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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.
via Ansar Khan tweets,
practice before hosting Colorado tomorrow at 1 on @BallySportsDET Edvinsson joins team. Zadina is skating after being shaken up yesterday from a collision.
power play units:
1. Chiasson (net front), Larkin (bumper, Perron-Raymond (flanks), Seider (point).
2. Copp (net front), Zadina (bumper), Berggren-Kubalik (flanks), Walman (point).
lines in practice:
Lindstrom was skating early but left, apparently dealing with an injury.
from George Richards of Florida Hockey Now,
When Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gave up three goals on the first three shots he faced, he knew after that “you cannot come up with a good game.’’
Things turned out pretty well for the Panthers — and Bobrovsky — in a game coach Paul Maurice compared to the ‘Twilight Zone.’
“I have never seen anything like that. In 25 years, never seen that many goals,’’ Maurice said following Florida’s wild ride in a 9-5 win against the Canadiens.
“There were more goals than chances to score and that is a rarity. All I can say is it affected the game for both teams and I do not think anything on video is useful to the game of hockey.
“It was almost Twilight Zone: Every puck went in. I don’t know what the shots were — maybe 15 — and there were nine goals. There were more goals than scoring chances. The positive is we scored nine. Those games are the most difficult ones to win, the ones you’re supposed to win. They played the same game (Tuesday) and beat Pittsburgh.”
Highlights are below.
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today recalled center Austin Czarnik and defenseman Simon Edvinsson from the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins under emergency conditions.
* A high-scoring affair between the Canadiens and Panthers began with seven goals through the first 10 minutes of the contest and saw the first period conclude with Florida becoming the fourth different team in NHL history with a seven-goal opening frame.
* Storylines were aplenty in the Pacific Division on Thursday, including Connor McDavid’s 131st point of 2022-23 and the Kraken boosting their season-to-season improvement to 23 points.
* Sidney Crosby recorded his 82nd and 83rd point of 2022-23 to clinch his 18th career point-per-game season – one shy of the Great One for the most in NHL history.
NEW YORK (March 16, 2023) – St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington has been suspended for two games, without pay, for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct against Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman during NHL Game No. 1078 in St. Louis on Wednesday, March 15, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 12:25 of the second period. Binnington was assessed a match penalty.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Binnington will forfeit $64,864.86. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Watch the video explanation below. You will have to accept the NHL cookies.
from Adriana.Sinishtaj of OutSports,
My earliest life memory is the 1997 Stanley Cup parade.
I’m a “legacy” hockey fan. My parents came to Detroit as kids. My dad went all-in on sports, and my mom was all-in on Red Wings player Steve Yzerman. It was fate that they met and passed their passion for hockey down to their six kids.
I loved watching my brothers play street hockey, seeing Joe Kocur at my uncle’s restaurant on off days, attending Detroit Vipers IHL games, and admiring our family’s growing collection of memorabilia.
As a young girl unaware of her queerness, the draw was the action and passion, but traditional hockey culture made it hard to foster my love of the game.
Overemphasis on metrics, blunt dismissal of newer or uninformed fans, female fans almost being required to “prove” their fandom, and outright disdain for anyone deemed “other” – It all sapped my enjoyment of the great game.
Despite Detroit being firmly in dynasty territory at the time, my love and interest evaporated around age 10. It was clear that I didn’t belong and my perspective wasn’t valuable. If I didn’t know everything there was to know, I might as well kick rocks.
So I did.
Twenty of them.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
Taking a couple days with family, but editor Rory Boylen won’t allow any rest or relaxation without some thoughts on the GM meetings. So here goes:
WE’RE GOING TO GET A QUICK LOOK AT NEW NHL/NHLPA DYNAMICS
Marty Walsh officially begins next week as NHLPA Executive Director, and we’ve already got something to ask him. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated that while the players’ COVID escrow debt is being paid off faster than expected, it probably won’t be eradicated by the time the 2023-24 cap number needs to be set.
So, we’re looking at a $1M raise, instead of, maybe, $4.5M.
“It could be a discussion,” Bettman said Wednesday. “We’re hearing around the bend from players and others that there may be interest in having that, but one thing to keep in mind if we’re going to raise the cap and the escrow hasn’t been paid off, is then we’re going to have to look at raising the escrow rates…The two are inextricably tied together.”
“Others” is undoubtedly GMs and teams. We saw how constipated the league was until right before the trade deadline. Too many clubs squeezed tight to the cap. They crave flexibility like a thirsty person craves water. Anyway, this is true insight into what the Commissioner is thinking.
via Sportsnet's YouTube page,
Jordan Binnington goes after Ryan Hartman after a goal, and Marc-Andre Fleury skates down the ice and drops the gloves, but the fight was not allowed by the linesmen.
* Alex Ovechkin made his way up another NHL all-time list by scoring his 402nd goal on home ice as the Capitals completed a multi-goal, third-period comeback.
* A wild night by Minnesota featured the club overcome a multi-goal deficit, match the franchise record for most goals in a game and establish a new franchise record as the Wild extended the NHL’s longest active point streak to 14 contests.
* Wednesday saw a combined 34 goals (including shootout-deciding goals) – only one other four-game night in the past 25 years has featured more: 36 on Dec. 20, 2019.
* The Predators will look to extend the NHL’s longest active point streak versus a single opponent to 17 games when they host the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on HULU and ESPN+.
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
The answer, of course, is that there is no way to guarantee officials are perfect, and there’s not going to be a way, either now or down the road, to make them perfect. There will always be a degree of subjectivity in the interpretation of the rules, and that is not going to change.
This isn’t to say we can’t do better on the officiating front. This writer has advocated numerous times for the addition of a third referee in the NHL, one who would occupy an “eye-in-the-sky” position off the ice and could buzz in with a stoppage of play when they see some infraction the on-ice officials have missed.
Using a third referee would be a notable change, but people said there would be terrible difficulties when the NHL went from a single referee for games to two referees for games, beginning in the 1998-99 season. For the six decades years prior to that, only one referee was the norm and was what everyone was accustomed to. But fans, players, coaches and officials all adjusted, and we’d argue the game is better officiated now because of that change.
The same could and would happen with three referees. But even then, mistakes would be made, calls would be missed, and people in all cities would begrudge officials for “bias” against them. To the contrary – fans have to recognize the increased speed of the game makes it impossible for hockey referees to get everything right. And if there was a legitimate case to be made for referees having a bias against a player or team, the league would move very quickly to address the problem. But most officials are admirably professional in all their tasks.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
The Wings need victories. They can't afford many more losses, at all.
"Any loss is frustrating, especially one at this time of year," defenseman Ben Chiarot said. "We know if we can string a couple games together here, we're right there (in the standings). That's our focus for the next few weeks."
What was frustrating Tuesday was the fact the Wings did plenty good enough things to likely earn a victory. They were arguably the better team at even strength. They scored a power-play goal (including the third in three straight games by recent recall Alex Chiasson). The penalty kill stopped Nashville five times....
With the playoff dream slipping away, there might be a tendency for teams to lose their hunger. But, watching the Wings largely outplay league-leading Boston in two games last weekend, and their effort against Nashville, the Wings clearly aren't the team easing up.
"They've shown that with their compete (level) and their play," Lalonde said. "Now, if that tails off, then we have a different story and maybe a different approach. But, there has been very little tail-off from our group. It's been good, really good.
"I'm just happy we are playing the right way. That stretch around the (trade) deadline where we didn't play well, we probably felt sorry for ourselves a little bit. But, we've got our group now, and we've got guys slotted correctly; we have some rhythm with our group.
"I just want (us) to play — and the right way — and for the most part, over these last four games, we have. It's a little frustrating (Tuesday) we I felt we deserved a better outcome, at least a point out of this game."
What happened? See below.
from Kristen Shilton of ESPN,
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is confident as ever that the league is in a good place, with no plans to see it expand further in the immediate future.
"We're not in an expansion mode right now," said Bettman on Wednesday, after wrapping up the league's annual GM meetings. "There continues to be a number of people, entities and cities expressing interest in having an NHL franchise where they don't have one, places like Atlanta, like Houston, like Quebec City. But it's not really something, at least right now, that's anywhere close to the front burner for us."
Rumors have swirled about the NHL exploring new cities that might support a team. Atlanta in particular is a popular projection, partly based on its history with the league. The Atlanta Flames were there from 1972-80 before moving to Calgary, and the Thrashers lasted from 1999-2011, when the team relocated to Winnipeg.
7 1/2 minutes to watch.
NEW YORK (March 15, 2023) – The National Hockey League today announced key dates for the remainder of the 2022-23 season:
Monday, April 17
Start of 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Monday, May 8
2023 NHL Draft Lottery (7 p.m. ET, ESPN, SN, TVAS)
Saturday, June 3
Tentative start of 2023 Stanley Cup Final (TNT, SN, TVAS)
Sunday, June 4 – Saturday, June 10
2023 NHL Scouting Combine presented by adidas (Buffalo)
Monday, June 26
2023 NHL Awards (Bridgestone Arena)
Wednesday, June 28
Round 1 of 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft (7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPN, SN, TVAS) (Bridgestone Arena)
Thursday, June 29
Rounds 2-7 of 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft (11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT, NHLN, SN, TVAS) (Bridgestone Arena)
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe
Their focus not nearly where it needs to be, especially with the dream of a Cup dancing in their heads, the Bruins stumbled along to a shapeless, shabby 6-3 loss to the Hawks Tuesday at the United Center.
On the heels of Sunday’s loss in Detroit, yet another non-playoff team, it was the first time in 2022-’23 that the Black and Gold suffered consecutive regulation losses, and it was the third straight time that they yielded the game’s opening goal.
For a club that has been a trend-setter all season, powering to the top of the NHL standings and winning 50 games faster than any team in league history, the trend they have set of late now has them concerned.
“Clearly, we’re not checking well enough,” said coach Jim Montgomery, sounding miffed over the continued inconsistency of his club, which fell to 50-11-5 and now stands 1-3-0 in the last four. “We’re also not holding on to pucks well enough.”
Keeping in line with recent troubles, the Bruins again were blanked on the power play (0-for-2), fell a touch short on the penalty kill (2-for-3), and overall were outplayed by a near-no-name squad of Hawks that in no way resembles the dominating powerhouse that not long ago rattled off three Cup titles over six seasons.
Game highlights are below.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The Wings have 15 games left, and seven points and five teams stand between them and a wild-card spot. It's been three weeks since they rode a 7-1 stretch into wild card position; since then, they lost six in a row, amidst the turmoil of seeing four teammates traded at the deadline, then went 2-2 over the past week. To their coach, Derek Lalonde, what matters is that the Wings don't give up easy offense, that they defend well and build good habits.
"I’m just happy we are playing the right way," Lalonde said. "That stretch around the deadline where we didn’t play well, probably felt sorry for ourselves a little bit. But we’ve got our group now, and we’ve got some guys slotted correctly, we have some rhythm with our group. I just want to play and the right way, and for the most part, over these last four games, we have. It’s a little frustrating (Tuesday) that we I felt we deserved a better outcome, at least a point out of this game."
Lalonde has, from the start of the season, preached an emphasis on performance over outcome. And given they lost a top-line winger in Tyler Bertuzzi and a top-four defenseman in Filip Hronek at the trade deadline, the Wings' overall response has been pretty good.
"They’ve shown that with their compete and their play," Lalonde said. "Now, if that tails off, then we have a different story and maybe a different approach. But there has been very little tail-off from our group. It’s been good, really good."
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