Montreal Canadiens' most frustrating player

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kovalev.jpgEvery now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, I will also provide my “guess” as to who that player might be.

First, my guess for Montreal.

Scott Gomez – OK, maybe I’m too transfixed on his salary but his contract is easily one of the worst in the league. It’s almost as if Bob Gainey tried to leave the team in as much disarray as possible before stepping down from his perch as the Habs’ general manager.

For the Montreal perspective, I asked the wacky bunch at Four Habs Fans to share their most frustrating player. HabsFan29 provided the perspective. Make sure to check out their off-beat take on the league’s most storied franchise.

So when I asked the other three HF’s who they thought the Habs’ most frustrating player was, the answer was unanimous – Alex Kovalev. I was then forced to remind them that we didn’t re-sign him in the off-season and he plays for Ottawa now. They all responded we know, it’s just that we can’t get over him, he’s the most frustrating player in the history of the universe. I then said come up with something better guys, NBC Sports is the big time and we don’t want to look like idiots. They responded “We spend our time posting pictures of half-naked chicks and crazy yet awesome Photoshops. We already look like idiots.” I said touché, but we need an actual answer. Our consensus pick after the jump.


careyprice.jpgAnd the winner is… Carey Price! Carey Price has two nicknames around FHF – he is both “The Franchise Saviour” (sic, but that’s the way we spell it up North, eh?) and “Cari the Big Fat Whale.” Just seeing the two nicknames side by side should give you an idea why our frustration meter runs to 11.

This is a man of dichotomies. Isn’t that the very definition of frustration? He is both insanely intense and completely aloof. One game really sticks out: Carey was playing brilliantly until a Habs’ defensive collapse caused him to allow two goals in the final three minutes; the team ultimately lost 3-2 in a shootout. I swear I saw steam coming out of his ears as he headed back to the dressing room. 

But at the same time you got the feeling that an hour or two later he’d be totally chilling out, maxing and relaxing all cool. Now maybe that has something to do with his alleged pot-smoking, or the fact that Jaro Halak seems to have usurped the number one goalie tag, leaving The Big Fat Whale to chillax on the bench. We have no idea. But you better believe it’s frustrating.
So Carey is either the man who will lead the Habs back to the Promised Land or the man who will be found chilling on a futon with five beautiful ladies and a bag of shrooms. And us Habs Fans will be frustrated the whole way.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.