Brooks Laich

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PHT Morning Skate: Youth hockey coach fired for giving profanity-filled pre-game speech

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–The Ottawa Senators will be visiting Erik Karlsson‘s home country of Sweden this week, as they prepare to play the Avalanche on Friday and Saturday. Karlsson is pretty pumped about being able to show his teammates the country he grew up in. (Ottawa Sun)

–After he lost his good friend Rick Rypien to suicide, Kevin Bieksa started a website called mindcheck.ca, which is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health. On Nov. 5, Bieksa got a message from a fan on Twitter that told him she was able to see the signs that suggested her daughter was planning to kill herself, because of the information made available on the website. (Vancouver Sun)

–The Carolina Hurricanes are remarkably bad in overtime. Over the last two season, they rank third in the NHL in games played in overtime, but rank 27th in OT winning percentage. Why are they so bad in the extra frame? Head coach Bill Peters has to shoulder a lot of the blame. (canescountry.com)

–The Los Angeles Kings made an interesting hire when they added Pierre Turgeon as an offensive coordinator. He’s been a valuable addition to the team. “Your ability to connect with him as a human first and foremost is his strongest asset,” Kings forward Brooks Laich said. “He’s very personable, very light, always keeps it very enjoyable around the rink and making sure guys are having fun and then his knowledge obviously pours out from that connection.” (NHL.com/Kings)

–Since his holdout ended, Josh Anderson has been an important piece of the puzzle for the Blue Jackets. Anderson has been able to do a number of important things for his team, which means that other veterans on the roster could become expendable. (thehockeywriters.com)

–The San Jose Sharks were giving up a ton of chances to their opposition on the penalty kill last season, but they’ve been able to improve that aspect of their game dramatically in 2017-18. Not only are they better on the penalty kill, they’ve leaned on it so far. (NBC Sports Bay Area)

–Is this the year Alex Pietrangelo finally wins the Norris Trophy? People in the Blues organization hope so. “He’s one of the best defenders,” former Blues defenseman Al McInnis said. “I don’t know if there is a better defender from the top of the circles down. He plays with a long stick. He’s got great reach defending and getting pucks out of battles with that stick, getting it to the forwards.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

–Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is about to set a new franchise record, as he’s about to reach 100 points faster than any defenseman in franchise history. (Philly.com)

–In previous season, players that have made the jump from the KHL have had success. Guys like Artemi Panarin and Alexander Radulov turned their stellar play into big contract extensions. This season, the Russians that have made the leap to the NHL (Andrei Mironov, Vadim Shipachyov, and Victor Antipin) haven’t been able to stick with their respective teams. (fanragsports.com)

–Vice Sports’ Dave Lozo makes a case to move each one of Canada’s NHL teams to the United States. For example, here’s what he had to say about moving the Maple Leafs: “The longer the Leafs stay in Toronto, the more likely it is the media creates a scandal about Auston Matthews staying out too late or William Nylander eating too much falafel or Morgan Rielly spelling his last name incorrectly all these years out of protest against Justin Trudeau.” (Vice Sports)

David Pastrnak is a very useful player for the Boston Bruins, but he made some questionable decisions with the puck in the third period of Monday’s game against Minnesota. It’s something they have to figure out in the near future to take his game to the next level. (NBC Sports Boston)

–International women’s hockey has been dominated by Canada and the United States, and heading into next year’s Olympics, the two teams will see a lot of each other. Both sides do everything they can to get every little advantage over each other. (New York Times)

–A youth hockey coach was fired after giving his team a profanity-filled pre-game pep talk. The whole thing was caught on video. (Denver Post)

–Lightning defender Victor Hedman came up clutch for his team in a game against Columbus, but not in the way that you might think. Hedman actaully managed to win a face-off against Nick Foligno in a crucial moment of the contest. (Rawcharge.com)

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.

Waiver notes: Hurricanes claim Frk from Red Wings

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Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings fans might look at today’s waiver moves as more than just a footnote if Martin Frk ends up being a useful contributor.

Carolina claimed Frk, the 49th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, after Detroit waived him. If his 27 goals in 67 AHL games weren’t a sign of his potential, consider this: TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that three teams were hoping to grab the Czech forward.

GM Ron Francis notes that Frk has been “a goal scorer at every level.”

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It was a busy day overall as far as the waiver wire goes, which isn’t a surprise since rosters need to be solidified by Tuesday.

Some other interesting names listed among the waivers: Jordan Weal of the Philadelphia Flyers, multiple Toronto Maple Leafs including Brooks Laich and Zac Dalpe of the Minnesota Wild.

Also of note: the Calgary Flames released Lauri Korpikoski (“The Korpedo”) from his PTO.

Poll: Will the Leafs have a captain this year?

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This post is part of Toronto Maple Leafs day at PHT…

There are six teams currently without a captain — Carolina, Edmonton, Florida, Nashville, Winnipeg and Toronto — and of the six, it’s the latter that seems furthest from filling the role.

Back in April, head coach Mike Babcock said he didn’t expect the Leafs to have a captain this season. That news hardly came as a surprise — Toronto had just wrapped a difficult first year of what figures to be a lengthy rebuild, and didn’t seem to have any leading candidates to inherit the “C” from Dion Phaneuf, who was traded to Ottawa in February.

Of course, things have changed since then.

