The golden opportunity to skate alongside Evgeni Malkin and James Neal — who combined for 90 goals and 190 points last season — will be given to a number of Pittsburgh forwards, according to head coach Dan Bylsma.
“That spot with Malkin and James is going to be open and situational,” Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But it‘s going to be open to somebody claiming that spot and making it permanent, too.”
With Malkin entrenched at center and Neal at right wing last year, third wheel duties often fell to Chris Kunitz, who responded with a career-high 26 goals.
That said, Bylsma wants Kunitz on a line with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis — the trio were dynamite together in 2010-11 — and a different Penguin to play with Malkin and Neal.
So…who are the candidates?
Bylsma’s narrowed the field to Tyler Kennedy, Tanner Glass and Matt Cooke — but also didn’t rule out Brandon Sutter, saying he “wouldn’t anchor” Sutter into the No. 3 center spot behind Crosby and Malkin.
If you’re taking bets (and if you are, seek help), the smart money’s on Kennedy to get the gig. He’s a right-handed shot and scored 21 goals two years ago, so he’s got enough offensive prowess to at least hang with the big guns.
Oh, and if you’re gunning for a longshot, do consider what Bylsma had to say about Glass:
Glass, a left winger signed from Winnipeg last summer, has scored just 13 NHL goals. Bylsma said he would play “if we‘re winning.”
Some rough stuff in Saturday’s matinee between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.
Wayne Simmonds was thrown out of the game after he punched Ryan McDonagh.
As you can see from the video at the top of the page, McDonagh nails Simmonds with a cross-check to the head before the Flyers forward went after him.
McDonagh left the game with a possible concussion.
Here’s how the referees handed out the penalties:
Simmonds received a five-minute major and was tossed from the game while McDonagh received two separate two-minute penalties.
The Rangers were unable to score on the ensuing power play, and that’s when more weird stuff happened.
Here’s how the New York Daily News described the moments after the penalty expired:
The Rangers were already upset with Simmonds’ sucker punch, but then Alain Vigneault lost his mind all over again at the end of the Rangers’ unsuccessful power play: The Flyers had forgotten to put a player in the penalty box, with Simmonds having been sent off.
Illegally, during the flow of play, forward Jake Voracek just jumped off Philly’s bench as the power play expired and was sprung on a breakaway. Lundqvist made the save but the Rangers were flabbergasted at the officials’ lack of control or apparent knowledge of the rule book, which would require the Flyers in that situation to wait until a whistle to put their fifth man back on the ice.
By the way, the referees for this game are Dave Lewis and Kelly Sutherland.
You don’t see this very often.
The New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals added an interesting twist to the ceremonial faceoff prior to Saturday’s game.
Former Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur dropped the puck, but instead of the captains taking the draw, it was the two starting goaltenders-Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider.
You can watch the highlights from the ceremony by clicking the video at the top of the page.
Before the ceremony, Brodeur had some kind words for Holtby.
“He reminds me of me a lot,” Brodeur said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “Not the way he plays, but the way he puts himself out there.
“He’s not scared. He just wants to play. I’m sure he’s playing through tons of injuries. He’s a warrior out there. I don’t know him and I don’t know if he does or not, but he’s having a great year. Not just this year; last year he was coming on and he’s going to be good for a long time for them.”
The Devils will be retiring Brodeur’s number 30 prior to Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
The 43-year-old won 688 games and posted 124 shutouts as a member of the Devils between 1991 and 2014.
He also won three Stanley Cups and four Vezina Trophies in his career.
Things haven’t been going well with Minnesota’s hockey team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean changes are coming via firings or trades.
On Saturday, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher reiterated his confidence in his team and his coaching staff going forward.
The Wild have won just three of 15 games since Jan. 1 and they’re currently riding a four-game losing streak.
The Wild have been through mid-season slumps before.
Last year, Yeo lost it during a team practice and that seemed to spark his team, as they were able to turn things around and make it to the postseason.
Will a similar tactic work, again? Probably not.
As PHT pointed out earlier this week, this slump might not be like the previous ones.
The Wild are just one point behind Nashville (with a game in a hand) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but will their top guns be able to get them out of this funk?
The numbers aren’t pretty:
—Zach Parise has no points in his last four games and just one goal in his last nine contests.
—Thomas Vanek hasn’t scored in eight games. He has just one assist during that span.
—Mikko Koivu has four assists in 15 games since the new year began.
—Mikael Granlund has two assists since Jan. 7 and he has a a minus-11 rating since then.
—Jason Zucker has one assist in 11 games. He hasn’t scored since Jan. 7.
How will Yeo get his team’s attention this time around?
Here’s your answer:
Marian Hossa isn’t a fan of the coach’s challenge.
The veteran winger ripped the NHL’s new challenge system after he had a goal called back in Thursday’s game against Arizona.
–To watch the overturned goal, click here.
“I thought that was [a] joke,” Hossa said, per the Sun-Times. “I tried to battle in front of the net and I don’t have any intention to touch the goalie, just try to battle through two guys and put the puck in the net. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the playoffs, if there’s going to be calls after calls after calls. But I don’t think it’s good for the league.”
The goal was called back because as Hossa was battling in front, he got tangled up with goaltender Louis Domingue‘s stick.
It’s safe to say that Joel Quenneville wasn’t pleased with the decision:
One of the main criticisms of the challenge system is that the review is conducted on a small tablet by the referees on the ice instead of someone in a war room in Toronto or New York.
Every time a goal is disallowed, the NHL writes a blog explaining why the decision was made.
Here’s what they said about the call on Hossa:
The Referee determined that Hossa interfered with Domingue before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”
Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Chicago Blackhawks.
Do you think the referee got the call right?