Ride on the Zamboni – Thursday, November 4th

Philadelphia 4 – NY Rangers 1

No matter how many times the brawlers for each team managed to fight each other, none of that could inspire the Rangers to actually try to score goals in this one. The Flyers, on the other hand, took full advantage of the Rangers uninspired play and took advantage of the Rangers inability to stick up for themselves. Mike Richards, Blair Betts, and Nikolay Zherdev scored three straight second period goals after Brandon Dubinsky lead off the scoring in the game for New York to give the Flyers a lead they wouldn’t give up. Chris Pronger scored an salt-in-the-wound goal in the third to provide the final decision. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 20 shots in the win on an easy night for him.

What’s got the Rangers upset after the game is the lack of a penalty on Flyers agitator Dan Carcillo who caught Ruslan Fedotenko with a head shot. Both Fedotenko and head coach John Tortorella were livid after the game that no call was made on the play. Expect the NHL to take a look at what happened and perhaps hand down punishment anyhow.

Columbus 3 – Atlanta 0

Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason might have to get comfortable with the bench. Mathieu Garon stopped all 25 shots he faced in earning his second shutout of the year and extending his shutout streak to 133:54. Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger each scored their fifth goals of the year, meanwhile Jakub Voracek got his first of the season as the Jackets pounded Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 41 shots on goal. What helped the Blue Jackets feel more like they were at home? Just 8,461 in attendance in Atlanta tonight for the game. OK so maybe Atlanta has a bit of a problem there too.

Ottawa 4 – NY Islanders 1

After getting iffy goaltending and a tough start to the season from both goalie Brian Elliott and center Jason Spezza, they both showed up in a big way for the Senators in a 4-1. Elliott stopped 28 shots, including two stellar shorthanded breakaway stops while Spezza factored into all four Sens goals, getting  a goal and three assists in the win. Matt Moulson prevented Elliott from getting a shutout, scoring a power play goal. Dwayne Roloson, who had been playing well for the Isles, looked bad tonight stopping 23 shots in the loss. The loss marked the sixth straight for the Islanders who are quickly running into problems with a defense that just can’t keep up with teams.

St. Louis 2 – San Jose 0

Jaroslav Halak’s great season continues as Halak stopped 25 shots in earning his third shutout of the season, tying him with Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for the league lead. Fellow former Canadien Matt D’Agostini as well as David Perron scored for St. Louis and for Perron it made for sweet revenge after being the victim of a blindside hit by Sharks captain Joe Thornton. Thornton was kicked out of the game for an illegal check to the head in the second period. Later on in the second, Perron would score on a backhanded rebound past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Niemi stopped 27 shots in the loss. Meanwhile, the Sharks have been shutout in two straight games. The Wild shut them out on Tuesday night in Minnesota.

If you’re interested in such things, with wins by both St. Louis and Columbus tonight, those two teams now sit atop the Central Division

Vancouver 3 – Colorado 1

The Canucks big guns came out to play tonight as Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin scored goals while Raffi Torres added his seventh goal of the year in giving the Canucks a win against their divisional rivals. Cory Schneider got the start over Roberto Luongo tonight and played solid stopping 33 shots in the win. David Van Der Gulik scored his first NHL goal to spoil the shutout for Schneider who has been lights out when getting spot starts for Luongo. If nothing else, that’s exactly what the Canucks want to get out of their backup goalie and Schneider has been stellar in his role.

Los Angeles 1 – Tampa Bay 0

For two teams that rarely play each other, the Lightning and Kings sure do have some great dislike for each other. In what proved to be an overly physical and occasionally dirty game, the Kings came away with a Jon Quick 24-save shutout and a Justin Williams goal to secure the win. As for the dirty stuff, the game saw Tampa’s Mattias Ohlund take a five-minute major for boarding Kings captain Dustin Brown.

