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Flames training camp could be interesting with PTOs

On Tuesday, PHT discussed a few lingering “bargain bin” free agents. The bargain bin looks a bit like the bread aisle before a storm after teams got done with it by Wednesday.

The Calgary Flames were handing out the most tryouts (or PTOs), as they invited these four players: Tobias Rieder, Devante Smith-Pelly, Zac Rinaldo, and Alexandre Grenier.

Reider and Smith-Pelly are the most intriguing names, as while Rieder served as a surprising scapegoat for the Oilers’ failure after what was undoubtedly a brutal season for the winger, he does bring the sort of speed and skating that can be valuable for Calgary. Smith-Pelly, meanwhile, is a rugged player who scored some big goals during the Washington Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup run, although he struggled to make it into the lineup during much of 2018-19.

It doesn’t hurt to take a look, and the Flames are doing just that, even if it’s tough to imagine many spots being open on the team that finished atop the West regular season standings — although they’re likely not lingering on that accomplishment after the Avalanche launched them out of Round 1 in a staggering fashion.

Other teams made some mildly interesting PTO invites, too, in the last day or two:

  • The Dallas Stars might find some cheap defensive forward help with Stefan Noesen.

  • Dale Tallon loves his former Blackhawks, so the Panthers are giving it a whirl once again with Troy Brouwer on a PTO. Brouwer played in 75 games for Florida last season.
  • The Minnesota Wild are taking a look at Drew Stafford, who’s fallen on tough times lately.

Sometimes PTOs are just filler for split squad exhibitions and training camp competition, but every now and then, a team stumbles upon a gem. We’ll see if any of the names above, or maybe someone else, can be diamonds in the rough.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

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    Canucks-Wild stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

    Canucks-Wild stream
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    NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Thursday’s Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup between the Canucks and Wild. Live look-in coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Canucks-Wild Game 3 live look-in stream at 2:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

    After being shutout in Game 1, Vancouver responded with four goals from four of their playmakers — Tanner Pearson, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat) to even the series. The Canucks led 4-1 before Kevin Fiala scored twice in the final three minutes.

    Minnesota’s power play was of no assistance in Game 2. The extra man unit went 0-for-6. Vancouver had similar issues scoring once on seven opportunities.

    Wild netminder Alex failed to follow up his Game 1 shutout with another strong performance. He allowed four goals on 28 during the Game 2 defeat.

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    WHAT: Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild
    WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
    WHEN: Thursday, August 6, 2:30 p.m. ET
    TV: NBCSN (live look-in)
    ON THE CALL: Chris Cuthbert, Louie DeBrusk
    LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Canucks-Wild live look-in stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

    (7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild (Series tied 1-1)

    Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0 (recap)
    Tuesday, Aug. 4: Canucks 4, Wild 3 (recap)
    Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks vs. Wild, 2:30 p.m. ET (live look-in coverage on NBCSN)
    Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild, 10:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*, TBD

    MORE:
    2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

    Fan-free playoff hockey still proving plenty intense

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    Staging games in empty arenas after a virus-forced hiatus of more than four months, the NHL skated into this unprecedented postseason with plenty of questions about just how intense the action on the ice would be.

    Four days into a most unusual Stanley Cup tournament, this much is clear: Playoff hockey is still playoff hockey, even without the roar of the crowd. The Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks, their qualifying round series even at one win apiece, have proven as much.

    Both contests at Rogers Place in Edmonton have been testy, with the two teams jawing at each other at the end of Game 2.

    ”The guys play the exact same way. I spoke to several people before this, and they said, ‘Do you think it’s going to be playoff hockey?”’ Wild coach Dean Evason said. ”These guys, they’re kids, and even if they’re older guys, they’re kids. They’re playing the game for the right reasons. They’re the best in the world for a reason, because they absolutely love to play and they love to compete, and when that puck’s dropped in a playoff atmosphere, we’re all battling to win the Stanley Cup, which they’ve thought about their entire lives. There’s going to be that excitement level and there’s going to be that battle level that we’ve seen already.”

    Even more strange with this postseason has been the bubble-city setup that has stationed both of these teams at the Sutton Place Hotel. The Wild routinely walk by the Canucks on their way to eat.

    ”It’s definitely different. You’re in an absolute war with a team, and then you ride the elevator with them,” Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers said on Wednesday.

