Author: James O'Brien


NHL puts ‘select number’ of Kings – Sharks Stadium Series tickets on sale


During a press event for the Los Angeles Kings – San Jose Sharks 2015 Stadium Series game (at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 21, 2015), Gary Bettman predicted a sellout. That said, the league opened up a window to buy a “select number” of tickets as of this writing.

You can try to buy some here.

There were a few other takeaways from the event, so let’s rattle them off:

(Some have been upset that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were left out of certain team promos, so perhaps there’s a running theme of transitioning away from the prominent duo in marketing … or some might take it as a sign that a trade may still happen.)

  • Kurz tweeted a photo of what you may call the outline for how the rink is expected to look:

Here’s Luc Robitaille on the game:

And Gary Bettman’s presser for good measure:

Stars GM says Gonchar will miss 3-5 weeks with fractured ankle

Dallas Stars v Phoenix Coyotes
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After only being vague about his injury earlier today, it’s now clear what Dallas Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar is dealing with. GM Jim Nill said he’ll miss about three-to-five weeks with a fractured ankle, according to Mark Stepneski of the team website.

This comes on the heels of better news for other Stars players, as it appears that they dodged a bullet with Kari Lehtonen and finally reached a deal with rising blueliner Brenden Dillon.

Frankly, Gonchar’s absence might not be such a blow to the Stars, despite what his $5 million cap hit might indicate. The 40-year-old’s offensive skills seem to be on a steep decline and his possession stats were pretty brutal despite cushy zone starts. It might go too far to say that the Stars are better off without the veteran defenseman … but it’s not out of the question, either.

Still, it’s pretty obvious that defense is the most glaring concern for a Stars team that’s seemingly taking significant strides in becoming a West contender.

It’s common for management to spin an injury as “an opportunity for other players,” but considering the solid crop of young defensive prospects in Dallas’ system, such comments might actually be accurate in this case.

Risk Factors: Columbus Blue Jackets edition

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Six
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From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you“Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Columbus Blue Jackets

1. Nathan Horton’s extended health nightmare – As much as the Blue Jackets wore down their opponents with a relentless mentality, one feels that the team needs some more “high-level” talent to truly take the next step. Horton was supposed to be a legitimate top-line winger for Columbus after signing what’s looking like an increasingly disastrous deal, but that obviously hasn’t happened just yet.

While the team is providing semi-optimistic updates about his degenerative back condition, it all sounds awfully ominous.

Really, even when Horton was able to suit up in 2013-14, it was difficult to believe that he was a) healthy and b) comfortable in a new setting. He managed only four goals and 18 points in 35 games and logged his lowest amount of ice time (15:54) since averaged 13:20 minutes per game as a rookie with the Florida Panthers in 2003-04.

Such problems could really put a lot of extra pressure on the next guys in line, such as Scott Hartnell. Considering the significant parity in the NHL, it can be a cruel jump from receiving cushy zone starts and easier matchups to shouldering tougher minutes and strenuous defensive assignments.

2. Bob or Nothing – The Blue Jackets learned some painful lessons about life without Sergei Bobrovsky when he dealt with some injury issues in December 2013.

Curtis McElhinney went 10-11-1 in 28 appearances last season – a considerably larger number than Columbus probably hoped – and while he wasn’t an outright disaster, the drop-off between Bobrovsky and McElhinney was significant.

The Blue Jackets opted against getting more accomplished backup for “Bob” this summer, leaving the gig to McElhinney and/or prospects like Oscar Dansk. Back in July, team president John Davidson said he believed that the team won’t need to lean on Bobrovsky quite as much going forward:

“It’s about knowing you have a chance to do some damage. This isn’t on a wing and a prayer anymore,” Davidson said, via “This isn’t hoping [Bobrovsky] stops 55 shots. This is a team that has capabilities of winning at home, winning on the road, and doing some damage.”

For all those bold words, it’s hard to deny the notion that this team’s outlook could become pretty grim if Bob goes down for an extended amount of time.

Heck, things could even get a little tense if he’s not so happy about the idea of playing out his contract year …

Oilers’ Perron ends night early after injury to ribs

Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks
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The Edmonton Oilers announced that power forward David Perron won’t return to Wednesday’s preseason game because of an injury to his ribs.

Perron, 26, actually returned to the ice after being shaken up by an open-ice hit by Arizona Coyotes defenseman Matt Smaby, but eventually he either couldn’t deal with the discomfort and/or the team thought it might be wise to proceed with caution.

This apparently isn’t the only issue he’s dealt with during the preseason:

Injuries dogged Perron for a significant chunk of his time with the St. Louis Blues, as he was limited to 10 games in 2010-11 and 57 games in 2011-12 because of significant concussion problems.

He played every regular season game of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season with St. Louis and appeared in 78 of 82 games last season with Edmonton, setting career-highs with 28 goals and 57 points while providing a notable physical presence (116 hits, ranking first among forwards and third overall in Edmonton).

It’s unclear at this moment how serious this issue might be, but Perron’s clearly had a tough go of things lately.

Update: The Oilers don’t sound overly concerned:

Pens are uncertain if Malkin can play opening night

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Six

The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t know if Evgeni Malkin can suit up for their season-opener on Oct. 9, but they could know soon, according to GM Jim Rutherford.

“The next few days will be the turning point, as to whether he’ll be available for opening night,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari.

Malkin, 28, hasn’t been able to participate in Penguins training camp because of an undisclosed injury. The star center still hasn’t been cleared to practice and might not be by the weekend, as new head coach Mike Johnston told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Jason Mackey.

Through all the changes in the Penguins organization, nagging injuries could still have a big impact on the team. Sidney Crosby’s first preseason came tonight for a variety of reasons, but playing it safe with his healing wrist has to be one of them. Malkin had his own struggles last season, as he was limited to 60 regular season games because of a foot injury and a lower-body issue. He hasn’t enjoyed a fully healthy season since 2009-09, though he did just fine in 2011-12 (109 points in 75 games on his way to his lone Hart Trophy win).

As much as people beat up on the Penguins’ old regime, former head coach Dan Bylsma managed significant injuries as the team remained a perennial contender. Johnston might face a tough start in Pittsburgh if key figures like Malkin aren’t 100 percent or are unavailable.