Ryan Dadoun

John Scott, Brandon Davidson
The Canadian Press via AP

Coyotes place towering enforcer John Scott on waivers

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The Arizona Coyotes might not be using John Scott‘s services after all.

The team waived him this afternoon, per Craig Morgan. It’s possible that the Coyotes are simply giving themselves options as Scott clearing would allow them to send him down quickly at any point until he plays in 10 games or 30 days pass. At the same time, any team looking for a gritty fourth-line forward or third-pairing defenseman might be tempted to claim him in light of his affordable $575K cap hit for the 2015-16 campaign.

Scott is an imposing presence on the ice at 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds, but he doesn’t bring much to the table other than his physical play and willingness to drop the gloves. In terms of offensive abilities, he’s among the least capable in the league. In fact, the four points he recorded last season with the San Jose Sharks represented a career-high for the 33-year-old.

Meanwhile, Dan Cleary went unclaimed on waivers, according to Bob McKenzie, setting the stage for him to be reassigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

After years of hype, McDavid to play first NHL game

Connor McDavid
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The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.

The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.

“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”

McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.

But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.

That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.

“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”

Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.

Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Bruins will be without Chara in season opener

Zdeno Chara
AP Photo
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The Boston Bruins just have to hope their fortune changes quickly because luck certainly hasn’t been on their side thus far.

They announced this morning that captain Zdeno Chara won’t be available for tonight’s season opener against the Winnipeg Jets. That’s on top of missing Dennis Seidenberg (lower body) after their defense had already been weakened by trading Dougie Hamilton over the summer.

The result is that the Bruins are going into the season with some very unflattering defensive pairings:

None of the Bruins’ six blueliners averaged 20 minutes or more last season. Two of them (Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow) have less than 30 games worth of NHL experience while Kevan Miller has fewer than 100 games under his belt.

Boston is trying to bounce back after missing the playoffs last season and coach Claude Julien is seen as someone who is on the hot streak before Boston’s season even starts.

Mike Smith seeing benefit from sports psychologist

Mike Smith
AP Photo
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Mike Smith was “kind of offended” when it was first recommended that he see a sports psychologist, but that’s not where he stands anymore.

After a terrible start last season while he was in a “bad place mentally,” he started consulting a sports psychologist after the All-Star break and went from recording a 3.51 GAA and .887 save percentage before the break to a 2.81 GAA and .920 save percentage afterwards.

“Whether it’s a good experience or you’re coming out of the game not feeling too good about yourself, I think it’s important to have someone that’s not involved in the team and doesn’t have anything to do with hockey or our team that you can throw ideas off of,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “That’s very important.”

He plans to continue to speak regularly with the psychologist throughout the 2015-16 campaign. If it helps, then Smith could end up being the Coyotes’ silver lining this season. He was the key factor in them reaching the Western Conference Final in 2012 and his decline is part of the reason why Arizona hasn’t made the playoff since.

This is likely to be a rebuilding season for the Coyotes regardless, but with Smith signed through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of roughly $5.7 million, they need him to be part of the long-term solution.

Kris Russell: Canucks ’embarrassed us in our home-opener’

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It was just one game, but it was a pretty bad one.

The Calgary Flames’ quest to prove that their rise to the second round was something they can build off of began with a 5-1 loss to Vancouver.

“They out-executed us, outworked us. Truthfully, they embarrassed us in our home-opener,” Flames defenceman Kris Russell bluntly put it, per the Calgary Sun.

“We’ve gotta realize it was a bit of a joke the way we came out. If we want to be anywhere near the team we were last year, we can’t even be coming close to the effort we put in tonight. We were built on hard work. We were built on a committee effort.

“We didn’t have too many guys going, and we’re not a team built on one or two lines. We’ve got a few days to figure it out. Obviously, it’s one game but every game is important, especially against the division. To play like that it doesn’t feel too good.”

This loss could be shrugged off pretty quickly if Calgary comes out strong in its rematch against Vancouver on Saturday, but it does still speak to a larger narrative about the team. Calgary was one of the worst squads in the league last season in terms of Corsi and the steep disconnect between that puck possession indicator and the team’s record could suggest that the Flames overperformed and are due for a decline like the Colorado Avalanche suffered from 2013-14 to 2014-15.

That’s not to say that the Flames are destined to fall, only that there are potential warning signs. They can still go on to have a great season, but they’re going to want to use this defeat as a wake-up call.