Jason Brough


Blackhawks banking on improvement from rookies


It wasn’t so much that the Chicago Blackhawks came back from 3-0 down to beat the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, it was the manner in which they did it.

After a couple of the usual suspects, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane, combined to make it 3-1 in the third period, it was Vincent Hinostroza with his first NHL goal to make it 3-2, and then Hinostroza again, setting up Ryan Hartman to tie things up. Marian Hossa‘s 11th of the season won it in overtime, assisted by Hinostroza, who entered the contest with zero points in 16 NHL games and left with a goal and two assists in 17.

Prior to Saturday, the ‘Hawks had mostly been living off their big guns. What they needed was exactly what they got against the Canucks — some timely production from their rookies, who’ve been tasked with replacing the likes of Andrew Shaw, Andrew Ladd, and Teuvo Teravainen.

“Yeah, when you look at Vinnie getting his first and Hartsy on a great play,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “We know these guys can score. They play the right way, you can put them in situations all over the ice and against most players in a game. There’s some progression there. Whether producing or not, playing the right way will be the best way for them to get better.”

Blackhawks rookies


In order to remain legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, the Blackhawks will need their youngsters to step up. A two-line team just isn’t going to get it done in the playoffs, no matter how great the two lines. And according to GM Stan Bowman, barring injuries, it’s unlikely there will be enough cap space to add significant pieces at the trade deadline.

“We have six first-year players on our team,” Bowman told ESPN.com. “I’m looking more at those players being better players in the spring than they are now, just through playing 60-70 games in the league. I think we’re going to be improving from within more so than we are adding from outside. I like that part of it. I like the excitement of having Nick Schmaltz or Ryan Hartman or Tyler Motte or [Vincent] Hinostroza; those guys are doing pretty well right now. We haven’t given them big responsibility yet, but I think as we go along we’re looking at that sort of as our internal improvement, so to speak.”

The Blackhawks (13-4-2) are in Edmonton to play the Oilers tonight.

Flyers’ Stolarz seems likely to make NHL debut this week

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Michal Neuvirth is hurt and Steve Mason has been struggling.

That means AHL callup Anthony Stolarz could be making his first NHL start very soon. The 22-year-old Philadelphia Flyers prospect has been excellent for Lehigh Valley, going 6-2-0 with a .927 save percentage.

“We’ll take it a day at a time,” head coach Dave Hakstol said this morning, per CSN Philly. “I said a week ago, you’re going to see him get a start at some point in time. Possibility? We play three games in four-and-a-half days here so it’s a possibility, but I don’t want to go too far down the road here in making a decision.”

The Flyers are coming off a 3-0 loss Saturday at home to the Lightning. They play in Sunrise against the Panthers Tuesday, then have to face the Lightning the next day in Tampa. Friday afternoon they’re back home to host the Rangers (on NBC).

It would be a surprise if Mason (4-6-3, .886) started all three of those games. A likely scenario would be Stolarz getting the nod Wednesday, with Mason getting the other two starts.

“If my name is called, I’ll be ready,” Stolarz said. “I’ve [made] huge strides in my game. I like where I am at.”

NHL reveals All-Star voting guidelines, featuring new John Scott rules


The NHL announced some new All-Star voting guidelines today, with the clear intention of discouraging another John Scott situation at the 2017 game in Los Angeles on Jan. 29.

Here are the guidelines:

— The 2017 NHL All-Star Fan Vote will allow fans to vote for one All-Star player from each Division, without regard to position. The top vote-getter from each Division will be named an NHL All-Star, as well as Captain of his respective team.

— Eligible players must be on an NHL Club’s active roster as of Nov. 1. Any player not on the active roster on that date due to injury or special circumstances can be added to the ballot if / when he returns to the NHL Club’s active roster.

— If a player is assigned / loaned to the American Hockey League (AHL) or any other minor league team between Nov. 1 and 5 p.m. on Jan. 26, the player is not eligible in All-Star balloting. However, if the minor league assignment / loan is due to conditioning reasons, the player remains eligible.

— In the event a vote leader is disqualified due to a minor league assignment or loan (or other reason) after close of the NHL All-Star Fan Vote on Jan. 2, the player with the second-most votes in that division will be named captain.

— Fans will be permitted to vote for a player from a list of all players that meet these eligibility guidelines. The list of eligible players will be updated as players are assigned to a minor league team or return from IR.

Last season, Scott played 11 games for the Coyotes before he was assigned to the AHL in January, but that assignment came after he was named an All-Star captain. He was then traded to the Canadiens and assigned to Montreal’s AHL club in St. John’s.

