Last season, the Carolina Hurricanes had a phenomenal breakout rookie season from 18 year-old Jeff Skinner. Skinner went from the 2010 NHL Draft to being the Calder Trophy winner at the end of the season thanks to putting up 31 goals and 32 assists finishing just behind Eric Staal on the team in points. Without Skinner, the Hurricanes could’ve been one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. Instead they were a threat to make the playoffs, just missing out in the end.
The Canes head into this season having Staal and Skinner being known factors, but they very well might have a new, young breakout candidate in their midst in the form of 21 year-old Zac Dalpe. Dalpe is entering his second NHL season and while he got a small taste of the action last year playing in 15 games, he’s opening a lot of eyes in training camp. After having an impressive season in the AHL that saw him score 23 goals and add 34 assists, he’s gunning to stick with the Hurricanes full time this year.
Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer gets Dalpe’s thoughts about getting a shot in the preseason playing alongside Eric Staal and Alexei Ponikarovsky on the first line.
“They like to play north-south and that’s my game too,” Dalpe said of Staal and Ponikarovsky. “Hopefully we’ll complement each other well and hopefully I’ll get a couple more games with them and get more comfortable.
“But you don’t want to get too comfortable and start trying to make plays that are out of your element just because you’re playing with them. Obviously I got put there for a reason so I’m just going to keep doing that I’ve been doing, finding the big guy in the slot and hopefully it all works out.”
Getting Dalpe work on that line allows Jeff Skinner to work with Tuomo Ruutu on the second line and if Dalpe can continue to show his skills off, he could help the Hurricanes forget about losing Erik Cole to free agency this summer. Without Cole around, that’s 26 goals and 52 points gone from last year that they’ll need to find a way to replace. Dalpe has been in competition with Jiri Tlusty during training camp to see who can get the bigger minutes with the big time players, but it’s been Dalpe whose seemingly taken advantage of the opportunity so far.
If Dalpe can bring the sort of game he showed in the AHL with Charlotte last season and take the lessons learned from his cup of coffee with the Hurricanes, he could be poised for a big season, especially if he sticks on a line with Staal. Ponikarovsky isn’t the scoring forward he was while with Toronto so Staal is going to need someone to help him out. Dalpe could just be that guy.
The low penalty minutes and high point totals are in, and thus we have the 2016 NHL Awards’ three finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy: Aleksander Barkov, Loui Eriksson and Anze Kopitar.
OK, the actual definition for the award is that it goes “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
Same difference, eh?
Barkov really made a breakthrough this season with the Florida Panthers, scoring 59 points versus just eight penalty minutes. He only has 34 PIM in 191 career regular season contests.
You can see Eriksson and Kopitar representing their respective countries in this post’s main image. Eriksson enjoyed his best (and maybe last?) season with the Boston Bruins while Kopitar hopes to win the 2016 Selke as the Los Angeles Kings’ defensively adept – yet apparently courteous – forward.
It’s unclear who wins this “fight,” but one would assume it wouldn’t be a dirty one.
The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Can Sidney Crosby and the Penguins even things up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals? Will the Lightning avoid dropping both games at home against the Islanders? We’ll find out on NBC.
NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Some reading to get you pumped up:
– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media(reportedly).
– Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.
– T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.
– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).
– Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Patrick Eaves won’t be able to play for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues in their upcoming Game 2.
The last time we saw Eaves, he was leaving the ice by gliding on one foot after being hit by a teammate’s shot. He needed help to the locker room and was seen on crutches according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
The bad news is that Eaves cannot go. The good news is that the Stars can replace him with a player who boasts considerable offensive skill, as Valeri Nichushkin will take Eaves’ place.
Nichushkin wasn’t very effective in five postseason games so far, failing to score a point and only managed three shots on goal.
Still, if the frenetic pace of Game 1 carries on through this series, Nichushkin could very well make an impact.
Update: the Stars have other options at forward after making recalls:
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might look a little different in Game 2 on Saturday after that blistering Game 1.
As the team down 1-0, it’s not too surprising that the Penguins boast the more significant lineup questions, although they lean toward health concerns rather than performance tweaks.
Conor Sheary was able to return during Game 1 after Tom Wilson‘s controversial knee-to-knee hit, and he appears to be in for tonight’s contest as well. Chris Kunitz isn’t quite a guarantee, as he’s currently labeled a game-time decision.
For what it’s worth, Kunitz himself believes he’ll be in. Whether he plays on Saturday or not, it sounds like Kunitz is taking extra safety measures going forward.
The Penguins stayed vague with Marc-Andre Fleury, merely claiming that he’s making “progress.”
Generally speaking, Matt Murray has been playing well for the Penguins. Of course, the scrutiny will rise if Pittsburgh loses Game 2 on Saturday.
The Capitals are also considering a tweak. CSN Mid-Atlantic reports that Barry Trotz is pondering replacing Dmitry Orlov with Taylor Chorney.
“They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”
As you may notice, Chorney isn’t the only one in wait-and-see mode heading into Game 2, which you can watch on NBC.