James O'Brien

Max Pacioretty, Pk Subban,

Habs’ biggest question: Scoring

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Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and head coach Michel Therrien seem pretty low-key about their team’s underwhelming offense.

Therrien: “We scored just eight fewer goals than the Chicago Blackhawks.”

Bergevin (paraphrasing): “Hey, the New York Rangers were winning a bunch of 2-1 games, so let’s keep doing what we’re doing.”

Yes, the NHL is a league where defense and goaltending are highly important facets of the game, but at what point does the balance go off?

There are plenty of warning signs that the Canadiens could face a severe dip if the current “Carey can handle it” plan falls through.

They’ve been a weak possession team. Spin goal totals whichever way you’d like, but the bottom line is that their 221 goals for tied the Pittsburgh Penguins for the least of any playoff team last season.

While the Penguins acquired in-his-prime polarizing sniper Phil Kessel this summer, the Canadiens didn’t do much beyond adding fading polarizing sniper Alexander Semin and polarizing pest Zach Kassian to the mix.

Yes, Max Pacioretty deserves the accolades heaped upon him from sources including Jonathan Quick. It’s true that P.K. Subban can lead the charge on offense to an often dazzling degree. Semin could regain his self-confidence and upstarts like Alex Galchenyuk could make significant strides in their game.

Still, Therrien is considered a taskmaster and defense first-second-and-third sort of coach, so it wouldn’t be prudent to expect him to implement changes that would drastically boost offense.

If goals come, it will be in some combination of better shooting luck, nice work from the likes of Semin and improvement from within.

When you take everything under consideration, it’s tough to shake the impression that Montreal is more or less asking Price to repeat his all-world work from 2014-15.

Captain, come back: Alfredsson reportedly closing in on job with Sens

Daniel Alfredsson Eugene Melnyk
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Some wounds were left behind with the way Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators parted ways, but it sounds like they’ve healed quite quickly.

The team’s former captain is close to joining the Senators’ front office, TSN’s Ian Mendes reports.

The specifics are a little cloudy at the moment, as they’re nearing an agreement for Alfredsson “to accept a role in the club’s hockey operations department.”

Mendes notes that the two sides likely mended the fence when Alfredsson announced his retirement in Ottawa back in 2014:

But the door for Alfredsson’s return was opened in early December of 2014 when he officially announced his retirement from the NHL during an emotional ceremony in Ottawa. Following that event, the frostiness between Alfredsson and the organization melted away and the long-time captain was welcomed back into the fold.

With GM Bryan Murray set to retire after next season, this could be an interesting opportunity for Alfredsson. If nothing else, it’s an even clearer sign that the Senators are on good terms with their beloved former star.

Here’s the full NHL 2015 preseason schedule, starting Sept. 20

New York Islanders Blue & White Scrimmage
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In just under one month, the 2015 preseason will begin.

The league detailed its 15-day, 104-game slate in this press release.

Before PHT shares the full schedule, here are a few fun facts.

  • The New York Islanders will really get started in Brooklyn.
  • There will be neutral site games in North Saanich, B.C. (Canada’ Kraft Hockeyville game), Johnstown, Pa. (the first U.S. Kraft Hockeyville match) along with ones in Quebec City, Allentown, Pa., Bakersfield, Calif., Halifax, N.S., Las Vegas, Nev., Providence R.I., St. John’s, Nfld. and Saskatoon, Sask.

OK, with that out of the way, here’s your full preseason schedule. (In case you’re wondering, the regular season begins on Oct. 7.)

