TGIF: Why Lightning fans can be upset with St. Louis

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Saturday: Boston at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. ET)

If I were a Lightning fan, I’m not sure which Martin St. Louis quote would bother me the most. Would it be this? “I felt it was time to look out for me” (after Steve Yzerman didn’t originally name St. Louis to Team Canada, as if it was some sort of egregious oversight, which it wasn’t.) Or, would it be this? “It’s not like I’ve played a ton of playoff hockey in the last little while, and as you get older you want to get more kicks at the can.” Tough call there. As much as the woe-is-me routine really rubs the wrong way, I think I’d have to go with the second one. Because newsflash, Marty: YOU’D HAVE HAD A KICK AT THE CAN IF YOU’D STAYED IN TAMPA BAY. It’s unfortunate the Lightning and Rangers don’t have a very good chance at meeting in the playoffs, because that would be something. It could still happen, but just looking at the standings, there’d need to be an upset or two.

Saturday: Phoenix at Washington (7 p.m. ET)

The only reason I picked this game is because I wanted to show the empty-net goal from the Capitals’ 6-4 loss to the Flyers on Wednesday:

What you just saw was a 6-on-5 for Washington, which somehow allowed itself to get outnumbered 3 to 2 in the corner, with a predictable result.

source:

In case you’re wondering who to blame there, no, it wasn’t Alex Ovechkin’s fault. That was Joel Ward’s responsibility to recognize the situation, and he was way too late to wake up.

Why does it always seem to be the Capitals that make these kinds of mistakes?

Saturday: Minnesota at Dallas (8:30 p.m. ET)

Everyone knew it was going to take time for the Stars to climb their way back up the Dallas sports hierarchy, but there sure were a lot of empty seats for last night’s 6-1 win over Vancouver. I wonder if that was kind of disappointing for the players considering the importance of the game, and how well they performed in it. The Stars’ average attendance this season is just 13,978, which is higher than only one team in the entire NHL, the Phoenix Coyotes (13,357). Making the playoffs for the first time since 2008 would help generate some buzz in Big D, obviously. I wouldn’t even put it past the Stars to pull a first-round upset. This is a good, exciting team. Hopefully it translates into better crowds soon.

Saturday: Calgary at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET)

Why do you need to watch this game between two non-playoff teams? Because if the Canucks lose to the Flames, at home and on national TV, Kevin Bieksa and company are going to experience a brand new “rock bottom.” By the way, here’s something that rarely gets mentioned when Vancouver’s management team is taken to task: when the Canucks gave Roberto Luongo that 12-year, $64 million contract in 2009, it was basically a big middle finger to the powers that be in the NHL head office. Gary Bettman hated those front-loaded structures, and he didn’t make that a secret. While the Luongo contract didn’t technically violate the terms of the CBA, it definitely violated the spirit, and Mike Gillis, along with ownership, were naïve to think there wouldn’t be consequences. Enter the cap-recapture penalty in the new CBA, a.k.a. Bettman’s Revenge, which was a huge barrier to trading Luongo last summer, and could still hurt the Canucks down the line.

Sunday: Detroit at NY Rangers (12:30 p.m. ET)

On NBC. Streaming live, too. When I read the story about the weak Canadian dollar possibly resulting in a lower-than-expected salary cap for next season, the first player that came to mind was Brad Richards. I’ve written about this before. The way their cap situation looks right now, and especially if the cap doesn’t go up as much as originally expected, the Rangers will almost certainly have to use their remaining compliance buyout on the 33-year-old center. But here’s the thing: Richards is also New York’s leading scorer, with 44 points in 63 games. If he does become an unrestricted free agent, there won’t be any shortage of suitors for his services.

Devils place goalie Cory Schneider on injured reserve

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The New Jersey Devils placed goalie Cory Schneider on injured reserve with a lower-body injury suffered Thursday night in a 5-4 overtime victory at Ottawa.

Schneider left after the second period. Keith Kinkaid replaced him and stopped all nine shots he faced to earn the victory.

With Schneider sidelined, Kinkaid was expected to start Friday night at home against San Jose.

The Devils recalled goalie Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League.

The Devils catch a scheduling break with a week off until their next game Oct. 27, the first day Schneider is eligible to return.

Schneider is 4-1-0 in six games this season with a 3.30 goals-against average.

