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Three minutes to watch.
NEW YORK (March 27, 2023) – Los Angeles Kings right wing Viktor Arvidsson, Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki and Minnesota Wild goaltender Filip Gustavsson have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 26.
from Travis Yost of TSN,
March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb – unless you live in the state of California, or play goaltender in the National Hockey League.
Goalies have had a rough go of it in the past few weeks – scoring rates are once again at blistering levels, and league-wide save percentages are plummeting. In the heightened scoring era we’re living in, goaltenders were barely holding onto a 90.0 per cent stop rate league wide.
We have discussed ad infinitum what is driving scoring to the upside across the league, both at even strength and on the power play. This is a new intra-season wrinkle – attackers are again converting on scoring chances at rates we really haven’t seen before, and all of this is happening with just a dozen or so games remaining on the regular-season schedule.
The old hockey adage of teams sharpening their game defensively as the playoffs inch closer again seems specious at best – doubly so when you look at the teams (and the goalies of those teams) who are struggling so mightily this late in the year.
At first pass, you might be inclined to think the draft lottery teams – those with their eyes on the prize in the form of super prospect Connor Bedard – are the ones driving this mess. After all, the lottery provides an incentive to lose games, and injecting a bunch of skaters and goalies from your farm team is a great way to do that.
But for every draft lottery team that’s giving up goals in spades, you can find a team chasing a playoff berth in a similar position. So, that’s not quite it.
added 11:27am, Practice lines are below via Khan....
from Jim Souhan of the StarTribune,
When their best pure defenseman, Jonas Brodin, was sidelined, the Wild surged.
With their best scorer and most valuable player, Kirill Kaprizov, sidelined, the Wild have excelled.
Their drive to the top of the Central Division standings, and toward the top of the entire NHL, has been a doctorate-level study in team-building.
The Wild have a gritty, deep, unified roster.
Dean Evason coaches with a tone that is always demanding but never strident or unreasonable.
Most of all, Bill Guerin has again proved that he is the Room Whisperer, the Sultan of Subtlety.
Remember when the Wild traded Cam Talbot for Filip Gustavsson last July?
That felt more like a move to remove Talbot from the awkwardness of being bumped from the starter's role by Marc Andre-Fleury than because Gustavsson was a quality player.
from Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press,
It was late in the third period of Saturday afternoon’s game in Los Angeles, with the Winnipeg Jets down by a couple goals and showing no signs a comeback was in the cards, when Mark Scheifele slowly skated toward the bench following another lengthy shift in which he barely touched the puck.
He slammed the gate behind him, hard enough that the sound carried up to the press box at Crypto.com Arena. It would be the first — and only — time Scheifele made any impact on the day.
As head coach Rick Bowness and his staff, team management and ownership, and frustrated fans far and wide search for clues about why the Jets season has gone into a prolonged tailspin, look no farther than the play of the team’s top centre for the smoking gun.
Scheifele, 30, is nowhere to be found.
Consider this: Just 13 days ago, Bowness sent a strong message to his troops by sitting Scheifele and his linemates at the time, Kyle Connor and Nino Niederreiter, for the majority of the second period in what would ultimately be a 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. It wasn’t a move the veteran coach made lightly, but one he felt was necessary. Scheifele’s stat line that night was ugly: No goals. No assists. No shots (for just the third time in 68 games). Minus-four.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Continuing to lose over the final 10 games will help the Detroit Red Wings in the 2023 NHL draft lottery, from an organizational standpoint.
But as players keep pointing out: It’s way more fun to win.
Given the strength of their schedule, fun will be challenging to have. This week offers four tests: Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes, Friday at the Winnipeg Jets, and Sunday at the Toronto Maple Leafs....
It’s on the Wings to find meaning in these remaining games. They’ve scored only nine goals over their past six games, and were unable to convert on seven power plays in the 3-0 loss to the Flyers.
Since Feb. 23, when winning seven of eight games gave the Wings a brief stay inside the playoff picture, the Wings have gone 3-11-1. Dylan Larkin has a team-leading 11 points in those 15 games, but multiple players being counted on to score have little to show: Lucas Raymond (one goal, six points, minus-9 rating); David Perron (two goals, seven points, minus-8 rating); and Andrew Copp (two goals, seven points, minus-6 rating).
from Joshua Kloke of The Athletic,
Ryan Hartman walked into the Minnesota Wild practice facility with a sense of resolve. The nine-year NHL forward had been a healthy scratch the previous evening against the Philadelphia Flyers.
But righting a wrong was only one of the items on his to-do list.
“Today,” Hartman said, nodding while looking around the Wild dressing room, “is tax day.”
As he does once a month, Hartman will work his way around the Wild dressing room and collect money from his teammates.
The previous night, Hartman pored over a spreadsheet with updated tallies of who owes what. He sent out a flurry of text messages to teammates: “This is what you owe. I’m coming for you tomorrow.”
Call Hartman what you want: the taxman, the team treasurer, the fine master. Hartman has a volunteer position in charge of handling a consistently growing pot of money accrued from Wild players. Most teams require a player like Hartman because large amounts of money changing hands among teammates is a tradition in the NHL. That money is gathered in large part to encourage team building. Part of the money collected is because players voluntarily have put “money on board,” a practice of promising an amount of money before a game a player will owe should the team win, be it for playing in their hometown or, say, if they’re playing in a milestone game.
* David Pastrnak reached multiple milestones Sunday, notching his 50th goal of the season and the 600th point of his career in Boston’s franchise record-setting 27th road win of 2022-23.
* The Kings scored seven goals to defeat the Blues and extended their point streak to 12 games, establishing a franchise record.
* Only three weeks remain until the end of the 2022-23 regular season but there’s still plenty of playoff positioning to be determined. A preview of a potential first-round matchup will air on Hulu, ESPN+ and TVAS at 8 p.m. when the Kraken visit the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
A blast, at least he can tell his grandchildren it was.
NEW YORK (March 26, 2023) – Los Angeles Kings forward Blake Lizotte has been suspended for one game, without pay, for cross-checking Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey during NHL Game No. 1154 in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 25, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 14:10 of the second period. Lizotte was assessed a match penalty.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Lizotte will forfeit $9,054.05. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Watch the cross-check below.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Red Wings are averaging 2.86 goals per game, which ranks 24th. They finished 2021-22 at 2.77 goals per game, ranked 27th.
They have one of the more difficult remaining schedules, with eight of their final 10 games against teams currently in a playoff position.
Their 3-0 loss Saturday at Philadelphia was the fourth time the Red Wings have been shut out, but it was from lack of opportunity against goaltender Carter Hart (29 saves), coach Derek Lalonde said.
“I still think it’s just a matter of getting to that hard area, executing a little bit more,” Lalonde told Bally Sports Detroit. “Sometimes it’s frustrating when you don’t produce offense, but when the looks are there and you keep getting looks, it’ll come around. At least tonight for the most part I thought we had some looks.”
It’s difficult to beat anybody when you go 0 for 7 on the power play.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
from Ken Wiebe of Sportsnet,
This generation — and probably most importantly, the next several — needs its own version of The Golden Goal.
A Gretzky to Lemieux, in on goal, he shoots…he scores. Mario Lemieux has scored for Canada, explosion for the ages that will essentially become a historical films moment, one that will be played on a loop of highlight reels and YouTube channels for eternity.
That the best player on the planet, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, spoke so passionately on the subject in the wake of the World Baseball Classic was a massive step towards making this dream a reality.
And good on McDavid and others for speaking out.
Because for all of the hurdles on the horizon for bringing back the World Cup of Hockey and eventually the Olympics — and yes, we understand there are some significant hurdles — if the players truly want this, there will be a pathway to making it happen.
When it comes to helping grow the sport both within North America and especially globally, there is no better way to do so.
I recently heard someone say that Edmonton fans sure like to talk about “the good old days”. Well, on one hand this franchise “has” a past. Many NHL teams do not. I get a little tired of people who seem eager to dismiss that. The way I see it, it sure as hell beats the alternative. You don’t hear Toronto and Montreal try to distance themselves from theirs, both great NHL frachises.
-Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal where you can read more on the Oilers.
from Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet,
This is going from kind of fun to just kind of silly.
The Vancouver Canucks can’t lose.
Their professional, well-earned 3-1 road win Saturday against the playoff-bound Dallas Stars was the draft-lottery-bound Canucks’ ninth win in 11 games. The team that ranked 31st in the National Hockey League in defending — and was 27th in the standings — when Rick Tocchet took over as coach two months ago is 12-4-1 in its last 17 games and has allowed three or fewer goals in 14 of them.
With 10 games remaining, starting Sunday in Chicago against the hapless Blackhawks, the Canucks were in a tie for 23rd in the NHL. Vancouver will miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons, but if the Canucks finish 21st or higher they won’t be able to select Connor Bedard even if they win the draft lottery in May.
It doesn’t make sense — except for the legitimacy of their record the last five weeks. That makes sense.
from Jim Alexander of the LA Daily News,
Has the greater NHL community been overlooking the Kings?
Maybe. Maybe not. But we can say this with certainty: A team that is historically poor in day games was more than good enough Saturday afternoon in beating Winnipeg, 4-1. One game by itself doesn’t say much, but maybe it’s a sign something special is happening here, something lots of people are missing.
The Kings tied a franchise record for consecutive games with points, 11. They’ve done that four times in the franchise’s 56-year history, and the last time was early in the 2013-14 season, en route to a second Stanley Cup in four years. It is a feat, though Coach Todd McLellan and defenseman Drew Doughty both shrugged it off.
What does matter to them? In the most recent 10 games of that streak they’ve given up less than two goals per game, 1.9 to be precise, and gave up more than two only once.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
In 40 some years of being around NHL dressing rooms, I can’t think of anyone I had to deal with that I liked better than James Reimer. He was polite, available, professional, friendly and courteous, no matter what the circumstances happened to be. And in one night, with one decision, he changed what many people think of him by refusing to take part in the pre-game Pride ceremony of the San Jose Sharks.
All anyone wanted was for Reimer to be as welcoming and inclusive as he has been his entire career. Instead, he took a stance, the wrong stance, and his otherwise terrific reputation has now been soiled.
In Washington, the celebrations seem nonstop for Alexander Ovechkin as he continues his assault on the all-time goal-scoring records. What he thinks of inclusivity has never been at issue so it isn’t news of any kind: What he thinks about Vladimir Putin — now that’s problematic and upsetting and far too silent.
He has traditionally and spiritually been supportive of a Russian war monger who has attacked Ukraine and is currently avoiding the warrants for the numerous international laws against humanity he has broken.
We worry about Reimer and by extension Eric Staal and his brother Marc, because really, costs aside, hockey is for everyone. And we celebrate Ovechkin and any of his fellow Russian pro players who happen to support the warmonger, Putin and look the other way.
Neither side feels right to me.
And at the same time, the Maple Leafs play game after game with TikTok on their helmets, because the Canadian version of the Chinese company has paid for sponsorship rights. All this going on as the governments in both Canada and the United States have TikTok removed from their phones, and the U.S. is consumed with the potential spying going on through TikTok.
read on plus topics like this...
In each of the past several summers, Connor McDavid was asked what he could do to improve his game. And his answer was always the same.
“I want to score more goals.”
So instead of just saying it, McDavid did what McDavid does.
* The Devils hit the 100-point mark in franchise record-setting pace after clinching their first Stanley Cup Playoffs berth since 2018.
* Boston defeated Tampa Bay to secure the No.1 seed in its division for the seventh time in the past 20 years – tied for the second most among all teams over that span.
* Patrick Kane registered his 15th career 20-goal season and climbed two elite lists of U.S.-born players in the process.
* Sunday’s slate features five games, including a matchup between the NHL-leading Bruins and Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes.
via the YouTube page of Sportsnet,
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman join Ron MacLean to share some fresh NHL intel, including possible rookie signings out of the NCAA and CHL and the latest on the Ottawa Senators sale.
from Larry Brooks of the NNew York Post,
My opinion on the matter that is engulfing the NHL is that the Panthers organization showed great courage in holding a night in support of the LGBTQ+ community in a state where such corporate endorsement is not always looked upon favorably by governing bodies with power to punish.
I believe captain Matthew Tkachuk’s unambiguous support of inclusivity is significantly more noteworthy than the decision of Eric and Marc Staal to defer from participating in Thursday’s pregame warmups in which all of their teammates wore Pride-themed jerseys.
“A night like tonight, for me, is really about including everybody,” Tkachuk said. “In my opinion, it’s by far the greatest game in the world, and everyone’s invited in my locker room and our locker room as an organization.”
And I believe that the unqualified endorsement of the NHL’s initiative by Connor McDavid certainly outweighs the significance of San Jose goaltender James Reimer’s decision to opt out of pregame warmups when the Sharks held their Pride Night a week ago.
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