Iginla has ‘real good chemistry’ with Duchene


After losing Paul Stastny as a free agent and trading P.A. Parenteau, the Colorado Avalanche are hoping that Jarome Iginla can fill in the void offensively.

Iginla is 37 years old, but he had 30 goals and 61 points with Boston last season. He’s also getting the opportunity to play with a great center in Matt Duchene. They teamed up with Ryan O’Reilly in Sunday’s scrimmage and while you can’t read into the box score of an intrasquad game, Iginla has been upbeat about working with Duchene.

“I enjoyed it a lot,” Iginla told the Denver Post. “I think there’s some real good chemistry. I’ve been here about a month now, and although training camp just started a few days ago, it feels like it’s been a few weeks now because guys got together early. I like playing with Dutchy and Factor (Ryan O’Reilly).

“They’re skilled, they’re quick and they create a lot. You can tell they’ve played together a lot, because they have great chemistry, and I just want to add to it.”

Colorado has the potential to have two very effective lines as Alex Tanguay, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog are a viable combination for the team’s second unit. MacKinnon spent a fair amount of time with Duchene and O’Reilly last season, but he’s also got plenty of experience playing alongside Landeskog. Having a pair of recent Calder Trophy winners (MacKinnon in 2014, Landeskog in 2012) on the same line is a very rare luxury that the Avalanche have been afforded.

Colorado will get to further test out its lines in a pair of games against Anaheim Monday night.


Avs’ Tanguay looking to bounce back from injury riddled season

Sakic says Avs ownership gave ‘green light’ to ‘make this team win’

Would the Leafs break up their top line?


The Toronto Maple Leafs top line of Tyler Bozak between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk combined for 133 points or 70 percent of the team’s scoring last season.

They were second only to Boston’s trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla, which accounted for 152 points in 2013-14.

However, James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail suggests it might make sense to break up the trio and spread the scoring around.

“Would that idiot break up that line?” coach Randy Carlyle said. “You’re saying that [about me]. Or you’re going to say it if I do it.”

Carlyle added, “We’re willing to experiment in training camp.”

That experimenting began on Saturday.

The Leafs dressed lines of Nazem Kadri, van Riemsdyk and Matt Frattin while Kessel played alongside Petri Kontiola and first-round pick William Nylander during a scrimmage on Day 3 of training camp.

The question of breaking up the top trio is prevalent as the Leafs attempt to find that elusive secondary scoring.

As Mirtle points out in his piece, winger Joffrey Lupul has played nearly half his even strength minutes over the past three seasons alongside Kessel. When the duo is together, the Leafs account for 3.7 goals per game. With them playing on separate lines, that number drops to 2.5 goals per game.

Keep in mind that’s a small sample size, but wherever Kessel plays, scoring seems to follow.

“You find ways to get it done out there,” Kessel said. “Obviously training camp’s getting used to guys and getting a feel for it.”

Kadri could also benefit from playing alongside van Riemsdyk on the team’s second line.

“If you see the teams that have success and make the deep playoff runs… they’re pretty balanced,” van Riemsdyk said. “They have a lot of depth. They can beat you in different ways.”

Expect the experimentation process to continue as Toronto begins its’ preseason schedule Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Related: Leafs deny rift between Kessel and coaching staff

Avs’ Tanguay looking to bounce back from injury riddled season


Hip and knee injuries allowed Avalanche veteran Alex Tanguay to appear in just 16 games in 2013-14.

Now healthy, he’s at Colorado’s camp looking to be a factor this season.

“Last year I was a passenger, watching from the sideline,” Tanguay told The Denver Post. “I was almost a fan. But this year I want to be a part of it, and I’m hoping to contribute quite a bit.”

The 34-year-old helped the Avs get out to a 12-1 start last fall, but was then sidelined for 36 games with hip and knee injuries. Tanguay returned for just three games before Colorado shut him down for the remainder of the season.

In February, the forward underwent major hip surgery.

