NHL on NBCSN: Islanders’ trade deadline pickup Palmieri off to a slow start

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. Capitals-Islanders coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Tuesday’s Islanders opponents, the Capitals, have enjoyed immediate returns from their big 2021 NHL Trade Deadline splash, as Anthony Mantha has four goals and six points through six games with Washington. When it comes to the Islanders’ own trade deadline additions — most importantly, Kyle Palmieri — they might feel a wee bit of envy toward the Capitals.

It’s really early, mind you. But so far, the Islanders aren’t seeing instant results in a way that would serve as a sequel to Jean-Gabriel Pageau making a great first impression.

Islanders’ trade deadline addition Palmieri not off to a great scoring start

To be precise, Kyle Palmieri scored one goal and one assist for two points through his first nine games with the Islanders. Not ideal after a package of Palmieri and Zajac cost the Islanders a first-rounder and change.

Now, it’s also not the end of the world. Digging deeper into Palmieri’s numbers should at least stomp out the sweatiest Islanders panic.

To little surprise, the puck luck hasn’t been abundant. Palmieri’s averaged just under two shots on goal per game (17 SOG in those nine), so his one goal translates to a 5.9 shooting percentage. That’s low compared to a tepid 2020-21 season (Palmieri’s shooting percentage with the Devils this season: 9.5), and quite low compared to how he’s been sniping in the NHL (12.5 career shooting percentage).

Dig even more, and Palmieri’s bad luck has been even more pronounced over nine Islanders games. So far, his on-ice shooting percentage was an extremely low 1.8%. The bounces haven’t been going the Islanders’ way when Palmieri’s on the ice — even when he’s not the one shooting.

Those numbers should rebound for the veteran winger.

[ISLANDERS-CAPITALS COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

And, generally speaking, his underlying stats have been perfectly fine. That said, maybe Barry Trotz should experiment with some other approaches?

Thus far, Palmieri’s most frequent even-strength Islanders linemates have been Brock Nelson and Michael Dal Colle. Nelson, in particular, could theoretically work well with Palmieri, especially if the Islanders merely want to use him in a supporting role.

Maybe a little tinkering might bring about some positive results, though? Could Palmieri be the finisher to Mathew Barzal‘s elite playmaking? Perhaps that’s an alignment that would make more sense if the Islanders were trailing. Either way, they haven’t lined up together very often. So, some food for thought.

(A possible compromise could be to keep Barzal and Palmieri separate, but to see if he might click with another Islanders forward, such as Josh Bailey, Jordan Eberle, or even fellow high-level-shooter Oliver Wahlstrom?)

Not the only trade deadline addition struggling

Far and away, Kyle Palmieri is the most important addition from the Islanders’ 2021 NHL Trade Deadline spree.

Still, to be fair to Palmieri, he’s not the only one struggling to get going. Travis Zajac has been in and out of the Islanders lineup lately, and hasn’t been able to make much of an impact (including a Palmieri-like 1G, 1A in 8 GP). Braydon Coburn was an addition based purely for depth, but he’s also barely been used.

On one hand, this is all about the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Former Devils and Penguins GM Ray Shero said as much to Arthur Staple of The Athletic (sub. required).

“Those guys could have 10 points each, and if the Islanders don’t do anything in the playoffs, nobody’s going to remember how they played right after the deadline,” Shero said. “The goal is to win the Cup, right? They’re going to be in the playoffs, and Lou picked those two players because he thinks they’ll help that team win a Cup. A few so-so games doesn’t change that.”

True, but including games like Tuesday’s vs. the Capitals, the Islanders might also make their trip through the playoffs tougher if they can’t get on track. Those new faces could help.

Feeling a little ‘disconnected’

Dropping a 1-0 shootout loss to the Capitals probably didn’t phase the Islanders much on Thursday. But after the Capitals beat the Islanders 6-3 on Saturday, the team spoke about feeling “disconnected.”

“I felt like at times we weren’t necessarily connected,” Adam Pelech said. “We were kind of all over the place at times, we weren’t playing our game, which is predictable hockey, five guys working as a unit up and down the ice and I think we got away from that a bit. If we get in those track meet kind of games, especially against a team like Washington, we’re not going to win very many of them.”

Few teams generally seem as “connected” as the Islanders have under Barry Trotz, so they have to hope that they get on the same page vs. the Capitals, and going forward. Bonus points if Palmieri and other additions start to seem a bit more seamless.

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.

Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

ovechkin all star
Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports
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SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there Friday night.

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

WELCOME HOME, LU

Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

Luongo was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

“You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design paid tribute to his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks.

He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night.

REMEMBERING JIMMY

Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

ANTHEM POISE

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

SLAP SHOTS

Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.

Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

“Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

mark stone surgery
Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports
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LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.