Tag Archives: 2011 NHL Entry Draft

October 7 – Day Four – Here comes the Bread Man

One of my favorite days of the hockey calendar is finally upon us: Opening Saturday.

What could possibly be so awesome about this day, you ask? Take a look at today’s schedule. With the exception of the Boston Bruins, every single club is in action today.

The festivities start at 2 p.m. when Colorado visits New Jersey (SN), but the real meat of the day starts at 7 p.m. when seven fixtures (the New York Rangers at Toronto [CBC], Detroit at Ottawa [SN1], Tampa Bay at Florida, Buffalo at the New York Islanders, Nashville at Pittsburgh [NHLN], Montréal at Washington [CITY/TVAS] and Minnesota at Carolina) drop the puck. Dallas at St. Louis joins the mix at 8 p.m., trailed 30 minutes later by Columbus at Chicago and Vegas at Arizona at 9 p.m. A trio of games (Edmonton at Vancouver [CBC], Philadelphia at Anaheim and Winnipeg at Calgary [CITY/SN1]) get the West Coast involved at 10 p.m., followed half an hour later by tonight’s nightcap: Los Angeles at San Jose. All times Eastern.

There’s a compelling reason to watch almost every game. Here are just a few I thought of…

  • New York at Toronto: It’s an Original Six matchup. Do I really need to say more?
  • Tampa Bay at Florida: If you like intrastate rivalries, this is the game for you.
  • Nashville at Pittsburgh: Oh, you know, just a Stanley Cup Finals rematch. No biggie.
  • Montréal at Washington: It’s homecoming for D Karl Alzner!
  • Dallas at St. Louis: Head Coach Ken Hitchcock spent the last six seasons with the Blues. Now, he’s back with his ex in Dallas.
  • Columbus at Chicago: After being traded from the Hawks this offseason, LW Artemi Panarin is so amped for this game.
  • Winnipeg at Calgary: It’s old-timey rivalry night in Alberta.
  • Los Angeles at San Jose: If you like intrastate rivalries that actually matter, this is the game for you.

Like I said, there’s a compelling reason to watch almost every game.

However, this is the “Game of the Day” series, not the “Games of the Day.” I already broke that rule on Opening Day, so I can’t do it again today.

With that in mind, I’m leaning towards making our first visit of the year to the Windy City.

 

That Stanley Cup rematch was tempting, but we’ll let both squads find their form before they tangle in The Music City a month from now.

Of course, no matter how much I sell this game on the superior action between the two squads, there’s two players in particular that will garner all the attention: Columbus’ Panarin and Chicago’s W Brandon Saad.

Saad, originally drafted 43rd-overall by the Blackhawks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, is now in his second stint with the team after being traded from Columbus for Panarin, an undrafted Russian that looks like he can solidify the Jackets’ position near the top of the Eastern Conference for the next 10 years – at least.

Both players played vital roles for their now-former teams last season. The Bread Man registered a lowly 31-43-74 effort in 2016-’17 after posting 30-47-77 numbers during his rookie campaign, while Saad managed 24-29-53 totals last season in Columbus.

Based on those numbers alone and considering Saad has never posted more than 53 points in a season in his five full NHL seasons, it’s safe to say that the Blue Jackets won this trade on ice. But, in a league ruled by a salary cap, one of the most important numbers has a dollar sign associated with it. Both players will earn $6 million for every year they’re under contract, but Saad’s four-year deal is two seasons longer than Panarin’s.

Stan Bowman, the Blackhawks’ general manager, is fully aware that Panarin is the superior left wing of the two, but he also knows that because of that very fact, the Russian’s salary is going to skyrocket the day he has the opportunity to test free agency. That’s why he opted to go the more fiscally-responsible option in Saad, an option with which he’s won two Stanley Cups.

All that being said, I still think Columbus won this trade. We’ll have a final answer when we see how much bread Panarin is bringing home in 2019-’20.

If you can manage to take your eyes off those two players, you should witness quite a game between two solid teams. The Blue Jackets shut out the Islanders 5-0 yesterday at Nationwide Arena with goals from LW Sonny Milano, RW Cam Atkinson, D Ryan Murray, D Zach Werenski and F Pierre-Luc Dubois – not to mention a perfect performance by G Sergei Bobrovsky on 29 shots faced.

Of course, even that incredible effort pales in comparison to the Hawks’ annihilation of the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Penguins Thursday. Led by a hat trick from – who would’ve guessed – Saad in his first game back in a red sweater, Chicago exploded to a statement 10-1 victory.

Both clubs enter this game with high confidence and higher aspirations for their seasons. In fact, if we break out the standings tiebreakers, these are the top teams in their respective conferences. I expect a highly competitive game, but am leaning towards Chicago winning due to the Jackets playing last night and having to travel.


