From The Editor:

No. 1 Star: Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks 

Recorded his second hat trick of the year to propel the Ducks to a 4-1 win over the Sabres. Perry is now tied for the NHL lead in goal scoring with the Rangers’ Rick Nash.

No. 2 Star: Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers

One goal and two assists for the Flyers forward in a tough, rivalry game, a 5-3 win over Pittsburgh. Couturier also won 56 percent of his face offs.

No. 3 Star: Ben Scrivens, Edmonton Oilers

Made 32 saves on 34 shots on goal by the powerful Capitals attack to help the Oilers to their second straight win. Scrivens had to be on his guard all night as Edmonton was also out-Corsi’d by the Caps 66-36. 

Honorable mention: Edmonton’s Nikita Nikitin ripped a point blast past Caps netminder Braden Holtby for the Oilers game-winner … Philly’s R.J. Umberger notched a ‘Gordie Howe Hat Trick’ with a goal, an assist and a fight …  Ducks forward Ryan Kesler scored a goal and won 67 percent of his face offs… Anaheim Goaltender Frederik Andersen improved to 26-5-0 to start his NHL career with a win over the Sabres.

Did you know?: Philadelphia’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored his first NHL goal in the Flyers win over Pittsburgh. Bellemare is 29. View pure joy in the below video. 

Dishonorable mention: A multitude of Penguins were minus-3 or worse – they included Olli Maata (minus-3), Evgeni Malkin (minus-3), Kris Letang (minus-4) and Brandon Sutter (minus-4) … Holtby made just 17 saves on 20 Oilers shots to pick up the loss at Edmonton … Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was held point-less for the first time this season … Buffalo forward Sam Reinhart played under 10 minutes for the third straight game – playing 9:51 in the Sabres loss to Anaheim. Reinhart has 0 points in six games this season. 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 23, 2014, 5:14 am

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators were due to play on Wednesday night. They did not because downtown Ottawa came under siege earlier in the day, when a gunman shot and killed a solider at the National War Memorial before the gunman was shot and killed inside the Canadian Parliament building.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins did play on Wednesday night, and before the game fans at CONSOL Energy Center let Canadians know they’re in the thoughts and prayers of hockey fans. 

They sang to a performance of “O Canada,” which isn’t played before games featuring two American teams despite the majority of players being Canadians.

Here's another vantage point from Sean Gentille of the Sporting News from the press box:

Truth be told, we were expecting one of those “anthem singer drops out to allow fans to carry the tune” moments, which he did during “The Star Spangled Banner” that followed. But it’s the thought that counts, and this was a truly thoughtful moment from these two rivals.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 23, 2014, 12:45 am

As the Slava Voynov issue continues to twist and turn -- our Nick Cotsonika has updates from Voynov's attorney and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly -- there is still a hockey component for Voynov's indefinite suspension by the league under suspicion of domestic violence. 

At the time of Voynov's suspension, which was announced Monday, the Kings had five healthy defensemen without Voynov, as it was believed defenseman Jake Muzzin was out with an upper body injury sustained in the preseason. 

Well, Muzzin is out no longer! Per Jon Rosen of lakingsinsider.com, Muzzin said he's not 100 percent, but good to go for Thursday's game against Buffalo, which brings the Kings up to six defensemen. 

“[The injury] didn’t affect my skating or being able to do that,” Muzzin said. “It’s different though, going from practice to a game tempo and game battles and game situations. But we’ll look to get into it tomorrow night and go from there, see how I feel.”

Since Muzzin was not on injured reserve, this does not do any damage to the Kings' salary cap situation. Per CapGeek.com, Los Angeles is pushed up against the cap with just $498,291 worth of space as of Wednesday

Voynov is in the second year of a six-year $25 million contract that carries a $4.67 million salary cap hit. 

Daly told Cotsonika that Voynov, "currently occupies a roster spot and is being charged against the Kings' cap."

This all basically means that with Muzzin's return, the Kings salary situation is safe for now. But the first sign of an injury to a defenseman, there could be much questioning as to how both the league, and the Kings move forward. 

As we've said many times in regards to the Voynov situation ... stay tuned. 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 22, 2014, 9:03 pm

[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.] 

7. Big effin' surprises

“What do you mean the Jets suck?”

This is, somehow, something that's being said in Winnipeg.

See, the Jets won just one of their first five games, which obviously isn't an ideal number. And in those games, they've scored just eight times, and simultaneously allowed 15 goals. A surefire recipe for disaster there, no doubt about it. But the thing is, people in Winnipeg seem shocked by this.

No one, though, is more shocked than Paul Effin' Maurice, who can't understand why this underwhelming roster is so underwhelming that it's losing to Calgary 4-1, but knows exactly what isn't the problem:

"It's not the players' job to tell [media about accountability]. I don't have to open this book up to you and tell you everything that goes on in the room," said Maurice. "I can make you cry in the [effin'] room. Listen, I understand you have to work with what you're given and I appreciate that. But the accountability in the room is fine. We deal with our problems directly. And I apologize for the profanity.”

Worth noting: The profanity is warranted. The Winnipeg media have spent the last three winters blaming everything on the Atlanta loser stink and what is, admittedly, an impossibly difficult division to navigate. Now that any stench from the South at all would have long since worn off, they're looking around for other reasons the Jets continue to stink, so long as those reasons don't involve blaming Kevin Cheveldayoff too harshly. “Look what he was handed by incompetent Thrashers management (and then repeatedly signed to lengthy extensions)!” and so on. It must be leadership. Yeah, that's the ticket. No wonder Maurice is pissed; the team's bad and it was always unavoidable. But you can't just throw your hands up for 82 straight games and go, “What can you do?” So this is the answer.

Meanwhile, they also know very definitively who they can not-blame: Ondrej Pavelec!

Of course Ondrej Pavelec is find and dandy with these guys. After all, he's “done his share” with a .906 save percentage in his first five appearances (.906, of course, is exactly in line with his awful career average) and had a really good preseason. Yup, we're now talking about a good set of like four fake games against mostly AHL talent, and then five real ones in which he's been exactly as bad as ever, and saying that you can't do better than this.

What a market.

6. Tuu Enjoy Myself

You would think that, given his start to the season (.870 in five appearances), Tuukka Rask would want to do as much as possible to draw attention from the fact that awfulness seems to follow him around.

Instead, he sat in on drums with a band that covered a Phish song. Presumably because Claude Julien is always looking for a little more jam in his lineup.

5. Trading for Eric Staal

Well it's five games into the season, so why wouldn't the rumor mill already be churning because some teams are starting a little slower than many expected? And why wouldn't that mill start, oh, I don't know, with an aging, expensive center from a team that's doomed to finish near the bottom of the league this season.

Yes, this particular Rite of Autumn has finally arrived, and this time the player upon whom the hockey world has largely settled for such rumors is Eric Staal. You can see why. He had only three more goals last season than he did in a 48-game campaign the year before, he's about to close out his 20s, and he makes a ton of money from a team that probably doesn't want to pay him any more.

But let's face facts here: Eric Staal isn't like, Capital E Capital S Eric Staal any more. He's not Canadian Olympian Eric Staal. He's not NHL All-Star Eric Staal. He's the second-best center with his last name on his own team. And he makes $8.25 million against the cap. For some reason (well, I mean, I know what the reason is), it seems that many people believe teams would be more than happy to kick the tires on him, because of who he was.

The perceived value of the player here greatly exceeds his actual value. He turns 30 in a week. He makes more than almost every forward in the league. He hasn't scored 30 goals in three seasons and probably won't do it again. He has a no-move clause. He's signed for next year, owed $9.5 million in actual dollars, and would probably want assurances that he'd get an extension if he were to waive that NMC protection. He'd probably want first-line minutes.

All these things scream, “Don't trade for Eric Staal.” And yet, because of that name value, teams will offer actual assets — probably good ones — for his services, and act as though they'd won the lottery if they get him.

Don't get me wrong here. He's still an effective player in the NHL, but the question is for how much longer that will be the case. He's not worth the money — the same cap hit as Ryan Getzlaf with half a million dollars more in actual paychecks — right now, on Oct. 22, 2014. Imagine 2015. Imagine 2017. Imagine a lot of bad things.

Fortunately for would-be bidders, most teams probably wouldn't be able to find a reasonable way to make $8.25 million in cap obligations work under their limits. Which means they won't trade for Eric Staal. Which would be a good move on their part.

4. Throwing your jersey

We're still doing this, huh? And we're doing it after like four games? I wonder if that first guy who threw his jersey a few years ago has these terrible pangs of regret for kick-starting the most feckless, boring “protest” in recent hockey history. “I'm so mad about this I'm throwing a $200 jersey on the ice from my $400 seats.”

Not to get too much into the “real fan” argument, but we all watch Leafs games. We know who the kind of person throwing his dumb jersey (probably with “Clarkson” on the back) is. These are the protests of the rich idiot who's likely already at least somewhat disinterested by anything that's not his iPhone.

3. All you young goalies out there

Things were long-expected to go sideways for the Colorado Avalanche this season after a stellar if unrepeatable performance through 82 last year. So far, that's all right on schedule.

Remember all that stuff about “shot quality is how we score so many goals?” Prior to last night's game they were shooting just 5.5 percent as a team. And how they could also limit shot quality? Their team save percentage was just .915, down from .922 a year earlier. Semyon Varlamov also dropped from .927 to .910. No way to see that coming unless you paid any sort of attention.

But then Varlamov got hurt, and he's looking like he'll be out at least a little while longer. Meanwhile, it fell to Reto Berra (who is bad) to cover for him. Then Berra got hurt in a game late last week, and in came Cal Pickard for two appearances. They didn't go well.

The good news is that the Avs might just be in the market for a halfway decent goalie in the near future — because Berra doesn't meet the minimum standards there — and if you're someone who's even just a little bit better than Ilya Bryzgalov, they might just call you up or trade for you. That means an NHL contract and regular free flights in a private jet to gorgeous locales like St. Paul and Winnipeg. You might even be able to get Patrick Roy's autograph.

Can't beat that deal.

2. The Brodie extension

On Monday, Calgary announced that it had signed defenseman TJ Brodie to a five-year deal that would pay him $4.65 million against the cap on average. General snickering among a certain set of hockey fans commenced. “Haha, that's more than the Kings gave Jake Muzzin.” That sort of thing.

But what people don't seem to realize is that Brodie has quietly become one of the best defensemen in hockey, and more people would know it if: 1) The Flames were any good at all, and 2) He weren't sharing a pairing with someone who is already one of those quietly-became-one-of-the-best-in-hockey defensemen, Mark Giordano.

And sure, playing with a good defenseman helps. And the WOWYs when they're apart don't speak too well (Brodie's CF% is 49.5 when he's separated from Giordano over the last three seasons, and that's over 2,287-plus ES minutes). But at the same time, Giordano is even worse without Brodie than Brodie is without him (47.4 CF% in nearly 2,137 minutes). Together, they're 56.2 percent.

When you add Mikael Backlund to the mix, their total CF% is approaching 60 percent over the last three seasons, which is to say that they are dominant in a way that most other top groups in the league can only hope to be. And so when you take that into account, $4.65 million — including eating three years of unrestricted free agency — plus whatever Backlund and Giordano end up getting this summer (even if it's a lot), the deal is a huge bargain.

1. Montreal fans

Well, it was a banner week in Montreal, if only because the Habs humbled the Bruins once again. They are officially the bogey team of the best Eastern Conference club over the last several seasons, and things get especially hairy when their games are at Bell Centre.

Shining a laser pointer at Tuukka Rask is a dirtbag move, no question about it, and the fan who did it should be banned from NHL rinks. That's plain to see. But unless there were 20,000-plus people shining them at Milan “I'll Effin' Kill You” Lucic to make him flip out, and shell out $5,000, then it's pretty clear the fans up there are in the Bruins' heads to an extent you very rarely see in professional sports today.

You have to wonder how much of it is Boston's own doing (I'd estimate that it's somewhere around “all of it”) because of all the machismo they carry around with Playing Bruins Hockey and how much they seem to genuinely hate the Habs. But the people at Bell Centre feed on that, and play into it, and get the best on-paper team in the East off their game pretty consistently. That's home-ice advantage to a crazy extent.

(Not ranked this week: People who believe “innocent until proven guilty” applies to the NHL's supplementary discipline.

The only thing worth saying about Slava Voynov at this point is that the league clearly got it right, and we don't have to wait to get any real details to know that much. The fact that he got suspended before news broke tells you things in this case are pretty bad, as does his organization and coach basically saying, “This had to be done.”

Voynov does not get the benefit of the doubt from the league and his team and his coach because of the climate in sports today. That's a good thing. Bill Daly can say all he wants that the circumstances here are different than they were with Semyon Varlamov last year, and that's true. But it's only because now, if there's even a whiff that a pro athlete might have assaulted a woman, the Ray Rice thing (and more specifically the NFL's handling of it) basically ensures justice will be swift, and err on the side of not rousing public opinion against the league/team involved by standing with the player during his “tough time.”

People need to keep in mind that “innocent until proven guilty” applies only to the law. The NHL is under now obligation to extend such courtesy to paid employees because they are not putting him in jail, nor are they cutting off his paychecks. They're just not allowing him to play hockey. Frankly, that's the least they can do in this day and age.)

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: October 22, 2014, 8:51 pm

Wednesday morning's tragic events in Ottawa -- where a gunman opened fire at the National War Memorial, shooting a solider standing guard before driving a car to the doors of Parliament Hill, have sparked responses from the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Both teams were supposed to play Wednesday evening at the Canadian Tire Centre in nearby Kanata, but the NHL has postponed the game. Both teams supported the NHL's decision. 

Below is a statement from the Maple Leafs:

“The Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of all affected by the tragic events in downtown Ottawa today. The Club supports the National Hockey League’s decision to postpone tonight’s scheduled meeting with the Ottawa Senators.

We have been witness today to some terrible events but are thankful to those brave men and women for their tireless service in protecting everyone’s safety.”

And below is the statment from Senators owner Eugene Melnyk:

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by today’s tragic events on Parliament Hill and in downtown Ottawa. Our collective thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims as well as with all Members of Parliament and staff who have had to manage through today’s difficult circumstances,” said Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. “Hockey is certainly secondary to these type of tragic events and we know our fans stand alongside us with the league’s decision to postpone tonight’s game.”

Obviously this is all gut-wrenching stuff. As our Nick Cotsonika noted on Twitter, there was no way the NHL could rightfully play the game Wednesday

Per Kim Mackrael of the Globe and Mail, downtown Ottawa -- which is about 30 minutes from where the Senators play -- is still not secure, and people are still being told to stay inside and keep their doors locked. 

Senators and Maple Leafs players have already taken to Twitter to react to the situation. 

Makes me sad what's going on in Ottawa right now. Thoughts and prays to everyone involved. Everybody stay safe

— Erik Karlsson (@ErikKarlsson65) October 22, 2014

Surreal scene outside of our hotel right now. Lot of very brave police officers we should all be very proud of.

— Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) October 22, 2014
Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 22, 2014, 7:25 pm

The Los Angeles Kings supported the NHL’s suspension of defenseman Slava Voynov after his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence. But general manager Dean Lombardi also had a number of questions about the mechanics of the situation.

