Joe Thornton

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Video: Two streaks end at once as Johansen scores against Dubnyk

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We saw a case of “Finally, already?” on Thursday between the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators.

Finally: Ryan Johansen scored his first goal since his scary surgery during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, not to mention signing that big contract. And someone finally scored a goal against Devan Dubnyk, who was riding a three-game shutout streak.

Already: Johansen managed that goal just 49 seconds into Thursday’s game:

In a lot of cases of noteworthy players not scoring goals, the message is not to panic, and that’s true to an extent with Johansen.

The concern with the talented center is that he’s just not shooting much at all. He came into Thursday’s action with just 23 shots on goal through 17 games, not that much more than one per contest. By Hockey Reference’s numbers, he’s gone from almost two-and-a-half SOG per game during his Columbus days (2.30, with those numbers climbing as he established himself) to less than two per night in Nashville (1.94).

Some of that comes from the linemates Johansen plays with, as Filip Forsberg is one of the NHL’s most underrated snipers and Viktor Arvidsson is one heck of a volume shooter. Still, there’s a balance to strike; even the Joe Thorntons of the world should “keep goalies honest” by firing the puck instead of making a play every now and then. In that regard, Johansen reminds a bit of Ryan Getzlaf, as there’s another shooting talent there that you’d ideally like to see him call his own number more often.

Perhaps scoring a goal like this – on a nice play, but from an odd angle – might encourage Johansen to fire a way just a bit more?

For more on Dubnyk’s streak, check out this post.

This game ended up being a high-scoring affair, with the Wild rallying for a 6-4 win. Bruce Boudreau’s feelings: mixed.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks

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The San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning don’t meet often enough to really build a hateful rivalry, but each teams boast collections of talent that should make Wednesday’s meeting a lot of fun.

The Lightning come in with Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos riding high as possibly the hottest one-two punch in the NHL. Brent Burns, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and the Sharks bring plenty of starpower to the table in their own right.

Tampa Bay won’t sneak up on anyone with its 11-2-2 record, including a 6-1-1 mark in the past eight games. The Sharks are heating up in their own right, bringing a four-game winning streak (as well as victories in five of six) into this one.

You can watch the game on NBCSN, online, and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

For a detailed preview, read this.

Best NHL trade targets with Duchene off the market

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Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, and other teams must feel a little left out after this weekend.

While those GMs either were afraid to pay the sticker price or weren’t in the conversation, the bottom line is that the Ottawa Senators got Matt Duchene, the Nashville Predators added Kyle Turris, and the Colorado Avalanche’s future looks brighter.

[Breaking down blockbuster Matt Duchene, Kyle Turris trade]

So, what’s next for teams hoping to add that missing piece?

As Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (sub required), “some stuff will always come up.”

With that in mind, let’s consider some of the best trade targets post-Duchene. For the sake of brevity, we’ll stick to forwards; maybe there will be a time to discuss the Keith Yandles of the world some other day. The likelihood of possible moves varies, and will likely change dramatically as the season goes along.

(Note: As usual, Cap Friendly was a glorious resource for this.)

Mandatory, especially unrealistic mentions

John Tavares: Even if they’re more worried about letting him go than they’re letting on, it’s very difficult to picture New York Islanders GM Garth Snow actually trading the face of the franchise and a guy who is, during the bleakest moments, the only bright side to look on.

Still, I’d have to turn in my blogger’s badge if I didn’t at least mention Tavares, because a team would offer up its vital organs if JT actually did go on the market.

The Sedin twins are unlikely as well, though in wildly different ways. Throw Joe Thornton here, too.

A bucket of Golden Knights

Even if the Vegas Golden Knights remain competitive heading into the trade deadline, GM George McPhee could be forgiven if he jumps on a good offer. It’s possible they can have their cake and eat it too, really.