The Vegas Golden Knights saw the numbers about franchises making their regular season debuts and told statisticians to shove ’em, as they beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day series.

Who woulda thunk it?

In fact, it wasn’t simply a win by an expansion team, but a come-from-behind victory. With 2:59 remaining in the second period, F Tyler Seguin (F Devin Shore and D John Klingberg) tipped-in a power play to give the Stars the advantage with only 22:59 of action remaining.

Then Third Star of the Game W James Neal happened. Assisted by D Nate Schmidt and D Luca Sbisa, he scored his first goal with 9:33 remaining in regulation to level the game at one goal apiece.

But he wasn’t done. Neal followed up that marker with what proved to be the game-winning goal with 2:44 remaining in regulation. Assisted by former Star C Cody Eakin and D Jason Garrison, Neal dropped to both knees in the slot to elevate his wrist shot to the far post over G Kari Lehtonen, securing the Knights’ first-ever victory.

First Star G Marc-Andre Fleury earned his first victory in a non-Penguins sweater by saving 45-of-46 shots faced (.978 save percentage), leaving the loss to Lehtonen who saved nine-of-11 (.818). Lehtonen replaced starter G Ben Bishop four minutes into the third period after being cut by a shot from W Reilly Smith, forcing him to be pulled and receive medical attention. Bishop had saved all 19 shots he faced before leaving the game.

Road teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series are off to an impressive start, as they have a three-point advantage on hosts with their 3-1-0 record.

Worst 1st Overall Pick of All-Time?

While scrolling through Instagram on Sunday, I came across some random post someone had made claiming a certain 1st overall pick from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft as being “the biggest bust in NHL Entry Draft history”. Of course, that got me thinking.

Who was/is the bigger bust, Patrik Stefan or Nail Yakupov?

In seven seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers and Dallas Stars, Stefan amassed 188 points in his career, while Yakupov has had just 120 points in five seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues.

This offseason, the Colorado Avalanche are taking a shot on Yakupov, who might have reached his last chance to make an impact at the NHL level– if not make something of his career (which might be in jeopardy, as well).

While Stefan had 26.9 points per season compared to Yakupov’s average of 24 points a season, Yakupov’s first NHL season was shortened to just 48 games thanks to the 2012-2013 lockout and has yet to see a full 82-game season without injury or being scratched from the lineup.

Stefan, of course, did have the 2004-2005 season long lockout to overcome, but played in 72 games in his rookie season of 1999-2000 with Atlanta.

For more comparison, Stefan’s rookie campaign witnessed five goals and 20 assists for 25 points and a minus-20 rating in 72 games played. Yakupov, in 48 games, produced 17-14-31 totals with a minus-4 rating.

Of course, there’s always sample size to consider.

Stefan played in 455 career NHL games, while Yakupov has only played in 292 career games thus far.

In points per game, the matchup’s pretty even. Yakupov has 2.43 points per game which is only .01 better than Stefan’s 2.42 points per game.

Then again, Yakupov does have an edge in a little over half the time than Stefan’s points per game ratio.

The fact of the matter is that Stefan cracked an NHL roster on a consistent basis, regardless of the lack of quality star-power in the Thrashers lineup over the years.

Yakupov, while plagued by injury, was often a healthy scratch for the Blues last season and signed with a team that’s coming off the worst season anyone’s seen in the last 20 years.

And that doesn’t even get at the fact that Edmonton had three consecutive years (2010, 2011, 2012) of the 1st overall pick in what should have been prime rebuilding time– fully incorporating Yakupov as part of the solution– before drafting their savior in Connor McDavid in 2015.

Sportsnet/YouTube

The 2016-2017 Avalanche were the worst team in the salary cap era and while they’ve made some improvements to their roster, there’s still nothing to show for the Ryan O’Reilly trade– which is another argument for another time.

Nail Yakupov alone does not make the 2017-2018 Colorado Avalanche that much better.

Most fans will always remember Patrik Stefan for his empty net gaffe that almost cost the Stars a win against the Oilers about a decade ago (Dallas went on to win in a shootout), but at least fans remember something about Stefan, whereas with his career teetering on the edge, Yakupov runs the risk of not being remembered for anything on his way out.

Robert Soderlind/YouTube

Both players have had minimal impact in their careers. Stefan came into the league riding on the waves of an expansion team that wasn’t expected to be great even a year or two out from his draft day. Yakupov joined the Oilers in the midst of high expectations for a perpetual rebuild.

Both were offset due to injuries.

