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A good way to wrap up the trip.
from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic,
The Blackhawks, you see, don’t care about your tank. They don’t care about the draft lottery. They don’t care about Connor Bedard. Not in the slightest. And they’re having quite a bit of fun messing with general manager Kyle Davidson’s (smart, if cynical) grand design.
“That’s why we play the game, right?” said defenseman Seth Jones, who’s been bristling at the very idea of losing to win since Day 1 of training camp. “We’re trying to win every game we play. We’ve got to control what we can control in here, and obviously the front office, they control that.”
That, of course, is a concerted effort by the franchise to finish in 32nd place this season, in order to ensure a top-three pick in a highly touted draft and secure the best odds of drafting Bedard, the kind of rare talent who could dramatically alter the Blackhawks’ future for the better.
That, is what commissioner Gary Bettman hilariously denied happens in the NHL. But Bettman, ever the lawyer, chose his words wisely, specifically saying that players don’t tank, that coaches don’t tank. And he’s absolutely right. Richardson said it himself, right after he was hired, that he was going to try to make things as difficult as possible for Davidson, and Davidson welcomed the defiance.
Does he still welcome it now that the Blackhawks are entering their bye week having won a modest-yet-sort-of-stunning seven of their last 11 games, bringing Columbus, Anaheim, Arizona and San Jose back into the race for the bottom?
from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post,
If the Avs can bury the hatchet with Ryan O’Reilly, they can raise the Stanley Cup together.
Yes, O’Reilly left Colorado in 2015, his relationship with the Avs broken by acrimonious bickering about money.
But eight years is enough.
All is forgiven, my wayward son.
Make a trade for O’Reilly and the Avs would not only have the second-line center they’ve been missing since Nazem Kadri left town, but there wouldn’t be a team in the Western Conference that could prevent Colorado from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.
After sleep-walking through a championship hangover and slapping BandAids on a roster beset by injury, center Nathan MacKinnon sat in the Avalanche locker room looking forward to some R&R at the beach before reporting for all-star festivities in Sunrise, Fla.
“We’re just trying to weather the storm of injuries. We’re confident if we can get in (the playoffs), we’ll have a good chance,” MacKinnon said Saturday, after Colorado turned back a late push from St. Louis in a 4-2 victory.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- Depending on who you follow, listen to, or read, the Maple Leafs will be acquiring Ryan O’Reilly, Timo Meier, Bo Horvat, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Max Domi, John Klingberg, Jake McCabe, Vladislav Gavrikov and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at or around the NHL’s trade deadline next month.
That is today’s world of fantasy sports meeting online reporting meeting guessing and hoping, meeting insiders with the occasional decent tout, and all of this intersecting on a mythical graph at a time when the sports world and Leafs Nation are playing along at home.
Trade talk in a challenging period of salary cap staleness is probably more difficult than it has ever been before. The day of the basic-need hockey trade — I’ll send you my defenceman for your forward — is all but over. Now, it’s about salary and salary cap and term and rental prices and openings and whether you can find a way to injure enough players to make a deal happen....
- The NHL coaching fraternity — and many of them are close — are down on Jimmy Rutherford for the manner in which the Bruce Boudreau situation was handled by the Vancouver Canucks. Even friends and former colleagues of Rutherford are having difficulty defending the club president for the very public and improper way the popular Boudreau was dismissed. More than one current coach is blaming ownership in Vancouver for the Canucks sloppiness. “Everyone knows what the problem is,” the coach texted me. “I don’t get why the story isn’t the owner (Francesco Aquilini).” Some coaches insist the NHL should force Aquilini to sell the Canucks the way it has been done in other leagues.
- Why is Jennifer Botterill so vibrant, energetic, and full of information working games live for TNT and so seemingly stale on the Hockey Night in Canada panel?
more on the first topic and additional notes too...
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
The Detroit Red Wings began this NHL regular season with a promising combination of up-and-coming youngsters and seasoned veterans. Unfortunately, as we should all know by now, progress is not guaranteed to be linear, and the Wings have not enjoyed a steady rise through the Atlantic Division standings.
After 48 games, Detroit is 21-19-8, a mark that puts them in sixth place in the Atlantic. Technically, they have a better points percentage (.521) than the fifth-place Florida Panthers (.510), and the Wings have three games in hand on the Panthers. Detroit is also five points behind the fourth-in-the-Atlantic Buffalo Sabres, but they’re only six points ahead of the eighth-place Montreal Canadiens.
As you can see, it’s a true mixed bag for the Red Wings thus far this year. And that leaves Detroit GM Steve Yzerman with difficult decisions as the league speeds toward its March 3 trade deadline: Does he deal away some of his veteran assets, or instead, try to add pieces to get his team into the playoffs? Or, perhaps, both? The only thing that’s clear at this point is that long-suffering Wings fans who haven’t experienced post-season hockey since 2016, and who haven’t had their team win a playoff round since 2013, cannot accept that the status quo is good enough.
If that means Yzerman bids goodbye to winger (and pending unrestricted free agent) Tyler Bertuzzi, so be it. If that means seeing what the market is for depth forwards Adam Erne, Oskar Sundqvist and Pius Suter, and D-men Olli Maatta, Jake Walman and Robert Hagg (all of whom will also be UFAs this summer), that should be fine as well.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
from Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now,
Doing the research, the numbers are bearing out Lalonde’s hypothesis. In five-on-five play, Larkin has been on the ice for 40 Detroit goals and 37 scored by the other team. At +3, his five-on-five goal differential rates 227th in the NHL. And he’s the responsible one on the line.
Both Raymond (10 for, 16 against) and Bertuzzi (eight for, 14 against) are showing -6 ratings in five-on-five goal differential. Raymond is 680th among NHL players in this category, while Bertuzzi comes in at No. 694.
Taking the research a step further and breaking it down analytically, the overall picture grows even more gloomier. Accoring to Naturalstattrick.com, the Larkin-Raymond-Bertuzzi trio has been on the ice for 46 scoring chances for and 49 scoring chances against. When it comes to high danger scoring chances, the numbers are 20 for and 22 against.
Take Bertuzzi off the line, as a series of injuries to Bertuzzi have done this season, and the underlying numbers grow much worse. Playing together with a linemate other than Bertuzzi, scoring chances for Larkin/Raymond are 110 for and 161 against. High danger chances are 46 for and 69 against.
On the other hand, Bertuzzi and Larkin together are like night and day without Raymond on their line. They’ve created eight scoring chances while allowing three. They’ve manufactured five high danger chances while allowing only one, an 83.3% success rate.
The problem with thinking that Bertuzzi and Larkin are better off without Raymond is that Raymond’s stats playing with any other linemates are abysmal.
* The Panthers stunned the top-ranked Bruins to earn a first-of-its-kind win during their final game before welcoming the League’s biggest stars to South Florida for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.
* Nikita Kucherov found the score sheet once again at AMALIE Arena as the Lightning established a new franchise record for longest home winning streak.
* Matthew Berlin made one save (and a memory that will last a lifetime) in the Oilers’ high-scoring victory versus the Blackhawks.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
We know that it has been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different result. I’m not sure whether that definition applies to the NHL and its playoff format or to me for writing about just about annually for the last decade.
Both, I suspect.
I get that the NHL does nothing to provide rewards for success and everything in its power to level the playing field. The punitive hard cap, of course, is the essence of the league’s commitment to imposing restrictions that most significantly hamstring successful teams more quickly than others.
So too is this unbelievably unfair format under which two of the current best five teams in the league — fourth-overall Toronto and fifth-overall Tampa Bay — would meet in the first round. Meanwhile, either the NHL’s 10th-best or 11th-best team — Seattle and Vegas, respectively — would be guaranteed to advance to Round 2 if that matchup holds.
Those are inequities built into the 2-3 divisional first-round matchup. It happens just about every season. Last season, the Maple Leafs-Lightning first round matched the fourth-best and eighth-best teams. The format was different during the 2020-21 and 2019-20 COVID-impacted seasons. In 2017-18, the teams with the best records in the NHL, Nashville and Winnipeg, respectively, played in the second round, while Boston and Toronto hooked up in a 4-7 matchup in Round 1.
continued plus more topics...
