Get your game notes: ‘Hawks at Flyers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Philadelphia Flyers hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• 2010 Stanley Cup Final matchup: The Blackhawks and Flyers were opponents in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, won in 6 games by Chicago. Patrick Kane scored in overtime of Game 6 to clinch the Cup for the Hawks.

• The Blackhawks have 9 players from the Cup-winning team still on their roster today (though Kris Versteeg has played on 3 different teams, including the Flyers during part of the 2010-11 season, since the 2010 Final before his return to Chicago via trade last season).

• The Flyers, on the other hand, have just Claude Giroux remaining from that season’s Cup Final appearance (Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen were on PHI in 2010 but were just traded at the deadline).

• Chicago climbing in March: The Hawks are 7-1-1 in March, and while still 3rd in the Central Division, this stretch has now given them a legitimate chance to earn at least home ice in the First Round, if not win the Central entirely.

• The Hawks also have 2 games in hand on both Nashville and St. Louis, as well as two more matchups with the Blues (none vs. the Predators).

• Philly going the other way in March: On March 7, the Flyers played a pivotal game in Boston. Entering the game, the Flyers trailed the Bruins by 4 points for the final playoff spot. Philly was 15 seconds away from a regulation win (and pulling to within 2 pts of the B’s), but Boston scored the tying goal in the dying seconds before netting the OT winner to widen the gap in the standings.

• Less than 3 weeks later, the Flyers are on the verge of mathematical elimination.

• Dating back to the BOS loss, PHI has won just once in its last 9 games (1-4-4 record). The Flyers trail the final playoff spot by 11 points with just 8 games left.

• The Flyers enter tonight after getting swept (0-2-2 record) on a 4-game road trip through Canada. They have now lost 9 straight on the road. Philly has also lost 9 straight road games on two separate occasions this season – the first time that has happened in franchise history.

• Following the EDM loss, Flyers players addressed the outlook for the rest of the season:

“We have to pick it up. We have pride as a group, and even though the playoffs probably aren’t in the picture, we want to finish strong.” – Ray Emery

“Guys are playing for jobs next year, and motivation shouldn’t be an issue at all.” – Brayden Schenn CHI Team/Player Notes

• Thriving without Kane: After the win vs. Carolina, Chicago has now gone 8-2-1 without its leading scorer. Kane underwent successful surgery on Feb. 25 to repair his left clavicle fracture and was expected to be out 12 weeks from that time (exactly 4 weeks ago). That timetable likely puts Kane out until at least the WC Final. At the time of the injury, Kane was tied for the league lead in points with 64 in 61 games. His 27 goals were 3 shy of his career high of 30 set in 2009-10.

• Since Kane has been out, Chicago’s offense has dipped, but the Hawks’ defense has dramatically improved:

• Kane looked good on the ice last Friday, but the timetable on his return remains unchanged:

“He was skating before practice, so he was out on the ice, (and) he was actually flying out there…He’s progressing real well and he’s going to have a tough stretch of trying to keep him away from wanting to play a game right now.” – Coach Joel Quenneville, on Kane’s progress

“Yeah, nothing’s changed.” – Quenneville, on the status of his recovery

CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Jonathan Toews had an assist vs. CAR on Monday – the 500th point of his NHL career.

• In 9 games this March, Toews has 10 points (4G-6A).

• Toews is 4 points away from tying Kane for the team lead. Toews has only led the Hawks in scoring once in his career (2010-11 w/ 76 points at age 22).

• Patrick Sharp had 1 goal and 1 assist vs. CAR. Sharp had gone 19 straight games without a goal from Jan. 30 to March 12 (2nd-longest drought of career), but since scoring twice on March 14 at SJ, he now has 3 goals (and 3 assists) in his last 5 games.

• Sharp (13 goals this season) is still well below his team-leading performance of 34 goals a season ago.

• The Hawks team defense has been stellar of late. Corey Crawford stopped 43 shots against Carolina for his 30th win of the season – the 4th 30-win season of his career (all w/ CHI).

