2014_NHL_DRAFT-LOGO_BIG

Here’s what to watch for today

7 Comments

Today is going to be fun. Halford and I are here in Philadelphia to cover the draft. We’ll be heading over to the rink in a couple of hours. In the meantime, a few thoughts…

— Still no official salary cap number. But if you’re a fan of a team like the Bruins, you should be cheering for one as high as possible. It already seems like Jarome Iginla will have to move on from Boston…

Is there any way they could keep Iginla? Well, Johnny Boychuk is a name that Boston reporters have been throwing around as a trade chip Peter Chiarelli could play to clear cap space, with picks or prospects coming back. But a move like that probably won’t happen today…

And if the cap number is lower than expected, the B’s might still have to trade a veteran like Boychuk, while also losing Iginla to free agency.

— If Ryan Kesler and Jason Spezza are traded today — and we’d be surprised if at least one wasn’t — the pressure will really build on the teams that miss out. Anaheim, Chicago, and NY Rangers are among the many clubs that would like to add a top center. And even with Patrik Berglund signing an extension in St. Louis, the Blues may still try to add a play-maker at the position. Paul Stastny, Mikhail Grabovski, Dave Bolland, Olli Jokinen, David Legwand, Brad Richards, and Mike Santorelli are still unsigned and pending unrestricted free agents. July 1 is only a few days away.

— Will there be a trade that takes everyone by surprise, like last year’s deal that sent Cory Schneider to New Jersey. Hopefully! On that note, the Detroit Red Wings are reportedly interested in Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, who would fulfill their need for a right-shooting blue-liner, plus give them a former rookie of the year with, yes, a big contract, but also still a ton of potential. You have to think Mike Babcock would love a crack at coaching a talent like Myers, a 24-year-old that once looked like a future Norris Trophy winner, only to see his game and confidence degenerate in Buffalo.

— There’s also the actual draft today. (Just in case anyone forgot, what with all the trade talk.) While there may not be the “wow” factor with this year’s group of draftees, it’s still going to be produce a star or two. Don’t forget that players like Shea Weber and Patrice Bergeron weren’t selected until the second round. Pavel Datsyuk didn’t go until the sixth round. It’s after the top prospects are taken that a team’s scouting department can really differentiate itself. Chicago and Los Angeles are proof of that.

Enjoy the day, everyone.

Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties

2 Comments

Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.

To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:

Monday: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 8-7 in an overtime thriller.

Tuesday: The Dallas Stars managed to hold off the New York Rangers in a 7-6 victory. Plenty of weird things happened beyond all of those goals.

Wednesday: Red Wings storm back from that 3-0 deficit to eventually win.

Games like these can be a nightmare for coaches and goalies on both sides, yet Claude Julien was probably especially steamed by this one.

The Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 but the Red Wings kept fighting back. As a defensive-minded coach, Julien couldn’t have been happy with his team’s play.

(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)

Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.

Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.

Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.

Pavelec makes highlight reel save, gets win in return to Jets’ net

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 28:  Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets dives across to make a first period save against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Jets 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

With an expiring contract, Ondrej Pavelec’s time with the Winnipeg Jets is nearing an end. Plenty of Jets fans would say, mercifully.

Still, he did return to the Winnipeg Jets net on Wednesday for his first NHL appearance since April 9, 2016, to mostly successful results. The Jets beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-3, for one thing.

Beyond that, it probably felt like a typical Pavelec start for many Jets fans, though some would contest that it would also need to involve a loss.

There were those regrettable moments, like giving up a goal right away:

Even his critics would probably agree that Pavelec does have a knack for making breathtaking saves:

It’s unclear how many more times we’ll see Pavelec play for the Jets (or an NHL team in general). His performance – if given more chances – in the near future may determine that answer.

If nothing else, his 2016-17 debut felt pretty fitting.

Connor McDavid hits the 100-point mark, scores OT-winner (or did he?)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at Wells Fargo Center on December 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

PHT brings you the hard-hitting math, as you know, so here’s the latest burst: Connor McDavid is more than a point-per-game player.

You see, he scored the 100th point of his promising NHL career, and he did so in just his 92nd career game on Wednesday. Let us remind you that he’s just 20 years old (and he turned 20 on Jan. 13). Yeah.

Point 100 came on via an assist on a Zack Kassian goal as the Edmonton Oilers went up 1-0 against the Florida Panthers.

Here’s the clip:

Update: There’s debate regarding whether McDavid’s overtime-winner should have counted or not, but either way, it’s impressive that he generated a goal and an assist after hitting the 100-point mark. So it’s now 102 points in 92 games.

Here’s that contested goal:

 

Video: This assist helps explain why Red Wings might not trade Vanek

3 Comments

In the video above, you can see Bob McKenzie lay out the Detroit Red Wings’ status as the trade deadline begins to look like more of a consideration.

Considering their playoff streak, it’s not that shocking that they’re at least struggling with the idea of being sellers. More than a few people probably did a double-take (or spit-take?) when McKenzie noted that management might opt to re-sign forward/remarkable reclamation project Thomas Vanek instead of moving him for assets.

It’s reasonable to question that logic, but then you see what he’s doing lately, particularly the chemistry he seems to be building with Andreas Athanasiou.

Wednesday’s gorgeous assist to Athanasiou illustrates some of that brilliance, if stats bore you:

If stats tell some of the story, well, they’re impressive. Vanek now has a seven-game point streak with the assist; if he doesn’t score another point, he’ll have 10 points during that span. He also has at least a point in 11 of his last 12 contests.

Athanasiou’s really “feeling it” lately, too. If he stays at a goal tonight, he’ll have five goals and eight points in his last seven games, only failing to generate a point in two of those contests. His speed and skill really seem to be coming to the surface, a great sign for the 22-year-old.

Still, Vanek is 32, and the Red Wings would need a heck of a run to even make the playoffs. So that’s where the discussion gets a little sticky.

There’s still time to sort that out, though. In the meantime, fans should enjoy what those two have been accomplishing, even if many want the window to close on that combo soon.