The biggest, by far, was Toronto landing phenom Auston Matthew with the first overall pick at the draft. GM Lou Lamoriello also locked in two of the club’s better young players — Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly — to matching six-year deals, and added a physical veteran presence in free agency by signing former Islander Matt Martin.

All of this makes for a different dynamic in the dressing room, but will it impact the captaincy?

Hard to say.

At first glance, the Leafs still seem to lack a leading candidate, at least for the present. If Lamoriello and team president Brendan Shanahan wanted to go the veteran route, they could anoint Brooks Laich or Matt Hunwick as a placeholder, though neither projects to play a significant role on the team beyond this year and into the future.

Rielly could be the guy but, at 22, he’d be awfully young.

The same can be said of Matthews, though many do expect him to eventually captain the Leafs. But asking him to shoulder that responsibility now — as an 18-year-old rookie — would be the most anti-Lamoriello move of all time, so you can rule that out.

Anyway, here’s how this will work. The poll will be a straight yes-no and, if you vote yes, put your pick for captain in the comments section.

What did William Nylander’s first NHL goal and Michael Nylander’s last NHL goal have in common? Brooks Laich

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Talk about a small world.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward and highly touted prospect William Nylander scored his first career NHL goal on Saturday, ripping a shot from the slot against the Ottawa Senators. Brooks Laich, traded from Washington to Toronto last weekend, was credited with the only assist on the goal.

On April 5, 2009, Laich, then a member of the Washington Capitals, also assisted on Michael Nylander’s last NHL regular season goal in a win over the Atlanta Thrashers.

From the Toronto Star:

Laich, meanwhile, will always have a special place with the Nylander family. The 12-year veteran assisted on the last NHL goal of Michael Nylander, William’s father, in April 2009. Almost seven years later, he assisted on the first NHL goal of the son.

“It’s a pretty neat situation … I don’t know where that puts me, cousin or uncle, but it was a pretty neat stat, and a special, special moment for William,” said Laich, who had no idea of his tie to father and son, and little memory of the setup on Michael Nylander’s last NHL goal.

Caps didn’t play with ‘a ton of emotion’ in win over Maple Leafs

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WASHINGTON (AP) Another blast from the point by Matt Niskanen on the power play got the Washington Capitals another victory in a season full of them. But pulling one out of the fire against the NHL’s last-place team didn’t make anyone all that thrilled.

The Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Wednesday night to match the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings’ mark of 47 wins through 63 games. Washington is lapping the rest of the field and cruising toward home-ice advantage, yet that’s not what players are thinking about.

“We didn’t have a ton of emotion tonight, a ton of fight in our game,” Niskanen said. “We’re struggling with that part of it right now. We’re winning. But I think we all know deep down that we’re much better than we’ve showed.”

The youthful yet physically overmatched Maple Leafs put 29 shots on net to the Capitals’ 23. Washington backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves, which teammates said was the key.

Perhaps more importantly, the Capitals continued to flex their muscles on the power play. After Nikita Soshnikov and Colin Greening erased the 2-0 lead built on goals by Taylor Chorney and Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals won the game in the third period 11 seconds into their fourth power play.

“The power play here has found different ways to score goals,” said forward T.J Oshie, who set a screen on Niskanen’s goal. “Obviously, you got (Ovechkin) over there on the side, that’s always your No. 1 option. But there’s so many different ways we’ve been scoring them, and that’s going to be huge at the end of the season here and into the postseason.”

With the playoffs in mind, Capitals players expressed concern over their recent play. Chorney, whose goal was his first since Feb. 15, 2011, lamented a lack of full, 60-minute performances of late.

“We’ve been fortunate where we got enough firepower where we can kind of find a way to win, but we know down the stretch and in the playoffs it’s not going to be that easy,” Chorney said.

It wasn’t even easy against the Maple Leafs, who have a league-worst 52 points in 62 games. This is a rebuilding season for Toronto, which had four young prospects playing their second NHL games in Soshnikov, William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen and Zach Hyman.

“I thought some of us were pretty good, and some of us got to compete harder,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said of his young players. “If you’re not going to compete, it doesn’t matter how much skill you have, you’re not going to play in the National Hockey League very long.”

Mentoring the kids is one reason the Maple Leafs took on Brooks Laich in a trade with the Capitals on Sunday. Washington got Daniel Winnik in the deal for Laich, who was honored with a video tribute Tuesday night in his quick return after 12 years with the Capitals.

Laich and the Capitals should get some closure, with the 32-year-old turning his focus toward his next job and his former teammates setting their sights on the playoffs. The game against the Maple Leafs was not a positive sign on the road there.

“We weren’t very good tonight, I don’t think,” Winnik said. “I think the shots kind of showed that. They were holding us at bay, but that’s what they do. Maybe just a lull in our game tonight in back-to-backs.”

That can explain a lot, given that the Capitals played the Pittsburgh Penguins the previous night. Still, a one-goal game against the Maple Leafs wasn’t a cause for celebration.

“Give them some credit, they have a bunch of young guys in there full of energy and excited as all hell to be in the NHL,” Niskanen said. “They gave us all we could handle tonight. Grubi was really good and we won. I guess at the end of the day that’s what really counts.”

NOTES: Capitals D Nate Schmidt was out with a lower-body injury. … Connor Carrick, the defenseman Washington sent to Toronto with Laich for Winnik, picked up a secondary assist on Greening’s goal.