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Longest suspension to be handed out during the 2011-12 regular season (Over/under 8.5 games)
In other words, will any player do something worse in the eyes of the NHL than James Wisniewski did to Cal Clutterbuck in the preseason? There have been six suspensions doled out since the regular season started, none for more than five games. I also can’t help but wonder, if Wisniewski hit Clutterbuck now instead of then, would he still get eight games? Clearly Brendan Shanahan wanted to let everyone know there was a new sheriff in town when he took over, and he certainly got everyone’s attention. It’s different now. The players know he’s not messing around. I’ll take the under here, though I hate the thought of underestimating the potential for certain hockey players to do really stupid stuff. Is Trevor Gillies in the NHL anymore?
Which player will finish with more points? Teemu Selanne (-110) versus Jaromir Jagr (-110)
Selanne has 15 points in 17 games; Jagr’s got 17 in 17. This should be a close race, but I’ll take Selanne. The Ducks are desperate for scoring and even more desperate for wins. They can’t afford to rest anyone who can put the puck in the net, even if he’s 41. On the other hand, I can see the Flyers being extra careful with Jagr, 39, as the 82-game season progresses. Remember, the KHL only plays a 56-game schedule, plus the playoffs. The most games Jagr’s played in the last three years is 64. The Flyers will want him fresh for April, and since they already score lots of goals, dialing back his ice-time shouldn’t be a problem.
Odds the Minnesota Wild make the playoffs (+175)
Heading into tonight’s action, Minnesota (10-5-3) was four points clear of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s just hard to believe it can stay that way. Let’s break it down. Here are the teams I’m fairly confident will make the playoffs in the West: Chicago, Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver. After those four, it’d be unfair to count out Nashville and Phoenix considering what they’ve done the past few seasons. Tough to picture Los Angeles failing to qualify. St. Louis is a talented team that’s starting to roll with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench. That’s eight teams right there, and I haven’t even mentioned Dallas, though the Stars haven’t looked very good lately. Even at those odds, I’ll have to pass on the Wild.
This summer looks like it could be one of changes for the Detroit Red Wings, even beyond the most obvious storyline of Pavel Datsyuk‘s future.
One area where the Red Wings would like to make some tweaks is in net, namely in trading Jimmy Howard. The Detroit Free-Press points out that GM Ken Holland admitted that moving the former franchise netminder “might be good for the organization.”
It’s reasonable to wonder what kind of market there will be for Howard, whose deal ($5.29 million cap hit through 2018-19) looks pretty tough to stomach on paper.
Maybe it’s best to consider the Red Wings’ options if Howard starts the 2016-17 season off on a strong note, or something of that nature. Perhaps an expansion draft could “solve” that problem if Detroit cannot find any takers?
The Red Wings remain forward-thinking and patient, which likely explains why the Free-Press focuses on their confidence with prospect Jared Coreau.
“In the big scheme of things, he’ll play in Grand Rapids for another year, but now we know he can play a lot of minutes if needed,” Goalie coach Jeff Salajko said. “Jimmy Howard played four years in the minors. We’re not rushing Jared, but he is going to be an NHL goalie, there is no doubt in my mind about that.”
In other words, a pairing of Petr Mrazek and Coreau wouldn’t just be a cost-effective duo … it might just be the Red Wings’ ideal scenario in the not-too-distant future.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win