Voynov is suspended from team activities indefinitely with pay. So what is the timing of the NHL’s investigation? How does that relate to the criminal investigation? What is the impact on the Kings’ salary cap? The Kings have six healthy defensemen now that Jake Muzzin is ready to return to the lineup, but they have little cap room if someone gets hurt.

Team and league officials held a conference call Tuesday. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly responded to questions from Yahoo Sports in an e-mail Wednesday:

Q: Is there any more clarity on the timing? Will he remain suspended as long as the legal process plays out? Will the league hold a hearing — and make a determination — before that?

DALY: “No more clarity on timing. Process and timeline will be dictated, at least in part, by how the player decides to proceed vis-a-vis the ongoing criminal investigation. It is possible the league process could be accelerated and completed before the full legal process plays out, but it’s also possible that it may not.”

What do the Kings do in the meantime? What is the effect on their cap? 

“Because the player has been suspended with pay, at this point, it’s as if he has been suspended under the supplementary discipline process, or that he has been injured and is day-to-day. In other words, he currently occupies a roster spot and is being charged against the Kings' cap. I did, however, allow for the possibility that we may revisit the player's treatment if it becomes clear that this is going to be a longer-term situation.” 

Daly also confirmed the NHL acted on more information about the incident than has been available publicly.

Author: Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Posted: October 22, 2014, 6:37 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

@BaileyLAKings

• Via LA Kings mascot Bailey: Good job, good effort, NBC. [Tumblr]

• Chris Johnston on the Pandora’s box the NHL may have opened with the suspension of Slava Voynov. [Sportsnet]

• Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford on Marc-Andre Fleury’s future: "As long as I'm GM here, he's my goalie.” [ESPN]

• Nick Cotsonika on the New York Islanders wanting to give Nassau Coliseum a memorable send-off. [Yahoo

• Mikhail Grabovski has been put on IR retroactive to Oct. 16 and Colin McDonald has been placed on waivers by the Islanders. [Islanders]

• Eric Staal’s name has resurfaced in the rumor mill, but with declining stats and a heavy cap hit, what kind of return could the Carolina Hurricanes captain command? [TSN]

• Joe Thornton returned again to Boston Tuesday night. Here is he talking about his days with the Bruins and his awesome 1997 hair. [NESN

• Cory Schneider hasn’t had the best of starts for the New Jersey Devils. Should they be worried? [Lozo

• Former Devils broadcaster Chico Resch on Martin Brodeur: “If I am a general manager though and I’m thinking about 'team', I’m going to wonder if I want a distraction where Marty Brodeur’s march to 700 is going to be documented and that march to 700 will be a story. Every time he plays he’s going to be a bigger story then the team and I think that’s what general managers were afraid of, the cost of bringing on an icon with a personal goal as much as the team goal, which is really the truth. I just don’t know who is going to take that risk.” [Alternative Nation

• It’s early, but what can we take away from the first few games of the Washington Capitals’ season? [Japers’ Rink]

• T.J. Brodie or Tyler Spurgeon: Who are you more likely to add to your fantasy hockey team? [Dobber Hockey]

• Gianluca Curcuruto of the Plymouth Whalers has been handed a 12-game suspension for a headshot on Travis Konecny. [Buzzing the Net]

• Here are some surprising facts from the Vancouver Canucks’ media guide, from Chris Higgins scoring versus everyone to Anger Management being Ryan Miller’s favorite TV show. [PITB

• Have you asked yourself what Jarko Ruutu is up to these days? Wonder no more. The former NHL pest has joined up with Swiss club EHC Biel on a tryout. [Biel]

• A fan’s poem about Wayne Gretzky from a 1999 game program is heading to the International Hockey Hall of Fame. [Last Word on Sports]

• Finally, here’s Carey Price being cheeky with Darren Helm:

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 22, 2014, 6:26 pm

LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a Wednesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

Special Guest Star: Chris Johnston of Sportsnet talks Slava Voynov fallout and the postponement of the Leafs/Sens game. 

• Two goalie interference calls worth debating. 

• The Devils' new ticket plan hurts fans. 

Question of the Day: Ask us anything! Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 22, 2014, 5:51 pm

OttawaA gunman opened fire at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday morning, shooting a solider standing guard there before driving a car to the doors of Parliament Hill. Witnesses reported hearing gunfire from inside the building; the gunman was later reported dead, while the solider was being treated for injuries. 

Ottawa police confirmed there were shootings in three different locations, sparking fears of a coordinated attack.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators were scheduled to face off tonight, and Canadian Tire Center is about 30 minutes outside of downtown Ottawa (without traffic). But at 1:25 p.m. ET, the NHL announced the game has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.

The NHL postponed the Boston Bruins’ home game against the Senators on the day of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, announcing it two hours after the attack. Suspects were still at large at the time, and there were security concerns. 

The Maple Leafs did not have a morning skate in Ottawa on Wednesday, and were in fact locked down in a hotel across from the War Memorial.

Cyril Leeder, president of the Ottawa Senators, said on FAN 590 that his team is in “a controlled lockdown at Canadian Tire center” while the Leafs are staying at a Westin attached to the Rideau Centre. He said “We've had reports from some of the guys [the Leafs] that were there that they could hear the shots going off from their rooms." (Thanks to Hope Smoke for the quotes.)

Our thoughts and prayers to everyone in Ottawa affected by this tragedy. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 22, 2014, 4:29 pm

As a goal scorer, Rick Nash has always dabbled in the extremes. 

“I usually find myself a pretty streaky player. If they’re going in, they’re going in,” he said Tuesday night, after the New York Rangers rallied to beat the New Jersey Devils.

“If they’re not … they’re definitely not.”

They definitely weren’t last postseason. As the Rangers surged to the Stanley Cup Final, Nash’s goal-scoring was passing by on the other track, speeding in the opposite direction: Three goals in 25 games, and zero points in his last six games, five of them against the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings.

They definitely are this regular season. Nash has eight goals in seven games, having failed to score a goal vs. the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 16. He tallied again against the Devils, collecting a rebound and putting one by Cory Schneider to tie their game before Kevin Klein’s overtime game-winner.

“Half the battle has been getting the lucky bounces and I’ve been getting them so far,” he said.

“Puck Luck.” It’s a common rejoinder in an NHL locker room, explaining away bad streaks and humbly deflecting the work that goes into sparking the good ones.

It’s undeniable Nash has been the beneficiary of it this season: His PDO, which combines shooting percentage and save percentage while on the ice, is 113.5, placing him 11th in the NHL so far, although he’s taken more shots on goal (20) than anyone ahead of him. He settled in at 101.8 last season, third on the Rangers, and he scored 26 goals in 65 games. His current goal-scoring levels are as unsustainable as his drought was last postseason.

That said, to have scored nearly a third of those goals after just eight games, and after his postseason struggle, is one of the NHL’s most epic stunners. Especially when you consider none of them have come on the power play and all have come without the services of Derek Stepan, his center last season who’s out with an injured leg.

So besides the nebulous “puck luck,” what’s changed for Nash? Four factors:

1. Fitness. Nash looks leaner than he has with the Rangers, which he attributes to adding more running and sprints to his typical summer routine. He came to camp in great shape, and that positive offseason was a foundation for what we’re witnessing.

2. Fearlessness. Nash’s time with the Rangers has been defined by concussions as much as anything. As Larry Brooks notes, they affected his game last season, with Nash admitting that he was uncomfortable doing things that put himself in harm’s way. So far, he’s played with reckless abandon, crashing goalies and scoring from all around the offensive zone.

“Trying to keep my game honest and safe defensively, first of all. Trying to get my chances from good defense,” he said.

3. Mindset. Give Nash this: Although he’s clearly crushed he didn’t score more goals last postseason, he’s memorized the song coach Alain Vigneault was singing about him throughout the conference championship run: He played great hockey, and contributed to that effort, even if he didn’t hit the score sheet.

“Besides the goal scoring, we got to the Finals. It was a lot of fun. Every guy in this room was a huge piece of that puzzle,” said Nash.

The Rangers’ training camp mantra was to move on from last postseason. Nash apparently has.

4. Babies. McLaren Nash was born on Sunday, Oct. 12. It’s the first child for Nash and his wife Jessica, who was pregnant during last season and postseason, according to our math.

It’s “the best feeling in the world,” according to Nash. And here’s the thing about fatherhood: It changes you. It reorders life. It clears away the noise, even if that noise is the voices of thousands of Rangers fans questioning your effort, contract and stardom.

Which is to say that Rick Nash had, after the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, reached the crossroads that every player who’s brought into a New York team from another franchise faces:

They’re either falling in love with you, or you’re a bum.

But you know what else New York loves? An underdog. And so far, Rick Nash’s journey from playoff goat to league-leading scorer has them enchanted.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 22, 2014, 3:44 pm
Oct 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz talks to his team from behind the bench against the Florida Panthers in the first period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 2-1 in a shootout. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Washington's Barry Trotz couldn't coach offense. Barry Trotz had trouble coaching players from Russia or former Soviet countries. 

The Caps' best player just happens to be an offensive superstar from Russia. Oh wow, what a nightmare in the making!

Well, after five games, the Caps haven't lost in regulation. Alex Ovechkin -- the aforementioned referenced Russian superstar -- has five goals in five games. The Caps are fourth in the league with 3.40 goals per-game.

And now this below report from Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post that sunshine and rainbows have dawned on the Caps locker room and the Trotz/Ovechkin relationship:

“We get along great,” Trotz told Prewitt. “He’s playing great, he’s been receptive. He’s an honest player. He tells you what he thinks and that’s all a player wants from a coach. He’s really been a pleasure to coach.” 

And Ovechkin?

“The atmosphere in the locker room is unbelievable.” 

Let's pour some cold water on the lovefest for a second. It's five games into the season. The Capitals haven't had a long road trip yet -- they're spending the next three games in Western Canada. Long road trips tend to create adverse situations, and test player/coach relationships. 

 But the early returns certainly indicate that everything is moving swimmingly with Trotz and Ovechkin.

Does their relationship merit watching throughout the season? Absolutely. It'll be an ongoing storyline. But for now, to paraprhase Disney's Robin Hood ... two weeks and all's well. 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 22, 2014, 2:00 pm

No. 1 Star: Kevin Klein, New York Rangers

Klein needed to do his goalie Henrik Lundqvist a solid after a few pucks had gone in off the defenseman this season, including one against the New Jersey Devils. So he gave Lundqvist the win with the third game-winner of his eight-season career, scoring at 2:18 of overtime to complete a Rangers rally for the 4-3 win.

No. 2 Star: Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs

Phil The Thrill led the Leafs’ rally on Long Island, scoring two goals and assisting on one by James van Riemsdyk as Toronto blew past the New York Islanders, 5-2.

No. 3 Star: Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning

Palat’s sweet backhand goal on a point blast from Anton Stralman gave the Bolts a 2-1 overtime victory against the Calgary Flames, as Evgeni Nabokov outdueled Karri Ramo.

Honorable Mention: Antti Raata made 32 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks scored three first-period goals in a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Patrick Kane had two goals. … It wasn’t pretty, but the Boston Bruins defeated the San Jose Sharks, 5-3. Seth Griffith scored his first NHL goal. Torey Krug and Milan Lucic had 3-point nights. Logan Couture had two goals. … David Desharnais was the OT hero for the Montreal Canadiens, as they defeated the Detroit Red Wings, 2-1.

The Nashville Predators won again, this time in a shootout over the Arizona Coyotes. Ryan Ellis scored a goal in regulation and the eventual winner in the shootout. … Adam Lowery scored his first NHL goal and Dustin Byfuglien added the back-breaker in the second as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-1. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 21 of 22 shots. … The Dallas Stars got two goals from Erik Cole and a slew of other multi-point games in doubling the Vancouver Canucks. … Rick Nash scored his eighth for the Rangers. … Brad Boyes’ OT goal at 2:23 gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche, who rallied from three goals down.

 

Did You Know? The Devils and Rangers were a combined 5-for-8 on the power play.

Dishonorable Mention: Thomas Hickey and Travis Hamonic were a minus-3. … Ryan Miller was pulled after giving up five goals on 13 shots. … Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins were minus-3; Kevin Bieksa was a minus-4. … This goalie interference penalty was bad. … This goalie interference penalty was terrible. ... In fact, the overall officiating in the Panthers/Avs game was terrible. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 22, 2014, 6:17 am

The Florida Panthers defeated the Colorado Avalanche in overtime on Tuesday night, 4-3, on a Brad Boyes goal. This result proves that the Hockey Gods have a sense of goodness and fairness, because the Panthers were nearly jobbed by an atrocious goalie interference penalty late in the third period.

Bjugstad made a brilliant move in the Avalanche zone, skating out from behind the net, turning and accelerating through the Colorado defense towards goalie Reto Berra. The goalie moved to the top of his crease and attempted a poke check. Bjugstad collided with his pad and flew through the air.

The result? Two minutes for goalie interference, a penalty that the Panthers would eventually kill.

The NHL rulebook, on goalie interference:

“Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.”

Or, if you prefer:

A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

Considering where Berra was when the contact was made, and the fact that his aggressive defensive play was THE ONLY REASON THERE WAS CONTACT, there’s no way in hell there should have been a goalie interference call, let alone a power play being handed to Colorado in that situation.

The difference between this play and the one that took a Pavel Datsyuk goal off the board for the Red Wings at the Montreal Canadiens? The rules provided Carey Price some cover when he initiated contact with Justin Abdelkader, who had placed himself near the Montreal goalie. But this Bjugstad play only happens because Berra attempts to play the puck.

One’s a bad rule with too much gray area. The other’s just a terrible call. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 22, 2014, 4:38 am

Pavel Datsyuk returned to the Detroit Red Wings lineup on Tuesday night and did what Pavel Datsyuk does, which is score a ridiculous goal: Blazing speed into the Montreal Canadiens zone, a dangle to the middle, a spinning backhand perfectly placed past Carey Price. 

Only it didn’t count.

Nor should it have counted, as per the NHL’s goalie interference rules and the real-time enforcement of them, without benefit of review.

Justin Abdelkader of the Red Wings parked himself next to Price, his skate near the crease. Price moved into his hip, attempting to defend the shot. And the goal was disallowed because of that contact.

Fox Sports Detroit announcers Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond went a little nuts, attempting to paint Price as the aggressor here. And he was, but it doesn't matter, as the NHL rules state:

“Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal.”

Now, the Red Wings ended up losing this one, 2-1 in overtime, turning this disallowed goal into a rather significant one, because Detroit would have gone up 2-0. Instead, Alex Galchenyuk scored with 3:09 left and then Montreal won it in overtime.

After the game, coach Mike Babcock joined the chorus of his announcers: "Abby ends up with his foot in the paint, but Price definitely initiates contact."

Again: Letter of the law, the refs called it right, because there's no way of telling if Price sold the bump or if was impaired, as the play went on. 

But if the question is whether the law should work like that, giving goalies yet another advantage per the rulebook while coaches have no recourse with a challenge during the game, well … it’s just too bad about that Datsyuk goal is all. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 22, 2014, 2:55 am

Mar 28, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Nathan Horton (8) falls on the ice in front of Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) at Nationwide Arena. The Penguins won 2-1. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)Calling Nathan Horton’s back ailment an “injury” seems a bit flimsy in light of Aaron Portzline’s report on Monday that the Columbus Blue Jackets forward’s career might be over. 

Horton has a “degeneration of the entire lumbar region of his spine or lower back” according to the Columbus Dispatch, and there’s growing concern that his career “might be finished.”

He signed a 7-year, $37.1-million free-agent contract with the Blue Jackets in 2013. That was after recovering from a concussion he suffered in Boston, and shoulder surgery that delayed the start of his season with Columbus.

Surgery on his back is an option, but by no means a guarantee that his back would improve. His agent, Paul Krepelka, said Horton is in “constant pain.”

From Puck-Rakers:

The Blue Jackets will be covered by insurance for most of Horton’s salary — $6 million this season — once he misses the club’s 21st game of the season, on Nov. 25. Future seasons would work the same.

Horton could be placed on the long-term injured reserve list if the Blue Jackets need space under the NHL salary cap, but that’s not yet an issue. The Blue Jackets are $7.17 million under the cap, according to CapGeek.com.

The Jackets, who have been asking around for a replacement at forward for Horton, envisioned him on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner this season, utilizing his veteran presence to continue inching closer to championship contention.

Instead, he may have played his last game, for the Jackets or anyone else in the NHL.

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 22, 2014, 12:08 am
NHL--Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, police headshot after domestic violence charges, October 2014

Since the NHL broke the news that it had suspended Kings defenseman Slava Voynov indefinitely after an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence (Voynov has reportedly yet to be charged), both the league and the Kings have shown a united front in support of the action. 

While deputy commissioner Bill Daly had been active in defending the NHL's actions in this case, the Kings have been mainly silent with the exception of a statement by the team. 

That ended Tuesday with general manager Dean Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter chatting with reporters at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, Calif.

What we learned was that Sutter went to Voynov's house Tuesday, and both he and Lombardi support the NHL's decision.  From Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register when Sutter was asked if he agreed with the NHL: "Absolutely," Sutter said. "It’s very appropriate."

From Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, Sutter on whether the Kings might be distracted by the Voynov arrest: 

"We’re pretty close as a team. It’s not just ‘team,’ it’s more of a family thing. We deal with distractions all the time. We’ve been able to handle a lot of adversity and pressure for three years now. [Reporter: Is this in any way different because it’s a legal matter, as far as a distraction goes?] I guess ‘yes,’ because we don’t really have anything to talk about. It’s a legal process, and we’ll let that play out."

Rosen also has a long transcript of GM Dean Lombardi's chat about Voynov, who said times have changed when it comes to players' status after being arrested.

"The old system was play until the criminal system does its thing. Well, that ain’t the case. So now what do you do with all this grey that’s out there, particularly again now in a cap era where it’s not so easy to recall players and deal with things?" he said. 

From Lombardi, who has a law degree from Tulane, via Rosen:

"I think it’s safe to say even the appearance of impropriety, now we know the ramifications of it. So just being here right now, that when you’re a professional athlete, when things go good, you can be up here and they make video games of you. When things go bad, it’s a heightened standard here. So, again, without indicting anybody, I think that’s a lesson that probably constantly needs to be reinforced, but I think it’s really brought home right now from a personal standpoint, to a friend, a teammate, and also, you know what? This is the kind of stuff that in the old days, they used to sweep it under the rug. Baseball’s had this problem – how long have they had it? Darryl Strawberry. Albert Belle. Jose Canseco. Go right down the thing, [and it’s swept] right under the rug. Well, it ain’t happening that way anymore, boys. And even when you’re not guilty…and so again, that’s why it’s dangerous saying that, because you’re assuming I think he’s guilty. But we’ve always said that a public figure is held to a higher standard, and it’s even the appearance of impropriety."

In Hammond's story, Lombardi notes that he was going to have a conference call with the NHL later in the day, so currently it's not entirely clear where everything stands between the league, Kings and Voynov. 

In the last 24-plus hours there have been comparisons to how the NHL handled the Semyon Varlamov case last year, when the Colorado goaltender was arrested on domestic assault charges, but was not suspended by neither the NHL nor the Avalanche. 

It has been surmised that the NFL's recent poor handlings of domestic violence has changed the landscape in sports on these issues. 

And there's still a hockey component to this matter. The Kings play the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday at Staples Center. As Hammond notes, Los Angeles has five healthy defenseman, though Jake Muzzin could return. 

There are still lots of twists and turns to this story that is far from over. 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 21, 2014, 9:07 pm

The NHL’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer campaign began Monday, with all 30 teams holding in-arena awareness nights through Nov. 17. St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has decided to show his support through his hair, well, what's left of it, after the disease hit close to home recently.

In late August, Pietrangelo sent out a Tweet asking for prayers for his niece, Ellie, after she was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, a rare cancer of the kidneys that affects mostly children. After undergoing surgery to remove a mass, the 5-year old began chemotherapy.

On Monday night, almost two months after Pietrangelo’s Tweet, he sent out another one. This time, it was two photos of him and Ellie. To support his niece in her cancer fight, the Blues defenseman decided to enlist her help in shaving his head. The first picture caught Ellie's work midway through, while the second showcased the final product:

My beautiful niece Ellie gave me a new look today! #standuptocancer pic.twitter.com/RIptE5OQH4

— Alex Pietrangelo (@apetro_27) October 20, 2014

The thing to take away from that photo isn’t Pietrangelo’s newly-shaved head, it’s Ellie’s smile. 

From Elisabeth Meinecke of The 9s Magazine

“To see her laugh, and smile, the way she was when she was doing it—even though she dug the razor in a couple times—it was good,” said Pietrangelo, who added he’s been talking about the idea for awhile.  “I had bunches of hair. I had a rat tail and everything going on. Sister-in-law cleaned it up a bit. She didn’t do this herself at 5 years old.  … I was scared about the eyebrows.”
He’s admitted he’s never shaved his head. And it was something even a mother could have trouble getting used to—“I think my mother was terrified when I sent her a picture,” Pietrangelo admitted.

Pietrangelo has been active in the fight against cancer for some time. In 2011, he was introduced to 14-year old Blues fan Seth Lange, who was battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The teen made a lasting impression on the organization when his Christmas wish that year was to donate toys to a local children’s hospital, which he did with help from Pietrangelo and goaltender Brian Elliott.

Unfortunately, Seth lost his fight this past August, two days after the Blues held their Ice Breaker event where they unveiled their new jerseys. After the event, Pietrangelo personally delivered a signed jersey to Seth, who's health had taken a turn for the worse by that point.

For Ellie, she's still smiling and supporting her uncle's hockey endeavors while he supports her in her fight. To help off-set their medical expenses, the family has set up a GoFundMe page and are close to their goal of raising $20,000.

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 21, 2014, 8:28 pm
Oct 15, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) shoots the puck as Edmonton Oilers defenseman Nikita Nikitin (86) and center Mark Arcobello (26) defend during the third period at Gila River Arena. (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

NASHVILLE – Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson holds a cup of coffee in a Gatorade cup outside of the visitor’s locker room at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Breakfast of champions?

“Sure,” he gives a wry smile following Arizona’s morning skate

Whatever gets the Swedish minute-crunching blueliner going (he seemingly plays forever, averaging almost half-a-game of ice-time) that night works.

“He plays a lot of minutes in all situations,” Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. “He plays like an elite defenseman in the league. Players who play in that position earn that right and he does that.”

Ekman-Larsson’s skill as a defenseman is quite obvious. He’s got all the necessary tools.

Great stick? Check.

Excellent skater? Check.

Passing? Almost always tape-to-tape.

Shot? Solid.

Positioning? Sound.

Size? He’s listed at 6-foot-2.

But there is somewhat of a cautionary tale down the hall in Nashville’s Shea Weber, another elite toolsy blueliner.

The 29-year-old Weber is a three-time Norris Trophy finalist, turning him into the Susan Lucci, or Buffalo Bills, of the award to a degree. You can make cases for Nicklas Lidstrom beating him in 2011, Erik Karlsson in 2012 and Duncan Keith in 2014. But the fact that Weber has played in small, non-traditional Nashville probably hasn’t helped his Norris push with voters.

Is it possible that the 23-year-old Ekman-Larsson, who plays in Glendale, Ariz., will suffer the same fate? The answer is probably yes to a degree. But without playing in non-major hockey markets, players like Weber and Ekman-Larsson couldn’t develop under-the radar to the same degree, which ultimately has helped them become elite.

“That’s one of those things where around the league guys know. Even if he’s not getting the publicity through the media or whatever," Weber said. “We know he has been good for a long time, and he’s very efficient.”

Those around Arizona compare Ekman-Larsson, the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, to a young Nicklas Lidstrom – Detroit’s recently retired seven-time Norris winner. While the Swedish comparisons are probably the genesis of this, Ekman-Larsson is more like a bigger version of Ryan Suter, the smooth-skating Minnesota Wild defenseman. 

Last season, Ekman-Larsson notched 44 points and 15 goals for Arizona while averaging 25:54 of ice-time per-game. This year he has three points in four games, and is up to 26:14 per-contest

“He is so good offensively and defensively. He’s one of the best sticks I’ve seen defensively in breaking up plays and making that first simple pass,” Arizona defenseman Keith Yandle said. “That’s when he’s at his best. He has one of the better skillsets in the league for a defenseman … the way he can skate and handle the puck, it’s pretty amazing.”

While his skills are obvious, there is somewhat of a PR component to the Norris. The award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, and a lot don’t often see Ekman Larsson who plays most of the year in more westerly time zones.

Ekman-Larsson probably helped himself this fall somewhat by going to New York for the NHL’s annual interview tour for most of its top players. There, Ekman-Larsson got to hang out with some of the league’s best players, and meet the NHL’s top media personalities.

“It was fun. It was fun to be around such good players, superstars around the league,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It was nice to get away for a couple of days and clear your mind a little bit.”

Though it may be too early this year to start thinking about Norris possibilities, it’s clear that Ekman-Larsson may not be in this spot without playing in Arizona – where he can develop sans intense scrutiny from the media/fan machine like say P.K. Subban in Montreal or Karlsson in Ottawa.

Weber notes this helped his progress a major degree in Nashville where the city’s highest-paid athlete can walk down Broadway across the street from a giant banner donning his image without being noticed (I’ve actually seen this happen).

“It’s a tough position to come in as such a young guy, and all the analysis on it and everyone is going to pick your game apart, whereas with a forward you can get away with a little bit more,” Weber said. “If you’re a defenseman you’re getting beat and exposed. It’s a tough position.”

Weber, Ekman-Larsson and Yandle all say the Norris is an afterthought for them. Whether this is true or not, Ekman-Larsson seems to have a good handle on what can net him the award – namely winning real, actual hockey games during the regular season. The rest then takes care of itself.

“I think everybody who plays in this league, obviously defensemen, care about it,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I would love to win it. But I know if the team does well I’ll have a better chance to win it.”

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 21, 2014, 7:37 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

@EdmontonOilers

• Edmonton Oilers netminder Ben Scrivens has teamed up with four mental health groups to help design four masks to help raise awareness for mental health issues. Here's one he wore Monday night. [Oilers]

• What’s keeping the Oilers down? Bad luck and some sub-par goaltending. [Globe and Mail]

• The Buffalo Sabres have announced the date they’ll officially retire Dominik Hasek’s no. 39: Jan. 13 against the Detroit Red Wings. [Sabres]

• Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith on his early season struggles: "I don't need to bring anyone else into this. It’s me and only me, and I've been through it tons of times in my career. You shrug it off your shoulder, and it's obviously not even close to what I'm capable of, and I know that, and I understand that, and the team needs more from me.” [AZ Republic]

• With a new book coming out, former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk talks about his battle with depression and alcoholism. [National Post

• The CHL has responded to a class-action lawsuit filed seeking “$180 million in outstanding wages, vacation, holiday and overtime pay and employer payroll contributions for thousands of young players." [Buzzing the Net]

• Good read from Tom Drance on why Patric Hornqvist is an even better addition to the Pittsburgh Penguins than we originally believed. [TheScore]

• Carey Price on his strategy while playing Hungry Hungry Hippos: “You gotta will the balls into your hippo.” [Montreal Gazette]

• More change in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ executive offices: Mark Hunter has been added as Director of Player Personnel. [Maple Leafs]

• It’s early, but the depth issues facing the New York Rangers must be addressed now. [Lozo]

• If you missed the ESPN E:60 piece on Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders, it’s well worth the 15 minutes of your time. [TSN

• The Minnesota Wild are teaming up with Swedish metal band Hammerfall to use their songs during home games. [Blabbermouth]

• Once highly-touted prospect Angelo Esposito was cut from the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets. Is this the end of the line for him? [FOHS Farm Report]

• There are a lot of slow starters in the NHL. Here are 10 players you should have patience with if they’re on your fantasy hockey team. [Dobber Hockey]

• Examining some small sample sizes within the statistics of the Vancouver Canucks. [Canucks Army]

• PDO can be summed up quite simply: it highlights “those players or teams who are getting better or worse results than they ought to be given how skilled they are.” [Puckology

• Finally, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Chicago Blackhawks gave 12-year old Gabriel Colon a day to remember: 

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 21, 2014, 6:22 pm

LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a Tuesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

Special Guest Star: Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune joins us to talk Tampa Bay Lightning. 

• More on the Voynov arrest.

• The return of Pavel Datsyuk.

• Taylor Hall's bold move. 

Question of the Day: Now that Selanne is retired, who is The Pure Embodiment of Hockey Joy? Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 21, 2014, 5:49 pm

Sunshine. Puppies. Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup. 

What are three things that undeniably brighten your day?

The Detroit Red Wings star will make his season debut on Tuesday night at the Montreal Canadiens, four weeks after suffering a separated shoulder. Johan Franzen, alas, is headed to seven-day injured reserve with a wonky groin to open up that spot for Datsyuk.

As Helene St. James of the Free Press notes, getting him back could mean very good things for the Red Wings’ offense:

Getting Datsyuk back surely would help an offense that so far has sputtered; the four goals scored Friday at Toronto mark the only time the Wings have topped two goals in a game. Saturday, they scored once — in overtime. The power play has been especially egregious, its 9.5% success rate reflecting two goals on 21 opportunities.

"We have to get more pucks to the net," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We've been a little bit too stationary once we do enter the zone. We need to make sure we have more motion."

When it was brought to Kronwall's attention that he said the same thing a billion times last season, he laughed. "It might have been more than that."

Datsyuk will play on the Red Wings’ top line, skating with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. He’ll also be on the top power-play unit. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 21, 2014, 4:31 pm

(Ed. Note: Ryan Lambert is our resident NCAA Hockey nut, and we decided it’s time to unleash his particular brand of whimsy on the college game every week. So NCAA HOCKEY 101 will run every Tuesday on Puck Daddy. Educate yo self.) 

In two short weeks, this college hockey season has already proven weirder than most.

It has, in fact, been very strange indeed. Upsets abound. Teams that were supposed to be pretty good this season have been abject, while some that were supposed to be doormats have been pretty decent.

