Video: NHL holds first rookie orientation camp

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As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NHL held its first rookie orientation camp this past week. NHL.com provides video of the proceedings:

It’s likely there was plenty of advice doled out during the sessions, but here’s a guess at what lessons were handed out (or should’ve been shared).

  • Don’t get too angry buying dinner for the veterans even though you’re on an entry-level contract.
  • Speaking of spending money, think twice before investing in a “no-brainer.”
  • Be careful on Twitter.
  • Really, stay away from Twitter altogether.

Anyway, it’s a great idea between the NHL and NHLPA, as teenagers aren’t always well-prepared for a life of professional sports.

On the defensive: Avs no-name blue liners raising their game

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DENVER (AP) — In between homework assignments this season at Massachusetts, Cale Makar brushed up on the Colorado Avalanche blue line.

The rookie defenseman studied as much film as he could of his soon-to-be teammates in order to lessen his learning curve.

His takeaway from his crash course: No one tries to take on too much.

Colorado may not have anyone up for big awards among its blue liners or even a name that casual fans might recognize. Instead, the defense relies on a strength-in-numbers approach, with everyone filling a different role.

”On championship teams, everybody has to know their role they play in order to succeed,” said Makar, whose squad starts a second-round series on Friday at San Jose after dispatching Calgary, the top seed in the West. ”They’re a very consistent ‘D-core,’ always good night in and night out.”

Tyson Barrie provides the offensive force; Nikita Zadorov, the big hits; Erik Johnson, the glue; Ian Cole, the bruise-leaving blocked shots; Samuel Girard, the flash; and Patrik Nemeth, the consistent tenacity. As for Makar, he’s the playmaker in training who made his NHL debut in Game 3 and scored a goal .

”Everyone’s playing to what they’re capable of,” Barrie said. ”We all have roles and we’re all accepting of it.”

The Avalanche held the high-scoring Flames to just 11 goals in the five-game series and shut down Johnny Gaudreau. Now, they turn their attention to Tomas Hertl, Brent Burns and the rest of the Sharks. It’s a team they went 0-3 against in the regular season and were outscored by a 14-9 margin.

But that was pre-Makar. He’s been a welcome addition since joining the team after his college hockey season concluded with a UMass loss in the Frozen Four championship game.

”Adding a guy like Cale mid-playoffs, that’s a big boost. It’s not every day you can do that,” Barrie said. ”We’re playing real solid team defense. It’s a good feeling right now.”

Typically, the Avalanche headlines center on Nathan MacKinnon and the offense. Rightfully so, with MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen among the playoff scoring leaders.

”It’s nice to have a ‘D-core’ that’s getting a little recognition because I think it’s been questioned in the past,” Barrie said. ”So we’ll take some spotlight.”

A glimpse at some of the defensemen’s achievements this season:

– Zadorov topped the team in hits for a third straight season.

– Barrie scored a career-high 59 points in the regular season, the most by an Avs defenseman since Ray Bourque had 59 in 2000-01.

– Johnson led the squad in shifts per game.

– Nemeth finished second on the squad in average short-handed ice time.

– Girard played in all 82 games and committed just three minor penalties. He could be back for the Sharks series after missing the last three games with an upper body injury.

– Cole registered a team-high 178 blocked shots.

”The old stereotypical defenseman that bangs it off the glass and out, there’s no real role for that guy in the NHL anymore,” Cole said. ”In today’s NHL, you have to be able to defend, have to be able to skate, have to be able to make plays, have to help produce offense. Everyone knows the template that we play as a team.”

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer helps keep things running smoothly in the back. He’s constantly calling out orders – ”You’ve got time.” Or ”Go up the wall with the puck.” Or even ”Watch out!”

”Just small, simple commands,” said Grubauer, who posted a 1.89 goals-against average against Calgary. ”I try to help point them into the right direction.”

To make sure he fit in seamlessly, Makar learned as much about the Avalanche as he could. The fourth overall pick in 2017 signed a three-year deal on April 14 and was instantly thrown into the playoff race.

He proved to be as speedy as advertised.

Off the ice, he’s feeling right at home, too, thanks to being taken under the wing of veteran Matt Calvert. Makar is living in his basement.

”Amazing family,” Makar said. ”It makes my days a lot easier.”

The Avs have weathered their share of trying times this season. During a particularly rough patch starting in January when the squad went 0-5-3, they were allowing an average of 4.4 goals. But down the stretch – facing must-win games when they were 8-0-2 – they allowed 1.8 goals a game.

In the Calgary series, the defense held firm in surrendering 2.2 goals.

”It’s always a growing process,” Cole said. ”You start to learn the tendencies and what guys look for in certain situations and you build that chemistry. Maybe we don’t have the flashiest numbers as far as points or whatever, but we do a lot of good things to help our team win hockey games. That’s really all that matters at this time of the year, right?”

