Matt Kassian

PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin has a mishap while curling


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 Washington Capitals are in the middle of a west coast road trip and with two days off in Alberta, the team decided to try a little curling as a team building event. Things went well until captain Alex Ovechkin had a minor mishap:

If you can’t make it out from the above picture, Ovechkin ripped his jeans during the team’s curling game. (Monumental Network)

Canucks’ Zack Kassian will do anything to avoid a too many men penalty:

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The Montreal Canadiens had a three day break in their schedule this week making it the perfect time to get their halloween on. P.K. Subban steals the show dressing up as Michael Jackson from his Thriller video. (

The Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves dropped their 10th straight game on Wednesday night, 7-2 to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. During his post-game scrum, head coach Paul Fixter was in no mood to answer statements from reporters:

In his weekly 30 Thoughts piece, Elliotte Friedman reports the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres had serious discussions about Chris Stewart. The Sabres asking price for the forward appears to be too high for the Bruins liking. (Sportsnet)

Calgary Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau has his parents in town from New Jersey this week. The Gaudreaus have been impressed with how the city of Calgary has embraced their son. (Calgary Herald)

Sens place Kassian in lineup for Conacher

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The Ottawa Senators edged the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 on Thursday, but with a quick turnaround today and all the ruggedness from last night in mind, it appears that they’re readying for a battle on Friday.

At least, that would seem to be the simplest explanation for why the team opted to replace pint-sized winger Cory Conacher with beefy forward Matt Kassian (no relation to Zack in Vancouver), according to the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs.

The Habs will be without some skill of their own since Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta join Lars Eller on the sidelines, so the absence of Conacher’s finesse might be less pronounced. It’s also worth noting that both Kassian and Conacher are in their first career NHL playoff series, so it’s not as if there’s a big experience edge.

More Wild changes: Bouchard made a healthy scratch


The Minnesota Wild won’t just look different in net against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. They’ll also see some shuffling in their forward and defensive corps, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune.

The most interesting bit is that playmaking forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 28, will be a healthy scratch after failing to score a point in six straight games and registering just a goal in his last 10. (He’s been limited to two goals and one assist in 12 contests this season.)

That’s not the only alteration, however, so here’s a quick list of the changes:

  • As mentioned earlier, Josh Harding is dealing with a MS-related setback. The 28-year-old netminder opens the door for Darcy Kuemper, 22, to make his NHL debut.
  • Defenseman Marco Scandella, 22, was demoted to the AHL so Kuemper could be recalled. It’s likely he was also the odd man out because Jared Spurgeon, 23, was activated off the injured reserve after missing nine games with a bone bruise.
  • Scrappy forward Torrey Mithcell, 28, slides into the lineup with PMB in street clothes.
  • Meanwhile, 26-year-old winger Matt Kassian was placed on waivers.

It all makes for a very different-looking Wild team primed to face the Vancouver Canucks at 10 p.m. ET tonight.

Rupp to make Minnesota debut, Granlund scratched


A day after switching up his forward lines, Mike Yeo tinkered some more.

The Minnesota head coach confirmed newly-acquired Mike Rupp will make his Wild debut tonight against the Vancouver Canucks — Yeo also dropped prospect Mikael Granlund from the lineup, making him a healthy scratch.

From Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune, here’s Yeo on Granlund:

“I think it’s good for young players to have to work for everything that they get. Not to say that he hasn’t, but he’s never had to push through something like this. These kind of things make you stronger. And that’s what we want around here.”

And here he is on Rupp, who jumps ahead of Matt Kassian for the “big, tough guy” spot:

“Rupper has got experience, for one thing. They’re different players, they’re different people. I think a lot of people would say they have similar roles, but it might look like that on the outside, but the reality is we brought Rupper in because of who he is and the way that he plays the game we think fits.”

Granlund, the 20-year-old Finn taken ninth overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has been up-and-down in his rookie campaign.

He’s scored three points in nine games while averaging over 15 minutes a night, but hasn’t notched a goal in eight games and has just five shots on goal in his last four games.

Rupp was acquired from the Rangers earlier this week and will skate with Zenon Konopka and Devin Setoguchi on the fourth line.

As for Minnesota’s other lines…

Zach Parise — Mikko Koivu — Charlie Coyle
Dany Heatley — Matt Cullen — Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Torrey Mitchell — Kyle Brodziak — Cal Clutterbuck

Wild re-up with enforcer Kassian


The Minnesota Wild filled out their toughness quota yesterday, signing heavyweight Matt Kassian to a two-year, $1.15 million deal.

It’s the first one-way contract of the 25-year-old’s career. The 6-foot-5, 252-pound left winger was once a high draft pick (57th overall in 2005) but had, at times, struggled to find his niche in the NHL.

Until he started doing stuff like this, that is:

Kassian appeared in 24 games with the Wild last year, scoring twice while racking up 55 penalty minutes.