Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kyle Turris Says Sens Owner Didn't Want Him

Speaking to media ahead of Wednesday's Predators-Canucks game in Vancouver, Predators center Kyle Turris says that Senators management wanted to sign him but team owner Eugene Melnyk did not. Turris was traded in a three-player deal that brought Matt Duchene to Ottawa--not exactly a terrible trade on paper, but the Senators have skidded to a halt since the deal went down, which has ramped up pressure on the Senators and their owner.

"It's tough because I think management did want to sign me, but I think that the owner didn't," Turris said following Nashville's morning skate according to CBC. "And that was his decision."

Turris signed a six-year, $36 million deal with Nashville immediately after the deal. The red-hot Predators have gone 11-2-2 since the deal with Turris centering a line with Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala that has been the heart of the team with Ryan Johansen missing time.

The Senators are 1-10-2 since the trade and speculation is swirling in Ottawa, where Erik Karlsson was recently asked to give the team the 10 teams that would satisfy the requirements of his no-trade clause.

But Turris, who spent parts of seven seasons in Ottawa, says that patience is needed.

"With the success you had the year before, everybody's giving you a bit more respect and playing you a bit harder," he said. "They'll figure it out. Over the course of the season they'll bounce back."

One piece of advice from Turris? Don't lose Karlsson.

"He's such a good player all around. Defensively, offensively he is the heart of that team. He's a great leader, he's a great person," he told CBC. "He's somebody an organization like Ottawa can't lose."

Dubinsky Will Miss 6 to 8 Weeks with Fractured Orbital Bone

Wanting a piece of Zack Kassian is one thing. Actually getting a piece of him is entirely another.

Blue Jackets' center Brandon Dubinsky learned that the hard way on Tuesday night during the Oilers 7-2 win over Columbus. He lost this scuffle and ended up with a broken orbital bone above his left eye, which will keep him out for 6 to 8 weeks.

It's a tough loss for the Blue Jackets who have struggled with depth at center all season long. Dubinsky has three goals and nine assists with a plus-5 in 31 games for the Jackets.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mark Scheifele, on the Underappreciated Greatness of Blake Wheeler

Blake Wheeler is considered to be one of hockey's most underrated players by many in-the-know hockey fans. Count Mark Schiefele among them.

The Jets sniper did a radio hit with Hockey Central on Tuesday and tossed some heavy praise in the direction of his linemate.

Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos brought up Wheeler half way through the interview, saying "When we think of Wheeler we don't necessarily put him in the same category as some of the best playmakers in the league--it just doesn't come to your mind naturally--but maybe it should because the vision that this guy has I think is a little underestimated around the league, don't you think?"

Here's Scheifele's reply:

"It's very underrated. He's probably one of the best passers in the game right now. He sees things that I don't even see and now it's getting to instinct where I know if I pop out in a certain area it's on my stick, even if there is only room for a puck to get through, it's getting through and I'm like, I don't know how he sees it. I try to watch tape I try to practice things in practice to be the same passer to him but I don't know how he sees it.

He's a special player and I really enjoy playing with him. He is a special player and not just in a passing aspect. He does everything so well. He gets in on the forecheck, he blocks shots, he can kill penalties, he's awesome on the power play--he does everything for our team and I think that's what you want from a leader and he does a great job with that."

Schiefele also had high praise for the Jets line of Brandon Tanev, Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp, saying that the trio does a lot to help the Jets in matching up with top teams.

"That Lowry/Copp/Tanev line has been awesome for us, same with the Hendricks line," Scheifele said. "Some nights it's maybe not on the scoreboard but they have been scoring a lot as well. They get on the forecheck, they get possession. The Lowry line can play against top lines so you know that gives my line and Little's line maybe some easier matchups at home. For us it's huge when you have depth. We need all lines firing and if one line's not scoring we have the other three to try and put a few in the net. It's been huge, having that depth."

Wheeler leads the Jets with 38 points, while Scheifele is second with 35. Copp, Lowry and Tanev have chipped in for 22 points combined to help the Jets scoring output. Winnipeg is tied for second in the NHL in goals with 106 through Tuesday night.

