The Detroit Red Wings weren’t able to make any significant upgrades over the summer, so if they’re going to improve in 2014-15, it will have to be by getting more from what’s already in their organization.
Part of that will come from the natural development of their young players, but they also have some veterans that are expected to improve on their 2013-14 showings. One example of that is goaltender Jimmy Howard, who went from posting a 2.13 GAA and .923 save percentage in 42 games during the 2013 shortened campaign to a 2.66 GAA and .910 save percentage in 51 contests last season.
“I can be a lot better, a lot more consistent,” Howard told the Detroit News. He also admitted that it was by no means a good season for him.
It’s worth noting that Howard had to deal with knee problems and a hip flexor injury last season and those issues occasionally forced him to the sidelines.
Detroit tied its fate to Howard when he was signed to a six-year, $31.75 million contract. That deal won’t expire until the summer of 2019, so if Howard doesn’t bounce back, it would be a big problem for the Red Wings. If he stays healthy, the Red Wings are expecting Howard to play in a minimum of 60 games.
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…