Fri Dec 06 07:00pm EST
Here is the Puck Daddy Viewing Guide: Spotlighting five things to watch for during tonight's slate of games. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.
Create-a-Caption: "Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks is handed a stick by team mascot Fin at BC Place..."
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Preview: Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: San Jose Sharks at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Anaheim Ducks at Chicago Blackhawks, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m. ET
Preview: Phoenix Coyotes at Vancouver Canucks, 10 p.m. ET
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Five things to know about tonight's NHL games ...
1. No Brunner versus former mates. Damien Brunner spent last season with the Red Wings before signing with the Devils over the summer. Struggling this year in New Jersey, Brunner will be a healthy scratch Friday night, with head coach Peter DeBoer saying he needs to do "a little more."
2. Flames trying to go streaking. A win tonight over the Avalanche would mean the first three-game win streak for the Flames since last April.
3. Stan Bowman waiting and seeing on salary cap RE: Toews, Kane extensions. From ESPN Chicago: "Because there’s a new television deal, I’m not going to assume it’s going to be $80 million. I don’t operate that way. If you base your assumptions on predictions and you’re wrong, I can’t say, ‘They said it was going to be $80 million.’ I’m going to wait to see where it goes. I think it’s safe to say it’s going to go up. It’s think it’s a little bit irresponsible to say where it’s going to be unless you have intricate knowledge of the cap.”
4. Help Dale Weise. Poor Dale Weise can't find his helmet, as this trailer for NBCSN's "NHL Revealed" shows. Also, upset Torts!
5. Edler sidlined. Alex Edler's out with a knee injury. It's the first injury any Canuck defenseman has suffered all season. Andrew Alberts will draw in for Edler.
Bold Prediction: Sharks rebound and Logan Couture leads the way with two goals.
Fri Dec 06 05:22pm EST
It's entirely possible that the 8-2 rout the Colorado Avalanche suffered at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night was an aberration.
Even Taylor Hall admitted as much.
“I haven’t been in this league long," Hall said after the game, "but I’ve been in it enough to know that anything can happen on any night against any team. You have to be ready for the opportunity. You just have to come out and play your game. Sometimes you’re going to get eight and some nights you’re going to get zero."
He's right. When it comes to the events of any given night, the NHL can be about as wacky as a road rally featuring Dick Dastardly, the Gruesome Twosome and Penelope Pitstop. Thursday might just have been one of those nights for the Avalanche.
If that's the case, they'll live. But on the other hand, it was the sort of loss -- as any loss to the Oilers should be -- that makes one wonder if there aren't more of those nights on the horizon.
The Avalanche were the big surprise of the season's first month, stunning the pundits that didn't expect much by, well, accomplishing much. They won 10 of 11 games in October.
They seemed like the real deal. After all, the sudden turnaround seemed explainable: they had a new coach. Plus, let's be honest, they were winning a lot, and that's a bewildering, disorienting sight for anyone that's been following this team for the past few years. When you're not sure what's going on, sometimes it's best to just go with it.
But now, just as some have begun to anoint Colorado as the real deal, the team has begun to cool. They're 5-5 in their last 10, with a couple 4-1 losses, a 7-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues, and this rout at the hands of the Oilers, in which they surrendered two goals more than they allowed in their first six games of the 2013-14 campaign, not to mention half of their goals against total for the entire month of October.
Which Avalanche team is the real one? The team that stormed out of the gate, or the team we're seeing now?
Fri Dec 06 03:55pm EST
Jersey Fouls is our ongoing exploration of the rules and etiquette for proper hockey jersey creation and exhibition. If you spot what you think may be a foul in your arena, email a photo to us at email@example.com for inclusion in future installment.
And/or "Sidrio," we guess.
Seriously, why? Why combine the eras, why combine the legends? And why isn’t there a dude next to him wearing a "Jagklin" sweater.
We’re not sure when Crosmieux was drafted, but we’ll go ahead and assume it was ether fixed and/or someone threw their season.