There are many reasons that the Jets have finally turned their fortunes around and look to be headed for what would be just their second playoff appearance since moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. The goaltending of Connor Hellebuyck is certainly high on the list. But the Jets unsung hero is undoubtedly Blake Wheeler. There may not be another player who does as much for his team while getting so little recognition for it.

Statisfaction 12.12: Tanev/Lowry/Copp Dominant in December

Statisfaction is your daily smorgasbord of NHL numbers. Fancy stats, counting numbers, streaks, and more. Enjoy.

1. Brandon Tanev, Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp -- who knew?

The Winnipeg Jets are getting possession dominance from an unlikely trio in December, and the numbers are nothing short of mind-blowing. In just over 63 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time Brandon Tanev, Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp have a CF% of 68.27 (71 for, 33 against) and they've dominated the scoring chances by 40 to 19. Just unreal contribution, especially when you consider that the rest of the Jets lines have been negative from a possession standpoint without them on the ice.

2. Barzal Draws Penalties

A quick look at the rookie scoring leaders shows Mathew Barzal tied for first in the NHL in points with 28. But put up points isn't all Barzal has been doing. With his speed and deception the rookie has forced defenders to take liberties to try and keep up with him. He's drawn 17 penalties this season, which ranks him 5th in the NHL and first among rookies.

In case you were wondering, Boeser has drawn four penalties this season.

3. Brent Burns Leads the NHL in Giveaways

And this is not surprising. But at least Burns is heating up offensively--he scored a pair last night in San Jose. See the top 10 giveaway leaders below.

4. Connor Murphy and Brent Seabrook are Riding High for Hawks

Many--myself included--did not understand what exactly Chicago GM Stan Bowman was trying to achieve by giving up Niklas Hjalmarsson for Connor Murphy last summer, but the 24-year-old defenseman is showing his best game over the last month while playing the left side on a pair with Brent Seabrook.

He has the NHL's best CF% at 5-on-5 since November 1, and he's been on ice for 14 goals for and 8 against in that span while putting up a goal and four assists.

5. A Very Special Trio

Their are currently three players that average a goal per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 AND a primary assist per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (250 minutes TOI or more). Not easy to do. Want to know who they are? Thought you did...

1. Jaden Schwartz: 1.2 Goals per 60, 1.79 primary assists per 60
2. Patrick Kane: 1.16 goals per 60, 1.13 primary assists per 60
3. Jonathan Marchessault: 1.03 goals per 60, 1.37 primary assists per 60

Friday, December 8, 2017

Sharks Win a Wild, Weird Wonderful One over Hurricanes

That was not how you draw it up. But a win is a win is a win and the San Jose Sharks will take a 5-4 overtime victory which saw them outscored 4-0 at even strength by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at SAP Center.

Here are five thoughts from Thursday's madness:

1. Shorties supreme

The Sharks got a shorthanded goal by Melker Karlsson midway through the second period off a sweet feed by Chris Tierney. It was a massive goal because the Sharks had taken the play to Carolina for the first 10 minutes of the middle stanza with nothing to show for it. With the Canes on the PP and threatening to put the game away (surely a 4-0 lead would have ended this game for all intents and purposes?), Tierney took his time and made the perfect play on Karlsson's goal. Noah Hanifin did what he was supposed to do while defending San Jose's 2-on-1. He played the pass and left Tierney the option to shoot. But with no back pressure Tierney made a very composed decision to wait out Hanifin, and when he saw his moment he threaded a pass to Karlsson who had backed up considerably but was still in position to bury the one-timer into an open net.

Barclay Goodrow made it two shorthanded goals when he netted the equalizer in the third, bringing the remaining fans (where were ya Sharks fans?) to a frenzy. Goodrow made the smart decision to join the rush and he beat two Carolina defenders down the ice, took a flip pass from Jannik Hansen and deposited a breakaway goal past Cam Ward. Great effort by Goodrow, not known for his scoring, to sense the time and tempo of the play and go for it while shorthanded.

