Waiver madness has struck and we see two moves you could call “expected” go through.
Montreal claimed Blair Betts from the Philadelphia Flyers. For Montreal it was a no-brainer move as they were in need of a fourth line center to win face-offs and play strong defensive hockey. They’ll get that with Betts as he won just over 50% of his draws last season. Betts also gives Montreal a little bit of size at forward being 6’3″. In case you hadn’t heard, the Habs have a few small-sized forwards.
Philadelphia losing Betts makes for an interesting turn of events there as it likely means that Maxime Talbot will now slot in as the fourth line center. Given that Talbot is making $1.75 million against the cap for the next five years, they’d better hope he becomes a superstar shutdown guy up the middle. It also means that Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn (once he’s recalled from the AHL) will do battle on the third line for bragging rights there. Expect Schenn to win that battle.
The least surprising non-move of the day concerns Sean Avery. Avery cleared waivers and the Rangers are now free to send him to the AHL if need be. It’s also possible that Avery could be brought through on re-entry waivers to see if a team will take him at a discounted price.
With Avery being paid by both the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers, if he were to be claimed on re-entry waivers that team would be getting him at a double discount only having to pay 25% of his contract. The Stars still pay half of what Avery is owed while the Rangers would pay half of what he was owed. Having to pay Avery only 25% of what he’s worth might make him attractive to another team.
Then again, after what Rangers coach John Tortorella had to say about Avery yesterday, you wonder if anyone will want him even at that big of a discount. At the very least, the Dallas Stars might like to see another team pick him up just to save themselves some trouble in dealing with the salary cap. With the buzz going on around the league, the chances we’ll see Avery play again in the NHL this season are slim.
The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.
Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.
The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.
Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:
Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:
Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.
Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.
That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.
Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:
When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”
“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.
For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.
Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.
That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.
While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.
If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.
Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.
It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.
Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.
Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.
First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.
Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.
There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.
Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.
Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”
In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.
The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.
One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.