• He is just the 3rd goalie in franchise history to post 4 seasons of at least 30 wins in a Hawks uniform, joining Hall-of-Famers Tony Esposito (8 times) and Glenn Hall (also 4 times).

• Crawford has only faced the Flyers once in his career – a 4-1 home loss back in Jan. 2011, but he has never played at Wells Fargo Center.

• Antti Raanta (now in AHL) posted a 32-save shutout in the first matchup this season on Oct. 21 (4-0 win).

• Newcomers struggling: In their 9 games with CHI, trade acquisitions Kimmo Timonen (0 pts) and Antoine Vermette (2 pts) have yet to make an impact offensively.

• The 40-year-old Timonen had spent the past 7+ seasons in Philadelphia before the Flyers traded him on Feb. 27 for a 2015 2nd-round pick and a 2016 conditional 4th-round pick.

PHILLY TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Jakub Voracek is coming off a 3-assist performance vs. EDM on Saturday. He now ranks 2nd in the NHL with his 52 assists and t-3rd in points with 73.

• One point behind Sidney Crosby and John Tavares in the scoring race, Voracek could become the first Flyer to lead the NHL in scoring by himself in the 46+ seasons of the franchise (in lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, Eric Lindros shared for the NHL lead in pts w/ Jaromir Jagr, but he did not share the Art Ross Trophy title, as Lindros lost the goals scored tiebreaker to Jagr).

• Crosby led the league in assists & points last season.

• Claude Giroux scored twice vs. EDM. Now with 21 goals on the season, Giroux has scored at least 20 goals for the second straight season, and 4th time overall in his 8 NHL seasons.

• Giroux has finished 3rd in the scoring race 2 of the last 3 seasons (2014, 2012). He is t-9th in the league this season (67 points).

• Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Giroux has the most points in the NHL (294 in 280 GP).

• Giroux (22nd overall) and Toews (3rd overall) were both 1st-round picks in the 2006 NHL Draft.

• Wayne Simmonds has picked up his play since the All-Star Break as compared to his first-half numbers.

• Simmonds is 3 goals away from his first career 30-goal season. His 14 power-play goals are 3rd in the NHL and 1 shy of the career-high he set last season.

• Steve Mason (illness) was a late scratch before EDM game, but GM Ron Hextall said he has since recovered.

• Mason last played against CGY on Thursday. He was pulled during the 2nd period after allowing 2 goals on 16 shots. Mason has just 1 win in his last 7 games.

• Ray Emery, who was reportedly not told throughout game day vs. EDM that Mason might be too sick to start, allowed 4 goals on the first 12 Oilers shots he faced.

• He finished the day allowing 5 goals on 34 shots in the overtime loss.

Devils mascot spoils birthday party after running through window

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The mascot game continues to reach new heights.

After Gritty upped what it means to be a mascot immeasurably this past season, it seems now other mascots are trying to find ways to compete.

Enter New Jersey Devils mascot, NJ Devil. In a moment that can only be described as sheer clarity, he appeared to have a vision. With the children fixated on the parachute, NJ Devil saw his chance to leave a lasting impression.

And did he ever.

Whatever the motive was for trying to make like a tank and run through a wall, NJ Devil shut the birthday party down after his moment of madness ended a bang and broken glass all over the place.

Hopefully, he’s a devil of wealth and taste. We can’t imagine that’s a cheap fix. Not much sympathy for this devil here, though.

Seems like he got the job done, however.


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: ‘Gloria’ cease-and-desist; Tallon on the hot seat

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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.

