Jason Brough

Krug will not be disciplined for hit on Shaw

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There will be no discipline for Bruins defenseman Torey Krug, who caught Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw with a big hit last night in Montreal.

According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the league felt that Shaw made head contact unavoidable by putting himself in a vulnerable position prior to the hit.

Not surprisingly, the Bruins thought it was a good hit, and the Canadiens didn’t like it so much.

Shaw was able to return to the game and finished with 16:37 of ice time in the 2-1 overtime victory for Boston.

Related: Of course, the Bruins and Habs have differing opinions of Krug’s hit on Shaw

Pre-game reading: Arguing for a play-in game

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— Up top, P.K. Subban was in tough against Lawson Crouse on Saturday. Bit of a reach advantage for the 6-foot-4 Coyotes forward.

— ESPN’s Craig Custance makes a case for a play-in game between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in each conference. “Imagine a one-game playoff between Steven Stamkos‘ Lightning and Alex Ovechkin‘s Washington Capitals, two teams with Stanley Cup aspirations. The current standings suggest it wouldn’t be out of the question. Or what about a one-game play-in game between Connor McDavid and the Oilers versus Patrik Laine and the Jets?” The NHL, for the record, has shown absolutely no interest in this idea. (ESPN)

— We weren’t the only ones to recognize the Metropolitan Division as the new power division in the NHL. Writes Sportsnet’s Sean McIndoe: “Here’s something to keep an eye on: If things keep trending in this direction, we have the possibility of running into a scenario that’s long been possible in the NHL but rarely actually happens: a top-eight team in a conference not making the postseason. That would require the relatively unlikely outcome of one division’s sixth place team ending up ahead of the other’s third place finisher, and we’re almost there right now…. The Devils (or Hurricanes) could theoretically finish eighth or even seventh in the East and still miss out on a postseason invite.” (Sportsnet)

— The Tampa Bay Lightning are enduring a tough start to the season, but they should still be considered Stanley Cup contenders. And you know what else? They’ve got a pretty good group of prospects, including six invitees to Team Canada’s World Juniors camp. “It’s a credit to the management staff in Tampa Bay for the prospects they’ve put into their system,” said forward Mitchell Stephens, the 33rd overall pick in 2015. “It shows they’re one of the top teams in the league for a reason.” (Canadian Press)

— On the annual Rookie Orientation Program, a joint initiative between the NHL and NHLPA, which aims to help rich, young athletes stay rich. “At the end of the day, it’s your money and you want to know what’s happening with it,” said Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, who could be a lot richer very soon. “I think it’s really important that you know what’s going on and that you watch your money and you have good people surrounding yourself.” (Canadian Press)

— The Detroit Red Wings are having all sorts of trouble scoring, but at least they’ve got Jimmy Howard back. The veteran netminder stopped 35 of 36 shots in Sunday’s 1-0 OT loss to Philadelphia. He is now 5-5-1 with a .945 save percentage. Sunday’s loss marked the fourth time this season that the Wings have been shut out. No regular netminder has received worse goal support than Howard has. (MLive)

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Enjoy the games!

Sharks recall Mueller, who’s been ‘excellent’ in the AHL

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It’s getting to the point where Mirco Mueller is either going to make it with the San Jose Sharks, or he isn’t.

Mueller, the 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft, turned 21 in March. While that’s still young for a defenseman, it’s about the age where the Sharks should expect their first-round investment to start paying off.

And with injuries to David Schlemko and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mueller may get a chance to show his stuff during a four-game road trip that starts Tuesday in Toronto. He was recalled today from the AHL’s Barracuda.

“All the reports out of the American League team were that that he’s been excellent,” said Sharks coach Pete DeBoer, per CSN Bay Area. “I think he’s really taken a step maturity-wise as a player and as a kid this year. Everybody’s saying that he looks like he’s ready for full-time NHL duty. … He’s a guy that belongs up here.”

Mueller has no goals and seven assists in 18 AHL games this season. He has 50 games of NHL experience, 39 of them in 2014-15 when he was perhaps rushed into the league as a teenager.

A left shot, there is opportunity for the native of Switzerland to advance in the Sharks’ organization. Paul Martin is 35 and may require fewer and easier minutes going forward. Vlasic, 29, only has two years left on his contract and will be expensive to re-sign. Brenden Dillon currently plays the left side on the third pairing and could theoretically be beaten out for a lineup spot.

But it remains to be seen if Mueller will make his season debut on this trip.

From CSN Bay Area’s story:

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told reporters on Sunday that Vlasic had improved since Saturday but was still “day-to-day.” Last season, the Sharks were 7-7-1 without their defensive stalwart in the lineup.