So yes, for now, Yakupov might be the biggest 1st overall bust in the history of the NHL Entry Draft (which dates back to 1963), because of a little thing called perspective. He was supposed to be part of a trifecta of 1st overall picks that would kickstart the Oilers.

But he still has another chance to prove everyone wrong and prolong his career– thanks, in part, to Colorado’s 1-year, $875,000 contract.

Boston eyeing Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin

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The Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild have been kicking the tires on a potential trade involving Boston’s 2017 1st round pick and Minnesota defenseman, Jonas Brodin, as first reported by CSNNE.

Brodin, 23, is a left shot defenseman, drafted 10th overall in 2011 (one spot after Dougie Hamilton) and is signed through 2020-2021 at an affordable $4,166,667 million AAV.

The Bruins could utilize the services of the young top-4 defenseman to ensure that they take their time to develop their plethora of prospects, while implementing young guns, Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy full time on the blue line next season.

With free agency potentially looming for pending UFA John-Michael Liles and RFA Joe Morrow, the Bruins would be wise to make a move to acquire a top-4 defenseman, given the Vegas Golden Knights could be eyeing Colin Miller, Kevan Miller and/or Adam McQuaid as at least one of them is likely to be exposed and ripe for the picking in this year’s Expansion Draft.

A player like Brodin could fill the role of guiding Boston’s young defense through some of the early learning curves of their career and transition to the NHL, as well as balance the immense load of NHL minutes they are expecting to face.

Minnesota, on the other hand, is lacking a 1st round pick, thanks to the Martin Hanzal trade at this year’s trade deadline and would love to 1) boost their prospect pool and 2) unload Brodin from their roster.

While Brodin hasn’t panned out exactly as planned– he has 18-61-79 totals in 331 career games played– a change of scenery might just be exactly what he needs.

Or maybe he’ll be a smart investment as a tactically sound defenseman that’s not expected to put up points like Torey Krug, but rather keep the puck moving out of the defensive zone and strengthen the youth movement for Boston with 40-year-old captain Zdeno Chara entering a contract year (though Chara has indicated a desire to continue playing past next season in the Hub).

Florida completes minor trade with New Jersey

Shortly before Wednesday afternoon’s trade deadline the Florida Panthers swapped minor leaguers with the New Jersey Devils. Florida traded right winger Shane Harper to New Jersey. In return, the Panthers received defenseman Reece Scarlett.

New Jersey Devils LogoHarper is a 28-year-old right winger who made his NHL debut earlier this season with the Panthers and played in 14 games, yielding two goals and one assist. In 39 games with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds this season, Harper had 7-12-19 totals.

He will report to New Jersey’s AHL affiliate, the Albany Devils.

Florida_Panthers_logo_2016Scarlett is a 23-year-old defenseman who has yet to make his NHL debut and was drafted by the Devils 159th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. In 50 games with the Albany Devils this season, Scarlett had 4-17-21 totals.

He will report to Florida’s AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.

TRADE: Leafs deal Corrado to Pittsburgh, acquire Fehr, Oleksy

The Toronto Maple Leafs got involved in a little trade deadline action on Wednesday afternoon, trading defenseman Frank Corrado to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Eric Fehr, defenseman Steven Oleksy and a 4th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

UnknownFehr is a 31-year-old forward played in 52 games with Pittsburgh this season prior to the trade and had 6-5-11 totals, as well as 14 penalty minutes.

In 561 career NHL games among the Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Penguins, Fehr recorded 103 goals and 99 assists (202 points).

Additionally, Fehr has been part of 60 Stanley Cup Playoffs games with Washington and Pittsburgh, notching eight goals and two assists in his postseason career. He was a member of the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Penguins team last season.

Fehr has two years left on his current contract and a cap hit of $2.000 million according to CapFriendly. He was the 18th overall selection by Washington at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Oleksy, 31, is a defenseman who had been part of 11 games with the Pens this season, collecting one assist and 24 penalty minutes. He has played 73 career NHL games among the Washington and Pittsburgh, amassing 3-17-20 career totals. Oleksy has played in seven career Stanley Cup Playoff games, all of them with Washington in 2013, where he registered one point.

The Maple Leafs will utilize Oleksy’s services in their AHL organization, the Toronto Marlies.

pittsburgh_penguins_logoCorrado, 23, has played in two games this season with Toronto and 18 games with the Marlies (AHL). While in the AHL, Corrado has recorded 1-11-12 totals.

He has appeared in 69 career NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks and the Maple Leafs and was originally drafted by Vancouver 15oth overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

In parts of six AHL seasons, Corrado has 14-37-51 totals. The arbitration eligible, pending restricted free agent on July 1st will report to Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

TRADE: Ottawa sends Lazar and Kostka to Calgary

The Ottawa Senators traded Curtis Lazar and Mike Kostka on Wednesday afternoon to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Jyrki Jokipakka and a 2017 2nd round pick.

