Before the lockout, the Buffalo Sabres were high on the list of NHL teams who faced extinction. Since then, they’ve gotten new owners, enjoyed a “golden age” of sorts with the high octane Daniel Briere/Chris Drury editions, lost those players and then fully committed to building the team around Ryan Miller.
They haven’t been able to put much star power around Miller, though, leading in some part to his difficulty producing a sequel to his smash-hit 2009-10 season. Their off-the-ice problems might be a thing of the past soon, though, as deep-pocked hockey fan Terry Pegula’s ownership is supposed to become 100 percent official on Tuesday.
Now, the Sabres just need to make it clear to Pegula and their front office that they should be a buyer during the trade deadline. Buffalo is tied for ninth place with the Atlanta Thrashers at 60 points, which parks them four points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the East’s final playoff spot. The good news is that they do hold three games in hand against Carolina and Atlanta, though.
The bad news is that they are on a four-game home losing streak, which won’t be able to break even if this edition of the Washington Capitals isn’t quite as frightening as the 09-10 model. The Capitals lost four of their last five games to keep them five points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Southeast Division.
Despite that doom and gloom, there is a silver lining: Russian star Alex Ovechkin is starting to look like his all-world self again. Ovechkin scored three goals and two assists during the team’s last four games, including another highlight reel entry.
Both teams hope to regain their 09-10 momentum and improve their playoff chances with a win here today. Will the Capitals regenerate their mojo or will the Sabres get back on track at home? Tune into NBC to find out.
For another look at this game, check out the Associated Press preview.
If you’re looking at that headline regarding the Carolina Hurricanes nabbing Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in a state of awe, don’t feel too bad.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that even Darling’s representatives didn’t see it coming.
But it did indeed happen, as the Hurricanes sent a third-round pick in 2017 to Chicago for Darling.
Darling is scheduled to be a UFA this summer, so the Hurricanes must believe that they can sign a goalie Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman described as “always reliable.”
The Hurricanes could have chosen to keep Darling in their organization, but apparently he didn’t make a huge first impression during this opportunity:
P.K. Subban certainly made his presence felt to begin the Predators’ series vs. the Blues. Leon Draisaitl stole the spotlight in helping the Oilers beat the Ducks in their Game 1. Who will step up in Game 2 of each series? We’ll find out soon.
Here’s what you need to know:
Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (Preds lead 1-0)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)
Check out the highlights from Nashville’s 4-3 win in Game 1.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks (Oilers lead 1-0)
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)
Check out the highlights from Edmonton’s 5-3 win in Game 1.
Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.
Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.
It’s easy to see why.
He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.
“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.
On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.
Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.
From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.
In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.
And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.
During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.
Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.
“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”