Riding the Zamboni – Wednesday, February 9th

For a recap of the bloody and busy Bruins-Habs game, click here. This post covers the Sharks’ 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets, which briefly gave them the Pacific Division lead. Here are summaries of Wednesday’s other six games.

Nashville 4, Detroit 1

Perhaps Barry Trotz should convince that the Predators are playing the Red Wings every night. They’ve beaten Detroit 7-1 in the two clubs’ last two contests, but haven’t been able to beat anyone else since January 23rd (going 2-4-1 in that span including those two victories vs. the Wings). As Trotz pointed out, the Predators are five points out of the Central Division lead yet they’re also five points away from being out of the playoffs altogether.

Nashville scored the game’s first four goals, forcing Detroit to pull Jimmy Howard in the second period. The Red Wings are still in control of the division and their own playoff hopes, but one has to wonder about Howard’s confidence at this point.

Minnesota 3, Colorado 2

If the Avalanche were in NBA Jam, the game’s announcer would say that they “can’t buy a bucket.” Hapless Colorado is now on a six-game losing streak thanks to their 3-2 loss versus the Wild.

Minnesota is now in ninth place while Colorado finds themselves in second-to-last place in the brutal West bubble.

Chicago 4, Edmonton 1

The Blackhawks earned two types of wins tonight. The first one was a subjective one, as many (including myself) believe they got the better end of a trade with Florida. Still, they need objective ones more than subjective ones, so it’s good to see they took care of business against the Oilers.

Phoenix 3, Dallas 2 (OT)

The Pacific is now a big mess, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows the NHL’s most top-to-bottom competitive division. The Stars are technically in first but are tied with the Sharks at 66 points while the Coyotes are at 65, the Ducks are at 64 and the Kings are “lagging behind” at 60. (Wipes sweat from forehead.)

It was a business-as-usual game for the Stars, as Brad Richards carried the offense (one goal and one assist) while Kari Lehtonen kept them in the game with 32 saves. Ray Whitney provided two assists while Radim Vrbata scored the overtime game-winner.

Calgary 5, Ottawa 2

The Flames (10-1-2) are just about the polar opposite of the Senators (11 losses in a row), which showed in this game. Anton Babchuk scored a goal and two assists, Tim Jackman scored two goals and Calgary scored four unanswered goals after trailing 2-1 going into the first intermission.

Anaheim 4, Vancouver 3

The Ducks ended the Canucks’ winning streak at six games. Vancouver was also on a nine game streak in which they earned at least a point, something Anaheim stopped as well.

Bobby Ryan scored two goals, Teemu Selanne provided two assists and Ryan Getzlaf provided a beautiful backhand pass for an assist in his Ducks return.

Anaheim built a 3-0 lead and held on as the Canucks made the game interesting in the last 21 seconds. Daniel Sedin had a chance to tie it up in the hectic last moments, but couldn’t get a shot on goal.

No need for Flyers to rush Nolan Patrick after injury-plagued year

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This post is part of Flyers day at PHT…

It wasn’t long before Nolan Patrick began lighting up the Western Hockey League.

Two years before he was even selected second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers, he had scored 30 goals in his first full season with the Brandon Wheat Kings. A year later, he had 102 points, vaulting him into the position as the likely No. 1 overall pick for the 2017 Entry Draft.

Dating back more than a year, however, Patrick has been sidetracked by injury.

He underwent sports hernia surgery last summer. He played in only 33 games for Brandon this past season and couldn’t play for Canada at the World Juniors. In June, just prior to his selection by Philly, he had another operation — an abdominal surgery, the Flyers later announced — with a window of four to six weeks before he could resume full activity.

The Flyers had only a 2.2 per cent chance of winning the first overall selection, yet they still made a massive move up the board when the lottery had concluded. The first pick would come down to Patrick or Nico Hischier, who worked his way into the conversation for No. 1 overall as his QMJHL season continued.

In the end, the lottery-winning Devils took Hischier and Patrick fell right to the Flyers.

In Patrick, the Flyers get a center that stands at 6-foot-2 tall and 198 pounds, and is capable of producing significant numbers offensively — at least that’s what he showed in junior. Even if his 2016-17 season was hampered, Patrick still managed 20 goals and 46 points.

“And then playing and not being a 100 percent. I didn’t play one game this year feeling [like] myself. I’ve got the summer to get where I need to be,” said Patrick, per CSN Philly.