Unknown-4Lazar was selected by Ottawa with the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and is a pending restricted free agent on July 1st. The 22-year-old forward had one assist in 33 games played with the Senators this season.

In 176 regular season games in Ottawa, Lazar compiled 12-24-36 totals prior to being traded to Calgary.

Kostka is a 31-year-old defenseman who appeared in 15 games with the Senators last season and has yet to play in a NHL game this season. In 46 games with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators this season, Kostka notched 1-11-12 totals.

The veteran defenseman has four goals and 17 assists in 85 career NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Senators. Kostka is a pending unrestricted free agent in July.

Unknown-6Jokipakka has one goal and five assists in 38 games this season with the Flames. The 25-year-old defenseman has 3-25-28 totals and 34 penalty minutes in 147 career NHL games with the Dallas Stars and Flames. Dallas originally selected him 195th overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

The native of Tampere, Finland appeared in two of three games for Finland at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and is a pending restricted free agent this July.

 

February 5 – Day 109 – You want to talk super?

Something, something non-hockey sports reference. Who cares? There’s hockey on!

Well, we have to take that with a grain of salt. While it is true there’s hockey being played today, we only have three games on the schedule. The shotgun gets underway at noon with Los Angeles at Washington (NBC), followed an hour later by Edmonton at Montréal (RDS/SN). Finally, Calgary at the New York Rangers (SN360) clean things up at 2 p.m. All times eastern.

Three really good games today. The entire trio is being contested between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs. That being said, one still stands out above the rest.

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Nothing says Super Bowl Sunday like the only game of the day between two Canadian teams.

The Oilers makes their lone trip of the season to Montréal with a 28-18-8 record, good enough for third place in the Pacific Division even though they’re currently on a three-game losing skid. The reason they’ve usually been able to find that success? It’s been their knockout offense, which has already buried 152 goals – the ninth-most in the NHL.

For those that haven’t heard: Captain Connor McDavid is a good hockey player. To prove that, we need only to look at his team- league-leading 60 points, 13 more than Leon Draisaitl‘s. Opposing gaoltenders (in today’s case, Carey Price) shouldn’t look past Draisaitl though, as he has the team-lead with 20 tallies.

Playing host this evening are the 30-16-7 Canadiens, the best team in the Atlantic Division by a decent margin even though they’re riding a two-game losing skid. What’s really been impressive about the Habs so far this season has been their strong offense. It’s accounted for 157 tallies so far this season, the seventh-most in the NHL.

He’s not quite the scoring monster McDavid is, but Max Pacioretty is still pretty darn good. His 44 points are most on the team, as are his 25 goals.

Where the Habs have been truly deadly has been their power play. They find success on 22.8% of attempts, the third-best rate in the league. Pacioretty handles the even-strength work, but Shea Weber takes control command of the man-advantage. His 18 power play points are tops on the team and tied for ninth-most in the league. Even more impressive, especially for a blueliner, is the fact that 10 of those points have been goals, and that is once again the benchmark in Montréal – and tied for third in the league.

The glaring deficiency for the Canadiens continues to be their Swiss cheese-impersonating penalty kill. They’ve stopped only 79.1% of opposing power plays, the ninth-worst rate in the league. Montréalais looking to cast blame should not include Alexei Emelin or Weber in their scolding, as both share the clubhouse lead in shorthanded shot blocks with 27 apiece – tying for fourth in the league in the statistic.

Some players to keep an eye on this afternoon include Edmonton‘s McDavid (60 points on 42 assists [both lead the league]) and Cam Talbot (26 wins [tied for fourth-most in the NHL], including four shutouts [tied for fifth-most in the league) & Montréal‘s Pacioretty (25 goals [tied for third-most in the NHL]) and Price (23 wins [eighth-most in the league]).

If you like offense, you’ll enjoy this game. That being said, I pick Montréal to win today not just because they have home ice, but also because I trust Price more than Talbot to keep pucks out of the twine.

