Blake Coleman

Getty

The Buzzer: Samsonov shines in Capitals’ debut; Konecny’s big day

3 Comments

Three Stars

1. Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers. After signing a new six-year contract a couple of weeks ago, Konecny was able to get off to a great start for the season when he scored a pair of goals in the Flyers’ 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. He opened the scoring early in the first period then added a highlight reel backhander (see below) later in the game to pad the Flyers’ lead. He has scored 24 goals in back-to-back seasons and they are expecting even bigger things from him this season.

2. Ilya Samsonov, Washington Capitals. It was a big night for the Capitals’ rookie goalie as he made his NHL debut and stopped 25 of thee 26 shots he faced in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders. With Braden Holtby‘s contract situation unsettled beyond this season it is entirely possible that this is the first of many wins for the rookie netminder. He made a couple of highlight reel saves in the win, while the only goal he allowed was a complete fluke of a play.

3. Neal Pionk, Winnipeg Jets. The Jets’ defense is a big point of concern this season and if that unit is going to make a positive impact they are going to need Pionk to have a big season. He had a huge game on Friday with two points, including the game-tying goal in the third period to help complete the Jets’ late rally as they spoiled Jack Hughes‘ NHL debut.

Highlights of the Night

There were a couple of incredible goals on Friday, starting with Travis Konecny’s highlight reel goal against the Blackhawks.

Auston Matthews continued his fast start to the season with this absolute rocket of a shot in the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The goal of the night, however, belonged to Devils forward Blake Coleman, scoring his second goal of the game on a completely ridiculous one-handed shot.

Blooper of the Night

The only goal Samsonov surrendered on Friday night was this wild mess of a play that saw the puck bounce off multiple Capitals’ player skates. This goes in the books as a goal for Islanders defender Devon Toews, but he needed a lot of help.

Factoids

  • Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury became the 16th goalie to appear in 800 regular season NHL games. [NHL PR]
  • Friday night was just the second time Jets franchise has overcome a 4-0 deficit to win. [NHL PR]
  • It came in a losing effort, but Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson scored in his sixth consecutive season opening game. [NHL PR]
  • The Golden Knights became just the 14th team in NHL history to record a shorthanded goal in each of their first two games of a season. They scored two shorthanded goals in their rout of the Sharks. Tomas Nosek scored two goals in the win, including one of the shorthanded tallies.  [NHL PR]
  • New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz told Al Arbour for third on the NHL’s all-time games coached list. [NHL PR]

Scores

Philadelphia Flyers 4, Chicago Blackhawks 3

Washington Capitals 2, New York Islanders 1

Winnipeg Jets 5, New Jersey Devils 4 (SO)

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 1

Vegas Golden Knights 5, San Jose Sharks 1

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 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.

Devils begin Hughes era with crazy shootout loss: 3 takeaways

Getty
3 Comments

The night started with so much promise.

After looking as if they were going to cruise to a blowout win over the Winnipeg Jets, the New Jersey Devils ended up squandering a four-goal second period lead to lose a completely bonkers 5-4 shootout decision to kick off the Jack Hughes era.

It was a wildly entertaining game for 65 minutes and a shootout, but it is definitely not the result the Devils wanted after such an amazing start.

Three things to takeaway from this one.

1. It was a mostly quiet night for Hughes. Look, he’s 18 years old and playing in his first real NHL game. He is not going to immediately jump in there and dominate. Some growing pains have to be expected at times. He ended up playing just a little more than 15 minutes and recorded one shot on goal. He had an opportunity to win the game in overtime but had the puck roll off his stick on an odd-man rush. Probably the most noteworthy shift he had during regulation was when his line got stuck on the ice for more than three minutes in the third period, resulting in Neal Pionk‘s game-tying goal for Winnipeg. Of the Devils’ big offseason additions, Nikita Gusev made the biggest impact scoring his first NHL goal and adding a tally in the shootout.

2. Cory Schneider had to exit the game. The big question for the Devils this season is clearly going to be their goaltending situation. It is the biggest weakness on paper and the one thing that might hold them back after such an amazing offseason. They received a bit of a scare on Friday when Schneider had to leave the game early in the third period. Not exactly a great sign after he struggled so much with his play and his health a year ago. Backup Mackenzie Blackwood replaced him and gave up the final two goals in regulation and then two more goals in the shootout. The encouraging news for the Devils, though, is that Taylor Hall said after the game that Schneider was not injured and had to leave the game because he was cramping up. Coach Jon Hynes, meanwhile, had no update only to say Schneider was being checked by the team’s medical staff. Either way, this is a position that is going to be a big question this year until proven otherwise.

