Windy conditions will have ‘an impact’ on Stadium Series game between Leafs and Caps

NHL PR on Twitter
5 Comments

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Shortly before he walked outside Friday at Navy’s Memorial Stadium, Mike Babcock said: “Hang on to your hat.”

Babcock’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals might want to hang on to everything with high wind in the forecast for Saturday night’s outdoors Stadium Series game at the U.S. Naval Academy. The storm knocking out power and disrupting travel up and down the East Coast forced both teams to practice indoors Friday, where they were left to contemplate what sustained winds of 15-20 mph and gusts as high as 32 mph might have on their game.

“I have no idea,” Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak said. “Hopefully we’re skating with the wind more than we are against it.”

The wind is enough of a factor that the game could be postponed to Sunday. The glass had to be removed from the on-field rink because of safety concerns.

The NHL has played 24 previous regular-season outdoor games and this one could easily see the worst conditions when it comes to wind. Temperatures just above freezing would not rank it among the coldest, but there are concerns how the wind could make a real difference.

“I haven’t played in anywhere it’s been super windy,” said Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk, who will be taking part in his fifth outdoor game. “It’ll definitely make a unique dynamic, I know. It seems like in today’s game there’s lots of high flips and stuff like that, so it’ll be interesting to see how the puck reacts getting flipped in the air and a gust of wind comes up.”

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby thinks strong wind would only possibly affect dump-ins or high flips of the puck and that it could make it difficult for players to keep their eyes open when it’s head on. Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is more concerned for the skaters – and that’s a shared concern.

“If you have a turnover and you’ve got to backcheck, that’s probably when it’s going to be a little tough,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said.

NHL players are more accustomed to climate-controlled arenas – a long way from their younger days when playing on frozen ponds or lakes meant dealing with the conditions.

“It won’t feel good on your body, that’s for sure,” Toronto forward Mitch Marner said. “It probably won’t help with the puck or anything like that.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz was more worried when the wind rumbled around trees outside his house Thursday night and joked about a coin toss to pick directions like a football game.

Previous outdoor games have included teams changing ends at the 10-minute mark of the third period to negate an unfair wind advantage. At the least, that’s likely, and players are prepared for the wind even though they don’t know exactly what it’ll do.

“The wind wouldn’t be ideal, but part of playing these games is you have to deal with the weather,” Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “She was a little windy out there (Friday), but hopefully she clears up a little bit for us.”

Rielly, who played outdoors on New Year’s Day in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2014 and again in Toronto in 2017, figures wind would be more difficult to deal with than snow. But the 23-year-old has a sunny disposition about wacky weather.

“It definitely has an impact on the game,” Rielly said. “But that’s all part of the experience. Players, two teams have to deal with it. It’s not going to change the game plan or anything. It’s just going to make it a little bit more difficult and it might be kind of fun.”

*PHT update: 

The NHL has issued a statement regarding the high winds that will be swirling this weekend:

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

For more NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

austonmatthews
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.