Steven Stamkos

Riding the Zamboni – Monday, November 22nd

Tampa Bay 3 – Boston 1

One of these days we’ll have to start one of these posts about the Lightning and not talk about Steve Stamkos. This won’t be one of them. Stamkos scored his league-leading 20th goal of the year in helping lead the Lightning over Boston. Dana Tyrell and Teddy Purcell also had goals while Michael Ryder had Boston’s lone goal. Mike Smith stopped 26 shots in the win while Tuukka Rask had a busy night saving 33 shots in the loss

Toronto 4 – Dallas 1

Nikolai Kulemin’s two goals helped lead the Leafs past a woeful Dallas tonight. If Stars forward Brad Richards was auditioning for the Leafs the way some folks would like to believe, he was the lone Star to show up on the score sheet scoring for Dallas. Jonas Gustavsson continued to play great tonight saving 21 shots in the win. Kari Lehtonen played well for Dallas but not enough to keep the Leafs completely off the board stopping 22 of 25 shots.

NY Rangers 2 – Calgary 1

A feisty game that will be talked about mainly for Marc Staal’s incredibly destructive open-ice hit on Matt Stajan saw the Rangers come out on top thanks to goals from Dan Girardi and Brian Boyle. Martin Biron played solid once again saving 31 shots in the win. Jarome Iginla stayed hot for Calgary scoring his sixth goal in three games but it wouldn’t be enough. Miikka Kiprusoff saved 22 shots in the loss.

New Jersey 5 – Washington 0

The chances that anyone predicted this outcome tonight are virtually nil. That’s why they play the games. Youngster Braden Holtby got the start for Washington and was blitzed for five goals against as the struggling Devils may have gotten the breakout game they’ve been hoping for. Jason Arnott had two goals while Mattias Tedenby scored on a penalty shot. Dainius Zubrus and Patrick Elias also scored while Johan Hedberg stopped 30 shots in earning the shutout. If you’re curious, and we know you are, Ilya Kovalchuk finished the game with no points and just one shot on goal.

Philadelphia 3 – Montreal 2

The feisty game we thought we might see from Mike Richards and P.K. Subban before the night started never materialized but in its place we got another play0ff-like game between these two teams. Montreal got out to a 2-0 lead thanks to two Maxim Lapierre goals but the Flyers stormed back with three in a row to take the game. Ville Leino, James van Riemsdyk, and Claude Giroux all had goals for Philly while Brian Boucher stopped 29 shots to get the win. For Montreal, Carey Price was outstanding in a losing effort saving 42 shots. All we know is that we’d like to see these teams keep playing each other like this the rest of the way.

Columbus 2 – Nashville 0

Ho hum, another win for Columbus and another shutout, this time from Steve Mason. Mason stopped 27 shots on the way to the shutout, his first of the year. His teammate Mathieu Garon has three. Meanwhile, Mike Commodore and Rick Nash had the Columbus goals. For Nashville. Pekka Rinne stopped 28 shots in the loss. The win is Columbus’ fourth in a row.

Pittsburgh 3 – Florida 2

OK so who had Chris Conner in their game-winning goal pool? No one? We figured as much but it was Conner at 12:56 of the third that put the Pens ahead to stay after dealing with the feisty and game Panthers. Sidney Crosby got another goal, his 15th of the year as he tries to keep pace with Steve Stamkos. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots to pace the Penguins in the win. Cory Stillman and Bryan  McCabe had Florida’s goals.

Ottawa 3 – Los Angeles  2

A bit of controversy hovers over the final decision in this one as what appeared to be a game-tying goal with three seconds left by Ryan Smyth was disallowed because the official ruled he hit it in with a high stick. The play went to instant replay and the war room in Toronto but the call on the ice was upheld. An earlier apparent Kings goal was disallowed because the net came off the moorings before the puck crossed the line. On replay, it appeared that Sens defenseman Matt Carkner pulled the goal out of place after sliding into it, but it would not be counted regardless.