2. Jones Resilient in one of the Sharks worst defensive games

Let's be honest here. The Sharks were horrible defensively in this game. Sebastian Aho could have scored eight goals. Brent Burns was sloppy. Paul Martin was sloppy. Even Marc-Edouard Vlasic was sloppy at times. But the one constant, as it has been all season, was Martin Jones. He could have easily hung his head after giving up Carolina's fourth goal to Jeff Skinner at 14:44 of the second. But Jones never wavered and didn't let the Canes expand their lead. Jones finished the night with an .840 save percentage. By the numbers it was a horrible game for him, but in reality he got it done.

3. DeBoer's blender in effect

Marcus Sorensen had a fantastic first two periods for the Sharks, he nearly set up a goal by Joel Ward and almost had one of his own. He was flying around the ice and really looked good on a fourth line with Ward and Goodrow. But he did not see the ice in the third (he got two shifts, totalling 75 seconds).

After a dismal first period, Timo Meier was yanked off the top line and replaced by Kevin Labanc. Both Labanc and Meier appeared to get the message. They played with urgency for the remainder of the game. Labanc in particular was a lot harder on the puck. He'll have to keep playing that way if he wants more ice time. At times it's frustrating to see all the shifting of the lines with the Sharks' youth, but it's also understanable. DeBoer wants more out of these kids, and he's firing off messages to them at a rapid clip.

Labanc finished with positive possesion numbers (18 for, 10 against) but was on ice for one of Carolina goals. That said, he hasn't scored since Oct. 14, a run that has seen him demoted to the AHL (where he scored) and return. The kid needs a goal.

Sorensen was also positive (9 for, 6 against) but may have lost the script defensively (our guess). From where I was sitting (couchside) Sorensen looked like a really good match with Goodrow and Ward on line #4. I want more.

4. Martin Struggles in return

It was nice to see Paul Martin back, but his form wasn't a picture of elegance. The defenseman, playing in just his third game of the season and first since October 7, put up a 5-on-5 Corsi of 29.63 percent and didn't see the ice in the final 14 minutes. Nonetheless it was a good start, and one unintended consequence of his return may have been that his presence jogged Brent Burns' memory and reminded last year's Norris Trophy winner that he can score. Neither Martin or Burns were great defensively on this night, but it was nice to see Burns get the OT winner. More important was his helper on Logan Couture's power play goal in the third. It was very nice to see Burns distributing the puck rather than shoot it for once.

5. Speaking of Couture

Couture was relatively quiet offensively, but he chipped in his 14th with a wicked PP one-timer in the third (video can be seen below). That's what your leading scorer is supposed to do--get big goals.

6. Other notes

There was a lot to like about the play of Dylan Demelo and Joakim Ryan on Thursday night. The pair was not on ice for a goal against, and both players used some explosive skating to skate the puck out of trouble and spearhead breakouts. DeMelo had an impressive 75% Corsi at 5-on-5, and he's notched a 58.18 CF in just over 53 minutes with Ryan this season. Could be a really nice No.3 pair for the Sharks here. (Ryan took a lot of shifts with Burns in the third after Martin was benched)

Tomas Hertl made a fantastic play when he snaked around Noah Hanifin to earn a golden opportunity. Another reminder of how good Hertl can be when he's at his best.

Thursday's win marked the first time ever that the Sharks have come back from a three-goal deficit after the first.

The Sharks had 27 scoring chances (all phases), per Natural Stat Trick, in periods two and three. They allowed 25. Not your typical Sharks game.

Joe Thornton had two points and tied and passed Dale Hawerchuk for 19th on the NHL's all-time points list.

7. Tweets:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Boychuk Out for Isles vs. Penguins Tonight

The New York Islanders will be missing one half of their top defensive pairing when they take on the Penguins on Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.

Johnny Boychuk left the morning skate early and will miss the game with what head coach Doug Weight calls a "lingering injury."

Boychuk has played all 27 Islander games, going 3-5-8 with a plus-8.

He is second on the Isles in ice time per game, logging 20:47 a night.

Thomas Hickey will draw in on defense for the Islanders, while fourth-line center Casey Cizikas will make his return to the lineup. He has missed the last four games after suffering a lower body injury against Ottawa on November 25. Cizikas has gone 4-4-8 and a plus-5 in 23 games for the Isles.

