Max Domi

Lightning show off quick-strike offense in win over Canadiens

3 Comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning entered the 2019-20 NHL regular season with an obvious chip on their shoulders. Despite winning 62 games last year and running away with the Presidents’ trophy, a first-round sweep at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2019 playoffs left a perennial championship contender with something to prove.

On Wednesday evening, the Lightning reminded the Montreal Canadiens, and the rest of the NHL, that they have the ability to strike at a moment’s notice. Braydon Coburn, Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson each lit the lamp in the span of 2:08 to lead the Bolts to a 3-1 victory over the Habs.

Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded 33 saves and Nikita Kucherov added two assists as the Lightning captured their third win of the season. Tampa Bay heads to Boston Thursday to conclude an early six-game road trip.

Jeff Petry opened the scoring for Montreal with a power-play blast at 15:46 of the first period. Max Domi assisted on the play and has picked up six points (three goals, three assists) in the previous four games. But the Lightning answered with a surge of their own.

Coburn tallied the equalizer late in the first period when his shot from the high slot sailed past Carey Price at 19:53 of the opening period. Then, Stamkos and Johnson scored early in the second period to give Tampa Bay full control of the contest.

The Lightning have so much offensive firepower, but they have to caution themselves against relying on their quick-strike ability.

Stamkos led by example on the ice, notching two points, but also sent his teammates a minor warning through the media following a loss on October 6 against the Hurricanes.

“We just continue to be the freewheeling team that thinks that we can just come into games and win because we’re skilled,” Stamkos told reporters. “We keep falling back into the same old bad habits that we’ve been doing, that cost us the season we had last year. Unless we change things, it’s going to be a really, really, really long year.”

The Lightning have not gotten off to the smoothest of starts this season, posting a 3-2-1 record and somehow finding themselves on the outside of the Eastern Conference Playoff picture on the young season.

In the past two years, the Metropolitan Division has supplied both wild card teams in the East, but this year figures to be different with several changes in the Atlantic. The Buffalo Sabres are off to a tremendous start with Ralph Krueger behind the bench. In Florida, the Panthers made a number of offseason additions and brought in three-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Joel Quenneville. Additionally, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins expect to be near the top of the standings when it is all said and done.

From the Lightning perspective, the division will be much more competitive, and a slow start could have big ramifications in terms of playoff positioning, making this early divisional game more important than it is viewed on the surface.

MORE: Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV Schedule

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.

Domi aims to inspire hockey players with Type 1 diabetes

1 Comment

Max Domi, the son of an NHL player, didn’t get star struck much.

Then at age 13, he met Bobby Clarke.

”My jaw hit the floor, and I was just in shock,” Domi said.

Clarke isn’t just a Hockey Hall of Famer who captained two teams to the Stanley Cup. He’s a Hockey Hall of Famer who captained two teams to the Stanley Cup with Type 1 diabetes. As a hockey player with diabetes, Domi was so inspired by the chance encounter with Clarke that he is trying to do the same thing for the next generation of kids trying to make the NHL despite the complications that come with the disease.

”What him taking a minute out of his day and sharing his story did for me, I was like, ‘Man, if I ever make the NHL or have an opportunity to help kids out, I want to do the same thing,”’ Domi said. ”I started out meeting with kids and sharing my story and talking to them and trying to motivate them like, ‘Listen, whatever you want to do in life, you can still do despite having diabetes.”’

Domi is now in his fourth NHL season and second with the Montreal Canadiens. His book, ”No Days Off,” comes out Oct. 29 and encapsulates in print what the 24-year-old does to play hockey with diabetes and the lessons he tries to deliver to children.

”I never say what they should do, ever. I just tell them what I’ve done, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked,” Domi said. ”I meet with kids almost after every game. That’s just how it is. I like doing it. I enjoy doing it. I take pride in it. I want to keep doing it and growing from that and finding ways to raise money and awareness for something that I deal with on a daily basis and I can relate to a lot of kids out there.”

Domi’s journey was jumpstarted by Clarke, who was diagnosed at 13 when growing up in Manitoba.

Like Domi, he was much more focused on staying on the ice than how diabetes would affect the rest of his life.

