Roundtable: Moments we’ll miss; hockey movies in quarantine

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If the NHL season is canceled, what’s something you’ll be disappointed not to be able to see?

SEAN: Missing out on Alex Ovechkin hitting 50 goals for the ninth time in his career and maybe adding a ninth Richard Trophy would be a bummer. Only two players in NHL history have scored 50 nine times — Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy — and for Ovi to hit that during a season where he reached 700 goals would have been a nice cherry on top.

Ovechkin would also be missing 13 games in his pursuit of Gretzky’s goals record of 894. He sits at 706 as we wait, only 188 goals away from The Great One.

JAMES: I’m assuming that “seeing the 2020 Stanley Cup awarded” would be a catch-all cheat answer. After all, that would cover things like “Will the Lightning avenge their first-round sweep?” and so on.

So, assuming that’s too wide a net to throw, I’ll toss my hat in the “Who wins the Maurice Richard Trophy?” ring. The season halted with David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin tied for first at 48, while Auston Matthews sat at 47. Leon Draisaitl was really gathering steam (43) while Mika Zibanejad somehow scored 41 goals in just 57 games.

It’s honestly a bummer just thinking about how fun that final push could have been.

ADAM: Probably just the unresolved storylines.

Whether or not David Pastrnak or Auston Matthews can unseat Alex Ovechkin on the goal scoring leaderboard. How many players can score 50 goals? We are on track to see more than we have seen in almost 15 years!

Would Pastrnak, Ovechkin, or Matthews score 60 goals? How many points will Leon Draisaitl end up with? How will the MVP and rookie of the year race play out? The playoff races and whether or not Columbus could hold on to a spot (I picked them to make the playoffs before the season and want to see this through!) and how or if the Rangers could hang around.

JOEY: It’s not often you get a repeat of the previous year’s Stanley Cup Final, but I really believed that the Blues and Bruins could make it all the way again. Both teams added pieces to their squads since last season, so it would’ve been interesting to see if they could go the distance again.

The Bruins came so close last year and they added some size with Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie at the deadline. As for St. Louis, they added a depth defender in Marco Scandella and they also traded for Justin Faulk at the beginning of the year.

There’s still a chance the season could happen, but you’d have to wonder if this extended pause would throw everything out of whack even if they did return.

SCOTT: On a personal level, I thought the Philadelphia Flyers would reach the Eastern Conference Finals this season and I’ll be disappointed not to see that savvy prediction come true.

But the part I’ll be most disappointed about is not seeing a player or group of players elevate their game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Every year, there are a few players that carry their team throughout the postseason and the opportunity to witness that greatness is always special. The NHL postseason comes around once a year and players only get so many opportunities throughout their career to take their shot. To see young players on the cusp of greatness and seasoned veterans robbed of their chance due to a global pandemic is truly disappointing.

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You have one hockey movie to watch while quarantined, what are you choosing?

SEAN: “Mystery, Alaska” is one of those movies that whenever I come across it on TV I have to watch it through the end. There’s a solid cast with Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Burt Reynolds, Mary McCormack, and Mike Myers as the Don Cherry-type commentator. This is hockey, OK? It’s not rocket surgery.

There’s drama, the New York Rangers, and the movie doesn’t give you that typical feel-good ending.

JAMES: The common answer, I’d guess, would be “Slap Shot.” The cooler answer would probably be “Red Army.”

The honest one, though? I’d probably always lean toward “Miracle.” The hockey sequences are exhilarating, Kurt Russell rules, and they’ve got the friend from “The Truman Show” playing Craig Patrick.

“Pass, shoot, score” and “The legs feed the wolf” …. “We can beat these guys.” There were a lot of cheesy Herb Brooks quotes my friends and I would bat around back in the day, so that would also soothe some of that quarantine loneliness.

ADAM: Probably going to go with the original Mighty Ducks just because it seems more and more absurd every time I watch it, which then results in me laughing more and enjoying it more. Basically, I have a lot of questions about the set-up and management of that hockey league (how did nobody know Adam Banks was playing for the wrong team?!), and if Jack Riley was such a good and successful coach, why did he never advance beyond the Hawks? So many questions.

JOEY: I’ll go with the Mighty Ducks series of movies. It’s hard to argue with Emilio Estevez and the gang. Also, I’d get to roll with three different movies during the quarantine period. Gordon Bombay all the way.

