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from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The Wings had Sunday off, a chance to rest up before suiting up 14 times in 25 days. Were they challenging for a playoff spot (they're not eliminated, but they they're nine points out of a wild-card spot with five teams ahead of them) that would be daunting, but as it stands, the focus is on performances. Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche was marked by poor special teams and getting caught flat-footed, again, when Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar exerted their superiority.
The Avs are the defending Cup champions, and the Wings were in the game until the third period. The only real blemishes since the Feb. 23 victory that put them in the playoff picture have been those two ugly losses at the Ottawa Senators, 6-2 one night, 6-1 the next. The other games have been close, and it was a source of encouragement that they outplayed the Boston Bruins in five of six periods spanning March 11-12.
"We played Boston great," coach Derek Lalonde said. "Our performance in Nashville, we gave up five chances. It could be a worry going forward, when you are doing some quality things and not getting results, it can be deflating. It might be the reality of where we are, but it will be our job, as a group, not to let up."
Not letting the fading playoff picture discolor this past month may be a challenge, but nothing would be more deflating than not taking every last game as an opportunity to build for next season.
* K’Andre Miller factored on four of six first-period goals to achieve a franchise first as the Rangers joined rare company in NHL history with a second consecutive high-scoring shutout win.
* A trio of hat tricks highlighted the NHL schedule for the second time in as many days and pushed the League total to seven though the past three days – the most through a three-day span since 2010-11.
* The Bruins scored at least seven goals for the fourth time this season en route to their franchise record-tying 26th road win of 2022-23.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The Ottawa Senators made one change Sunday by sending goaltender Kevin Mandolese back to their AHL affiliate in Belleville and bringing up Dylan Ferguson to join the club in Pittsburgh.
Something had to change.
Coming off a 5-4 shootout loss to the arch-rival Toronto Maple Leafs in the Battle of Ontario Saturday, the Senators packed their bags Sunday and jetted off to Steeltown to open a two-game road trip with a pivotal game against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena Monday.
Trying to halt a five-game winless skid and crawl back into the race for the final wildcard spot in the East, this trip down the stretch has taken a turn for the worse, but this isn’t the group the Senators expected to be battling with down the stretch when camp opened in September.
And it starts in the net.
The biggest issue the Senators have right now is goaltending.
Injuries to top goalies Anton Forsberg, who tore both MCL’s Feb. 11, and Cam Talbot who has been sidelined since March 4th with an oblique injury, have sent this group into tailspin. Strong goaltending is paramount and hasn’t been steady since Talbot went down for the third time this season.
You can’t pin all the blame on 22-year-old Mads Sogaard and Mandolese because neither were supposed to be put in this position. But this is the cards they’ve been dealt and unless they can find a way to get consistency this situation won’t improve.
from Daniel Ngor of The Hockey News,
If a team loses in overtime or a shootout, it’s a loss – end of story. And teams shouldn’t be rewarded with a point in the standings for losing a game.
Here are nine examples of how ludicrous the NHL standings and playoff seeding have been since the 2005-06 season when the league introduced the shootout format to break ties.
1. 2005-06 VANCOUVER CANUCKS & LOS ANGELES KINGS
Fresh out of the 2004-05 lockout, NHL hockey had returned. With its return, the NHL had a new format of settling games - the shootout. Like with the previous formats with ties, the shootout resulted in the losing team earning a point.
The 2005-06 Vancouver Canucks had eight overtime or shootout losses compared to the 13 the Edmonton Oilers had. The Canucks’ record that season was 42-32-8, and they finished with 92 points, which ranked ninth among Western Conference teams. The Los Angeles Kings finished 10th, also winning 42 games.
