Let’s face it, the new format for this year’s All-Star Game is fascinating.
Most fans have participated in a fantasy draft of some kind before. Whether it’s in hockey, football, or baseball so we know what it’s like when you’re looking at a pool of endless talent and trying to decide on the best of the best. This time around, Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom will be the guys looking at doing that for Sunday’s All-Star Game.
With discussion picking up about who wants to take which players, the discussion of how to get one over on each other is picking up as well. The one guy Eric Staal is hoping to land the most is teammate Cam Ward and today he said he’s willing to do what it takes to try and get his teammate goalie on his team.
When told of Nicklas Lidstrom’s possible plan to pick Ward in order to divide the home crowd’s allegiances — something Lidstrom talked about during a conference call Monday — Staal said he might have to “figure something out as far as making a trade.” He told Bill Clement and Don LaGreca on NHL Live! he might have to bribe Lidstrom by offering to buy him dinner.
However, when asked if Ward will be his first pick if he wins the pre-draft coin flip, Staal was wishy-washy.
Hey, he doesn’t want to let the cat out of the bag early.
“There are plenty of other options out there,” Staal said. “You never know.”
Ahh the careful dance of trying to do what’s best for your team and keep your teammates with you. It’s one of the things that NBC play-by-play man Doc Emrick alluded to in his interview with PHT when talking about this year’s game and this is the brand of fun drama that it will provide.
We’re hoping for trades galore at this draft. We want to see players doing their part to negotiate to get friends and teammates on their side for the game. Have Lidstrom and Staal trade off dinner plans for Corey Perry. Think of the fun we can get here. If Team Staal does take Cam Ward first, how soon does Team Lidstrom with Martin St.Louis as his assistant captain then take Steve Stamkos? 0.4 seconds after that? The possibilities are endless and that’s not even taking into account the Sedin twins and whether or not they’ll end up teammates again or opponents for the first time in their pro careers. Like it or not, it’s generating buzz and has us all keeping an eye on things to see if it pays off in the end.
The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings prefer to lean on workhorse goalies Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick respectively, but Sunday presents a change of pace.
In the Kings’ case, Jhonas Enroth is playing in part because of (what Los Angeles hopes is) a minor injury to Quick.
It’s true that the under-sized goalie sports a mediocre 4-4-1 record, but he’s given the Kings legitimate chances to win games considering his impressive (especially for a backup) save percentage of .925. Perhaps he can earn a few more reps if he plays well in what may be a tight game?
Speaking of earning more reps, Keith Kinkaid must continue to work to prove that he’s able to make the jump from AHL goalie to at least an NHL backup. The Kings aren’t likely to make it easy for him, either.
Avalanche at Sabres: Semyon Varlamov vs. Robin Lehner
Bruins at Red Wings: Possibly Tuukka Rask vs. Petr Mrazek
Blues at Lightning: Best guess – Brian Elliott vs. Ben Bishop
Flyers at Rangers: Steve Mason vs. (possibly) Henrik Lundqvist
Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.
Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.
(Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)
Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …
It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.
Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.
A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.
Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.
(Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)
Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.
The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.
Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.
Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.