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

The Wraparound: Islanders, Hurricanes set to battle in the series of the unlikely

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

Prior to the opening of Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, no teams had bigger odds of hoisting the trophy than a contingent of Metropolitan Division teams.

No one believed in the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ditto for the Carolina Hurricanes at the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. And despite their second place finish in the division, not many were sold on the New York Islanders against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

All three of those teams were handed 30/1 tags. All three made it to Round 2. And at least one of those teams will progress to the Eastern Conference Final.

The Islanders (100/1 at the beginning of the season) will host the Hurricanes (who were 60/1 in October) in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round series tonight (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live stream), the first game in 10 days for the Isles, who move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the season after playing in Nassau Coliseum in Round 1.

“I don’t think anyone gave either of these teams a whole lot of credit, and they deserve a lot of credit,” Islanders forward Matt Martin said. “The way they battled the second half of the year to kind of get in [the playoffs], I think resiliency is a good word for them. I think it’s going to be a great series. They’ve got some speed, they’ve got some talent, they work really hard. We need to be ready and at our best.”

The Hurricanes enter the series with far less rest after a seven-game series with the Capitals wrapped up less than 48 hours ago. It had been 10 years since the Hurricanes even sniffed the playoffs and now have a chance to reach the conference final as they did back in 2009.

“I know they’re sitting there, probably licking their chops,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’amour said. “I think we all would be the way this series went, seven games, overtimes, the grind that this series was, injuries that were racked up, and they’re just sitting there for 10 days, or I don’t know how long. I know they’re a great team, and that’s why they had a pretty easy [first] round. They know how to win, and they do it right.”

No one fired more shots on goal per game during the regular season than the Hurricanes while no one allowed fewer goals per game than the Islanders. The Isles, particularly, kept true to their regular-season form, allowing just six goals in the series against the Pens, including just one goal in each of the final three games.

Friday’s game, and the series in general pits one team that’s looking to remain on the high they experienced a couple nights ago against another than handily dispatched a team that had won two of the previous three Stanley Cups.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 1: Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks, 10 p.m. ET. Speaking of teams no one gave much of a chance… The Avs come into this one having knocked off the Western Conference’s best Calgary Flames in five games while the San Jose Sharks overcame a 3-1 series deficit to win in dramatic (and controversial) fashion in Game 7 to advance. San Jose owned the Avs in the regular season, winning all three games they played. Not that any of that seems to matter this year. The Sharks have to contend with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, something the Flames couldn’t do as the top-line duo combined for eight goals and 17 points in the series. This means Martin Jones will need to be in Game 5 to 7 mode and not Game 2 to 4 mode where he was pulled twice and allowed six in the game he was allowed to remain in. (NBCSN; Live stream)

PHT’s Round 2 previews
Round 2 schedule, TV info

Questions for the final eight teams
PHT Roundtable


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Meaning of NHL regular season; Kadri regrets cross-check

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Format not to blame for wild Round 1 upsets. (Sportsnet)

• The cascade of issues that not having a Canadian team in the playoffs creates. (Angus Reid Institute)

• Perhaps your favorite team is out and you’re looking to cheat on them with a new team. Here’s a bandwagon guide. (CBC)

• The regular season means nothing. (FiveThirtyEight)

• Torn ACL likely to mean Zach Hyman will miss the beginning of next season. (NHL.com)

• Mike Modano getting himself into eSports. (TSN)

• A timeline of the recently-ended Calgary Flames season. (Calgary Sun)

• The tragic consequences of the NHL’s science denial. (The Atlantic)

• The seve…. eight deadly sins of Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Deadspin)

• The Washington Capitals’ Russian contingent heading to the World’s after their shocking playoff exit. (TSN)

Craig Smith is none too pleased with the Nashville Predators season ending in Round 1. (Tennessean)

• Game 7 controversy could have a ripple effect in the college game. (Jamestown Sun)

• Dubas not playing games after Maple Leafs tossed. (The Score)

Nazem Kadri regrets his silly cross-check. (TSN)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Sharks’ Pavelski unlikely for Game 1 after scary injury

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski is unlikely to play Game 1 in the second round of the playoffs against Colorado after being knocked out and bloodied in the first-round clincher.

Coach Peter DeBoer said Thursday that Pavelski is officially day to day but is not expected to be cleared for Game 1 against the Avalanche on Friday night.

Pavelski got hurt Tuesday in a Game 7 victory over Vegas when he was cross-checked by Cody Eakin after a faceoff and fell awkwardly, with his helmet slamming on the ice. He was knocked out and bleeding on the ice before being helped to the locker room. The Sharks scored four goals on the ensuing power play and eventually won 5-4 in overtime.

Pavelski was at the practice facility Thursday but didn’t take part in practice. DeBoer says he is still feeling the effects of the injury.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports