Canes’ first win shines spotlight on Flyers’ woes


The score was just 2-1, but the Carolina Hurricanes’ first win of 2013-14 really digs the knife into the Philadelphia Flyers, who are still searching for their first win of the season after three frustrating games.

Carolina dominated much of the play, out-shooting Philly 34-18 (including 17-5 in the first period and 7-3 in the final frame despite Carolina holding that 2-1 lead).

Different goaltending pictures

It marks Anton Khudobin’s debut as Carolina’s sneaky-good backup after serving that part for the Boston Bruins.

In times like these, it’s basically a reflex to blame the goalie in Philly; can they really do that after Steve Mason stopped 32 out of 34 shots, though?

One might have seen some symbolism in Nicklas Grossmann’s third-period cross-checking penalty, as the blueliner sent Patrick Dwyer sprawling dangerously into his own goalie.

Few bright spots for Philly

Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo collected matching -2 ratings on Sunday, so if you want a quick group to blame, that might be a start.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Flyers’ problems are broad enough that the more useful activity might be finding the strong points.

  • Star center Claude Giroux hasn’t scored a point yet. The same can be said of Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and others.
  • To hammer the point home, the Flyers have only scored three goals in three games.
  • Philly scored its first even-strength goal of 2013-14 today. Other than that, they’ve only scored on the man advantage, going 2-for-14 so far. Special teams isn’t that much of strength, however, as they’ve allowed more power-play goals (three on 17 penalty kills) than they’ve scored.
  • Their shot totals have dropped from 32 to 23 to 18.

So … yeah, basically everything is going poorly.

Axe to fall?

The inevitable question, then, is how long is the leash for head coach Peter Laviolette and GM Paul Holmgren?

Both front office members have received multiple votes of confidence, yet there’s no denying that the Flyers organization has a tendency to make bold, reactive moves instead of staying the course. (“Hey, we gave Ilya Bryzgalov two whole seasons!”)

Fair or not, it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s a knee-jerk reaction coming soon. While we wait, feel free to play “When will the Flyers win their first game?” game by looking at the next 10 contests in their schedule:

Tuesday: vs. Florida
Friday: vs. Phoenix
Saturday: at Detroit
Oct. 15: vs. Vancouver
Oct. 17: vs. Pittsburgh
Oct. 24: vs. NY Rangers
Oct. 26: at NY Islanders
Oct. 29: vs. Anaheim
Nov. 1: vs. Washington
Nov. 2: at New Jersey

As you can see, the Flyers have a week between home games against the Penguins and Rangers, so … they might want to start winning by then. Just throwing it out there.

Coyotes GM ‘called right away’ on Hamonic

Don Maloney
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You can add Arizona to the list of teams that tried to get in on the Travis Hamonic sweepstakes.

“[He’s] a talented player,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said, per the Arizona Republic. “We certainly called right away, but we do not have a good fit for them right now.

“That’s the bottom line. They’re looking for a ready-made complement player.”

Hamonic, who requested a trade out of New York, is garnering plenty of interest across the league. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported five clubs — Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado and Minnesota — were in the mix, with Sportsnet floating potential trade chips like the Jets’ Jacob Trouba, and the Flames’ T.J. Brodie.

It’s unsurprising the Coyotes didn’t have a fit for Isles GM Garth Snow.

It’s hard to imagine — nearly impossible, really — to think Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be on the move, and the rest of the Arizona defense is comprised of unheralded youngsters (Michael Stone, Connor Murphy) or grizzled vets (Nicklas Grossmann, Zbynek Michalek).

But Maloney’s remarks are still noteworthy, because he more we hear about the Hamonic situation, the clearer the asking price gets.

Related: Hamonic willing to finish season with Isles

Star struck: Sens chase Niemi after three goals on nine shots (Update: And now he’s back)

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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Bet Antti Niemi misses playing Buffalo.

Niemi, who stopped 46 of 47 shots in back-to-back wins over the Sabres last week, was hooked during Tuesday’s game against the Senators after allowing three goals on nine shots.

In Niemi’s defense, tonight’s goals weren’t exactly his fault.

John Klingberg coughed up the puck badly on Bobby Ryan‘s opening tally…

And on Ottawa’s second goal, Jyrki Jokipakka lost a board battle moments before Milan Michalek snapped one home:

The Sens’ third marker also came on a turnover.

Update: Well, this is quite the night for Dallas netminders. Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi, allowed a goal, then got hurt in this collision with Klingberg, which forced him from the game and Niemi back into action.

Foley aware of Seattle reports, but says Vegas is ‘proceeding as if we will play in 2017’

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
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Bill Foley, the man behind Las Vegas’ prospective NHL expansion team, says he knows about reports claiming the league is keeping an eye on a proposed Seattle arena.

He also says he isn’t going to worry about things out of his control.

“I’m aware of what’s going on (in Seattle) but in my communication with the league, our situation isn’t dependent on third parties,” Foley said Tuesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We believe we’re in good shape and we’re proceeding as if we will play in 2017.”

Over the weekend, a Seattle Times piece suggested the NHL had yet to award Vegas or Quebec City an expansion franchise because the league is “avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Han­sen’s proposed Sodo District arena.”

The piece also suggested Seattle could be granted an expansion club for the 2018-19 campaign.


That vote, on granting Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South for his arena, is expected by January. No one knows how it will go, only that the lead-up should be politically charged and fiercely contested.

But passing it — future legal appeals notwithstanding — paves the way for Hansen to obtain his Master Use Permit and have his arena “shovel ready” should he choose to build.

And that means, once a vote passes, it’s entirely possible the NHL could conditionally award Seattle an expansion team.

To his credit, Foley remains solely focused on his Vegas bid — not what potential rival bids could bring to the table. And while he confirmed he has yet to be invited to the Dec. 7 NHL Board of Governor’s meeting in Pebble Beach, he re-iterated his only objective is to strengthen Sin City’s case for a hockey team.

“I’m focused on trying to find a place to build our practice facility,” he said. “I’m focused on the new arena and our fans who’ve put down deposits on season tickets.”

Report: Sabres’ Lehner (ankle) suffered minor setback in recovery

Robin Lehner
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Sabres fans hoping Robin Lehner would return early from his high ankle sprain received some tough news on Tuesday — per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Lehner suffered a “little setback” in his recovery.

Lehner was hurt in Buffalo’s opening game of the year and, originally, slated to miss 6-10 weeks. Six weeks have now passed, but optimism he’d be able to return in the earlier part of the timeframe has been dashed — LeBrun says Lehner’s projected return is now for mid-to-late December.

(So, closer to the 10-week estimate.)

While it’s not great news for the Sabres, it’s a positive development for the club’s other Swedish netminder, Linus Ullmark.

Recalled from AHL Rochester shortly after Lehner got hurt, Ullmark is on a really nice run in November — just check his last five games played:


The last Lehner update from the Sabres came in early November, when head coach Dan Bylsma told the News his goalie was “doing really well,” but “not close yet to getting back on the ice.”