As for what was counted, it was all the game’s stars that got involved. Alex Kovalev earned his 1,000th career point with a power play goal in the first while Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza added tallies in the win. Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth each had goals for L.A. Brian Elliott made 28 saves to pace the Sens while Jon Quick made just 16 saves in the loss.

Ready for No. 1 duties, Elliott wants to be ‘backbone’ for Flames

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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At 31, Brian Elliott will be one of most experienced guys on the Calgary roster next season.

But he’s also ready to embark on something unique.

Elliott will have the chance to be a clear-cut, unquestioned, No. 1 starting netminder for the first time in his career when the Flames open play in October — an opportunity he’s ready to embrace.

“As a goalie you want to be wanted. You want to have that opportunity,” Elliott said on Wednesday during his introduction to the Calgary media. “I’m going to do my best to be the backbone of the team and try to be a leader and just do whatever I can to be the rock for the guys on the back end and let the guys do the rest of the work.”

There’s little doubt about Elliott’s role in Calgary for next season. He was stellar in ’15-16, posting a .930 save percentage and 2.07 GAA, helping the Blues advance to the Western Conference Final. And the Flames further anointed Elliott as the No. 1 by signing career backup Chad Johnson to fill the No. 2 role.

So, next year is sorted.

But what about after that?

Elliott is a UFA after this season, and so is Johnson. Flames GM Brad Treliving did say at the draft that Elliott’s contractual status and cap hit played a role in the acquisition, adding that discussions about a new deal could be in the works.

“As part of this deal, Doug [Armstrong, Blues GM] allowed me to talk to [Elliot’s] representative, so there may be the opportunity to look at an extension,” Treliving said at the time. “We’ll look at that. There’s no need to rush, but maybe there is a need to look at something.”

It’s been long rumored that Calgary wasn’t looking for a long-term solution in goal, but rather a “transitional guy.” That’s why Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, currently under contract for two more years, had been tied to the Flames.

Looking down the road, it’s clear Calgary is anticipating one of their draftees pans out in goal. The club took Providence standout Jon Gillies 75th overall in 2012, Mason McDonald 34th overall in ’14, and Tyler Parsons 54th overall this  year — but none of them are close to being NHL ready.

Which brings us back to Elliott.

Given how erratic things were in Calgary’s net last year both performance- and contractual-wise, one would assume Treliving would like to keep “Moose” around for more than just this season.

With ‘no expectations’ for Franzen or Vitale to play, Wings aren’t worried about cap situation

Detroit Red Wings v Edmonton Oilers
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At first glance, Detroit’s current financial situation isn’t good. Petr Mrazek’s recent two-year, $8 million extension pushed the payroll to nearly $78 million, well over the $73M ceiling for next season.

But there is a catch.

“Certainly we have no expectations that [Johan] Franzen and [Joe] Vitale are playing hockey this year,” GM Ken Holland said Wednesday, per MLive. “I talked to Vitale after we traded (for) him. He’s having on-going issues with concussion.

“He certainly not expecting to be in camp. I’m not expecting to see Johan Franzen on the ice.”

Vitale, acquired from Arizona as part of the Pavel Datsyuk deal at the draft, carries at $1.16 million cap hit. Franzen, who played in just two games last year while dealing with concussion issues of his own, carries a $3.95M hit.

Putting those two on long-term injured reserve would almost get Detroit right back into cap compliance. Holland can also exercise a similar option with Teemu Pulkkinen, who underwent shoulder surgery this offseason (and makes $812,500).

Thing is, cap compliance isn’t all Holland wants to accomplish.

Though he re-signed Danny DeKeyser to a big six-year, $30 million contract earlier this week, Holland still wants to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

A top-three defenseman will undoubtedly cost a fair bit of money. Which means a fair bit of money would need to go the other way in return.

Detroit has reportedly spoken to Anaheim about acquiring Cam Fowler. Fowler, 24, would be a good fit — he’s got a very reasonable contract ($4 million annually through 2018), the type of money the Wings could bring aboard if they were to part with the likes of, say, Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million through 2019).

The catch, of course, is that the asking price for defensemen is sky high. It cost the Oilers Taylor Hall to get Adam Larsson out of New Jersey, and there are teams like Boston — still desperately searching for a “transitional” defenseman — that have publicly stated the acquisition cost is steep.

