Certainly nobody can deny that Nathan MacKinnon is enjoying an excellent rookie season for the Colorado Avalanche. However, you’ll recall there were those who believed strongly that the Avs should have used their first overall draft pick on defenseman Seth Jones, who’s enjoying his own fine rookie campaign in Nashville.
Just looking at Colorado’s roster — specifically, the defensive corps — there are probably those who still believe that.
Even the club’s executive VP of hockey operations, Joe Sakic, admits he had concerns about his defense during the summer. Although those concerns seem to have been alleviated somewhat.
“Going into the season, was it a question mark? Yes, we’re not going to lie about that,” Sakic told ESPN.com. “But the guys have played well. [Erik Johnson] has stepped it up and has become the player we all expected, and he’s expected of himself, he’s had a tremendous year. Tyson [Barrie] has picked it up, Nick Holden has played well … really, our blue line as a unit has done a tremendous job this year. Now, if people are looking at our blue line, I believe our blue line as a unit has earned the respect of being a pretty good group.”
Maybe so, but there’s a risk in assigning too much credit to the defense when a team gets the kind of goaltending the Avs have received this season. Per Extra Skater, no team has had better netminding than the Avs at even strength when the score is close. Last season, that honor belonged to Ottawa. The season before? Florida. And we know what happened to both those teams when the goaltending fell off.
Anyway, MacKinnon is showing that he has superstar potential, so it’s hard to say he was the wrong pick. Sakic may still need to upgrade the blue line, though.
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: Bullet dodged?