Later in the game, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty went out of his way to hit Tampa’s Steve Downie from behind in open ice. Doughty got a two-minute minor for the hit, but Downie would try to get him back shortly after that attempting to make a leaping hit on Doughty in the corner but missing. Downie then went after Doughty to try and fight him, but Willie Mitchell intercepted him and did the deed. Downie was given a ten-minute misconduct after blowing a gasket after the fight yelling at anyone in stripes he could find. And he wonders why it’s tough to warm up to him.

Video: Don Cherry sings ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ at Cubs game

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So, CBC personality Don Cherry was the Chicago Cubs’ recent guest for their traditional rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.

He’s not the first hockey-person to do so, as Jonathan Toews was involved in a memorable butchering of that song, among others.

Cherry put his own spin on it, giving fans a chance to review both his singing, lyrics, and his suit (the latter of which was relatively understated):

Russian Machine Never Breaks and Sportsnet note that Cherry tweaked the lyrics just a bit, but he earned some points with fans in Chicago by getting a cheap Blackhawks pop.

Hey, if nothing else, it provided an opportunity to dust off that awesome, ancient photo via Getty.

The case for Hurricanes signing Jaromir Jagr

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This post is a part of Hurricanes day at PHT…

It’s tough to pick the perfect NHL home for Jaromir Jagr because there are just so many variables.

There are, for instance, unspoken demands. Jagr has easily earned the right to ask for a significant salary and role thanks to his Hall of Fame career. It’s his right to hold out for what he wants.

Of course, it makes him a tougher puzzle piece to wedge into a team’s bigger picture. The 45-year-old could finally totally fall off the map in 2017-18. Naturally, even if he merely continues to slip, there’s the argument that Jagr is taking minutes away from players with a brighter future.

SBNation blog Canes Country, for instance, ultimately argued against the Carolina Hurricanes bringing the legend in:

Justin Williams was brought in this offseason to help bring veteran leadership to the Hurricanes, and it seems general manager Ron Francis – Jagr’s former teammate in Pittsburgh – is done making moves. Their leadership quota filled, there’s really no place for Jagr to fit in the Canes’ lineup.

Perhaps not, but let’s trot out a few reasons why the Hurricanes should really think it over.

Star power

In Mid-July, 24/7 Wall St. reported that the Hurricanes saw the second-largest percentage drop in professional sports over the last decade. An eight-year postseason drought tends to hurt a team at the box office, after all.

Now, winning would be the best way for the Hurricanes to fill the seats. There’s no denying that.

Still, for all the hype about this roster full of young stars, that buzz might not go far enough to really draw mainstream attention. Signing Jaromir Jagr would be a way to draw eyes to the Hurricanes, and with a ton of cap space, Carolina is nicely equipped to meet his demands.

Grumpy old men?

Canes Country makes a strong point about how Jagr might not fit in with, say, Jordan Staal or Victor Rask.

Of course, part of that reasoning is based on a perfect world scenario where no one gets injured, but even assuming that’s the case … perhaps head coach Bill Peters could find some creative solutions?

For one thing, the question of foot speed could, conceivably, be mitigated by putting the few elder statesmen together. Perhaps Jagr would line up with Lee Stempniak and/or Justin Williams, thus sequestering some of the older legs and giving Peters a chance to massage situations to their advantage?

He might still provide a boost

It’s understandable to point to, say, dipping numbers for Jagr without Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau and say that he can’t do it on his own.

On the other hand, Jagr sure seems like he would fit in on a team that’s quietly building a reputation as a possession powerhouse. Even in 2016-17, Jagr’s incredible hockey IQ and puck protecting prowess allowed him to put up the sort of possession numbers that players half his age would envy.

Just consider how he compares to the HERO chart standard for a first-line winger:

If fancy stats bore you, consider this:

Maybe Jagr wouldn’t be such a bad stylistic fit, after all?

