Mike Halford

Goalie change: Neuvirth in, Mason out as Philly looks to avoid sweep

10 Comments

For the third time in four nights, we have a starting netminder switch in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Philadelphia Flyers will park Steve Mason in favor of Michal Neuvirth for tonight’s potential elimination game against the Caps, per CSN Philly.

The decision comes after Mason had a great Game 1 — 29 saves on 31 shots — but then allowed 10 goals on 50 shots in Games 2 and 3, including this historically bad marker to Jason Chimera:

As mentioned above, this is just the latest in a sequence of goalie changes.

On Sunday, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill parked Jimmy Howard in favor of Petr Mrazek after Howard started the two opening games — both losses — of the Tampa Bay series.

Mrazek posted a 16-save shutout in Game 3.

On Tuesday, Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau parked John Gibson in favor of Frederik Andersen after Gibson started the opening two games — again, both losses — of the Nashville series.

Andersen posted a 27-save shutout in Game 3.

Neuvrith had a pretty solid year, going 18-8-4 with a .924 save percentage and 2.27 GAA. He carried the starting load at times, but a torn meniscus in his left knee sidelined him at the end of the regular season.

Mason played almost exclusively down the stretch, and backstopped the Flyers in the to the playoffs.

All told, Neuvirth’s played just one game in the last four weeks — Philly’s season-ending win over the Isles on Apr. 10, in which he stopped 15 of 17 shots.

There is some history between Neuvirth and the Caps, which could give the 28-year-old some added juice for tonight’s tilt.

Neuvirth was drafted by Washington and spent his first six NHL seasons there, starting nine playoff games for the team during the 2011 postseason.

He eventually lost the starting gig to Washington’s current No. 1, Braden Holtby, and was dealt to Buffalo in 2014.

No hearing for Letang after Stalberg slash (Updated)

73 Comments

Pens d-man Kris Letang has avoided supplemental discipline for his high stick on Rangers forward Viktor Stalberg on Tuesday night, per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

Update: It’s official, there won’t be a hearing. An NHL spokesman has confirmed as much to PHT.

The incident occurred during the third period, shaking up Stalberg and forcing him to the bench. Letang wasn’t penalized on the play.

Some thought Letang would be called to the Department of Player Safety carpet, given it came down hard on ‘Hawks d-man Duncan Keith for his high stick to Charlie Coyle‘s face in late March. That incident netted Keith a six-game suspension, though it’s worth noting Keith had a history of high-stick fouls that played a factor in his punishment.

Letang’s lone run-in with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety came back in 2011, when he was suspended two games for boarding Winnipeg’s Alexander Burmistrov.

Bellemare suspended one game for ‘dangerous’ check from behind on Orlov

22 Comments

Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been suspended one game for his hit on Caps d-man Dmitry Orlov on Monday night, the NHL has announced.

Classifying it as a “dangerous” check from behind, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety said the onus was on Bellmare to avoid making contact with a player in a prone position. Bellemare was initially assessed a major penalty for checking from behind, and a game misconduct.

“Tracking Orlov for some time, Bellemare has ample time to adjust his angle of approach, minimize the force of the hit or avoid this hit completely,” the DoPS explained. “And while we acknowledge that this hit is made more violent by Orlov losing an edge immediately before contact, the onus here is on Bellemare to not take advantage of a player in a vulnerable position.”

Bellemare will now miss Wednesday’s Game 4 at Wells Fargo, a potential close-out game for the Capitals, who lead the opening-round series 3-0.

Report: Frozen Four MOP Caggiula shortlists six NHL teams

during the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championships at Amalie Arena on April 9, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.The North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the Quinnipiac Bobcats 5-1 to win the national title. Getty
Getty Images
3 Comments

The Drake Caggiula tour is a thing, and it could be coming to a city near you.

On Monday, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that Caggiula — the University of North Dakota standout named most outstanding player at the Frozen Four — has narrowed his list of NHL suitors to six: Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.

More:

Caggiula is expected to visit the Oilers sometime next week, where a tour of Edmonton’s new arena will likely be part of the game plan, followed by stops in Vancouver and Ottawa. It is believed he will make a visit to all of the teams on his list before making a decision.

Before Monday’s raucous game, Caggiula reportedly went to lunch with Flyers GM Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol.

Hakstol, of course, recruited Caggiula and coached him at North Dakota prior to taking the Flyers gig. So it’s easy to see the connection there.

Vancouver’s an intriguing landing spot too, because Caggiula’s running mates at UND — Brock Boeser and Troy Stecher — are both Canucks property. Vancouver took Boeser in the first round of the ’15 draft and Stecher, an undrafted free agent, signed an entry-level deal last week.

Chicago has the lure of playing with a number of talented forwards, and it’s worth noting another of Caggiula’s UND teammates, Nick Schmaltz, is Blackhawks property. Chicago took Schmaltz 20th overall in 2014.

Passed over at the draft because of his size (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), Caggiula progressed throughout his career at North Dakota and put forth a terrific senior season, scoring 51 points in 39 games. According to Flyers GM Ron Hextall, he’s a legit NHL prospect.

“He’s a talented player,” Hextall told TSN. “He’s got speed, he plays hard, he has a lot of good attributes. He’s got a shot at being a top six [player] based on his ability.

“He’s not the biggest player, but he plays hard.”

Jackets sign first-rounder Carlsson, ‘a smart, two-way defenseman’

during the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.
Getty Images

Columbus inked another of its promising young defensemen on Tuesday, agreeing to terms on an entry-level deal with Gabriel Carlsson.

“Gabriel played very well against his peers at the 2016 World Junior Championships and made great strides throughout the season in Sweden’s top professional league with Linkoping,” said GM Jarmo Kekalainen in a release. “We are excited about his future as he is a smart, two-way defenseman who has a chance to be a very good player as he continues to grow and develop.”

Carlsson, 19, was the 29th overall pick in last year’s draft. As Kekalainen mentioned, he’s coming off a good year in the SHL — he was Linkoping’s youngest skater, playing alongside ex-NHLers like Chad Billins and Andrew Gordon.

At 6-foot-4, 183 pounds, Carlsson has good size — albeit a big slight — and it’ll be interesting to see if he can make the push for a spot in Columbus next year. The Jackets have no shortage of young guys on the blueline: Ryan Murray, 22 and Seth Jones, 21, are already entrenched at the NHL level and it’s expected former University of Michigan standout Zach Werenski — the eighth overall pick in ’15 — will challenge for a spot as well.

Other young defensive prospects include Dillon Heatherington (5oth overall, ’13), who just finished his first full pro season in AHL Lake Erie, and Ryan Collins (47th overall, ’14), who just wrapped his sophomore year at the University of Minnesota.