Hockey Birthday

  • Don Cherry (1934-) – More known for his coaching and announcing careers, Cherry did play defenseman for exactly one game in the NHL: a playoff game for Boston, the team he would also coach with much success for five seasons.
  • Larry Hillman (1937-) – This blueliner was a longtime Maple Leaf, playing eight of his 19 NHL seasons in Toronto. By the time his career in the greatest hockey league in the world was through, he’d been named to five All-Star games and won four Stanley Cups.
  • Richard Matvichuk (1973-) – 14 seasons the eighth-overall pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft  by the North Stars played, spending most of his time in Dallas. Sticking with the club certainly payed off, as he was a member of the 1999 Stanley Cup-winning team.
  • Tomas Kopecky (1982-) – This center was the 38th-overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit, but he spent most of his NHL career in Florida. He’s only played for one other club in the league, and that’s where he hoisted his lone Stanley Cup: Chicago.
  • Linus Omark (1987-) – Edmonton picked this left wing in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and that’s where he’s earned his most playing time in the senior league. Nowadays, he’s skating for Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL.
  • Ty Rattie (1993-) – The 32nd-overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by St. Louis, this right wing could never bust into the Blues lineup. He was claimed off waivers during this season by Carolina, his current club.

For those that love high-scoring affairs, yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day was for you. 11 goals were scored between the Maple Leafs and Bruins, with Toronto coming out on top 6-5 courtesy of Third Star of the Game James van Riemsdyk‘s late tally.

Everything got started with Second Star David Pastrnak‘s (Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara) wrister only 2:17 into the game to give the Bruins an early lead. It lasted until 8:45 remained in the frame when First Star William Nylander (Nazem Kadri and Auston Matthews) leveled the game at one-all, the score that held at the end of the period.

The second frame was absolutely nuts. Van Riemsdyk (Mitch Marner) buried his first goal of the night at the 8:31 mark, followed 38 seconds later by Goal #2 for Nylander. The rookie completed his hat trick (Connor Brown and Matthews) on the power play with 9:43 remaining in the second, setting the score at 4-1. The comeback was on for Boston, starting with Pastrnak’s (Bergeron and Chara) second tally of the night only 38 seconds after Nylander’s third, and Torey Krug (Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner) burying a power play goal with 4:07 remaining before intermission. Once the dust had settled and both teams were in their dressing rooms, the score read 4-3 in favor of the Leafs.

The comeback was completed with 9:54 remaining in regulation by Spooner’s (Chara and Dominic Moore) eighth tally of the season, but Brown (Zach Hyman and Matthews) gave the Maple Leafs a 5-4 lead only 5:09 later. The Bruins were able to find another equalizer with 2:54 remaining in regulation from Bergeron (Krug and Brad Marchand),  but van Riemsdyk (Tyler Bozak and Marner) was undeterred. He buried his winning wrister with 96 seconds remaining on the clock to secure the Leafs‘ victory.

Frederik Andersen earns the victory even though he saved only 36-of-41 (87.8%), leaving the loss to Zane McIntyre, who saved 10-of-12 (83.3%). He replaced starter Tuukka Rask in the second period following Toronto‘s fourth goal (aka Nylander’s third) after Rask had saved only 10-of-14 (71.4%).

Coincidentally, the last two road teams to win when featured in the DtFR Game of the Day are Toronto and… Toronto. The Leafs snapped a five-game winning streak by the home teams in the series, pulling them within 10 points of the 59-36-16 hosts.

November 23 – Day 42 – Do Penguins even like apples?

In anticipation of tomorrow’s holiday, we have tons of hockey on the schedule today, so let’s jump right in. Six games drop the puck at 7 p.m. (Winnipeg at Minnesota [SN360], Detroit at Buffalo, Toronto at New Jersey [SN1], Pittsburgh at the New York Rangers, St. Louis at Washington and Calgary at Columbus), followed half an hour later by Philadelphia at Tampa Bay (NBCSN), and Dallas at Nashville (TVAS) gets underway a 8 p.m. to finish the first wave of games. The West Coast gets involved at 10 p.m. with three contests (Chicago at San Jose [NBCSN], Edmonton at Colorado and Vancouver at Arizona), followed 30 minutes later by tonight’s nightcap, the New York Islanders at Los AngelesAll times eastern.

There’s at least six games that could qualify for the Game of the Day, but only one is a rematch from last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Back to Manhattan for the second time in four days!

pittsburgh_penguins_logoNew York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

We all remember how the Penguins‘ postseason ended, but New York painfully recalls how it began. Their playoffs ended almost as quickly as they began, as the Pens won their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup in five games on a combined score of 21-10.

Offense has been the name of the game for the 11-5-3 Penguins, notching 54 goals en route to second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Phil Kessel is a nice guy that tries hard and loves the game. Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion. Phil Kessel for president. It’s all been said before, but for good reason: the second-year Penguin leads his club in points with 18. The goal-scoring title still belongs to Captain Sidney Crosby at 12 tallies though, currently a tally behind his goal-per-game rate.

