70129_ducks_coyotes_hockey

Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, November 27th

1 Comment

New Jersey 2 – Philadelphia 1 (F/SO)

Johan Hedberg stopped 40 shots in the shootout win for New Jersey. Adam Mair had the Devils lone regulation goal while Travis Zajac got the shootout winner. Brian Boucher played well in defeat for Philly. For the Devils, it makes for a strong bounce back game after losing to the Islanders on Friday.

Pittsburgh 4 – Calgary 1

The Flames’ horrible road trip of terror came to a crashing end in Pittsburgh as Sidney Crosby netted a hat trick to give the Pens the win. Crosby’s trick gives him 18 goals on the season and the NHL point scoring lead, leap frogging Steve Stamkos for the time being. This just in, Sidney Crosby is still pretty good. Meanwhile, the Flames close out their five-game road trip going 1-2-2, managing to get four points out of a road trip where they only won one game. There’s your silver lining I suppose.

Montreal 3 – Buffalo 1

Brian Gionta’s two goals helped pace the Canadiens past the Sabres. While Ryan Miller did play well for Buffalo, Carey Price was the man once again. Price stopped 35 shots and barely missed out on earning another shutout when Jordan Leopold scored with 1:13 left in the game.

Ottawa 3 – Toronto 0

Brian Elliott was once again standing tall for the Senators earning his second shutout of the season. Mike Fisher finished with two goals for the Sens. Meanwhile, the Leafs offense continues to be miserable. Tonight marked the fifth time this year the Leafs were shutout.

Florida 4 – Tampa Bay 3 (F/SO)

The Panthers snapped a three game losing streak and did so thanks to getting a beauty of a penalty shot goal by Radek Dvorak during the game and an equally sweet shootout winner from Stephen Weiss. Tomas Vokoun was solid saving 34 shots in the win. As for Steve Stamkos, he finished the game with an assist.

Dallas 2 – St. Louis 1

In a game where you’d expect Jaroslav Halak to be the scene-stealing goalie, Kari Lehtonen stops 35 shots for Dallas and gets the headlines himself. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson had the goals for Dallas and for Eriksson it was his 10th of the year. B.J. Crombeen had the lone goal for St. Louis while Halak saved just 21 shots in the loss.

NY Rangers 2 – Nashville 1 (F/SO)

The Preds tried to coast on Colin Wilson’s first period goal all game, but Ryan Callahan’s tying goal late in the third sent it to overtime. Erik Christensen had the lone goal in the shootout to give the Rangers the win. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots for the Rangers while Pekka Rinne saved 23 for Nashville. Highlight of the night came when agitators Jordin Tootoo and Sean Avery squared off in a fight that saw Tootoo win handily.

Anaheim 6 – Phoenix 4

Bobby Ryan’s hat trick paced the Ducks to the win in the high-scoring affair in the desert. Jonas Hiller had 30 saves for Anaheim, meanwhile Ilya Bryzgalov was underwhelming stopping just 19 in the loss. Ryan Getzlaf finished the game with four assists.

Colorado 7 – Minnesota 4

A goaltending exhibition this was not. Niklas Backstrom was awful yet again, this time yielding six goals, two of which were to Greg Mauldin. It wasn’t all good news for the Avs though as they lost Chris Stewart to a broken hand suffered in a fight with Kyle Brodziak. Brodziak had two goals for the suddenly defensively incapable Wild.

San Jose 4 – Edmonton 3

Dany Heatley was booed throughout the game in Edmonton thanks to him turning down a trade to Edmonton last off-season which lead to him being sent to San Jose from Ottawa. Heatley gave Oilers fans a real reason to boo him after scoring twice in leading the Sharks to the victory. The Oilers tried to storm back in the third after being down 4-1 and got to within 4-3 thanks to quick goals from Shawn Horcoff and Jim Vandermeer but couldn’t get the equalizer. For the Sharks, holding off a team in the third could be the boost they were looking for.

Chicago 2 – Los Angeles 1

The name “Patrick” isn’t likely to be popular in L.A. tonight as Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane had the goals for the Blackhawks tonight in their win over the Kings. Corey Crawford got the nod once again in goal and got the win stopping 21 shots. Anze Kopitar had L.A.’s only goal and Jon Quick was the hard luck loser saving 21 shots. Chicago closes out their west coast swing strongly and gets to head back home feeling pretty good about things.

Game highlight for the squeamish and blood thirsty: Chicago’s John Scott beating the living daylights out of Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth. For those keeping track at home, that’s Michigan Tech alum Scott beating Princeton alum Westgarth. Who says higher education doesn’t serve a purpose?

Keep your head up: Hurricanes reportedly hand Raffi Torres a PTO

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 3:  Raffi Torres #13 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks for a 3-2 victory in overtime in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, May 03, 2013 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Getty
2 Comments

From opting against fighting the NHL’s 41-game suspension to seeing his season derailed by knee issues, there was the feeling that the league had seen the last of controversial forward Raffi Torres.

Perhaps not.

The Carolina Hurricanes reportedly handed the 34-year-old a PTO, according to former Hurricanes defenseman Aaron Ward.

It’s something the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander also mentioned on Monday.

