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from Patrick Johnston of the Vancouver Province,
One-third of the way into the National Hockey League season, power plays are red-hot.
Going into this weekend’s action, NHL power play units as a whole had scored on 22.9 per cent of their opportunities this season.
It’s been decades since hockey fans last saw power plays finding this much success, you’d have to go as far back as the 1985-86 season to find teams scoring at a similar rate.
Yes, when goalies still stayed on their feet, wore heavy pads and ranged far from their crease. Penalty killers defended in a mostly static box, not like now with three defenders clustered tight in front of the net, the fourth skater trying to disrupt possession up high.
Goalies today are far better at their position. They’re bigger, fitter, with lighter pads and more disciplined technique.
Players too are fitter and faster, with a better appreciation for how to truly take away time and space.
For so much of the past 30 years, this all added up to a large advantage for defences.
from Stan Fischler of The Hockey News,
Some of my best friends loathe this Salary Cap Era. I love it.
I tell them to grin and bear it.
And if you can't bear it, try Scrabble.
I knew that the salary cap was important because a very smart fella, named Gary Bettman, conceived it – and a very self-important man, opposed it.
That was Bob Goodenow, who became head of the NHL Players' Association. Slowly – but relentlessly – Goodenow waged a two-front war.
On the one hand, he vowed that hell would get an expansion franchise before Goodenow would allow his minions to sign any document that introduced a salary cap to the NHL game.
On the other hand, Goodenow went to war with Gary Bettman. Bob put aside the good and welfare of his Players' Association and did just about anything possible to win the war and outdo the commissioner.
more plus other topics too...
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
It's a quite an honor. Perron will become only the 374th player to reach the milestone.
"It's a lot more games than I thought I would get to," Perron said.
It's been quite a career for Perron, 34, who signed a two-year free-agent contract with the Wings last summer worth $9.5 million ($4.75 million per salary cap charge). Through 999 games, Perron is at 277 goals and 408 assists for 685 points,. He has reached double figures in goals 14 times in his career, a mark of his consistency.
Perron was signed for the unique blend of skills he's always brought to a team. Be it grit, offensive skills particularly on the power play, his improved attention to defense over the years, and veteran leadership coming from a winning culture from St. Louis, where the Blues won the 2019 Stanley Cup.
Thus far, it's been a perfect addition. Perron has eight goals and 12 assists (20 points) in 26 games, and become an important presence on and off the ice.
"He's brought a lot to our group in a short period of time," coach Derek Lalonde said. "Even the big picture of him getting to that point and the way he keeps competing and playing with such passion. (These milestones), they're so rare in this league."
read on ($)
More on Zetterberg via the IIHF,
The Wings have assigned Elmer Soderblom to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Nearly a third of the way into the season, the Ducks are an NHL-worst 7-17-3. They’ve won in regulation once, a 3-2 decision over the New York Rangers on Nov. 23. They’ve won four times in overtime, including a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, and twice in shootouts. They’re giving up the most goals and shots per game in the league and rank near the bottom in scoring.
The Ducks gave up the lead three times Tuesday at Honda Center before Ryan Strome finished off a two-on-one break to end the team’s losing streak at six. They’ve already endured a seven-game losing streak, in October. They’re well on the way to missing the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
But they do have something going for them as they plod toward securing the best odds in the draft lottery: Thanks mainly to the brilliance of Terry, Zegras and rookie forward Mason McTavish — and valiant efforts from overburdened goalie John Gibson — the Ducks are the most entertaining bad team in the NHL.
That can’t be much consolation for them. But for the sake of fans, they’ve at least produced some “wow” moments to break up a dreary season and the long wait for their prospects to blossom.
“I thought the record would be a little better, to be honest with you. But hey, it is what it is,” said general manager Pat Verbeek, who was hired last February, three months after Bob Murray resigned in the wake of accusations of improper professional conduct.
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
Forever ago (or maybe it was October), when the Toronto Maple Leafs were lost, fumbling and all out of sorts, head coach Sheldon Keefe leaned hard on one adjective to describe their unrefined brand of hockey: disconnected.
The forwards weren’t helping the defencemen enough, and the blueliners couldn’t time their tape.
Reads, passes, press conferences, body language… little around the team, on or off ice, felt in sync. The coach knew it. They players felt it. And the fans could see it.
Playing for the Leafs was like inviting a blind date to a Dining in the Dark restaurant. The intentions may have been good, but when the lights flicked on, it was a mess.
My, what a difference a hot streak and some cool confidence can make.
On Thursday, from puck drop to buzzer, from crease to crease, pair to pair, line through line, the Maple Leafs submitted their most complete — most connected — 60 minutes of the season, thrashing the Los Angeles Kings 5-0.
As easy as the Maple Leafs are making wins appear during their 13-game point streak, this wagon run is the product of hundreds of tiny conversations and line tweaks, motivations and decisions.
Watch the game highlights below.
from Lou Korac at Sports Illustrated,
There may have been remnants of it in the past judging by the number of results this season, but it was as clear as day in another discouraging loss, 5-2 on home ice by the Blues against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at Enterprise Center.
The Blues are a train wreck right now and have no clue how to climb their way out of it.
Craig Berube is one of the most decorated coaches in Blues franchise history, of course the only coach to win a Stanley Cup just over three years ago. But the coach that helped pull the team out of the bottom of the league basement en route to a title in 2019 appears exhausted and near the end of the rope searching for answers in 2022.
And judging by some of the comments he made postgame Thursday, it smelled of a coach trying to send a message to management -- namely GM Doug Armstrong -- that something needs to be done to a roster that is obviously not conducive to the coaching style that has made Berube what he is and how he embodies the style and identity of the city of St. Louis.
Game highlights are below.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
The fun times on this Red Wings road trip came to a crashing halt in south Florida.
This wasn't enjoyable for the Wings, at all. Like storms on a beach day.
After two impressive victories, the Florida Panthers crashed the Wings back down to earth with a 5-1 victory.
The Panthers scored late in the first period, and continued the deluge in the second period, as goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and the Wings' defense could do nothing to slow Florida down.
"We didn't give ourselves much of a chance," coach Derek Lalonde said. "Turnovers, lost battles, lost battles at the blue line. We had poor gaps, we retreated. Really disappointing and a really easy night for Florida. It'll be interesting to see how our guys respond from this."
from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,
If the Red Wings aren’t at their best, games look like the Red Wings’ 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers Thursday.
Nothing went right for the Red Wings Thursday starting with the moment Lalonde filled out his lineup sheet. Olli Maatta was ill and couldn’t play. Lalonde also made Jake Walman a healthy scratch. That meant the Red Wings went back to Gustav Lindstrom and Robert Hagg on the third pairing. That duo struggled earlier in the season. They were replaced by Walman and Jordan Oesterle. Lindstrom was on the ice for three Panthers’ goals.
The Red Wings also opted to go with backup Alex Nedeljkovic, instead of Ville Husso. It was planned that Nedeljkovic would play one of the games on the four-game road trip. Nedeljkovic gave up five goals and also made 36 saves.
Maybe having the regular lineup wouldn’t have changed the outcome. The Panthers played as sharply and the Red Wings played poorly. At one point, about 26 minutes into the game, the Panthers were outshooting the Red Wings 23-5. The Panthers had more energy, more proficiency and more players at their best.
Below find the post game interviews and game highlights.
* A two-goal lead may not be the worst thing in hockey, but it certainly isn’t the safest. A team has erased a multi-goal deficit to at least tie the score on all but two game days through the past three weeks, with the Predators and Senators becoming the latest to do so.
* Did Mitchell Marner extend his franchise-record point streak to 21 games? You better Belieb he did.
* Five of the top seven goal scorers are set to be in action during a 10-game Friday, including Connor McDavid, TageThompson and Kirill Kaprizov who will look to build on buzzworthy performances from earlier this week.
Ted Kulfan recaps periods 1 & 2.
No scoring in the third, Florida wins 5-1.
Next game is in Dallas on Saturday at 2pm ET.
Detroit goal is below.
Post game talk will either be done overnight or early in the morning.
Greetings and welcome to all. The Wings are coming in hot once again after a big win against the Lightning, thanks in large part to Husso(28 saves in the 3rd period alone) to give Detroit the win. Four players scored for the Wings. Rasmussen, Berggren, and then both Erne and Perron with empty netters sealed it. It was one of the better games we’ve seen so far this season. Hronek continues to shine racking up the points and I’ll leave it at that because, superstition.
The Wings still need to figure out how to deliver more punishing hits, and, finish up on the checking in order to make it harder to play against them for the full sixty minutes, making any opponent think twice before coming after anyone on the team.
Florida is missing some key players, but, the Wings better not take anything for granted. The Panthers have had success against the Wings and they now have Matthew Tkachuk as well as two Staal brothers to contend with.
It’s the Wings vs the Panthers. The puck is set to drop around 7:30 PM, and will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+ and Hulu. You can also listen to Ken Kal and Paul Woods on the Red Wings Radio Network (97.1 The Ticket in Detroit).
It’s a Live Blog!
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
"Our D has been great," forward Michael Rasmussen said. "Offensively, for sure, but just defensively, those guys work their butts off and play real hard and make plays when it’s time but also keep is simple and predictable."
Määttä and Ben Chiarot were among the additions made last summer by general manager Steve Yzerman, and they've surpassed the expectation that they would improve the top four. Määttä has been a terrific partner for Hronek (who has a plus rating for the first time in his five-year NHL career) and Chiarot for Seider. Those two pairings have played every game, and the Wings haven't had that kind of stability and skill in their top four in a decade.
Gustav Lindstrom and Robert Hagg were on the third pairing when the season began, but Jake Walman entered the lineup Nov. 15 after being cleared from offseason surgery, and of late he has been paired with Jordan Oesterle. Walman is an excellent skater with a terrific shot, and both he and Oesterle have a goal to their name....
Coach Derek Lalonde described the blue line corps as "NHL defensemen managing their game."
"I know lots has been made of our injuries up front — we have Bertuzzi out, we have Fabbri out, we have (Elmer) Söderblom out. Three of our top six, top nine. But we’ve been healthy on the back end, and that’s been able to sustain those injuries up front. When they are managing their game, that’s a big part of it."
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via the NHL's YouTube page,
Recapping a wild contest between the Kings and Kraken, craziness around the crease, quick starts around the league, a failed celly and just a few brain cramps!
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- Quote of the week: “We’d all like to make a (bleeping) trade,” one GM said, “But there’s no room to do it.”
- Team I wonder about for Brock Boeser: Washington. This is a personal opinion, but I wonder if a Boeser-Anthony Mantha move makes any sense for both. The Capitals need a jolt, and, as GM Brian MacLellan said last weekend, can’t do anything financially lopsided until there’s clarity on Nicklas Backstrom’s availability. Mantha’s cap hit is slightly lower than Boeser’s, and he’s got one fewer year — which would appeal to Vancouver. Anyway, just an idea.
- Couple executives said they took notice of the last thing Erik Karlsson said last weekend in his Hockey Night in Canada pre-game interview: “I’ve got lots of years left in me, guys.” It wasn’t only that the said it, but the way he said it: making a point of adding that comment while taking off the headset, when it looked like the conversation had concluded. Karlsson said he wants to win, that as a child, “I use to cry after every loss,” before adding, “I don’t do that any more,” which was pretty funny.
- Also taped a podcast interview with Todd McLellan on Wednesday. One of the topics was the NHL’s scoring explosion, as league-average save percentage is on-pace to be the lowest in 16 years. My theory is that the NHL’s crackdowns on obstruction, goalie equipment, slashing and cross-checking combined with more skill than ever throughout a lineup have made it much, much harder to defend. (I don’t think too many people are complaining about it, either.)
McLellan agreed with that, but took it one step further — that it’s these great shooters and passers have found and can exploit the weaknesses in the ways goalies are taught to play....
more on the last topic plus other notes....
from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic,
We’ve got some ’80s hockey back in vogue, minus the Cooperall pants and Jofa helmets, of course.
We’re talking about wild, high-scoring games.
On Nov. 29 in Los Angeles, it was a 9-8 overtime contest between the Kraken and Kings. Six days later, it was a ridiculous 7-6 overtime game between the Habs and Canucks in Vancouver. On Wednesday night alone, it was Tage Thompson scoring five goals in a 9-4 Sabres win over the Blue Jackets, the Oilers coming only one goal shy of that total in an 8-2 win over the Coyotes and the Canucks winning another high-scoring overtime affair, this time 6-5 over the Sharks.
These games are emblematic of a wacky NHL season full of lead changes and, of course, goals galore.