That offense has translated well to the special teams, as Pittsburgh ranks fourth-best in the NHL with a 23.4% success rate on the power play. This has been where Kessel has shined, as half his points have been with the man-advantage. Similarly, Crosby leads the squad with five power play goals.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, these 14-5-1 Rangers are not the ones they played seven months ago. Those Blueshirts averaged only 2.8 goals per game, but this year’s edition scores 4.05 tallies per contest, far and away the highest rate in the league.

Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller have been at the forefront of the assault, both notching 18 points apiece. Hayes’ have been evenly distributed between goals and assists, while the left wing has 10 assists to his name. Michael Grabner has been the goal sniper for the club with a dozen notches on his stick.

Madison Square Garden is home to the eighth-best power play in the league, as the Blueshirts are successful on 21.7% of attempts. The injured Mika Zibanejad was lead the Rangers in that department with five power play points, but a broken leg has forced him to hand that mantle off to Brandon Pirri and Derek Stepan, who each have four points. Pirri has been the more impressive of the two on the man-advantage, as he’s scored three power play goals.

New York‘s penalty kill has also been pretty darn good, nullifying 85.5% of their opposition’s extra-man advantages to rank seventh-best in the league.

This game is actually the second in a home-and-home series. These squads just met Monday at PPG Paints Arena, where the Blueshirts won 5-2.

While watching tonight, make sure to keep an eye on New York‘s Dan Girardi (+14 [tied for fourth-best in the NHL]), Grabner (+19 [best in the league] on 12 goals [tied for most in the NHL]), Hayes (+17 [second-best in the league] on 18 points [tied for second-most in the NHL], including nine goals [tied for seventh-most in the league]), Nick Holden (+13 [tied for sixth-best in the NHL]), Henrik Lundqvist (nine wins [tied for sixth-most in the league]) or Antti Raanta (.938 save percentage [eighth-best in the NHL] for 2.04 GAA [tied for ninth-best in the league]), Ryan McDonagh (+14 [tied for fourth-best in the NHL]) and Miller (+13 [tied for sixth-best in the league]) & Pittsburgh‘s Crosby (12 goals [tied for most in the NHL]), Kessel (14 assists [tied for third-most in the league]) and Matthew Murray (1.68 GAA [fifth-best in the NHL] on a .945 save percentage [sixth-best in the league]).

The Rangers have a -130 next to their name, and I don’t question that in the least. They’ve been one of the best stories in the NHL so far and, better than that, they’ve been one of, if not the best team in the league. Home ice, a strong penalty kill, and an incredible offense all adds up to a Blueshirt victory.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Saku Koivu (1974-) – Selected 21st-overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by Montréal, this Finnish center captained the squad for 10 seasons, which ties Jean Beliveau for longest in club history, and was the first European to take the job. He won the Masterton and King Clancy Trophies once each.
  • Colby Armstrong (1982-) – Another 21st-overall selection, but this time in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by Pittsburgh. This right wing played 476 games in eight seasons, most of which with the organization that drafted him. He notched 209 points over the course of his career.
  • Nicklas Backstrom (1987-) – The fourth-overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft has played his entire career with Washington, leading the franchise all-time in assists.
  • Gabriel Landeskog (1992-) – The captain of the Avalanche was the second-overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Playing left wing, he notched the 150th assist of his career on November 11.

Heading into last night’s game, Montréal had a perfect record in their DtFR Game of the Day series. After a run-in with the rival Senators, they can’t say that anymore.

Things opened looking like a defensive standoff, as there wasn’t a goal scored in the first period. That all changed 26 seconds into the second frame when Shea Weber (Second Star of the Game Andrei Markov) buried a power play slap shot to give the Habs a 1-0 lead. It lasted only 4:56 before First Star Mike Hoffman (Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson) returned the favor with a golden power play snap shot to level the score. Montréal once again took the lead at the 7:39 mark with a wrister from Alexander Radulov (Alex Galchenyuk and Markov), but the Sens were up to the challenge once again when Derick Brassard (Hoffman and Stone) buried a backhand with 4:05 remaining in the frame to tie the score at 2-2.

Again Montréal tried to pull away in the third period with a Galchenyuk (Markov and Weber) power play slap shot 2:08 into the third period, but for the third time Ottawa pulled even, this time on a Stone (Hoffman and Brassard) wrister 1:05 after Galchenyuk’s tally. The Sens took their first lead with 14:23 remaining in regulation with a Karlsson (Zack Smith) wrister to set the score at 4-3, which proved to be the winning score.

Third Star Craig Anderson earns the victory by saving 36-of-39 shots faced (92.3%), while Carey Price saved 19-of-23 (82.6%) in the loss.

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 24-13-7, favoring the home sides by nine points over the roadies.