“My skating was kind of bugging me throughout the season. I needed to get my conditioning back to where I wanted it to be. I did as much as I could, but I wasn’t pouting about it.”

Patrick turns 19 years old next month during training camp and will look to make the Flyers for this upcoming season. Given everything he’s dealt with over the last several months, it would be, despite the talent that made him a top prospect in the draft, unreasonable to place lofty expectations on him right away, as he makes the transition into the NHL.

Having him healthy and ready for camp is a good start, but there really is no need to rush him along, particularly if it’s at the expense of future gains.

“We’re looking at the big picture here,” said general manager Ron Hextall earlier this summer, per the Courier-Post. “We’re not looking at next season. We’re looking at hopefully the next 10 to 15 seasons. We will do what’s best for Nolan long-term.”

Report: College free agent Alex Kerfoot opts to join Avalanche

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The wait appears to be over.

College free agent Alex Kerfoot has reportedly made his decision, choosing to join the Colorado Avalanche, according to Darren Dreger of TSN.

The news comes days after it was reported the New York Rangers were among the finalists to land the Harvard product, which would’ve provided a boost in depth at center for that club.

The 23-year-old center was also targeted by the Vancouver Canucks, which is hardly surprising given Kerfoot is from that area and played his junior hockey in nearby Coquitlam.

Kerfoot, originally drafted by the New Jersey Devils, was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award this past season, after scoring 16 goals and 45 points in 36 games with Harvard.

He decided not to sign in New Jersey, becoming an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Islanders add Terreri as goaltending development coach

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The New York Islanders made a coaching move Wednesday, naming former NHL puckstopper Chris Terreri as a goalie development coach and goalie coach for the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

“Chris has a vast amount of knowledge and experience, both as a player and a coach,” said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. “We’re excited for him to work with our goalies at every level, as well as assist in our scouting process and to make his mark on this crucial position.”

Terreri appeared in 406 NHL games between 1986 and 2001, spending most of his career with the New Jersey Devils.

He then transitioned into coaching, spending the last eight years working as a goalie coach with the Devils.

Related: Under pressure: Jaroslav Halak

Under pressure: Claude Giroux

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This post is part of Flyers Day at PHT…

In 2014, Claude Giroux was a finalist for the Hart Trophy.

In the three years since, Giroux has experienced a rather significant drop in overall production, hitting a low point last season and leading general manager Ron Hextall when it was all over to give a defiant vote of confidence for the Flyers captain and highest paid player.

Giroux scored only 14 goals and 58 points while playing the full 82-game schedule. If there is a positive, it’s that on the power play, he was still highly productive with 31 points, which led a Flyers team that was 14th in the league with the advantage. Those 31 power play points for Giroux accounted about 53 per cent of his offensive output.

The NHL recently released its list of top-20 centers heading into next season, and Giroux didn’t make the list.

“Frustrating,” is how Giroux described last season to reporters after the Flyers failed to make the playoffs. “When you try to do something and you can’t do it — your mind wants to do something but your body doesn’t do it, it’s frustrating.

“You’ve got to keep working on your game, get stronger, faster. I mean, I’m very excited to … have a whole summer to work out and really do what I want to do.”

That last part is key.

Giroux, who will turn 30 years old in January, struggled through a hip problem during the 2015-16 season and had surgery in the spring. The timeline for recovery from the operation was about 10 to 12 weeks, which would cut into his summer training. There was perhaps some added rush to get back considering he played for Team Canada at the World Cup ahead of the NHL regular season.

One of his notable statements prior to joining the Canadian contingent was, “I don’t feel like I have a 60-year-old hip anymore.” That should provide an indication as to how much of a struggle it was for him prior to surgery. But this year, there is no World Cup. There was no off-season surgery with a lengthy recovery. Perhaps the bounce back season Flyers fans, management and coaching staff are all hoping for will take shape for Giroux after a full summer of training.

The Flyers are expected to have some young players in their lineup, and they no longer have Brayden Schenn, who was traded to St. Louis at the draft. Nolan Patrick could have an impact on the lineup as the second overall pick, but he too is coming off an injury-plagued season in the Western Hockey League.

Adding to the pressure on Giroux is that he’s under contract for five more years — with a no-movement clause, according to CapFriendly — at a cap hit of $8.275 million.