While the 2014 Stanley Cup Final approaches Game 3, the AHL’s 2014 Calder Cup Finals begin with Game 1 between the St. John’s IceCaps and the Texas Stars on Sunday. That opening contest airs on NHL Network starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.
There are some interesting prospects on both sides, with some possessing the potential to make future NHL impacts. The IceCaps are the Winnipeg Jets’ affiliate while the Stars are (pause for dramatic effect) the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate.*
Actually, one of the most NHL-relevant figures in this series is Stars head coach Willie Desjardins (pictured). “Whiteboard Willie” has been mentioned in quite a few head coach searches. The list of recent AHL head coaches who’ve been successful NHL bench bosses is considerable: Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper, Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau and former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma have all enjoyed near-immediate success after making the jump.
Still, there are prospects worth watching. Stars’ blueliner Jamie Oleksiak hopes to convert his Tyler Myers-like size to NHL success. Brett Ritchie, Radek Faksa and Cristopher Nilstorp could help the big-league Stars in the future. For the IceCaps, there’s goalie Michael Hutchinson, defenseman Zach Redmond and forward Eric O’Dell (among others).
Long story short, there are plenty of stories to watch in the AHL’s title round and it’s another way for hockey fans to get their fix with the number of meaningful games dwindling.
* – Didn’t see that coming, did you?
The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going to take their rivalry outside on Saturday.
The Flyers visit the Penguins in a Stadium Series clash at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch the action on NBC or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field
Kris Letang won’t play in outdoor game; Schultz game-time decision
NHL On NBC: Penguins, Flyers meet in Stadium Series
Giroux: ‘It’s all business’ between Penguins and Flyers at Heinz Field
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes have made a minor league trade.
The Bolts on Saturday acquired right winger Stefan Fournier from the Coyotes in exchange for right winger Jeremy Morin, who has played 82 career NHL games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Fournier stands six-foot-three-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has two goals and four points in 29 games with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the AHL.
Morin, who has spent the majority of his pro career in the Blackhawks organization, has been a productive minor league player over the years. He has nine goals and 21 points in 43 games this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.
The New York Islanders entered today with a three-game winning streak and holders of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
But yeah, it’s been a disastrous start for the Islanders on Saturday. The Blue Jackets scored three times in the first period, chasing Thomas Greiss from the New York net after he stopped 14 of 17 shots faced.
Jean-Francois Berube entered the game to begin the second period and promptly surrendered a goal to Josh Anderson, who scored his 12th of the season.
Oh, look at that: Another heated melee involving the Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings.
You’ll recall a first-period fight fest in a pivotal Pacific Division game between these teams almost one full year ago. On Saturday, in another meeting between these California rivals, the Ducks and Kings were once again at odds.
This latest conflict? Well, Corey Perry was involved. Again. (Last year, order had been restored during a brief scrum before Perry gave an extra shot to a Kings player, resulting in mayhem.)
Perry was called this time around for interference on Anze Kopitar. Kings players, as you might expect, suddenly rushed over before Nate Thompson and Brayden McNabb squared off in the main event.