November 12 – Day 31 – Fixing Florida

It’s Saturday, so you know what that means: lots of hockey!

Exactly.

Like always, we get glued to our televisions at 7 p.m. when eight pucks are dropped (Detroit at Montréal [SN/TVAS], San Jose at Tampa Bay, the New York Islanders at Florida, Buffalo at New Jersey, Minnesota at Philadelphia, Toronto at Pittsburgh [CBC/CITY/NHLN], Washington at Carolina and St. Louis at Columbus), followed an hour later by two more (Boston at Arizona and Anaheim at Nashville). Finally, the New York Rangers visit Calgary at 10 p.m. (CBC/SN1) to act as our nightcap. All times eastern.

Short List:

  • New York at Florida: It’s a rematch of an Eastern Conference Quarterfinal a season ago between two teams still searching for their identity.
  • Detroit at Montréal: Original Six alert.
  • Anaheim at Nashville: Another 2015-’16 Quarterfinal rematch, but this one is in the Western Conference.
  • New York at Calgary: If Josh Jooris weren’t on injured reserve, this would be his first return to the Saddledome since leaving the Flames. Guess he’ll have to wait until next year.

In a peculiar way, I’m drawn to the Eastern rematch from a season ago. Not only have we not featured the Panthers yet this season, but I want to get to the bottom of why they are not finding the success they were projected to have.

New York Islanders LogoFlorida_Panthers_logo_2016

 

Probably the best explanation of the 5-7-2 Islanders is that they’re 1-2-2 in their last five game played. While the offense has been only average in comparison to the rest of the league, it has been the defense and goaltending that has been the major pitfall.

Jaroslav Halak has started nine games so far this season to earn a 3-4-2 record on a .903 save percentage and 3.03 GAA, which rank 25th and 26th-worst in the league, respectively, among all goaltenders to play this season. While these numbers are far from good, the skaters in front of him have not been providing him much help. Even thought Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey all have 32+ blocks to their credit, the Islanders have allowed 432 shots against, well over the league average.

One of the major reasons for the high shots against totals given the great efforts by those four blueliners is New York‘s inability to avoid the power play. Even though he hasn’t played since last Saturday due to a broken right thumb, Travis Hamonic leads a club that averages 10:55 in the box (tied for 10th-most in the NHL) with 23 penalty minutes. As would be expected by the taxed special team, the Isles have been burned by opposing power plays and allowed a goal on 24.1% of opposing attempts, the worst effort in the Eastern Conference.

Brooklyn is also home to one of the worst power plays in the league, as the Isles are successful on only 10.5% of their attempts.

Hosting them this evening are the 6-7-1 Florida Panthers, a team that has been only average this season. Unlike tonight’s opponent, what has probably been most impressive about them has been their defense and goaltending.

Roberto Luongo has started nine games this season to earn a 4-5-0 record on a .917 save percentage and 2.36 GAA to rank 12th and 15th-best, respectively, among goaltenders with seven or more starts to their name.

Part of the reason he and James Reimer have been able to find their success has been the blue line playing in front of them. Even though Michael Matheson leads the club with only 16 blocks, Florida has allowed only 401 shots to reach net, six fewer than the league average.

As stated before, these squads met up last year in the opening round of the Atlantic Division’s playoff bracket. After the clubs split the first four games, the Islanders won two double-overtime games in a row to advance to the Eastern Semifinals. It truly was an upset seeing as the Panthers were not only the Atlantic champion, but they had won the regular season series against New York 2-1-0.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Florida‘s Jon Marchessault (seven goals [tied for eighth-most in the league]) and New York‘s John Tavares (11 points on five goals [both lead the team]).

Florida is marked a -150 favorite by Vegas, and that’s a line I definitely agree with. Their offense should be more than capable of scoring on the Islanders‘ week defense.

Hockey Birthday

  • Denis DeJordy (1938-) – This goaltender played 316 games over his 11 NHL seasons, 62.7% of which were with Chicago. He earned a 124-128-51 career record, and won the 1966-’67 Vezina trophy.
  • Mark Hunter (1962-) – This right wing was the seventh overall selection in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft by Montréal, but he spent  34.7% of his playing days in St. Louis. He hoisted the Stanley Cup once in his career, with the 1988-’89 Calgary Flames. Nowadays, he’s an assistant with the Maple Leafs.
  • Bryan Little (1987-) – The 12th overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by AtlantaWinnipeg, this right wing has appeared in 614 games with the franchise. He scored a career-best 64 points in his 2013-’14 campaign.
  • Adam Larsson (1992-) – This defenseman was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by New Jersey. He was the Devil sent to Edmonton this off-season in the trade for Taylor Hall.

