Notre Dame

NCAA on NBCSN: No. 4 Notre Dame hosts Merrimack

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the Merrimack Warriors at the Compton Family Ice Arena with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also catch the game online at NBC Sports Live Extra

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish came out of last weekend with a split against the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers and now they’ll turn their attention to Hockey East conference play when they face Merrimack this weekend.

Both teams are early on in the conference schedule with the Irish being 1-1-0 and the Warriors sitting at 0-2-0. Things haven’t gone as well for Merrimack outside the conference either as they’re 3-5-0 there.

Merrimack started off their Hockey East schedule last weekend being swept by a very tough Providence College team. If they’re going to avoid an even tougher start in conference play, they’ll have a pair of players to count on.

Saturday night’s game between these same teams will be streamed on NBC Live Extra on NBCSports.com at 7 p.m. ET.

Senior forward Mike Collins and junior defenseman Dan Kolomatis have led the way in scoring with Collins leading the team with nine points. Kolomatis’ seven points from the blue line are encouraging, but they need more if they’re going to compete in conference. Freshman forward Chris LeBlanc is an Ottawa Senators draft pick (sixth-round 2013) and is off to a quiet start with a goal and two assists.

Where it counts for the Warriors is how they break things up in goal. Senior Sam Marrotta and junior Rasmus Tirronen have split starts this season with Marrotta having a slight 5-4 edge in games played. Tirronen has slightly better numbers, although his save percentage is a bit better than Marrotta’s. Both guys could see time against the Irish this weekend.

Speaking of the home team, freshman Vince Hinostroza (Chicago) and sophomore Mario Lucia (Minnesota) had strong weekends against the Gophers. Hinostroza had three assists in the two games and Lucia had two goals and an assist in Saturday’s 5-4 loss. Factor in defenseman Stephen Johns’ goal and two assists on the weekend and that makes for a strong performance all around.

Hinostroza’s week was so good he was named Hockey East rookie of the week. That’ll look good on the resume.

Update (12:50 p.m. ET): You can forget all the talk about Hinostroza, he’ll be out with a knee injury.

The Irish will have to hope senior goalie Steven Summerhays can bounce back strong form Saturday’s tough overtime defeat. He played outstanding last Friday stopping 31 shots in the Irish’s 4-1 win, however. This season, however, he’s been quite good (7-2-0 .928 SV% 1.81 GAA). With how Merrimack’s offense has struggled, if the Fighting Irish can solve their two-headed goalie attack, things should turn out well.

NHL Draftees

Notre Dame – Forwards: Vince Hinostrosza (Chicago), T.J. Tynan (Columbus), Austin Wuthrich (Washington), Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh), Jeff Costello (Ottawa), Mario Lucia (Minnesota), Steven Fogarty (NY Rangers), Thomas DiPauli (Washington).

Defense: Robbie Russo (NY Islanders), Stephen Johns (Chicago), Kevin Lind (Anaheim)

Merrimack — Forward: Chris LeBlanc (Ottawa)

Under Bednar, Avs won’t ‘slow the game down’ like they did with Roy

Nathan MacKinnon
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Though it’s hard to pinpoint just one standout from the high-flying North American team at the World Cup, speedy Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon was certainly in the conversation.

Now, MacKinnon wants that tournament success to translate over to the regular season — and he’s confident Colorado’s coaching change will make it happen.

From the Denver Post:

Is [Jared] Bednar’s system different from what the Avalanche did under Patrick Roy?

“Yeah, it is,” MacKinnon said. “Now every puck we get, we want to move it up quickly and use our speed and not wait and go D-to-D, back to D and slow the game down.

“We have very good skaters on our team, and we want to use that.”

One of the blueliners responsible for moving the puck quickly, Tyson Barrie, echoed those sentiments.

“There’s going to be no messing around with the puck, no playing around with it in our end, in the neutral zone,” Barrie said of Bednar’s system, per NHL.com. “We’re going to be pushing the pace, getting it into the forwards’ hands. We’re going to play fast and our defensemen are going to be jumping.

“I’m super impressed.”

Not utilizing Colorado’s speed was considered one of Roy’s major failings as head coach. With the likes of MacKinnon and Matt Duchene in the mix, it seemed like playing an uptempo game was the obvious choice — yet, as stated above, the Colorado blueliners were instructed to play more east-west than north-south.

That figures to change under Bednar.

In his previous stop, Columbus’ AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, Bednar led a high-octane group that had no problem finding the back of the net. The Monsters led the American League in playoff scoring en route to the Calder Cup, and did it with a talented, versatile blueline that delivered pucks to the forwards.

(Bednar also had a glut of good, young talent at his disposal. Zach Werenski, the eight overall pick in 2015, anchored the blueline will the likes of Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sonny Milano were up front.)

Needless to say, Colorado should be a fascinating team to watch this year.

Related: Keep an eye on the goaltending situation in Colorado

Pouliot’s goal is to become ‘full-time player’ for Penguins

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 27: Derrick Pouliout #51 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center on December 27, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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The eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, it’s fair to say that Derrick Pouliot has yet to reach his full potential. He’s only played 56 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, stretched over two seasons. And compared to the rest of his draft class, that’s not very many NHL games.

Granted, it’s also fair to say that Pouliot’s still only 22, and defenseman are known to take longer to develop. This year, he says he’s come to camp in better shape, with the goal of staying with the Pens all season.

“That’s the goal. I know things can change pretty quick, but I’m confident with the shape I’m in and in my ability to play,” he said, per the Times Leader. “Hopefully I can make myself a full-time player here.”

Pouliot is still waivers-exempt, so he’ll need to earn his spot. The Penguins re-signed Justin Schultz for another year, and that could be his competition.

“We have high expectations for Derrick,” said head coach Mike Sullivan, per the Post-Gazette. “We’ve kept close tabs on him all summer long, and we knew he was coming into camp in the type of shape that he’s in. … He’s a very talented kid, and when he put those two things together, we think he’s going to improve another level.”

Report: Flames talking contract extension with Elliott

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues tends net against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2015 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Blues 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Calgary Flames are talking contract extension with their new goalie, Brian Elliott, according to St. Louis-based reporter Andy Strickland.

Elliott, 31, was acquired from the Blues at the draft in Buffalo. He has one year left on his current deal, at a cap hit of $2.5 million, before he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

No parameters of a potential deal were reported by Strickland, just that the two sides were talking. Elliott went 23-8-6 last season in St. Louis, with a .930 save percentage.

Flames GM Brad Treliving hinted at the draft that an extension could be in the cards.

“There’s no need to rush,” Treliving said, “but maybe there is a need to look at something.”

On July 1, the Flames signed Chad Johnson for one year to be the back-up. So currently, neither of Calgary’s two NHL goalies are signed past 2016-17.

Related: Elliott wants to be ‘backbone’ of Flames

KHL announces Sobotka will play with Avangard this season

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: Vladimir Sobotka #17 of the St. Louis Blues warms up before playing the Washington Capitals in an NHL game at the Verizon Center on November 17, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Big development on the Vladimir Sobotka-back-to-St. Louis front — on Tuesday, the KHL announced that Sobotka would play with Avangard Omsk next season, shooting down reports of his return to the Blues as “just rumors.”

Per Czech news outlet Ceska Televize, both Omsk’s team president and Sobotka’s agent confirmed the news.

This development comes after Sobotka’s stint with the Czech Republic at the World Cup. During the tournament, he addressed problems he was having with opting out of the last of his three-year deal with Omsk.

“We’re still talking and we’ll see what’s going to happen during the World Cup,” said Sobotka, per ESPN.com. “After that, I think we’re going to be smarter. It’s been going on for five months and I’ve had enough of it. It’s my agent’s job to to keep talking and we’ll see.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed via the Associated Press that Sobotka was having “issues” returning to the Blues.

A good, versatile checking forward, Sobotka fled St. Louis after an arbitration hearing following the ’13-14 campaign. He scored a career-high 33 points in 61 games that season.

The Blues have been keen to get him back in the fold.

Ken Hitchcock, heading into his final season as head coach, has talked about the “great chemistry” between Sobotka and winger Jaden Schwartz, and there’s no doubt Hitchcock would’ve like to use that chemistry in what will be his final chance at a Stanley Cup.