  • James Neal: You can go in circles talking about the negatives (he’s 30, can sometimes go invisible for a while, takes bad frustration penalties), but getting a big, prime-ish-age sniper could be huge for a contending team. If Vegas decides he’s not a part of the future, why not sell high?
  • David Perron: A lot like Neal – they even both had stints with the Penguins – except a lower ceiling, one year younger, and a smaller cap hit. His slick mitts give him the potential to be a gamebreaker if a team doesn’t ask for too much.
  • Jonathan Marchessault: The 26-year-old carries just a $750K cap hit, and he’s at a fascinating fork in the road for his career. Vegas might want to keep him, but what kind of raise is coming? And what if a contender tight against the cap presents a war chest of assets for him, considering that cheap 2017-18 mark?

Lightning round

Alex Galchenyuk: Free Alex.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Could the latest $6M Oilers forward be gone?

Jesse Puljujärvi: Would Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers really cut ties with another high draft pick?

Patrick Maroon, Ryan Strome: Two guys on expiring contracts. Bargain-hunting GMs might as well keep Chia on their speed dial, right?

Phil Kessel: Ugh, it’s irksome to mention, but it feels required. There’s at least some merit to the murmurs.

Rick Nash: See more on how Nash could fit into a mini-Rangers rebuild here. Nash is tantalizing, but the Rangers would need to find a way to make things work for a trade partner considering his Nash-sized cap hit.

Evander Kane: Has his issues, but he’s a power forward in his prime, and the 26-year-old seems like he’s playing at a high level. Manageable cap hit at $5.25M, especially since the trade deadline tends to make guys like him easier to get under the ceiling.

Gabriel Landeskog: Tough to imagine the Avalanche making such bold moves in succession, but then again, why not at least gauge the market? With four years remaining at about $5.57M per, it would require a major undertaking. What if Sakic offered to take, say, Ryan Callahan‘s problem deal on for Landeskog in exchange for a boatload of assets? Just saying.

[Sakic’s patience pays off in Duchene trade]

Gustav Nyquist, various Red Wings: Gotta pull off the rebuild Band-Aid sometime, right? Maybe?

Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk: Two affordable Maple Leafs forwards who are likely to get lost in the shuffle when Auston Matthews & Co. burn through their rookie deals. JVR is a chronically underrated winger.

Patric Hornqvist: The scorer of the 2017 Stanley Cup-clinching goal is an old 30 considering all of his battles in front of the net. Maybe he’d go the other way if the Penguins wanted to make a move or a series of moves?

Tomas Plekanec, Thomas Vanek, etc.: There are a handful of aging, reasonably useful forwards on expiring deals. Imagine them all listed here; check Cap Friendly for even more options.

***

That’s quite the list, and some of those players are even worth trading for. Maybe Blue Jackets and Hurricanes fans can daydream about better days, too?

Feel free to add any names you believe are missing in the comments, emails, or via Twitter. You can even embrace the freedom to be more out-there than the idea of trading Tavares. Have fun.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

We may see a rematch of that Jamie Benn – Dustin Byfuglien fight

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Confession: generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of hockey fights. To be specific, the choreographed ones featuring career fighters tends to be gross and/or boring far more frequently than they are exciting.

(Besides, why watch guys fight for a living in a relatively awkward hockey setting instead of trained fighters in MMA or boxing?)

Maybe we can blame this on Vincent Lecavalier vs. Jarome Iginla, but the exceptions also often come down to when skilled/star players drop the gloves. This isn’t to say that those bouts are always predicated on passion, yet they tend to seem more “real” than when some poor soul tangles with Tanner Glass.

It goes over the top when you either see two big, bruising stars throw knuckles (although the flip side of two tiny, often-ineffective fighters can be fun for the comic relief of it all). With that in mind, a recent Dustin ByfuglienJamie Benn bout was quite the sight. Watch it in the video above this post’s headline, and then consider this: Benn told Buffy to prepare from round two when the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets face each other tonight.