The Oilers, meanwhile, finished eighth in the conference with a record of 41-28-13 for 95 points. The Oilers embarked on a magical playoff run which ended in defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup final. But they shouldn’t have qualified for the playoffs at all because the Canucks’ and Kings’ winning percentages (both .512) were better than the Oilers' (.500).
from Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now,
Do the math when it comes to Detroit’s goal scoring efficiency and what you discover is that this is a club in the midst of a team-wide scoring slump. Those who recently departed are lighting red lamps. Jabub Vrana has five goals in six games for the St. Louis Blues. Oskar Sundqvist was tallying Saturday for the Minnesota Wild, giving him as many goals on the day as all of his former Red Wings teammates combined.
Pius Suter, the lone goal scorer for Detroit in Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, was netting for the first time in 12 games. Jonatan Berggren has one goal in 14 games. Lucas Raymond is showing one goal in 15 games next to his name. Joe Veleno is goalless in 19 games. He’s scored once of the last 24 games and twice through the past 35 contests.
Filip Zadina has scored twice in 27 games. Dominik Kubalik shows two goals in 14 games and four in 23. Perron has scored twice in 25 games.
Even captain Dylan Larkin, who was hotter than blacktop in July during much of February, scoring seven goals in six games, has cooled off. He’s got three markers over his past 13 games.
from George Richards of Florida Hockey Now,
With 13 games remaining in the regular season, the Florida Panthers remain outside the NHL playoff race but they are right on the heels of both the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.
By coming back to beat the Devils 4-2 on Saturday night, Florida pulled within a point of the Penguins and Islanders.
The Pittsburgh Penguins lost for the third straight time — this one 6-0 to the Rangers — so that one point held up.
The New York Islanders eased on by a perhaps distracted San Jose Sharks so they have a three-point lead on the Panthers.
Unlike the playoff standings a few weeks ago, these are not necessarily skewed by the old games-in-hand as both the Penguins and Panthers have played the exact same amount of games.
Florida has played two fewer games than the Islanders, however, so that could come into play as it may be conducive for them to try and win the top wild card and avoid the juggernaut Boston Bruins in the opening round.
from Larry Stone of the Seattle Times,
When the Seattle Kraken stood pat at the trade deadline earlier this month, it was portrayed as a vote of confidence in the players on hand by general manager Ron Francis. He stated that he didn’t want to disrupt the chemistry of a team that had surged into contention for the Western Conference’s top spot.
Francis’s judgment might indeed be proven right — and, indeed, the Kraken surged to three victories in a row in the immediate aftermath of the deadline. But two weeks later, the Kraken have hit a lull that, if not remedied, threatens to mute much of the good vibes they’ve built up all year.
It’s not crisis time, not even after Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Climate Pledge Arena, in which they fell behind a mere 95 seconds into the game and played catch-up the rest of the way. But with four losses in their last five games, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if some new blood might have proved energizing right about now.
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol was effusive about the effort of his players, who had to overcome the loss of goaltender Philipp Grubauer to an undisclosed illness midway through the second period.
“Our team played a good hockey game today. It was an even hockey game,’’ Hakstol said, while noting how difficult it is to play constantly from behind. “We worked extremely hard. And especially on the offensive side of the puck, we ground for our offensive opportunities and generated real good opportunities. … That’s why it’s disappointing. It feels bad.”
from Adam Kimelman of the NHL's website,
Martin Necas scored the tying goal with 0.3 seconds remaining when the Carolina Hurricanes rallied for a 5-4 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers on at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.
Necas tied the game on a 6-on-4 power play in the third period with Frederik Andersen pulled for an extra skater, knocking a loose puck past Felix Sandstrom before time expired.
"I was just standing on the back door and the puck just -- I don't even know -- somehow showed up there and I just banged it into the net," Necas said.
Sebastian Aho then scored on the rush 28 seconds into overtime to complete his hat trick, pushing the puck through the skates of Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo and beating Sandstrom for his 30th goal of the season....
"I thought we played really well, felt we had the game controlled," Flyers coach John Tortorella said.
Below watch the game tying and OT goals.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- There is at least one team in the NHL — possibly as many as three — paying close attention to Kyle Dubas’ status as general manager of the Maple Leafs.
