PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Dallas Stars forward Derek Roy returned from a groin injury on Feb. 4, but he only recently told coach Glen Gulutzan that he’s finally feeling 100% healthy. It’s probably not coincidental that Roy has five points in his last three games. (Dallas Morning News)
Ryan O’Reilly beat himself up for accidentally scoring on his own net in his first game with the Colorado Avalanche since holding out as a restricted free agent. However, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco wasn’t particularly harsh in his assessment of O’Reilly’s play. (Denver Post)
Patrick Kane double-shifted in Chicago’s 2-1 shootout victory over Detroit on Sunday and consequently led all Blackhawks forwards with 23:29 minutes on the ice, but Kane never says no to more playing time. (Chicago Tribune)
40-year-old goaltender Martin Brodeur will miss at least two more games due to his sore back. He hasn’t played for the New Jersey Devils since Feb. 21. (New Jersey Online)
If the Calgary Flames decide to put Jarome Iginla on the market, will he end up playing with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh? (Ottawa Sun)
The Tampa Bay Lightning have called up 21-year-old forward Ondrej Palat from the minors on Sunday. He was taken with the 208th pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but has been excelling in the AHL and might make his NHL debut on Monday. (Lightning.nhl.com)
Legendary coach Scotty Bowman thinks teams should spend time practicing shootouts. Devils coach Pete DeBoer might follow his advice, given New Jersey’s 0-3 record in shootouts this season. (New Jersey Online)
Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall missed Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild due to a strain in his leg. It would have been his first contest against the Wild since his hit on Cal Clutterbuck put the Wild forward on the injured reserve list with a thigh contusion. Hall served a two-game suspension for kneeing. (Edmonton Sun)
The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins exchanged in a fierce and close battle on Sunday as they both sought to claim sole possession of the Northeast Division lead. If you want to check out the highlights, you can do so below:
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The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.
The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.
“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”
McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.
But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.
That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.
“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”
Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.
Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight
Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.
Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”
The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.
Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.
But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.
“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.
“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”