Kootenay Ice

Sabres’ Reinhart to watch Saturday


Buffalo Sabres rookie Sam Reinhart will be a healthy scratch tonight when the Boston Bruins visit.

Reinhart, who suited up in the Sabres first five games, is a minus-1 with two shots on goal while averaging 10:26 in time on ice.

“It’s one of those things. He’s a young player that’s still learning,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan told NHL.com. “So we’ll let him watch a game and let’s see how he comes from that.”

Reinhart, 18, was the second overall pick at the June NHL Draft. He spent the past two games on the team’s fourth line.

Brian Flynn is expected to take his place in the lineup.

“You ask any first year player, a first couple (of years) player, they all go through it,” said Nolan. “They’ve got to watch. Sometimes you learn a lot more by watching than playing sometimes. It’s still early in his development. We tried to force-feed it right at the beginning. We tried putting him with a lot of minutes on the top lines, then we backed off a little bit. Now this is another way to try and get his game going.”

Reinhart is still eligible to be sent back to his Western Hockey League team, the Kootenay Ice, and the Sabres could avoid burning Year 1 of his entry-level contract.

Leafs’ Franson expects to play in New York

As Cody Franson walked the bowels of the Air Canada Centre Saturday night, he admitted it was tough to watch his team fall 5-2.

Adding insult to injury, a fan decided it was the perfect time to toss a jersey on to the ice during the third period.

Franson is healthy and cleared to play – he expects to be in the lineup tonight when the Leafs play their first road game of the season against the Rangers.

He said coach Randy Carlyle made it known he wouldn’t play against the Penguins just prior to pre-game skate.

The Leafs defenseman has been out of action since Sept. 28 nursing bruised left knee.

With the team involved in a back-to-back situation, with travel, it’s not entirely surprising Carlyle wanted to ease his blue liner back into the lineup.

The team did not have a morning skate in New York Sunday so final lineup changes won’t be known until game time.

When he does return, Franson insists the play, which sidelined him for the final two preseason games as well as the first two games of the regular season, won’t change the way he approaches lose pucks behind the net.

“My mindset won’t change,” he said. “If I could’ve had that play over again, I would’ve approached that situation the same way. Any time you’re going in for the puck that’s on the wall, you have to be somewhat cautious and that’s how I approach it. Some times those things happen.

“That play won’t be in the back of my head when I play.”

At Saturday’s morning skate Franson was seen taking shifts with Roman Polak. According to NHL.com’s projected lines for tonight’s game against the Rangers, the two will be paired together with rookie Stuart Percy the odd man out.

Franson and Polak have never played together, but they’re certainly not strangers to one another.

Their stalls are next to each other in the Leafs dressing room and their history of playing against one another dates back to their Western Hockey League days when Franson was a member of the Vancouver Giants and Polak was patrolling the blue line for the Kootenay Ice.

“I played against him one year… one or two years,” Franson recalled. “He was in Kootenay so we only played once or twice a year. He was a bit strong kid back then and I played against him in St. Louis, Peoria and all those other places. I’ve played against him, I wouldn’t say a lot, but definitely in a few different places and it’s evident what kind of player he is.”

Polak’s memory of their WHL encounters was a little fuzzy.

“I don’t remember anything when I was in Kootenay. It was a long time ago,” he said. “It was a long bus ride, I remember the long bus ride from Kootenay to Vancouver. It was like 12 hours.

“He’s a great player, he’s a skilled player, offensive player so I’m just going to give him the puck and he’s going to do his thing. I’m going to do my thing in the defensive zone.”

Their junior memories may not be fond, but they agree it’ll take time adjusting to playing with one another.

“Any time you play with somebody new, it takes a little bit to feel them out and see how they think the game. There’s always a small adjustment window period for that and you just hope to make it as seamless as possible,” said Franson.

Added Polak, “We need to talk more – talk on the ice because we didn’t play with each other. We just have to talk more, but he’s a great player and we can figure it out on the ice.”

The Leafs have allowed nine goals against in their two losses to open the season, hopefully the veteran pair can help shore up a glaring issue tonight.

PHT Morning Skate: Johansen’s breakout season bolsters Blue Jackets

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been patiently bringing Ryan Johansen along since drafting him in the first round of the 2010 draft. That patience is paying off in a big way this season. (NHL.com)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Friday at 7pm ETHere’s the FanDuel link.

Bruins coach Claude Julien can’t get no satisfaction mostly because he said that’s a word they don’t use. (CSNNE.com)

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has a lot of confidence in rookie Tomas Jurco and it’s being rewarded in his play. (Detroit Free Press)

We’re starting to look at things in the standings with magic numbers.

Bet you thought the Sabres season had gone as low as it could go, didn’t you? You were wrong. (Buffalo News)

Speaking of Buffalo… Future Sabres watch? 2014 draft prospect Sam Reinhart had five points for Kootenay in the WHL playoffs. (Yahoo)

Spokane Chiefs dismantle Kootenay Ice 11-2 in WHL’s ‘Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic’

It didn’t have the world record breaking attendance of “The Big Chill” between Michigan and Michigan State nor did it feature a contest between hockey’s two biggest stars like the 2011 Winter Classic, but the WHL put on an outdoor game of its own tonight. They even attracted an energy drink sponsor, as the event was titled the Rockstar Oudoor Hockey Classic.

Sure, the sold out crowd of 7,075 fans who watched the Spokane Chiefs dominate the Kootenay Ice 11-2 would be a mere drop in the bucket for those aforementioned outdoor games, but if everyone enjoyed it* then why not?

* – People associated with the Kootenay Ice might be the exception judging from the score of that game, though.

The event took place at Spokane’s Avista Stadium, included appearances from former minor league hockey players and featured typical attractions for big events including a fireworks display. Here are some more details.

Former Allan Cup Champions Don Schereza and Dwight Carruthers, who played for the Spokane Jets and Flyers respectivley in the 1970’s, were joined by former Chief Joe Cardarelli at center ice. The pre-game was atmosphere was puncuated by a flyover from the 92 Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Near perfect weather and the scoring output by the home club kept the capacity crowd involved through all 60 minutes. A fireworks spectacular presented by TicketsWest highlighted the post game ceremonies.

Following the game, fans were treated to three different giveaways, a commerative ticket, a poster of the opening ceremonies presented by Washington Trust Bank and The Rypien Foundation, and a coupon for a Chalupa at Taco Bell thanks to Spokane scoring more than five goals.

Nothing says “crowd pleaser” quite like a nine-goal win and some free artery-clogging fast food, right?