I picked Philadelphia to beat Toronto in last night’s Game of the Day. I got embarrassed, as the Leafs won 6-3 on a four-goal third period.

Toronto earned a 1-0 lead only 2:54 into the contest when Nazem Kadri (Star of the Game Morgan Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev) scored a wrister, but Philly pulled even 1:05 later when Wayne Simmonds (Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere) capitalized on a power play opportunity. The Flyers pulled ahead only 26 seconds after drawing even when Travis Konecny‘s (Radko Gudas and Michael Del Zotto) backhand found the back of the net. The final goal of the period wasn’t registered until only 52 seconds remained in the frame. Rielly (Mitch Marner and James van Riemsdyk) takes credit for the power play score with his first goal of the season to set the score at 2-2.

The Flyers returned to the ice intent on imposing their will, made evident by Mark Streit getting caught for tripping Zach Hyman and earning a seat in the sin bin two minutes into the frame. Philly responded well though, as Simmonds (Sean Couturier) scored a shorthanded snapper 53 seconds later to take a 3-2 lead. It was the lone score of the second period.

4:03 into the third period, Martin Marincin (Rielly and Kadri) scored his first goal of the season with a slap shot to pull the Leafs into a 3-3 tie. Another first goal of the season proved to be the eventual game-winner, as Hyman (Auston Matthews and Connor Carrick) scored a snap shot 4:31 later to take the lead. The Leafs didn’t look back, as they scored two insurance goals, courtesy of Leo Komarov and Marner (Rielly and Tyler Bozak), to secure the victory.

Frederik Andersen earned the victory after saving 30-of-33 shots faced (90.9%), while Steve Mason saved 17-of-23 in the loss (73.9%).

Toronto‘s victory sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 19-11-3, favoring the home squads by nine points over the roadies.

Taylor or Tyler or Neither

By: Nick Lanciani

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To kick off Wednesday afternoon’s unbelievable trades, Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli made history. The wrong kind of history. Chiarelli already notoriously traded Tyler Seguin (the 2nd overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft) from the Boston Bruins to the Dallas Stars in a seven player deal in the 2013 offseason, but now he’s traded the 1st overall pick in 2010— Taylor Hall.

Yes, left winger, Taylor Hall got traded on Wednesday from the Oilers to early candidate for the 2017 General Manager of the Year Award, Ray Shero’s New Jersey Devils— the other presumptive finalist is David Poile in Nashville, for landing P.K. Subban on the same afternoon— in exchange for defenseman, Adam Larsson.

Chiarelli is the first general manager in any of the four major professional sports in North America to trade the first two picks in a draft (Hall and Seguin, 2010). Of note, he also acquired former 6th overall pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning that same year, Brett Connolly in his waning days as general manager of the Boston Bruins, in March 2014.

To recap, the first six players from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft have all been traded.

  1. Taylor Hall (drafted by EDM, traded to NJ)
  2. Tyler Seguin (drafted by BOS, traded to DAL)
  3. Erik Gudbranson (drafted by FLA, traded to VAN)
  4. Ryan Johansen (drafted by CBJ, traded to NSH)
  5. Nino Niederreiter (drafted by NYI, traded to MIN)
  6. Brett Connolly (drafted by TB, traded to BOS)

New Jersey finds themselves with a steal of a trade, having surrendered their 4th overall pick from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in Adam Larsson to the struggling, but in bad need of a top-4 defenseman, Edmonton Oilers.

New Jersey Devils LogoOf course, there’s the fact that Larsson had been sent to the Albany Devils (AHL) a couple of seasons ago for a conditioning stint, but that should be no distraction as to the lack of exponential growth that was expected from the 4th overall pick in 2011 that’s now expected to likely play top-2 minutes in Edmonton with a depleted blue line, unless the Oilers have more tricks up their sleeves.

Hall is a 24-year-old left winger who’s $6.000 million AAV contract runs out at the end of the 2019-2020 season. In his six years with the Oilers he had 132-196-328 totals in 381 career NHL games. Hall led Edmonton in scoring in three of the last four seasons. He had 26 goals, 39 assists and 65 points in 82 games this season.

Larsson is a 23-year-old defenseman who has played in 274 regular season games with the Devils. His $4.167 million AAV contract expires after the 2020-2021 season and he has recorded 69 points in his career (9 goals, 60 assists). Larsson’s made five appearances in the postseason and scored one goal in that span.

It took Peter Chiarelli nine days to find a job after the Bruins fired him on April 15, 2015. It took him one star player involving trade to make Oilers fans feel just as Bruins fans did on July 4th, 2013 (when Boston traded Seguin under Chiarelli’s reigns).