There’s no doubt that Nathan MacKinnon will face some scrutiny next season. It comes with being the No. 1 pick of any draft.
Still, the Colorado Avalanche present a relatively cozy situation for a player who won’t turn 18 until Sept. 1.
New head coach Patrick Roy announced that MacKinnon will probably begin the 2013-14 season as a third-line center with Steve Downie and Tyler McGinn. That represents a nice compromise between keeping his workload reasonable and giving him an opportunity to succeed (both Downie and McGinn boast some genuine talent, plus they’re entering contract years).
There’s plenty of talent to go around if Colorado opts to move him higher in the lineup or jumble the combinations, too.
He’s also joining a roster full of guys who can relate to his situation, as Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog aren’t far removed from rookie campaigns themselves.
Earlier this month, Duchene told the Metro News that MacKinnon’s success is likely a matter of when, not if.
“There’s no question he’ll be a superstar, the timeline has yet to be determined,” Duchene said. “But he’s still a little raw, like any 17-year-old would be.”
Roy raved about his speed and emphasized that MacKinnon merely needs to “have fun” during his first season in the NHL, so the organization seems willing to allow their potential star of the future to mature.
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Henrik Sedin has become the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.
Sedin, the Canucks captain, hit the milestone Friday against the Florida Panthers and his former teammate Roberto Luongo. As you might imagine, twin brother Daniel Sedin also factored into the goal.
Daniel fed Henrik with a perfect pass off the rush, and Henrik finished the play off, sliding the puck through the legs of Luongo to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It was another beauty, another example of what has made those two players so special for many years in Vancouver.
Henrik Sedin is the first player in Canucks history to reach 1,000 points. Daniel should also reach that number, although he may have to wait until next season. He entered Friday’s game with 967 career points.
Great touch of class, too, from Luongo, who quickly embraced his former teammate as Sedin skated back to the bench following the on-ice celebration.
Things got feisty between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators on Friday.
It started in the second period after P.K. Subban took an elbow from Matt Hendricks along the end boards. Hendricks was immediately grabbed by Anthony Bitetto. Nothing really materialized from that, however the main event broke out between Milan Lucic and Nashville newcomer Cody McLeod.
Lucic landed some pretty heavy punches before the two players fell to the ice.
Cam Ward had enough.
The Carolina Hurricanes goalie seemed particularly ticked off with Patric Hornqvist on Friday, twice taking out his frustrations in front of the net on the Pittsburgh Penguins forward.
Earlier in the game, Ward delivered a slash to the back of Hornqvist’s leg. In the third period, with the Hurricanes down five goals — that should give you an indication of what kind of night this was for Carolina — Ward snapped, delivering a punch with the blocker to Hornqvist after he slid into the Hurricanes puck stopper a split second after Evgeni Malkin jammed the puck in for a goal.
The final score? A 7-1 disaster of a loss to the Penguins, highlighted by Pittsburgh’s second-period offensive outburst. Ward played the entire game, allowing seven goals on 41 shots.
Carolina’s night also included star forward Jeff Skinner getting benched for the third period, after he took a pair of minor penalties — embellishment and unsportsmanlike conduct — in the second period.
“That’s pretty embarrassing. You don’t want to suffer a loss like that, especially in your home building,” Skinner told reporters.
The Hurricanes entered this game with a chance to jump into a wild card spot in the East.
Last week, the Hurricanes won four in a row, including a victory over Columbus, and continued their steady rise into the playoff hunt in the East. This week? It’s included losses to the Blue Jackets and Penguins.
The Hurricanes won’t have much time to think about this one. They travel to Columbus for a game Saturday evening.
The Boston Bruins have now lost three in a row, a losing streak that coincides with reports circulating that head coach Claude Julien’s job security is in jeopardy.
The bad news just keeps piling up for the Bruins: They’ve been shut out twice this week, as scoring continues to be an issue in Boston. They’re 22nd in the league in that category.
On Friday, the Bruins had their chances and once again held the edge in puck possession against the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing the game with 19 more shot attempts then the visitors, per hockeystats.ca.
But they couldn’t beat Scott Darling, who made 30 saves, and the real dagger came late in the third period when Marian Hossa scored off the rush with just over one minute remaining in regulation. Boston couldn’t even salvage a point out of this contest, losing 1-0.
The Bruins were all over the Blackhawks in the first period. They held a wide edge in shots on goal, but the Blackhawks were able to escape on the strength of some solid goaltending. They just hung around, and were able to break through in the third period.
The Bruins are still in a playoff position in the Atlantic Division. They are the top puck possession team in the league (although they have the second lowest shooting percentage at five-on-five) and Julien has had plenty of success behind that bench, helping guide the organization to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and a run to the Final in the lockout shortened campaign.
It would seem unfair to pin this roster’s shortcomings on the coach, especially given the offseason plans initially set out by Bruins management.
Though this loss likely puts Claude Julien Watch on high alert.