Getty

Goalie nods: Prospects Comrie, Gillies make NHL debuts

1 Comment

The future will be on display tonight for Calgary and Winnipeg.

Let’s start with the Jets, who will give Eric Comrie his first NHL start in Columbus. Comrie, 21, was Winnipeg’s second-round pick in 2013 — 59th overall, the fourth goalie off the board — and is currently in his second full season with AHL Manitoba.

Though he’s thought of highly within the organization, chances are Comrie isn’t quite ready to make the leap to the NHL full-time. The Jets got burned this year going with a relatively inexperienced combo in Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson and, while both will (presumably) be back next year, it’s safe to think GM Kevin Cheveldayoff might bring in a veteran to stabilize the position.

Still, this is a good opportunity for Comrie to show he is, in fact, a future No. 1.

Now, over to the Flames.

As mentioned yesterday, John Gillies was recalled after an injury to backup netminder Chad Johnson. Calgary isn’t wasting any time in seeing what they’ve got in Gillies, as he’ll get the call tonight in Los Angeles.

Gillies, 23, is a former Providence College standout taken by Calgary in the third round (75th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. Like Comrie in Winnipeg, he’s considered to be the club’s potential goalie of the future.

As for Johnson, there’s been no update on his status, so it’s unclear how long Gillies will be in the bigs.

And as for the opposing goalies? Comrie faces Joonas Korpisalo, while Gillies takes on Ben Bishop.

Elsewhere…

— After making 22 saves in a win over Nashville on Tuesday, Jaroslav Halak goes back in for the Isles. The host ‘Canes are going with Eddie Lack, who makes his second start since suffering that scary neck injury against Detroit in late March.

Matt Murray makes his fourth straight start as the Pens take on the Devils in New Jersey. Cory Schneider gets back in after Keith Kinkaid shut out the Flyers on Tuesday.

— Big matchup in Boston tonight, and both the Bruins and visiting Senators will start their No. 1s: Craig Anderson and Tuukka Rask.

— Equally big game in Toronto, where the Bolts look to keep their season alive. They’ll go with Andrei Vasilevskiy, while the Leafs will counter with Frederik Andersen.

— Looks to be Jake Allen against James Reimer as the Blues visit the Panthers.

— In Dallas, Juuse Saros appears to be the Nashville starter, while Antti Niemi will go for the Stars.

John Gibson, who we wrote about earlier, makes his second consecutive start as the Ducks look to clinch the Pacific Division tonight. The visiting ‘Hawks will go with Corey Crawford.

— It’s Devan Dubnyk in goal for the Wild, who visit Colorado. No word yet on who the Avs will start.

Louis Domingue, who has played well down the stretch (rebounding from a difficult start in the process), gets another start as the Coyotes host the Canucks. Vancouver has yet to name a starter, but Ryan Miller appears likely.

— Finally, yet another big game as the Sharks and Oilers do battle in San Jose. Second place in the Pacific is up for grabs, and the home-ice advantage that comes with it, so both No. 1s will go: Cam Talbot for Edmonton, Martin Jones for the Sharks.

Sens win, but empty seats get the attention

Getty
Leave a comment

All the talk in Ottawa today should be about the Senators’ big win over the Rangers.

Instead, the city’s playoff excitement has been hijacked by a familiar topic — attendance woes.

A crowd of just 16,744 was announced at Canadian Tire Centre last night. Pictures of empty seats were all over social media. It had to be embarrassing for the home team, not to mention its combustible owner.

Read more: Plenty of tickets available for Game 1 in Ottawa

There are plenty of theories that attempt to explain the poor attendance. The suburban arena gets blamed a lot, and it’s true that the location is quite inconvenient. Some say the defensive style that coach Guy Boucher employs does not make for an entertaining enough product.

Here’s Sens reporter Ian Mendes with his take for TSN.ca:

The truth of the matter is that Ottawa simply doesn’t have a big enough season ticket base. Though the club never publicly discloses how many season tickets they have sold, it stands to reason that the number is well under 10,000. That means on a nightly basis, the Senators have to drum up enough walk-up sales to fill at least half their building – which is located well outside of the downtown core.

A better crowd is expected Saturday afternoon for Game 2. But there are still tickets available.

