Knock it off with all the penalties. That’s the message Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is sending his players as they prepare to face the Senators in Ottawa tomorrow.
Philadelphia dropped its first game of the season Saturday, losing in overtime to Los Angeles on – you guessed it – a Kings power-play goal.
Saturday’s defeat followed a 5-4 win over Vancouver in which the Flyers took five straight minors in the third period.
“The penalties put us in a jam two games ago, and we were able to win,” Laviolette said. “There’s not a lot that I didn’t like about our game against the Kings, except the penalties.
“If you break it down, if you put it in the simplest of terms, it cost us a point. That’s unacceptable. We’ve got to look at it and make sure we control that.”
Tim Panaccio of csnphilly.com notes the Flyers have spent 40:10 – more than two periods – on the penalty kill through just four games.
Of course, they’ve also spent 36:36 on the power play, so it’s not like they’re getting royally screwed by the referees. These things have a way of evening out. Except if you’re the Tampa Bay Lightning (39:17 shorthanded, 28:58 on the PP).
Regardless, Danny Briere knows the Flyers have to stop the parade of penalties, if only to maintain some semblance of rhythm.
“It takes away the flow of the game and it takes ice time away from a lot of players, too,’ Briere said. “When you’re sitting there, it’s tough to get back into the game. It disrupts the bench more than anything.”
Briere already has four penalties himself. But maybe some of them were coincidental minors for roughing?
No, they were not.
The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.
The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.
“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”
McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.
But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.
That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.
“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”
Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.
Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight
Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.
Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”
The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.
Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.
But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.
“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.
“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”