Dubas, who is working on the last year of his contract in Toronto and was not re-signed last summer when team president Brendan Shanahan wanted to re-up his chosen GM. And now, with Dubas’ status possibly tied to upcoming Maple Leafs playoff success, there are more than whispers that other clubs around the league have taken the position of waiting to see whether Dubas will, in fact, be available at the end of the season....
- This is the ultimate dilemma of the Leafs’ playoff circumstance. They can win one round, but could they win a second round against Boston? Will anyone do that? And do you hold a GM, a coach, the president, all of them, accountable for doing what might not be possible? This is a Leafs team capable of playing for a Stanley Cup. Getting there — now that’s the challenge. These are the Stanley Cup circumstances for any team in the Atlantic Division.
- Is it mandatory for all hockey colour commentators to describe goals as “hitting the back of the net?”
- Night after night in the National Hockey League the dressing rooms are all but empty post-game.
There are reporters standing around, looking at each other, waiting to see which player or players will be brought out to speak to.
The days of having conversations with hockey players, post-game, which used to be the most available and accessible of all professional athletes, is basically over for everyone but rights-holding television networks. The NHL and its member teams discovered during the COVID-19 protocols that it could control its own environment. And teams have adopted that tight control now that those protocols are no more.
more on the first and last topic, plus additional hockey notes...
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Ville Husso and David Perron spend games talking to one another while ensconced on their respective sofas. Their allegiances lie elsewhere now, but their interest lingers.
The coming week figures to be emotional for the two friends, with the Detroit Red Wings facing their former team, the St. Louis Blues, twice: On the road Tuesday and at home Thursday.
"It’s going to be nice," Husso said. "I have a lot of good memories there and a lot of good friends. It felt like home. I got drafted by them, went through East Coast, AHL, all the way to the NHL. All good things there. I’m a little nervous, for sure, but it’s going to be fun to play back-to-back games against them."
Husso and Perron are among four former Blues now calling Detroit home. They've improved the Wings at every position — Husso in goal, Perron and Robby Fabbri up front, and Jake Walman on defense — and strengthened the rebuild short-term and longer-term. When they aren't dressed in red and white, they still keep up with their former colors.
"Me and Perron, we still watch Blues games and we even sometimes chat during the games when we watch them, and Wally and Fabbs," Husso said. "It’s a connection, for sure."
* The reigning Art Ross Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winners each had three points as the Oilers and Avalanche both improved their chances of clinching a berth in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
* The Hurricanes scored a March Madness-esque buzzer-beating tying goal and Sebastian Aho capped his hat trick with an overtime winner as Carolina prevented Philadelphia from completing the upset.
* Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand of the League-leading Bruins both factored on the same goal twice to reach the top of an all-time franchise list Saturday.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
"Special teams were a big part of it," said coach Derek Lalonde of the Wings' loss, as Colorado scored a shorthanded and power-play goal with the game in the balance. "But probably a little bit of credit to their high-end guys. This will be frustrating, but a reality of where we are down the stretch here. The underlying numbers will say we played a pretty good game but we didn't execute and their difference makers were difference makers.
"We had some flashes of pretty good hockey but not enough."
Pius Suter had the Wings' goal, while goaltender Ville Husso stopped 16-of-21 shots before being replaced by Magnus Hellberg in the third period.
"The game felt a little out of reach and he (Husso) wasn't sharp," Lalonde said. "Five goals on (21 shots) is not ideal. It's a frustrating game for him but we're going to play him through it. We see a ton in Ville and we think he can be a real good goalie for us. He's shown that this year."...
Since the Wings (30-29-9) defeated the New York Rangers Feb. 23 to climb above the playoff cutline, they've only won two of 11 games (2-8-1).
