The last of the eight first-round series gets underway tonight when the B’s host the Red Wings at TD Garden, so Brough and I started there in the latest edition of PHT Extra. We also touched on what to expect in Game 2 of the Lightning-Habs series, and what Dallas needs to do after dropping Game 1 of its series against Anaheim.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to be without Justin Schultz for a while.
Schultz underwent successful surgery on Sunday to repair a fracture in his lower left leg, according to the team. Schultz was injured on Saturday night in a game against the Montreal Canadiens after falling awkwardly on his leg.
He’s expected to miss four months, pegging his return in the middle of February at the earliest.
Fair warning: the video isn’t for the faint of heart.
Schultz had been producing at a point-per-game rate before getting injured, with four assists in Pittsburgh’s first four games. That was good for second on the team in terms of defensemen scoring behind Kris Letang while averaging over 17 minutes during his first three games.
It goes without saying, but it’s a big blow to the Penguins’ back end.
With Schultz out, the Penguins are going to be looking for players to step up, including his partner Jack Johnson, who signed a five-year deal with the club this summer. Johnson has yet to produce a point so far this season. Olli Maatta is also another candidate that needs to jumpstart his season in a hurry. Maatta has already been a healthy scratch this season, and like Johnson, has yet to put up a point.
The Penguins started the season with Maatta and Johnson together so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them give that a go again.
“We have capable NHL defensemen so I’m confident that we can put guys in that I know can help us win games,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “He’s not an easy guy to replace. He’s a very good player and has been very good for us for a long time. So it’s a tough loss from our standpoint, but certainly we’ve got to be prepared with the guys that we have.”
The injury will also mean more time for rookie Juuso Riikola and Jamie Oleksiak, who could be paired together going forward. Both players have spent time in and out of the lineup early on. Riikola could stand to benefit most from Schultz’s absence, so there’s a big opportunity there for him to grab some extra minutes.
Schultz was the second man over the boards on the power play after Letang. Perhaps Riikola gets a look there as well.
The Carolina Hurricanes are off to a mighty fine start, eh?
A 4-1-1 record, with their lone regulation loss coming against the Winnipeg Jets in a game they thoroughly dominated but lost on a late third-period hiccup. The Hurricanes have been a pleasant surprise in the NHL in the infancy of the 2018-19 season.
As PHT’s Adam Gretz pointed out last week, the team is young, fun and worth watching.
They are all three of those things, and they’re doing so in such dominant fashion thus far. Case and point: Over the past two games, Carolina has logged a whopping 100 shots on goal. They peppered Devan Dubnyk and the Minnesota Wild into submission on Saturday night, finally winning the game in overtime on sheer volume alone on their 57th shot.
On Sunday night in Winnipeg, a team playing the second game of a back-to-back put up 43 more against a team that’s touted as a Stanley Cup contender. The Hurricanes enjoyed 61 percent of the possession in the game, producing 34 scoring chances, with 14 of those being of the high-danger variety.
Their loss on vs. the Jets was bad luck more than anything. Winnipeg didn’t deserve to win the game. The Hurricanes didn’t deserve to lose.
And while the ‘L’ might be a sobering reminder that life isn’t always fair in the NHL, Carolina’s play as a whole has put the league on watch.
The Hurricanes roll four lines that control the game’s shot share. Here’s a handy-dandy chart to explain:
Source: Natural Stat Trick
Carolina has been overwhelming teams thus far and it’s coming from everywhere. There’s little drop off no matter who’s on the ice.
There’s a disclaimer here and that is that the season is young. These are far from concrete numbers over the course of an 82-game season, but what they do show is how well the Hurricanes are clicking together amongst their four lines and how it’s having a direct effect on their results, even with the small sample size.
Are these numbers likely to regress? Yes.
But while they may fall closer to the earth going forward, they could get covered off if Carolina’s goaltending improves. Petr Mrazek was sensational against the Jets, and Curtis McElhinney has allowed eight goals in three starts. That’s good. But with the Hurricanes controlling so much of the offense, they’re giving up just 25 shots per game. Their team save percentage is sitting at .886 through six games, which is hardly world-beating.
The return of Scott Darling at some point could help that if he’s the re-invigorated man he claimed to be over the summer. And while regression will set it at some point, league-average goaltending would go a long way into mitigating its effects.
For now, the Hurricanes sit atop the NHL in possession, tied with the San Jose Sharks. They’re sixth in goals-for percentage, which is simply the percentage of goals-for vs. goals-against, third in scoring chances for, second in high-danger chances for, which is shots that occur in the slot in front of the net, and first in high-danger goals for, meaning goals scored from those high-danger areas.
In layman’s terms: The NHL’s most exciting team is also one of its most dangerous.
And the plan is for that to continue.
“We’re going to continue to try to play like that,” said forward Jordan Staal Sunday night. “It’s been our aggressive style. Obviously, we’re a quick team and we’re trying to play that way and create turnovers. Our [defense] has been really good with good gaps and creating a lot of shots, too, to kind of create seconds. We’re going to continue to try and pepper goalies and try to get some more goals.”
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 email@example.com.
• Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen sported Anaheim Ducks-inspired cleats this weekend. (NHL.com)
• Can you guess who leads the NHL at 24 minutes a night? (Edmonton Journal)
• Gritty is now a Halloween costume because of course he is. (NHL.com)
• NHL players come from all ends of the earth. Here’s a breakdown. (The Hockey News)
• Ottawa Senators veterans opening their homes to the team’s future. (Ottawa Sun)
1. Laurent Brossoit, Winnipeg Jets. While earning his first win as a Jet, Brossoit stopped 42 shots during a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. For the fifth time in seven games, the Hurricanes fired at least 40 shots on net, but the 25-year-old netminder stood tall to help Winnipeg to their second win in three games.
2. Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils. Continuing his hot start to the season, Palmieri netted two goals during the Devils’ 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. His second period power-play goal was followed up by another tally early in the third period even the score at two. Palmieri now has six goals on the season, scoring twice in each of New Jersey’s three games this season. And per the NHL, Palmieri is the fourth NHL player to score multiple goals in three straight games to begin a season, joining Patrick Marleau (2012-13), Cy Denneny (1917-18) and Peter Stastny (1982-83).
3. Ryan Miller, Anaheim Ducks. Miller made 29 saves, including 10 in the final period to help the Ducks to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. Dating back to the end of last season, Anaheim has won its last four games Miller has started.
Highlights of the Night
• Patrik Laine. From the circle. One-timer.
• Andrew Cogliano also picked the right time to score, breaking a 2-2 deadlock on the power play with 5:16 left in the third period:
Factoid of the Night
Devils 3, Sharks 2
Ducks 3, Blues 2
Jets 3, Hurricanes 1