Frankly, we’re happy this jersey exists, if only because we want to believes there’s a Sears portrait photo of Mario and Sid wearing matching Crosmieux jerseys that hangs somewhere outside Crosby’s basement room in Lemieux Manor.
Fri Dec 06 02:59pm EST
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• All 48 players who attended the U.S. Men's National Olympic Team Orientation Camp have signed this jersey, which is up for auction on eBay, with all proceeds going to the Warriors ice hockey program for wounded service members and veterans. [eBay]
• John Buccigross takes a strange approach to defending the role of fighting in the NHL: it's not about policing the players. It's about love. [ESPN]
• The NHL meets North Korea: it's going to happen. [Macleans]
• Dustin Byfuglien tries to chop down Jimmy Hayes on a breakaway. This is the most obvious slash I think I've ever seen. [Panther Parkway]
• John-Michael Liles is called up by the Toronto Maple Leafs. [Toronto Star]
• Who will swear the most on HBO's 24/7? Todd Bertuzzi is a safe bet. [The Hockey Writers]
• Alex Ovechkin, ultimate shill: "Gillette razor and I have the same goal – we want to be the best in the world. I like its steely character. It is just like mine." [RMNB]
• A brief history of NHL coaches behaving badly. [Grantland]
• When is Sam Gagner going to get it? [MC79 Hockey]
• Ryane Clowe talks about his concussion, which he says is just his second, and not his fourth or fifth. [The Star-Ledger]
Fri Dec 06 02:07pm EST
The idea that Garth Snow would fire head coach Jack Capuano seems a bit outrageous at this point in the season, because it would require the New York Islanders general manager to make a proactive, season-saving move and Snow seems incapable of doing that.
When Snow made the Matt Moulson for Thomas Vanek trade – a deal that looks redundant and shortsighted just over a month later – the Islanders were 4-4-3 and second in the Metroterrible Dvision. Since then, they’ve gone 4-12-2, they sit at the bottom of the division and there’s talk Capuano could be spiked in favor of Peter Laviolette, who himself was fired by the Philadelphia Flyers at the start of the season.
But before we get to a potential new coach, let’s discuss the current general manager.
I like Snow. I think he’s made the most of a terrible situation, with a losing team playing in an asbestos-filled tomb with an owner whose ring tone is likely carnival music. He retained his core players in an attempt at stability, and made the playoffs for the first time in ages last season. Talk to agents, and they’ll tell you he’s a straight shooter they like to work with.
Yes, it’s great that Jonas Hiller or Ryan Miller might be on the trade radar now. Hey, maybe he’ll eventually demand that the lineup get a shot of adrenaline from young players – Brock Nelson in the NHL, Ryan Strome in the AHL – that haven’t gotten a fair shot from Capuano. Maybe this team rallies when Evgeni Nabokov and Lubo Visnovsky come back.
But his inaction during this 2-11-2 skid may have torpedoed the season. The Islanders are 12 points out of the final wild card spot, and nine points behind the Rangers for the final seed in the Metro.
Would Laviolette make a difference? Absolutely, if not in a rescue attempt for this season. I’ve always viewed Capuano as the coach that gets a team to a certain place, and then someone more accomplished – say, Laviolette has a ring – takes over to bring the team to the next level.
So Chris Botta’s right: Bring him back before someone else hires him.
He’s learned a lot since the Islanders gave him his first head coaching gig, and he’ll have a GM that isn’t bat [excrement] crazy like Mike Milbury to fire him two years later.
When Milbury fired him, he said "the lack of having fun was noted.”
Well, the lack of fun this season for the Islanders is duly noted. And it’s time to bring Lavvy back to turn things around.
Fri Dec 06 01:25pm EST
It's a (gettin' down on) Friday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more: unappealing
Special Guest Star: Louis Jean of TVA joins us to talk about the Montreal Canadiens and other matters; Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy brings his whimsy; and GAME SHOW FRIDAY!
• The World Cup spectacle, in hockey terms.
• Bras on the ice.
• State of the Islanders.
• NHL news and notes.
Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above! Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.
Fri Dec 06 12:51pm EST
Mike Keenan is to goaltenders as Seinfeld's Mr. Pitt is to socks. The former long-time NHL bench boss is spending his days coaching in the KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, who sit fourth in the East Division.
And while Keenan may be in new surroundings, he's still the same old "Iron" Mike.
During Metallurg's 5-4 overtime win over Ugra on Thursday, Keenan reminded us all about his history of impatience with goaltenders. With his team down 2-0 14 minutes into the opening period, he pulled starter Vasily Koshechkin in favor of Alexander Pechursky.
Well, that didn't quite work out as 3:16 later, Ugra went up 3-0 and Keenan decided to go back to Koshechki.
Metallurg would fall behind 4-0 before rallying for the win. Koshechkin would stay in the game.
In September, speaking with our own Dmitry Chesnokov, Keenan made it sound as if his Captain Hook days were a thing of the past:
“Probably not. The goaltending is different here. It is different from North America, because of the distance. Even talking to Pavel Bure he said I would make a good play here, but it is still too far to score. In North America you can make a play, shoot and score, because it is close. There is a difference in terms of the goaltending skill. Wasn’t Koshechkin voted an MVP last season? Another reason you won’t pull your goalie as much here is because there are 28 less games here. That’s a lot! 54 game schedule versus 82 – that’s a big difference. Sometimes you take a goalie out to give them some rest. But you don’t have to here because, for example, we don’t play a back to back game an entire season. That’s very, very different than the NHL.”
Never change, Iron Mike. Never change.
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Fri Dec 06 11:26am EST
Mike Commodore was a fan favorite during his NHL days, winning a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes and being one of our more whimsical characters (although he never got around to fulfilling his destiny and wearing No. 64).
He’s with Admiral Vladivostok of the KHL now. He didn’t like the way his NHL career ended, with frustrating stays with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings. And yeah, he’s a little bitter about it.
It’s no secret he had heat with Jackets ex-coach Scott Arniel, who waived him. But in an interview with Danijel Jelenek and Krešimir Biškup of KHL.hr … well, just read on:
“I'm very disappointed with how my last year in Columbus went and with my year in Detroit. I feel I was treated piss poor; I was thrown off the team in Columbus because I was single and I was making a lot of money. The coach was jealous because he played a lot of years, he had a wife and kids and he felt he didn't earn a lot of money so he booted me off the team. The next year he started doing the same to Derick Brassard but he got fired before he could finish it.”
So, in summary: Scott Arniel hates his life and wanted to make the rich singles on his team suffer.
Then there was in infamous history with Mike Babcock, coach of the Detroit Red Wings.
Fri Dec 06 10:05am EST
In the past few summers, the size of contracts given out has obviously expanded along with the salary cap, and often it's some of the league's more mediocre players reaping the benefits. One need look no deeper than David Clarkson's contract, for instance, to see that guys who've never had a 50-point season in their lives can still cash in if you can find someone dumb enough to believe in “intangibles.”
But one area in which contracts have seemingly exploded within the last three seasons or so is when it comes to long-term contracts for goaltenders. While the ability of teams to succeed to one extent or another on relative bargain basement netminding — which just about everyone briefly bought into — typified by the Blackhawks, Capitals, Flyers among others was probably always overblown, things have very quickly swung in the opposite direction, and teams are once again willing to pay the toppest of top dollar for goaltenders they consider to be elite.
Since the 2004-05 lockout, only three goaltenders have ever signed deals that assured them $7 million or more against the cap, and all three have been signed since November 2011, when Pekka Rinne got seven years and $7 million per from David Poile. Since then, Tuukka Rask (eight years, $56 million) and Henrik Lundqvist (seven years, $59.5 million) have gotten in on the action.
