When word surfaced that the Los Angeles Kings were on the verge of signing banged-up winger Ethan Moreau to a one-year, $600K contract, the reactions ranged from mildly supportive to a shoulder shrug to stunned criticism.
Aside from the most blindly supportive members of the Kings’ front office and equally optimistic fans, it’s likely that Moreau is the only person who expects the move to be a slam dunk. Jonathan Willis points out the most obvious problem – though not necessarily the only issue – that comes with signing the soon-to-be 36 year old winger: his lack of health. He missed huge chunks of three of the last five seasons with wear-and-tear related injuries, with 186 games lost to various ailments during that five-year span.
It’s tough not to think of the Kings’ run of bad luck with injuries in the previous decade or so as a caveat while discussing their seemingly bright future. You may remember that semi-solid Los Angeles teams were derailed by injuries in many cases as the team saw players such as Pavol Demitra, Ziggy Palffy, Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison fall apart due to health issues.
The current Los Angeles roster features some obvious injury risks with Moreau, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams in the mix – especially since the latter two could play very important roles as scoring wingers. Even Anze Kopitar went down with a nasty ankle injury last season.
Many of us cannot help but second-guess the Kings’ decision to sign Moreau, but the team brought in the rugged former captain of the Edmonton Oilers with the hopes that he’ll provide veteran leadership. (It’s also likely that they’ll ask him to do the hockey equivalent of “Charlie work” such as spending time on the penalty kill and grinding out fourth line minutes.)
The biggest line on his resume is almost certainly his connection to the Oilers’ Cinderella run to just one win short of a Stanley Cup in 2006 (which happened to be the last time Moreau made a postseason appearance). He reflected on that run with Mayor’s Manor, calling it both the highest and lowest point of his career.
“Going to the Finals was probably the high and the low point,” he said, when speaking of his time playing in Edmonton. “We were one game away from winning a Stanley Cup. Then, losing was probably the low point because you come so close to realizing a dream that doesn’t happen – you’re left with a very, very empty feeling – which is motivation to get back there with this team and to win it. That’s the only thing that will kind of make that feeling go away.”
One cannot help but wonder if Moreau wonders if his career will go away before that feeling will dissipate. He told Mayor’s Manor that he hopes to play until he’s 40, but to do so, he’ll need to surprise onlookers who are far from convinced that he can turn around his health and all-around play. Willis points out some discouraging defensive numbers that indicate that Moreau’s time in the NHL is about to run out, but we’ll have to wait and see if this low-risk move by the Kings turns out to be an irritating (if small) waste of money or a nice bargain.
Here’s hoping that you didn’t take a poorly-timed break in the second period.
For much of Game 7, the Ottawa Senators have been able to slow down the Pittsburgh Penguins, resulting in a contest that went scoreless for what sometimes felt like ages.
Chris Kunitz changed that, long after missing on a golden opportunity shortly after Mike Sullivan decided to put him on Sidney Crosby‘s line. Kunitz finished a nice rush play to make it 1-0 9:55 into the second. Check out that goal below.
Guy Boucher didn’t have to deploy “attack mode” very long, as Mark Stone stunningly tied it up 1-1 just 20 seconds later. That surprising tally can be seen in the clip above this post’s headline.
We finally know the lineups for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Pittsburgh’s tweaks are most interesting, which isn’t a huge surprising considering the consistent inconsistency bred by their injury issues.
The Penguins will get Conor Sheary and Justin Schultz back in the mix. Despite showing a lot of energy warming up, Patric Hornqvist isn’t good to go. Here are the full Penguins personnel notes; also realize that this is Matt Murray‘s birthday.
Ottawa places Chris Kelly back in, getting the nod over Tommy Wingels and Colin White. Kelly’s had some experience in these scenarios.
You can watch Game 7 live on NBCSN. The game can also be viewed online and via the NBC Sports App. Here is the livestream link.
The Buffalo Sabres announced the signing of defenseman Victor Antipin* on Thursday, confirming rumors that surfaced more than once this month.
Antipin, 24, enjoyed a solid season in the KHL with Magnitogorsk Metallurg. Even so, the signing might be interesting if it serves as an appetizer for the Sabres bringing in Antipin’s teammate from Metallurg, Chris Lee.
On one hand, Lee is 36 and couldn’t make the jump fromt he AHL to the NHL in previous opportunities (most reently with the Penguins’ farm system in 2009-10). On the other, he had an eye-popping 2016-17 season in the KHL: 65 points in 60 games as a defenseman.
Lee’s previous numbers aren’t as outrageous, but still quite good, at least form a scoring standpoint.
While Lee’s possible addition is a situation to watch, there’s some excitement about Antipin.
“Victor is a well-rounded defenseman who has played in all situations at the pro level,” Sabres GM Jason Botterill said. “His mobility and puck-moving skills make him a perfect match for what we’re hoping to build with our defense corps next season.”
Granted, there’s some debate about his ceiling.
Still, for a Sabres team that badly needs help on the blueline, this addition – or eventually these additions – could provide a nice boost.
* – The Sabres’ releases feature his name spelled “Victor.” Other outlets, including hockeydb, have it as “Viktor.”
Will it be the Ottawa Senators or Pittsburgh Penguins against the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final? We’ll find out after tonight.
Yes, it’s that time: a Game 7 to see who advances to the final round. The winner will also hold home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final.
Could Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson, and the rest of the Senators pull off an upset on the road, winning the franchise’s first Game 7? Can Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins give Matt Murray a birthday present with another Game 7 win?
Find out on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.
Here’s what you need to know:
Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (series tied 3-3)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream live here)
Check out the highlights from Ottawa’s 2-1 win in Game 6
—Pretty or not, Sens aim to play their game vs. Pens in Game 7
—Penguins prepare for another Game 7, this time as favorites
—Modern-day Senators have never won a Game 7
—It’s “reasonable” to expect Schultz and Hornqvist will play Game 7