”I said to the doctor who had diagnosed me and was looking after me, ‘I’ll still be able to play hockey, eh?”’ Clarke said. ”And he said, yeah. He said, ‘You might want to think of playing goal. It might be easier on you.’ That thought never crossed my mind. … I just said, well I’m going to play hockey.”

Clarke continued to play center and put up 1,210 points over 15 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He didn’t really think about becoming a goaltender.

Neither Domi nor Clarke remembers what the conversation went like that day at the rink 11 years ago. But if it’s anything close to what has gone through Clarke’s mind for the past half-century, it was a pretty clear message.

”Diabetes was no reason to not play hockey,” Clarke said. ”You’ve got to live with it, and if you’re going to be a hockey player then be a hockey player. It can’t be an excuse not for playing.”

Domi goes through a 24-hour routine to play each game and knows he has the benefit of modern technology that Clarke lacked in the 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s. Despite all that, Clarke recalls only twice – once in juniors and once in training camp – where he felt the effects of diabetes because he ”got stupid and didn’t eat.”

”It was fairly simple in those days,” Clarke said. ”There was only one type of insulin. You couldn’t test your own blood sugars and stuff. Not like they can today. The equipment they have today is so much advanced. In those days, I took a needle in the morning and tried to balance the food out the best I could with the insulin that I was taking. I’m sure that my blood sugars must’ve run high – fairly high, I don’t know how high.”

Clarke keeps track of Domi’s career and remembers the standard he held himself to years ago.

”The thing for me that I always told myself is that I’m a hockey player with diabetes. I am not a diabetic hockey player,” Clarke said. ”So diabetes cannot be an excuse for my performance, and it can’t be an excuse for his performance.”

Domi, with 207 points in 304 regular-season games, is doing just fine. But each day is a constant reminder of the challenges ahead and the impact he can make.

”There’s days where I feel sorry for myself, just like everyone does – ‘it’s not fair, why me’ kind of thing,” Domi said. ”I’m like, what am I talking about? This is awesome. Let’s turn this into a positive. Let’s make this like a blessing in disguise and use all the positives that come with being a type 1, the responsibilities that come with it, and drive me to achieve my dreams of playing in the NHL. And that’s kind of where it goes.”

PAVELSKI’S SLOW START

Joe Pavelski recorded one secondary assist in his first four games with the Dallas Stars since signing a $21 million, three-year contract. Change is hard, and the longtime Sharks forward is quickly realizing he’s not in San Jose anymore.

”There’s a lot of simple adjustments,” Pavelski said Tuesday. ”It’s not completely natural. But it’s at a good spot where I feel it’s right there, right around the corner. Just keep going, get a little production and you get that confidence to really kind of take it to another level.”

Dallas coach Jim Montgomery likened it to Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton needing to get accustomed to new catchers when he moved around the majors.

”It’s the nuances of the game, of getting to know people, that comfort level of understanding when this guy has the puck, I go here, I’m going to get the puck,” Montgomery said. ”That just takes time.”

Previewing the 2019-20 Montreal Canadiens

(The 2019-20 NHL season is almost here so it’s time to look at all 31 teams. We’ll be breaking down strengths and weaknesses, whether teams are better or worse this season and more!)

For more 2019-20 PHT season previews, click here.

Better or Worse: Maybe slightly worse, but largely the same.

Montreal brought in Ben Chiarot and Keith Kinkaid while letting Antti Niemi and Jordie Benn walk. They also traded away Andrew Shaw.

Aside from a Sebastian Aho offer sheet that had little chance of succeeding, it was a very quiet offseason for Marc Bergevin.

Strengths: Depth, five-on-five play, and possibly strong starting goaltending if Carey Price continues getting back on track.

Claude Julien really had this group firing on all cylinders last season, which had to make missing the playoffs extra-painful. Still, it’s generally easier to reproduce even-strength success than it is to shoot or stop pucks at a high level, so that’s nice. This team can send wave after wave of forwards at you, and their top four of Shea Weber, Brett Kulak, Victor Mete, and Jeff Petry is better than a lot of people realize.

Weaknesses: Unfortunately, the Canadiens had to be dominant at even-strength last season because their power play was so putrid.

You might be able to chalk it up to the larger feeling that the Canadiens have some very nice forwards, especially Brendan Gallagher, but seem to lack that super-duper-star. The power play might be better in 2019-20 by sheer luck, but personnel-wise, they didn’t really address the problem during the offseason.

