Riding the Zamboni – Monday, November 15th

Let us take a look at five of the first six games tonight. We’ll clue you in to what happened during the late Battle of California between Los Angeles and San Jose tomorrow.

NY Rangers 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)

The Rangers won largely thanks to the reasons they’ve been winning so far in 2010-11: great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and scrappy play overall. Lundqvist made 37 saves and kept the Penguins off the board for all but 40 seconds of the game, as Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke scored rapidly late in the second period. Erik Christensen, Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan scored for the Rangers.

New York is on a three-game winning streak while the Penguins continue to struggle at the Consol Energy Center, dropping to 3-5-1 at home this season.

Philadelphia 5, Ottawa 1

At this point, it seems pretty clear that the two best teams in the East are the Flyers and Capitals. Philadelphia continues their red-hot play (9-0-1 in their last 10 games) by throttling Brian Elliott even though the Senators goalie has been on the top of his game lately.

It’s hard to blame Elliott too much, though, as the Flyers are just downright dominant right now. They showered him with shots in this one, scoring five goals on 46 shots.

Buffalo 4, Vancouver 3 (OT)

Is it too early to say that the Sabres righted the ship? Maybe, but they’re playing much better hockey right now. They’ve made it into overtime or later in five straight games – a Buffalo franchise record – and are 4-0-1 in those contests. They won this one in OT after Tyler Myers took advantage of a bad Canucks turnover. Ryan Miller is 2-0 since his return from injury.

Boston 3, New Jersey 0

After faltering a bit lately, the Bruins took advantage of the hapless Devils to help Tim Thomas earn his fourth shutout of this young season. He made 28 saves to earn his ninth win of 2010-11, beating Martin Brodeur, who made 21 out of 24 saves in this game.

Colorado 6, St. Louis 3

John-Michael Liles was the star of this one with two goals and one assist (read more about his red-hot start to the season here). The Avalanche bludgeoned the Blues in this one, scoring six goals against Jaroslav Halak despite only putting 23 shots on goal while Peter Budaj scrapped his way to a solid victory.

The Blues are stumbling quite a bit now as they’re currently on a four game losing streak. The bad news is that November is going to be a rough month; the good news is that they’ll have a pretty cushy schedule in October. The question is: how big of a hole will they find themselves in by then?

San Jose 6 – Los Angeles 3

The Kings saw their six-game win streak broken by a Sharks team that effectively pounced on the Kings when they were foolish enough to commit a penalty or turn the puck over. If the Kings weren’t doing one, they were doing the other in an uncharacteristically bad game. Patrick Marleau lead the way with a goal and two assists while Joe Pavelski and Dany Heatley each had a goal and an assist. Antero Niittymaki was strong in goal making 32 saves in the win. Jonathan Bernier had a shaky night stopping 28 out of 34.

These 2017 NHL Draft picks lacked hype … but not swagger

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The interview process for draft prospects must be a real beating. Then again, it’s also an opportunity for hopefuls to push back.

In the case of two smaller prospects, it meant providing some swagger in their answers, possibly impressing their new teams. If nothing else, Kailer Yamamoto and Michael DiPietro generated some refreshingly confident quotes.

One would assume that the Edmonton Oilers picked Yamamoto with the 22nd choice for more than just a great answer alone … but still.

Nice, right?

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek related a similar story about DiPietro, who the Vancouver Canucks nabbed with the 64th pick.

Funny story: When one team at the NHL told him “We don’t think you can play in the NHL with our team, you’re too small” at the combine, he fired back with “well, I guess you have a problem with winning, then.” How do you not like that?

If nothing else, those two aren’t shy.

As a bonus story, check out the bumpy path Will Reilly – aka the “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2017 NHL Draft – took to being chosen last overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, via Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy. From the sound of things, there are worse feelings than going 217th.

The 2017 NHL Draft may have been “pumped down” from a hype perspective, yet it sounds like many of these prospects at least bring some moxie to the table.

Kings, Golden Knights labeled 2017 NHL Draft winners; Bruins, not so much

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It’s nearly certain that we won’t be able to determine the “winners and losers” of the 2017 NHL Draft until, say, 2022. If not later.

Still, what fun is that?