2015 NHL PRESEASON SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)

SUNDAY, SEPT. 20
Boston vs. New Jersey, at Providence, R.I. (Dunkin’ Donuts Center), 7 p.m.
Florida at Nashville (split-squad doubleheader), 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPT. 21
New Jersey at NY Rangers, 7 p.m.
Carolina at Washington, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia (split squad) at NY Islanders (split squad), 7 p.m.
Philadelphia (split squad) vs. NY Islanders (split squad), at Allentown, Pa. (PPL Center), 7 p.m.
Ottawa (split squad) at Toronto (split squad), 7:30 p.m.
Toronto (split squad) at Ottawa (split squad), 7:30 p.m.
Buffalo at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Calgary (split squad) at Edmonton (split squad), 9 p.m.
Edmonton (split squad) at Calgary (split squad), 9 p.m.
Arizona vs. Los Angeles, at Bakersfield, Calif. (Rabobank Arena), 10 p.m.
San Jose vs. Vancouver, at Victoria, B.C. (The Q Centre), 10:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 22
Washington at Boston, 7 p.m.
NY Rangers at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Carolina at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
St. Louis (split squad) at Columbus (split squad), 7 p.m.
Toronto at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Nashville at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Dallas at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Columbus (split squad) at St. Louis (split squad), 8 p.m.
Minnesota at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
Detroit at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Anaheim at Colorado, 9 p.m.
San Jose at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
Arizona at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 23
Ottawa at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
Chicago at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Winnipeg at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24
NY Rangers at Boston, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Washington at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Dallas at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Calgary at Colorado, 9 p.m.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 25
NY Islanders (split squad) at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
NY Islanders (split squad) at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Florida at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Edmonton at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
Vancouver at Calgary, 9 p.m.
Los Angeles at Anaheim, 10 p.m.
Arizona at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 26
Columbus at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m.
Carolina vs. NY Islanders, at Halifax, N.S. (Scotiabank Centre), 5 p.m.
Edmonton vs. Minnesota, at Saskatoon, Sask. (SaskTel Centre), 6 p.m.
Boston at Detroit, 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Ottawa, 7 p.m.
NY Rangers at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Montreal at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Dallas, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Anaheim at San Jose, 9 p.m.
Calgary at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 27
Carolina vs. Ottawa, at St. John’s, Nfld. (Mile One Centre), 3:30 p.m.
Winnipeg at Minnesota, 6 p.m.
Florida at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles at Colorado, 8 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPT. 28
Detroit at Boston, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at NY Rangers, 7 p.m.
Washington at NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
Montreal vs. Pittsburgh, at Quebec City, Que. (Videotron Centre), 7 p.m.
Arizona at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 29
Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay, at Johnstown, Pa. (Cambria County War Memorial Arena), 7 p.m.
Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Columbus at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Ottawa at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Colorado at Calgary, 9 p.m.
Arizona at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
Anaheim at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 30
Boston at NY Rangers, 7 p.m.
Washington at Carolina, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

THURSDAY, OCT. 1
Ottawa at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Dallas at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Buffalo at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Chicago at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Calgary at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
Vancouver at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
Colorado at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

FRIDAY, OCT. 2
Boston at Washington, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Columbus at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Toronto at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
San Jose at Arizona, 10 p.m.

SATURDAY, OCT. 3
Montreal at Ottawa, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Florida, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Dallas at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Winnipeg at Calgary, 9 p.m.
San Jose at Anaheim, 9 p.m.
Edmonton at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
Colorado vs. Los Angeles, at Las Vegas, Nev. (MGM Grand Garden Arena), 10 p.m.

SUNDAY, OCT. 4
NY Islanders at Washington, 5 p.m.

 

Wild assistant Sydor arrested for suspected drunk driving, child endangerment

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild
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Minnesota Wild assistant coach Darryl Sydor was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk in Fridley, Minn. on Thursday, Dave Aeikens of ABC affiliate KSTP reports.

Sydor, 43, was driving with his 12-year-old son in the vehicle, according to the Fridley Police Department. He reportedly failed field sobriety tests and had a blood-alcohol level of .30.

Local police expect Sydor to appear in court today, with the specific charges being a second-degree DUI and child endangerment, the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff reports.

Sydor has been an assistant with the Wild for the past four years and enjoyed a lengthy NHL playing career, most notably with the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning. He has four children.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes Sydor’s struggles with alcohol and decision to seek treatment in the past:

Sydor said in April that he sought treatment for alcoholism last summer. He entered a rehabilitation facility in Canada and had tattoos of the date of his sobriety on each hand between his thumb and index finger (where you would hold a glass). He said, in April, that it was a reminder that he should not drink.

The Wild provided the following statement regarding Sydor:

We are aware of the reports regarding Darryl Sydor. We are continuing to gather information and will have further comment at the appropriate time.

Update: Sydor was released on $12K bail on Friday; read more about that here.

Under Pressure: Carey Price

Carey Price,
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The good news is that Carey Price is coming off a season for the ages. The bad news is that the Montreal Canadiens are basically asking him to do it again.

Let’s make no mistake about it; Price was the reason why Montreal won its division and made it to the second round in 2014-15.

Price wasn’t just great in 2014-15; he was heads and shoulders above everyone else, winning the Hart, Vezina, Lindsay and Jennings Trophies. To make an understatement, he’d be hard-pressed to top 44 wins and a .933 save percentage next season.

P.K. Subban seems to understand that it’s not the kind of season that’s easily replicated.

“If we expect him to play the way he’s played this year every year, it’s unfair,” Subban said following their playoff exit, according to NHL.com “There’s going to be ups and downs, and it’s tough to be at that level every single game. He’s managed to do it this year, but we have to realize our job is to make his job easier, not to make it more difficult.”

Montreal didn’t really do much to boost its offense this summer, so any improvement would have to come from within … or they’ll need Price to pull a rabbit out of a hat once more.

Let’s not forget, either, that being the goalie in Montreal is an inherently pressure-packed job. It’s something Price acknowledged to ESPN way back in 2009.

“It’s impossible not to notice,” Price says. “I’ve gotten used to it, but every day, they’re there.”

And now “they” expect an encore performance.

Related: Montreal needs to be more than just Carey Price