Riding the Zamboni – Tuesday, November 9th

Let’s take a look at a heavy night of NHL action, with seven games played.

Carolina 7, Edmonton 1

It was a game that was alternately hyped as a matchup between hot-streaking rookies (Carolina’s Jeff Skinner vs. Edmonton’s Big Three) or a “rematch” of two teams that have become wildly different since their seven-game Stanley Cup finals series. Instead, it was an outright blowout (although Skinner played well, scoring one goal and two assists) as the Hurricanes dismantled the Oilers. Eric Staal also produced a great game, assisting on four of those goals.

Nikolai Khabibulin won the Save of the Week, but he didn’t make many tonight as he was pulled after allowing four goals on only eight shots. Cam Ward earned the win by stopping 21 out of 22 shots.

Ottawa 5, Atlanta 2

As I mentioned earlier, the Senators are starting to resemble the team they were last season: a group that alternated between being ice-cold and red-hot. Right now, they are in that hot cycle, winning four in a row. Jason Spezza (two goals, one assist) and Brian Elliott (35 out of 37 saves) were the leaders … kind of like last season, too.

Tampa Bay 4, Toronto 0

Steve Stamkos is just a flat-out machine. He scored two goals to increase his league leading total to 13 while Dan Ellis increased his grip on the starting job in Tampa, pitching a 28-save shutout.

Washington 5, NY Rangers 3

It was a strange one, with unexpected fights (Mike Green vs. Brandon Dubinsky) and even more unexpected goals (a beauty by Derek Boogaard, his first in 234 games). The one thing that was predictable: the outcome. The Capitals came back from a 3-2 deficit to win the game 5-3 on the strength of a one goal, one assist performance by Matt Hendricks (including the game-winner).

Montreal 2, Vancouver 0

Carey Price was the star of this show, stopping all 35 shots on goal from the Canucks. Perhaps it makes sense, then, that the only players to score goals were Montreal defensemen: Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik. The highlight of the night was probably the third period, when Price stopped 20 shots.

Calgary 4, Colorado 2

The Flames ended their four-game losing streak by beating their division rivals from Colorado. They won despite the fact that Chris Stewart scored his 10th goal of the season – and the 100th point of his career – to give the Avs a 2-1 lead. David Moss earned the game-winner and also added an assist to help Calgary win the game.

Anaheim 3, San Jose 2 (OT)

Sharks fans might have some bad flashbacks from this summary: San Jose out-shoots the Ducks drastically, yet Anaheim pulls out the victory thanks to superlative goaltending from Jonas Hiller. The Swiss goalie stopped 39 out of 41 shots to help the Ducks win their fourth consecutive game.

And all of sudden, Randy Carlyle’s seat might just be room temperature again.

Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski

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Last summer, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stressed that some of the club’s young prospects needed to make an impact at the NHL level.

And now it’s happening.

Following the recalls and NHL debuts of Adrian Kempe and Paul LaDue, the Kings have brought up Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Ontario, the club announced on Thursday.

Brodzinski, 23, made the AHL All-Star team this year and leads the Reign in goals, with 25 through 56 games. The former St. Could State sniper left school early two years ago to join the Kings organization, after L.A. took him in the fifth round of the ’13 draft.

As mentioned above, this recall is in lockstep with what’s developed throughout the year. Kempe, 20, was the club’s first-round pick (29th overall) in ’14 and has fared well since joining the big club, with six points in 16 games.

LaDue, 24, was a sixth-round pick in ’12 that — like Kempe and Brodzinski — fared well in the American League before getting recalled in February. LaDue has appeared in 15 games for the Kings, scoring five points while averaging 16:25 TOI per night.

Los Angeles is still technically in the playoff race, but sits eight points back of Nashville for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with just 10 games to play. As such, the focus might now shift to giving some youngsters NHL experience.

Brodzinski will have to wait for his, however. Per LA Kings Insider, it doesn’t look like he’ll play tonight, when the Kings host the Jets at Staples.

 

 

Polak gets two games for boarding Bjorkstrand

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Roman Polak‘s hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand has drawn more than the ire of Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.

Today, the NHL announced that Polak, a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been suspended two games for boarding Bjorkstrand Wednesday in Columbus.

In making the ruling, the league’s Department of Player Safety determined that Polak sent Bjorkstrand “violently” into the boards from behind, causing an injury. The DoPS also noted that the hit was avoidable, with the onus on Polak to “ensure that he avoids this hit entirely, or at the very least, minimizes the force of the impact.”

You can watch the full ruling below:

Wild prospect Kunin leaves Wisconsin, turns pro

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Minnesota is getting one of its prized youngsters in the mix.

Luke Kunin, the club’s first-round pick (15th overall) at last year’s draft, is leaving the University of Wisconsin following his sophomore campaign, per the Star-Tribune. Kunin will reportedly join Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa on an amateur tryout.

Kunin, 19, is coming off a pretty successful campaign. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, scoring four points in seven games.

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Kunin will play out this year in the minors, and his entry-level deal will kick in next season. That means he won’t be with the Wild at all this year — regular season or playoffs.

As mentioned, Kunin is just one of the many talented prospects Minnesota has in the fold. Russian Kirill Kaprizov, Sweden’s Joel Eriksson-Ek and Kunin’s U.S. junior teammate, Jordan Greenway, all showed extremely well at the worlds.

Hurricanes sign Finnish prospect Kuokkanen

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The Carolina Hurricanes have another talented, young Finn under contract.

The ‘Canes announced this morning that they’ve signed forward Janne Kuokkanen to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Kuokkanen was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, in 2016. The 18-year-old is currently with the OHL’s London Knights. He finished the regular season with 26 goals and 36 assists in 60 games.

“Janne was outstanding in our rookie tournament in Traverse City in September, and stayed in North America to continue his development in the Ontario Hockey League,” said ‘Canes GM Ron Francis in a release. “He’s a smart, skilled forward and we look forward to the start of his professional career.”

The ‘Canes already have two Finnish forwards in Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.

Aho and Kuokkanen were teammates in the Karpat (Liiga) development system in Finland.