With Bryan Bickell added to the mix during this off-season, the Hurricanes seem interesting in adding some beef. It’s unclear if Torres is really in the sort of condition to make a mark, but Carolina’s going to at least take a look at him.

Beware, pre-season opponents and training camp teammates.

Capitals bump Todd Reirden up to associate coach

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 10:  Assistant coach Todd Reirden of the Washington Capitals talks to the power play unit during a time-out against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 10, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

The Washington Capitals announced that Todd Reirden (pictured) was promoted from assistant to associate coach on Monday.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, most directly, the team shared word that he’ll run Capitals training camp while Barry Trotz works with Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Giving Reirden a promotion makes sense, as he’s been linked to some head coaching searches. The Washington Post compiled some of his opportunities:

In the past two years, Reirden has been a serious candidate for two NHL head-coaching gigs. According to the Calgary Sun, Reirden was a finalist to coach the Flames before they settled on Glen Gulutzan, and he was considered for the New Jersey Devils’ vacancy last summer, too. Lane Lambert, another Capitals assistant, was a finalist for the Colorado Avalanche head-coaching job earlier this month, according to the Denver Post.

The Capitals have a pretty well-regarded coaching group, as many credit goaltending coach Mitch Korn with some of Braden Holtby‘s improvement since Trotz took over.

Maybe we’ll see Reirden and Lambert get head coaching gigs at some point, but for now, Trotz’s “coaching tree” stays intact.

Penguins believe Kessel, others can heal up by start of next season

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after their 3-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
2 Comments

Going deep enough into the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup often comes with the cost of stacking up injuries, and the Pittsburgh Penguins paid the price.

As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others report, Phil Kessel (wrist) and others aren’t guaranteed to be healthy to start the 2016-17 regular season.

“All the injured guys are tracking in the right direction,” GM Jim Rutherford said. “Until they all get here, we won’t know 100 percent where they’re at, but it sounds like all the guys should be ready for camp.”

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review runs down a significant list of players who likely accrued bumps and bruises that may carry over:

Defenseman Trevor Daley, for instance, suffered a broken ankle on May 20. Kris Letang (foot), Nick Bonino (elbow infection), Bryan Rust (hand), Patric Hornqvist (hand) and Evgeni Malkin (elbow), among others, dealt with physical problems of varying severity at times.

If recent history is any indication, Kessel will probably fight hard not to miss time.

For all the weird criticisms he receives, he’s been remarkably durable, playing in every game during the past six seasons.

That’s impressive stuff, but the Penguins would be wise to keep an eye on the big picture. If it comes down to making Kessel and others swallow a little pride to limit the odds of aggravating injuries, they need to do it.

Even if it means a bumpy start to their title defense.

Win now, worry later: Why the Lightning should go all-in

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 08:  Ben Bishop #30 celebrates with Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Game Three of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

This is part of Lightning day at PHT …

The Chicago Blackhawks employed some great teams in winning three championships so far during the Jonathan ToewsPatrick Kane era, but there was something special about that first group.

For one thing, Toews and Kane were playing out the final years of their entry-level contracts. Those CBA-powered savings gave the Blackhawks a surplus of players who would eventually be too expensive to retain, most notably Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Brian Campbell.

That fantastic group never faced elimination during an overpowering run to the 2010 Stanley Cup.

Thanks to deft maneuvering by GM Stan Bowman, the Blackhawks were able to reload and put together other strong supporting casts even after big losses, and that could be a profound lesson for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It might be tempting for the Bolts to merely keep their window open as long as possible. Instead, they should take a big swing in 2016-17 and then trust management to recover from any fallout.

Bishop’s expiring contract

The safe move would be to trade away some of the expiring contracts on Tampa Bay’s roster instead of risking getting nothing when they leave.

Many believe that Ben Bishop is on his way out. With one year left on a contract that carries about a $6 million cap hit and Andrei Vasilevskiy getting the Jake Allen-style “you’re the man” extension, it seems like a matter of time.

Keeping Bishop around for one more season might just pay off, though.

For one thing, Vasilevskiy’s shown signs of brilliance, yet his current NHL numbers aren’t overwhelmingly strong. Bishop, meanwhile, kept the Bolts afloat during some tough times in 2015-16.

Even if the Lightning feel like Vasy is the guy, what if he gets hurt? They’ve already seen goalies get injured at inopportune times, and the reigning champion Penguins provide another reminder.

(For more on the Bishop situation, click here.)

Win low, worry later

GM Steve Yzerman deserves ample credit for signing Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman to relative bargain deals, but those are still expensive contracts. The squeeze is coming.

That said, the Lightning may want to identify their own Byfugliens and Ladds and go for broke in 2016-17. Let’s not forget how close they were to a second consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearance even with Stamkos on the shelf.

It’s tough to imagine the Bolts managing to keep all of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin. On the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine many opponents managing to contain an attack that features Stamkos, Johnson, Palat, Drouin and other dangerous attackers.

(Plus, another year of evaluation would give Yzerman time to determine who is truly a core member.)

***

It’s a challenging situation, but the Lightning easily rank alongside the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and maybe a few other select teams as the cream of the East crop.

They’re positioned to jostle with the elites for some time, but why not take their best shot in 2016-17 and then make the best of things later on?

Sometimes the difference between really good and truly great comes down to having the courage to make these tough calls.