Hockey fans celebrate at Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, after reading a report in The Globe and Mail newspaper that an NHL team might be moving to Winnipeg, Thursday, May 19, 2011. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and True North Sports and Entertainment denied a deal has been reached to sell the Atlanta Thrasher to True North, which would relocate it to Winnipeg. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Woods)
On paper, you’d think even a wounded Dallas Stars team would handle its business against a tired Columbus Blue Jackets squad at home.
“That was as flat as flat could be,” Lindy Ruff said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “There’s no disguising it. For me there’s some concern because that’s really two games in a row where we were outskated …”
Ruff added that “there was no emotion inside that game.”
After falling to 2-2-1 on this young season, Ruff admits that he has concerns about the Stars’ “whole defense right now.”
Yeah, that makes a pretty compelling argument that Ruff saw the truth out there. John Tortorella concurred, opining that the Blue Jackets were in a total control.
While the Stars are picking up the pieces, the Blue Jackets beat the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and Dallas on Saturday. Those teams are off to tough starts, but that’s still an impressive haul for an embattled Blue Jackets group.
Considering the sour feeling for Dallas and the renewed spirits for Columbus, it’s remarkable what a difference two losses or wins can make.
But, hey Stars fans, a Benn fight at least gives us an excuse to recall this great photo of his bout with Joe Thornton:
As far as NHL roster move goes, June 30, 2016 was one of the craziest non-trade deadline/free agency days in recent NHL history.
That, of course, was the day P.K. Subban was traded for Shea Weber, the day Steven Stamkos decided to remain with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the day the New Jersey Devils picked up Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers for Adam Larsson.
Each one of those moves was significant in its own way and will have a huge impact on every team involved for the foreseeable future. Some of those impacts will be better than others.
But the one move that seemed to be perfect for the team making it in every possible way was the Devils’ ability to acquire Hall, one of the best players in the league at his position and the type of player the Devils desperately needed.
Just five games into the 2016-17 season and Hall is already showing why he was such a massive addition for the Devils.
Since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, with a roster that was built around Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils have been unable to make a return to trip to the postseason due in large part to an offense that was gutted following that deep postseason run (Parise and Kovalchuk were both gone within two years) and has never been able to replace the top-line talent it lost. The only team that has scored fewer goals than the Devils’ 673 since the start of the 2012-13 season is Buffalo, while nobody has averaged fewer shots on goal per game.
There are really only two ways to get that type of player when they are still in their prime years: The top of the draft, or hope that Peter Chiarelli is running a team that has one because you might be able to trade for him.
Enter Taylor Hall to New Jersey.
It’s only been five games at this point, but so far Hall has proven to be everything the Devils needed him to be. A game-changing forward. As of Sunday he has three goals and is pretty much directly responsible for all of the offense in the Devils’ two wins.
He scored both goals in a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks earlier this week, and then on Saturday scored the overtime winner against the Minnesota Wild when he forced a turnover in the defensive zone, nearly went coast-to-coast with it, then finished the game with a wide open shot that beat Devan Dubnyk.
Hall on his own is not going to be enough to completely fix the Devils offense over the course of a full season (or from a long-term outlook). But he is a heck of a place to start, and he has given the Devils plenty of reasons to be excited over the first two weeks of the 2016-17 season.
One of the biggest early surprises of the 2016-17 NHL season was the fact the Vancouver Canucks were the NHL’s only unbeaten team entering play on Saturday. Not Washington. Not Pittsburgh. Not Tampa Bay. Not Chicago. Not Dallas.
Their stunning four-game winning streak to open the season came to an end on Saturday night when they opened up a brief two-game road trip in Los Angeles with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Kings, handing them first loss of the season and making it so all 30 NHL teams now have at least one loss this season.
The Canucks have made a habit so far this season out of falling behind early and rallying for overtime or shootout wins, and they nearly did it again on Saturday. After spotting the Kings a 3-0 lead early in the second period Vancouver came back with three consecutive goals, including a game-tying goal from defenseman Alex Edler in the final minute to send the game to overtime. But the Canucks know that is not a sustainable long-term strategy and that eventually their luck in those games is going to run out.
On Saturday, it kind of did.
Tanner Pearson scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Kings the win.
As tough as this two-game road trip through Los Angeles and Anaheim looks, playing both teams within 24 hours, the Canucks seemed to catch a little bit of a break when the Kings had to turn to Peter Budaj, their third string goalie, after Jeff Zatkoff was injured in the morning skate on Saturday. With regular starting goalie Jonathan Quick already sidelined it seemed to be a good opportunity for the Canucks to extend their winning streak against a goalie that has only played 38 games in the NHL since the start of the 2012-13 season (with below average numbers during that stretch).
But Budaj was able to do just enough to get the win, stopping 22 out of 25 shots through regulation and overtime and not giving up any goals in the shootout.
Even with the loss, the Canucks still managed to pick up a point and have earned nine out of a possible 10 points to start the season. No matter how they did it, collecting points like that is never a bad thing. They have now played four overtime games this season and the one game that did not go overtime was still decided by a single goal. If nothing else you have to give them a ton of credit for keeping things interesting.
The Canucks are back in action on Sunday against the Ducks before returning home for a three-game homestand.
Weird times in Nashville right now as a significant portion of the Predators’ roster is sidelined by food poisoning. They went into Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh without Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, Colton Sissons and starting goaltender Pekka Rinne all out of the lineup. That meant a bunch of call-ups and a rookie goaltender getting the start against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
While the Penguins were also playing without Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, it is still a very formidable lineup (one that just rallied to beat San Jose the other night). That is part of what made Nashville’s 5-1 win so convincing and impressive.
The Predators used a four-goal second period, including a pair of goals from Kevin Fiala, to pick up their second win of the season and what is easily their most impressive of the two.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the play of 21-year-old goalie Juuse Saros, playing in only his second NHL game.
Saros stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced to pick up his very first NHL win. Things got off to a rough start for him when Nashville’s defense got caught up the ice and created an odd-man rush for the Penguins that resulted in a Scott Wilson goal less than a minute into the game. After that one blemish on the scoresheet Saros was flawless the rest of the night.
It was a really special night for Saros not only because of the win and the way he played, but because Marc-Andre Fleury started at the other end of the ice for Pittsburgh. Saros said after the game that Fleury has been an idol of his.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Predators after a season-opening win against Chicago. Even though it’s been a slow start, this should still be a team that is going to compete for the Western Conference crown once they get their full roster on the ice.