Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood (30) deflects a shot during the third period of Game 5 of the Western Conference hockey finals against the Chicago Blackhawks in Detroit, Wednesday, May 27, 2009. Osgood stopped 30 shots in the Red Wings’ 2-1 overtime win. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
One remarkable thing about the New Jersey Devils’ hot start is that Nico Hischier, the top pick of this past draft, had yet to score his first NHL goal.
Of course, there’s a danger to looking at only goals. After all, the 18-year-old had four assists in six games, with three coming in his last two contests. The Devils were justified in all of those comments about it being just a matter of time …
… As it turns out, it didn’t take Hischier much time against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Not only did the Swiss scorer find the net for his first goal by roofing a nice setup from Taylor Hall and Drew Stafford.
He also showed some savvy in scoring his second goal less than two minutes later.
Hischier now has two periods and change to collect his first-ever hat trick in that same game.
A quick look at how he’s been doing, overall
Even when other Devils stole some of his thunder in what might have been an opening statement of a first win for New Jersey, Hischier showed some dynamic moves.
As NJ.com’s Chris Ryan reported, Devils coach John Hynes was left raving about Hischier after he collected two assists in the Devils’ shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week.
“He was very good in all aspects,” John Hynes said on Wednesday. “Defensively he was excellent, going back to the video this morning, some of the chances he had that he didn’t score on were excellent. When you look at the chances he created, the assists he had, the assist on the game-tying goal, he set up (Taylor Hall) very well in offensive zone. I’d say that was his most complete game to date.”
Hischier began the season being used sparingly, but he logged more legitimate top-six minutes the past couple games. He sure seems like a quick study so far. Hischier’s getting some protected zone starts and other situations, but there’s also sense that Hynes is going to take off the training wheels very quickly.
Thursday seems like the reward, or the flashing light, for all that good early work. This post will be updated as we wait to see if Hischier can manage that hat trick.
Look, it’s very, very early.
All we can judge Hischier and the Devils on, right now, is how they’ve played so far … and with each game, this team looks more and more legit. And so does their prized prospect.
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On paper, a game against old chums the Vancouver Canucks would probably be an assumed W for the Boston Bruins.
It hasn’t been safe to assume much during an up-and-down start so far, and that goes straight down to injuries, as Bruins news seems to rotate with the bad and the good.
In the case of Thursday, the good and the bad seem to come in hour rotations rather than days. Earlier, the unfortunate news came: Tuukka Rask was diagnosed with a concussion, adding to the rough news about Ryan Spooner.
One would expect Bergeron to resume much of his puck-mastery tonight, or at least soon, even if he might take a while to improve after a 2016-17 season he wasn’t totally pleased with.
Backes might be most interesting to watch. He reportedly lost 10 lbs. because of diverticulitis, so you wonder if he’ll be limited for a while. He’s trying to bounce back from 2016-17 in a more objective way than Bergeron, after all.
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The 30-year-old netminder collided with Anders Bjork during practice on Wednesday and needed to be helped off the ice. Anton Khudobin will start Thursday night against the Canucks and Zane MacIntyre will serve as his backup.
The Bruins are 2-3-0 on the season with a minus-4 goal differential. Rask has struggled as well with an ugly .887 even strength save percentage in four starts. With four games over the next 11 days, the hope is that either Khudobin or MacIntyre can right the ship as Rask heals.
“I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year,” said Khudobin via NBC Sports Boston. “My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”
As the Bruins get David Backes and possibly Patrice Bergeron back, they’ve watched as Rask and Ryan Spooner (4-6 weeks) leave the lineup with injury. Having a roster in flux while you’re trying to find some consistency will be a tough ask for head coach Bruce Cassidy and his players.
The 31-year-old Khudobin has played well in two appearances this season, stopping 32 of 33 shots faced and posting a .970 ESSV%.
NHL teams love handing out a player of the game awards to someone who played an important role in a victory. The tradition has been going on for years and the items have ranged from football helmets to camouflage jackets to championship belts to wolf heads to weenie hats.
The Philadelphia Flyers are one of those teams taking part in the post-game tradition and have chosen a very unique item to honor game MVPs this season.
In honor of one of wrestling’s greats, game MVPs will receive a Ric Flair replica robe.
Spend time inside Wells Fargo Center for a Flyers game and you’ll hear fans unleashing plenty of Flair’s famous “woo’s” — something that kind of pissed off the players as recent as last season..
“I hope it’s a short-lived fad,” said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol last November.
“The first period they are [expletive] woo’ing. What are you, [expletive] 10-years old?,” opined Jakub Voracek.
Maybe the players had a change of heart and have embraced the “woo’s?” Now that the robe, which was designed by the daughter of equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, will be a regular thing, one can imagine an uptick in the “Nature Boy’s” famous call done by fans during games.
Flair, 68, was hospitalized in August as he entered the early stages of kidney failure and congestive heart failure. He was released last month after doctors removed part of his bowel and inserted a pacemaker. An ESPN documentary about his life and wrestling career will premier in November.
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