It's obviously still early in the season yet and thus sorting through some of these things isn't always going to be easy. Weird results happen all the time. But with that having been said, it's important to keep in mind that even the goofiest October loss can end up costing you a plum spot in the NCAA tournament, making it all the more important to pummel weak opponents early and often. So the question is: Did your team do that?

ECAC already shaping up as expected

Coming into the season you had to figure that the ECAC was a two-horse race between Union and Colgate. The latter was picked to win the conference by its coaches, and the former is the reigning national champion. All other contenders for the crown couldn't have been considered all that legitimate.

And through two weeks here, we have a pretty safe vision of that potential future becoming reality. Union is 4-0 after having defeated some pretty soft competition: annual cellar-dweller AIC, a bereft UNH, and now a road sweep of Maine this past weekend. These were all games the Dutchmen should have won, and they largely did so comfortably. Aggregate scoring on the season has them leading all opponents 18-6 through 240 minutes of hockey, which you take.

But as to Colgate, things should have been a little tougher, and yet they're making things happen pretty convincingly. Last week they split a pair of 3-1 scores at St. Cloud St., where it's not all that easy to pull points, but this week at home, they crushed Northeastern with a pair of 3-0 shutout wins at home. Now, it must be said that Northeastern really isn't all that good (despite their having been picked to finish fourth in Hockey East); they've played three games, scoring just twice (when their first game was already 5-0) and conceding 12. So no, I wouldn't say that sweeping the Huskies is in any way particularly impressive. But for the Raiders to shut them out twice is extremely difficult given the level of offensive talent they have (in theory),

The thing with handicapping the ECAC early is that the Ivy League schools won't start their schedules for weeks to come, and consequently any sprinting off the line done by teams early on has to be viewed with a bit of measured skepticism. However, as with the last few years it's hard to think of the Ivies as being particularly large threats to the league's regular-season or postseason crowns (surprise 2013 national champ Yale not withstanding), and so if Colgate and Union can continue to go through non-conference opponents in anything resembling this fashion, the rest of the ECAC might not pose that big a challenge.

Ohio State keeps pace with Miami for one reason

If you're looking for a No. 1 star on Saturday, if not the entire weekend, one need look no further than the big intra-state rivalry game between Miami and Ohio State. 

Miami is a considerably better team than Ohio State, as evidenced by their sweep. But the RedHawks are given to flights of fecklessness against opponents they should destroy, and despite that have started the season 3-1 against Bowling Green and Ohio State.

Now, you can say, “Hey, 3-1 really isn't bad at all!” and you are of course correct. However, that third win should have been a lot more lopsided than it ended up, because Buckeyes undrafted sophomore netminder Christian Frey kept things together more than anyone could have expected.

Final score in the game was a 2-1 Miami win, but Frey stopped 60 of 62 (.968) in his only start of the weekend, following Chicago draft pick Matt Tomkins' allowing five on 33 the night before.

What's funny about the game is that Ohio State scored 5:38 into the first period and tried to grind out a one-goal win, at Miami, for the next 54:22, and it almost worked. Miami scored two in 1:40 midway through the second period to ruin the storyline.

Frey is now 1-1 on the season, having faced 92 shots in 119 minutes, and allowing just 6 goals. Poor kid has been under siege.

Guentzel, Vecchione keep scoring

It is, again, early in the season (with some teams having played just one game, or even none), but the national scoring race is already heating up thanks to a pair of sophomores: Nebraska-Omaha's Jake Guentzel (a Penguins prospect), and Union's Mike Vecchione (a '95 birthdate who's still technically draft-eligible).

Each has nine points in just four games, leading the nation in that category. Guentzel has four goals, Vecchione three. The teams against which Vecchione has done it were, again: AIC (1-1-2), UNH (1-1-2), and Maine (1-4-5 in two). Guentzel, meanwhile, faced Minnesota State (2-3-5 in two), and Western Michigan (2-2-4 in two).

While it's unreasonable to expect this type of production all year, it would nonetheless be awfully surprising to not see them both near the top of the national scoring charts when mid-March rolls around. Both were near-point-a-game players as freshmen (0.92 for Guentzel, 0.89 for Vecchione), and this is just a continuation of their development.

However, neither one leads the nation in points per game. That honor goes to Chicago prospect and Vermont's probable All-American defenseman, Mike Paliotta. Like Vecchione, his team has played nothing but opponents it should beat in three games so far (which it has, as Vermont is a perfect 3-0). But Paliotta has driven those wins, playing stalwart defense in his own end, and adding 2-5-7 to the mix in the attacking zone, giving him a nation-leading 2.33 points per game among players that have played more than twice.

(Not to be remiss, let's still mention that BU's Jack Eichel (2-2-4) and Sharks prospect Danny O'Regan (2-1-3) have only played once, while Michigan State's Matt Berry (4-2-6) is on just two games).

Lowell impresses in another big matchup

After having knocked off then-No. 5 Boston College last weekend, No. 9

UMass Lowell entered the weekend against No. 13 Quinnipiac. That, once again, made this the most meaningful matchup, in terms of rankings, on the weekend.

And once again, it was the River Hawks coming out ahead, taking three points from their highly regarded opponents (the Q has been one of the best possession teams in college hockey over the last few years) , behind a 6-3 home win and a shock 3-all draw on the road.

Lowell's offense continued to hum along, and is now at 14 goals in three games (which seems not-at-all sustainable, given they've been outshot 86-72 in those). But the manner in which they've dominated at home (11 goals for) could have led one to suspect they could still struggle on the road, which they did to some extent. Quinnipiac put 38 shots on net in 65 minutes, and held Lowell to just 22.

Still,  with the goalie pulled and 1:18 left in regulation, undrafted Joe Gambardella scored his third goal in as many games (his first not into an empty net) and Lowell ground out the win. They were outshot 8-1 in just five minutes of overtime.

TSN

As part of the Canadian sports network's continued efforts to provide hockey viewing options to people nationwide, TSN recently partnered with College Hockey Inc. to provide Canadians with 37 college broadcasts this season.

This is, obviously, a big deal.

College hockey is a high-quality product which is typically not available on TV in Canada, and hasn't been for several years. Now, though, Canadian fans will be able to watch at games regularly all season long. This will give them a glimpse not only at their teams' various prospects, as well as Eichel and probable No. 3 pick Noah Hanifin (playing for Boston College), but also the roughly 1 in 3 college players who are from the Great White North in the first place.

The full schedule is available here. Seriously, if you're Canadian, set your DVRs. Er, PVRs. 

Somewhat arbitrary ranking of teams which are pretty good in my opinion only (and just for right now but maybe for a little longer too?)

1. Minnesota (inactive)

2. Colgate (swept Northeastern, didn't allow a goal)

3. UMass Lowell (took three points from Quinnipiac)

4. Union (swept Maine in Orono to stay undefeated)

5. Providence (technically inactive, but drew the US Under 18 team Thursday)

6. Boston College (pummeled RIT in Rochester)

7. North Dakota (swept Colorado College, winning 10-3 on aggregate)

8. Vermont (swept Clarkson in a home and home)

9. Nebraska-Omaha (swept at Western Michigan)

10. Alaska (moved to 4-0 beating Air Force and Penn State)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: October 21, 2014, 3:10 pm
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin (27) squares off against Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Hendricks (23) during first period NHL hockey action in Edmonton, Alberta, on Monday Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Amber Bracken)

The last of the 'Big Four' from the potentially famous 2013 draft made his NHL debut Monday when Jonathan Drouin played his first game for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 3-2 loss at Edmonton. 

That draft, which happened in beautiful Newark, N.J. featured four elite guys between No. 1 pick Nathan MacKinnon, No. 2 pick Aleksander Barkov, Drouin who went at three to the Lightning, and defenseman Seth Jones who went fourth to Nashville

Anyway, Drouin's below highlight reel from that year, and his insanely prolific numbers in junior -- he had 105 points in 49 games in his draft year -- made him an intriguiing prospect. His one issue? He's listed at 5-foot-11. 

Out of the 'Big Four' he was the only player to not make his team out of the draft and sent back to junior where he had 108 points in 46 games with the Halifax Mooseheads. He fractured his right thumb in training camp, and missed the start of the season this year after making the team. 

Last night Drouin was a minus-1 in 16:10 of action with Tampa at Edmonton. Notes Lightning coach Jon Cooper -- one of the top NHL coaching quotes -- to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune

“He comes as advertised,’’ Cooper said. “When he plays with speed, I thought he controlled the game when he had (the puck) on his stick. And for a first offering, I thought it was really good. When you look back, with all the pressure I’m sure he’s had on him for the past few years, that’s a pretty darn good effort. ... I was really happy with him.’’

What are the expectations for him? Last night, per naturalstattrick.com, Drouin's Corsi percentage relative was a negative 5.42.

But to the eyeball test, he showed some solid, and slick, playmaking ability, and had little problem with fending off defenders -- in spite of his size, which is clearly his biggest drawback. 

Either way, Drouin is almost a natural fit to replace former captain Martin St. Louis, who was traded to the Rangers last year after a famed spat with general manager Steve Yzerman. It seems like Drouin can fit that playmaking winger role that St. Louis vacated. 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 21, 2014, 1:54 pm

There’s a perverse joy in seeing the honeymoon end.

As we’ve talked about before, the veil’s been lifted from the eyes of Winnipeg Jets fans, who have peeled off the “be happy you even have a team again” protecting this franchise and started, you know, expecting progress and success and maybe even the faint whiff of contention.

It’s the only thing that’ll eventually force changes in Winnipeg; changes that are overdue.

Although coach Paul Maurice takes a nihilistic approach to that idea. 

“Change to what? At the end of the day, to what? Is it moving our kids out? I don’t think we need to get any younger,” he said.

Maurice’s team is 1-4-0. They’re 27th in the League in offense at 1.60 goals per game – losing Evander Kane’ll do that to a team – but 18th in defense, with Ondrej Pavelec sporting a .895 percent even-strength save percentage.

In three of those five games, they trailed after the first period and never rallied.

“We have a certain reaction to bad events. Changing that reaction is a challenge,” he said on Monday.

There’s only so much Maurice can do. The veteran players on this team don’t know winning, or have forgotten it in the case of former Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd. The rookies haven’t yet experienced it – every night, Maurice has to watch one or two of them “freelance” (his term) in an attempt to rally the team, but instead alienating the other four players in the ice who aren’t in sync.

“Almost every young team that you’ve seen has to deal with this,” he said.

You’d think that accountability in the dressing room would be the key, either from the coach or the leadership on this team.

“I understand at 1-4, we’re going to go looking for the people that caused it,” admitted Maurice.

But the paying customers aren’t going to be privy to it, as Maurice artfully told the media on Monday.

"It's not the players' job to tell YOU about it. I don't have to open this book up to you and tell you everything that goes on in the room.I can make you cry in the [F-ing] room. Listen, I understand you have to work with what you're given and I appreciate that. But the accountability in the room is fine. We deal with our problems directly.”

He then apologized for the profanity. Watch the exchange here, beginning at 8:47:

You almost wish Maurice could stand up there is proclaim none of this is his fault, that he’s a good card player dealt a bad hand, but like every good coach he believes this group can win. 

(He also undoubtedly understands that management is content to let the young players incubate for a while with the worst case scenario being another lottery pick in a deep draft.)

Instead, one imagines he’ll get feistier as the losses pile up, trying his best to find silver linings as the fans grab their torches with platitudes like this: “I like some of the things they almost did."

Well, that's almost great.

 

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 21, 2014, 1:42 pm

TootooBack in late December 2010, Jordin Tootoo was playing his typical agitating-style, hitting seemingly everything that moved, fighting, occasionally scoring for the Nashville Predators … and then he was gone into the NHL and NHLPA’s joint substance abuse program on Dec. 27, not to be heard from again until late January/early February.

A shroud of secrecy went over the team. Nobody would really talk about the specifics of how it happened.

Even after Tootoo returned, a lot of the talk was in generalities.

We’re going to know a lot more about Tootoo’s situation really soon. The New Jersey Devils forward, and first Inuit player in NHL history, is coming out with a tell-all book, “All The Way: My Life on Ice” by Stephen Brunt.  It hits shelves Tuesday.

Tootoo’s representatives with Titan Sports were nice enough to give us a view of what to expect with an advanced online copy.

Below is when the Predators addressed to Tootoo that he needed to enter the program. It came after a day of drinking at a Tennessee Titans game and a night out after a Garth Brooks concert at Bridgestone Arena.

The next day I got up, went to practice, and played what most hockey players call “guilty hockey”—where you work extra hard to try to show that you weren’t really out the night before.

After practice, David Poile called me into his office to explain a phone call he’d received the day before. I think what happened was that a few of the workers in the Gaylord Center saw me and told someone that Tootoo was out of control, and word got back to Poile.

I was still hung to the gills and I reeked of booze. I was thinking,’ What the [expletive] did I do now?’—and I really didn’t know. I tried to trace events back to Saturday night, but I had no clue. I had been so drunk I’d blacked out. Of course, the first thing I did was deny any wrongdoing. I said that it hadn’t been me. I played the “popular” card. It had been a team party and of course I was singled out of the twenty guys that were having a good time, because people know who I am.

Poile had heard all of that too many times before, and he wasn’t buying it anymore. He gave me an ultimatum. He said:

“If you don’t accept what we’re offering you, we’ve got to let you go. You’re damaging our team. You have to enter the NHLPA substance abuse program and go into rehab or we’re going to cut you, and everyone will know why.”

Right then and there, I decided I wasn’t going to fight it anymore. I said, “[Expletive], I’m done. Let’s go.”

I haven’t had a drink since. Not one.

This is from when Tootoo entered the rehab facility in California

By the time I walked into The Canyon, I’d been sober for a detox. But I still had to go through a process where they monitor you for a week. I had arrived in the middle of the night, when everyone was sleeping. I got up the next day, walked into a room, and saw all of these F’d-up people sitting around. We were sitting in a circle and I was looking around and thinking, ‘Am I really like this? Do I look like these people?’ 

What the [expletive] is going on? These people are in here for hardcore crap: heroin, cocaine. But I had to understand that I was one of those people, too; I couldn’t separate myself from the other patients.

We all had problems and we were all trying to fix them. I couldn’t just sit there and think, I’m not F’d up like them. I was there to fix myself. And at the same time, I couldn’t be worrying about the other guys and how F’d up they were and stressing about their problems. I was there to fix myself.

Tootoo had quite a triumphant return, notching five points in six games in Nashville’s first round win over the Anaheim Ducks in the 2011 playoffs. 

His play improved enough to merit a three-year $5.7 million contract with the Red Wings in the summer of 2012. He eventually was bought out, but was scooped up by the Devils after a training camp tryout.

The NHL and NHLPA’s joint substance abuse program is often shrouded in secrecy – and understandably so. It involves a player’s private life. But maybe Tootoo’s book will shed light on how this process works. It’s available on Amazon.com.

***

More From Yahoo Hockey:

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 21, 2014, 12:52 pm

No. 1 Star: Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers

Scored a goal on a slick backhanded breakaway move on a penalty shot. Hall’s dogged forecheck helped lead to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ game-winner. He also assisted on  Justin Schultz’s score earlier in the game.

No. 2 Star: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

Wristed the game-winner at the 16:35 mark of the third period, and led all Oilers forwards with 20:55 of ice-time in the contest.

No. 3 Star: Ben Scrivens, Edmonton Oilers

Stopped 22 of 24 Lightning shots, including four from former 60-goal man Steven Stamkos.

Honorable mention: Jordan Eberle assisted on the game-winner … Anton Stralman played 23:18 to lead the Lightning as Tampa tried to cobble together some defense to replace the injured Victor Hedman … Brian Boyle scored his first goal with the Lightning … Justin Schultz scored a goal … Jonathan Drouin was minus-1, but was on the ice for Tampa’s final offensive push in his NHL debut.

Did you know?: Per Edmonton’s broadcast, the Oilers, who won their first game of the season, have defeated the Lightning four straight times at Rexall Place.

Dishonorable mention: Matt Carle’s trip of Hall led to the latter’s penalty shot goal … Nail Yakupov notched an assist, but continues to find himself in the chateau bowwow, playing just 10:47 overall … Tampa’s Valtteri Filppula, along with Edmonton’s Teddy Purcell and Leon Draisaitl were all minus-2. 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: October 21, 2014, 4:35 am
Space Duck Invaders courtesy of <a target=

John Gibson, wunderkind goaltender for the Anaheim Ducks, has played in one game this regular season, and like his preseason appearances, things didn't go too well.

So what does any good goalie do when they're in a bit of a slump? Change their mask, of course!

Gibson is one of many NHL goaltenders who entrust their masks to airbrush artist to the stars, Dave Gunnarsson of DaveArt.com.

This isn't the first time Gunnarsson painted a mask for Gibson. As the young netminder entered his first NHL games this past season, Gibson donned a mask themed 'The Haunted Insane Asylum - Psycho Ducks On The Loose'. Later in the summer, Gibson and Gunnarsson came up with a Pac-man helmet for the 21-year-old to wear as he challenged fellow Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen for the No. 1 spot.

Following Gibson's game one loss, Andersen took the net as the Ducks definitive starter, and instead of having Gibson wear the baseball cap night after night, he was sent down to the AHL for some work.

On Monday, the Ducks announced they've recalled Gibson. He'll arrive in Anaheim with a new bucket designed by Gunnarsson. Gibson stuck with the retro game theme, but changed it from Pac-Man to the classic Space Invaders. To amp it up a bit more, there is a reference to a certain Alien movie, but of course, with a Ducks twist.

Gunnarsson's enthusiasm for describing his design is infectious (in a good way):

John Gibson´s latest Anaheim Ducks mask called Pac-Duck made a huge success…. a design inspired by the classic video game… with a Ducks twist and hologram effects! Everything of course created in an old school pixel style….!

And here comes the next chapter, and watch out, we are being invaded from outer space! The war is is full action on each sides… take cover! O man I just loved this video game when I was a kid!

Courtesy of <a target=
And, oh, no, watch who the leader of the aliens are: it is The Alien Duck on the top of the mask, inspired by a certain Alien from a certain Alien movie, an Alien with a mouth in the mouth... or more precise a beak in the beak!
Courtesy of <a target=
The rest of the design is of course created in an old school pixel style, even the Mighty Ducks logo on the chin :)
Courtesy of <a target=

Hopefully this mask brings Gibson a bit more luck than the old one did.

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: October 20, 2014, 8:45 pm

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)BY JOSH COOPER

Earlier today the NHL suspended Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov indefinitely for an arrest on domestic violence suspicion. 

It was only a matter of hours before more details came out on the situation. Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register has them from Lt. Joe Hoffman of the Redondo Beach, Calif., police department.

These all come from Hammond’s blog on the Orange County Register website. The first part is Hoffman’s statement, followed by a few pertinent follow up questions by Hammond.

``Last night, at around 11:25 p.m., the Redondo Beach Police Department received a call on our business line -- not our 911 line -- from a resident in the 800 block of Avenue C, concerning a woman screaming and heard crying …” 

``… A short time after that, at around 1 a.m. this morning, the Redondo Beach Police Department received a call from the Torrance Police Department concerning an adult female that was at Little Company of Mary hospital with an injury that was possibly in need of law enforcement. The injury possibly being the result of a crime was what prompted a law-enforcement response, and that possibly the crime had been committed in the city of Redondo Beach.

``Redondo Beach police officers responded to the hospital and made contact with the victim at the hospital and determined that a crime of domestic violence did, in fact, occur in the city of Redondo Beach. The suspect in this crime was also present at the hospital and was taken into custody at the hospital and transported to the Redondo Beach Police Department. The suspect was booked on a charge of 273.5 of the California Penal Code and was held on $50,000 bail. He subsequently bailed out around 9 a.m.’’

Police said they've been unable to determine if Voynov drove the alleged victim to the hospital. Due to privacy considerations under domestic violence law, her name was not released; police said her injuries were significant enough to require care at the hospital. 

It should also be noted that Hammond got a statement from Voynov’s attorney Craig Renetzky who said no charges have been filed, though he confirmed the arrest.   

With domestic violence being such a hot-button issue in sports, considering the NFL’s Ray Rice problem amongst others, the NHL’s highly proactive push on Voynov is interesting. 

From deputy commissioner Bill Daly to The Hockey News comparing this case to Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov’s arrest last year on domestic assault charges:

“I think the landscape has changed for all of us over the past six months,” Daly said. “But that’s not the only reason for the difference in treatment. Circumstances were different in Varlamov. I can’t get more specific than that.”

Not only did the league break this news, the Kings have already released a statement supporting the league, saying:

These developments are of great concern to our organization.  We support the NHL’s decision to suspend Slava Voynov indefinitely during this process, and we will continue to take appropriate action as the legal proceedings and the investigation by the NHL take their course,”

There will obviously be more information as the story continues – extent of the injuries and such that we just don’t know at the moment. And when that happens, the story will take on a new and different course.

But in regards to the NFL comparison, the Rice situation spun out of control in part because the NFL did not publicize the info on it as quickly as possible and had a lack of transparency. At least so far with Voynov, so far, the NHL and the Kings have seemingly been right on top of it.

***

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaCooper.

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: October 20, 2014, 7:38 pm

by Josh Cooper

What do Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Animal from The Muppets have in common? Not much really, besides dominant abilities on the drums.

This comes from the Buffalo News:

On the eve of the Bruins' eventual 4-0 stomping of the Sabres -- in which Rask sat in favor of backup Niklas Svedberg -- the 2013-14 Vezina Trophy winner and a few other teammates dropped by the Allentown live-music venue to check out a show, said The Good Neighborhood founder Seamus Gallivan.
Rask quietly asked local band the Mustn'ts if he could step in as the drummer for the band's song, a cover of Phish's "Back on the Train," …

Rask’s style looks a little more chill than Animal’s, but who doesn’t love an athlete who shows his musical side, especially during the season. Plus, he probably needed to hit the drums to chill out a little after a start that saw him with a 2.89 goals against average and .870 save percentage.

Hey, remember that time when Henrik Lundqvist jammed with tennis legend John McEnroe? Yeah, that was cool.

Stick-tap Steve P.

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: October 20, 2014, 7:11 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

Thanks to reader Nick B. & ABC7 LA

• Congrats to the Kings for their 28-26 upset victory over the Seattle Seahawks. World Champions, indeed. (S/T to reader Nick B. and the lovely people at ABC7 Los Angeles for this gem). [Puck Daddy Tumblr]

• "An unprecedented class action lawsuit striking at the economic foundations of junior hockey in Canada alleges the Canadian Hockey League and its teams “conspired” to force young players into signing contracts that breach minimum wage laws." [The Star]

• Jeremy Roenick recounts the 13 (!!) concussions he experienced in his hockey career, and what life is like now. [Business Insider]

• St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny is considered 'week-to-week' after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. [Sports Illustrated]

• The Florida Panthers are experiencing record low attendence numbers. It's not a secret in the NHL, and the players on the ice recognize it, too. [Miami Herald]

• Jonathan Drouin is in the NHL. I repeat, the Tampa Bay Lightning's Jonathan Drouin is off the IR and in the NHL. There are some [notoriously] BIG expectations on the youngster. Bob McKenzie looks at the kid's hockey career so far and some of the other rookies challenging Drouin for the spotlight. [TSN]

• There are the right ways and the wrong ways to respond to the news as serious as that surrounding Slava Voynov's domestic violence arrest. TRH documents both. (Note: he's not making light of domestic violence, he's showing the ridiculous reactions people have to a serious issue.) [The Royal Half]

• Are the Winnipeg Jets as bad as their 1-4-0 record indicates? Paul Maurice seems to think so... [Winnipeg Free Press]

• The New York Islanders have had a stellar start to the new season. Can they keep it up and finally show the potential people thought just might be there? [Islanders Insight]

• Congrats to the NHL's Three Stars of the Week: Tyler Seguin, Frederik Andersen, and Steven Stamkos. [NHL]

• Joe Thornton was the bee's knees back in the day. Now he's been relegated to an afterthought by the San Jose Sharks. Is he still on track to be a future Hall of Famer or just another name in hockey lore. [The Hockey Writers]

• It's still early in the season, but the Sharks power play is tanking in a way not seen for years and years. [The Pink Puck]

• The Colorado Avalanche dismissed their Director of Amateur Scouting after some fairly successful years. How does his trackrecord compare to the Edmonton Oilers' Stu MacGregor in the same position? [Lowetide]

• The equipment manager for the Pittsburgh Penguins is tasked with caring for thousands of dollars worth of gear, and he's incredibly meticulous about it. [Tribune Live]

• Ottawa 67's Travis Konecny felled by blindside hit from Plymouth Whalers' Gianluca Curcuruto (VIDEO) [Buzzing the Net]

• Grab bag of fantasy defensemen analysis: news updates, surprise healthy scratches, Norris hopefuls, and more. [Dobber Hockey]

• The good, the bad, and the ugly of the current Carolina Hurricanes. [Cardiac Cane]

• 1974 Midget Tournament Saw Soviet Player Banned For Life For Kicking Two Future NHLers. [Greatest Hockey Legends]

• Our friends at DOY have created a new feature - with pictures - of the worst Bruins comments of the week. [Days of Y'Orr]

• More Capitals with 'devil horns,' thanks to the background of the Washington pressroom. Sad to see that background go. [Capitals Outsider]

• Ultimate Chicago Blackhawks fancave comes with the team's signature goalsong. Note to anyone named Roberto Luongo: probably not the place for you. [DNA Info Chicago]

• Finally, OMG the Devils pregame show has gone 3D! By far, this is one of the coolest intros I've ever seen.

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: October 20, 2014, 6:29 pm

While the Dallas Stars were in the middle of playing “stupid, garbage hockey,” as head coach Lindy Ruff put it, they lost Patrik Nemeth to a freak injury. 

Early in the first period, Nemeth tangled with R.J. Umberger. As both players fell to the ice, Umberger's skate made contact with the Stars forwards arm, cutting him in the process:

After the game, Ruff told reporters Nemeth would miss “a good period of time.” That has ended up being the rest of the regular season and potentially the playoffs.

From Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News:

“Patrik is done for the year, maybe it’s a possibility for the playoffs,” Ruff said. “It was a real severe laceration.” Nemeth was playing a puck along the boards, when he and R.J. Umberger got tangled up. Umberger’s skate came up and cut Nemeth’s arm. 
Coincidentally, Umberger’s skate also cut Mike Modano’s wrist when Modano was playing with Detroit in 2011.

Jyrki Jokipakka, who has been summoned from Texas of the AHL, and Jamie Oleksiak are expected to fill Nemeth's role on the blueline. 

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 20, 2014, 6:24 pm

LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a Monday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

Special Guest Star: John Shannon of Sportsnet joins us. 

• Voynov arrested. 

• Hedman out.

• Weekend action,

Question of the Day: Did the NHL handle the Voynov arrest properly? Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 20, 2014, 6:02 pm

Victor Hedman has been playing at an elite level for several years now. The Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman has played his way from being known as “the guy drafted after John Tavares” into a legitimate Norris Trophy contender in 2015.

Well, that Norris talk will have to be put on hold for a bit after Hedman suffered a broken finger while blocking a shot against Vancouver on Saturday night: 

The Lightning announced that Hedman will now miss 4-6 weeks after he undergoes surgery on Tuesday.

As of Monday, Hedman is tied for first in both points by defensemen (7) and power play points by defensemen (5), all while averaging 19:53 of ice time. The responsibilities will increase for Anton Stralman and Jason Garrison as the 23-year old Swede recovers.

Tampa’s been down this road before having lost Steven Stamkos for four months last season. But after a solid summer of signing free agents by general manager Steve Yzerman, head coach Jon Cooper isn’t worried. 

“If there is a team that has weathered a storm like this before, it was our guys last year when Stammer went down. So I guess we are a little bit mentally equipped for it,'' Cooper said via the Tampa Tribune.

“The one thing I believe that we accomplished in the summer was we went out and got some depth (on defense).’'

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 20, 2014, 5:19 pm

Evgeny Grachyov of Lokomotiv and Sergei Sentyurin of Metallurg had a fight in the KHL on Sunday that featured a few strong punches after a lengthy preamble in which they skated around staring at each other.

But the reason we dig this clip is the replay after the actual fight, when you can see the genesis of it. The stick goes. The gloves and the other stick go. Out goes the mouthpiece. Off come the helmets, gently placed alongside them.

It’s all very ritualistic, like something out of Roman times. But even those people knew well enough to wear a [expletive] helmet during a fight.

Alas, Sentyurin was suspended one game automatically for his second fight of the season. Yes, the KHL has more stringent fighting rules than the NHL. And they pay their players with paper bags stuffed with Rubles. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 20, 2014, 4:42 pm

Sep 28, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defender Slava Voynov (26) looks up during a break in play against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period at Honda Center. The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Anaheim Ducks with a final score of 4-2. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has answered many questions about his friend Roger Goodell recently. About how the NFL bungled its domestic violence cases, and lost the faith of many fans. About the public relations nightmare that arrives when a league’s leader doesn’t lead. 

Each time, Bettman talks about the protocols in place already in the NHL for issues of domestic violence, but has also assured the media and fans that the NHL isn’t going to have a Ray Rice situation on its hands.

"Our code of conduct is we expect you to do the right things and if you don't we hold you accountable. More important than that is I believe you need to be proactive," said Bettman in Toronto last month.

Here’s your pro-action: The NHL announced on Monday morning that Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov has been arrested on charges of domestic violence, and has been suspended indefinitely pending a League investigation. 

Voynov was reportedly arrested on Monday morning on domestic violence charges – the NHL broke the news before any outlet in Los Angeles or TMZ did. From the League:

The suspension was imposed under Section 18-A.5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provides that, during the pendency of a criminal investigation, “The League may suspend the Player pending the League’s formal review and disposition of the matter where the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League.”

Voynov, who will continue to be paid during the pendency of the investigation, was arrested for California Penal Code section 273.5, Domestic Violence.

Voynov is the second NHL player arrested in just over a year for domestic violence, and the contrast between the NHL’s reaction then and now is rather stark.

On Oct. 30, 2013, Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov turned himself into police on second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault charges, following an incident involving his girlfriend. The charges were dropped by the district attorney two months later, citing “reasonable doubt.”

During that time, he was not suspended by the Avalanche nor the NHL, helping to back-stop Colorado to an 112-point season and the best numbers of his career. 

Said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly at the time, via Pierre LeBrun:

"At this point, we are monitoring the developing legal situation and do not intend to intervene in that process. There may come a point in time where we feel it is either necessary or appropriate to take a different approach, but that's not where we are right now. We are and will remain in close contact with the Club, and will see how the underlying facts unfold."

That was before Ray Rice, elevator videos and commissioners made to look like vapid buffoons in press conferences. 

As Bettman said at a press conference this month:

"That's something we've been doing with the Players' Association for more than a decade. We as a league have more than enough authority and mechanisms to punish, if necessary, in the appropriate case. Fortunately we haven't seen too many. But more importantly we focus on counseling and education, and in the joint programs we have with the Players' Association we've been counseling and educating on domestic violence for more than a decade, I don't remember the exact date. The security department does it in their annual meetings with each team, and the behavioral counselors from the substance abuse, behavioral health program also counsel and educate the players on those and many other issues. So I'm not sure for us there is any need for any code of conduct other than our players, who overwhelming conduct themselves magnificently off the ice -- we deal with it on a case by case basis. I don't think we need to formalize anything more. Our players know what's right and wrong, and as I said, we have the mechanisms in place to hopefully not get to that point."

Voynov could end up like Varlamov, and have these charges eventually dropped. And the NHL could look draconian and hair-trigger in its response, in hindsight.

But in 2014, in professional sports, on a domestic violence arrest … this is the only way to respond.

UPDATE: TMZ had added some details about Voynov's arrest.

The woman who was allegedly attacked by L.A. Kings star Slava Voynov was injured so badly, she was rushed to the hospital ... where staffers called the cops on Voynov ...TMZ Sports has learned. Law enforcement tells us ...

Voynov was actually arrested at the hospital in Torrance, CA around 1 AM Monday morning on suspicion of domestic violence. We're told Voynov had accompanied the woman to the hospital -- and shortly after they arrived, hospital staffers called authorities to report Voynov as the person suspected of attacking the woman.

Our sources tell us the woman claims she was in a relationship with Voynov. Voynov was hauled to a nearby jail -- where he was eventually released on $50k bail. 

More as it develops. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 20, 2014, 3:08 pm
Leafs

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it. Today, guest columnist Greg Wyshynski has the helm.)

 By Greg Wyshynski

It’s always interesting to see what earns the label of “disrespectful” or “sacrilege” in the NHL.

To me, I’m a reporter trying to do my job in the locker room, standing where I need to stand to do so. To them, I’m trampling all over the Sacred Floor Logo, which is tantamount to pissing on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

To me, a paying customer has a right to voice his or her displeasure over the performance of a team at any point during the game. To them, that’s a lack of fan support, met with a ‘we don’t come to your job and BOO YOU’ attitude in postgame interviews.

To me, throwing your jersey on the ice can be one of the ultimate expressions of fan angst at best; or at worst, a really nasty prank from a Habs fan in Toronto.

To them … well, they fight for that logo and bleed for that logo and take pride in that logo and yadda yadda yadda. Or as James Reimer said, after another Leafs jersey hit the ice:

“To see a jersey on the ice like that and to see someone throw it, it’s too bad because obviously I get the message you’re trying to send, but it’s something we have a great respect for and we fight hard for that logo,” he said. “It’s too bad when somebody does that. But they bought the jersey so they can do what they want with it.”

Jersey tossing is the new “chanting for your coach to be fired.” It’s something that gets on TV or immediately hits social media. It seems exclusive to Canada at the moment, mainly because the typical Canadian fan has more sweaters in their closet than Jos A. Bank has suits.

As the jerseys continue to rain down in Toronto and Edmonton, perhaps we can bridge the respect gap between disgruntled players and fans with a quick etiquette lesson:

DON’T TOSS YOUR JERSEY ON THE ICE IF it’s the second game of the season and your team has made significant changes to its front office since last season, starting at the top. They probably deserve a little more time to remake the roster in their image.

TOSS YOUR JERSEY ON THE ICE IF it’s the second game of the season and you’re an Edmonton Oilers fan.

DON’T TOSS YOUR JERSEY ON THE ICE IF you’ve carefully chosen the name on the back for its meaning to you, as a person or a player.

TOSS YOUR JERSEY ON THE ICE IF you’re probably going to throw that David Clarkson sweater you got two summers ago into a bonfire anyway.

DON’T TOSS YOUR JERSEY ON THE ICE IF you believe the only time a fan should toss anything on the ice is to celebrate a hat trick.

TOSS YOUR JERSEY ON THE ICE IF you are deciding between throwing that beer at the players or your sweater, knowing that a brew at the ACC actually costs more than your Made In China knockoff you brought from a guy with a shopping cart on Bloor.

DON’T TOSS YOUR JERSEY ON THE ICE IF you take the advice of moralizing pundit Cathal Kelly and instead give it to a young fan that doesn’t have a Leafs jersey.

TOSS YOUR JERSEY ON THE ICE IF you correctly recognize this as child abuse.

In the end, we hope that things in Edmonton and Toronto turn around so the jersey tossing will end. Especially in Edmonton, where they probably don’t have the disposable income they do in Toronto, where they apparently go through hockey sweaters like most of us go through Kleenex.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: Bruce Boudreau on Sami Vatanen, who scored two power-play goals on Sunday: “Last year, he never hit the net when he shot the puck. It’s been five games in [this season], and he’s hit the net twice. That’s a real big improvement.”

Arizona Coyotes: It’s “anticipation” that makes Keith Yandle such an effective player. No word if that includes anticipation for an eventual trade to the East.

Boston Bruins: The line of Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly is apparently the “Swede Emotion” line, and we’re always going to applaud an Aerosmith reference over the alterantive Boston cliche. Which is the Swede Kelly-Line (Ba Ba Ba … good times never seemed so good).

Buffalo Sabres: If they had their druthers, Sabres fans would send Drew Stafford packing right now, apparently unable to wait until the trade deadline like the rest of us.

Calgary Flames: Hey, just because Lambert’s off WWL this week doesn’t mean we’re not running Johnny Gaudreau’s first goal this season:

Carolina Hurricanes: The Canes could get Andrej Sekera, John-Michael Liles and Jeff Skinner, back into their lineup vs. the Jets on Tuesday. Eric Staal won’t be back until later in the their road trip, perhaps vs, Vancouver.

Chicago Blackhawks: Hey, did you guys know that Joel Quenneville is a pretty good coach that the Blackhawks are lucky to have?

Colorado Avalanche: Mile High Sticking thinks the Avs need to rediscover their “mojo,” which we imagine is code for “a goalie that can stop the obscene number of shots they allow.”

Columbus Blue Jackets: The Cannon thinks the Jackets are being far too fancy pants with the passing rather than shooting.

Dallas Stars: Said Lindy Ruff, on the Stars’ loss to the Philadelphia Flyers over the weekend: “We played stupid hockey. Lack of focus. Play like that, you deserve to lose.”

Detroit Red Wings: Is there really any way to dress up Stephen Weiss as anything but a titanic bust?

Edmonton Oilers: The case for Leon Draisaitl to follow Darnell Nurse back to junior. And what, miss the warming glow of the dumpster fire that is this season?

Florida Panthers: County commissioner Martin Kiar said the Panthers can leave town at any point if they get the NHL’s permission and paid their $63 million in debts. Would the county take Canadian funds?

Los Angeles Kings: Darryl Sutter on winning four in a row at home: “Well, I know if we would’ve lost one of ‘em it would be a calamity.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are now 0-for-16 on the power play this season, which is weird because they have Vanek and stuff.

Montreal Canadiens: This article seems to establish that PA Parenteau should be pissed at the Avalanche for calling him less than a top six forward and then explains why the label fits.

Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team: Shea Weber is OK in hockey.

 

New Jersey Devils: Damon Severson has started off red hot and played his way into the Calder conversation.

New York Islanders: Just in case you wondered why concussions are such a sticky situation, Mikhail Grabovski passed a protocol test and then developed symptoms the next day.

New York Rangers: Rick Nash scored an easy one on Sunday, but it was still good enough to count as his seventh(!) goal on the season.

Ottawa Senators: Why did Robin Lehner make a miraculous save on Saturday? Ask Erik Karlsson:"I was praying to God he would stop it, and he did.” There you go. Divine intervention. 

Philadelphia FlyersBrayden Schenn, on the trade block, despite being one of the Flyers better forwards to start the season?

Pittsburgh Penguins: In case you were wondering if the Penguins were recommitted to their bottom six, their fourth line is leading in offensive zone starts.

San Jose Sharks: Larry Robinson is phasing himself out of coaching; can’t he just Skype in from Sarasota?

St. Louis Blues: Crap-tastic injury news No. 1 – Paul Stastny is week-to-week with a bum shoulder.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Crap-tastic injury news No. 2 – Victor Hedman could miss up to a month with a broken hand.

Toronto Maple LeafsRandy Carlyle is happy with the Leafs’ penalty kill, but doesn’t really want to say so. "I don't like to make comments that are too flattering because it can come back and bite you in one game, as it did in the Pittsburgh game, when we gave up three goals. I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves with that."

Vancouver Canucks: “Canucks have liftoff, but thrust is a must.” Truer words …

Washington Capitals: Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin – “He’s a maturing young man. Trust me, I say he is a little bit of a wildflower.” 

Winnipeg Jets: Looking “disinterested” at the lowest moments of the game does not a winning team make.

Play of the Weekend

Again with the P.K. Subban in the play of the week spot.

Gold Star Award

Oct 18, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) on a break away before scoring against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack (not pictured) during the first period at Rogers Arena. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Steven Stamkos scored two goals and added an assist at the Vancouver Canucks, and Ben Bishop called him “the best player in the world.” Somewhere, Claude Giroux weeps …

Minus of the Weekend

Blah blah blah toughness agitation blah blah … this is still a late, meaningless hit by Ryan Kesler.

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week 

“Ovechking” either wants to troll Flames fans or can’t read a date of birth:

Avs trade:

RW Jarome Iginla

LW Jamie McGinn

2015 2nd Round Pick

Oilers trade:

RW Jordan Eberle

The explanation: “This trade provides the Oilers with some grit, character, and leadership which is much needed. The Avalanche get an excellent North-South goal scorer and point producer.”

Signoff 

Well guys, we've made it to the end of the summer in one piece, except for a few campers who are lepers.

Greg Wyshynski is the editor of Puck Daddy. Ryan Lambert is back with WWL next week.  

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 20, 2014, 2:38 pm
Emalkin71geno on Instagram

Halloween is nearly upon us, which means it’s time for a typhoon of photos depicting NHL players in costume to hit social media. And perhaps some of them won’t be abjectly racist! 

The Pittsburgh Penguins revealed their spook-tacular getups via Evgeni Malkin’s Instagram this weekend. Malkin was a vampire, again, refusing to accept that God made gave him that Frankenstein head for a reason.

Sidney Crosby, who we all know is actually a vampire, appears to have dressed up as a troll. 

Oh, wait, check that: He appears to have dressed up as Rocky Balboa, which would be totally trolling all of Philadelphia if that’s his costume. In which case Sid has rendered all orange posterboard signs at Wells Fargo Center that question his manhood immaterial – he’s won the Great Keystone War of the Trolls.

Kris Letang is the Mad Hatter from that Tim Burton film you never saw. Chris Kuntiz is over on the wing, dressed in the Penguins’ new third jersey. It needs work. Or more gold chains.

Malkin also posted this image on Instagram:

Any guesses? 

Congrats to @WonderMegz on Twitter for getting the chance to do the Penguins’ makeup for their Halloween ball:

I made 4 of the penguins as Kiss and 1 as the Mad hatter with another as the Cheshire cat!!! :D @penguins pic.twitter.com/5mjDqA3QKB

— Megan Calabro (@WonderMegz) October 20, 2014

Still wondering if either Niskanen or Orpik showed up dressed as a bag of money…

UPDATE: Crosby sought to explain his costume choice (at the 2-minute mark):

"I was Maverick last year from 'Top Gun'. I like the movie too. Maybe [Flyers fans] will soften up on me."

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 20, 2014, 1:02 pm

No. 1 Star: Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks 

The Anaheim defenseman had his first multi-goal game in the NHL, propping up the Ducks’ struggling power play with two goals in their 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues. Fredrik Andersen made 28 saves to move to 25-5-0.

No. 2 Star: Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Quick made 40 saves as the Kings defeated the Minnesota Wild, 2-1. Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson had the goals.

No. 3 Star: Mason Raymond, Calgary Flames

Raymond had a goal and two assists at the Flames closed out a successful road trip with a 4-1 win at the Winnipeg Jets.

Honorable Mention: Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves at the New York Rangers blanked the San Jose Sharks, 4-0. Rick Nash scored his seventh and Carl Hagelin scored his first. … Jonas Hiller had 34 saves for the Flames; Kris Russell was a plus-3. … Mark Scheifele scored his first for the Jets.

Did You Know? Andersen joined Ross Brooks of the Boston Bruins in 1972-74 as the only goalies in NHL history to win 25 or more of their first 30 decisions. (AP)

Dishonorable Mention: Mirco Mueller, Chris Tierney, Eriah Hayes and Brent Burns were a minus-2 for the Sharks.

 

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 20, 2014, 5:05 am

Defenseman Kristaps Zile delivered one of the strangest hits of 2014.

Unless you think carrying your opponent 20 feet into the boards on a hip check is the norm.

Zile plays for HC Riga’s farm team, which played an MHL (that’s the KHL’s second tier) game against HC Red Bull on Friday night. He delivered a hip check to Lukas Pozgay as the Red Bull was skating down the right wing with the puck. That hip check transformed onto an impromptu piggyback ride into the end boards, where Zile finished a brutal hit.

Pozgay was flat on the ice but returned to the Red Bulls’ bench. He didn’t play in the Saturday night rematch between the teams.

Here’s a Vine of the hit:

By the way: Zile is 16 years old, playing his second season of pro junior hockey.

No word if he charged Pozgay a fare for the ride, or if Pozgay tipped him. Although we doubt it. 

s/t Everything Hockey

More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports:

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 20, 2014, 4:19 am

T.J. Brodie’s going to get paid, and rightfully so.

Elliotte Friedman reports that Brodie, 24, is going to ink a 5-year, $23.25-million contract extension with the Calgary Flames. He had six points in his first six games for the Flames this season, after getting 31 in 81 games in 2013-14.

He averaged 24:04 last season on average, up nearly four minutes per game over the previous lockout-shortened season. 

That $4.65 million cap beginning in 2015-16 slots him right below Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers ($4.7 million).

Hopefully he buys Mark Giordano a steak dinner or something, considering that veteran’s impact on Brodie, who was second to Gio in Corsi relative to quality of competition last season.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 20, 2014, 2:53 am

Minnesota Wild center Ryan Carter, left, collides with Anaheim Ducks right wing Tim Jackman during the first period an NHL hockey game Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)According to the estimable James Mirtle, the Minnesota Wild rank No. 24 in the NHL in average weight and No. 26 in average height.

They’re going to get knocked around and targeted, as they were against the Anaheim Ducks (average weight: No. 1).

Coach Mike Yeo knows this. And while he’d never, ever, ever criticize the NHL’s officials for not handing his team an appropriate amount of power pays, he sorta did in Los Angeles this weekend. 

From the Pioneer Press:

“We're a team that's built on speed and I think that style of hockey, that brand of hockey is very exciting for the fans," Yeo said. "I just felt in the game there were times where our speed was very frustrating for them and creating a lot of momentum for us, and there were times where they started to do things that should have warranted power plays for us.

"This is not to get into the whole debate of having tough guys and how many tough guys (do you need). I love toughness, too, but there's no question it's hard to build your team only around speed if that stuff isn't taken care of by giving us a chance to go on the power play when that happens."

Granted, that Ducks game provided him with ample fodder – still trying to figure out how Charlie Coyle got a double-minor for Ryan Getzlaf going after him – but one wonders if this’ll be a reoccurring theme for Yeo this season. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 19, 2014, 4:16 pm

Hey, it's Vincent Vega!

No. 1 Star: Niclas Svedberg, Boston Bruins 

A 32-save night helped Svedberg to record his first career NHL shutout during a 4-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins netminder was making his third career start, giving Tuukka Rask the night off. A pair of goals in the first and another pair in the second helped Boston send Buffalo to their second straight defeat via shutout. 

No. 2 Star: Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit Red Wings

The former Toronto Maple Leaf exacted a bit of revenge on his former mates with a 30-save, 1-0 blanking. It was Gustavsson’s sixth NHL shutout and first since he was a member of the Leafs. The two sides went 0-0 through regulation and in overtime it was Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg putting home the winner with 9.9 seconds left:

No. 3 Star: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues

Schwartz became the 60th player in Blues history to record a hat trick as St. Louis routed Arizona 6-1. The win helped Jake Allen earn the win in his first NHL start since April 2013. Jori Lehtera (who scored his first NHL goal) and Vladimir Tarasenko each recorded three points in the win.

Honorable Mention: Marc-Andre Fleury made 34 saves and the Penguins killed all seven Islanders power plays as Pittsburgh got by New York 3-1. Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist scored power play markers 55 seconds apart in the second period to erase the Islanders’ lead. Hornqvist, who also added an assist, would later put home  an empty-netter to ensure victory … Sidney Crosby recorded a pair of assists, including the 500th of his NHL career … Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski each scored a goal and assisted on two others, while Antti Niemi made 35 saves as the San Jose Sharks defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-2. Joe Thornton put home the empty-net goal at the end, helping him reach the 1,200-point plateau … Robin Lehner made 38 saves and Mike Hoffman’s goal midway through the third period broke a 2-2 deadlock as the Ottawa Senators edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. Ottawa has now won four in a row … Lehner made a pretty great stick save on Alex Wennberg here:

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin scored on all three of Washington’s shootout attempts to help give the Capitals a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. Justin Peters needed only 20 saves as Washington improved to 10-0-1 in their last 11 against Florida … Panthers captain Willie Mitchell played in his 800th NHL game, while Steve Ott got in his 700th and Backstrom suited up for his 500th … The wildest game of the night ended with 11 goals and the Philadelphia Flyers getting by the Dallas Stars 6-5 after an overtime power play winner from Claude Giroux. Entering the third period down 4-2, the Flyers scored three times to help force the extra period. That’s when the Flyers captain deposited a one-timer behind Kari Lehtonen to give Philadelphia their first win of the season:

Tyler Seguin had four assists, while Jason Spezza chipped in three points in the loss … P.K. Subban played a huge role in Montreal’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. His power play blast early in the second tied the game 1-1. Later in the period, just as his penalty expired, Subban burst from the box and made both Tyson Barrie and Calvin Pickard look silly for Montreal’s third and final goal:

Meanwhile, in Chicago: Overtime. Jonathan Toews. Breakaway. Shorthanded. Blackhawks win: 

Behind Ben Bishop’s 30 saves and Steven Stamkos’s three points, the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. Here’s Stamkos earning one of his points after breaking his stick, grabbing a new one from the Lightning bench, then proceeding to set up Ryan Callahan’s one-timer:

Did You Know? “The Sabres were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since October 2003.” (AP)

Dishonorable Mention: Buffalo’s power play went 0-for-7 … Via the AP, New Jersey is now 2-4-2 in home openers at Prudential Center … Patrik Nemeth left the game in the first period after being cut on his arm by R.J. Umberger’s skate … Paul Stastny and Victor Hedman left their games with upper-body injuries and did not return. Meanwhile, Martin Hanzal exited with a lower-body injury … Arizona has allowed nine first period goals through four games.

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 19, 2014, 4:59 am

Martin Havlat’s face is quite different than it was a couple of days ago. On Thursday, he was shoved into the boards behind the Washington Capitals’ net and also made contact with referee Darcy Burchell. The end result was messy:

Fortunately for Havlat, there was no structural damage, only some bad, bad cuts. He took part in New Jersey’s morning skate and later the pre-game skate on Saturday, raising questions of whether he might make a quick return from such an ugly injury. 

Alas, it wasn’t to be, as Havlat was scratched in favor of Damien Brunner, but not before CSN Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil caught a quick snap of the aftermath through his face shield:

Here was Marty Havlat's face during warmups, after that scary injury on Thursday night. #SJSharks #NJDevils pic.twitter.com/SaXlZnyv0I

— Brodie Brazil (@brodiebrazilCSN) October 18, 2014

Yikes. That’s bad. But take off that mask and here’s a better view of the damage, via Sarah Mathews:

@walsha if he plays like this tonight he is the man#njd#havlat pic.twitter.com/Ok7QHeT8rl

— Sarah Mathews (@SportsCntrSarah) October 18, 2014

That's bad. Really gets you in the Halloween theme, but that's bad.

Best wishes, Marty.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 19, 2014, 1:35 am

The Colorado Avalanche had an opportunity to tie their game with the Montreal Canadiens late in the second period on the power play. It didn’t happen. And when the penalty expired Lars Eller dumped the puck off the boards and out of the zone, catching up with a racing P.K. Subban, who had just exited the box.

It would end up being ten seconds Tyson Barrie would like to forget:

Poor, lonely Tyson Barrie:

Calvin Pickard, making his first NHL start, likely thought he had some help with Barrie coming back, but soon found himself one-on-one with Subban, a situation that doesn't usually end well for netminders.

The Avs would get another power play chance not long after Subban's goal, but that soon became the fourth man advantage opportunity that Colorado would fail to capitalize on -- not a surprise for a team that is 1-for-22 so far this season.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 19, 2014, 1:16 am

Pascal Dupuis left the CONSOL Energy Center ice on Thursday night on a stretcher. It made for a scary sight, but the Pittsburgh Penguins forward put the crowd at a bit of ease when he gave the thumbs up. 

Moments earlier, Dupuis had been cross-checked in front of Dallas Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen, and as he was falling forward he was hit in the back of the neck by a Kris Letang shot:

Dupuis experienced numbness in his arm, but he was well enough to skate on his own Friday morning.

On Saturday, he took part in the Penguins' morning skate, ahead of their meeting with the New York Islanders, and joined the normal line rushes.

From Sam Kasan of the Penguins

“I tried to get up and I couldn’t feel my arms and my extremities. I started shaking my gloves and wanted to see if they were really shaking or not,” Dupuis said. “They were kind of moving. I dropped my gloves and (Evgeni Malkin) came around yelling ‘Just lay there! Just stay there!’ I said, ‘OK, Geno.’ I just stayed there.” 
Penguins team doctors and athletic trainers came out to attend to Dupuis. As he lay on the ice the feeling began to come back in his arms, but the team took every precaution, removing him from the ice on a stretcher and taking him to the hospital for testing.
“The feeling came back, but I argued with the doctors,” Dupuis said. “It took a little while. Feeling started slowly to come back. It was a weird feeling. It’s obviously never happened to me. I never got numb like this. It’s kind of scary actually.”

Once Dupuis was given the all-clear after the tests, he returned to CONSOL and was able to talk his teammates, including Letang.

Penguins head coach Mike Johnston said Dupuis will be a game-time decision, but given his full participation on Saturday morning, it's likely he'll make a return versus the Islanders..

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 18, 2014, 4:31 pm

So the Swedish Hockey League is in a bit of a hit-to-the-head rut.

Earlier this week, Johan Forsberg went high on an opponent, was ejected from the game and called with an apology. Now it’s former NHL defenseman Chris Campoli on the receiving end.

Campoli – who played for the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens – is on HV71 in the SHL. After releasing the puck in a game on Friday night, he was hit high by Vaxjo forward Alexander Johansson.

Campoli said he suffered a concussion.

No question that Johansson finishes high, with his elbow, on Campoli. "It is disgusting to see such things. It can end a career," said forward Teemu Laine. “An elbow to the head is just cowardly. It is cowardly to lift his arms. And even if I do not sit in any disciplinary board so it must be very heavy penalties. It's the only way to get it off.”

Said Campoli: "I have been diagnosed with a concussion but feel a little better now compared to last night.”

This is the third incident recently featuring a high hit on a SHL player, which has led to an interesting suggestion from SportExpressen’s Henrik Sjöberg: Maybe Swedish hockey needs more fighting:

“I know that the debate about fighting in hockey parts IIHF Sweden and I'm not saying that you should make it to a show in North America, but I believe that the penalty for throwing the gloves are way too hard in Sweden.

“When Johan Forsberg apologizes and is saddened by the situation in Coop Arena, I do not miss him, but yet I can not help but think that it might never have happened if he knew he would have to stand up for his actions afterwards.

“Or if the penalty has been twice as hard.”

It’s not the first time someone has called for more fighting in the SHL. But we imagine that last suggestion would be taken before the SHL ever eases on fighting rules, which involve automatic suspensions. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 18, 2014, 3:34 pm

Some players like to beat the clock with a shot on goal.

Ryan Kesler tried to beat the clock on Friday night with a shot on Mikael Granlund. 

As the clock read zeroes to mark the end of the Anaheim Ducks’ 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild, Kesler sped across the ice and blasted Granlund against the side boards.

That led to chaos, as the two teams came together in a scrum. Kesler was given a boarding major and a game misconduct. Zach Parise, his Team USA teammate, was given a cross-checking major and a game misconduct.

From Russo’s Rants and Michael Russo:

At the end of the game, Ryan Kesler, being Ryan Kesler, took a gigantic long run at Mikael Granlund and creamed him along the boards. Parise immediately jumped to Granlund’s defense.

Kesler got a major for charging and Parise a major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. We’ll see if anything comes of that Saturday.

“Game’s over. It’s stupid,” Parise said of the Kesler cheap shot at Granlund.

As Russo pointed out, the Ducks got physical with some of the Wild’s “lesser players” in the second half of the game.

The teams meet again in Minnesota on Dec. 5. That should be fun.  

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 18, 2014, 6:40 am

Darcy Kuemper’s Minnesota Wild franchise record shutout streak of 163:46 ended against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night in a 2-1 loss, but he managed another save for the highlight reel. 

With the score tied 1-1 in the third period, Corey Perry of the Ducks sent a pass to the crease to a cutting Matt Beleskey. It appeared to go off the skate of Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, but Kuemper was ready -- he dove to his right with this stick and prevented the puck from entering the net, reaching back to send it out.

As he teammate Charlie Coyle said: "He’s been great for us. A few bounces either way and it’s in the back of the net. He’s playing great, and he should keep his head up. We have a lot of confidence in him and he should keep that confidence going forward."

Minnesota was the fifth NHL team since 1943-44 to begin the season with two shutouts. Kuemper topped Niklas Backstrom's franchise-record streak of 157:44 in the second period vs. Anaheim. Andrew Cogliano's goal at 4:02 of the third period ended it. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 18, 2014, 6:24 am

Frp, left to right, Detroit Red Wings' Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg and Brendan Smith celebrate Franzen's goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during first-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)No. 1 Star: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings 

The Red Wings captain had a 4-point night, assisting on all of Detroit’s goals in a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had the primary assist on the Red Wings’ first three goals, two from Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyqvist’s fourth.

No. 2 Star: Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers

Luongo’s 67th career shutout, 1-0 over the Buffalo Sabres, moved him past Patrick Roy in the all-time list to No. 13. Sean Bergenheim had the lone goal. 

No. 3 Star: Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks

Miller made 28 saves as the Canucks shut out the Edmonton Oilers, 2-0. Radim Vrbata and Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist.

Honorable Mention: Andrew Cogliano and Corey Perry had the goals and Fredrick Anderson made 27 saves as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Minnesota Wild, 2-1. … Mike Ribeiro and James Neal scored and Pekka Renne pitched a 31-save shutout as the Nashville Predators defeated the Winnipeg Jets, 2-0. … The Columbus Blue Jackets took a 3-0 lead, the Calgary Flames roared back with two goals in the third period, but the Jackets held on for the 3-2 win. Matt Calvert had a goal and an assist while Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves. … Josh Jooris scored in his NHL debut for Calgary.

Did You Know? Darcy Kuemper’s franchise record shutout streak of 163:46 ended vs. the Ducks.

Dishonorable Mention: Roman Polak was a minus-3. … Both Florida and Buffalo were 0-for-5 on the power play. … Ryan Kesler was given a charging major at the end of the Ducks’ game, sparking a melee.

 

 

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 18, 2014, 6:08 am

Just about everyone predicted that the Oilers wouldn't be very good this year. They'd have been picked to finish last in their division were it not for the existence of the Calgary Flames, and these days even their southern provincial rivals are doing much better than the Oilers are. 

Regardless of those low expectations, Edmonton is even worse through four games than many expected, winning just one point (in a shootout loss to Vancouver), scoring just 11 goals (2.75 per), and allowing a whopping 22 (5.5 per, dead last by a mile). The reasons why this is the case should be more than a little obvious, but even here the Oilers are going above and beyond to blow up the holes in their roster — of which there are several — into bigger problems than they need to be.

Right off the hop, any observer would have to acknowledge that the NHL is a league driven by two things: Goaltending first, and center depth second. If you don't have a goalie, you essentially don't have a team, and if you don't have at least two quality centers, you might have a team but you don't have a very good shot at winning most nights. Especially in the Western Conference, where teams hoard centers like so much precious treasure.

It's also important to note here that it's dangerous to draw too many conclusions about a team after they've played just under 5 percent of their full league schedule has been played, but these two issues in particular are those that many, many people cited as some huge question marks for the Oilers coming into the year.

The Oilers' goaltending problems are obvious; the 22 goals (all but one into an empty net) they've allowed in regulation have come on just 124 shots, giving Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens a combined save percentage of .831 to start the year. This is, of course, no way to win a hockey game but Scrivens, the team's presumptive starter, has gotten off to a nightmarish beginning to the season. You could say, “Oh, well, after three appearances, even one bad game can torpedo your save percentage.” And you'd be right, except Scrivens has had three phenomenally bad starts. He stopped 21 of 26 against Calgary (.808), 12 of 15 before after relieving Viktor Fasth against Los Angeles (.800), and 23 of 29 Wednesday night in Phoenix (.793). This from a guy who came in with pretty good career numbers, and who went a respectable .916 in 21 contests for the Oilers last season, even as he faced a ludicrous number of shots.

The goalies, obviously, have been an issue in Edmonton, but they're also running at about 70 or 80 points below where one could reasonably expect them to be. People had their doubts that Scrivens could carry the water for a full season, but no one is this bad forever, or even over 10 games. It's just about impossible for an NHL goalie to stop less than 89 percent of the shots he faces over any reasonably long period of time, and given Scrivens' career numbers one might be safe to bet on a pretty hefty rebound — not dissimilar to the kind he's been kicking out to every opposing forward within 30 feet of him for the past three games — in the next week or two at the very latest. The Oilers really don't have any other options, and thus they're going to have to be content with riding the storm out with Scrivens. He will be fine.

The center problem is a more persistent and worrisome one. They entered the year with their depth chart going “Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boyd Gordon, (shrug emoticon), (sad face emoticon).”

The two other centers they've rolled out for significant minutes to this point are Mark Arcobello and Leon Draisaitl, but “significant” is being kind to both their actual time on ice, and the situations in which they were deployed. The only one being used in any kind of defensive situation (i.e. when the Oilers start in their own zone) is Gordon, because all three other centers have offensive zone starts approaching or exceeding 80 percent in score-close situations, which is amazing.

However, that was before Nugent-Hopkins injured himself in a fight in the second game of the season. (Oh, excuse me, the Oilers say it was on the hit before the fight. Which makes the fight okay, apparently.) In his stead, they've used Matt Hendricks (meh), Will Acton (hoo boy), and Bogdan Yakimov (???) at center. And again, “used” is a pretty liberal definition for centers who have taken eight, seven, and five draws, respectively.

Of those guys, only Arcobello has faced anywhere near the quality of competition the departed Nugent-Hopkins has.

This is a huge point of concern. The Oilers were already vulnerable in that position, and so all those people who spent the summer asking, “Yes, but what happens when, not if, Nugent-Hopkins gets hurt?” are now able to say, “Yeah, exactly.” It's unquestionably an untenable situation, and the fact that a number of borderline centers went through waivers over the last few weeks un-grabbed by Edmonton is frankly bizarre.

Maybe they're a team that wants to get into that rumored Eric Staal sweepstakes or something, but dude has a no-trade and even the most desperate player isn't going to approve a swap that would send him to this Edmonton team as it's currently constituted.

But as with the goaltending conundrum, Dallas Eakins' hands are tied. The solemn and sad faces he makes on the bench every time his team concedes belie the fact that he can't really do anything to prevent his team's faceoff percentage staying well below 50 percent. These patchwork not-really-NHL-level center schemes lead to his team getting punished up the middle and in transition. You can't underrate the importance of a competent center at jamming up things in the neutral zone and keeping things flowing in the right direction for your club, and the Oilers just don't have that. Edmonton's TOI among quote-unquote centers last night had Mark Arcobello as the clear No. 1 — a condition in which you never ever ever ever ever ever ever want to find yourself — with 22:53 in all situations. Gordon was a distant second at 16:32, Draisaitl came in at 11:36, and Hendricks got just 9:36. Nothing to be done about it, but that's not helping.

And with all that having been said, Eakins is managing at least one part of his bench like an amateur, and it's totally avoidable.

Have a look at the average shift chart at even strength for the Oilers' defensemen and see if you can explain any sort of reasoning for it, in a manner that makes sense. Your Nos. 1-3 defensemen in terms of ice time per game are Justin Schultz (18-plus minutes), Nikita Nikitin (nearly 17) and Andrew Ference (a little more than 16). In the Coyotes game alone, Schultz got 27 minutes in all situations.

Let's get one thing straight about Schultz. He was brought in as a tantalizing offensive prospect first and foremost and has somehow — without proving anything with his actual on-ice performance — become a guy who, in the view of the Oilers brain trust, could some day win a Norris Trophy. The problem, however, is that Schultz is not very good at all at defending, no matter how much everyone wants to believe he is. Go watch the highlights (using that term loosely as well) of any Oilers game, and you'll see Schultz or Ference in the thick of things as the team gets scored upon again and again.

Nikitin, meanwhile, is a guy who couldn't even hack it respectably getting third-pairing minutes with Columbus, and he's now facing some of the toughest competition in the West every night. Relying on him is always going to be a recipe for disaster.

Snicker at all the screenshots of 14 Oilers on the left side of the ice while Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr sit in acres of space on the right. Draw little arrows all over your telestrator. Blame Dallas Eakins' system for all these breakdowns. It's not totally undeserved.

But at some point you have to say that the players he's given aren't good enough to begin with — it's not like he has Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie and he's giving them both eight minutes a night; his best option by far is Jeff Petry, which isn't saying much — but it's only compounded by the fact he's using them wrong.

Now, as for Petry, he's clearly done something to end up in Eakins' doghouse, not only this year, but last season as well. The numbers suggest that he's a pretty decent defenseman if used correctly. Certainly better than Schultz, Nikitin, and Ference. And he's only playing soft competition as a result of his apparent misdeeds, but he's destroying them to the tune of 61.54 percent score-close possession. He only got 14:49 against the Coyotes, and ended up a team-worst minus-3 (bad look there), but if the numbers show he's that much more effective than Schultz or Nikitin, and the games are already this lopsided, why not run him out

The point is that it can't be a “systems” problem. It can't be. No coach who's been as successful at the AHL level as Eakins has is telling his players, “Everyone go to the puck carrier's side of the ice. Leave everyone behind. We play an aggressive zone defense in Edmonton.” The average fan doesn't know a thing about coaching actual NHL players, and even they know not to do that much. Maybe it's an issue of getting players to stick to systems — I don't know because I'm not at Oilers practice, presumably hearing Eakins scream at everyone all the time for being so consistently terrible at defending — and only having so many guys from which to choose, but this can't be acceptable.

Please don't construe this as defending Eakins. He's doing a lot of things wrong, but there's no way a coach makes it to the NHL and is this plainly incompetent at teaching defense. You just have to feel like something else is at play that we can't see.

And here's where things get a little iffy, and frankly confusing: The Oilers embraced analytics this summer, bringing in stats darlings Benoit Pouliot and Mark Fayne, hiring Tyler Dellow to consult with the coaching staff (though I can't imagine, based on what we've seen here, that he has too much input in the player usage sphere), and so on. And from an analytic point of view, the Oilers really haven't been bad at all. They have, in fact, been great. Score-close corsi numbers have Edmonton fourth in the league in terms of possession (58.33, behind the Wild, Pittsburgh, and Detroit ahead of Thursday night's games).

And you could attribute that to the fact that they've trailed pretty consistently throughout their four games, except that “close” wipes out score effects to a certain extent, and even when taking sample size into account, the numbers should ensure that they're not this bad. But here's where the eye test comes in. Oilers forwards are flying the zone the second a defenseman even kind of looks like he has the puck. And when the blueliners are as typically poor with the puck on their sticks as Edmonton's have been, that leads to a lot of turnovers, and a lot of guys getting missed in coverage.

No one has been particularly “hard on the stick” around the net and not-great players are scoring easy goals against them. They're also getting tormented away from home (46.88 percent score-close corsi, albeit because they played at Vancouver and at San Jose, which would hurt anyone), suggesting that their one home match — the opening-night loss to the Flames in which the Oil out-attempted their archrivals 47-21 — was so out-of-control in their favor that the rest of it can't really be viewed fairly. Again, sample size has these kinds of effects.

But also when it comes to sample size, and circling back to the unsustainably low save percentage, you also have to say this: “Holy [expletive] the Oilers have been suuuuuuper unlucky, haven't they?”

All things being equal, these losses shouldn't be nearly as bad as they have been, nor should they have lost at all to Calgary. Obviously, overly simplistic pedants will say that's why they play the game on the ice and not spreadsheets before calling you a nerd and trying to give you a wedgie, but no one is this bad. It's impossible.

Through Wednesday night, Oilers somehow didn't even have the worst even-strength save percentage in the league. Being 28th at .851 is still pretty bad, though. And it's not helped by the fact that their shooting percentage, also 28th, is 3.57 percent. It's crazy that either number should be as low as it is, and yet here we are. Again, it's four games. You don't keep up one of the best possession shares in the league and also maintain one of the lowest PDOs. The math just doesn't work.

If the question is, “Are the Oilers good?” then the answer is no. Given the roster makeup and everything else, they weren't likely to make the playoffs to begin with. If the question is, “Are the Oilers this bad?” the answer is also no, but you certainly have to say that while nothing has really gone their way this season, they've also done nothing to help their own cause.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: October 17, 2014, 9:38 pm

There’s a storied history between hockey players and cute dogs, whether it’s Joe Juneau’s hockey card or David Backes saving the strays of Sochi from Putin’s canine death squads or the Washington Capitals’ annual players and pups calendar, shooting now.  

But all of those are irrelevant now because OMG ANZE KOPITAR BEING TACKLED BY A POOCH!

Kopitar

This is Gustl, who is Kopitar’s golden doodle. You may remember him from his appearance with Kopitar, eating from a tiny Stanley Cup. 

Now … well, he’s basically a dog-sized Stanley Cup in his dad’s arms. All the feels…

s/t Bailey, the pie-tossing lion

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 17, 2014, 9:14 pm
Kessel

Our friends at Winging It In Motown cooked up an amazing social experiment on Friday involving hockey’s favorite awkward older brother, Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The simple concept: Take the photo of Kessel shown here, and ask those in your life that may not have let the light of hockey into their hearts (yet) what it is he does for a living.

The responses have been incredible, ranging from “guilty CEO” to “Verizon salesman” to “axe murderer.”

So, again, your mission should you choose to accept it:

1. Save this picture of Kessel.  

2. Send this picture of Kessel to a non-hockey friend (or relative).

3. Ask them what they think he does of a living.

4. Screencap their response.

5. Post it to social media, and be sure to alert the good people at Winging It In Motown that you have.

6. Giggle. (This probably could be an earlier step.)

Anything we can do to let the rest of the world know about the dishelved glory of Phil Kessel is time well spent. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 17, 2014, 8:55 pm

Sometimes you see one player elbow another and you’re like, “Well, gee, that’s an unfortunate series of events that led to this terrible accident.”

This hit from Johan Forsberg of Lulea on Djurgården's Daniel Fernholm is not one of those elbows.

Forsberg, 29, came in way high on Fernholm after he had clearly released the puck during their SHL game. He had time to hold up or just take the body. He choose … poorly.

He was given a match penalty, which carries an automatic on-egame suspension. Swedish hockey writer Arvid Marklund thinks Forsberg could earn up to a 10-game suspension from the Swedish Hockey League.

Forsberg, who’s not known as a dirty player, told Sports Expressen that he reached out to Fernholm to apologize. “I apologized and asked if everything was okay. I explained that it was not meant to hurt him. We had a good conversation. He took it well. We know what it's all of them. Sometimes unfortunate things [happen],” said Forsberg.  

s/t Robert Söderlind

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 17, 2014, 8:31 pm

Reading Royals
The ECHL’s Reading Royals are one of our favorite minor league hockey organizations because they have a great eye for unique jersey designs. We’ve featured them in the past, from ugly Christmas sweater looks to ones honoring the Olympics.

Their latest designs get us in the mood for Halloween, which is only two weeks away. The game-used versions will be sold on the team's online store as soon as their game against the Wheeling Nailers on Oct. 30 is over.

Let’s let our old friend the Crypt Keeper from “Tales from the Crypt” tell you about their latest jersey promotion: 

On SHOCKTOBER 30th, the EEK-CHL’s Philadelphia Flyers affiliate, the DEADing Royals, are hosting the SQUEAL-ING NAILERS for a Halloween eve hockey contest. 

To celebrate, the Royals have a little surprise for the OGRES in the ARENA: They’re going to wear this FANG-TASTIC jersey filled with BATS, COBWEBS, PUMPKINS, a VAMPIRE LION who wants to MANE-GLE you, and the Pagoda and Stokesay Castles of DOOM!
It’s the kind of jarring jersey you’d expect to see on a RICK GNASH or a BRENT BURNS or ALEX GHOUL-IGOSKI or JACK S-KILL-E or a JOSH GORE-GES!
I say these jerseys are … TERRIFYINGLY terrific. I’m sure it will inspire the Royals to score many more … GHOULS than the boys from SQUEAL-ING.
You know what they say about hockey: Skeletons don’t play it because they don’t HAVE THE GUTS. HEEEEEEHEE HEE HEE HEE!
Until next time, my creepy, cackling cadavers. But I want to leave you with one more Halloween fright:

BEN SCRIVENS’ SAVE PERCENTAGE! HEEE HEE HEE HEEEEEE!

***

Pretty devilish description by the Crypt keeper. What do you think?

PASS OR FAIL: The Reading Royals’ Halloween jerseys.

Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: October 17, 2014, 7:08 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

@JordanErcit best I've seen pic.twitter.com/TQt1szAWOn

— John Matisz (@MatiszJohn) October 17, 2014

• Now hockey fans have something to wear to all those black-tie weddings they're dragged to. [Buzzing the Net]

• Hockey Fights Cancer is a league wide campaign. For two employees of the LA Kings, the fight is personal. [LA Kings Insider]

• President Obama still hasn't been to a hockey game. Ted Leonsis, owner of the Capitals, is hoping the outdoor game in DC against Obama's hometown Chicago Blackhawks will finally draw the President to a game. [Washington Post]

• That didn't last long. After making his NHL debut in LA, the Edmonton Oilers have returned Darnell Nurse back to the Soo. [Soo Greyhounds]

• Martin Havlat sustained a gnarly cut to his face after being checked into a referee's elbow. The gash required multiple stitches and there is no update on if or for how long Havlat may be out of the lineup. Hey, at least he has a built in Halloween mask now. [Fire and Ice]

• Anaheim Ducks forward Pat Maroon is out for at least four weeks with a MCL sprain. He sustained the injury on Monday after a hit from Buffalo's Josh Gorges. [Anaheim Ducks]

• Shannon Szabados is gearing up for her first full season with the Columbus Cottomouths. She is truly leading the way for women joining mens leagues. [Confessions of a Female Hockey Fan]

• The Connor McDavid power rankings: watching the teams at the bottom of the NHL in the running for the presumed No. 1 draft pick in 2015. [SB Nation]

• Ted Nolan and Bryan Trottier met in a snowstorm. Now they're coaching together in Buffalo. While Ted may be less than pleased with how things are going, Trottier is enjoying his new job. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

• Fantasy update on other injuries around the NHL. [Dobber Hockey]

• A look at the ratings for Rogers in their first weekend as Canada's primary hockey broadcaster. [Eh Game]

• Speaking of the Rogers monopoly of hockey coverage in Canada, here's a belated eulogy for Hockey Night in Canada as we used to know it. [Van City Buzz]

• Chicago has hired another 'player development coach', Mike Sullivan. Sully was last seen as part of John Tortorella's coaching staff in Vancouver before being dismissed by the organization. [The Third Man In]

• Three Periods from Nick Cotsonika is back! This week’s topics include a “major” change by Zdeno Chara, the real-world impact of the Canadiens’ leadership change and notes on Daniel Alfredsson, Tyler Myers, Brian Campbell, Dallas Eakins, Jason Spezza, Scott Hartnell & more. [Yahoo]

• Fox Sports has added a shots on goal tally to the score box thing in the upper left-hand corner. Good idea or bad idea? [The Royal Half]

• