Around the rink – Tuesday, November 9th

Now with the Hockey Hall of Fame hoopla over and done with, the NHL gets back into more regular working order with a scintillating slate of seven games. Is that enough alliteration for you? All times listed are Eastern because that’s the way we lean.

7:00 pm

Edmonton @ Carolina

It’s crazy to think that it was just five seasons ago that these two teams met in the Stanley Cup finals, isn’t it? Youth will dominate the headlines here with Edmonton’s trio of talent in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi going up against leading rookie scorer Jeff Skinner in Carolina. The Oilers could use another win here to build off their win over Chicago on Sunday.

7:30 pm

Washington @ NY Rangers

The Rangers might be in a bad way right now, but playing the Caps is something that seems to bring the best out of them win or lose. The Caps are coming in hot though, living high off beating the Flyers on Sunday and a lot of that success coming thanks to Alexander Semin. Semin’s got nine goals so far this year and leads the team in goals. Yes, even ahead of Alex Ovechkin. The Rangers, meanwhile, might be counting down the days until Thursday when Marian Gaborik may be rejoining the team.

Vancouver @ Montreal

Vancouver hits the road with a six game win streak and gets to deal with the unfriendly confines of Montreal to kick things off. Vancouver is doing well and have player of the week Raffi Torres to thank for it. Torres’ hot start is helping keep a balanced attack going so teams can’t solely focus on the Sedin twins. Montreal looks to bounce back after a rough game against Ottawa in which they saw Alex Kovalev almost single-handedly beat them. The Habs could stand to get the offense going as they rank 20th in the league in goals scored.

Atlanta @ Ottawa

The Senators roll into this game seemingly having figured things out. The Sens lost five of their first six games to start the season, but now they’re winners of five out of their last six games and they’ve got goalie Brian Elliott to thank for it. Elliott’s played strong of late and the offense hasn’t been too bad either. Atlanta, meanwhile, can’t keep opponents off the board as they come into the game with the second-most goals allowed in the league. The Thrashers are getting plenty of their own goals but Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec have had issues in goal of late.

Toronto @ Tampa Bay

Fans in Toronto are grumbling about head coach Ron Wilson and the natives are getting restless after seeing the Leafs lose their last five games, their last two coming in shootouts. They’ve lost eight of their last nine games and the offense has been nowhere to be seen. As for Tampa Bay, they’ll be happy to no longer be on the road after getting rough treatment on their west coast swing going 1-2-1 on the trip. A game with the Leafs might be all the Lightning need to get back on a roll.

9:30 pm

Calgary @ Colorado

All right so which Flames team will we see tonight? Which Avalanche team will show up? The Avalanche have been inconsistent while the Flames have been downright streaky. Calgary enters the game losers of their last four games, a streak that came on the heels of a three-game win streak. Go figure. Colorado, meanwhile, is living well so far without Craig Anderson as Peter Budaj has played more than solid while Anderson’s out with an injury including earning a shutout against Dallas his last time out.

10:30 pm

Anaheim @ San Jose

Will it be fight night for these two teams again? These two clearly don’t care for each other and now they’re both playing relatively well all things considered. The Sharks got a big win in their first game without Joe Thornton thanks to Patrick Marleau’s two goal night. Anaheim, meanwhile, is getting it done thanks to both goalie Jonas Hiller and ageless wonder Teemu Selanne. Go ahead and tell us you predicted that before the season started and we’ll happily call you a liar.

Scroll Down For:

    Can there be parallels drawn between the 2016 Ducks and 2014 Sharks?

    Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes the puck up ice on a breakaway with San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, center, and Ducks center Nate Thompson, right, trailing on the play during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
    AP Photo
    Leave a comment

    The Anaheim Ducks might not have suffered a reverse sweep at the hands of one of their biggest rivals, but they seem to have reached a breaking point when it comes to playoff disappointments.

    After firing head coach Bruce Boudreau, GM Bob Murray was highly critical of the team’s core, even noting that at this point he’s not a fan of long-term contracts. That was perhaps a swipe at how he feels Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf‘s eight-year $69 million and $66 million contracts have worked out thus far. Meanwhile Ryan Kesler‘s six-year deal worth roughly $41 million is about to begin.

