Snakebit? Five forwards that take plenty of shots, but haven’t scored much

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It was Wayne Gretzky (or was it Michael Scott?) who once said you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. For the following five guys, taking shots hasn’t been an issue this season — getting them across the goal line has.

1. Justin Williams

The reigning Conn Smythe winner has a career 9.3 shooting percentage and has always been something of a volume shooter. That latter trend’s continued this season, with a team-high 51 shots on goal though 16 games (putting Williams on pace for 250-plus, the same amount he had during his two 30-goal campaigns in Carolina.)

The former trend, though, hasn’t carried over.

The 33-year-old winger has just two goals this season (a 3.9 shooting percentage) and just one in his last 12 games. His production has been flat across the board but especially down on the power play, where he has no goals and just one assist. Following Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Dallas, Williams acknowledged both he and the Kings’ entire man-advantage unit need to be better.

“Our power play has got to score some big goals for us at some point, if not goals then momentum,” he said, per LA Kings Insider. “I don’t know. We’ll get better.”

2. Marian Hossa

Goals have never been hard to come by for Hossa, he of the 466 career tallies and three 40-goal campaigns. Some of that has to do with prolific shot totals — during his Atlanta days, Hossa fired 340 and 341 shots on goal in back-to-back years — and some of that has to do with his career 12.7 shooting percentage.

But much like Williams, Hossa’s current campaign has gone in a different direction.

The Slovak winger is still firing away, with 50 shots through 16 games, but only two have found the back of the net (a 4.0 shooting percentage). His lack of output could be a big reason why Chicago’s struggled to score goals this year; the ‘Hawks sit 19th in the NHL in goals per game (2.56) and, collectively, have a team shooting percentage of 6.7 — fourth-lowest in the league.

3. Mikko Koivu

Koivu’s never been a sniper (his career-high in goals is 22) and has failed to crack the 200-shot plateau in each of the last five seasons, but this year he’s firing away more frequently and sits second among all Wild skaters in shots, with 49.

Yet he only has two goals to show for it — and both came within a four-game stretch.

Koivu’s season has been a story of goalless streaks. It took six games for him to get his first of the year, and Thursday’s 6-3 win over Buffalo marked his sixth straight without one.

“There’s no question — absolutely,” coach Mike Yeo said about whether Koivu (4.1 shooting percentage) was disappointed with his start, per the Pioneer Press. “It weighs on him, but in talking with him, he’s handled it really well. We’ve really liked his game, he feels confident about his game and I think he’s handled not being on the score sheet in a very responsible manner. He’s doing a lot of really good things.”

Koivu’s on record saying he feels like he’s creating chances, and his spike in shot totals would reflect that. It is worth noting, however, that Koivu’s lack of production has often coincided while skating on a line with free agent pickup Thomas Vanek.

Vanek, like Koivu, has struggled to find the back of the net this year with just one goal through 15 games.

4. David Perron

It’s been a tough go for Perron, especially after he scored a career-high 28 goals for the Oilers last year (on a career-high 220 shots). Perron has a 2.4 shooting percentage this season — way down from his career average of 12.8 — and opened the campaign on a 10-game goalless streak.

Lack of secondary scoring is one of Edmonton’s major issues this season, and Perron knows he’s one of the guys expected to provide it.

“Offensively we need support from more than one line, obviously,” he explained, per the Edmonton Sun. ‘It’s on me, it’s on some of the guys on the second and third lines to provide that. We have to be up to the challenge.”

5. Chris Stewart

Much has been made of Buffalo’s ridiculously low shot totals this season — like that night they only mustered 10 against Toronto — which makes Stewart a rather interesting case study.

Stewart has 42 shots, which not only leads the Sabres but represents 10 percent of the teams’ overall total. Which is good. But Stewart has just one goal on the year, a 2.4 shooting percentage. Which is bad.

Like many of the other guys on this list, Stewart’s shooting percentage is down significantly from his career average. At 12.6 throughout his six years in the league, he’s never been a volume shooter (cracking the 200 plateau just one) but has developed a knack for capitalizing on opportunities.

Just not so far.

NHL, NHLPA agree on protocols to resume season

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The NHL and NHL Players’ Association agreed Sunday on protocols to resume the season, a major step toward the return of hockey this summer.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press there was an agreement on protocols for training camps and games and the sides are still negotiating an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, which is crucial to the process.

A person with knowledge of the situation said the return-to-play protocols would only go into effect if each side votes to approve the full package of the CBA extension and return-to-play agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because CBA talks are still ongoing.

To complete a return, two-thirds of the league’s board of governors and majorities of the players’ executive committee and full membership must vote in favor.

If everything is ratified, it will end a pandemic-forced shutdown that began in mid-March. Games would resume in late July or early August with 24 teams taking part in an expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.

The agreement was first reported by TSN.

The 47 pages of protocols outline the health and safety measures the league and players agreed to after several weeks of negotiations. Any player has until 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday to notify his team if he’s choosing to opt out of participating in training camp and games.

For those playing, each team is limited to 30 skaters and an unlimited amount of goaltenders for camp and total roster of up to 31 players for games. Each team is limited to 52 personnel in its game city, a group that must include two trainers, a doctor and compliance officer in addition players, coaches and management.

They are expected to be quarantined from the general public during play at least for the qualifying and first two traditional playoff rounds. Family members will be permitted to join when play is moved to one city for the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

All team and league employees plus hotel, restaurant and arena staff coming in contact with players will be tested daily in the two ”hub” cities.