"We have to finish things out the right way," Larkin said. "We can't just go out there and not give it our all. We have fans coming to the rink, good crowds with good energy in the building and we have to show up and build on that and play hard."
via Sportsnet's YouTube page,
On this edition of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discuss the impending sale of the Ottawa Senators, The QMJHL's decision to ban fighting, the near- fight between Jordan Binnington and Marc-Andre Fleury, and more.
It is always a negotiation for the commissioner and never a collaboration. There is always a demand. As it now stands, the PA escrow debt to the league supposedly stands at around $100M. The commissioner, thus, is holding NHL general managers hostage for about $3M a team no owner would miss — and would be recouped the following season as per the MOU documenting terms of the extension.
-Larry Brooks of the New York Post where you can read more on this and other hockey topics..
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
“I thought he did good,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “He was on for the rush goal against (the fifth goal, by Mikko Rantanen). I’ll have to see how he handled it. But for the most part you didn’t see the egregious turnover. He was physical, he had some chances following the rush.
“For a first game, against a team like that, I thought he did really well. It gets me excited, optimistic, going forward.”
Edvinsson (6-6, 215) logged 15:14. He had one shot on goal, one hit and a minus-1 rating paired mostly with Robert Hagg.
“It was good. I felt comfortable,” Edvinsson said. “Of course, there’s small things I need to do in the system to really feel everything is smooth. I think it felt better, especially in the third. Of course, I’ve got to build on that, keep developing.”...
“We lost a top-four huge-minute guy in Chiarot, so we were going to play (Edvinsson) to win,” Lalonde said. “We were going to trust him in certain situations. We did want to keep him away from their top line, but we were comfortable playing him throughout.”
Edvinsson, the No. 6 overall selection in the 2021 draft, said there were no surprises.
“I kind of know what to expect and what people expect from me,” he said. “I just need to keep developing from here. I felt a lot better this game than I did in the preseason. We need to develop as a team, and I need to develop as a player here. I just want to go from here and keep getting better.”
Dylan Larkin liked what he saw from Edvinsson.
“You obviously see his size, his skating ability,” Larkin said. “If we’re going to take a step as a team, (he) and a lot of the younger players are getting a big opportunity in the last 14-15 games.”
Below watch Larkin, Edvinsson and Lalonde after a 5-1 loss to the Avs.
via the YouTube page of the NHL,
Selanne the equipment manager, Lucic blows a tire, Kuznetsov slows down the shootout, friends turned foes and of course goalie giveaways galore!
SJS statement below.
Well the Wings were in the game after the first period, tied 1-1.
It was Colorado up 3-1 after forty minutes and then in the third, the Avs built their lead to 5-1 before the final horn sounded.
Below are a few BSD videos and the Detroit goal.
Good day and welcome to all, after a much needed few days off. It’s getting tough to watch the Wings knowing the inevitable, but, just waiting for the mathematical end of a “run” toward the playoffs. I honestly don’t think that anyone here is holding out hope for that to happen. One good thing about today’s game is the debut of Simon Edvinsson, and the prospect of maybe seeing some other young players in the coming weeks, until out fate has been all but sealed.
Today we face the Avs who have the distinction, thanks to/with the Wings, of once having the absolute best rivalry in Hockey,(and all of sports)bar none. That may as well be ancient history now…
It’s the Avs vs the Wings. The puck will drop around 1:00 PM and will be broadcast on Bally Sports Detroit and WXYT-97.1(The Ticket). Also available on NHLN, SN1, and ALT.
It’s a Live Blog!
from Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic,
One moment, John Carlson was preparing to box out an opposing forward in the slot. The next, the Washington Capitals’ defenseman was face down on the ice with blood gushing down the right side of his face.
The 14-year veteran can’t recall how many close calls he’d had previously; it’s a risk every NHL defenseman takes. But this time was different. The pain was unbearable. And the blood. All the blood.
“I just got struck by lightning,” Carlson said. “That’s the only way to describe it.”...
Less than a minute into third period of the Caps’ 4-1 win over the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 23, Carlson was struck by a 90-mph slap shot off the stick of Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon, Carlson’s former teammate in Washington.
There was no time for Carlson to duck or dodge the puck.
The impact left him with a small skull fracture above his right ear and a severed temporal artery.
“It was bleeding so much,” he said. “The only way I could describe it is, just survival.”
Carlson said he did not lose consciousness and was never diagnosed with a concussion.
“Funny story,” Carlson said, cracking a smile. “He says this didn’t happen, but I know for sure that it did. As I’m skating off the ice, (Erik Gustafsson) comes skating towards me. He sees me and he goes, ‘Holy f—, that’s really bad.’
“It was a funny moment in a bunch of chaos.”
from Luke Fox of Sportnet,
A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and less so, and rolling four lines deep. Can’t wait to read fans debate the slow-motion video review ruling of a puck that may or may not have been deflected over the glass!
1. There is the mathematical assessment, and then there is the verbal assessment.
Let’s present both.
Here are the save percentages Matt Murray has recorded in his past five starts: .862, .846, .833, .500, .882.
Here is Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe’s assessment of Murray since his return from an ankle injury that kept him out of action for a month and a half: “I think he’s been great. The numbers look terrible. But again, here (Wednesday) night, I thought he was really good. I mean, there’s four tap-ins.”
We get it.
GM Kyle Dubas doubled down on his tandem at the deadline: “I am very confident in our goaltenders.”
It’s imperative the Toronto Maple Leafs — who don’t dress an Andrei Vasilevskiy- or Connor Hellebuyck-type workhorse — need a healthy and confident tandem heading into the post-season, and it serves the organization no good to publicly criticize any key player who needs to find his groove.
But a goalie cannot allow four goals in five straight starts – as Murray has for the first time in his eight-year career – and expect to be The Man when it matters. (Murray is free to mute all criticism with the two Stanley Cup rings plugging his ears.)
continue for more current NHL topics....
from Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
For five decades the Flyers have been stuck in a toxic trap of nostalgia. They’ve been held hostage to Three Wise Men, legends as players who now sit in secluded offices, operating without accountability, peddling favors and favoritism to connections who see the game through the same mottled, last-century lenses as they still see it.
Last week, after 45 years of institutional nepotism, the Flyers had a chance to turn the page.
The sports wing of parent company Comcast Spectacor had a chance to ignore the Three Wise Men — Bob Clarke, Paul Holmgren, and Bill Barber — all former players and front office executives now ensconced as “senior advisers” along with latecomer and outsider Dean Lombardi. CEO Dave Scott had a chance to fire general manager Chuck Fletcher and promote someone from outside the Flyers’ inbred bloodlines — ideally, someone who would deviate from the incestuous progressions that ruined a once-proud hockey club.
As it turns out, Scott did just that.
Scott fired Fletcher on his own, according to two league sources. Then he named Danny Brière interim general manager — again, on his own. Brière is expected to have the “interim” removed at the end of the season, according to a league source.
But wait. Brière wore the Orange and Black, right? So, same old, same old, right?
Wrong. Brière might be a former Flyer, and he’s close to Holmgren, but he is no Golden Child in the eyes of the Three Wise Men.
* The Flyers had “the luck of the Irish” on St. Patrick’s Day as Owen Tippett recorded his first NHL hat trick and Carter Hart became the fourth-youngest active goaltender at the time of their 80th career win (min. 1 GP in 2022-23) behind Andrei Vasilevskiy, Marc-Andre Fleury and John Gibson.
* The Maple Leafs tied their franchise mark for second-fewest games to 90 points in a season (also 68 GP in 1950-51) while skating in St. Pats uniforms.
* Down to the final four Saturdays in the 2022-23 regular season – it’s a 13-game slate which will feature 18 teams in a playoff position or within four points of one, while only 15 spots in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs remain.
Simon Edvinsson first, coach Lalonde below.
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