Jay Pandolfo admits tonight’s game against Devils ‘will definitely be strange’

For 13 seasons, checking forward Jay Pandolfo was a member of the New Jersey Devils organization. He played 819 regular season games, 131 postseason contests and won two Stanley Cups as a defensive-minded winger for the franchise. Pandolfo hasn’t played a regular season game in the NHL in any other uniform, despite the fact that his last game was on April 11, 2010.

If Pandolfo ever wants to register another NHL game, he’ll have to do it in another jersey. He’s hoping to earn a roster spot with the Devils’ regional rivals the New York Islanders, which means that he’ll need to impress during his preseason tryout.

A big part of that effort could come tonight, as Pandolfo will suit up with the Islanders against his long-time allies. (The game should be in progress by the time you’re reading this.)

There are certain mitigating factors that might cut down on the awkwardness a bit. For one thing, it’s a preseason game; even if it’s a big deal for Pandolfo, it won’t be for many of his former teammates. Speaking of former teammates, the number of familiar faces should be lower since it’s been a full season since he interacted with them.

That being said, Pandolfo admitted that it will still be a little weird when discussing the subject with Tom Gulitti.

“I think so,” Pandolfo said of tonight’s game being strange. “It probably would have been a lot weirder last year, but it’s been a year in between. It won’t be as weird. It seems like there’s not as many guys there either that I know. It’s different. But it will definitely be strange. I’ve only played for one team my whole career, so it will be different.”

Pandolfo was teammates at one time with only eight of the 20 players the Devils will dress tonight.

(snip)

He knows that if he doesn’t win a job with the Islanders his playing career is probably over.

“Most likely,” he said. “I don’t know about definitely, but just getting a chance to be in training camp the same time as everyone else is playing that benefits me rather than just waiting again. I’m going to wait and see what happens with this. I’m in shape and playing at the same time everyone else is, so obviously I want it to work out here, but if it doesn’t then we’ll go from there.”

Pandolfo spent a chunk of last season with the Springfield Falcons (the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate), but decided to end his tryout with that team after his surgically repaired shoulder proved to be a continued problem. Pandolfo said that he had some discussions with the Boston Bruins regarding a tryout last summer, but that didn’t pan out. He also spoke “a bunch” with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello about his future, which presumably indicates that he might join their front office once his career is over.

Before he decides to put on a suit as a hockey executive, he’ll get a chance to stay in an NHL sweater for at least one more night. How well he plays against his former team might just determine if he can wear one for a bit longer.

Ducks deny rally, end Penguins’ winning streak

1 Comment

When Ondrej Kase cashed in on another breakaway opportunity for the Ducks to make it 4-1 in the second period, it looked like that goal would be icing on the cake for Anaheim. Even if it would be especially pretty frosting.

Instead, that stylish goal ended up being critical, as the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly rallied in the third period to at least send Wednesday’s game to overtime. John Gibson ended up holding down the fort, and with an empty-netter in the dying seconds, the Ducks ended up beating the Penguins 5-3.

You could call it a game of periods and close calls.

The Penguins entered the first intermission thanks to a 1-0 Evgeni Malkin goal, but the Ducks dominated the middle frame with their first four-goal period of 2017-18. The Penguins’ prolific power play helped them stay in the game (2-for-4, with both goals coming during that third-period comeback bid), but the rally fell short. Pittsburgh’s winning streak ended at four victories.

Some bounces went both ways, as Antoine Vermette nearly scored for the Ducks while Carl Hagelin suffered a near-miss. So maybe those missed opportunities cancel each other out?

From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the latest argument in favor of this team being a threat now that key pieces have returned to the lineup. This win begins what they hope is a successful five-game homestand, as Anaheim still needs to battle for its own playoff hopes.

The Penguins can’t ruminate on this loss for very long. They head to Los Angeles to face what must be a frustrated Kings team (four straight defeats, only two wins in their last eight games) on Thursday, with little reason to expect any mercy.

This last stretch of wins improved the Penguins’ outlook, but dropping games in back-to-back nights could make things tense again in a hurry. You can check out that Penguins – Kings game on NBCSN Thursday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Willie O’Ree celebrates 60th anniversary of debut with Bruins

2 Comments

BOSTON (AP) Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL’s color barrier.

At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018 to be “Willie O’Ree Day”. O’Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.

Walsh called O’Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better and thanked him for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O’Ree Rink.

A native of Canada, O’Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.

For the past two decades, O’Ree has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.

More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Bruins cruise vs. Canadiens in Julien’s return to Boston

4 Comments

Don’t blame Claude Julien if Wednesday made him think of better times, and not just because it was his welcome back night in Boston.

Coming into this one, it was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions, and the teams stuck to their scripts. The Boston Bruins remain red-hot with a 4-1 win, while the Montreal Canadiens are mired in mediocrity .. or worse?

When you’re as disappointing as the Canadiens have been, plenty of things are going wrong. It was a weak start even with a 1-0 lead and 1-1 first period in mind, and it obviously didn’t get any better.

Nights like these have to sting for Julien, a coach known for his sophisticated systems and eye for defensive detail.

There are questions about Max Pacioretty possibly being trade bait. People wonder if Jonathan Drouin or Alex Galchenyuk fit as centers, or if neither work that way. Yet, these performances make you realize that as exasperated as management must be, they may also appreciate more specific distractions.

Because, frankly, this was a team … non-effort.

Then again, the Bruins are a red-hot squad, so maybe they shine an especially harsh light on the Habs’ haplessness?

Boston generated a 32-22 shots on goal advantage in this one, with multiple contributors stepping up. Big guns came through (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were among the goal scorers, Patrice Bergeron collected two assists), while David Backes and others added to the fun.

It was the kind of effort Julien would have been very happy with, if it didn’t come at his expense.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

Getty
Leave a comment

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Derek GrantRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: John Gibson