The Vancouver Canucks thought their three-game road trip through California and Arizona got off to such a positive start, despite opening it with a loss in L.A.
But whatever moral victory – the popular phrase in Vancouver this week – the Canucks believed they earned in that physical confrontation with the Kings four days ago took a drastic turn in a negative direction. The road trip ended with a 1-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.
Hard to believe that a team lost twice by a score of 1-0 in a three-game span and still got outscored 11-1 overall. But it happened. Sandwiched in between was that embarrassing 9-1 loss to the red-hot Anaheim Ducks.
Over the last week, they’ve tried to be a more physical, aggressive team. A lot of fights and penalty minutes. But goals? Not so much, prompting the question: What’s going on with the Canucks?
Kesler on 0-3 road trip: "Horrendous. It was awful. I'm pissed off right now. I need to be better, we need to be better as a group."
Now, they face the threat of injuries to some key forwards. Mike Santorelli left the game after getting tangled up with Martin Hanzal on a faceoff in the third period. Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reported after the game that Santorelli was spotted with his right arm in a sling.
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver’s captain, and David Booth were also injured in the third period. Booth was on the receiving end of a high stick from Hanzal that landed the Coyotes forward a double-minor with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
But the Canucks couldn’t capitalize on the four-minute power play. In fact, they didn’t even really get set up. The Canucks finished the night a dreadful 0-for-7 with the man-advantage.
“That’s something out of my control right now,” Fabbri told Kulfan regarding Red Wings negotiations. “Everything has been great since the first day I came to Detroit. It’s a great organization, great group of guys, a great opportunity here, so it’s definitely a place I want to be and play for as long as I can.”
Fabbri added that he “couldn’t be happier” playing for the rebuilding Red Wings. And, again, it’s something he’s hammered on before. The 24-year-old noted to the Detroit Free-Press’ Dana Gauruder that his girlfriend and dogs have been delighted, too.
(You know what they say: happy girlfriend and dogs, happy life?)
If Fabbri got his way, the Red Wings would hand him an extension for a at least a few years. The forward hopes for more security than the one-year “prove it” deals he’s settled for in recent seasons. Fabbri would be even happier if he could stick at his “natural position” of center. (Detroit tried him out as a center at times in 2019-20.)
“I am definitely hoping and excited to get off the back-to-back one-year contracts but that part of the game is for my agent to talk to Yzerman about,” Fabbri said to Gauruder in late May. “I’ll leave that up to them and just control what I can control …”
This begs a natural question, then. Should the Red Wings want Fabbri back? Let’s consider the circumstances.
Should the Red Wings bring Fabbri back?
It really is something to consider how different circumstances were for Fabbri in Detroit than in St. Louis. Certainly, the teams were wildly different. The Blues are the defending Stanley Cup champions, while the rebuilding Red Wings rank as one of the worst teams of the salary cap era. But that disparity opened the door for Fabbri to rejuvenate his career.
Fabbri with Blues:
After two-plus injury-ravaged seasons, Fabbri suited up for nine Blues games in 2019-20. He managed one goal and zero assists, averaging just 9:42 TOI per game. This marked easily the low point of his Blues years, as even in 2018-19, Fabbri averaged 12:39 per night when he could play (32 GP).
The Red Wings understandably hoped to see glimpses of the rookie who managed a promising 18 goals and 37 points in 72 games in 2015-16.
What Fabbri brought to the Red Wings
Generally speaking, Fabbri delivered nicely for the Red Wings.
He scored 14 goals and 31 points in 52 games, seeing his ice time surge to a career-high 17:16 per game. Fabbri’s .60 points-per-game average represented another career-high, up slightly from his previous peak of .57 per contest in 2016-17 (29 points in 51 games).
M Live’s Ansar Khan refers to the Fabbri trade as GM Steve Yzerman’s best so far with the Red Wings. Maybe that qualifies as faint praise (so far), but in general, it seems like Fabbri fit in nicely.
What should Red Wings do?
The Red Wings have a few options.
Forgive a bit of front office cynicism, but the shrewdest strategy might be to pursue a “pump and dump” during the trade deadline. Part of Fabbri’s production came from playing with players like Dylan Larkin, so maybe Detroit could be sellers at the trade deadline and get max value for Fabbri?
Things look less promising if you dig deeper. Heck, consider how Fabbri compares to Jacob De La Rose at even-strength in this Evolving Hockey RAPM chart for some perspective:
(Either way, if Jeff Blashill is a traditional coach, he might grumble at Fabbri only winning 39.4 percent of his faceoffs. Fair or not, as that’s only a small part of playing center.)
Yet, even handing Fabbri some term can make moderate sense.
The Red Wings may need some time for this rebuild to really revv up. Fabbri’s young enough at 24, and he’s also been through quite a bit in his career. Any player struggling in development can look to Fabbri as evidence that you shouldn’t give up.
And, in the meantime, Fabbri can pitch in some scoring for a team that figures to badly need it.
All things considered, it makes sense for the Red Wings to bring back Fabbri in some fashion. Considering the injury headaches Fabbri went through, it’s also easy to root for him — plus his girlfriend and their dogs:
The NHL and NHLPA agreed to some key details to how the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will operate … assuming the playoffs can happen. We now know how the league will handle the Round Robin for Seeding, Qualifying Round, all the way to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
Before we go round by round, note that the biggest takeaways are that the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will involve re-seeding (not bracketing) and that every round will include a best-of-seven series after the Qualifying Round/Round Robin for Seeding.
In other words, if this all comes to pass, prepare for a lot of hockey.
How the NHL Playoffs will work through 2020 Stanley Cup Final
Johnston reports that the Round Robin for Seeding will involve three games each per team. Points percentage will serve as a tiebreaker if needed during the Round Robin for Seeding.
It was first believed that teams who won Qualifying Round series would face specific opponents based on bracketing. Instead, re-seeding means that the highest seeds will face the lowest seeds all the way down to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
Here’s how “home ice” will work out, via the NHL:
* In the Qualifying Round, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2 and 5. The lower-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 3 and 4.
2020 NHL Playoffs: First Round through the 2020 Stanley Cup Final
To reiterate, following the Qualifying Round (best-of-five) and Round Robin for Seeding (three games apiece), each series will be a best-of-seven, with re-seeding. It might be easier to see how it flows this way, then:
Qualifying Round (best-of-five series, four series per conference); Round Robin for Seeding (three games apiece, top four teams in each conference involved). Re-seeding instead of bracketing.
First Round (best-of-seven series, four series per conference). Teams re-seed after First Round.
Second Round (best-of-seven series, two series per conference). Teams re-seed after Second Round.
2020 Eastern Conference Final (best-of-seven series) and 2020 Western Conference Final (best-of-seven series).
Via the NHL, here’s how “home-ice” will play out before the 2020 Stanley Cup Final:
* In the First Round, Second Round and Conference Finals, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The lower-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 3, 4 and 6.
2020 Stanley Cup Final (best-of-seven series).
Finally, the league shared this “home-ice” info for the 2020 Stanley Cup Final:
* In the Stanley Cup Final, the team with the higher regular season points percentage will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The team with the lower regular season points percentage will be designated as the home team in Games 3, 4 and 6
NHL, NHLPA opt for more hockey approach
Before Thursday, some expected that the First Round, and possibly the Second Round, might instead be best-of-five series. Instead, the NHL and NHLPA opted to go longer.
Johnston captures the risk part of that risk-reward scenario quite well, noting that two extra best-of-seven rounds could add nine days to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that the playoff tournament could last as long as 68 days. That requires some big gambles that COVID-19 cases won’t spike to the point that the NHL needs to go on “pause” once more.
The "integrity" of the playoffs was prioritized with this decision. It was important to the players. But the entire playoff tournament could last 68 days, which might pose challenges if a second wave of coronavirus hits in the fall.
If it all works out, then the “integrity” of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs is definitely emphasized. (Also, more best-of-seven series definitely strengthens the “toughest ever” arguments.) Few can credibly say they’ve been robbed of a real chance, given that 24 teams are involved.
We’ll have to wait and see if it’s all worth it, and if the NHL can actually pull this off. Personally, re-seeding seems fair if it doesn’t lead to additional travel, while the bevy best-of-seven series seems dicey.
Naturally, the NHL and NHLPA still need to hash out other details.
Keep in mind, this is just the format agreement. Still to come are Phase 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (games/hubs/protocol) which still have to be negotiated. Only preliminary talks so far on those fronts.
It is expected that the NHL will announce its Phase 2 plans this week. That will allow for players to workout in small voluntary groups at team facilities. Training camps are still expected to open in mid-July.
As players get set for Phase 2, the league will have strict screening protocols in place.
“We will have a rigorous daily testing protocol where players are tested every evening and those results are obtained before they would leave their hotel rooms the next morning, so we’ll know if we have a positive test and whether the player has to self-quarantine himself as a result of that positive test,” said Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “It’s expensive, but we think it’s really a foundational element of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
“You need testing at a level sufficient to be confident that you’re going to be on top of anything which might happen,” said NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr. “If that turns out to be daily, and that’s available, that’s OK. That would be good. If it turns out that that’s not quite what we need and we can get by with a little less, that’s OK.”
A week after a $500,000 fundraising goal was met to save the program, Alabama-Huntsville hockey coach Mike Corbett has resigned.
The announcement was made on Wednesday, with assistant coach Gavin Morgan joining Corbett in leaving the program. Assistant Lance West will take on the role of acting head coach.
“I want to thank all of you for your support and supporting the players during this time,” Corbett wrote in an email to supporters obtained by WZDX. “It meant a lot to me and them. I wish things were different and the results were better, I truly do. I own that. I will not make excuses and I will tell you I came to work everyday and put everything I had into it. Not always making the right decisions, but doing what I thought was right for the program every day. Myself and my staff embraced it and fought the good fight every day. Only we know how that was and it was difficult but continued to put the program and the players first.”
The Chargers were 2-26-6 this past season, the seventh with Corbett in charge.
According to insiders, Corbett wanted to leave on his own terms. The coach had led the Chargers for seven seasons and dealt with a lot of challenges, from a lack of recruiting money to the loss of a conference when seven WCHA schools announced they would be leaving Alabama-Huntsville and the two Alaska schools behind to form a new CCHA in 2021-22.