Own goal, Sam Bennett.
via Sportsnet's YouTube page,
Ottawa Senators assistant coach Bob Jones sits down with Christine Simpson to talk about his journey since being diagnosed with ALS and the support he has received from friends and family.
from The Athletic,
The New York Rangers responded Saturday following questions and online criticism over apparent changes to the team’s Pride Night festivities during Friday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Rangers said in an email to fans earlier this month that the team would wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys and use tape on their sticks “in solidarity with those who continue to advocate for inclusivity,” according to screenshots posted by fans online. While plans went ahead for other aspects of the Pride celebration, players wore regular jerseys in warmups and did not tape their sticks.
“Our organization respects the LGBTQ+ community and we are proud to bring attention to important local community organizations as part of another great Pride Night,” the Rangers said in a statement Saturday. “In keeping with our organization’s core values, we support everyone’s individual right to respectfully express their beliefs.”
from Nate Brown of Detroit Hockey Now,
Simply put, the Detroit Red Wings looked exhausted Friday night. Outside of little bursts here and there, Detroit seemed out of gas by the middle of the second period. A short spurt in the dying seconds of the game from a flying Dylan Larkin appeared to maybe inject some life into what was a tired effort.
After playing four games in seven days, including back-to-back contests Thursday-Friday, Detroit gets some much-needed rest that doesn’t see it in another game until a February 7 home date against Edmonton.
It should be a break that will help renew a team that faces another stretch of pivotal games.
In 13 games, Detroit went 5-7-1 through their January stretch, certainly not where the Red Wings wanted to be. When they resume play in February, they will be less than a month away from the trade deadline. Whether the Red Wings will be buyers or sellers is one of many questions that willbe answered over this next stretch of games.
There are other questions, ranging from being a playoff team, to whether Dylan Larkin will sign a contract extension. Detroit’s performance through January, though, saw mixed results. Predictable were losses to New Jersey and Toronto, both top teams in the conference and division.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
From morning til night, the Maple Leafs were engaged in a strange disappearing act.
First, it was Auston Matthews, absent from the Friday morning skate with what turned out to be a knee strain that will sideline him three weeks. Then goalie Matt Murray, who led them out for the game against Ottawa, was on the bench for O Canada with what coach Sheldon Keefe said later significantly “flared up on him”, a new injury that will keep him out a few games and require a callup from the Marlies.
It put Ilya Samsonov in a difficult position on a night he was supposed to be resting and the hungry Ottawa Senators then phased out the discombobulated Leafs 6-2, scoring early and often at Scotiabank Arena.
Murray could not have played had Samsonov been hurt said Keefe and the arena’s emergency backup goaltender was on alert.
“It put Sammy in a terrible, terrible spot,” Keefe said. “And we didn’t take care of him when he was in there.
“To me, it was a game of missed opportunities and poorly timed penalties that were momentum-drainers.”
Game highlights are below.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
or much of the 20th century, General Motors proudly stamped the “Body by Fisher” logo on the cars it rolled off the Detroit assembly line. GM and Fisher wanted buyers to know they partnered to provide them with a quality, stylish set of wheels.
If the Bruins, an astounding 38-6-4 entering weekend play, stamped a logo on their 2022-23 model, it would read, “Mojo by Montgomery.”
The ride with the ever-positive Jim Montgomery behind the bench just keeps getting better.
“I’m amazed when I look at our record,” Montgomery said during a quiet moment during his club’s stop at Montreal’s Bell Centre the other day. “It just seems like every time we’re in a game, it’s in my head, ‘We’re gonna find a way.‘ And then it happens. It’s almost like it’s magical.”
Hired by the Bruins at sizable risk over the summer to replace the popular and successful Bruce Cassidy, Montgomery has been a 5-foot-10-inch dynamo of optimism since Day 1 on the job. He’ll be the boss behind the Atlantic Division bench for the NHL All Star Game on Saturday, staged fittingly in Sunrise, the town in Southern Florida named in the spirit of hope and light that every new day brings.
continued plus more hockey topics like this...
The Sabres entered weekend play with five consecutive wins, the longest current unbeaten streak in the league. It looks, finally, like the Crossed Swords at least will play meaningful games in February and March, and possibly could squeeze out a wild-card invite for their first trip to the playoffs since 2011. Rasmus Dahlin (55 points, second only to Erik Karlsson’s 64 among defensemen as of Friday) has developed into a horse and should shatter Phil Housley’s franchise mark of 81 points by Buffalo D-men. Dahlin is one of four Sabres already to reach the 50-point plateau, joined by Tage Thompson (68), Alex Tuch (54), and the all-but-forgotten Jeff Skinner (50). League-wide, the Oilers were the only other club with four players at or above the 50 line: Connor McDavid (89), Leon Draisaitl (73), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (58), and Zach Hyman (57)
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The Detroit Red Wings ended their dads trip and entered their week off unable to take advantage of a team that has been crumbling.
