Phil Kessel

Kessel says Leafs won’t go through a collapse next season


Finishing strong hasn’t exactly been the Toronto Maple Leafs’ strong suit the last couple years, but Phil Kessel told the Canadian Press that the 2014-15 season will be different.

The 26-year-old sniper definitely rues that season-ending stretch in which they only won two of their last 14 games, claiming that they “won’t go through one of those again.”

“We don’t have that stretch, we’re right in it,” Kessel said. “This year we made some good additions and I think we improved as a team, and we’re going to be ready to go.”

It’s certainly been a tumultuous offseason for Toronto, although many of the key figures and players remain in the fold. Then again, depth is becoming a key difference-maker in the NHL, so perhaps the Leafs’ offseason tweaks can help them avoid big losing streaks next time.

Kessel was at the Rexall Centre for the Rogers Cup on Sunday, giving him a chance to play ball hockey with Roger Federer of all people, as you can see from his Instagram feed:

Hey, maybe Kessel can take a few tips on putting away pesky opponents from one of tennis’ all-time greats?

Already without Eberle, the Oilers could also be missing Hall tonight

Taylor Hall
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Taylor Hall is sick and reportedly “doubtful” for tonight’s game in Dallas.

Hall did not skate with the Oilers this morning. If he can’t play, Edmonton’s top two lines against the Stars could feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between wingers Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, followed by Connor McDavid centering Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov.

The Oilers — forced to start the season without top-six winger Jordan Eberle — have scored just once in their first two games, losing 3-1 in St. Louis and 2-0 in Nashville.

Edmonton returns home after tonight’s contest to play St. Louis on Thursday. Then it’s back out on the road for games against Calgary and Vancouver.

Sabres waive d-man Donovan

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Buffalo has put blueliner Matt Donovan on waivers, per Sportsnet.

Donovan, 25, signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on the opening day of free agency after spending his entire professional career with the Isles organization.

The fact he’s being waived isn’t a huge shock. Donovan failed to draw into a single Sabres game this year despite a whittled-down blueline; Jake McCabe, recently called up from AHL Rochester, drew into the lineup for Monday’s win over Columbus at the expense of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played the first two games of the year.

The fact both McCabe and Colaiacovo were ahead on the depth chart didn’t bode well for Donovan. Today’s move could also suggest that Zach Bogosian, who hasn’t played this year due to injury, is ready to return.