Author: Mike Halford

Steve Mason

Flyers shoot down goalie controversy: ‘Mase is our No. 1’


A quick glance at Philly’s goalie stats paints a clear picture of who’s played best.

Michal Neuvirth: Eight games played, seven starts, 3-2-1 record, .945 save percentage, 1.81 GAA, three shutouts.

Steve Mason: Eight games played, seven starts, 2-4-2 record, .902 save percentage, 3.34 GAA, zero shutouts.

What’s more, it looks like Neuvirth will get the start against Colorado on Tuesday, his fourth in a row.

Yet despite all this, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol insists Mason is still the team’s starting netminder.

“Mase is our No. 1. We’ve said that all the way along and feel that way,” Hakstol said, per the Courier-Post. “The big benefit for our team is how well Neuvy’s going and how well he’s playing. I think both guys are ready. That’s part of their job is to be ready when they go in.”

Mason said the (perceived) pressure from Neuvirth is “not making me sweat,” and there’s good reason why. His less-than-stellar start to the year was partly out of his control; Mason missed time early in the campaign attending to a personal matter, then missed time on the club’s recently-completed Western Canadian road swing with an illness.

Despite Hakstol’s and Mason’s comments, one has to wonder if Neuvirth is closer to the No. 1 gig than everybody’s letting on. On that note, it’ll be really curious to see what Hakstol does if Neuvirth stones the Avalanche on Tuesday — do the Flyers go to Mason for Thursday’s big tilt against the Caps, or will they ride the hot hand in Neuvirth?

Reeling Avs hope to ‘turn this thing around’ on season-long road trip

Patrick Roy

It’s early, but the next two weeks could make or break the Colorado Avalanche.

With just two wins in their last 10 — sitting dead last in the Central Division, with a 4-9-1 record — the Avs are now facing one of their stiffest tests of the year, a season-long seven-game road swing that goes through Philadelphia, Montreal, Boston, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Washington and Winnipeg from Nov. 10-23.

While it might seem a daunting task, the club is trying to use the trip as a rallying point.

“It’s a matter of being able to turn this thing around,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said, per the team website. “Being on a seven-game road trip, [if] you start winning on the road that’s something that can bond and make a team gel together in a different way than at home.”

Landeskog called this an “important” trip, as did head coach Patrick Roy.

It is important.

And it will not be easy.

Roy, specifically, will have to deal with the loss of injured top-six forward Alex Tanguay, who had six points through the first 14 games while averaging over 17 minutes per night. AHL San Antonio call-up Andreas Martinsen will fill the roster spot, but it’s unlikely he can replicate what Tanguay brought to the table — which could be why Roy is loading up his top line.

Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon skated together at practice on Monday, leaving veteran Jarome Iginla — who previously skated with Tanguay and MacKinnon — to play alongside Carl Soderberg and John Mitchell.

The hope, it seems, is to spark Colorado’s three young guys (Duchene is the senior citizen of the trio, at age 24). MacKinnon’s been very good this year, with 15 points in 14 games, and Landeskog’s been solid as well with 11.

Duchene has struggled to produce at a similar clip, however, with just six points — and a mere two assists — thus far.

That helper total is startlingly low, especially from a guy that, in ’13-14, finished tied with Tyler Seguin for 11th in the NHL in assists, with 47.

“We have to win some hockey games,” Roy said. “In order to do that, we’re going to have to continue to play good defensively, but offensively I think we’re going to have to be more relentless.”

Datsyuk will play with Zetterberg upon return, says Blashill

Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg

Detroit’s dynamic duo will soon be reunited.

On Monday, Pavel Datsyuk took another significant step in his return from an ankle injury, participating in line rushes with Henrik Zetterberg and Dylan Larkin on what would be the team’s top line, per MLive.

While Wings head coach Jeff Blashill wouldn’t commit to Larkin sticking there, he did confirm that Zetterberg and Datsyuk would skate together when Datsyuk is ready to return — a comeback that’s believed to be about a week away from happening.

Datsyuk has already ruled himself out for tomorrow’s tilt against Washington, leading some to believe this Friday’s home game against San Jose as the one in which the 37-year-old will make his season debut.

Getting the talented Russian back will be a huge boon for Detroit. The team has struggled offensively in its 7-6-1 start to the year, sitting 23rd in the NHL at 2.4 goals per game.

Kane, Seguin, Condon named NHL’s three stars of the week

Patrick Kane

Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Montreal’s Mike Condon have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 8, the league announced on Monday.


Kane shared first in the NHL with four goals and led the League with five assists and nine points to help the Blackhawks (8-6-1, 17 points) gain five of a possible eight standings points.

Seguin tied for first in the NHL with four goals and ranked second with seven points as the Stars (12-3-0, 24 points) won three of four games en route to their best 15-game start to a season in franchise history.

Filling in for injured starter Carey Price, Condon posted a 2-0-1 record with a 1.66 goals-against average and .934 save percentage to lead the Canadiens (13-2-1, 27 points) to their best 16-game start to a season in the franchise’s 98-year NHL history.

The Condon story continues to get better by the day. The undrafted Princeton product worked his way up from the ECHL to AHL and, last year, carried his first-ever full American League workload with Montreal’s affiliate in Hamilton.

From there, he beat out Dustin Tokarski in training camp this year to win the No. 2 gig behind Carey Price. Since Price went down to injury last week,  Condon has carried the Habs’ starting job with aplomb and has yet to lose in regulation.

Poll: Who should be in the ’16 Hockey Hall of Fame class?

Eric Lindros

Tonight, the Hockey Hall of Fame will enshrine four ex-NHLers: Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger, Sergei Fedorov and Phil Housley.

But that’s old news.

The new news, or just “news” I guess, is that after tonight there’s a fresh HHOF debate on our hands:

Who gets in for 2016?

First, let’s be clear about something — next year’s class is going to lack the oomph of previous enshrinements. Per TSN, the names “of note” among first-time eligible entrants are Jason Arnott, Milan Hejduk, Jose Theodore, Roman Hamrlik, Vaclav Prospal and Zigmund Palffy.


Which means next year could be the time for some long-eligible guys to get in, like…

Eric Lindros: Now in his sixth year of eligibility, the Big E remains a polarizing figure. Though his window of dominance was small, it was really dominant, and there’s a case to be made that if Peter Forsberg got into the Hall despite a career riddled with injury, so too should Lindros.

(The counter-argument, of course, is that Forsberg won a lot more hardware, most notably his two Stanley Cups).

Mark Recchi and Dave Andreychuk: In their third and eighth years of eligibility, these two fall under the “strong resumes because they played for so long” category. Recchi (22 seasons!) sits fourth all time in games played (1,652), 19th in goals (577), 12th in points (1,533) and won three Stanley Cups with three different teams. Andreychuk  (23 seasons!!) has 640 career goals and more PPG (274) than anybody in history. He also won a Cup with Tampa Bay in ’04.

Jeremy Roenick: Similar to Recchi and Andreychuk in that his longevity — 20 seasons — allowed him to rack up some big-time totals. He’s a member of the 500-goal and 1,200-point clubs, but never won a Stanley Cup.

Others: Rod Brind’Amour, Alex Mogilny, Claude Lemieux, Doug Weight, Adam Foote, Steve Larmer, Markus Naslund, Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin, Paul Kariya, Theoren Fleury, Sergei Makarov, Curtis Joseph.

OK, now vote in our poll. You can choose up to four players, since that’s the maximum allowable number of NHLers for any given HHOF class. If there’s someone not on the list, write it in the comments section.