This is interesting for a number of reasons. The first is that position players have been getting $7 million per season for as long as there's been a salary cap. Jarome Iginla, for instance, got that much when the 2005-06 season began, and the salary cap at that time was just $39 million, but what's interesting about that is that even as the ceiling has gone way, way up in the years since, very few top-flight forwards have found their salaries exceeding that $7 million plateau.
Currently, just 19 non-goaltenders (and only four of them defensemen) make more than that amount, and for the most part, they are pretty elite players. The only exceptions to this are, at this point, probably Dany Heatley and Alexander Semin, and the former's contract is a soon-expiring holdover from the days when he was a regular 40- or 50-goal scorer.
For reference, 19 skaters makes up a top-line or -pairing defenseman on slightly more than half the league's teams, and if you consider that each has five of these players, that's 19 out of 150 players who are considered — either by default or because they're just that good — to be players that would be in a team's starting lineup. Obviously your mileage will vary, because guys who get 20 minutes a night in Calgary, for instance, often wouldn't crack the top two lines enjoyed by a legitimate contender.
We're only just now starting to see goaltenders move into this territory. Three is obviously just 10 percent of the total starting goalie pool in the league, but it's interesting that it's only recently occurred to GMs league-wide that they might want to approach their goaltenders in this same way. In recent history, and only for a little while, Ryan Miller and Cam Ward were the only goaltenders making north of $6 million, before Carey Price joined the party last season. Corey Crawford will do so next year. Even Conn Smythe winner and legitimate Hart candidate Jonathan Quick couldn't get more than $5.9 million (albeit for 10 years) out of Los Angeles after that one Cup-winning season.
One suspects that this is perhaps the result of the contract that Chicago gave Nikolai Khabibulin immediately after the 2004-05 lockout, which was commensurate with what Iginla and the league's other stars received in the new cap environment. Four years, $6.75 million per, and a disaster on the ice. His stats improved as the time went along, though one suspects that this was largely due to the quality of the team in front of him, but by the end he was in a 1a/1b tandem with Cristobal Huet. The .886 save percentage he posted in his first 50 games of that deal, though, was probably put everyone off that type of contract for a while.
This all of course circles back to the contract Lundqvist signed this week, which will pay him $8.5 million a season against the cap until he is 39 years old. That's a lot of money for any player, regardless of who it is. He now makes more money against the cap than everyone in the entire league except former Hart Trophy winners Corey Perry ($8.625 million), Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million) Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million), and Alex Ovechkin (more than $9.53 million). All of those forwards, by the way, are in their mid- or late 20s today. Perry, the oldest and coincidentally least-great of these, signed his deal when he was still 27.
Which is to say that the Lundqvist contract is not a good investment for the Rangers, especially because his stats are down this year, and we have no idea how he's going to respond to the new pad restrictions put in place by the league over the course of 82 games, let alone the following 574.
The arguments about why that doesn't matter are, despite this, perfectly reasonable, and also myriad.
Fri Dec 06 01:43am EST
Taylor Hall made a lot of people happy on Thursday night with his three-goal, one-assist game in the Edmonton Oilers’ 8-2 rout of the Colorado Avalanche.
Very happy. Happy enough to throw a hat from the stands after his third goal, a power-play tally with 11 seconds left in the game.
Happy enough to … throw a bra on the ice, too?
Now that’s a supporter of the Oilers. Much respect, considering it was, like, minus-25 Celsius in Edmonton at the end of the game. (Brrrrr...)
Finally, something Taylor Hall achieved before Tyler Seguin!
Oh, crap, Seguin already earned a cup, didn't he? Nevermind.
Anyway, thus continued the tremendous tradition of the bra trick.
It happened to Blake Wheeler with the Boston Bruins. It’s happened in Philadelphia. And of course, there was that “debris from a rock concert” when Jeff Cowan scored his fifth of the season back in 2007 for the Vancouver Canucks:
We’re not sure what the criteria for a bra trick are, other than potentially being inebriated enough by the end of the third period to remove an undergarment and toss it on the ice.
The world now waits to see the fellas step up with the boxers or brief trick.