SCOTT: Mystery Alaska.

The components that make up the Mystery roster are on every team throughout the hockey world; The slow-footed shrewd skater, the hot-shot superstar, the prolific passers and the “strange” goalie. ‘

Also, the national anthem prank is something I always find quite comical.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.

Back with Wild, Fleury welcomes big workload as clear No. 1

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — With his ever-present smile, tireless approach and long list of accomplishments in the net, Marc-Andre Fleury has always embraced a heavy workload.

The Minnesota Wild sure haven’t shied away from leaning hard on their new – and 37-year-old – goalie. After arriving in a deadline-day trade in March and re-signing with the Wild in July, the guy everyone calls “Flower” is still fully abloom as he begins his 19th season in the NHL.

“They say, `You play,’ I play, unless maybe I’m hurt or something,” Fleury said. “But other than that, I like playing.”

Wild general manager Bill Guerin initially planned to bring back both Fleury and Cam Talbot, who made the All-Star team and went 13-0-3 in his last 16 regular season starts before being benched in favor of Fleury for the first-round playoff series against St. Louis. The Wild lost in six games, after Talbot got the cold start in the elimination game and gave up four goals on 26 shots.

Guerin changed his mind, though, after signing Fleury to a two-year, $7 million contract. Realizing Talbot’s frustration from the lack of postseason action, he didn’t want to risk any tension or discontent. Talbot was traded to Ottawa for Filip Gustavsson, who will be the No. 2 goalie while top prospect Jesper Wallstedt gets more development in the AHL.

Gustavsson has only 23 career regular-season starts, nearly 200 fewer than Talbot, so it’s a good bet that Fleury will get the majority of the games.

“I was ready to share the load with him, but things didn’t work out and happy to be having the chance to play maybe a bit more. It’s fun to play. It’s more fun than sitting on the bench,” said Fleury, who went 28-23-5 in 56 combined starts for Chicago and Minnesota last season with a 2.90 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.

The Wild reconvened for training camp last week, beginning their quest to recapture the mojo they enjoyed last season while setting franchise records for points (113), wins (53) and goals (305). The only team that finished ahead of them in the Western Conference was Colorado, which went on to win the Stanley Cup, but they never met the Avs in the playoffs because the Blues got to them first.

There’s a strong chemistry in place, at least, to build upon.

“We still have a lot of guys here who were here last year. We’re just trying to make it even better, just trying to listen to everybody,” center Joel Eriksson Ek said. “We want to set a standard and a way for how hard this team’s going to work.”

The Wild start the regular season by hosting the New York Rangers on Oct. 13.

COMINGS AND GOINGS

The most significant roster move of the summer amongst the skaters was the inevitable salary-cap-driven trade of second-leading scorer Kevin Fiala to Los Angeles. Fiala had a career-high 33 goals and 52 assists last season. Guerin otherwise dabbled mostly in two-way contracts in free agency for depth. Former Anaheim center Sam Steel signed with Minnesota last month, one day after defenseman Dimitry Kulikov was dealt to the Ducks.

MORE POWER

The Wild were done in during the playoffs by abysmal special teams. They went just 4 for 24 on the power play against the Blues, and head coach Dean Evason had the team working on that on the first day on the ice. The penalty kill that lagged last season was a focus of the second practice.

“It has to get better, no question,” Evason said.

BLUE LINE SHUFFLE

Captain Jared Spurgeon has been placed with Jonas Brodin on the first pair on defense, and Jake Middleton has joined Matt Dumba on the second unit. Dumba and Brodin are close friends who’ve been paired together for several seasons.

“Dumbs is a shooter too,” said Middleton, who re-signed for three years and $7.35 million. “It’s pretty exciting. I can get some cookies passing him the puck. That’d be a big plus. I think it’ll work well. He loves hitting guys too. He plays a gritty game as well so I think we’ll be a good combo.”

UP FRONT

With Jordan Greenway recovering from offseason surgeries, Tyson Jost will get the first chance to skate with Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno. The departure of Fiala has opened at least one spot for a rookie to make the team, with 2020 first-round draft pick Marco Rossi in line for it.

ON THE SLATE

This is the first time in eight years the Wild will play their regular-season opener at home. After three more games at Xcel Energy Center, they don’t hit the road until a five-game trip that starts Oct. 22 at Boston. The Wild have a season-long nine-game homestand from Feb. 9-21.