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Andreas Athanasiou, Red Wings finally settle on one-year deal

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The contract stalemate between the Detroit Red Wings and Andreas Athanasiou is finally over.

On Friday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the two sides struck a deal that will see the 23-year-old forward back in the lineup, at least for this season. It’s a one-year deal worth $1.387 million.

Due to Detroit’s tight salary cap situation, the deal has not been officially registered with the NHL because general manager Ken Holland needs to free up space in order to fit Athanasiou’s contract.

Athanasiou, who was a restricted free agent this summer, was seeking a two-year deal worth around $2.5 million per season. The Red Wings, meanwhile, were holding firm on a one- or two-year deal carrying a $1.9 million AAV. As the stalemate dragged on, he began practicing with Swiss side HC Lugano, but did not sign a contract. He had until Dec. 1 to make an NHL return in order to be eligible to play this season. The KHL card was played, but as Torey Krug showed, that move is always a clear bluff.

The one-year pact is essentially a “show-me” deal for Athanasiou, who scored 18 goals and recorded 29 points last season. He finished second on the Red Wings in even strength goals (17) in 2016-17 and tallied a pair of overtime winners. A good year and with some salary off the books next summer, he can cash in with a longer-term contract. He’ll once again be an RFA next summer, so Detroit will control his rights, but he’ll have arbitration rights.

According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, along with the contract Athanasiou has been promised a minutes bump from the 13:27 he played last season, as well as regular time on both special teams units.

Detroit is off to a 4-3-0 start and averaging 3.14 goals per game. Once Athanasiou arrives from Switzerland and gets up to speed — possibly with an AHL conditioning stint — his presence will certainly be a boost to the Red Wings’ lineup.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.:

 

NHL admits off-side challenge error that cost Avalanche a goal

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The NHL admitted on Friday that a decision denying the Colorado Avalanche a tying goal against the St. Louis was wrong.

Mikko Rantanen’s goal late in the third period was overturned after Sven Andrighetto was ruled to be off-side following a video review challenge issued by the Blues.

Now here’s where the fun starts.

Because Andrighetto was not ruled off-side by the linesman when he touches the puck in the Blues’ zone, when he leaves and re-enters the zone that’s considered a (clean) second zone entry. So the goal should have counted and the Avs should have had a power play for a failed off-side challenge.

Here’s the NHL’s statement:

“St. Louis requested a Coach’s Challenge to determine whether Sven Andrighetto of Colorado was off-side prior to the Avalanche goal. The video review decision determined the play was off-side but that determination was based on a play prior to the puck clearing the zone. 

Per Rule 78. 7 (Note 1) Coach’s Challenge: ‘Goals will only be reviewed for a potential “Off-Side” infraction if: a) the puck does not come out of the attacking zone again; or (b) all members of the attacking team do not clear the attacking zone again, between the time of the “Off-Side” play and the time the goal is scored.

Although there was an off-side, it occurred prior to the puck clearing the zone which nullifies any goal review related to that off-side. The entry in to the zone immediately prior to the goal was on-side, therefore the goal should have counted.”

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, appearing on Sportnet’s Hockey Central at Noon on Friday, said he believes the wording of the rule will change in the future.

“The call on the ice was correct,” he said. “The wording in the rulebook is wrong, and that’s where we’re going to have to work with. I think that’s why the rulebook always changes because you come up with unintended consequences, and that was one of them. I don’t think anyone that watched the game last night think that’s a goal we want to count.”

Let’s just go with NHL ’94 rules and turn off-side off, yeah? That’ll stop games from being paused and goals being taken off the board because a player’s skate blade was a millimeter off-side entering the offensive zone.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks’ Gudbranson suspended 1 game for boarding Vatrano (Video)

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Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson will miss Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres after he was suspended one game for boarding Frank Vatrano of the Boston Bruins.

The hit occurred early in the first period during Thursday’s 6-3 Bruins victory. Gudbranson was given a majors for boarding and fighting, along with a game misconduct. The Bruins would take advantage with three power play goals. Vatrano would retun to the game later in the period.

Here’s the Department of Player Safety’s explanation:

Look at many of the suspensions the NHL’s DoPS has handed out for boarding and it’s the same thing over and over again. The suspended player has time to make a better decision on a hit, but fails to do so. Here, Gudbranson could have changed his angle, minimized contact with Vatrano or tie him up along the boards instead of plastering him into the glass.

Gudbranson will see $18,817.20 of his salary go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.