 

Related: Poor attendance an early story in Ottawa

Preds proving preseason hype was warranted

AP
2 Comments

They were a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup.

And then the season started.

The Nashville Predators never really got rolling during their 82-game schedule. They’d have some good stretches, followed by some bad stretches. They ended up as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Most predicted they’d lose to Chicago in the first round.

Of course, most were wrong. The Preds swept the Blackhawks, and now they’re up 1-0 on the Blues in the second round.

“We come in, we’re supposed to be this awesome, amazing team and we didn’t start so hot,” d-man Ryan Ellis said, per NHL.com. “We started to get better, and then some injuries crept into our locker room. We battled the whole year, losing guys at various times in the year and some younger guys stepped up. But overall, it’s adversity that makes you stronger. This was one of those years we faced a lot of adversity.”

A quick glance at Nashville’s roster and it’s not hard to understand the preseason hype. The Predators have a No. 1 center in Ryan Johansen, a tremendous goal-scorer in Filip Forsberg, and one of the more underrated wingers in the league in Viktor Arvidsson.

But the real jewel is their blue line. Roman Josi is the No. 1 defenseman, paired with puck-mover Ryan Ellis, a former 11th overall draft pick. On the second pair is a former Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban, who skates with the dependable Mattias Ekholm.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better top four than that. And to think, the Preds also had Seth Jones, until they traded him to Columbus for Johansen.

The wild card heading into the playoffs was Pekka Rinne, the 34-year-old goalie who was spectacularly inconsistent during the regular season. He had a .949 save percentage in November, followed by an .875 in December. It was .933 in January, down to .888 in February, then back up to .923 in March.

So far this postseason, it’s .962.

Tonight in St. Louis, the Preds can make it six straight wins in the playoffs. More importantly, they can take a 2-0 lead over the Blues back to Nashville.

“Throughout the year, I think we’re a little bit inconsistent,” winger Colin Wilson told reporters. “But when we played our game, we were always unstoppable. We have a lot of talent, great D, great goaltending, all-around strong team with a lot of depth.”

Stream Predators-Blues

Rangers won’t let Drury interview for Sabres GM gig

Getty
1 Comment

As a former player and well-regarded young executive, there was a fit for Chris Drury in Buffalo’s front office.

Of course, there’s the exact same fit with the Rangers.

That’s why today’s news can’t come as a huge surprise. Per Sportsnet and TSN, New York has turned down Buffalo’s request to interview Drury for its vacant general manager gig.

Drury, 40, has spent the last two years climbing the Rangers’ executive depth chart. He was brought aboard in 2015 as the club’s director of player development and, a year later, was promoted to assistant GM under Jeff Gorton.

The Rangers aren’t the only ones enamored by Drury’s front office skills. Recently, USA Hockey tabbed him — along with Bill Guerin — as the braintrust responsible for building Team USA’s entry in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

As mentioned above, it was easy to see why the Sabres were interested. Drury played three seasons in Buffalo, served as team captain, and the club appears primed to make a splash with its next hire after dismissing Tim Murray.

Drury, of course, spent four seasons with the Rangers and also wore the “C.”

Should Erik Karlsson’s game-winning goal have counted?

6 Comments

We’re only one game into the Sens-Rangers series, and we already have a little bit of controversy.

Ottawa won Game 1, 2-1, thanks to Erik Karlsson‘s game-winning goal from a seemingly impossible angle (seriously, he scored from the corner).

But should it have counted?

There’s no issue with the Karlsson shot going off Henrik Lundqvist‘s mask and in, but the Rangers felt that the referees missed an icing call moments before the goal happened.

Karlsson is standing near his own blue line when he sends a pass in Jean-Gabriel Pageau‘s direction. Did Pageau get a piece of it? It’s hard to tell from the angles we have at our disposal, but Alain Vigneault seemed to have had a good look at the play.

“We felt on their game-winning goal it should have been icing,” Vigneault said, per Sportsnet. “When we look at it, and look at the angles we get, I think it should have been icing. But at the end of the game you gotta play and you gotta do more than we did tonight to win.”

Challenging icing calls isn’t permitted, so when the officials decided that Pageau touched the puck, there’s nothing more the Rangers could do to reverse the call (except get the puck out of the zone when they had the chance).