Kings-Devils Stanley Cup finals matchup: Defense

With the Devils and Kings set to begin the 2012 Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday at the Prudential Center, PHT will spend today and tomorrow breaking down the positional matchups.

New Jersey Devils

Time on ice: Marek Zidlicky (24:08), Bryce Salvador (22:36), Andy Greene (22:29), Mark Fayne (20:39), Anton Volchenkov (15:08), Peter Harrold (14:29).

Overview: Peter DeBoer distributes his minutes fairly evenly through the top four, though Zidlicky and newfound scoring sensation Bryce Salvador saw a slight bump in TOI during the Eastern Conference finals. Adam Larsson is back to being a healthy scratch after a one-game cameo against the Rangers — replaced by Harrold — while 33-year-old veteran Henrik Tallinder has been medically cleared (blood clots) to play. Only problem is he hasn’t seen game action since Jan. 19.

X-Factor: Size. The Devils blueline isn’t big with the likes of Zidlicky (5-foot-11, 188 pounds), Greene (5-11, 190) and Harrold (6-0, 190) and much of the Kings’ puck possession game relies on the big bodies of Dustin Penner (6-4, 242), Dwight King (6-3, 234), Anze Kopitar (6-3, 235) and Jordan Nolan (6-3, 227). As such, don’t be surprised if Volchenkov gets a bump in minutes, if only to deal with clearing the front of Martin Brodeur’s goal.

Los Angeles Kings

Time on ice: Drew Doughty (25:52), Willie Mitchell (25:27), Rob Scuderi (21:11), Slava Voynov (18:48), Matt Greene (16:09), Alec Martinez (14:40).

Overview: Darryl Sutter puts a lot on the plates of Doughty and Mitchell, the latter emerging as a more all-around defenseman this season (scored a career-high five goals, tied a career-high 23 points). The rest of the blueliners fit specific molds — Scuderi and Greene are shutdown/penalty kill guys, Voynov and Martinez are more offensively-inclined puck movers (that man the power play.)

X-Factor: That pesky man advantage. L.A.’s struggles on the PP are well documented and a big reason for that is a lack of production from the blueline — the Kings have just one power play goal from their defense (Mitchell) and four points overall. Considering Doughty is an absolute magician at walking the blueline and Mitchell is very good at getting point shots on goal, the Kings shouldn’t be this bad on the power play.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

Getty
Leave a comment

The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

Getty
Leave a comment

Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

Getty
7 Comments

Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

Getty
Leave a comment

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.