When a player gets older, getting more consistent with their game can make them an essential player to have for teams seeking a championship. In the case of Capitals forward Mike Knuble, he’s been consistently finding the net throughout his career as a big body presence in front of the net.
At age 38, Knuble has scored 20 or more goals in each of his last eight seasons including 24 more this season for the Caps. That kind of consistency and a dominating presence inside the locker room will get you to play in the league for a long time and the Capitals rewarded Knuble with a one year extension today. Mike Vogel of the Caps website reports the deal is worth $2 million for next season.
On a team that’s loaded with younger players at every position, Knuble’s veteran presence is invaluable and while Alexander Ovechkin is no doubt the captain of the team, Knuble makes the ideal assistant captain commanding the attention of his teammates with both his physical and gutsy play on the ice as well as his voice off the ice.
Not to mention that Knuble has a knack for scoring on the power play (seven power play goals this year) and comes up big against the Caps’ biggest rivals, it helps make fans in Washington appreciate him all the more. Take a look at his numbers just this season against a couple of teams the Caps seem to hate the most:
Pittsburgh: 3 goals, 1 assist (4 games)
Philadelphia: 2 goals, 3 assists (3 games)
His big numbers against the Flyers make all the more sense because that’s the team he last played with. Sticking it to your old team is always a lot more fun. Getting one more year out of Knuble is perfect for the Caps and makes sense given that he is going to be 39 next season, there’s no need to go any longer. Besides, Knuble might not want to play that much longer anyhow. One thing’s for sure, he’d like to close out his career helping bring the Capitals their first Stanley Cup.
Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.
Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.
“To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.
“When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”
According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.
The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).
Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.
The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.
St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.
Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.
The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.
Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.
Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.
Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.
— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.
— Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.
— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.
The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.
Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.
“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.
“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”
Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.
Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.
Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury
As if John Scott wasn’t already having a great week, now he’s the proud father of twin girls.
The Montreal Canadiens shared the good news via their Twitter account today.
Scott, the unlikely 2016 All-Star Game MVP, is currently back home in Michigan; however, he’s expected to resume his career at some point with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
When, exactly, he suits up for the IceCaps remains to be seen, but it won’t be tonight or tomorrow.
Related: Therrien on Canadiens possibly recalling John Scott: ‘You never know’