The Ottawa Senators are digging into American coaches to find the guy they want to teach their youth. The Sens announced that they’ve hired Kurt Kleinendorst to be the head coach of their AHL team in Binghamton. Some of you might recall Kleinendorst from his days as an assistant to Larry Robinson in New Jersey. American hockey fans who are very intent on following the young, up and coming players will better know Kleinendorst as the head coach of Team USA’s Under-18 team last year, leading them to a gold medal in the Under-18 World Junior Championships. This won’t be Kleinendorst’s first go-round as an AHL head coach, as he coached the Lowell Devils for three years from 2006-2009.
1. John Carlson
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals in Washington’s overtime win, but we have to dock him some imaginary three star points for collecting both tallies from his “office” on the power play. Besides, Carlsson generated more points in the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime win, generating a goal and two assists. He also fired five shots on goal and logged a hearty 26:02 time on ice.
(Neal Pionk ranked as a strong honorable mention for the Rangers, offering up three assists and four blocked shots.)
Frolik heralded the reunion of “The 3M Line” with a difference-making performance, scoring two early goals in Calgary’s victory against Boston. The defensively responsible forward came very close to collecting a hat trick, sending a shorthanded breakaway attempt just a little too high against Tuukka Rask.
He ended up with a +3 rating, three shots on goal, and even won his two draws.
3. John Gibson
You could easily give the third star to Ryan Kesler, who turned back the clock to score two goals (and was Frolik-close to nabbing a hat trick while barely missing an empty net from way downtown).
Gibson’s been the motor for the Ducks’ defiantly strong start to 2018-19 season, though, and the fantastic goalie fell just 34 seconds short of a shutout, stopping 34 out of 35 shots. The American-born netminder is now on a four-game winning streak.
Highlights of the Night:
OK, it’s probably the lowlight of the night, as Colton Parayko caught up an absolutely brutal turnover in the closing moments of regulation, opening the door for Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher to combine for a stunning Habs game-winner, as you can see in these highlights:
Patrice Bergeron can do it all.
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals from his “office” on the power play, and while not every multi-goal night has been as easy as that looked, it certainly comes easier to Ovechkin than anyone else:
Johnny Gaudreau hit a nice milestone by scoring his 100th goal in his 318th NHL game. He’s not far from hitting 200 assists, either.
Capitals 4, Rangers 3 (OT)
Canadiens 3, Blues 2
Flames 5, Bruins 2
Ducks 4, Islanders 1
For a while there, it looked like the Boston Bruins were going to being 2018-19 with a “feast or famine” approach. Would they exchange blowout losses and impressive winning streaks?
Instead, the Bruins got back into Wednesday’s game after the Flames stormed to a 3-0 lead in the first period, but Calgary ultimately prevailed 5-2.
To start things off, the Flames enjoyed some sensational work from Michael Frolik, who celebrated the reunion of “The 3M Line” with two early goals. Frolik nearly netted at hat trick during a stretch where the Flames generated two semi-breakaways on the penalty kill, but he settled for the sort of night that should make another healthy scratch unlikely.
Frolik’s face was almost as entertaining as the tic-tac-toe goal that inspired it:
There were stretches where the Bruins seemed like they might do more than save face.
Most notably, the Bruins began the third period with a healthy 5-on-3 opportunity, yet Boston failed to even register a shot on goal. (To be fair, David Pastrnak found the post, but it was still a weak showing considering the Bruins’ firepower.)
While it was a night Tuukka Rask would like to forget, the veteran goalie deserves some credit for gathering hits wits after a tough first period. One of his better bounce-back moments came when he denied Johnny Gaudreau‘s attempt to score his 101st NHL goal (he scored number 100 during a first-period flurry), a save that preceded a vicious hit by Charlie McAvoy:
Generally speaking, the two teams’ impressive top lines delivered in this one.
Gaudreau hit that 100-goal milestone, and while the Bruins roughed him up quite a bit (even beyond that McAvoy hit), created a lot of chances as usual. Patrice Bergeron scored a sweet goal and an assist, Brad Marchand found the net, and Pastrnak collected a helper to go with a disallowed tally from the first period.
The Flames’ struggles have been confounding, at times, because they’ve fallen short quite often even though they combine Gaudreau-Sean Monahan with that “3M Line” of Frolik, Mikael Backlund, and Matthew Tkachuk. In this case, that second line made the difference.
Thanks to this result, Calgary’s won four of its last five games, while Boston’s four-game winning streak comes to an end.
The Washington Capitals outlasted the New York Rangers in what was largely a game of inches and lethal power-play units.
Matt Niskanen ultimately notched the difference-maker in Washington’s 4-3 overtime win as the Capitals ended a losing streak at two games. The rebuilding Rangers provided a pretty spirited showing, holding their own as the Capitals generated a modest 38-32 shots on goal advantage.
Here’s that Niskanen game-winner:
Each power-play unit went 2-for-4 on Wednesday, with the Capitals taking advantage of the “Death and Taxes” certainty of Alex Ovechkin scoring from “his office.” Both of Ovechkin’s power-play goals came from almost the exact same spot, with the main difference being that the second one caught Henrik Lundqvist a bit more by surprise (in part because he shot low).
John Carlson ranked as one of the Capitals’ standout performers in this win, generating one goal and two assists.
The Rangers enjoyed strong nights from their own first line, as both Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider authored one-goal, one-assist performances while creating plenty of other chances. (Jesper Fast was also busy, although he failed to generate any points.)
Circling back to that “game of inches” point, consider that Washington barely avoided a goal, as Christian Djoos saved the day early on:
While Ovechkin was close to nabbing yet another hat trick:
The Rangers and Capitals approach the 2018-19 season with very different expectations, yet each team saw their veteran goalies manage some nice stops, enjoyed strong nights from their top guns, and generally put on a nice show on NBCSN.
Tom Wilson will get a chance to state his case to reduce his 20-game suspension via an appeal hearing with the NHL on Thursday, a process Bob McKenzie discusses in the video above this post’s headline.
To catch you up to speed, note that this is part of the appeal process where Wilson brings his case to Gary Bettman. After that, Wilson also has the option to bring his case to an independent arbitrator.
Wednesday’s New York Rangers – Washington Capitals game represents the sixth of 20 games. Note that Wilson loses more than $60K for every game he’s suspended for, so a reduction in his sentence could mean a lot of dough for the polarizing hitter.
What are his chances of getting a lighter punishment, then? As McKenzie notes, they aren’t great, particularly when it comes to Bettman cutting down a suspension.
That said, there are two cases worth noting:
- Raffi Torres’ hit on Marian Hossa: In July 2012, Wilson-like hitter Torres saw a 25-game suspension fall to 21 games for his check on Marian Hossa. This is probably the most directly comparable situation, at least when you consider the types of hits and the rap sheet for the players involved.
- In June 2014, Dan Carcillo saw an “abuse of official” suspension reduced from 10 games to six.
Now, a neutral arbitrator might be more likely to ease the duration of Wilson’s suspension. Consider these two cases, which aren’t necessarily directly comparable:
- Dennis Wideman: Wideman’s infamous run-in (run-into?) with an official was reduced from 20 games to 10 games.
- Austin Watson: More recently, Austin Watson saw his suspension go from 27 games to 18. The NHL expressed disappointment with the decision.
All things considered, it’s easy to see why Wilson would go through this process. It’s quite plausible that he’ll get back into the lineup sooner and lose less money from the suspension, even if it’s not fair to call the possibility “likely.”