“It was a long, long road with a lot of frustration, lots of everything, and I just wish the surgery would have been done in November, looking back,” Tanguay said. “But at the time we thought I would be able to come back and play. It just didn’t pan out that way.”

According to the Post’s Mike Chambers, Tanguay is expected to star the season on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.

Tanguay, who helped lure free agent Jarome Iginla to Denver, should get a jump start playing with the two gifted forwards.

The former Avalanche first round pick (12th overall in 1998) had four goals and seven points before having his season ended last year.

Sakic says Avs ownership gave ‘green light’ to ‘make this team win’


Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2010 — and with a whole crop of exciting young talent, headlined by the explosive Nathan MacKinnon — the Colorado Avalanche are hoping they can keep the momentum going on the ice in 2014-15.

At the same time, the club’s ownership is hoping for a bit more off-ice success, since there’s still a long ways to go in the ticket-sales department, and the Avs are back up among the NHL’s payroll leaders.

“We’re a cap team now, despite us being in the bottom five of the league in ticket revenue,” president of hockey ops told the Denver Post. “Even knowing that, [ownership] still want to win a championship and gave us the green light to do whatever we can to make this team win.”

A pair of NHL sources told the Post that the Avs’ season-ticket base is “around 6,500,” leaving no shortage of seats to sell on an individual game basis.

The Avs averaged 16,295 fans in 2013-14, ranking them 22nd in league attendance. That was an increase over the previous season (15,444), and it was a big increase compared to 2009-10, when the club bottomed out at 13,947. But attendance was still significantly below the level of the league’s top spenders, most of whom play to capacity crowds on a nightly basis, with high ticket prices to boot.

For Sakic, ownership’s willingness to increase spending (yes, the Avs lost Paul Stastny to free agency, but they also brought in Jarome Iginla) will mean added pressure to avoid a regression in 2014-15 — something, it should be noted, that many are predicting for Colorado.

Related: Avs hope to learn from ‘nightmare’ playoff finish

B’s Lucic admits his wrist isn’t fully healed


Some might argue that the Boston Bruins took a half-step (or more) backward this offseason due to salary cap challenges, but the team still looks formidable on paper. They might not be able to pencil Milan Lucic in at full force to start the season, though.

The hulking forward admitted to CSNNE.com that his surgically repaired left wrist isn’t quite back to 100 percent just yet.

“I feel like I’ve turned the corner in the last week or week-and-a-half, so that’s a positive. But I’m still working to get it up to 100 percent,” Lucic said. “I’m just excited to be back with everyone, and to get things going. You don’t want to do anything to have any setbacks, so you have to be smart about it. It’s turned the corner for the better as far as rehab has gone.”

The 26-year-old wore a hard cast that extended from his elbow to his hand for most of this summer, greatly limiting his ability to work out his upper-body this summer, as he told CSNNE.com. While he has time to build back up – again, he seems positive about the last couple weeks of progress – there’s at least some concern that he’ll take awhile to rebound to his usual intimidating form.

(Don’t expect him to resemble a “string bean” anytime soon, though.)

Should Lucic shoot more often once he’s healthy?

Lucic spoke about the “mental part to get over when it comes to shooting, and everything else on the ice” as well, which brings up an interesting point: the B’s might want to ask Lucic to fire the puck more often, at least long-term.

The big winger only fired 153 shots on goal last season, meaning he averaged fewer than two shots on net per game. His career average (811 in 485 regular season contests), is well off the two-per-game mark, too.

Considering his power, ability to fight through checks and impressive accuracy (his career shooting percentage is an outstanding 14.9), Boston might want to start whispering in his ear to maybe be just a touch less selective.

That might come naturally, though. After skating alongside obvious finishers in Jarome Iginla and Nathan Horton, David Krejci seemed excited by the prospect of Loui Eriksson bumping up his goal totals, so one can only imagine what kind of impact that might have on Lucic’s approach. Again, it may be wise to push for higher shot volumes when he feels comfortable, though.

This is not to say that Lucic should just fire the puck away without any thought regarding context, but more shots from that talented forward seems like it could only be a good thing.