After watching his “frustrated” team score just four goals in three consecutive home losses, Paul MacLean has loaded up his top line.
The Ottawa head coach put leading scorers Jason Spezza and Bobby Ryan on his No. 1 unit for Tuedsday’s game in Chicago, as per NHL.com. The move reunites Spezza and Ryan — who started the year together — along with Milan Michalek, who could use a bit of a boost offensively as he’s only scored two goals in his first 11 games.
“We played together earlier in the year and I was banged up a little bit,” explained Spezza, the team’s leading scorer with 11 points. “So we’ll get another opportunity to play together and hopefully we’ll make the most of it.
“If we’re going to play together, we have to help guide the team offensively.”
Spezza, who orchestrated a players-only meeting on Monday, has been a constant point producer this season, as has Ryan (six goals, nine points). As such, there are few concerns about the two discovering chemistry — but there are worries about the Sens getting production from their other three forward lines, specifically the second.
To that end, MacLean has moved Mika Zibanejad from center to wing, and promoted him to the No. 2 unit. The 20-year-old sophomore has 1G-1A in three games since being recalled from AHL Binghamton, and will skate alongside Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris against the Blackhawks.
“Kind of the rule we have in Ottawa is if you play well, you get to play,” MacLean explained. “Since he’s come up here, he’s played well. So, if you’re playing well, we’d better get you on the ice and get you playing with as good of players as we can play you with.”
It’s been one development after another in goal for Ottawa this season, and that narrative continued on Monday.
The Sens announced that third-stringer Andrew Hammond, who’s only appeared in six games this year, will require surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip and miss the next three months of action. It’ll be a season-ending procedure.
It’s been a tumultuous season for Hammond, to say the least.
Two years removed from being the darling of Ottawa’s miraculous playoff push, Hammond was soundly beaten out for the No. 2 gig by Mike Condon, who arrived via trade from Pittsburgh early in the season. There were minutes up for grabs after No. 1 Craig Anderson took a leave while his wife went through cancer treatment, but Hammond was unable to provide consistent netminding and, as a result, Condon got a lion’s share of the playing time.
At that point, Hammond’s future with the organization seemed in doubt. There were rumblings Ottawa was trying to trade him before waiving him in November (and again in February).
Around the same time of that second waiving, it was learned the Sens had began contract extension talks with Condon.
Hammond, 29, has one year left on the three-year, $4.05 million extension signed back in ’15. He carries a $1.35M cap hit.
This morning on Buffalo radio, former Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters offered a mea culpa of sorts regarding his role in a youth hockey brawl on Saturday.
Peters admitted that he did “not do a good job this weekend communicating” with his team that fighting is “unacceptable” in youth sports.
“I can’t discuss anything in regard to the altercation,” Peters added, per the Buffalo News. “I have to move on from that.”
From the Associated Press’ story on the brawl:
Former NHL enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended indefinitely as coach of a youth hockey team pending a Buffalo police investigation into his role in an on-ice brawl.
Buffalo Junior Sabres president Kevyn Adams announced the suspension Sunday, a day after the melee occurred during a game between the Peters-coached 15-and-Under team and the Ontario-based Hamilton Junior Bulldogs.
A video posted on YouTube shows the fight escalating into the Sabres’ bench, when Peters becomes involved in attempting to separate the players. At one point, the 36-year-old appears to shove a Hamilton player backward onto the ice.
According to a person familiar with the situation, Peters told Junior Sabres officials that he slipped while attempting to get one of the Hamilton players away from Buffalo’s bench. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conversation was to remain private.
Peters played 229 NHL games for the Sabres and Devils, racking up 650 PIM with just four goals and three assists.
With back-to-back hat tricks, plus two more goals to boot, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg was today named the NHL’s first star of the week.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were the second and third stars, respectively.
But Forsberg was a slam dunk for the top honor. After getting off to a slow start this season, the 22-year-old winger now has 24 goals — and, more importantly, his Predators have a seven-point playoff cushion.
The Preds went 3-0-1 last week, which included back-to-back wins over two tough opponents, Washington and Edmonton, over the weekend.
With three goals Thursday against Colorado, Forsberg became the first player since Alex Burrows in 2010 to register back-to-back hat tricks.
A pair of forwards were scooped off waivers on Monday morning.
The Lightning snared Greg McKegg from in-state rival Florida, while the Blue Jackets picked up journeyman Zac Dalpe from Minnesota, per ESPN.
McKegg, 24, was originally a Maple Leafs draftee (third round, ’10) that Florida acquired via trade two years ago. He appeared in 31 games for the Panthers this year, scoring six points, but also spent time with the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Dalpe, 27, has bounced around the league throughout his professional career, though he has spent the last two campaigns with the Wild organization. He’s appeared in more games for Iowa than Minnesota, scoring a goal and three points in nine NHL games this year.
There is a connection between Dalpe and Columbus. The former had a career year under Jackets head coach John Tortorella in Vancouver during the ’13-14 campaign — that season, Dalpe played 55 games and finished with four goals and seven points.