One player’s positive coronavirus test result is not expected to shut down play entirely. The league has said it would isolate any player or staff member who tests positive, acknowledging an outbreak would threaten the remainder of the season.

”The players will be pretty well-protected from being exposed,” Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said during a conference call in June. ”It’s going to be a completely different way for you all and us watching hockey and being around a team because players will be really well protected throughout the process.”

The protocols include a provision for Commissioner Gary Bettman in consultation with NHLPA executive director Don Fehr to postpone, delay or cancel games in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Assuming the protocols are approved, teams are expected to open training camps July 13 before traveling to the two hub cities for games. Players have been able to skate and train off-ice in voluntary, small-group workouts since June 8 – nearly three months after hockey was halted March 12 with 189 regular-season games remaining.

Returning for the playoffs is seen as a stirring victory for the NHL, which like other top leagues faced the prospect of losing millions more without the television revenue tied to the postseason. There were deep concerns about canceling the rest of the season and word of positive tests didn’t help: 26 players since June 8, in addition to almost a dozen before that.

Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk called the positive test results ”eye-opening” but expected. A few players expressed concerns in recent weeks about the uncertainty surrounding a return.

”We have obviously a unique situation right now,” Montreal goaltender Carey Price said. ”The NHL and the NHLPA are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. Moving forward I’d like to play, but we have a lot of questions that need to be answered and a lot of scenarios that need to be covered.”

If the protocols and an CBA extension cover those scenarios for enough owners and players, there will be a path forward to hand out the Stanley Cup. Only twice since 1893 has the Cup not been awarded: in 1919, when the final couldn’t be completed because of the Spanish flu pandemic, and 2005 when the season was wiped out by a lockout.

Seven hockey players suspended in Belarus match-fixing case

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ZURICH — Seven ice hockey players have been suspended during an investigation into match-fixing in the Belarus league.

The players — five from Belarus and two from Russia — told a domestic investigation they were paid to help arrange the outcome of a game in November, the International Ice Hockey Federation said on Friday.

“During the investigation, each of the players also admitted that they had agreed to exert an unlawful influence on the outcome of the game in exchange for illegal remuneration,” the governing body said in a statement.

The IIHF said its disciplinary board had taken over the case “for further review and sanctioning.”

The case involves Dynamo Molodechno’ losing to Mogilyov 6-5 in a Belarus Extraliga game.

The players have been suspended from taking part in any competition organized by the IIHF or its member federations.

PHT Morning Skate: NHL vs. viruses; Flat salary cap pain = Avs’ gain?

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

Lafreniere, COVID-19 hockey concerns, and how Avs may benefit from a flat salary cap

• Rank Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen among those expressing some misgivings about playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. [TSN]

• Breaking: Alexis Lafreniere is not a defenseman. In all seriousness, a look at some Maple Leafs possibilities … which might be complicated at No. 1 because of that positional point. Maybe? [Pension Plan Puppets]

• Speaking of those Maple Leafs, Buds fans are not pleased about the idea of a possible flat, $81.5M salary cap. There are teams who might take advantage of this situation, though. Here’s why the Avalanche could be one of those teams. [Mile High Hockey]

• A look back at the NHL’s “rivalries” with viruses. Does the history of the NHL’s dealing with such issues — even the Mumps — be a cause for concern amid COVID-19 outbreaks? [Arctic Ice Hockey]

• Earlier this week, PHT selected the best landing spots for Alexis Lafreniere. What about getting even more specific? Andrew Berkshire shared his picks for some of the lines that would benefit most from adding the consensus No. 1 pick to their left side. [Sportsnet]

Other hockey links

• Sean Gentille put together an oral history for the Jean Claude Van Damme masterpiece “Sudden Death.” If you haven’t heard of the candidate for “so-bad-it’s-good” designation, how about the elevator pitch: “Die Hard at a hockey game.” [The Athletic (sub required)]

• On face value, this article focuses most on Rudy Gobert and Novak Djokovic and athletes feeling invulnerable to COVID-19. But it’s a really good read for hockey fans, players, and executives as cautionary tales with a return-to-play picking up steam. [The Score]

• Joe Pelletier of Greatest Hockey Legends wonders why the bar is set so high for goalies to get into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Not an awful point when you consider that they play the most important position in the sport, and all. I wouldn’t mind Ron Hextall making a future cut, to name just one worthy goalie. [Greatest Hockey Legends]

• Five crossovers between hockey and Todd McFarlane. Yes, the “Spawn” guy. [PuckJunk]

• Taking a run at putting together the Sabres’ roster during the upcoming offseason. It gets elaborate, including potential trades. Yes, this scenario includes trading away Rasmus Ristolainen. Don’t they all? [Die by the Blade]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Our Line Starts podcast: NHL, NHLPA nearing agreement; hub cities, Olympics, CBA

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Liam McHugh, Keith Jones, and Patrick Sharp react to the reports that the NHL and NHLPA are nearing the completion of a massive agreement that would not only cover this year’s Return to Play protocols, but also serve as an extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The guys discuss Edmonton and Toronto emerging as hub city favorites, as well as what it would mean for the NHL to return to the Olympics. Plus, a breakdown of the Qualifying Round series in both conferences.

Start-4:45 Edmonton, Toronto new hub city frontrunners
4:45-8:45 NHL, NHLPA nearing CBA extension, including Olympic participation
8:45-13:00 Other return to play details
14:00-23:00 Eastern Conference Qualifying Round preview
23:50-End Western Conference Qualifying Round preview

Where else you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports