NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: Alain Vigneault head coach of the New York Rangers following a 2-1 defeat by the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2013 in New York City.

Leg up: Rangers take early lead in claiming underdog role


Kudos to New York head coach Alain Vigneault for getting out quickly in the “no no, we’re the underdog” challenge:

It’s become an annual rite of passage for coaches to try and position their team as the one nobody thought could win. We’ve seen it extensively this postseason, especially out west — in Round 2, Darryl Sutter suggested the Kings were underdogs going into Game 7 against Anaheim, only for Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau to counter with “you can ask anybody who they think the underdog is, and the underdog’s us.”

(The Kings ended up pounding Anaheim 6-2 in Game 7, so I guess Boudreau was right.)

The Sharks tried a similar strategy in Round 1, suggesting they were the underdogs to L.A. despite finishing 11 points clear of the Kings in the Pacific Division standings and holding home-ice advantage. Between what happened to the Sharks and Ducks, it makes you wonder if Vigneault should’ve employed some reverse psychology and anointed the Rangers the favorites, just to shake it up a bit.

Oh, and just in case you don’t think Sutter would even try to position the Kings as an underdog, consider what he said after Sunday’s Game 7 win over Chicago…

Q. Up against the Rangers, what are your initial thoughts on them?

COACH SUTTER: Great goaltending. Great defense. Great forwards. Great special teams.


Kings are 10/17 favorites to beat Rangers (3/2)

Rangers as underdogs? Brad Richards doesn’t think so

Video: New York the underdog regardless of who wins West?

Memorial Cup champion goalie Appleby signs with Devils

Ken Appleby
The Canadian Press via AP
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Ken Appleby never got drafted, but his efforts during the New Jersey Devils’ training camp have earned him an entry-level contract, per the Bergen Record.

Although no team saw it fit to take him before the preseason, the 20-year-old is coming off of a very strong season. He had a 2.08 GAA and .924 save percentage in 50 games with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. He went on to lead them to a Memorial Cup championship and earned the the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s top goalie.

Appleby is the fifth goaltender the Devils have under contract after Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood, and Yann Danis. He’ll likely begin the season in the ECHL.

Alexandre Goulet and Jacob Sweeney also participated in the Devils’ training camp on an amateur tryout basis, but both of them have been released.

PHT Morning Skate: NHL stars weigh in on McDavid

Connor McDavid
The Canadian Press via AP
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Some of the NHL’s top players discuss Connor McDavid‘s potential and the hype surrounding him. (Toronto Sun)

While we’re on the subject, Wayne Gretzky recalls what it was like for him going into the NHL and what’s in store for McDavid. (Edmonton Sun)

Sam Gagner is about to start a key season in his career. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

It’s time for the Washington Capitals to make some tough calls, particularly when it comes to Derek Roy. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

With Raffi Torres hearing scheduled for today, here’s a look back at his suspension history. (San Jose Mercury News)

The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten their championship rings. (