It sure looks like Montreal will need to lean heavily on Price, as Kinkaid doesn’t strike me as that much of an upgrade over Niemi, if he even is an upgrade.

(Nice use of emojis, though.)

[MORE: X-factor | Under Pressure | Three questions]

Coach Hot Seat Rating (1-10, 10 being red hot): Canadiens front office members (especially Bergevin, but also Julien) have weathered some of the bigger storms, as while Montreal missed the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, they generally exceeded expectations in 2018-19. Even so Montreal’s missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, and hasn’t won a series since 2014-15. Julien is an excellent coach, but professional sports aren’t always fair to coaches, and things could really heat up if a lot of Canadiens follow career years by plummeting back to their lesser, past selves. A rating of 7 feels about right.

Three Most Fascinating Players: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Max Domi, and Carey Price.

If Kotkaniemi ends up not being worthy of the third overall pick of 2018, it looks like that will only come down to people merely having a preference, for say, fourth pick Brady Tkachuk — and so on. The point is that Kotkaniemi was brilliant as a rookie, and considering limited usage, could be capable of even more than an already-solid 34 points in 79 games. Honestly, Julien owes it to this team to experiment with just how quickly Kotkaniemi can grow. He aced his first test in the NHL.

Entering 2019-20, a big question is: will the Max Domi we see look more like the 2018-19 sensation, or the 2017-18 Coyotes forward who needed four empty-netters to reach nine goals? Domi’s entering a contract year, so if he can show last season wasn’t a fluke, he can go from a healthy raise from his $3.15M AAV to a huge jump.

Price is basically always fascinating in Montreal: the franchise, $10.5M goalie in a city that’s watched some of the best netminders to ever play the game. Can Price be dominant at 32? The Habs are counting on it.

Playoffs or Lottery: Montreal was unlucky that the East was pretty stout at the playoff-level in 2018-19, and figure to face big obstacles again this coming season. Not only will the Atlantic’s top three figure to be tough (Lightning, Bruins, Maple Leafs), but the Panthers made investments to be hugely improved, too. For all we know, it may all come down to the Panthers vs. the Canadiens, especially if the Metropolitan Division isn’t a total flop in providing wild-card competition.

There’s quite a bit to like with this team, so playoffs seem more likely than the lottery — although we also know that this tough market can also turn the volume up on any slump.

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.

Q&A: Max Domi on the pressure in Montreal, getting Canadiens back to playoffs

Max Domi isn’t afraid of playing under the spotlight. Growing up with a dad who played in Toronto certainly showed him what it was like when the pressure to win is there every single night.

So when the 24-year-old Domi was dealt from Arizona to Montreal in June 2018, the switch in markets didn’t affect him at all. In fact, it may have even played a role in his career season where he scored 28 goals and recorded 72 points. Those totals followed two subpar seasons with the Coyotes where he tallied 18 total goals in his last 141 games in the desert.

“Some people aren’t like that but for me, it forces you to bring out the best in yourself,” Domi told NBC Sports during the NHL Player Media Tour in Chicago earlier this month. “I really enjoy being in the spotlight, not just myself personally but our team. That whole city just expects success from not only our team but everyone involved with it. I think it’s a good sense of accountability and I really do enjoy it.”

Domi’s 72 points led the Canadiens last season, the first time he’s been tops in points on his team since the 2013-14 London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League — a team that featured the likes of Bo Horvat, Mitch Marner, and Josh Anderson. Montreal, however, fell just short of their goal of making the playoffs, missing the final Eastern Conference wild card spot by only two points.

We spoke to Domi about his career year, why the Habs fell short, and more.

Enjoy.

Q. Why did it all click you for offensively last season?

DOMI: “A little bit of everything. I think it was a decent year. Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve our goal of making the playoffs. That being said, on a personal level you finally just find your way, right? You get put in a situation where you’re playing for a team that brings out the best in you, the pressure brings out the best in you, the big stage and all the stuff that I grew up around, it’s pretty cool. It’s a huge honor to play for that team. I really do enjoy it on a daily basis.”

Q. : What about Montreal helped revitalize your career?

DOMI: “Just the personality that I have and the way that I grew up, you crave that pressure and the atmosphere of not only just the rink but the energy around the city about the team. I’ve been lucky enough to play in an Original Six team and, you know what, as far as I’m concerned I’m the luckiest guy in the world and I actually enjoy every second of it.”

