Author: Jason Brough

Babcock: ‘The net’s too small for the size of the goalies. Period’

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For the record, Mike Babcock advocated for bigger nets when he was still coaching the Red Wings, so you can’t say his comments today were made out of frustration over his Maple Leafs’ scoring woes.

Babcock simply believes that the NHL has failed to adapt to the ever-growing size of netminders.

“It’s impossible to score,” said Babcock. “All you gotta do is a math equation. You go to 1980 when the puck went in the net. You got the average size of the goalies in the NHL and the average size of the net. You keep growing the net bigger, that would make the game the same. We change the game every year because we don’t want to change the game. The net’s too small for the size of the goalies. Period.”

Here’s some history:

In 1981-82, NHL teams scored 4.01 goals per game and the average save percentage was around .870. Wayne Gretzky led the league with 92 goals and 212 points. Billy Smith won the Vezina Trophy with a .900 save percentage.

In 2014-15, it was 2.73 goals per game and a .915 average save percentage. Alex Ovechkin‘s 53 goals led the league; Jamie Benn‘s 87 points gave him the Art Ross Trophy; and Carey Price won the Vezina with a .936 save percentage.

Those are some stark contrasts, to say the least.

As for the size of today’s netminders compared to the past, well, it used to be you could pick out the goalie just by finding the shortest guy on the team. Now it’s practically the opposite. As 6-foot-7 Ben Bishop said in June, the days of the little, athletic goalie are pretty much over.

“I think you see taller guys that can be just as athletic as the smaller guys,” said Bishop. “It seems to be the way it’s trending here.”

And all along, the nets have stayed the same size.

McDavid out ‘months’ with broken collarbone

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Connor McDavid will miss “months” with a broken left clavicle (collarbone), Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said today.

McDavid, 18, will have surgery today after suffering the injury last night in Edmonton.

“Connor is such a special player at such a young age, it’s disappointing,” said Chiarelli. “We won last night. Today feels like a loss.”

Despite hearing some opinions to the contrary, Chiarelli didn’t think McDavid’s young age had anything to do with the injury.

“The injury was bad luck,” he said. “He lost an edge.”

In McDavid’s absence, the GM said the only option is for his healthy players to step up their games.

“Teams suffer catastrophic injuries and they figure it out,” Chiarelli said. “They’re going to miss Connor. He will be back. He’ll be like a trade acquisition when he comes back, which will be nice.”

The Oilers (5-8-0) host Pittsburgh Friday before leaving on a tough four-game road trip through Chicago, Anaheim, Arizona, and Los Angeles.

Bruins recall Talbot in wake of Kelly injury

Calgary Flames v Boston Bruins
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Max Talbot is back with the Bruins today. Unfortunately, it took a serious injury to Chris Kelly for that to happen.

Talbot was sent to the AHL last week. The 31-year-old played three games for Providence, registering four assists.

With 6-8 months needed to recover from a left femur fracture, Kelly’s season is most likely done. A 34-year-old pending unrestricted free agent, his career may be in jeopardy, too.

Kelly was the last bottom-six holdover from the Bruins’ 2010-11 Stanley Cup-winning lineup. (The Merlot Line is gone. So are Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder, Kelly’s linemates during that run.)

There are, of course, salary-cap implications to consider, as Kelly has a $3 million cap hit:

The Bruins start a tough three-game road trip Thursday in Washington, before stops in Montreal Saturday and Brooklyn Sunday.

Here’s how all four lines looked at this morning’s skate, after last night’s 5-3 loss to Tyler Seguin and the Stars:

Couture ‘making progress,’ but slumping Sharks need answers now

Brandon Saad, Martin Jones
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The San Jose Sharks went into last night’s home game versus Columbus saying all the right things.

For example: “We know they’re a desperate team, but so are we.”

That was courtesy Joe Thornton, whose coach, Pete DeBoer added, “I’ll be disappointed if our [desperation] doesn’t match theirs.”

The Sharks then proceeded to lose, 5-2, to the Blue Jackets.

San Jose is now 3-6-0 since Logan Couture broke his fibula in practice. His absence isn’t the only reason for all those losses, but it sure hasn’t helped.

The good news is Couture is “definitely making progress” in his recovery. He’s off the crutches. Now it’s just a walking boot.

The bad news is he won’t be back anytime soon.

“I don’t know the time when I’m going to be back playing, skating, or anything like that,” he told CSN Bay Area yesterday. “It’s just kind of one step at a time – getting the staples out, to walking. It just takes time.”

It was originally estimated that Couture would need 4-6 weeks to recover, so it’s going to be at least a couple of more weeks.

In the meantime, the Sharks will have to make do with what they’ve got, meaning youngster Tomas Hertl in Couture’s spot at second-line center, with Chris Tierney and Ben Smith centering the third and fourth lines, respectively.

“I’m not getting enough out of our bottom six, or whatever you want to call those next two lines,” DeBoer said. “We’ve shuffled guys around, we’ve moved guys in and out. We’re close to having to make some changes there, because it’s not working.”

Habs join ‘Hawks as Stanley Cup co-favorites: online bookmaker

Jonathan Toews, Carey Price,
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A month into the regular season and already a number of teams have seen their Stanley Cup odds change dramatically, at least according to the bookmakers at Bovada.

The Blackhawks remain the favorites, but they’ve been joined by the Montreal Canadiens, who’ve gone from 18/1 on Oct. 5 to 9/1 today.

Other big movers the same direction include Dallas (33/1 to 10/1), St. Louis (18/1 to 11/1), Washington (18/1 to 11/1), Vancouver (66/1 to 33/1), San Jose (33/1 to 20/1), Florida (66/1 to 40/1), Philadelphia (75/1 to 50/1), and Arizona (250/1 to 75/1).

Notables going the other way include Chicago (13/2 to 9/1), Anaheim (9/1 to 20/1), Columbus (25/1 to 66/1), Calgary (28/1 to 66/1), Edmonton (33/1 to 66/1), Buffalo (100/1 to 150/1), Colorado (66/1 to 200/1), and Toronto (100/1 to 200/1).

Here are all the current odds:

Chicago Blackhawks 9/1
Montreal Canadiens 9/1
Dallas Stars 10/1
New York Rangers 10/1
Washington Capitals 11/1
Los Angeles Kings 12/1
St. Louis Blues 12/1
Tampa Bay Lightning 12/1
Minnesota Wild 14/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 14/1
Anaheim Ducks 20/1
Nashville Predators 20/1
New York Islanders 20/1
San Jose Sharks 20/1
Boston Bruins 28/1
Winnipeg Jets 28/1
Detroit Red Wings 33/1
Vancouver Canucks 33/1
Florida Panthers 40/1
Ottawa Senators 50/1
Philadelphia Flyers 50/1
Calgary Flames 66/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 66/1
Edmonton Oilers 66/1
Arizona Coyotes 75/1
New Jersey Devils 75/1
Buffalo Sabres 150/1
Carolina Hurricanes 150/1
Colorado Avalanche 200/1
Toronto Maple Leafs 200/1

Related: Blackhawks remain favorites to win Stanley Cup