James O'Brien


Report: A bye week? In the … NHL?


Let’s face it; most players would probably admit that an 82-game season can be a slog.

Teams can intermittent breaks, yet that’s often at the cost of tough stretches. That may still be the case, but ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun has quite the report about the NHL accepting the NHLPA’s request for a five-day “bye week” beginning in 2016-17.

It looks like the tweak would fit right around the “dog days” of the regular season.

LeBrun reports that the players were able to gain this tweak as part of the changes to the All-Star Game format.

A little more from LeBrun:

Players won’t have to report for practice until after 4 p.m. on the fifth day if they have a game on the sixth day, a source said was part of the agreement. If they don’t have a game on the sixth day, they would have all of the fifth day off.

LeBrun also discusses the bye week format in this Travis Hamonic-heavy edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, which you can watch here. (His bit begins around the 2:38 mark.)

How do you feel about this idea? Dare we wonder if a bye week could ever be used around playoff time as well if this idea really takes off?

Update: Red Wings put Franzen (concussion symptoms) on LTIR

Johan Franzen

DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Red Wings have put forward Johan Franzen on long-term injury reserve because of concussion-like symptoms.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says Franzen is out indefinitely.

Franzen played on back-to-back days in October, returning to the ice for the first time in nine months. He missed 49 games last year because of a concussion and also missed much of the previous season with concussion-like symptoms.

When healthy enough to play, Franzen was a key scorer for the Red Wings. He has 187 goals and 370 points in 602 games since making his NHL debut during the 2005-06 season.

Also Thursday, Detroit sent center Andreas Athanasiou to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League.

Hossa, Blackhawks stay hot with OT win vs. Oilers


EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin kept up their points onslaught, and the Chicago Blackhawks kept on rolling.

Marian Hossa scored 1:08 into overtime and Panarin had a goal and two assists to lift Blackhawks over the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Wednesday night for their third consecutive victory.

Patrick Kane had two assists and extended his point streak to 14 games but had his goal streak ended at seven. He leads the NHL with 13 goals and 30 points.

Panarin, a 24-year-old rookie, has points in six straight games, amassing five goals and five assists in that time while on a line with Kane and Artem Anisimov. Kane and Panarin came into the game having accounted for more than 37 percent of team scoring this season.

Hossa turned a long pass from Brent Seabrook into a breakaway and beat Anders Nilsson with a slap shot from in close. The winner came after Corey Crawford made a huge save on Taylor Hall‘s blast 30 seconds into overtime. Crawford finished with 34 saves, none bigger than that one.

“That obviously kept us in the game, that was an unbelievable save, a highlight save,” Hossa said. “That’s why we won the game. Even though the game was almost over with a few minutes left, that kind of save gives a boost to the bench and when you are up on the next shift, that definitely gives you an extra boost.”

Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw also scored for the Blackhawks, who began a six-game trip.

“It was good to get a win starting this trip,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “But give them credit, they were all over us in the first period, and we got it going a little bit in the second, but that might have been the only stretch where we liked how we were playing.”

Benoit Pouliot, Jordan Eberle and Leon Draisaitl scored, Teddy Purcell had two assists and Edmonton lost its third straight.

Draisaitl tied it with 2:46 remaining off a feed from Taylor Hall. The play was set up by Purcell winning a loose-puck battle in the corner and passing to Hall. It was Draisaitl’s sixth goal and 14th point in nine games this season.

“For me, and if I say this it’s probably going to come out (wrong), it felt like a win, because we were able to come back and finally get it to overtime,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “And, in overtime, the way it goes, 3-on-3, anything can happen. We got our chance, they got their one and it went in the net for them.”

Edmonton had 11 shots on Crawford in the first period but had its best chance early in the second when defenseman Darnell Nurse hit a post.

Keith opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the second by redirecting Kane’s feed past Nilsson.

Chicago made it 2-0 with 5 minutes left in the second after a bouncing puck ended up on Panarin’s stick. The rookie was undefended while scoring his seventh goal this season.

Edmonton clawed back shortly after. Brandon Davidson sprang Eberle on a breakaway, and Eberle beat Crawford high to the glove side.

Nurse danced through traffic and passed to Pouliot in front for the goal, and the Oilers tied it 4 minutes into the third.

Chicago regained the lead with 8 minutes left. Shaw fanned on his initial shot but was able to convert his second whack at it to make it 3-2.

NOTES: Chicago forward Teuvo Teravainen left the game with an upper-body injury. … Remaining out for the Oilers were Connor McDavid (collarbone), Justin Schultz (back), Rob Klinkhammer (leg) and Luke Gazdic (illness). … Both teams return to action on Friday night. The Blackhawks play in Calgary, and the Oilers host the New Jersey Devils.

Kuznetsov’s OT winner, Holtby’s strong work combine for Caps win


Tonight’s first 3-on-3 OT session only had so much time to sell skeptics on the 2016 NHL All-Star Game’s bold format change.

The reason is simple: Evgeny Kuznetsov only needed 45 seconds of extra time to score a dazzling 2-1 OT winner for the Washington Capitals against the Detroit Red Wings.

That wait wasn’t long … but another wait continues.

Alex Ovechkin didn’t score a goal in this one, so he remains tied with Sergei Fedorov with 483 goals, the most any Russian-born player has ever managed in the NHL.

Petr Mrazek may be the main reason why Ovechkin’s slumping on the precipice of that milestone. The Capitals star fired 15 shots on goal the last time he faced Detroit with a chance to break the tie, and six failed to beat Detroit’s goalie tonight.

That’s far less frustrating for Ovechkin when the Capitals win, which they did this time around.

As much attention as those Russian forwards generated, Braden Holtby has a legitimate claim as the top player of this game. This stick save serves as his resume in a more visceral way than mentioning his 25 out of 26 saves:

The Capitals begin a five-game homestand tomorrow, so they must hope that tonight’s momentum carries to Thursday.

Jets end losing streak at six by beating slumping Canucks

Winnipeg Jets vs Vancouver Canucks

No matter what, one of the Winnipeg Jets or Vancouver Canucks would have ended their troubling slumps on Wednesday night.

It turns out that the Jets were the ones to do it, as they halted a six-game losing streak by beating the Canucks 4-1.

That keeps Vancouver in that funk; they’ve now lost four in a row and have dropped seven of nine games in November.

Not every member of the Canucks is panicking, at least.

It was a nasty game at times, but for the Jets, a win holds its obvious beauty. They’ll need to wait to try to make this win into a winning streak, as they don’t play again until Saturday.

Check out that aforementioned nastiness in this post.