There wasn't much energy to Friday's outing against the New York Islanders — the Wings' third game in four nights and second of a back-to-back — with fathers and a couple brothers in the stands at UBS Arena. The Wings came out of it on the short end of a 2-0 final, again unable to string together more than two victories in a row.
It was a disappointing way to go into a weeklong break, losing to a team that had won just twice in its previous 13 games. It was 1-0 after two periods but the Wings' shot at rallying diminished when Brock Nelson used Anders Lee as a screen to score early in the third period.
"I didn't think we played a bad road games, we just couldn't generate offense," coach Derek Lalonde said. "You certainly take the 27 shots we gave up and the goals against, to give you a chance on the road; we just didn't do enough offensively."...
"I”m really proud of the way we played," Dylan Larkin said. "It was tough travel and we’re going into a break. It could easily be one to, yes we have our dads here, but it could be one we don’t show up for and we did. We just didn’t get past Sorokin."
Below find Larkin, Perron and Lalonde post game plus the game highlights.
* Jack Hughes recorded a multi-goal game, including scoring the overtime winner, and moved into a tie with Jason Robertson for fifth place in the 2022-23 Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race.
* The League announced that AleksanderBarkov, captain of the host Panthers, will replace the injured AustonMatthews on the Atlantic Division roster for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game.
* One week from today, All-Stars will go head-to-head in South Florida for the 67th NHL All-Star Game. But first, 19 more regular-season contests are to be played including more than half as part of an 11-game Saturday that begins with a matinee between the Blues and Avalanche on HULU, ESPN+, Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
Break time? Not for me. Even though the Wings have a nice break, the NHL continues although it is a light schedule leading up to the All-Star weekend.
So feel free to check in every so often for the latest news from the hockey world.
The Wings lost 2-0 to the New York Islanders tonight and now head for parts unknown.
The Islanders scored early in the second period to take a 1-0 lead and did the same in the third to make it 2-0.
Good evening and welcome. The Wings are coming in tonight after two wins and hopefully have gained some confidence. They matched up pretty well against the Canadians last night in an entertaining game. Moritz Seider marked his fifth multi point game this season and became the first defensemen in Wings history with a trio of three assist games at age 21 or younger. The All-Star break/hiatus will begin and the Wings are out of action until February 7th against the Oilers, so it’s a much needed break for all of us.
Tonight the Wings are venturing onto the Island to play against a team that is winless in their last six, making the Islanders a dangerous team to have to face in their own barn, as they currently sit one point above the Wings and are hungry for a win. The Wings would love to enter the break with 2 points as well.
It’s the Wings vs the Islanders. The puck drops around 7:00 PM, and will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN.
It’s a Live Blog!
The New York Islanders in my opinion have had a disappointing season but like the Wings, could be considered in the hunt for a wild card spot.
After playing Detroit tonight, they host Vegas tomorrow then go on their extended break.
So like the Wings, they need to start stringing a few wins together.
But, they have not been good lately.
What a treat to have this man around.
Are the Canadiens fielding calls on Sean Monahan, specifically from Colorado? What is the latest on Max Pacioretty's torn Achilles injury? Are the Devils kicking tires on Sharks' winger Timo Meier? TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger discuss this and more.
Watch and/or read the transcript of the segment at TSN.
* Nikita Kucherov had three points to help the Lightning earn their 11th straight victory on home ice as Tampa Bay snapped Boston’s seven-game winning streak as the visitor in the process.
* A pair of young defensemen shone Thursday as 20-year-old Owen Power extended his goal streak to three games while 21-year-old Moritz Seider collected his third career three-assist performance.
* Thursday marked the third straight day to feature at least three games requiring overtime. The longest stretch of days with three or games being decided past regulation is five (March 5-9, 2011).
Kukla’s Korner is updated around the clock with the work of our own talented bloggers, plus links to the best hockey writing around the internet. We strive to bring you all the breaking hockey news as it happens.