Mason Raymond

Raymond to play first game since breaking back in Cup final


Mason Raymond will make his season debut tonight in Vancouver when the Canucks host Nashville. The 26-year-old winger knows he’s lucky for the opportunity after breaking his back during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.

“I’ve come a long ways,” Raymond told reporters yesterday. “You go from lying in bed for a week, barely moving, to being in a brace for a few months. It’s been a long process. I’m blessed to be able to be back here, playing the game I love. You don’t really realize, I think, what you use every day — the use of your hands, your legs, until something like that happens maybe.”

The injury occurred when Raymond was ridden into the boards by Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. No penalty was called on the play, a decision that still bothers some Canucks fans, particularly given the four-game suspension handed to Aaron Rome during the series.

Of real concern, however, was Raymond’s health.

“I remember him going down and initially I thought he hit his head,” assistant coach Rick Bowness said. “Then he comes off the ice and you talk to the doctors and trainers and realize it’s a lower-back injury. That’s not good. Then they tell you the extent of it and it’s: ‘Wow. Is that career-threatening?’ It possibly could be. Fortunately, it wasn’t.

“People don’t know what he went through mentally and emotionally and what he had to go through physically just to get back, just to give himself an opportunity to play again. People don’t see what he goes through every day.”

Raymond is expected to skate on Vancouver’s third line with Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.