    After San Jose suffered its first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said they were now becoming a “tomorrow team” and they began a cultural shift that included Joe Thornton losing the captaincy.

    There are differences of course between the two situations. One notable one is that the Sharks’ guard was already starting to change hands in 2013-14. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were entering their mid-30s, but Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were on the rise. Anaheim’s core of Getzlaf and Perry is significantly younger, but while Anaheim also has some promising forwards like Jakob Silfverberg, that generation of players doesn’t seem ready to carry the torch for the Ducks.

    “We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. … Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said, per the Los Angeles Times. “In those [previous] years there’s been a sense of hope. Today, there’s zero feeling like that.”

    Perhaps the Anaheim Ducks will find hope by watching the rest of the 2016 playoffs. If the San Jose Sharks continue to succeed, they will be an example of a team that once underachieved, hit a critical low, but then managed to fix that in a relatively short time without a massive turnover in terms of on-ice personnel. While we’re at it, you could make a similar argument for the Washington Capitals.

    Maybe Murray will look to those franchises for inspiration as he moves forward.

    Capitals, Penguins nearly perfect at stopping third period comebacks

    Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) chase down the puck during the first period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    AP Photo
    3 Comments

    Pittsburgh only won by a single goal in Game 2 on Saturday and that deciding marker came with 4:28 minutes remaining in the third, but that contest had the potential to be far more one-sided.

    The Capitals were outshot 28-10 through 40 minutes and were consequently leaning on goaltender Braden Holtby to keep things close.

    “First two periods, I thought they were way better than us,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. Or has Justin Williams put it, the Capitals “were getting embarrassed out there” during the first 40 minutes.

    Washington did rebound in the third period, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the Penguins from evening this series at 1-1. That puts the pressure on Washington to take at least one game in Pittsburgh before the second round’s over.

    Starting the game off strong is always going to be important, but that’s particularly true when talking about the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh was 39-0-0 in the regular season when leading after 40 minutes while Washington was 37-0-1. So far in the playoffs, both teams are 4-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods.

    Hemsky finds his groove on third line

    DALLAS, TX - APRIL 11: Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars handles the puck against the Nashville Predators at the American Airlines Center on April 11, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
    NHLI via Getty Images
    1 Comment

    When the Dallas Stars inked Ales Hemsky to a three-year, $12 million deal, the hope was that he would be a valuable secondary scorer and help round out their top-six. Things haven’t gone as predicted, but Hemsky has emerged as a significant player for Dallas lately.

    Hemsky is now playing on the third line with Radek Faksa and Antoine Roussel and he’s gone on to record 15 points in his last 16 regular season games as well as another four points in seven playoff contests.

    “We had hard conversations about how I felt the game needed to be played, where I felt his game needed to go,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “Did it always go his way? No. But from his defensive responsibilities to really buying into shooting the puck a little bit more, I think he’s been a real good asset for us this year.”

    The Morning News goes into much more detail about Hemsky and his resurgence, but taking a step back from that, having a third line that’s both impactful without the puck and capable of chipping in offensively is important, especially as we get deeper into the playoffs. There’s no question that the Stars have big time players on their roster, but that’s obviously not all you need in the playoffs.

    A lot of the time when talking about the Stars’ areas of concern, their defense and goaltending come up and understandably so given that Dallas allowed more goals in the regular season than any other team that made the playoffs. But the value of a strong bottom-six shouldn’t be understated and perhaps Hemsky’s recent resurgence will play a role in the Stars having that going for them throughout the playoffs.

    Dallas has taken a 1-0 lead over St. Louis in the second round and has an opportunity to build on that in Game 2 this afternoon (3:00 p.m. ET).

    NHL schedules hearing with Orpik over Maatta hit

    Maatta
    17 Comments

    Brooks Orpik‘s late hit in Game 2 on Saturday might keep him out of Monday’s contest.

    At the very least, the NHL Department of Player Safety intends to discuss the matter with Orpik today, per the department’s Twitter feed.

    The incident occurred early in the first period when the Capitals forward smashed into Olli Maatta. The Penguins blueliner collapsed and needed some assistance getting off the ice. He didn’t return to the game.

    You can see that hit below:

    “I thought it was a late hit,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

    The Penguins didn’t have an update on Maatta’s condition immediately following the contest.