Mathieu Perreault, Jake Muzzin, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards

PHT Morning Skate: Ducks fight to avoid falling 2-0 at home

8 Comments

Chicago earned a 4-1 victory yesterday to become the first, and potentially only, squad to jump to a 2-0 lead in the second round.

Last year the final four teams in the playoffs were also the last four Stanley Cup winners — Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Boston. While the 2014 second round is still young, it’s entirely possible that we will see the same Conference Final matchups again this year.

It will still be a bit before we know if that’s going to happen, but we’ll be one step closer to finding out after NBCSN’s doubleheader tonight.

Game 3: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers [Series tied at 1-1] (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Penguins and Rangers were given an uncommon series schedule in the sense that they have been asked to play three games in four days. Pittsburgh and New York fought last night, with the Penguins earning a 3-0 victory.

It was Pittsburgh’s first shutout of the postseason and they frustrated the Rangers by denying them on four power-play opportunities. The Rangers are now 0-for-25 with the man advantage in their last seven games.

The Penguins got a bit of a breather before this series started, but the Rangers’ first round matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers went to seven games. This will consequently be New York’s fifth contest in seven days. That’s brutal and while Rangers coach Alain Vigneault insists it shouldn’t be a factor, it’s hard to see how it’s not taking its toll on the Rangers.

This is a great opportunity for the Penguins to take the lead before this series’ schedule gets a little lighter.

Game 2: Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks [Los Angeles leads series 1-0] (10:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

This might not be a must-win for the Anaheim Ducks, but it’s pretty close. Los Angeles is a tough team to win a series against under any circumstances, but if the Ducks drop their first two games at home, then it would take a substantial effort on their part to get back into this.

The good news for the Ducks is that winning Game 2 would not be a monumental task. They know they can beat the Kings after going 4-0-1 against them in the regular season and coming within a hair of beating them in the series opener. It took a historic effort by Kings forward Marian Gaborik to change the outcome of that game.

“It’s a 3-2 overtime game where both teams battle and no one dominated. Either team could have won,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau remarked after the game.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Ducks and Kings look fairly even tonight as well.

Yes, it’s really happening: Vegas NHL team installs ice for first time

vegasice2
via Vegas is Hockey
Leave a comment

Sometimes you just need a reminder that a remarkable thing actually is happening.

Saturday presented the latest evidence that the NHL coming to Las Vegas isn’t just a collective fever dream, as the still-nameless franchise noted that they’ve begun the process to install ice at T-Mobile Arena for the first time.

It’s not the prettiest picture, but it means a lot:

While setting up the first sheet of ice is a physical sign that things are coming together, the front office side will dictate the sort of team that eventually plays on it.

For more insight into that process, Puck Daddy takes a look at Murray Craven, who appears to be a key part of bringing things together … even if it’s difficult to nail down a specific title.

Presenting: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hockey bobbleheads

cannotunsee
via Milwaukee Admirals
Leave a comment

From the Department of Sights You Can’t Un-see: the Milwaukee Admirals are going to unleash hockey-playing bobbleheads for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton “this fall.”

The Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate continues the fine tradition of headline-grabbing and all-around-odd promotions from the league.

/Pours one out for the Bakersfield Condors and their Seinfeld “puffy” shirts.

Feast your eyes on the rather disturbing duo:

(The replies to that tweet aren’t too weird yet, but it would probably be wise to stay away nonetheless.)

Naturally, there are other bobblehead options available for the two Presidential front-runners, with the Trump ones being especially entertaining.

As the youngest GM in NHL history, Chayka is already making waves

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: John Chayka of the Arizona Coyotes attends the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) His time on the ice done, John Chayka would turn to the tape, spending up to 25 hours to break down the game just played.

He tracked every player on the ice, every possession, touch of the puck, calculating the impact of every decision or movement on the ice.

The attention to detail, to making himself and his teammates better, led Chayka to co-found his own hockey analytics company. Now it’s helped him become the youngest general manager in NHL history, a meteoric rise even he didn’t see coming.

“It would be silly to suggest it wasn’t a little surprising,” said Chayka, named GM of the Arizona Coyotes on May 5. “It’s like anything in life; good fortune, good timing, a lot of that plays into it. I always just try to better myself every day, learn every day.”

Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction,’ and that’s an understatement

Chayka was like most Canadian kids growing up, playing hockey from a young age on a backyard rink in Jordan Station, Ontario. He had some skill, too, as a high-scoring winger who was good enough to be an Ontario Hockey League draft pick.

Instead of becoming a professional hockey player, Chayka took a different route to the highest level. He opted to attend college instead of playing in the OHL and suffered a back injury that ended any chance of a continued playing career.

Chayka liked the analytical aspect of hockey even when he was playing, logging numbers by hand while meticulously going through every play of each game. Once he teamed up with Neil Lane, a friend with an IT background, Chayka was able to vastly expand the data sets he could analyze.

Chayka and Lane co-founded Stathletes in 2009 and built it up, molding the hockey analytics company to serve the needs of NHL teams and players.

But in 2015, Chayka decided to make a change. The business was in good shape and the Coyotes wanted an analytics person, so he joined them as an assistant GM prior to the 2015-16 season.

“The company was in a position for the co-founder to step aside and let it grow, so it was good timing for me to do that,” Chayka said.

Timing worked out for Chayka again this spring.

After missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season, the Coyotes decided to make a change, firing general manager Don Maloney after nine seasons.

Instead of hiring an established hockey front-office man, the Coyotes took a bolder route, hiring the then-26-year-old Chayka, making him the youngest GM in NHL history and the first with a primarily analytical background.

“What people are going to find out about John as he becomes more well-known is he’s a very smart guy, a very intelligent guy,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.

Those smarts, along with a year of watching the Coyotes operations from the inside out, have allowed Chayka to hit the ground sprinting.

Arizona had one of the highest-rated drafts, landing center Clayton Keller and defenseman Jakob Chychurn, players who could contribute quickly.

The Coyotes signed top-four defenseman Alex Goligoski after trading for his rights and added some scoring depth by signing left wing Jamie McGinn, who set career highs in goals and points last season. Arizona also signed captain Shane Doan to a one-year deal.

Chayka has retooled Arizona’s roster by combining his analytical approach with the traditional methods of evaluating players, dispelling the notion that he would be a numbers-only GM.

“It’s a good holistic approach where you’re weighing both options and ideas,” Chayka said. “Where you have agreements and consistency in your approach, then you have a better decision. When you have those disagreements is where you have real opportunity to learn from it. If the data disagrees with the eye or the eye disagrees with the data, now you have a real opportunity to understand why.”

The need to understand got Chayka to this unprecedented point. It should be the foundation to keep him climbing as well.

Report: Wheat Kings’ McCrimmon likely to be named Las Vegas assistant GM

Brandon Wheat Kings v Kelowna Rockets
Getty Images
1 Comment

The Las Vegas NHL franchise has been in search of an assistant general manager, and that search may be nearing an end.

According to a report from Guy Flaming of The Pipeline Show on TSN 1260, Brandon Wheat Kings owner, GM and coach Kelly McCrimmon is likely to be named assistant GM in Las Vegas.

The report was backed up on Friday from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Last summer, McCrimmon turned down a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs front office.

It was reported last week that Vegas general manager George McPhee had asked the Washington Capitals for permission to speak with that team’s assistant GM Ross Mahoney.