Claude Noel

It’s the media’s fault Claude Noel got mad at Evander Kane


It’s been an unsettling last few days for the Winnipeg Jets. On Tuesday, head coach Claude Noel ripped Evander Kane for his lackluster play in a 5-3 loss to Boston. On Thursday, a visibly dejected Kane responded to the criticism, noting that he and his coach hadn’t spoken since the game.

This prompted some head-scratching. Why did Noel go after Kane — Winnipeg’s leading goalscorer and arguably best player this season — in such an aggressive and public manner?

Noel’s response was an interesting one. He blamed the media for provoking him.

“You guys are very good at provoking emotions,” Noel explained. “That’s what you do. And when you get caught, you pay the price. So it’s something that I’ll be ready for next time.

“I would sooner deal with the players face to face which is where I do it. The media isn’t the forum for me to do it…the media isn’t the forum for me to deal with players that’s just not where it gets done. That’s not a motivating place.”

It’s a nice theory, but ultimately flawed. Noel could’ve used media provocation as an excuse if this was the first time he’d publicly blasted his team, but this ain’t exactly a first-time thing (see here and here). If anything, Noel’s played the public lambasting card too early and too often; his infamous “Why are you, an NHL player, playing like an American league player?” quote came just three games into the season.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. The Jets have been a wildly inconsistent bunch, but are still in the thick of the playoff race, thanks in large part to their outstanding home record. Noel’s abrasive style has surely rubbed some players the wrong way and with Winnipeg legend Randy Carlyle still looking for work, one wonders if Noel’s next public shaming might be his last.

Larkin will start season with Red Wings

Dylan Larkin
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Dylan Larkin — despite being just 19 years old — will begin the season on the Detroit Red Wings, a team not normally accustomed to having teenagers in the lineup.

Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the news this morning. Larkin could apparently start on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Larkin, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had three goals and one assist in five preseason games. A natural center, he’s shown the potential to one day step into the kind of “big-time” role that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have played for so long in Detroit.

“You have to give our scouts credit,” former coach Mike Babcock told ESPN in May. “We got a great pick where we picked. How high end is he? How soon?”

Related: Coaching change ‘one of the reasons’ Larkin signed with Wings

Preseason stats: Five goalies with good numbers, five goalies with…not

Anders Nilsson
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Yeah, yeah, it’s a small sample size and it’s just the preseason, but here are some goaltending stats anyway.

Five goalies with good numbers

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton — zero goals on 53 shots. His solid play a likely factor in the decision to waive Ben Scrivens, who actually wasn’t that bad in the preseason (4 goals on 56 shots).

Martin Jones, San Jose — three goals on 100 shots. The Sharks are rolling the dice on a couple of cheap goalies. Jones and Alex Stalock have a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million.

Jacob Markstom, Vancouver — three goals on 79 shots. Can he finally get over the NHL hump? If so, he could make it a real competition with Ryan Miller.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus — five goals on 122 shots. The Blue Jackets have scored a ton of goals in the preseason, but there remain questions about their blue line. Bobrovsky has the ability to make a so-so defense look good.

Anton Khudobin, Anaheim — two goals on 67 shots. A good early sign for the Ducks, who have Frederik Andersen in the starting role and want to give young John Gibson more time to develop in the AHL.

Five goalies with bad numbers

Thomas Greiss, Islanders — 14 goals on 94 shots. Has to be a bit of concern in Brooklyn. The Isles got below-average backup play last season from Chad Johnson. They wanted to fix that with the Greiss signing.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo — 11 goals on 95 shots. Tim Murray paid a hefty price to get the 24-year-old out of Ottawa. With the aforementioned Johnson in the backup role, the goaltending story is worth watching.

Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh — 11 goals on 74 shots. Granted, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray weren’t particularly sharp either. The Penguins conceded 28 goals in eight games.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas — 15 goals on 84 shots. For a Stars team that desperately needs better goaltending, that has to be worrying. Antti Niemi wasn’t a whole lot better either, allowing eight goals on 65 shots. Fair question to ask — how many of all those goals were attributable to poor defensive play?

Pekka Rinne, Nashville — 12 goals on 91 shots. Has earned the benefit of the doubt, but thought we’d point it out anyway.