• The Philly bar where ‘Play Gloria’ began has sent cease-and-desist letters to St. Louis retailers selling merch. (KMOV4)

• Herb Carnegie could have been first black NHL player, according to a letter from the 1940s. (NHL.com)

• Golden Knights offseason will be a failure if they don’t sign Nikita Gusev. (Knights on Ice)

• There’s one thing missing from the Carolina Hurricanes’ otherwise successful summer. (News & Observer)

• If the Panthers don’t get results, it could be Dale Tallon who’s out the door. (The Rat Trick)

• What’s happening in Los Angeles? (Jewels from the Crown)

• What is it going to take to get a deal done with Brock Boeser? (The Hockey News)

• An update on the contract negotiating statuses of Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• The Golden Knights wanted Micheal Ferland. (Sin.Bin Vegas)

Phillip Danault rose to the occasion last season. (Eyes on the Prize)

• Raleigh is ready for outdoor hockey. (Cardiac Cane)

• A look at the comparables for Sam Bennett‘s next contract. (Flames Nation)

• What is wrong with NHL hockey. (Blue Line Station)

Julius Honka could be a worthwhile trade option for Toronto. (Tip of the Tower)

• How close did the Columbus Blue Jackets come to offer sheeting Mitch Marner? (Sportsnet)

Anthony Beauvillier and agent talk contract. (Eyes on Isles)

• His last name includes ‘Stud’ and Jack Studnicka the next great hope for the Bruins at center. (NBC Sports Boston)

• How short-handed icing could lead to more goal scoring. (On the Forecheck)

• A look at the center market still left in free agency. (Two in the Box)

• Kevin Dineen named coach of the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. (Anaheim Ducks)


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 Power Rankings: NHL GM hot seat tiers

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The general manager is one of the most important individuals in an NHL front office.

They are the ones that decide the short-and long-term future of the team, pick the direction, implement the plan, and put the roster in place. While the coaches are always the ones that get put on the hot seat and are the first ones to fall on the sword when things go wrong, the general managers are the ones who ultimately impact what sort of team you are going to have every season. If your team is in a position where it is contemplating a coaching change or in the process of making a coaching change, it is a good bet that the general manager should probably be on the hot seat as well.

In this week’s PHT Power Rankings we take a look at all 31 NHL general managers and look at which ones are — or should be — on the hot seat, and which ones have the most time to continue building their teams.

To the rankings!

The hot seat

• Jim Benning, Vancouver Canucks. No GM is in the danger zone more than Benning and you don’t have to look far to figure out why. In his five years as the Canucks’ GM the team has made the playoffs once (his first year on the job), has missed the playoffs four years in a row, has been one of the least successful NHL teams during his watch, and is now saddled with several long-term contracts for veteran role players who are probably not going to be part of a championship core in Vancouver. Everything he has done the past two offseasons seems based on trying to sneak into the playoffs right now, and it is still probably not going to be enough. Not many general managers make it through five consecutive non-playoff seasons, and the Benning-era Canucks are going to need an incredible one-year turnaround to avoid such a streak.

• Jason Botterill, Buffalo Sabres. Given how little time he has had to work with in Buffalo this might be considered too high of a spot, but the pressure to put a winning team on the ice in Buffalo has to be immense right now. The Sabres have become the Eastern Conference version of the Edmonton Oilers, only worse when you consider the Oilers have actually made the playoffs (and won a round!) in the past eight years. The Sabres have had a really strong offseason on paper, so that is a positive heading into the season, but that is going to have to eventually translate into success on the ice.

• Pierre Dorion, Ottawa Senators. Dorion is in a no-win situation in Ottawa and it only seems to be a matter of when, and not if, the Senators are searching for a new general manager. The sad thing is it probably will not matter because the problems in Ottawa go way beyond whatever person is in the GM’s office trying to piece together a competitive team on a shoestring budget with a consistently bumbling owner.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Getting warmer

• Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens entered the offseason with the salary cap space to make some kind of a big move, but so far the summer has been kind of a dud. As things sit in mid-July the Canadiens are returning mostly the same roster that has missed the playoffs two years in a row … minus one of its top scorers from a year ago in Andrew Shaw. The Sebastian Aho offer sheet was a great idea in theory, but in practice it was just a waste of time and a huge help to the Carolina Hurricanes.

• Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks. Kind of hard to imagine Bowman getting fired given what he has accomplished in Chicago, but it is still very much a what have you done for me lately business. Business has been tough for the Blackhawks lately. They just fired a three-time Stanley Cup winning coach this past season, have missed the playoffs two years in a row, and Bowman’s offseason approach has him betting big on his core still being able to compete as constructed. If he is wrong, he is probably next in line for change.