So while Detroit might not be worried about its cap situation for next season, it has to be concerned about having what it takes to upgrade the defense.

Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk

 

With Peters re-signed, ‘Canes ready to snap playoff drought

Bill Peters
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It’s been an exciting offseason in Carolina.

Now the team is equally excited about the season at hand, and the prospect of making the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

“We think we’re right there,” GM Ron Francis said on Tuesday, in announcing head coach Bill Peters’ contract extension through 2019. “We want to get in the playoffs, and we want to have success around here.”

Hired with little fanfare two years ago, there’s a sense Peters has finished the unglamorous dirty work in shaping the team, and teaching players how he wants the game to be played.

Now is the time to see the fruits of his labor.

In his first season behind the bench, the former Mike Babcock assistant was working with an expensive, older, mediocre group that included the likes of Alex Semin, Eric Staal, Tim Gleason and John-Michael Liles. The group wasn’t especially inspiring, and all the guys mentioned are now gone.

Next season, the ‘Canes project to be a different lot.

They’ll boast a young, dynamic group of players aged 24 or younger: Justin Faulk, Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, Teuvo Teravainen, Noah Hanifin and Sebastian Aho, to name a few.

These are all a positive changes for Peters, who is clearly a coach on the rise. He was named the bench boss for Team Canada at the world championships, and led the country to gold. This fall, he’ll reprise his role as Babcock’s assistant for Canada at the World Cup of Hockey.

“When you go back a couple years ago, there were a lot of questions about who we had hired,” Francis explained. “[Peters] wasn’t really well known, but in the two years he’s been here, he’s done a tremendous job.”

Put it all together, and it’s easy to see why optimism in Carolina is so high. Though the roster will be young next year, it’s absolutely loaded with talent and there’s good reason to believe they’ve got the right coach to lead the group.

If there is one thing that could dampen enthusiasm, though, it’s the club’s goalie situation.

Francis made the curious move of bringing Cam Ward back on a two-year deal, resurrecting the Ward-Eddie Lack tandem that struggled at times last season.

Peters was extremely patient and protective of his netminders during that spell, but with expectations raised, that tone might change.

Yzerman knows Bolts have ‘to be under the cap at some point,’ so Callahan (hip) could open on LTIR

Steve Yzerman
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It might feel complex, but the financial situation in Tampa Bay is actually straightforward — GM Steve Yzerman has roughly $5-$6 million in cap space, with forward Nikita Kucherov and d-man Nikita Nesterov still to sign.

And Yzerman thinks he has a way to get ’em done.

“We’ve got to be under the cap at some point,” Yzerman said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “Depending on the health of players, Ryan Callahan had surgery and if he’s not ready to to start the season, that buys us some time.

“We can do that (long-term injured reserve) if we need to. At some point, we’re going to have to be cap compliant to start the season, there’s no way around it.”

Callahan underwent major hip surgery in late June, and was expected to miss the next five months of action. He’s already been ruled out of competing for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey, and now it sure sounds like his absence will extend into the regular season.

Which could suit the Bolts just fine.

While they’ll miss Callahan’s presence, the temporary relief of his $5.8 million cap hit could allow Yzerman to take care of Kucherov and Nesterov now, and figure out the finances later.

Trades at the end of the preseason/start of the regular season are commonplace, especially with teams looking to get cap compliant. Last year, in a mid-September deal, Chicago was forced to flip Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom to Carolina in order to sign Marcus Kruger.

Of course, Kucherov is going to demand significantly more money than Kruger did from the ‘Hawks.

The Times floated the idea of Filip Forsberg‘s new contract in Nashville — six year, $36 million — as a potential comparable, which could mean Yzerman will be forced to trade a fairly noteworthy contributor, not just a couple of spare parts.

Names that have been floated include veteran centers Valtteri Filppula and Brian Boyle. Yesterday’s signing of promising pivot Vladislav Namestnikov suggests the team thinks Namestnikov is ready to assume a larger role down the middle, making Filppula and/or Boyle expendable.