3. The Jets have flaws, but they can still be dangerous. There are a lot of legit reasons to be concerned about this Jets team and what they are capable of this season. Through two games those concerns have been on display, specifically their inability to stop anyone thanks to a defense that has been absolutely gutted over the past few months. After giving up six goals to the New York Rangers on Thursday, they came back on Friday and gave up four early goals to the Devils (including an insane highlight reel goal by Blake Coleman) and several more quality chances on top of that. But, they are still loaded at forward and are never really going to be out of any game. The Devils found that out on Friday.

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 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.

Devils’ Coleman scores ridiculous one-handed goal (Video)

NHL
1 Comment

Devils fans piled into the Prudential Center anxiously awaiting Jack Hughes’ NHL debut and to see P.K. Subban don the red sweater.

However, Blake Coleman stole the show when he lit the lamp for the second time with only one hand on his stick. The bruising forward took advantage of a bouncing puck to create an unexpected offensive opportunity. Coleman muscled Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov off the puck with one hand, then used his other to guide the puck into the top corner of the net at 13:52 of the middle frame.

Coleman found twine earlier in the game when he was left alone in the slot and buried a rebound to give the Devils a 2-0 lead at 1:42 of the second period.

The 27-year-old forward has amazingly performed this magic act once before. In March of 2018, Coleman fought off Derick Brassard (then of the Pittsburgh Penguins) and sent a one-handed backhander past Matt Murray.

Nikita Gusev also scored in his first NHL game when Jesper Bratt slid the puck cleverly across the crease to set up the former KHL star. The Devils acquired Gusev in an offseason trade with the Golden Knights and quickly handed him a two-year contract in hopes that his scoring prowess would translate to the NHL.

It wasn’t all positive for the Devils as they fell in a shootout to the Jets after surrendering a four-goal lead.

MORE:

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Mark Letestu’s mid-game mustard snack is gross, engrossing

6 Comments

When you play 560 regular-season games despite going undrafted, you might just pick up a few tricks.

In the case of Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Letestu, apparently one thing he’s learned is to use mustard to treat/prevent cramps. He was seen consuming a mustard packet on the bench during Thursday’s 5-3 preseason loss to the Edmonton Oilers. You can watch that appalling spectacle in the video above this headline.

As you enjoy that clip, slather on a few thoughts:

  • It’s especially admirable that Letestu just goes for it, efficiently eating the mustard as if he was eating Go-Gurt. You can’t coach that level of sticktoitiveness; you either have it, or you don’t.
  • That said, I think it’s pretty clear that Letestu didn’t enjoy the experience. Allow us to take the Zapruder route and capture him wincing:

That’s the reaction most of us had to watching the clip, so that’s a mood.

Apparently the sharp flavor might explain why the mustard works, along with other initially baffling remedies.

  • Huge bonus points to whoever put that NHL.com video together for using the same stock music that “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” uses between certain scenes. Does this make Letestu a McPoyle, or would he more appropriately fit in with Frank and Charlie, who are known for unorthodox cuisine?
  • I don’t know about you, but I’ve long been more familiar with players chugging pickle juice to ward off cramps. NBC Sports Philadelphia chronicled how pickle juice saved the day during a ridiculously hot Dallas Cowboys – Philadelphia Eagles game back in 2000, while New Jersey Devils forward Blake Coleman drew enough attention consuming pickle juice that he claimed that he might endorse his own stuff, according to SI’s Mike Blinn in 2018.
  • This is all a helpful reminder that we’re almost at the point where we’ll see Alex Ovechkin and others using smelling salts on the bench. That’s usually a treat.
  • If Letestu’s warrior-like consumption of mustard leaves you wanting to root for his career, there’s a cause. The good news for the 36-year-old is that he is on a legitimate contract, rather than a PTO. The bad news is that he’ll have to show that Eye of the Mustard Tiger, as it’s a two-way contract that pays him $700K at the NHL level and $350K at the AHL level.

Sometimes you show you “want it” by blocking shots; sometimes you show it by decisively downing mustard on the bench.

All of that said, there’s evidence spotted by Deadspin of a 2014 Alabama high school football player drinking mustard as if it was Gatorade, so Letestu does have some competition.

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.

Backes to have hearing for hit on Devils’ Coleman

1 Comment

Bruins forward David Backes is in hot water, again.

The 34-year-old will have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head on Devils forward Blake Coleman on Thursday night. It’s a silly thing for anybody to do, but Backes should know better considering he’s battled concussions over the last few seasons.

Keep in mind that Backes was suspended three games in March for delivering a shoulder to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen. The fact that he’s been disciplined over the last 18 months means that he’ll be considered a repeat offender. So it’s possible that the Bruins will be without their veteran forward for a while.

Not only did Coleman stay in the game, he also managed to find the back of the net twice in the Devils’ 5-2 victory. Backes received a two-minute penalty on the play.

That sure looks like a hit that deserves a multi-game suspension.

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.