Scott, of course, ended up going to the All-Star game in Nashville, where he scored a couple of goals and was named MVP.

It was a great story — and there was even talk of a movie — but the NHL apparently has no interest in a sequel. (Or, at the very least, the NHL has created a potential escape clause, should one be required.)

Perhaps hockey fans will still rally around some other fourth-liner, someone who’s less at risk of being sent down like Scott was.

Ryan Reaves?

Jared Boll?

But the Scott story can never really be recreated, so while last year was fun, maybe just vote for the best players this time.

Klingberg will be a healthy scratch after missing team meeting


As if the Dallas Stars weren’t off to a tough enough start already, today comes word that defenseman John Klingberg will be a healthy scratch tonight against Minnesota for disciplinary reasons.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff told reporters that Klingberg missed a team meeting this morning, and that’s why he’ll be sitting versus the Wild.

“To me, it sums up our year,” Ruff said, per Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.

Combined with Johnny Oduya’s injury, the Klingberg scratch means the Stars defense tonight will feature the inexperienced likes of Julius Honka (making his NHL debut), Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell, and Jamie Oleksiak. Dan Hamhuis will be by far the most experienced of the Dallas defenders, followed by Jordie Benn.

The Stars (7-7-5) are coming off a 5-2 loss to Edmonton on Saturday. They have yet to string together more than two wins in a row this season, and it’s not just the goaltending that’s to blame.

Klingberg leads all Dallas skaters in average ice time (22:53). He has two goals and eight assists in 19 games, with a minus-9 rating.

Related: Healthy scratch sends Hamhuis a ‘strong message’

Devils, Oilers, Bruins among the most improved possession teams


Using data from Puck On Net, here are the differences in score-adjusted Corsi from this season to last:

1. New Jersey +4.6
2. Edmonton +4.4
3. Boston +4.1
4. Colorado +3.7
5. Minnesota +3.2
6. Florida +2.7
7. Philadelphia +2.3
8. Washington +2.2
9. Carolina +1.5
10. San Jose +1.2
11. Columbus +1.2
12. Calgary +1.2
13. St. Louis +1.2
14. New York Rangers +1.1
15. Vancouver +1.1
16. Buffalo +0.9
17. Toronto +0.7
18. Ottawa -0.1
19. Montreal -0.2
20. Chicago -0.4
21. Arizona -1.9
22. Tampa Bay -2.3
23. Nashville -2.8
24. Pittsburgh -2.9
25. Winnipeg -3.6
26. Los Angeles -3.7
27. New York Islanders -3.8
28. Anaheim -5.2
29. Detroit -5.5
30. Dallas -5.6


— We use score-adjusted Corsi because it has greater predictive power than simply looking at the standings. It’s not a perfect measure and doesn’t pretend to be. But generally speaking, teams that own the puck are going to be more successful than teams that don’t.

— The surprising New Jersey Devils are the most improved, and their record (9-5-3) reflects it. Ditto for the second-most improved team, the Edmonton Oilers (10-8-1), who have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The third-most improved team, the Boston Bruins (11-7-0), actually have the highest score-adjusted Corsi (54.0) in the NHL, and not many predicted that. Next on the list is Colorado (8-9-0), which still has a ways to go but seems to be making progress under new coach Jared Bednar. The fifth-most improved team, the Minnesota Wild (9-7-1), also has a new coach in Bruce Boudreau.

— At the bottom of the list is the Dallas Stars (7-7-5), who’ve had to deal with all sorts of injuries early on. But they also bid adieu to a couple of veteran defensemen, Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski, so you have to wonder if that’s had an effect, too. The Detroit Red Wings (8-10-1) have had injuries, but losing Pavel Datsyuk to the KHL was always going to be a challenge. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks (9-7-3) don’t seem to be thriving under new/old coach Randy Carlyle, and the New York Islanders (5-8-4) have been one of the NHL’s most disappointing teams. As for the Los Angeles Kings (10-9-1), they’ve been hammered by injuries and remain one of the top possession teams, so for now we’ll give them a pass on their decline.

— It’s still quite early in the season, so teams have lots of time to improve. The Pittsburgh Penguins last season are the perfect example. They went from a score-adjusted Corsi of 49.9 in their first 41 games to 56.2 in their last 41 games. It took a new coach to do it, but still.

Click here to see how all 30 teams rank overall.

The top five
Boston — 54.0
Washington — 53.7
St. Louis — 53.3
Los Angeles — 53.0
San Jose — 53.0

The bottom five
Arizona — 44.6
NY Islanders — 45.7
Detroit — 46.2
Ottawa — 46.9
Dallas — 46.9