Getty

NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Flyers vs. Blackhawks; Predators vs. Sharks

3 Comments

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Wednesday night. In the early game, the Chicago Blackhawks host the Philadelphia Flyers at 8:00 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here

Goals and victories have been a little tough to come by for the Blackhawks lately. They closed out the month of October with a three-game losing skid and only managed to win one (against the Coyotes) of their last six contests.

During that stretch, the ‘Haw’s managed to score more than twice in two games (once against Arizona, once against Colorado). One of the reasons they haven’t been able to fill the net is because their power play has cashed in on just one of their last 21 attempts.

“We got to stay confident in here,” winger Patrick Kane said, per the Chicago Tribune. “We’re 5-5-2 right now — obviously not the start we wanted, but we still have a lot of good players and a good team. Let’s not push the panic button just yet.”

The sluggish start to the year isn’t totally surprising considering the amount of players Chicago traded away or lost during the off-season. Still, it’s early enough for them to fix whatever it is that’s plaguing them.

As for the Flyers, they’ll head into tonight’s game having dropped three of their last four games, including a 4-3 overtime decision to the struggling Coyotes on Monday night.

“As a group, we were too far below the bar,” head coach Dave Hakstol said after the loss to Arizona, per NBC Sports Philly. “I think we had eight shot attempts in the first period. In our own end, we weren’t quick and hard defending through the entire period. I’m not taking anything away from our opponent, they played hard. We didn’t start the hockey game where we wanted to be and where we needed to be.”

Injuries have been a problem with Philadelphia so far this season, as they’ve been without second overall pick Nolan Patrick, Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald.

The Flyers will have an interesting test this week. After tonight’s game in Chicago they’ll head to St. Louis to take on the Blues tomorrow night.

With their defense a little depleted, it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up against those two opponents. This is a weird part of the schedule for Philadelphia. Monday’s game against Arizona was the first of 10 consecutive games against Western Conference opponents.

In the late game, the San Jose Sharks host the Nashville Predators at 10:30 p.m. ET. To stream that game live, click here

The Sharks are off to a decent start in 2017-18, but it’s nothing to write home about. They have a 6-5-0 record overall with a 3-3-0 showing at home.

They’ll have an opportunity to really take off at the Shark Tank this month, as their next four games and seven of their next eight will all be on home ice.

San Jose is coming off a big win over the Maple Leafs on Monday. Before that home date, they went a respectable 3-2-0 on an East Coast road trip that saw them travel to New Jersey, Brooklyn, New York, Boston and Buffalo.

Logan Couture has been a huge positive for the Sharks this season. He’s already up to eight goals and 12 points in 11 contests. But they sure could use more from defenseman Brent Burns, who has no goals this season, and forward Joe Pavelski, who has three goals and three assists in 11 games.

The Predators are about to embark on a difficult four-game road trip that will see them play in San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Columbus.

If they want to pile up wins in California and Ohio, they’ll need to start scoring with a little more regularity. Of the 31 teams in the NHL, only Edmonton has scored less than goals than Nashville’s 27 this season.

“I don’t think we’re shooting the puck enough,” forward Scott Hartnell said, per the team’s website. “When we shoot the puck, it seems like good things happen. You watch the goals scored around the League every night, it’s not always highlight-reel goals. They’re tips, screens, rebounds, goalies let in soft ones every now and again, so for us it’s simplifying our game, getting pucks to the net and getting bodies there. That’s one thing that’s been lacking I think, especially 5-on-5.”

Fun fact: Eight of their 27 goals (just under 30 percent) have been scored by winger Filip Forsberg.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: The hockey world remembers Ray Emery

Getty Images
2 Comments

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.

• Remembering Ray Emery. (TSN.ca)

• A tragic end for Ray Emery, a polarizing figure who led the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Final. (Ottawa Sun)

• After signing a six-year, $37 million contract last week, a look at how an agent change changed the course of Connor Hellebuyck‘s career. (InGoal Magazine)

Logan Couture, who committed the next eight years of his NHL career to the San Jose Sharks on July 1, is ready to pay it forward. (The Hockey News)

• A move out the wing helped Claude Giroux revitalize his career, and helped Sean Couturier to have a career year, but could a move back to center be the best move for the Flyers going forward? (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• A lengthy look at the single best contract for each of the NHL’s 31 teams. (ESPN)

• Vegas’ top line is good, but best top trio hockey? Nope. (Knights on Ice)

Ryan Kesler could miss the entirety of next season and the Anaheim Ducks don’t appear to be worried about it. (Anaheim Calling)

• It wasn’t just New York Islanders fans who felt the sting of his departure on July 1. His own teammates need to pick themselves back up as well. (Sportsnet)

• He’s one the greatest names in Detroit Red Wings history. It’s time to retire Sergei Fedorov’s No. 91. (Detroit Free Press)

• A look at Nathan Walker and the future of international hockey. (Puck Prose)

• Well, this is interesting: Troy Stecher’s closest comparable as he heads to arbitration is in Jim Benning’s family. (Vancouver Courier)

• A look at how Paul Bissonnette has forged a career in multimedia after forging one as a fourth-liner in the NHL. (Forbes)

• After signing Devon Shore to a two-year, the Dallas Stars are still in decent shape in terms of the salary cap. (Blackout Dallas)

• Oilers Nation is doing a player-by-player review from last season, and this particular review looks at if Edmonton is going to miss Patrick Maroon more than they think. (Oilers Nation)

• When Devils’ head coach John Hynes expects to fill his coaching staff and what he wants in an assistant. (NJ.com)

• How Andrej Sustr found healing through art. (NHLPA)

• The rollercoaster of a ride that was the first season of Fanatics handling official NHL apparel. (Scotty Wazz)


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

Canadiens make a good move: Solid deal for Danault

Getty
5 Comments

Unanimously good moves haven’t happened regularly for the Montreal Canadiens these days, so it’s worthwhile to appreciate even what would seem like easy calls.

