:30 pm

Phoenix @ Dallas

The Stars are playing some good hockey so far this year and they can thank Brad Richards for a lot of that. Richards leads the team with 15 points and he’s the key setup man for them. Meanwhile, the Coyotes are hoping that the return of Martin Hanzal is what they needed. He looked good the other night in helping key the Coyotes to victory. Wojtek Wolski’s effort after being benched for a game was also much better. They’ll need them both to keep bringing it to win.

9:00 pm

Detroit @ Edmonton

If the Wings were struggling we could’ve labeled this game as “old and busted vs. new hotness.” Instead, the Wings are playing just fine and the Oilers are dealing with growing pains with such a young team. So much for predetermined story lines. Johan Franzen should be good to go after missing practice yesterday, meanwhile Jimmy Howard will get the start in goal. Edmonton will hope that their youth crew can give the old guys on Detroit a run for their money with their speed. Jordan Eberle continues to be fantastic for Edmonton.

10:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ Anaheim

An interesting battle to say the least as Pittsburgh is coming off a bad loss to Dallas and the Ducks got a shot of success against Tampa Bay the other night beating them in overtime. Recent call-up Kyle Palmieri scored in his first game with the Ducks meanwhile Teemu Selanne played a bit of “turn back the clock” playing a brilliant offensive game. The Ducks will need all that and more to handle what’s likely to be an ornery Penguins team that resorted to having Sidney Crosby dropping the gloves to stick up for his teammates.

Fisher also contacted by Canada for Olympics along with Doan, Iginla

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Add Mike Fisher to the list of veteran free agents who’ve at least been contacted to represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Hockey Canada VP of hockey operations Scott Salmond revealed as much to TSN 1040 on Thursday while also noting their interest in Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla.

“As Hockey Canada we have tremendous respect for all of those players,” Salmond said. “There’s no question that their leadership and their experience could be invaluable to our team.”

(Read more about Canada contacting Doan and Iginla specifically in this post.)

Fisher, 37, shares certain similarities with Doan and Iginla. All three players have captained NHL teams, each brings a mixture of scoring ability and grit to the table, and they all obviously have plenty of experience.

Pending talks with Nashville

On the other hand, there are a few potential differences that make Fisher’s case interesting.

For one thing, Fisher hasn’t decided – or hasn’t shared his decision – regarding a return to the Nashville Predators just yet. That choice is expected to come sometime next week.

The thing is, Fisher at least has some say in that matter, as he might make the choice not to come back. In the cases of Doan and Iginla, they might struggle to find suitors in free agency (or at least find suitors willing to give them the specific deals they seek).

A first for Fisher?

While that might hurt Canada’s chances, there’s another wrinkle: Fisher hasn’t really gotten “the call” quite like Doan or Iginla have. Fisher hasn’t ever suited up for Canada in the Olympics and, according to Hockey Reference, hasn’t suited up for Canada since the 2009 World Championships.

Perhaps that rare opportunity might trump playing another season in the NHL? A few weeks of international hockey wouldn’t represent the same wear-and-tear as playing through an 82-game season.

(There’s also at least the concept of playing in the Olympics and then trying to find a deal with the Predators, however unlikely that might be.)

While Doan and especially Iginla stand as bigger names, you could make a very reasonable argument that Fisher actually has more left in the tank. He’s also a center, which Canada might deem a lacking position heading into the 2018 Winter Olympics.

For all we know, none of these three forwards will bite at the opportunity. This seems like one of those creative ideas that might not work out.

It’s easy to see why Canada’s reps would at least get the conversation going, and Fisher might just be the best target to aim for.

Hurricanes give Di Giuseppe a two-way deal for 2017-18

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The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Phil Di Giuseppe to a one-year, two-way contract on Thursday.

The team announced that Di Giuseppe’s deal is worth $725K at the NHL level and $125K in the AHL in 2017-18.

Di Giuseppe, 23, was the 38th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. He’s been getting some looks at the NHL level with Carolina:

2015-16: 17 points in 41 games
2016-17: seven points in 36 games

He’s also been splitting time between the AHL and NHL lately, so a two-way deal works well enough.

Carolina doesn’t have much more to do on the free agent front, but that doesn’t mean that their off-season is wrapped up, as there’s still that whole ownership situation to settle.

Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

Related

Markov, Habs officially part ways.

Markov is headed to the KHL.

Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eichel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least develop into a regular NHL player.

Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.