Riding the Zamboni – Sunday, December 5th

Chicago 4 – Calgary 2

The news dominating this game is the injury to Patrick Kane, and rightfully so. That said, without Kane and Marian Hossa the Hawks still pull off the win. Dave Bolland scored twice and Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist while Brent Seabrook had three assists. Corey Crawford was solid again in goal for Chicago winning his sixth straight game. Crawford saved 24 shots. Jarome Iginla and Anton Babchuk each had a goal for Calgary. Odd fact: Every goal scored in the game was a power play goal. Stay out of the box next time, eh guys?

Ottawa 3 – NY Rangers 1

The Rangers seemed like they were on a roll for a while there, didn’t they? Sure enough, leave it to the Senators to put the kibosh on that. Sens grinder Chris Kelly potted a hat trick to lead the way for Ottawa and got outstanding work from Pascal Leclaire in goal stopping 25 shots in the victory. For New York, it was a letdown after winning four of their last five. They’ll get a chance at redemption on Thursday in Ottawa.

Philadelphia 3 – NY Islanders 2

When things are going bad, it always seems like you can’t catch a break. For the Isles they played a gutty game against Philly and lead 2-1 in the third period for a bit only to get the proverbial stomach punch in the end thanks to late goals by Andreas Nodl and Daniel Briere. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots in the win while Dwayne Roloson stopped 24 shots in the hard-luck loss. Putting things in perspective, the Isles have lost 17 of their last 18 games. Misery lives on Long Island.

St. Louis 3 – Vancouver 2

It may not have been exciting to watch, but the Blues got their act together in a big win over Vancouver and they’ve got Alex Steen to thank for it. Steen’s two goals, including the game-winner in the third helped lead the way for the Blues. Steen added an assist on Matt D’Agostini’s goal to finish the night with three points. That’s about as close to being first star of the night as you can be. Jaroslav Halak stopped just 21 shots to get the win while Roberto Luongo stopped 25 in the loss. Jannik Hansen and Kevin Bieksa scored for Vancouver.

Phoenix 3 – Anaheim 0

Ilya Bryzgalov was flat out the man tonight. Bryzgalov stopped 26 shots in getting his second shutout of the year. The Ducks, meanwhile, looked disorganized and lethargic throughout the game. Not exactly the kind of game you’d like to see when they get an important player like Joffrey Lupul back in the lineup after being off the ice for nearly a year. Taylor Pyatt, Shane Doan, and Lee Stempniak each had a goal a piece for the Coyotes to get the win. Jonas Hiller made 36 saves in the loss.

Busy Blackhawks bring back Pokka, reportedly let Rasmussen walk

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A busy off-season for the Chicago Blackhawks continued with some smaller moves that may still surprise some.

The eyebrow-raiser, at least in some quarters, came when the Blackhawks decided not to hand Dennis Rasmussen a qualifying offer, thus allowing the 26-year-old forward to hit free agency. That news comes from The Athletic’s Scott Powers.

Rasmussen played in 68 games last season (along with three playoff contests), receiving almost 12 minutes of ice time per night. Both were examples of him seeing more of a role in his second year with Chicago.

Still, he didn’t put up big numbers at either the AHL or NHL level, so apparently the Blackhawks decided to spring him free. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports that the team might have soured on Rasmussen after he rejected an offer for a contract extension back in March.

Powers also notes that Ville Pokka was signed to a one-year deal, opening the door for him to possibly make Chicago’s roster.

These developments aren’t likely to add to what’s already been a frustrating off-season for Joel Quenneville in particular, but this still lines up with a pattern of changes. In the latest edition of “30 Thoughts,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shares some details of Coach Q’s irritation:

21. Joel Quenneville was at the draft Saturday after not appearing on Friday. He stormed out of a coach’s meeting — in full view of reporters — as news broke of the Chicago trades. It would have been very tough for him to lose Hjalmarsson, one of the NHL’s underappreciated great players.

Quenneville’s cage was already rattled by the firing of assistant Mike Kitchen, so here’s hoping he at least signed off on these latest moves.

Report: Red Wings grant Coyotes permission to interview Todd Nelson

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There’s some activity as far as the Arizona Coyotes’ coaching situation goes, and soon there may be some answers.

As noted during the weekend, the Coyotes were interested in speaking with Todd Nelson, who most recently coached the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate) to a Calder Cup victory. The Red Wings granted Arizona permission to interview Nelson, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.

(Red Wings fans are greeting this news with despair.)

It’s not the only noteworthy development, either, as the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that the Coyotes parted ways with associate coach Jim Playfair today. (The Coyotes confirmed the news moments after this post went up.)

This is a time of change for this organization, and some are bristling at the way they’re handling things. Still, there’s also an argument that the team is ultimately making wise choices, and Nelson could end up being a big part of that.

Assuming they convince him to come on board, of course.

Gryba sticks with Edmonton on two-year, $1.8 million deal

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After spending the last two seasons with the Oilers, Eric Gryba has signed on for two more.

Gryba, the veteran blueliner that was set to go unrestricted on Saturday, has signed a two-year, $1.8 million extension with Edmonton, per TSN. The deal comes after the 29-year-old appeared in 40 games for the Oilers last year, and three during the club’s playoff run.

Gryba is the second UFA blueliner Edmonton has re-upped with, having previously inked Kris Russell to a four-year, $16 million pact. It’s the byproduct of available cap space GM Peter Chiarelli created by shipping out Jordan Eberle to the Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome.

It’s likely Gryba will continue to play his existing role in Edmonton — a physical, hard-nosed depth defenseman that won’t play every night, but can jump into the lineup in case of injury or when the Oilers face a particular matchup.

This move also gives the Oilers seven defensemen under contract for next season: Gryba, Russell, Andrej Sekera (who could miss extensive time with a torn ACL), Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Matthew Benning and Darnell Nurse.

So, perhaps Chiarelli isn’t done signing blueliners.

 

 

Report: Kings in contact with Joe Thornton

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Yesterday, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported 12 teams were in contact with San Jose’s Joe Thorton who, on Saturday, will become an unrestricted free agent.

Now, it’s been revealed that one of those teams is also one of San Jose’s biggest rivals — the Los Angeles Kings.

Per LA Kings Insider, the Kings have “been in contact” with Thornton, who just wrapped the last of a three-year, $20.25 million deal with a $6.75M average annual cap hit.

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On top of Thornton’s abilities are his relationships with key figures in Los Angeles’ front office. He played with Kings General Manager Rob Blake in San Jose, while Senior Advisor to the General Manager/Development Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager when he played in Boston.

On top of these relationships, Thornton also remains very close with Glen Murray, a figure in Los Angeles’ player development, and I’m told the two, who played together with the Bruins for three and a half seasons, regularly communicate.

LeBrun reported that staying with the Sharks remains Thornton’s No. 1 option, but it’s pretty clear interest in him is sky-high — and coming from a number of different places.

Los Angeles has been making moves to clear cap space, recently buying out the remainder of defenseman Matt Greene’s contract. The Kings also lost blueliner Brayden McNabb to Vegas at the expansion draft.

What happens with Marian Gaborik‘s $4.875M cap hit remains to be seen. The veteran winger underwent an offseason procedure for a “chronic” knee issue and, depending on his recovery, could open the year on long-term injured reserve.

Thornton would give L.A. a formidable one-two punch at center along with Anze Kopitar (and a truly formidable 1-2-3 punch with Kopitar and Jeff Carter, for that matter). It’s also worth noting that as he’s gotten longer in the tooth, Thornton has successfully platooned as a winger — most notably during San Jose’s Stanley Cup run in 2016.