Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Eichel Tower is Back in Buffalo

Jack Eichel made his return from a high ankle sprain in Ottawa on Tuesday night, and the 20-year-old delivered, assisting on the Sabres first goal and then scoring Buffalo's second goal as the Sabres went on to notch a 5-4 win over the Senators.

"More than anything you just want to be out there and feel good and feel confident about your game and try to help contribute," said Eichel, who scored 58 points in his rookie season for Buffalo. "You watch so much hockey that it makes you that much more excited to come back and play. I think that’s the case here."

Will the Sabres be a much better team now that Eichel is back? They improved to 8-9-5, just four points from the last Wild Card spot in the east with the win. It will take Eichel some time to get into game shape, but the Buffalo power play is already looking more menacing.

Eichel played with Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart at even strength, logging 13:43 even strength ice time and 17:07 overall.

Watch: Johansen Dangles, Dekes and Roofs

Absolutely sick goal from Nashville Predator forward Ryan Johansen here. And it looks even better in slo-mo:

The Preds improved to 11-8-3 with the 5-3 win over the Avs, and they are now 8-1-1 at home.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Proof that Barry Trotz is a Tough, Tough, Tough Man

Here's your proof. What else could you want?

Mrazek Robs Lehkonen with Glove Love

Absolute. Highway. Robbery. And one of the best saves you'll ever see, by Detroit's Petr Mrazek during the first period of Detroit's tilt with Les Canadiens at the Joe.

As for Artturi Lehkonen (in his first game since Nov.5), if he could have this one back he'd probably take a moment to make sure he got this puck up high where mama keeps the peanut butter.

Islanders Lack Puck Luck in San Jose

How do you spell negative puck luck, people? I-S-L-A-N-D-E-R-S.

Watch as Brent Burns scores from just inside the red line after his slapper deflects off the stick of Thomas Hickey and past Thomas Greiss. Nothing is going right for the 6-10-4 Islanders. They tied the game with under a minute left in San Jose on Friday only to relinquish the tie 35 seconds later on a Patrick Marleau goal.

Connor McDavid: Human Highlight Reel and High Jumper

What's next, pole vault? Connor McDavid does a nifty job of avoiding an Anthony Duclair check and flies into a soft landing in the laps of the surly fellows on the Arizona bench. Luckily for McDavid he wasn't hurt on this play, and double lucky that nobody on the Arizona bench wanted to draw the ire of Milan Lucic so they gave Connor a soft, friendly lift and off he went.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Watch: Travis Konecny Picks a Fight with Brandon Pirri

He may be just 5'10" 175, but Flyers' rookie Travis Konecny proved during Saturday's matinee at Madison Square Garden that he's not afraid to throw down. Watch as Konecny hunts down Brandon Pirri after the Ranger boarded his teammate Brandon Manning along the near boards moments earlier.

Konecny proceeds to toss Pirri about a bit before slugging him a few times for good measure while he's on his back on the ice. That's Flyers hockey for ya. Konecny picked up an instigator penalty and a misconduct. Neither player had a point in the Rangers 3-2 win.

The Rangers improve to 15-6-1 with the win while Philly drops to 9-10-3.

Tanev Lays Dangerous Hit on Sissons from Behind

Brandon Tanev tattooes Colton Sissons from behind and a melee ensues during Winnipeg's battle with the Predators in Nashville on Friday night. Tanev appears to be wondering what he did wrong as he heads to the box, but it's pretty clear from the replays that this is a serious boarding infraction. Maybe Tanev didn't expect Sissons to sort of duck away as he's playing the puck, but Tanev has to be a little bit more careful there.

The action of Sissons head against the glass is not what anybody wants to see.

Tanev got the five-minute major and the Predators answered with James Neal's 10th goal to take a 3-1 lead.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Chad Johnson Has Two Shutouts in His Last 5

Chad Johnson called it "your prototypical road game."

Whatever it was the Flames will take it and so will Johnson, who has now gone 6-3-1 on the season for the Flames. He's been pressed into duty as Brian Elliot has faltered. Elliot is 3-9-0 with a 3.43 GAA.

This is Chad Johnson's team if he keeps this up. He has allowed just six goals in five games, including his 5th and 6th career shutouts. Johnson has a 2.08 GAA and a .922 save percentage in his ten games.

One More Random Stat: Johnson went 22-16-4 impressively in 45 games with the Sabres last season. 45 is the most games the 30-year-old has ever played in an NHL campaign.

Watch: Vanek Goes Around the World in Shootout vs. Buffalo

In his second game back from a four-week hiatus due to injury, Thomas Vanek registered an assist and was a plus-1 in Detroit's 2-1 shootout win over the Sabres. He also did this sick (see video above) around-the-world trick before lasering a snapshot past Robin Lehner in the second round of the shootout.

The 32-year-old Vanek missed nearly four weeks with a lower-body injury, but when he has been in he has been good for Detroit. He's produced 9 goals in 9 games. Detroit is 9-10-1 after 20 games, and is currently 14th in the 16-team Eastern Conference (some games still going on here on Thanksgiving Eve).

Sid Strikes Back, Pens Hammer Rangers

Pens answer Rangers behind Sid the Kid Crosby's two goals and three points. Final score? 6-1, Pittsburgh. The Pens improve to 12-5-3 and drop NYR to 14-6-1.

Want to know the story of this game (or at least one of them)? Watch the Penguins spend over a minute and a half in the Rangers zone at 5 on 5 before Conor Sheary scores to make it 5-1 pretty late in the second. At one point before the goal, Rangers broadcaster Joe Micheletti says "Their arms are going to get tired, passing it this much." Full credit to Pitt, no credit to NYR:

Ovechkin Hattie Leads Caps Past Blues

I'll be honest. I was cooking chutney with my wife when this game was going on. Washington won, 4-3.

Therefore I will keep my reporting on the subject sparse. (TIDBIT: Ovechkin scored his 92nd game-winning goal to lift the Caps past the Blues)

I will tell you this: The Great 8 is going good. The Caps improve to 12-5-2 with the win over the Blues, and Ovechkin now has 16 career hat tricks and 534 career goals. Simply put, the guy is one of the most incredible players we've ever seen in this sport. For those who wish to bask in the glory, here's a snipe by Ovi from tonight's hat trick. How does he shoot this puck with so much velocity?

Auston Matthews Snaps 13-Game Goalless Drought

Everybody in Toronto can breathe a little easier right now. Auston Matthews, the No.1 overall pick and scorer of four goals in his NHL debut, has regained his scoring touch. The 19-year-old has scored a pair tonight (see first goal above, second goal below) at the Rock in New Jersey, snapping a 13-game drought that saw him take 45 shots on goal without finding the twine.

Check back later for an update on what is sure to be an eight-goal night for the rookie.

Ward Wins Fifth Straight for Surging Carolina

Red-hot Cam Ward guided the Carolina Hurricanes past the Maple Leafs, 2-1, on Tuesday night at Air Canada Center in Toronto. Ward has won his last five starts and the Canes (8-6-4) leapfrogged the Leafs in the standings with the win.

Carolina has now killed 22 straight penalties in their last ten games.

Ward improved to 6-1-2 in November. The 32-year-old is in the first year of a two-year, $6.6 million deal with the Canes. His current 2.27 goals against average projects out to a career-high for the 12-year veteran.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Caggiula providing a spark for Oilers in first two games

Video: Drake Caggiula's first NHL point from Saturday's game vs. Dallas

Story: Drake Caggiula was talked about a lot in training camp, but when an injury took him down in an October 6 pre-season game, the Oilers--and Caggiula--had to wait for the kid to make an impact.

He's doing it now.

Caggiula played his first two games this week for the Oilers and Edmonton won both, over Dallas on Saturday and over the Blackhawks on Monday. He already has two assists and is a plus two in 28:49 of ice time for the Oilers, with most of his ice time spend with Tyler Pitlick and Matt Hendricks. The possession numbers have not been there (Caggiula has a 10 CF and a 41 CA) but he has not been on the ice for an opposition goal and he's also contributing on the penalty kill.

Sportsnets Mark Spector was raving about Caggiula on TSN's Hockey Central at noon on Tuesday.

"He's a really good player, for a guy that hasn't played any pro hockey," Spector said of the former UND standout. "I'm really skeptical about these unsigned NCAA guys. I'm on the record saying that eight of ten of them are overrated... He's very mature he's well-rounded, he's cool. Some guys are leaders. This kid in college was a major leader on a really good team at UND."

Spector says he thinks Caggiula could pencil in as a future third-line center that plays with bite and knows his role.

"Is he going to be a second-line center in the NHL? I don't know. Is he maybe going to be that third-line center that every good team has? Think back in history of all the winning clubs. Dallas had Guy Carbonneau as their third-line center, I always thought John Madden was a great third-line center, the Oilers had Craig McTavish. Every team has a solid citizen playing third-line center for them. I think that's who [Caggiula] might turn into.

Watch: Beaulieu Injured by Puck to Throat

Montreal Canadiens' defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was injured when he took a puck to the throat off the stick off of Sens' center Derick Brassard during the second period of Montreal's 4-3 loss to Ottawa at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

According to reporters on the scene in Montreal, Head Coach Michel Therrien said that Beaulieu's injury was nothing serious. The 23-year-old was transported to a local hospital for assessment after he left the game:

Sean Couturier out with a Sprained MCL

Flyers' center Sean Couturier left Tuesday night's game with the Panthers with an injury to his left knee and did not return. Word is that Couturier has sprained the MCL and will need further evaluation.

The video above shows Couturier getting tangled up in his own zone with Panthers' forward Vincent Trochek. Trochek bumps Couturier and then is knocked forward onto Couturier's knee after he makes his initial hit. Not pretty.

It was Flyers' reporter Tim Panaccio who reported the injury as MCL sprain.

Ladies and Gentlemen, YOUR Vegas Golden Knights

We have a team name and we have a team logo. Ladies and gentlemen, your Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL's 31st team. Do we like the logo? It immediately struck me as a winner. I immediately got a strong Darth Vader vibe from it, which is always nice.

Check out this statement on the Knight motif, per Puck Daddy Blog's Josh Cooper, from Golden Knights' owner Bill Foley:

“We selected ‘Knights’ because knights are the defenders of the realm and protect those who cannot defend themselves,” Foley said in a statement. “They are the elite warrior class.”

Brent Burns Signs an 8-Year Deal with Sharks

The San Jose Sharks locked up their No.1 defenseman Brent Burns through the 2024-2025 season for an AAV of $8 Million. Burns will recieve $54 million of his pay in the first six years of the deal and average $5 million per year in the final two years.

Here's what the big man has to say about it:

The 31-year-old has gone 7-9-16 for the Sharks this season, and has averaged 22 goals over his last three season with San Jose.

Erik Karlsson Reaches 400 Points

Erik Karlsson became the first NHL defenseman to record his 400th point before his 500th game since Brian Leetch in 1993. He achieved the milestone on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal (see video above).

Karlsson is now one of 12 active defensemen in the 400-point club. He recorded his 297th assist and 400th point before giving Ottawa a 4-3 lead in the third period by scoring his 104th goal and 401st point. Karlsson is apparently already zeroing in on catching Mike Green and his 406 points.

(See video of Karlsson's very lucky goal, which was shot from the boards and glanced off a defender's skate before sliding past Carey Price, below).

Here's the list of the other active defenders in the 400-point club, from @TheSaucerPass:

Dale Weise scores his first goal as a Flyer

Flyers' Dale Weise pots his first as a Flyer (in his 16th game) to give Philly a 2-0 lead over the Panthers on Tuesday night in Florida. Weise signed a four-year deal with Philadelphia on July 1 (AAV $2.35 million).

28-year-old Weise had a career-best 14 goals last season with Montreal and Chicago.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Statisfaction, Friday Nov 11 2016

Your Daily does of NHL stats, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... (Plus a daily video above: Nikolaj Ehlers sends an own-goal past Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson in OT)

1. Hossa ties Beliveau on the all-time goals list.

Marian Hossa is the gift that keeps on giving. The Slovakian netted the tying goal at 19:37 of the third to send Chicago and Washington to OT on Friday night. The Caps got the 3-2 win on a Marcus Johansson winner, but Hossa notched yet another milestone--his 507th career goal.

Here's the goal -- right place, right time...

2. Toronto opens floodgates

The Leafs scored four goals on six shots in the third to defeat the Flyers, 6-4, on Friday night at ACC. Toronto got goals from six different players and won for the first time when trailing after two periods (1-2-0) and they got this *dope* celebration from Mitch Marner:

3. Devils are best when trailing after two:

New Jersey improved to an NHL-best 3-1-1 when trailing after two when Andy Greene scored on a penalty shot in OT to lead New Jersey to a 2-1 victory over Buffalo.

Here's the goal:

Here's the teams with more than one win when trailing after two thus far this season:

4. Matt Moulson has 5 PP goals for the Sabres

The 33-year-old Ontario native has more power play goals than his former team, the New York Islanders, this season. Moulson is tied with Patrik Laine and Wayne Simmonds for the NHL lead. The Islaners (along with Arizona, Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary) have just four power play goals as a team this season.

5. Brooks Orpik and Nate Schmidt Top Pair?

A dive into Corsica hockey reveals that when Washington's Brooks Orpik and Nate Schmidt are on the ice together, the Caps generate over 73 percent of all scoring chances. That's tops among pairings with 100 minutes or more of ice time, percentage-wise, at even strength. Here are the top 5:

We do realize that this is a No.3 pair on the Washington defense and gets easier assignments than the other two pairings, but still it's a commendable job by these two. More on the pairing from the Washington Post here.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Kadri Will Not Face Discipline for Hit on Daniel Sedin

Nazem Kadri's much-talked about hit on Daniel Sedin threw fuel on the fire of a wild third period in last night's Canuck-Maple Leafs title at Air Canada Center--but it will not result in a suspension. The NHL announced that there would be no hearing or supplemental discipline against Kadri for the hit that many felt was a direct shot to the head. As it turns out the NHL feels that Kadri target the shoulder as the principle point of contact--therefore the thrice-suspended center gets off.

Canucks' GM Jim Benning was nonplussed with the decision, but didn't have a whole lot to say about it.

“We disagree with the ruling this morning and are very disappointed,” Benning said. “However, we must accept it and put it behind us so we can focus on tomorrow’s game.”

Kadri was given a five-minute major for the blindside hit.

The teams combined for 171 penalty minutes, eight fighting majors, a line brawl and a death threat on Saturday night.

In other words fun was had by all. The teams meet again on December 3.

The Islanders will be without defenseman Travis Hamonic for 4-6 weeks. The 26-year-old sustained an upper body injury while blocking a shot off the stick of Oilers' forward Patrick Maroon.

Hamonic left the game and did not return after blocking a wrist shot with his right arm during the first period of New York's 4-3 shootout loss to Edmonton. The Islanders have already lost defenseman Ryan Pulock to a broken foot earlier this season. They will reportedly call up Adam Pelech from Bridgeport for Monday's game against the Canucks in Brooklyn.

Hamonic, who has been on the Isles top pair with Nick Leddy all season, has gone 2-3-5 and is a minus-7 for the Isles in 12 games this season. He has a 43.1 Corsi and a Corsi REL of -4.0.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ovechkin Scores Another OT Winner

The Washington Capitals blew a three-goal lead and were in danger of falling in overtime at home. Enter Ovi.

The Great 8 scored on a one-timer from his camping spot, giving the Caps a 4-3 win and moving Ovechkin within one of the all-time record for regular-season overtime goals.

The goal gives Ovechkin a total of 109 multi-goal games. He also scored in the second period to give Washington a 3-0 lead. But the resilient Jets scored three times in a nine-minute span in the third to draw even.

The Caps improve to 7-2-1 with the win.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Tkachuk Scores Two for Flames

The Calgary Flames took the plunged and burned a year of Matthew Tkachuk's three-year entry-level contract on Thursday. The 18-year-old said "thank you very much" by potting two goals in a 3-2 win.

The No.6 overall pick is the son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, who tallied 538 goals in 1201 NHL games.

Jack Capuano's Frustration with Limited Roster Showing after Latest Loss

Everybody is piling on the New York Islanders' brass these days. Now even their head coach joins the disgruntled.

The Isles have stumbled out of the gates to a 4-6-1 start this season and they don't look like the team they were last year. That's not good news for the Islanders, who were hoping to build on their first playoff series win in 23 years this year. But the losses of Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo to free agency, and the inability for the team's management to find the right player to serve as John Tavares' left winger, have left them reeling thus far.

Andrew Ladd was supposed to be the guy to thrive on Tavares' line, but he has registered one point in eleven games after signing a seven-year deal with the Isles for a whopping $38.5 million. 37-year-old Jason Chimera was supposed to provide grit and secondary scoring in a role similar to the one that Matt Martin held last season, but he too has been innefective (3 points in 11 games, minus-5).

At times it's hard to tell whether head coach Jack Capuano is a co-architect of the team's current roster, but on Thursday he tried to distance himself from Snow's wheeling and dealing this summer, or lack thereof.

"Where are we going to get point production?" Capuano told reporters. "Took 134 points out of our lineup, that we lost, now we have to find a way."

Capuano is referring to the loss of Kyle Okposo (64 points last season) and Frans Nielsen (52 points last season, plus invaluable contributions defensively, in the face-off dot and in shootouts). Matt Martin chipped in 19 points last season, bringing the total to 135, so we're guessing Capuano's math is just a little bit off.

Anyhow, the Isles coach appears to be venting his frustration with management--and he should. But one would think that he would have had more to say during the summer when the Isles were doing hardly anything to get better. When most teams were getting faster and younger, New York spent a good amount of its allotted resources on getting older and slower. With two years left on all-star center John Tavares' contract that is something the organizations simply can't afford. Where was Capuano then, when the team was aimlessly wandering through the summer without making a splash?

The Isles needed to commit to taking another step this season to prove to Tavares that they were on the road to putting a championship caliber team on the ice. Tavares has two years left until he's a free agent and New York can't negotiate with him until next July. If the team made some progress this year, those negotiations could have been a slam dunk. They way things are going it appears the Isles will need a full-court buzzer shot to ink Tavares to another deal in New York.

The organization has taken a significant step back and added some immovable contracts in the process.

How does a team with John Tavares have a power play that clicks at 10.3 percent? There simply are not enough skilled player on the Islanders, that's how. They've got a team full of third-liners, many of whom are solid players, but few of them are equipped enough to take over a game or dominate possession.

It will be a shame if the Tavares era comes and goes in New York without anything to show for it (both for the Islanders and Tavares), but whether GM Garth Snow or Capuano is to blame for the personnel decisions the club has made, it does appear to be headed in that direction in Brooklyn. The Islanders have one of the most talented, creative and dynamic forwards in the NHL, and they simply have not been able to find linemates to adequately support him.

Capuano can gripe now about the lack of talent in Brooklyn, but did he have the vision to see that the club needed more after the last two seasons? Did he engage in productive conversations with Snow and team ownership when the off-season was not progressing as planned? Or did the Islanders really think that 30-year-old Ladd (plus Chimera and now-jettisoned Parenteau) would be enough to replace to longtime prolific scorers on the roster?

It's worth it to note that the Islanders were not exactly a juggernaut with Nielsen and Okposo on the team. They limped into the playoffs last year and needed a whole lot of puck luck to get past Florida in a series that they were soundly outplayed in.

The writing was on the wall last season--the team was strong defensively and depth-wise but it needed to find a real stud (or two) to get the most out of Tavares. Cycling through a steady stream of journeymen and youngsters, Tavares has still been good enough to get his points and carry the team. But gosh he could be a 100-point player on the NHL's best line if the Islanders pulled the right strings. And having a line like that would create matchup nightmares for the opposition and let some of the Islanders' young forwards play with less pressure.

When the Oilers come to Brooklyn on Saturday there will be another painful reminder of the organization's ineptitude when it comes to finding a star to play alongside Tavares. Taylor Hall was dealt to New Jersey in the off-season for Adam Larsson--surely the Islanders could have put together a package that could have enticed the Oilers when they were desperate last season and sniffing around about Travis Hamonic. Nothing got done then, and nothing appears to be getting done now as New York has played its first month with three goalies on the roster and cut one of its key free agent acquisitions (P.A. Parenteau) before the season started.

New York is not the worst team in the league at the moment, but they are certainly near the bottom, and it's hard to visualize what can bring them back up. Their No.1 goaltender is on the trading block. Their coach is unhappy. The team is blowing leads late in games even when it plays well. And the worst may be yet to come.

Frederik Andersen Robs Zemgus Girgensons with Sliding Save

Frederik Andersen stopped 42 of 43 shots to backstop the Leafs to a 2-1 win over the Sabres at the KeyBank Center. But this was the piece de resistance for Anderson, who slid post-to-post to rob Zemgus Girgensons point-blank and then on his second chance.

Andersen was a point of concern after he gave up seven goals on 24 shots in an October 25 loss to the Lightning, but since then he has allowed two or less goals in each of his last four starts.

The Leafs improve to 4-4-1 with the win. Mitch Marner scored two goals (his second and third) in the win. No.1 overall draft pick Auston Matthews was held without a point for the fifth consecutive game for the Leafs.

Watch: Giroux Smokes Halak in Shootout, Flyers Beat Isles

Great acceleration and dekes by Claude Giroux in the shootout, which gives the Flyers two points against the Islanders on Thursday in Brooklyn. Giroux had his ten-game points streak snapped, but came up with this beauty to propel the Flyers past New York in the Skillz.

Luckily, Jaroslav Halak did not break his groin on the play, because it looked like he could have...

With the win the Flyers improve to 6-5-1, good for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders, who are learning the hard way about shootouts after the Frans Nielsen era, drop to a dismal 4-6-1. They are one of only two teams in the conference to be averaging less than a point per game.