Jason Brough

Flyers announce Couturier to miss two weeks with upper-body injury

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Last night’s report was accurate — Flyers forward Sean Couturier will indeed miss the rest of the first round after getting hurt on a hit by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.

The Flyers announced today that Couturier will miss two weeks with an “upper-body injury.” Based on that timeline, his return to the lineup during the playoffs would require Philadelphia to battle back from a 1-0 series deficit and eliminate the heavily favored Capitals.

It’s a huge loss for the underdogs. The 23-year-old two-way center had an excellent regular season, even generating some Selke Trophy talk down the stretch.

“Yeah, he’s been a top defensive forward for a number of years now,” goalie Steve Mason said prior to the playoffs. “I think he’s also realizing some offensive potential that I think he wants to take advantage of as well. He’s only 23 years old too, which is more impressive, I think, to be in such a primary role.”

It was reported by CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio that Couturier’s injury was an “A/C sprain to left shoulder,” which is another way of saying that Couturier separated his shoulder.

Gibson to start Game 1 for Ducks, but Andersen ‘ready for the playoffs as well’

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Frederik Andersen‘s shutout in the final game of the Ducks’ regular season didn’t change Bruce Boudreau’s mind.

John Gibson was reportedly the first goalie off the ice this morning in Anaheim, confirmation that he’ll be the Ducks’ starter tonight in Game 1 of their series with Nashville.

On Sunday, Andersen made 24 saves in a 2-0 win over the Capitals in Washington. The 26-year-old finished the season 22-9-7 with a .919 save percentage.

From Sunday’s story in the Los Angeles Daily News:

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said he had John Gibson penciled to start Game 1 and hasn’t changed his mind. But there are also four days until then. “Got a long ride home though,” he said.

“Freddie was tremendous,” Boudreau said. “That could have been as good as I’ve ever seen him. His movements. He was square to the puck. There was no extra movements in his game. It certainly was sending a message to us that I know he hasn’t played for a little bit but he’s ready for the playoffs as well.”

Like Andersen, Gibson enjoyed a fine season, the 22-year-old finishing 21-13-4 with a .920 save percentage.

Unlike Andersen, Gibson is the goalie the Ducks have been grooming to become their starter since drafting him 39th overall in 2011. He’s signed through 2018-19 for a cap hit of just $2.3 million.

Andersen, meanwhile, is a pending restricted free agent who, based on speculation, could end up on the trading block in the offseason.

Of course, a lot could happen between now and the summer. Gibson is the man now. But with Andersen available, Gibson better be good.

Chris Bourque named AHL MVP

Nashville Predators v Washington Capitals
Getty
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Hershey Bears forward Chris Bourque has been named the American Hockey League’s most valuable player.

From the league’s press release:

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

Bourque is vying for his second career AHL scoring title in 2015-16, heading into the final weekend of the regular season with a career-high 30 goals and a league-best 79 points in 70 games played.

Bourque, 30, is the son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque. In July, he signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Capitals. Before that, he was part of the Rangers organization.

Bourque has appeared in 51 career NHL games for the Capitals, Penguins and Bruins, scoring twice with six assists. He’s also spent time playing in Europe.

The list of past AHL MVPs includes Tyler Johnson (2013) and Jason Spezza (2005).

Before hockey fans freak out about the NBA’s experiment with jersey ads…

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP
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Gary Bettman was right — the NHL “won’t be the first” of the Big Four professional sports league to have advertising on their jerseys.

That’s because the NBA will be the first. The basketball league announced it today.

From the NBA’s press release:

The NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a three-year pilot program. The sponsorship patch will appear on the front left of the game jerseys opposite the Nike logo. Patches will measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and be adjusted to fit the dimensions of each sponsor’s logo. 

Now, let’s face it, the NHL may go down a similar path in the future, because….money.

But for now, just keep in mind what the commissioner said in September when the league announced its deal with Adidas.

“There have been some suggesting this deal means it is inevitable there’ll be advertising on uniforms – and that’s just not true,” said Bettman, per the Globe and Mail.

“Our sweaters, among all the other sports, are I think iconic, which is why I’ve previously been quoted as saying, ‘we certainly won’t be the first’ and you’d probably have to drag me, kicking and screaming [to do it], which would take a lot – a lot, a lot – of money.”

The Panthers didn’t have a sellout last night, and people sure noticed

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Well, you knew whatever the attendance was last night in Sunrise, it would be a story one way or another.

If the Panthers had drawn a sellout for Game 1 of their playoff series versus the Islanders, it would be the story of a franchise that was finally starting to make inroads in the South Florida market.

Alas, the Panthers didn’t sell out, and so it was another story.

From the Miami Herald:

By the way, a Canadian TV broadcast from the arena reported the crowd was about 12,000, a ludicrously low guesstimate that had Panthers general manager Dale Tallon fuming in the press box.

Poor Canada has no team in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1970, or else that TV station might have been covering one of its own teams instead of being in South Florida. Anyway, the attendance was 17,422, credible, though surprisingly some 2,000 shy of a sellout.

It turns out Panthers fans, like their team, weren’t quite good enough as the playoffs began. You wait four years for another playoff shot and you can’t fill the barn?

The Panthers and Isles are right back at it tonight at BB&T Center. No word on the expected size of the crowd.

For the record, Florida did show a marked improvement in attendance this season, going from an average crowd of 11,265 last year to 15,384 this year.