Schlemko said on Thursday that he had hoped to play in one of the two Sharks games over the weekend, but that didn’t happen.

Mueller has taken warmups in each of the last two Sharks games, but has yet to make his season debut.

The Sharks (16-11-1) will also make stops in Ottawa, Montreal, and Chicago before returning home.

Stolarz making case to be with Flyers full-time next season

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Ron Hextall went into the season with an open mind about his goaltending. The Flyers’ general manager didn’t want to commit to anything before he had to, and he still hasn’t yet.

And so Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, who both played very well last season, are still pending unrestricted free agents, and potential goalie of the future, Anthony Stolarz, is still just the potential goalie of the future.

That being said, if you had to bet on a tandem for next season, the current favorites would be Mason and Stolarz. The former has bounced back after a tough start, winning seven in a row with a .930 save percentage over that stretch. The latter was called up to replace the injured Neuvirth and has won both his starts, including Sunday’s 28-save shutout of the Red Wings in Detroit.

“It’s exciting, that’s for sure. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better and when you’re a kid dreaming of playing at Joe Louis Arena,” Stolarz told reporters. “It’s something you can’t even put into words. I’m excited, but I’m more excited to have the [nine-game winning] streak going.”

The 22-year-old did not just come out of nowhere. He was a second-round draft pick in 2012, the fourth goalie selected that year, and has been developing slowly but surely the past couple of seasons in the AHL. He was 6-2-0 with a .927 save percentage for Lehigh Valley prior to getting the call.

“He’s been amazing, very confident,” Jakub Voracek said, per CSN Philly. “He made a couple huge saves (in Detroit), especially on the penalty kill in the third period.”

The first goalie selected in 2012 was Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay’s goalie of the future, so it’s not too big a stretch to picture Stolarz full-time in the NHL next season.

Of course, that would mean bidding adieu to either Mason and Neuvirth, perhaps even prior to the trade deadline. The latter’s numbers this season (4-2-0, .859) won’t help his value, but with a cap hit of just $1.625 million, he may garner interest, especially if he can show something when he gets healthy.

Five team stats you may find interesting

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7.0 — The Boston Bruins’ shooting percentage. Out of 29 other teams, only the Buffalo Sabres’ is lower (6.8%). This is why the Bruins (15-12-2) haven’t been able to translate their excellent possession numbers into a really great record. On Saturday, the B’s outshot the Maple Leafs, 33-20, but lost the game, 4-1. “Goalies are too good in this league if you don’t make it hard on them,” said center Patrice Bergeron. “A lot of it is that.” Some of it may also be bad luck. But it won’t get any easier tonight in Montreal, where Carey Price is expected to start for the Habs.

.893 — The Dallas Stars’ team save percentage, the lowest in the league. It’s a broken record by now, but Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi aren’t getting it done. The fact the Stars aren’t scoring nearly as many goals as they did last season has really exposed their goaltending and defensive deficiencies. Both Lehtonen and Niemi are signed through next season for a combined cap hit of $10.4 million, so it’s not an easy fix for GM Jim Nill. And there’s no solution in the AHL, where Maxime Lagace and Philippe Desrosiers have identical .893 save percentages for the Texas Stars.

12 — The number of first-period goals for the Vancouver Canucks, who have only opened the scoring in eight of their 29 games. The Canucks have a respectable 22 goals in the second period and 26 in the third.  “When we’re down, we’re playing well,” Daniel Sedin said recently. “Why is that? We’re aggressive. We have to bring back that aggressiveness early on. … I think we’re waiting to see what happens in the game and you can’t play that way.” The Canucks failed to score in any period Sunday in Washington, where they were shut out, 3-0, by the Capitals.

10 — Power-play goals for the New York Islanders, the fewest in the NHL. In a related story, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen combined for 14 PP goals last season. This season, John Tavares leads with three, Anders Lee has two, nobody else has more than one, and Andrew Ladd is still looking for his first. While execution has been sorely lacking, part of it is a simple lack of opportunities. The Isles have only had the man advantage 77 times in 27 games. The Flyers, in contrast, have had an NHL-high 116 power plays in 31 games.

16 — Regulation losses for the Winnipeg Jets, who are in worse shape than the standings may appear at first glance. That’s because the Jets have already played 32 games, at least two more than any other team in the Central Division. Last season, Chicago finished third in the Central and only lost 26 times in regulation. To match the Blackhawks’ record from last season, the Jets would need to go 34-10-6 the rest of the way. No team in the NHL has more regulation losses than Winnipeg.

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