***

Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said that he’s comfortable with the team as is, yet he’d also be willing to make an upgrade. The implication seemed to be via the trade route, but the Hurricanes really might want to give some extra thought to bringing in Jagr.

It might just help them break that playoff slump.

Gulutzan thinks Flames can be ‘a 100-point club’

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Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan covered a wide array of topics in a great Q & A with the Calgary Sun’s Wes Gilbertson, with his discussion of how well 2017-18 could go possibly being the most interesting note:

“The challenge, for sure, is managing expectations. We weren’t a 5-10-1 team to start last year, and we weren’t a 16-5 team to end,” Gulutzan said. “We finished with 94 points. I think, realistically, we can do better than that. But to make a jump from 77 to 94 to 118 isn’t realistic. So we have to manage that expectation. Our goal is we think we could be a 100-point club. That’s kind of what I think a lot about in the summer — trying to manage that expectation but also have something in mind that we think we could be.”

Interesting.

Adding Travis Hamonic to a defensive mix that was already quite impressive should raise Calgary’s ceiling to begin with. It doesn’t hurt that many of their best players are in the meat of their primes, from Johnny Gaudreau to Dougie Hamilton to Sean Monahan and more.

Gulutzan praised the size, character, and “play” of new goalies Mike Smith and Eddie Lack, yet that might once again be the reason to wonder if the Flames can make that next step from a team fighting for a playoff spot to a team legitimately contending.

(The jury’s still out on Gulutzan, too, though he makes a reasonable point that 2017-18 could be more stable as his second season after the “mega changes” of his debut season.)

There are some other interesting bits in this interview, which is worth your time, including:

  • Micheal Ferland is slated to start the season as Calgary’s first-line winger alongside Gaudreau and Monahan.
  • Hamonic will likely pair up with T.J. Brodie to begin; Gulutzan says that while Hamonic isn’t a “void” on offense, he expects Hamonic to open things up for Brodie.
  • Gulutzan expects a “big leap” from Sam Bennett.

Check out the full back-and-forth at the Calgary Sun.

If you need even more Flames action, there’s also this:

Francis hopes Hurricanes live up to hype

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This post is a part of Hurricanes day at PHT…

The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t been able to make the jump that some have been anticipating for a while, but that hasn’t shaken GM Ron Francis’ confidence in head coach Bill Peters. At least not yet.

Francis had high praise for Peters and other facets of this Hurricanes team in a detailed interview with Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.

And, oh yeah, Francis also doesn’t have an issue with the Hurricanes being a dark horse candidate in many eyes.

“It all starts with us and we have a lot of belief in our players and we think we’re capable of having a good year and doing some good things,” Francis said. “I have no problem with people talking about that and putting those kind of expectations on us. Hopefully, they’re right.”

Even so, Francis had some interesting things to say about the makeup of the team, including the fact that while he’s comfortable with where Carolina stands, he’s also open to making a move if an opportunity comes up.

Don’t expect him to bash what they have, though.

Take the team’s set of centers, for instance.

“If you look around the league and you say ‘This guy is a legitimate No. 1, top-line center,’ there’s probably 16 of those guys in the entire league,” Francis said. “They are not easy to find, and a lot of time you have to draft those guys and develop them. We’re hoping we have that kind of guy in our system already, but I certainly feel the guys we have in the middle are elite center men.”

Francis reasonably views Jordan Staal as a sturdy “horse” for the team, and doesn’t seem too concerned by Victor Rask‘s uneven 2016-17 season. Even in also flattering depth options, those two will indeed play a role in Carolina taking the next step, as long as some big changes – Scott Darling getting a significant contract, Justin Williams coming back – end up working out.

That said, file this under “Easier said than done,” as the Hurricanes must navigate the brutal Metropolitan Division to get a “foot in the playoffs.” For all we know, that might not work out even if this group makes some big strides in 2017-18.

Either way, it’s enjoyable to get Francis’ perspective on the team, being that he was one of the most cerebral players of his era. Read the full article here.