It might be safe to refer to Friday, June 24 as Nostalgia Day in the hockey world.
First, we have the return of the Winnipeg Jets. Then there’s Eric Brewer signing a four-year deal worth about $16 million, which is a nearly identical contract to the one he agreed to in 2007. Ryan Smyth seems primed to play NHL hockey for a team in Alberta again as well (although it sounds like he might be a member of the Calgary Flames rather than Edmonton Oilers).
Not to be outdone in turning back the clock, the AHL approved Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula as the new owner of the Rochester Americans, effectively reuniting the two teams. The Americans were the affiliate team for the Sabres for 39 years until that exchange ended in 2008, but Pegula demanded a reunion.
Pegula & Co. aren’t just being nostalgic, though; there’s plenty of logic to having an affiliate that is a stone’s throw from the mother ship. Having the flexibility to call up a minor league who can quickly join the club cannot be underrated considering the often-nebulous nature of injuries in the NHL. Here is more about the renewed relationship between the two sides via John Vogl of the Buffalo News.
Sabres founders Seymour H. Knox III and Northrup Knox bought the Amerks in 1979-80. They were sold to a Rochester-based group in 1995, and previous Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano tried to buy the Amerks in the mid-2000s. After being rebuffed, the Sabres moved their minor-league team to Portland.
There was no stopping Pegula.
The Sabres signed a long-term extension to remain in Portland in March 2010, but they have worked their way out.
Rochester has struggled with attendance since the Sabres left. The hope is that reuniting with their longtime parent will rekindle interest.
Sabres fans should rejoice: it’s obvious their new owner cares about making this team successful and competitive. This could be a big off-season in Buffalo, although it might be true that their biggest addition happened during the 2010-11 season when Pegula bought the team.
The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.
The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.
Here’s the goal:
Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.
Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.
Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.
Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.
The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.
Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.
The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.
It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.
After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.
In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.
You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.
It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:
Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:
You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.
After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.
“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”
After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.
“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”
And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.
—Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta
Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.
Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.
Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:
“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”
To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.
This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.