[Related: Blackhawks shaping up to be NHL’s biggest wild card team]

• Brad Treliving, Calgary Flames. He hasn’t done a bad job in Calgary, but the Flames have made it out of the first round once in his tenure (his first year on the job) and his attempt to fix the team’s biggest Achilles heel this offseason (goalie) was to bring in Cam Talbot. Seems questionable!

• Jim Nill, Dallas Stars. The Stars’ incredible mid-season turnaround — produced almost entirely by the top five or six players on the roster — probably bought him some additional time and gave him at least another year to try and build something in Dallas. He made some big moves this summer by bringing in Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry, but his entire tenure in Dallas has been highlight by big offseason moves and underwhelming results on the ice. That has to change.

• Dale Tallon, Florida Panthers. The Panthers have a lot of important ingredients in place, from a young core of impact players to a future Hall of Fame coach. At some point, though, you have to win. Or at least come close to winning. The Sergei Bobrovsky contract will probably be what makes or breaks this team and this era of Panthers hockey.

Still safe for now

• Jarmo Kekalainen, Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets are almost certainly going to take a step backward this season after going all in at the 2019 trade deadline. Ownership had to know that was a possibility, so it’s hard to imagine his seat being too hot when he probably wasn’t the only one involved in the decision to push all of the team’s chips to the center of the table. Kekalainen’s gamble gave the Blue Jackets some short-term success and he still has a solid core to work with, but he has a lot of work ahead of him.

• Kevin Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg Jets. Another season like the 2018-19 campaign could move Cheveldayoff into the hot seat category. He has been running the show in Winnipeg since the team arrived and after a lot of patience finally put a competitive team on the ice. Unfortunately for the Jets, things seem to have hit a plateau without yet reaching the next level. In typical Cheveldayoff fashion the team has been extremely quiet in the offseason but still has some major long-term contract situations to deal with. A lot of things can go wrong here in a very short period of time.

• John Chayka, Arizona Coyotes. This could have been a playoff team this past season with some better injury luck. He added to their forward depth over the summer with the additions of Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg and there is some real cause for optimism in the desert.

• Rob Blake, Los Angeles Kings. Blake is in an interesting spot because he is still fairly new in the position and that should give him a bit of a leash. But he also has not really done anything to move the team in any meaningful direction. They are still in the same middle-ground they have been in between rebuilding and competing, and will still probably be one of the worst teams in the league this season.

• Bob Murray, Anaheim Ducks. Without making any additional comment on the job that he has done, his situation in Anaheim just seems to be bulletproof at this point.

• Jeff Gorton, New York Rangers. I see no reason to think his job is, or should be, in any immediate danger. The rebuild seems to be going well and he helped accelerate the process this offseason with some major impact additions. They may not be a playoff team this season, but they probably were not supposed to be at this point, either.

[Related: Devils, Rangers rivalry gets boost thanks to Hughes, Kaako]

• Paul Fenton, Minnesota Wild. Given how new he is to the position he should be lower on the list, but the manner in which he has overhauled the roster and the actual moves he has made to do it are kind of bizarre.

• Ray Shero, New Jersey Devils. Blockbuster Ray was back at it this offseason, getting P.K. Subban at nearly no cost to his current NHL roster or the long-term future. He has done a great job adding impact talent to a roster that badly needed it when he took over. Some of it was due to luck (like winning two draft lotteries), while some of it was due to shrewd and aggressive trading. Getting Taylor Hall signed will be important.

Ice cold seat and not going anywhere

• Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh Penguins. He has not done a good job over the past few years, rapidly shifting the roster away from the recipe that made it a back-to-back Stanley Cup winning team. Bad contracts and a lack of direction have hurt both the long-term and short-term direction of the team, something that should put him way higher on the list. Despite that, he is going nowhere unless he wants to. He just received a contract extension, he was just announced as a Hall of Fame inductee, and he still has the clout of putting two banners in the rafters of the arena.

• David Poile, Nashville Predators. The longest-tenured general manager in the NHL and the only one the team has ever known. The Predators have some flaws, but they are still a contender. Tough to imagine a change happening here anytime soon.

• Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs. He has done a really good job navigating the salary cap situation (which was always overblown) while still addressing the teams biggest need (defense). His job security is rock solid — as it should be — but at some point this paper tiger he has helped assemble has to actually … you know … win.

• Don Waddell, Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are coming off of an Eastern Conference playoff run and still probably have their best days ahead of them. Waddell is not going anywhere.

• Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche. Sakic is assembling a powerhouse in Colorado that not only has the ability to keep its young core in place, but can also easily add to it. The Avalanche have done just that this summer.

• Don Sweeney, Boston Bruins. Unless the bottom totally falls out on the Bruins this season or Sweeney does something incredibly dumb he should be safe for a long time. This is one of the best teams in the league and he was just named the NHL’s general manager of the year for the 2018-19 season.

• Brian MacLellan, Washington Capitals. The shine of the 2018 Stanley Cup has not gone away yet. That gives a general manager probably three or four years of added security.

• Lou Lamoriello, New York Islanders. Expectations for the Islanders are probably going to be way too high given what they did this past season and a step back should be expected. But when you are Lou Lamoriello, and your first year on the job was an unexpected and almost improbable success story, you can get comfortable in that office.

• Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks. He might be the best general manager in the NHL right now but will probably never get that recognition in the eyes of the majority of the hockey viewing public because he is still lacking a Stanley Cup in San Jose. Championship or not, he has done an amazing job.

• Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues. He hit a bunch of home runs over the past year and brought St. Louis its first Stanley Cup. What else do you have to say?

Not even worth discussing job security at the moment

• Chuck Fletcher, Philadelphia Flyers. Say this for Fletcher: He has given the Flyers’ front office exactly what it wanted in terms of roster moves. I just don’t know if they are any better because of it. With only one year on the job he is nowhere near the hot seat. Yet.

• Julien BriseBois, Tampa Bay Lightning. He inherited a great situation with the Lightning (a team he helped build as the assistant general manager) and should be in a pretty good position. Getting Brayden Point re-signed will be a big issue.

• Kelly McCrimmon, Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights had a general manager change far sooner than anyone expected, but he was a top candidate for a lot of teams in need of a new GM this offseason and the Golden Knights did not want to let him get away. His first big test: Handling a salary cap crunch and the Nikita Gusev situation.

• Ken Holland, Edmonton Oilers. Even though he has two of the best players in the league on his roster he still has what is probably the most difficult job in the league. He will get a few years to try and fix the unbelievable mess left behind.

• Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings. This will not be an easy rebuild, but it will be an extensive honeymoon period.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Burakovsky gets one-year deal with Avalanche

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After acquiring his restricted free agents rights earlier this summer, the Colorado Avalanche have officially made Andre Burakovsky a part of their roster for the 2019-20 season.

The team announced on Monday that it has signed the forward to a one-year contract. Financial terms of the deal were not released by the team, but it will reportedly pay him $3.25 million for the season. The Avalanche acquired him from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Scott Kosmachuk and two draft picks.

A first-round pick by the Capitals in 2013, Burakovsky has flashed top-line potential in the NHL but has not always put it all together at the same time. He finished the 2018-19 season with 12 goals and 13 assists in 76 games.

Even though he has not quite blossomed into a consistent first-line player, he should still be a great depth addition to a lineup that has needed a secondary scoring boost over the past couple of seasons. Burakovsky, along with offseason additions of Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi, should help make the Avalanche a strong contender in the Western Conference.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

The most stunning aspect of the Avalanche’s roster is that they have one of the best young cores in thee league, have managed to add strong complementary pieces around that core, and after signing Burakovsky still have close to $20 million in salary cap space this offseason. The signing of Burakovsky finally lifted the Avalanche over the NHL’s salary floor for the upcoming season.

They still need to work out a long-term contract for restricted free agent Mikko Rantanen (and it will be a significant contract) but given their salary cap space it will not be an issue to fit him in.

Related: Avalanche buy low on Burakovsky from Capitals

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.