Q. What was missing last season that didn’t get the Habs to the playoffs?

DOMI: “It’s funny, when you look back at it everyone always says you’ve got to win these points in October, November, and yeah, of course, you know that, but then you’re kicking yourself come February: Ah, damn, only if we would have just buried them on that power play there. It makes a difference, it really does. Missed the playoffs by two points, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but honestly, in the long run it’s going to be better for our group because we have the bitter taste in our mouth and we’re very hungry and eager to get going and we know what it takes now. We were also essentially playing playoff hockey in the second half of the year because we were in such a dogfight with a few other teams. The exposure we got to those games and the pressure and the character our team showed and resilience we showed, I think that’s a really positive step forward. We’ve just got to carry that into this year.”

Q. Why did Montreal have so much trouble scoring on the power play (13.2%) and how does it improve?

DOMI: “I think we can all give a little bit more. Obviously, it’s not really our job to figure out who’s in what position and that stuff, that’s the coaching staff, but once they figure that out and they tell us then it’s on us to be better. We have the personnel to do it, that’s for sure, we’ve just got to go and execute and find ways to get better. Last year’s behind us, we’re not really thinking about that. It’s a negative way of thinking and doesn’t do anyone any good.”

Q. Why do you believe the Canadiens be a playoff team this season?

DOMI: “We’ve got a lot of work to do, for sure, just as every other team does, but it’s still early and we’re not really focused on the end goal. We’ll kind of keep that in our locker room and we know what we’re capable of and all that stuff. As of right now we’re just getting ready for camp and getting acclimated with everything and [getting] back in the swing of things and we’ll take it game by game.”

MORE:
Burning questions for Montreal Canadiens in 2019-20
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Galchenyuk needs to have big season in Pittsburgh

Getty
3 Comments

Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

When the Montreal Canadiens selected Alex Galchenyuk third overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, they expected him to be their franchise center for the better part of a decade. Unfortunately for both sides, that didn’t work out as planned. Last summer, the Canadiens shipped Galchenyuk to Arizona in exchange for Max Domi. After one year with the Coyotes, GM John Chayka decided he was willing to move Galchenyuk to Pittsburgh for Phil Kessel.

So what gives? Why has a talented youngster like Galchenyuk been on the move so much? And what can the Penguins expect from their 25-year-old sniper?

The Penguins have made it pretty clear that Galchenyuk is going to be playing on the wing. One of the big issues with Galchenyuk and his development is that he moved from wing to centre back to wing quite a bit. In Montreal, there was an expectation that he’d play down the middle. But defensive-minded coaches like Michel Therrien and Claude Julien didn’t trust him enough without the puck.

Galchenyuk had a 20 and 30-goal season in Montreal, but they eventually decided that they needed a change in attitude and he was traded away.

[MORE: 2018-19 Summary | Three Questions | X-Factor]

He battled injuries in Arizona and he never really got to make the impact everyone expected to make on a young Coyotes team. Chayka didn’t give Galchenyuk away, but the fact that he was willing to unload him so quickly speaks volumes.

There’s no denying that Galchenyuk has talent. His hands and release are unbelievable. He’s big and loaded with skill. He’s had some success at the NHL level, but it’s now time for him to make a real impact on a team that should be a contender.

If everything goes according to plan, Galchenyuk should get an opportunity to play with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. He won’t have to carry his line, but he’ll need to make sure he puts the puck in the net more than he ever has.

“You look at the roster of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s no surprise that anywhere you play, it’s going to be really exciting,” Galchenyuk said in June, per NHL.com. “Playing wing from right or left, I don’t think that would be that big of a difference. … You look at the centers that this team has (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin), top centers in the league, no doubt.

“Whether it’s the right or the left side, I’m sure I’ll definitely adapt pretty well.”

Now that he’s on his third team in three seasons, the pressure is definitely on Galchenyuk. With his skill-set, he should be a consistent 30-plus goal scorer, but that hasn’t materialized yet. In fairness to him, it’s not like the teams he was on traded him away for nothing, but he can’t keep jumping from team to team if he wants to be known as one of the better finishers in the NHL.

“Playing with great players, it’s just an unbelievable opportunity for me. I put pressure on myself to perform my best.”

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.