Jason Brough

NBCSN adds Matthews’ Toronto debut to TV schedule

13 Comments

NBCSN is on the Auston Matthews bandwagon. The home for NHL hockey in the United States announced today that it will televise Matthews’ first regular-season game at Air Canada Centre, this Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET, when Matthews’ Toronto Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins.

Last night in Ottawa, Matthews, 19, became the first ever player to score four goals in his NHL debut. The Arizona native was the first overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Here’s the NBCSN schedule:

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Thurs., October 13 NHL Live NBCSN 7 p.m.
Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN 8 p.m.
NHL Overtime NBCSN 10:30 p.m.*
Fri., October 14 NHL Live NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Chicago at Nashville** NBCSN 8 p.m.
NHL Overtime NBCSN 10:30 p.m.*
Sat., October 15 Boston at Toronto** NBCSN 7 p.m.

*immediately following game coverage
**subject to local blackout in Chicago/Boston

The Panthers’ new puck-moving defense debuts tonight

Getty
1 Comment

The Florida Panthers racked up a franchise-high 103 points last season.

Their response?

They almost completely changed their defense.

Out went Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov, traded to Vancouver and Buffalo, respectively. Brian Campbell signed in Chicago, while Willie Mitchell’s career is probably over.

Of the six d-men who dressed in last season’s opener, the only ones left are Aaron Ekblad and Alex Petrovic. Joining those two are Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, Michael Matheson, and Mark Pysyk.

“We had a successful regular season,” said head coach Gerard Gallant, per the Sun Sentinel. “Obviously, we changed some dynamics on our team. We’re more puck movers, more skill, quicker. Hopefully, that pays off.”

The Panthers kick things off tonight against New Jersey at BB&T Center. They’ve already been hit by injuries to Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau, two of their best forwards, so there’s more to watch than just the defense.

But make no mistake, this is a team that believes it’s got the roster to compete for a Stanley Cup, led by number-one center Aleksander Barkov and Ekblad, its number-one defenseman.

“There’s a core of players here that know: we’ve given you great teammates, we’re going to add people as the opportunities arise,” co-owner Doug Cifu told Yahoo Sports in July, “but it’s up to you guys to come together as a team and win multiple Stanley Cups and that’s the plan.”

Related: Yandle calls Panthers an ‘all-in organization,’ excited to play with Ekblad

Canucks sign Skille to one-year deal

Getty

The Vancouver Canucks made the signing of winger Jack Skille official today.

Skille, 29, gets a one-year, one-way deal worth $700,000.  A former seventh overall draft pick of the Blackhawks, he came to Vancouver’s camp on a PTO, saying he was “willing to chew through rope” to make the Canucks.

He then turned heads in the preseason, using his skating and size on the forecheck, hitting defensemen and turning over pucks. He essentially pushed out Emerson Etem, who was lost to waivers today.

Skille played 74 games for Colorado last season, scoring eight goals with six assists.

The Canucks don’t open their regular season until Saturday, when they’re at home to Calgary. It remains to be seen if Skille will be in the lineup against the Flames. He’s a candidate to be the lone extra forward.

One bad game and the line blender comes out in Chicago

7 Comments

To nobody’s surprise, Coach Q flipped on the line blender this morning at Blackhawks practice, the day after a disappointing 5-2 loss to St. Louis at United Center.

Per Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, when the ‘Hawks take on the Predators tomorrow in Nashville, you can expect to see Artemi Panarin bumped up to Jonathan Toews‘ line, with Tyler Motte coming up to fill Panarin’s spot with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov.

Marian Hossa did not practice today, but is still expected to play against the Preds. It remains to be seen where he’ll skate, if it’s with Toews and Motte, or if he’ll take Motte’s spot on the third line. (Toews and Motte were flanked by Richard Panik at practice, so Hossa to the third line is a decent bet.)

Suffice to say, it was not a good start to the season for the Blackhawks, who lost the special teams battle with the Blues and were also outplayed at even strength. Chicago’s fourth line, comprised of Vince Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz, and Jordin Tootoo only received limited ice time, but when they did get out there the puck was almost exclusively in Chicago’s end. (Tootoo, who logged just 4:26 last night, could see his spot taken by Dennis Rasmussen against the Preds.)

Granted, it’s only been one game, but this was the worry for the Blackhawks. That they would have trouble replacing the likes of Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Ladd. That their bottom six, comprised mostly of youngsters, would be a weakness.

Four Blackhawks made their NHL debuts last night, two of them forwards (Motte and Schmaltz) and two on defense (Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny). Forwards Hinostroza and Ryan Hartman barely have any NHL experience either.

“There’s definitely some learning going on,” head coach Joel Quenneville conceded after the loss, per AP.

“We didn’t do a whole lot of what we wanted to. Just our energy, speed and work ethic wasn’t quite there,” Toews said, per CSN Chicago. “So we have to regroup, try to come with that energy in the next one and obviously play a little bit smarter too. … As a group, we weren’t good enough tonight.”

Okposo (knee) out for season opener, but could play Sunday in Sabres’ second game

Getty
3 Comments

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Aside from missing top-line center Jack Eichel, the Buffalo Sabres will open the season without their two top offseason additions, forward Kyle Okposo and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

Coach Dan Bylsma provided the update Thursday, before Buffalo hosts Montreal.

Okposo is still nursing a sore knee after being hit by a puck in practice. Bylsma said there’s a good chance he could play at Edmonton on Sunday, when the Sabres open a four-game road trip.

Kulikov is scratched after hurting his back during a preseason game two weeks ago.

Buffalo signed Okposo to a six-year contract in free agency and acquired Kulikov in a trade with Florida in June.

As for Eichel , Bylsma said the second-year star will miss “weeks and not days” after spraining his ankle in practice Wednesday.

Related: Eichel expected to miss at least a month with a high-ankle sprain