    Game 3 is on Thursday (2:30 p.m. EDT, NHL Network). The Canucks are banged up, with four forwards iffy. Tyler Toffoli and Adam Gaudette were hurt in Game 1 and held out of Game 2. Michael Ferland and Antoine Roussel left Game 2 with injuries.

    The Canucks will likely go as far as their talented top-six group of forwards will take them, with the ”Lotto Line” of J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser making a significant impact so far.

    Pettersson has impressed the Canucks with his tenacity, too, the frequent target of not-so-friendly hits from the Wild.

    ”I’m always impressed with his skill level, and I’ve been anxiously waiting to see how he does with this type of hockey, and it’s been impressive so far,” Canucks coach Travis Green said.

    The Wraparound: Jets want to make Flames ‘scratch and claw for everything’

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    The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2020 NHL Return to Play. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

    • The NHL Bubble Wrap has your nightly roundup of all the postseason action.

    • The Canadiens make a comeback and push the Penguins to the brink of elimination. 

    Here are the updated round-robin standings and scenarios as of Thursday.

    The Jets are staring down elimination Thursday night in Game 4 against the Flames (10:30 p.m. ET, CNBC; livestream). After a gutsy win to even the series on Monday, they laid an egg Tuesday, putting themselves one foot out of the bubble.

    Calgary had answers to everything Winnipeg did, even scoring 18 and 159 seconds after the Jets recorded both of their goals in Game 3. Still without Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, the Jets couldn’t avoid mistakes.

    One Jet who is up for the challenge of winning the next two games is Connor Hellebuyck. The Vezina Trophy finalist has not played well through three games. His .852 even strength save percentage is 15th among all goalies who have played at least twice.

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    Hellebuyck has not looked himself in the series. A miscommunication handling the puck behind the net with defenseman Neal Pionk led to the Flames’ second goal. If the Jets are to have any shot, he’ll have to carry them on his back, much like he did during the regular season.

    “It’s going to be everything for me,” Hellebuyck said. “I’ve got to use this, and I plan on using this. This was an upset for me [in Game 3]. I don’t see it being easy for them at all for the rest of the series, so they better scratch and claw for everything that they get.”

    He could use a little help, of course. While Nikolaj Ehlers has been one of the early breakout players of the Qualifying Round, Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler, who combined for 60 goals during the regular season, have yet to light the lamp.

    Everything has clicked for Calgary. Time is running out for the Jets.

    NHL GAMES TODAY

    Game 3: Canucks vs. Wild, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; live look-in stream – (Series tied 1-1): How special have special teams been for the Wild? Through two games they have six goals. Zero have come at 5-on-5. Killing penalties hindered their offense in Game 2, which allowed the Canucks to even the series. For Vancouver, they’ll be without Micheal Ferland as he has headed home with suspected concussion issues. Tyler Toffoli may also miss a second straight game.

    Round-robin: Capitals vs. Flyers, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestreamBrian Elliott is expected to start in net for the Flyers after Hart played against Boston. Elliott went 2-0-0 vs. the Caps this season, allowing just two goals in each of his wins (.926 SV%) – although Hart allowed just three combined goals in his two starts against Washington this season. Lars Eller has left the bubble to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

    Round-robin: Golden Knights vs. Blues, 6:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN; live look-in streamThe Blues have yet to score at even strength through two games (exhibition and round-robin). St. Louis will be without Ivan Barbashev after he left the bubble to go home for the birth of his first child.

    Game 3: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream: – (Series tied 1-1): Only four playoff series have ever started with three straight shutouts, the last being the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Lightning and Islanders (four straight shutouts to start series). According to the Maple Leafs, Jake Muzzin will miss the rest of the series and remain in quarantine until he’s ready to return following an awkward collision in Game 2.

