People will argue the importance of a preseason game. Some say it’s important to win, some think it’s important for prospect development, and others will say that it’s all about developing chemistry. No matter which side of the debate you find yourself arguing: it’s better to win 6-0 than it is to lose by the same score.
In his first game against the Avalanche since he broke his ankle last March, Anze Kopitar netted a preseason hat trick while leading the Kings’ six goal explosion. He scored a pair of goals against new Avalanche netminder Semyon Varlamov in the second period before capping his night (and the Kings scoring) halfway through the third period. The victory lifted the Kings preseason record to 2-1-2, while the loss dropped the Avs to 1-3-0 this preseason.
By all measures, the game was an abject disaster for the Avalanche. They couldn’t get a puck past Jonathan Quick in 27 shots and Varlamov looked shaky in giving up the six spot—and still looking for his first win in an Avs jersey. For a team that looks like it could struggle this season, Varlamov will be asked to steal his fair share of games if the Avalanche want to be competitive this season. Hopefully for fans in Colorado, he’s getting these performances out of his system before the regular season starts.
Likewise, it’ll be imperative for Kopitar to thrive if the Kings want to succeed this season. The Slovenian playmaker was asked if he was thinking about last year’s injury when he took the ice against the same team:
“No. I was probably thinking about it a little more in the last game at Staples (Center), because it happened there. That was the only one. No, definitely not. It was a non-factor. I’m past that, obviously. I’ve got to look forward. What happened, happened, and I’m all healed up now and that’s the most important thing.’’
Last season, Kopitar scored 25 goals and 73 points in 75 regular season games. He’ll be asked to produce at the same point-per-game pace if the Kings want to take the next step from playoff contender to Stanley Cup contender. Wednesday night showed that he’s having no issues with his hands as he continues to recover from last year’s gruesome injury.
The Avalanche will get a chance to redeem themselves in a rematch on Saturday night in Las Vegas. They might want to put a body on that Kopitar guy.
The San Jose Sharks added experienced assistant Dave Barr to Peter DeBoer’s coaching staff on Wednesday.
The team noted that Barr will serves as the Sharks’ “eye-in-the-sky” during the 2017-18 season.
DeBoer has experience with Barr, as he served as an assistant during the New Jersey Devils’ run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Barr was also part of that mess with the Florida Panthers last season.
Beyond that, Barr is quite experienced, as you can see from the team’s summary of his recent coaching travels:
Barr has spent the past nine seasons coaching in various capacities in the NHL, serving most recently as an associate coach of the Florida Panthers during the 2016-17 season. Prior to his time in Florida, Barr served as an NHL assistant coach for eight seasons, with stops in Buffalo (2015-16), New Jersey (2011-15), Minnesota (2009-11) and Colorado (2008-09). Barr was a member of Peter DeBoer’s coaching staff during his four-year tenure with New Jersey, helping the team reach the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
The 56-year-old Barr spent four seasons as the head coach and general manager of the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) from 2004-08, where he was named the Matt Leyden Trophy winner as the OHL’s Coach of the Year in 2005-06. In addition, he was selected to coach Canada’s National Summer Under-18 Team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2007.
John MacLean will, indeed, be an assistant coach on Rick Tocchet’s staff in Arizona, as reported yesterday.
So too will Scott Allen.
“We are very pleased to have John and Scott join the Coyotes organization,” said Coyotes GM John Chayka in a release. “Both individuals bring a wealth of hockey knowledge and coaching experience to our team and we are confident that they will be great additions to Head Coach Rick Tocchet’s staff.”
MacLean — who had a short, unsuccessful stint as head coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2010 — was last behind an NHL bench as an assistant on Kirk Muller’s staff in Carolina from 2011-14.
Allen spent last season as an assistant in Florida, before being let go to make way for Bob Boughner’s new staff.
The Coyotes also announced Mike Van Ryn as the new head coach of their AHL affiliate in Tucson. Van Ryn will be assisted by John Slaney and Steve Potvin.
Mark Lamb, last year’s head coach in Tucson, and Mark Hardy, Lamb’s assistant, will not be back.
Lamb was only hired a year ago; however, he got the job thanks in part to a previous working relationship with Dave Tippett. So it’s no surprise to hear Lamb won’t be back — especially after the Roadrunners missed the playoffs.
Related: John MacLean could reportedly join Tocchet’s coaching staff in Arizona
Last summer, when Nick Holden was traded from Colorado to the Rangers, Patrick Roy called Alain Vigneault to say, “You just got one of my better defensemen.”
Now it seems that Holden may be on the trading block again.
From the New York Post, in the wake of Mika Zibanejad‘s contract extension:
The Blueshirts are projected to start the season with just $445,556 of cap space if they carry eight defensemen (including Alexei Bereglazov) and 14 forwards (including Andersson and Boo Nieves with Jesper Fast on IR). The Rangers are expected to attempt to deal defenseman Nick Holden ($1.65 million) in order to bulk up in the middle, if possible.
Holden played 80 games for the Rangers last season, scoring 11 goals with 23 assists. The 30-year-old is signed for one more year before he can become an unrestricted free agent.
If Holden is traded, the Rangers could go into next season with a top four of Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith and Brady Skjei. That would leave Marc Staal, Bereglazov, Anthony DeAngelo, and perhaps even Neal Pionk to fight for minutes on the bottom pairing.
What’s unclear is Holden’s value on the trade market. After all, the Rangers only gave up a fourth-round draft pick to get him from Colorado. Has his value risen significantly since?
Johnny Gaudreau made headlines last week when he went on Philadelphia radio and said it would be “sweet” to play for the Flyers one day.
Gaudreau — a South Jersey native who grew up cheering for the Flyers, but currently stars for the Calgary Flames — has now been offered a chance to clarify a few things about that interview.
“I think if you ask any player in the NHL if they’d like to play in their hometown at some point they’d all say it would be pretty sweet,” Gaudreau told the Courier-Post in a Q&A. “You’ve got friends, you’ve got family, you’ve got kids you went to school with, you’ve got teachers, you name it. You’ve got people that will be supporting you. The people support me down here, like it’s crazy down here. I’m just really fortunate they follow me up in Calgary.
“I love Calgary, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great city and they’re so passionate about our team. It’s a real hockey city. I really enjoy it up there, don’t get me wrong, but I think if you ask any player if he wants to play in his hometown they’d say it would be pretty cool to do that.
“I’ve still got five more years on my contract and who knows…if we’re playing well up here in Calgary I could end up staying another four or five years there because I love the city so much. It’s tough to have all those articles come out when it’s something so small, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
It’s certainly possible that Gaudreau opts to explore unrestricted free agency when his contract expires. But he doesn’t have that option until 2022.
For now, Gaudreau’s excited about the next few years in Calgary, where the Flames are trending the right way, possibly soon into legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
Related: Stability, Stanley Cup aspirations ‘a breath of fresh air’ for Mike Smith