Bo Horvat Sidelined with Broken Ankle, Could Miss Six Weeks

The Vancouver Canucks will be without their second leading scorer for a while.

Horvat injured the right ankle during Vancouver's 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at Rogers Arena on Tuesday. He appeared to jam it into the boards after taking a hit from Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin.

The team announced that it will know more about an official timeline for Horvat's recovery after the 22-year-old meets with specialists.

"We're not talking about who is out, we're talking about who is in and how we're going to win," Canucks head coach Travis Green said on Thursday. "It's unfortunate, but it gives guys an opportunity to step up."

The surprising Canucks are currently 14-10-4, good for third place in the Pacific Division. They host the Flyers on Thursday night.

Sharks Paul Martin Set to Return, and Brent Burns Should be Excited about that

There's nothing like the comfort of your favorite pair of jeans. You slip them on, the belt is already on there, the wallet might even still be in the back pocket from last night's trip the grocery (if you're a guy and you carry your wallet in your back pocket). They fit just right, you wear them every day, or until someone tells you you wear them every day--then you change them.

On Thursday the Sharks should be getting their favorite pair of jeans back.

We're talking about Paul Martin, Brent Burns longtime partner who has missed all but two games this season.

The Sharks have been doing just fine defensively, but with rookie Tim Heed out with injury and Brenden Dillon serving his one-game suspension, the timing couldn't be more perfect for Martin's return.

That's because the aforementioned Burns is still seeking his Norris Trophy winning mojo this season. He has just one goal and 11 assists to go with a minus-8 in 26 games this season--now you see why these old jeans might be just what San Jose needs at this stage of the season.

The Sharks offensive woes certainly don't start at the blue line, but getting some of Burns production back would be a very welcome development in Teal Town for a team that is struggling to score goals in a big way.

Head coach Peter DeBoer has thrown a whole bunch of kids into the blender this season and none of them have proven to be prolific offensively. Don't get us wrong, there's some promise, particularly when it comes to Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, but when it comes to kids, DeBoer has always been hesitant about throwing them into critical roles, especially when they aren't making significant contributions on the score sheet.

So far the Sharks have overcome their poor offense (2.5 goals per game, third-worst in the NHL) with excellent defense and sturdy goaltending (2.3 goals allowed per game, second-best in the NHL). But any little thing that tweaks the offense in a positive fashion will be more than welcome.

Could Martin be that guy?

If the 36-year-old Minnesota native can help Burns rekindle his offensive prowess, the Sharks will certainly be better off. It's been a difficult season for many Sharks' veterans, but nobody is struggling more than Burns. Playing primarily with Martin last season Burns put up 1.79 points per 60 minutes. This season he is down to 0.64 and can't buy a goal (he has just one).

Burns has been paired primarily with rookie Joakim Ryan this season, and the pair have been excellent from a possession standpoint, putting up a 5-on-5 Corsi of 55.27. But that Corsi number has not translated into goals as the Sharks have scored just 1.14 per 60 mins while allowing 2.27 per 60 mins with the pair on the ice together.

It's not that Ryan and Burns have been bad, but maybe Burns will benefit from not having to worry about a rookie partner while he's on the ice. Sometimes we tend to under appreciate what comfort means to players on the ice. Burns may feel a little more responsible for other partners, and San Jose's coaching staff surely wants him to be a little more defensively responsible when he's out there with a rookie that is getting his first taste of the NHL game. So maybe what Martin's return means for Burns is a return to freewheeling hockey.

It certainly worked last season.

In 2017-18 the Sharks were strong with Martin and Burns on the ice. In the 1179 minutes that the pair was on the ice at 5-on-5, San Jose averaged 2.65 goals per 60 minutes while allowing 2.09. Different season, different vibe in San Jose offensively. This team has been largely snakebitten this season and the absence of Patrick Marleau up front combined with the slow start of Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski is no doubt dragging those numbers in the Sharks first 26 games, but it sure isn't bad news that Burns is getting his longtime partner back.

Anything, at this point in time, helps.