Quite a few outlets pegged some winners and losers, though sometimes the choices were more about themes like nations or player types than specific teams.

For example: Puck Daddy gives a thumbs down to the “green room” experiment.

Let’s take a look at some of the consensus picks.

Winners

Vegas Golden Knights

GM George McPhee was dealt a bad hand when it comes to the lottery draft, so he instead made his own luck. And then he selected three players who could improve this team going forward.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek especially liked the last two of their three first-rounders (Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom), viewing Cody Glass as more of a no-brainer. Plenty of others were on board.

Los Angeles Kings

Gabe Vilardi fell to Los Angeles, whether it was because of shaky skating or some other reason. That potential steal (and some other shrewd moves) impressed the Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy, who assembled draft profiles for PHT.

Again, Vilardi’s loss was considered the Kings’ gain, as slower skaters were considered losers by the likes of Post Media’s Michael Traikos.

Philadelphia Flyers

Boy, Ron Hextall is good at this thing, isn’t he? Philly drew high marks even beyond the layup of landing Nolan Patrick. The main area of disagreement revolved around the Brayden Schenn trade, though plenty came out on Hextall’s side there, too.

Arizona Coyotes

Boy, that negative press didn’t last long, did it? Between landing Niklas Hjalmarsson, Derek Stepan, and Antti Raanta in trades and savvy picks, they were a popular choice.

Themes

Smaller players, Sweden, and Finland drew semi-serious mentions as “winners.”

Losers

Boston Bruins

The perception is that they played it too safe.

Colorado Avalanche, for now?

OK, this was more about draft weekend than picks, but people are criticizing Joe Sakic for standing pat. That could change, but the negative sentiment is there.

Detroit Red Wings

Another common choice. Some believe that their draft was the worst of them all, which isn’t great considering the declining opinion of GM Ken Holland overall.

New York Rangers

Lias Andersson was viewed as a reach by plenty, and his connection to the trade to Arizona might intensify the scrutiny.

Themes

Not a great draft for Russian-born players and/or guys who don’t skate quite swiftly.

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So, those are some of the near-consensus choices for winners and losers, via the brave souls who made rapid reactions to the 2017 NHL Draft.

Ducks ink D Holzer to two-year deal reportedly worth $1.8M

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As the dust settled on the expansion draft, the Anaheim Ducks’ defense is coming into focus.

Sunday continued that pattern; the Ducks signed Korbinian Holzer to a two-year contract worth $1.8 million, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

You can break down the Ducks defense as more expensive players (Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Kevin Bieksa) and cheaper ones (Holzer, Brandon Montour, and Josh Manson).

Only Vatanen, Lindholm and Holzer see contracts that go beyond 2017-18 – at least without an extension yet for the likes of Fowler and Manson – so Holzer provides a little bit of certainty.

Is the $900K a minor overpay, though? Holzer played in 32 games for the Ducks this season after appearing in 29 in 2015-16. His impact has been pretty minimal, generating seven points while averaging 13:31 in ice time per contest (down from 14:45 the previous season).

Granted he may get more opportunities to show what he’s capable of if the Ducks lose another piece. Then again, at 29, the Ducks likely know what they have.

2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class to be named Monday; Selanne + who?

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The 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class is expected to be announced on Monday, and every indication is that Teemu Selanne will be on the list. Beyond that, well, there are a lot of question marks.

NHL.com notes that there’s at least a possibility that Selanne will be the only NHL name to be part of this class, which would mark a first since 2010 (when Dino Ciccarelli was the lone addition).

It’s a nice way to continue what’s been a buffet for hockey fans: the 2017 Stanley Cup Final’s conclusion, the expansion draft and then the 2017 NHL Draft. The HHOF announcements are a nice appetizer before free agency gets, well, frenzied?

“The Finnish Flash” was also an obvious top choice in last year’s poll to see who should be in the class.

Now, that doesn’t mean he is the only interesting name.

For one thing, Daniel Alfredsson will be eligible for the first time, much like Selanne. “Alf” falls in the “Maybe” category with some interesting, debatable other options: Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Jeremy Roenick, Paul Kariya, Chris Osgood, and more.

The 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame class included Eric Lindros, Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov, and Pat Quinn.