“It’s a pretty freewheeling game right now,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said Wednesday after practice in Toronto, his hair perhaps having added another tint of gray from that 9-8 game. “Probably not a lot of fun for the goaltenders or some nights for the coaches. But for the fans, it’s great.”
To wit: The NHL this season is averaging 6.36 goals per game, continuing the trend that saw the league average 6.29 goals per game last season, which was the first time above 6.04 since the 2005 lockout ended with new rules meant to open up the game and created a temporary spike to 6.17 in 2005-06 — followed by averages under six in every season from 2006-07 through 2017-18.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Jesse Puljujärvi is lost.
“Twenty games in and I have one goal. It’s sad,” Puljujarvi told Finnish journalist Tommi Seppälä, of YLE news agency, on Tuesday evening. “I’ve been thinking a lot how to do things differently. Right now, I just don’t have the answer.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Finland’s national broadcaster, Puljujärvi told the veteran reporter Seppälä that he isn’t sure if the National Hockey League is the place for him anymore.
“Of course I’d like to be a productive top-line player,” Puljujärvi said in his native Finnish, as translated by Seppälä. “But right now, it looks like I can't do that in NHL. Maybe some other league.”
Given a chance to discuss, or add to the quotes at the morning skate Wednesday, Puljujärvi politely declined.
This is where he is, where we are with Puljujarvi, the much-loved “Bison King” whose fan base in Edmonton is bigger than all but the top names on the Oilers roster.
from Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now,
On paper, the value of the fourth line of the Detroit Red Wings is apparent. The trio of Joe Veleno, Jonatan Berggren and Austin Czarnik has scored a goal in each of Detroit’s two victories to launch the club’s current four-game road trip.
In fact, the line has scored in three of Detroit’s past four games. But the impact of this unit goes far beyond the scoresheet.
“That line has had some great chemistry,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “Today’s NHL with the salary cap it’s hard to build a true one line, two line, three line, four line, that fourth line just being a checking line, heavy line.
“Sometimes you’re going to have looks like this, where we’re at.”
Step back and encompass the big picture, and the role this threesome is playing in the success story that’s so far unfolding for the Red Wings becomes even more vital.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
via the YouTube page of the NHL,
Watch the last five 5-goal scorers, including Johan Franzen, Mika Zibanejad, Timo Meier and Patrik Laine. Sabres forward Tage Thompson joined that group with his performance against Columbus on Wednesday night.
* Tage Thompson stole the show Wednesday after a five-goal and six-point performance – all of which were tallied in the first 40 minutes – landing him on a number of noteworthy lists.
* Connor McDavid posted a four-point performance and became the first player to reach the 50-point mark in 2022-23, requiring the fewest games in his career to do so.
* Artemi Panarin posted a three-assist outing to surpass the 600-point milestone and owns a point total that only trails Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Kane since he entered the NHL in 2015-16.
* Alex Ovechkin’s “Road to 800” continued Wednesday as he found the back of the net twice and moved within 99 goals of the legendary No. 99 on the NHL’s all-time list.
Tage Thompson had 5 goals, 4 in the first alone. He had an assist too.
Watch them all in the game highlights.
from Adam Kimelman of the NHL,
Nathan MacKinnon will miss four weeks for the Colorado Avalanche because of an upper-body injury.
MacKinnon, a forward, left a 5-3 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday with 8:13 remaining in the first. He appeared to be in pain after taking a shot that was blocked by Flyers forward Scott Laughton moments before leaving the ice.
"[He's] a guy that plays 25 (minutes) a night and in every situation, so you have to juggle everything," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said after the game. "Do the best you can. You've just got to keep grinding and find guys that contribute. … Guys are going to have step up. It's going to be a challenge. It's been a challenge for us and seems to be getting worse at this point."...
Colorado is also missing forwards Valeri Nichushkin (ankle), Evan Rodrigues (lower body) and Shane Bowers (upper body), and defensemen Josh Manson (lower body), Bowen Byram (lower body) and Kurtis MacDermid (lower body).
Forwards Gabriel Landeskog (knee) and Darren Helm (hip) have yet to play this season after each had offseason surgery.
"[Helm and Nichushkin] both skated early again, and then first day joining the team," Bednar said Wednesday. "So looks like they're getting close. ... [Manson is] going to be out a month, too. (Rodrigues) skated today. First time. Three to four weeks is what we were thinking. Looks like he's on that timetable."
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