Wow. Can officials call an instigator penalty before a game even starts?

(Fun fight fact: according to Hockey Fights, Benn has dropped the gloves with David Backes three times, while every other opponent was a one-off. Byfuglien’s never fought anyone more than once … until tonight?

For those who are entertained by big-time bouts, this has been a quality-over-quantity start to the 2017-18 season, as you may remember Ryan Johansen and Joe Pavelski squaring off.

Stars – Jets already figured to be a game to watch considering the offensive firepower on both sides, but if you need some violence sprinkled into all that talent and finesse, then it might check off that box for you, too.

Now, since we brought it up, here’s Iginla vs. Lecavalier:

(Note: an image search didn’t come up with anything for Benn vs. Byfuglien, so when in doubt, go with that funny-great photo of Joe Thornton vs. Benn, right?

H/T to Sportsnet)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Are the Rangers bad enough to win the lottery?

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–Sharks defenseman Paul Martin inspired this young fan to raise money for his anti-bullying foundation. “The reason I wanted to do this was because Paul had an event and I was too young. But then when I gave him the check, he invited me, my friend, and my mom and my dad.” (fearthefin.com)

Joe Thornton did a Q&A with ESPN.com about a number of hilarious topics, including his current love of Netflix and that ESPN body issue. Thornton is awesome.  (ESPN)

–Wayne Gretzky asked Dr. Murray Howe (Gordie’s son) about his dad’s life. “One of the best lessons Dad taught me was how to be a good hockey parent. He never pushed me to play. After each game he’d ask me, “Did you have fun?” He didn’t point out my mistakes or my teammates’. Instead, he’d identify at least one thing that I did well. Then he’d buy me ice cream.” (mcleans.ca)

–This young Chicago Blackhawks fan that has a muscle disorder in his legs dressed up as the United Center’s Zamboni for Halloween. “Some nights I was working on it ’til two a.m.,” Jim DelGenio said. (abc7ny.com)

–Players from the CWHL and NWHL feel like they need to merge the leagues for the benefit of women’s hockey. “We always talk about it — the best in the world have to merge,” Team Canada’s Laura Fortino said . “We hope the commissioners of both sides come to that reality, that in order for women’s hockey to get to the peak where we want it to be, we all have to be playing with the best.” (New York Times)

–The New Jersey Devils are one of the biggest surprises in the league this season, but they need to find a way to keep it going in November. They kicked off November with a bang last year, they just couldn’t keep it going. (pucksandpitchforks.com)

–Like the Devils, the Canucks are off to a surprising start as well. One reason they’ve had some success is because of strong goaltending from Anders Nilsson and Jacob Markstrom. But which one of these two goalies should be the starter based on advanced stats? (thecanucksway.com)

–The Leafs’ roster is filled with promise this season, but they’re still missing a number one defenseman. But do teams really need a top defender to win a Stanley Cup? Even if they fall short of that goal, they shouldn’t feel too bad about it because the future is bright. (Vice.com)

–The Rangers have been pretty underwhelming this season, but are they actually bad enough to win the draft lottery? Getting the first overall pick could help push them toward a Stanley Cup. (nhlnumbers.com)

Derek Dorsett is off to a crazy start for the Canucks. He has six goals (first on the team) and eight points (second on the team) this season. How long can this keep going? (dailyhive.com)

–University of Denver head coach Jim Montgomery interviewed for the Panthers job this off-season, but he didn’t get it. Instead, he’s back at the University of Denver. The fact that he returned is huge for the team and the hockey program. (collegehockeynews.com)

–You may not recognize Ryan Zapolski’s name, but you might in the near future. Zapolski, who plays in the KHL, is one of the favorites to represent Team USA between the pipes at the upcoming Olympics. He never would’ve imagined that this would be possible. “It’s disappointing for fans that the NHL wouldn’t be there [in PyeongChang],” Zapolski said. “but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.” (NBC Sports)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.