With that in mind, signing useful forward Phillip Danault to a nice three-year contract ranks as one of Marc Bergevin’s best decisions in some time, whether you can chalk up the value to RFA leverage or not. The Canadiens confirmed that the cap hit is a reasonable $3.083 million per season.

Danault, 25, has essentially been a point-every-other-game player for Montreal. He scored 25 points in 52 games this past season after a relative breakthrough in 2016-17, when he collected 40 points in 82 contests. Not too shabby.

It’s conceivable that Danault could maybe chip in a bit more if leaned upon in a bigger way, as he averaged 16:35 minutes per game, with a touch less than a minute (56 seconds) of that average happening on the power play.

Now, it’s not as though the Canadiens are being foolish in playing him in his current role, as it’s plausible that he’s best served as a supporting cast sort of asset. The point is that Danault seems to make good use of his time, might be able to do a tad bit more, and tends to check out reasonably well from a possession standpoint. He’s not the type of player who will win you a Stanley Cup, yet he’s also the sort of guy who wouldn’t take much off of the table, either. In other words, this is a justifiable contract and could even be a nifty value.

Faint praise? Pretty much, but it’s better than the usual reaction for Bergevin & Co. (laughter, mockery).

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.

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery passes away at age 35

17 Comments

Terrible news on Sunday: former NHL goalie Ray Emery passed away at age 35.

Toronto photojournalist Andrew Collins first reported the sad news, which was confirmed by Hamilton Police. Multiple reporters, including Collins, indicate that drowning was the cause of death.

The Ottawa Senators drafted Emery in the fourth round (99th overall) in 2001, and some of Emery’s best moments happened with the Sens, including a run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. Emery played in 287 NHL regular-season games and 39 playoff contests, also suiting up with the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Chicago Blackhawks. Emery last played in the NHL in 2014-15 with the Flyers, while his last hockey season came in 2015-16, when he split that campaign between the AHL and Germany’s DEL.

In 2012-13, Emery and Corey Crawford were awarded the William Jennings Trophy, which is handed to the goalie (or in that case, goalies) who produced the lowest GAA during the regular season. He also enjoyed a moment with the Stanley Cup during his time with Chicago:

via Getty

Emery stood out thanks to his personality as much as his goaltending, with his one-sided fight against Braden Holtby ranking as one of his most memorable moments in the NHL.

While his NHL career was brief, Emery made an impact, as you can see from an outpouring of emotion from fans and former teammates, including Daniel Carcillo and James van Riemsdyk. Plenty of people around the hockey world also shared their condolences, including Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, who was familiar with Emery during his stint with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk released a statement in memory of Emery.

“On behalf of the Ottawa Senators, I wish to express my sincere condolences on the passing of Ray Emery. Ray was instrumental in our run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, and at his best he brought a competitive edge and combative mentality to the game. On behalf of our entire organization, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to Ray’s family, friends and loved ones.”

Blue Jackets get nice value with Bjorkstrand; Panarin meeting looms

Getty
1 Comment

With agitating uncertainty surrounding the long-term futures of Sergei Bobrovsky and especially Artemi Panarin, it’s probably wrong to say that the Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up their “to-do list” on Sunday.

They’ve at least taken care of the matters that are more in their hands this weekend.

On Saturday, defenseman (and potential-gone-wrong) Ryan Murray accepted Columbus’ qualifying offer in something of a shoulder shrug signing. The next day, it was more of a fist bump, as intriguing forward Oliver Bjorkstrand agreed to a friendly three-year deal.

The team didn’t confirm this in its release (because reasons), but the cap hit is a thrifty $2.5 million per season, according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline and others.

During his first season in the NHL, the 23-year-old showed promise, scoring 11 goals and 40 points despite modest ice time (an average of 14:18 TOI per game). The Athletic’s Alison Lukan notes that Bjorkstrand checks many of the analytics boxes – rarely a bad sign – so there’s some very genuine optimism that the Dane will deliver strong value.

Personally, it’s also nice to see that he’s hungry to score more goals.

Speaking of the to-do list regarding items they might not have the power to address, Panarin announced that he and his agent will meet with Blue Jackets brass on Monday. Maybe a contract extension actually could happen? Maybe a different sort of resolution is coming?

A lot rides on that situation, yet it doesn’t hurt to land good values at a nice price. That’s absolutely the case with Bjorkstrand.

Really, value might be one of the themes of this Blue Jackets summer, as Bjorkstrand joins Anthony Duclair and Riley Nash as potentially wise bets. Cap Friendly notes that Columbus has its RFAs signed with $5.6M in cap space remaining, so perhaps they have more up their sleeves?