Cam Ward, other Hurricanes players wear strobe glasses in hopes of improving vision

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If you ask me, the Carolina Hurricanes either took a step back during this off-season or their summer can be seen as a lateral move. They’re a strange team in some ways because they seem to catch fire one season and then fall apart the next; their irregular spurts of dangerousness might be explained by their top-heavy roster and aggressive style.

In the grand scheme of things, the Canes must hope to rebound from a disappointing end to the 2010-11 season by improving from within.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re willing to try some strange methods to improve their chances, then. Chip Alexander reveals that certain Hurricanes (including franchise goalie Cam Ward) have agreed to wear strobe glasses to try to improve their “peripheral vision, reaction time, perception and focus.”

The Hurricanes are the only team in the NHL who are experimenting with the equipment, which Alexander describes as “oversized sunglasses.” Carolina’s head trainer Pete Friesen organized the three-week experiment with Nike.

The Nike Vapor Strobe glasses, which retail for about $300, have strobe circuitry in each lens. The strobe flashes can be sped up or slowed down, changing between clear and opaque states with an LCD lens, as the players attempt to catch balls or stick-handle pucks.

“It’s just something new and creative to try and see if it can benefit your vision,” Ward said last week. “Especially at my position, it can really be beneficial. If I can find a way of making that puck look a lot bigger, that’s going to be a big help.”

(snip)

The players wear the goggles 10 minutes a day and for training purposes only – they are not used in games. Some have been catching tossed balls, and Friesen also has used a JUGS gun to launch smaller balls at Ward at varying speeds.

After reading about that experiment, it might indeed make the biggest impact on Ward. As Friesen stated later on in the article, goalies often (understandably) struggle with having their vision obstructed, but few – if any – do much to train for those situations. (Beyond the obvious practice time devoted to scrimmages and so on.) The glasses might be an interesting way to give Ward that extra training in making split-second saves.

That being said, hearing the term “strobe glasses” instantly made me think of people having seizures because of strobe lights, so hopefully that’s not a major risk with the goggles.

It’s unlikely that this experiment will yield enormous results for Ward and the rest of the participating Hurricanes, but in a sport with often tiny margins of error, you can’t blame them for trying to find every little edge … even if they end up looking goofy in the process.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin will be rocking incredible custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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–With only a few weeks remaining in the regular season, we’re starting to get a better idea of who will be in and out of the playoffs. With that being said, The Hockey News put together a list of five players that could benefit from playing on another team. Devils goalie Cory Schneider is at the top of the list. Schneider’s been solid since joining New Jersey, but the team hasn’t had much success. (The Hockey News)

Erik Karlsson has always been known as an offensive defenseman, but this year, he’s made several defensive improvements to his game. The changes have made him so effective that his head coach, Guy Boucher, believes he should be in the running for a Hart Trophy. (Canadian Press)

–The Washington Capitals will be hosting a Russian Heritage Night tonight. During the pre-game warmup, Alex Ovechkin will be rocking these custom skates honoring his home land and his American home. He’ll be auctioning off the skates too. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

–The New York Islanders trailed the Rangers 2-1 heading into the third period, but thanks to goals by Nikolay Kulemin and Andrew Ladd, they were able to come out on top. You can watch the highlights from last night’s “Battle of New York” by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Vegas GM George McPhee chatted with Sportsnet’s Gene Principe about being able to build a team from scratch. McPhee called the experience “fantastic” and “really neat”. He also discussed his vision for the team and how he’s approaching the expansion draft. (Sportsnet)

–The Detroit Red Wings have been a model franchise for quite some time, but they’ve on the verge of going through some pretty big changes. First, Joe Louis Arena will be closing its doors and secondly, their long playoff streak will be coming to an end this season. Sports Illustrated takes a deeper look at the old barn and the third-longest playoff streak in pro sports. (Sports Illustrated)

–Many people feel like the Calder Trophy race will come down to Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, but Bob McKenzie says there’s more than two worthy candidates because Zach Werenski has been equally good this season. But who is McKenzie leaning toward?

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.