    FRIDAY‘S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

    Game 4: Panthers vs. Islanders, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Game 4: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2:30 p.m. ET – live look-in NBCSN
    Game 4: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Game 4: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 6:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Game 4: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 8 p.m. ET – live look-in NBCSN
    Game 4: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN

    Round-robin standings (ties broken by regular-season points percentage)

    EAST
    Lightning (2-0-0, 4 points)
    Flyers (1-0-0, 2 points)
    Capitals (0-0-1, 1 point)
    Bruins (0-2-0, 0 points)

    WEST
    Avalanche (2-0-0, 4 points)
    Golden Knights (1-0-0, 2 points)
    Blues (0-1-0, 0 points)
    Stars (0-2-0, 0 points)

    PHT’s 2020 Stanley Cup playoff previews
    Eastern Conference top seed round-robin preview
    Penguins vs. Canadiens
    Islanders vs. Panthers
    Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets

    Western Conference top seed round-robin preview
    Jets vs. Flames
    Oilers vs. Blackhawks
    Predators vs. Coyotes
    Wild vs. Canucks

    NHL schedule for 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers in league’s Return to Play

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    It’s time to focus on the NHL games, including the 2020 NHL playoffs schedule. The 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers began on Saturday, Aug. 1 in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

    The top four teams in both conference will play a three-game round robin for seeding in the First Round. The Stanley Cup Qualifiers will be best-of-5 series with the losing teams being entered into Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery.

    Below is a full 2020 NHL playoffs schedule of both the round-robin and the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

    EASTERN CONFERENCE (Scotiabank Arena)

    Round-robin [Standings, scenarios]

    Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1 (recap)
    Monday, Aug. 3
    :
    Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO) (recap)
    Wednesday, Aug. 5:
    Lightning 3, Bruins 2 (recap)
    Thursday, Aug. 6:
    Capitals vs. Flyers, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Saturday, Aug. 8:
    Flyers vs. Lightning, TBD
    Sunday, Aug. 9:
    Bruins vs. Capitals, TBD

    (5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (12) Montreal Canadiens (MTL leads series 2-1)

    Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 (recap)
    Monday, Aug. 3: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1 (recap)
    Wednesday, Aug. 5: Canadiens 4, Penguins 3 (recap)
    Friday, Aug. 7: Penguins vs. Canadiens, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Saturday, Aug. 8: Canadiens vs. Penguins*

    (6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers (CAR wins series 3-0)

    Saturday, Aug. 1: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 2 (recap)
    Monday, Aug. 3: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1 (recap)
    Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1 (recap)

    (7) New York Islanders vs. (10) Florida Panthers (NYI lead series 2-1)

    Saturday, Aug. 1: Islanders 2, Panthers 1 (recap)
    Tuesday, Aug. 4: Islanders 4, Panthers 2 (recap)
    Wednesday, Aug. 5: Panthers 3, Islanders 2 (recap)
    Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders vs. Panthers, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Sunday, Aug. 9: Panthers vs. Islanders*

    (8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (Series tied 1-1)

    Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0 (recap)
    Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0 (recap)
    Thursday, Aug. 6: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs*, TBD

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    WESTERN CONFERENCE (Rogers Place)

    Round-robin [Standings, scenarios]

    Sunday, Aug. 2: Avalanche 2, Blues 1 (recap)
    Monday, Aug. 3: Golden Knights 4, Stars 3 (recap)
    Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche 4, Stars 0
    Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knights vs. Blues, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche, TBD
    Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues, TBD

    (5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks (CHI leads series 2-1)

    Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4 (recap)
    Monday, Aug. 3: Oilers 6, Blackhawks 3 (recap)
    Wednesday, Aug. 5: Blackhawks 4, Oilers 3 (recap)
    Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks, 6:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*, TBD

    (6) Nashville Predators vs. (11) Arizona Coyotes (ARZ leads series 2-1)

    Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes 4, Predators 3 (recap)
    Tuesday, Aug. 4: Predators 4, Coyotes 2 (recap)
    Wednesday, Aug. 5: Coyotes 4, Predators 1 (recap)
    Friday, Aug. 7: Predators vs. Coyotes, 2:30 p.m. ET – (live look-in coverage on NBCSN)
    Sunday, Aug. 9: Coyotes vs. Predators*, TBD

    (7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild (Series tied 1-1)

    Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0 (recap)
    Tuesday, Aug. 4: Canucks 4, Wild 3 (recap)
    Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks vs. Wild, 2:30 p.m. ET (live look-in coverage on NBCSN)
    Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild, 10:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
    Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*, TBD

    (8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets (CGY leads series 2-1)

    Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1 (recap)
    Monday, Aug. 3: Jets 3, Flames 2 (recap)
    Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames 6, Jets 2 (recap)
    Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames vs. Jets, 10:30 p.m. ET – CNBC
    Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*, TBD

    * – if necessary

    ————

    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.