Shane Doan

‘Healthy and stable,’ Doan leading Phoenix’s offensive charge

1 Comment

The Phoenix Coyotes are the NHL’s fourth highest-scoring team this year (3.22 goals per game), and they have their grizzled veteran leader to thank.

Shane Doan, the club’s 37-year-old captain, is putting up some of the finest offensive numbers of his career, posting 19 points through 22 games while leading the ‘Yotes in goals, with 11 — putting him on pace for what would be a career-best total of 41.

It’s a pretty big development for a guy that’s never scored more than 31 but, the way head coach Dave Tippett sees it, these results aren’t totally surprising.

“He’s come to the rink every day with a smile on his face,” Tippett said on Monday, as per the Coyotes’ website. “I think ‘healthy’ and ‘stable’ are two good words to describe [Doan].”

Doan admitted the ’13 campaign was extremely difficult, as he played all 48 games despite two sports hernias. The pain and discomfort saw him score just 13 goals and 27 points as Phoenix missed the playoffs for the first time in three years.

“Last season was a tough one where you felt like you were chasing it the whole year,” Doan told the Arizona Republic. “You can’t be as physical. You have no jump, and it hurts to get up.

“It hurts to move.”

Now healthy — he underwent offseason surgery using a new repair procedure — Doan is at the forefront of the NHL’s most balanced offensive attacks. He sits tied on points with Martin Hanzal (19) but is being chased by the likes of Radim Vrbata (18 points), Mike Ribeiro (17) and the club’s high-scoring defensemen, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle (17 each).

According to Tippett, though, it’s Doan that stirs the drink.

“Shane’s the one guy that, consistently game after game, goes out and creates chances for us,” Tippett explained. “He’s hard in front of the net, and five-on-five and on the power play he’s led our team in chances for.

“It doesn’t matter where you put him, he gets the job done.”

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

Leave a comment

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Video: Kuznetsov sets table for Vrana’s first NHL goal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Jakub Vrana of the Washington Capitals poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).

Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.

See it for yourself:

Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.

He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.

Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.

Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:

Kulikov returns to increasingly healthy Sabres lineup

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 18: Dmitry Kulikov #77 of the Buffalo Sabres in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.

The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?

He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.

Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.

With Foligno out sick, Columbus gives Bjorkstrand another shot

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 13:  Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets lines up for a face-off during the game against the Boston Bruins on October 13, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.

The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.

He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.

With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.

Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?

Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: