Getty

The Buzzer: Make your Mark

Leave a comment

Three Stars

1. Mark Scheifele

The last time the Winnipeg Jets took off for a huge victory, it was Blake Wheeler who was stealing the headlines with a rousing five-point night. Scheifele wasn’t half-bad on that Friday, either.

On Sunday, the roles were reversed. Wheeler extended his point streak to 10 games, collecting two assists. Scheifele was even better, generating a helper to go with two goals, with one of his tallies being the game-winner.

Scheifele, like Wheeler, often stacks the stat categories, and Sunday was no different. The star-on-a-bargain-contract enjoyed a +3 night, fired four shots on goal, blocked a shot, and went 12-8 in the faceoff circle.

(It would be surprising if Paul Maurice changes the third member of that line anytime soon, as talented young winger Nikolaj Ehlers provided a goal and an assist; his speedy transition game makes this top line horrifying … and oh yeah, the Jets also have Patrik Laine for weaker defenseman and Dustin Byfuglien stomping around as if he realizes that no one can contain him. Gulp.)

2. Joe Pavelski

This is a tough one, because while Pavelski ties Scheifele as the only Sunday scorer to collect three points, it’s inflated a bit by his goal being an empty-netter.

That extra point feels like a fair tiebreaker, though, especially since Pavelski paralleled Aleksander Barkov and others by contributing a strong all-around night. Along with that goal and two assists, Pavelski was +3, generated three SOG, delivered four hits, and blocked four shots while going 9-5 on draws.

People don’t really hammer scorers for failing to get assists in the same way they pick on someone when they haven’t managed their first goal of a season, but it has to be a relief for Pavelski to grab his first two assists of 2018-19. Considering that he’s in an uneasy contract year situation, he – and his agent, and the Sharks – are likely counting these things.

3. Darcy Kuemper

Again, this is a spot where you could argue for Barkov, or maybe Jaroslav Halak, who finished Sunday with only one fewer save (37). How much do you weigh Barkov’s strong overall performance/two goals over Kuemper’s nice work and 38 stops?

To me, Kuemper gets the edge for a few reasons:

  • Kuemper was facing a rested team in Washington, while Arizona was wrapping up a back-to-back following frustrating 4-0 loss to the Penguins on Saturday.
  • That rested team was the Capitals, a squad that can manufacture goals even when it’s playing 50-50 hockey, and even if they are the one dealing with more fatigue.
  • Other goalies with similar stats didn’t face that rest disparity.
  • He likely came into Sunday with fire in his belly, yet low confidence, as he had allowed a total of 13 goals in his past three starts.

Maybe you prefer the work of Barkov or someone else, but you have to admit that Kuemper enjoyed quite the performance.

Highlights

A player as smart and skilled as Barkov can make you pay for a mistake and/or unlucky bounce in a matter of seconds:

The Minnesota Wild are red-hot lately, and Devan Dubnyk usually is at the forefront of their hot streaks. Making saves like these reminds us that he’s one of the better goalies in the NHL during the (rather frequent) spans when he’s on his game:

Lowlight

Former Bruins goalie (prospect) Malcolm Subban will like to forget the first goal of Jeremy Lauzon’s career (which he, of course, will never forget):

Factoids

Hot take: David Pastrnak having 16 goals before we’ve even reached Nov. 16 is quite impressive.

Pavel Bure wasn’t a member of the Panthers all that long, yet he authored some astounding moments in Florida, so Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov flirting with one of his club marks is impressive. Also: scary, since the Panthers also employ that Barkov fellow. Oh, And Vincent Trocheck. And Keith Yandle. And …

Scores

MIN 3 – STL 2
FLA 5 – OTT 1
ARI 4 – WSH 1
WPG 5 – NJD 2
BOS 4 – VGK 1
SJS 3 – CGY 1
COL 4 – EDM 1

MORE: Your 2018-19 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.

Jets’ Brendan Lemieux suspended two games for illegal hit to head

NHL
8 Comments

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Monday afternoon that Winnipeg Jets forward Brendan Lemieux has been assessed a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck.

The incident happened late in the second period of the Jets’ 4-2 loss in Helsinki, Finland on Friday.

Lemieux was given a match penalty as a result of the play. Here is the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

The NHL points out that not only is Trocheck’s head is the main point of contact, but that the head contact is avoidable because Trocheck does not change the position of his head or body just prior to the hit. The onus is on Lemieux to deliver a hit that does not contact Trocheck’s head, and he failed to do that.

This is the first time in his brief NHL career that Lemieux has been disciplined by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

Lemieux has appeared in nine games for the Jets this season, recording zero points and 27 total penalty minutes. Seventeen of those penalty minutes came in Friday’s game as a result of the hit on Trocheck.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Brendan Lemieux ejected for hit on Vincent Trocheck

16 Comments

(UPDATE: Lemieux will have a hearing on Monday afternoon.)

The Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers wrapped up their two games in Finland (aka The Global Series) with tensions really starting to flare.

After the Jets won on the strength of Patrik Laine‘s hat trick on Thursday, the Panthers rallied for a 4-2 win on Friday, with a violent span possibly serving as the turning point. Brendan Lemieux received a match penalty for an ugly hit on Vincent Trocheck, which prompted a Lemieux – MacKenzie Weegar fight.

(You can watch that exchange in the video above this post’s headline.)

The score was 2-2 at the time of Lemieux’s hit. Despite Weegar receiving an instigator penalty that abbreviated Florida’s power-play opportunity, the Panthers still scored on the ensuing man advantage. Keith Yandle‘s tally ended up standing as the game-winning goal, ensuring that the Panthers would leave Finland with two standings points.

Lemieux also received a high-sticking penalty in Friday’s game, which opened the door for a Mike Hoffman power-play goal. That’s a pretty brutal bit of work for Claude Lemieux’s son, who collected those two costly infractions despite logging just 4:41 in ice time.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli points out that Lemieux’s match penalty will automatically get a look from the NHL:

This marked just the 18th NHL game of Lemieux’s career, as the 22-year-old has largely followed in his father’s footsteps in the AHL. Despite some considerable draft pedigree (31st pick of the 2014 NHL Draft), moments like these won’t help the young forward’s chances of consistently cracking a loaded Jets lineup.

Even ignoring his genes, this outcome probably shouldn’t be too shocking:

So, does he deserve to be suspended? If so, for how long? Either way, Lemieux didn’t endear himself to his opponents or his own team with that hit, and the penalty that resulted.

In other news, Roberto Luongo returned to the Panthers’ lineup a little bit earlier than expected, making 32 out of 34 saves for an impressive victory. He had no chance on Patrik Laine’s fourth goal in two games in Finland, but was otherwise very sharp.

MORE: Your 2018-19 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.

WATCH LIVE: Jets battle Panthers in Finland on NBCSN

NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Thursday afternoon’s matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and the Florida Panthers at 2 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports App by clicking here.

The Jets are looking to rebound after blowing a 2-0 lead in the third period last Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Losers of two out of their past three, the Jets are looking to climb the Central Division standings with a win in the first of a back-to-back in Finland as part of the NHL’s Global Series.

Meanwhile, the Panthers need to start winning. With just two wins in their first nine games of the season, the Panthers sit dead last in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

James Reimer gets the nod in net for the Panthers. Reimer has struggled in the absence of Roberto Luongo, posting just a single win in five game starts. His .878 save percentage leaves a lot to be desired and he’s in tough against the high-powered Jets offense.

Reimer will face off against Vezina finalist Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck’s season hasn’t started in the same vein as it did when he won 44 games last year. He’s 4-4-1 with a pedestrian .907 save percentage in nine starts.

[WATCH LIVE – 2 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Winnipeg Jets at Florida Panthers
Where: Hartwall Arena (Helsinki, Finland)
When: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Jets-Predators stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

JETS
Nikolaj EhlersMark ScheifeleBlake Wheeler
Kyle ConnorBryan LittleMathieu Perreault
Brandon TanevAdam LowryPatrik Laine
Brendan LemieuxAndrew CoppJack Roslovic

Josh MorrisseyJacob Trouba
Ben ChiarotDustin Byfuglien
Dmitry KulikovTyler Myers

Starting goalie: Connor Hellebuyck

PANTHERS
Evgenii DadonovAleksander BarkovNick Bjugstad
Jonathan HuberdeauVincent TrocheckMike Hoffman
Frank VatranoJared McCannDenis Malgin
Troy BrouwerJuho LammikkoColton Sceviour

Keith YandleAlexander Petrovic
Mike MathesonAaron Ekblad
MacKenzie WeegarBogdan Kiselevich

Starting goalie: James Reimer

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Panthers, Kings putting themselves in holes they may not climb out of

Getty

Early season games tend to be treated as throw away games because, well, they are early and there is always the assumption that even if a team starts slow there is plenty of time to get back on track and make up the points.

It doesn’t really work that way. Two points in October are the same as two points in March, and while nobody is going to win the Stanley Cup based on what they do in the first month of the season, teams can cost themselves a chance to win it by not making the playoffs at all based on what they do in these early games.

There are a couple of teams that were thought of as potential playoff teams at the start that are currently running the risk of putting themselves in early season holes they may not be able to dig themselves out of.

It is not crazy to worry about a slow start; it is crazy to not worry about a slow start.

Let’s start with the Florida Panthers who are doing it again!

There was some real excitement for the Panthers heading into this season, largely because of the way they finished the 2017-18 season, going 25-8-2 over their final 35 games.

On top of that they were bringing back a good, strong core built around Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck up front, and added a top-six winger in Mike Hoffman for next to nothing. There was reason to put stock in them as a potential playoff team.

But as they showed last season it really does not matter how well you play in the second half of the season if you completely fall on your face and lay an egg in the first half. For as good as they were over the final 35 games, it still was not good enough to get them in the playoffs as they fell just a single point short.

They have only played seven games so far this season but they are in danger of putting themselves in a similar hole if they do not turn things around. Quickly.

After Tuesday’s loss to the New York Rangers — an especially ugly loss considering the current state of the Rangers — they have managed to win just one of their first seven games, and are still searching for their first win in regulation.

This is potentially problematic.

How problematic?

Let’s just look back over the past 10 years as an example and look at teams that won only one of their first seven games to start a season. There have been 15 of them before this season. Only four of them were able to make the playoffs after that start: The 2015-16 Anaheim Ducks, the 2012-13 Washington Capitals, and the 2008-09 and 2013-14 Philadelphia Flyers.

None of those four made it out of the first round of the playoffs.

If you’re looking for some optimism as a Panthers fan there is the possibility that the return of Roberto Luongo could help solidify a goaltending situation that has been abysmal to start to the year, as well as the fact they have lost a couple of coin flip games in overtime and the shootout, and that they’re not that far away from having three or four wins right now.

But the point is, they don’t have them, and those are important points that have been left on the table for one reason or another. Those points are hard to get back because everyone else in the conference is going to keep collecting points, and as the season progresses whatever games in hand a team may have are not necessarily *wins* in hand.

They are not alone.

Then there is the Los Angeles Kings.

While the Panthers at least have some reason to believe they can maybe get back on track at some point, the Kings don’t really have anything going in their favor.

The Kings are already nine games into their season, and as of Wednesday have won just two of them and they have not looked particularly good in any of them, including during their current five-game losing streak where four of the losses have been by at least three goals … and three by at least four goals.

Over the same 10-year time span mentioned above, there have been 25 teams that have won just two of their first nine games.

Only three ended up making the playoffs (2015-16 Ducks, 2013-14 Flyers, 2012-13 Capitals).

So, yeah, it is early.

But recent history suggests teams that start like these two have (both of whom are already at least five points back of the playoff teams ahead of them) do not usually make the playoffs.

Not saying they absolutely can not; but recent history is not on their side.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.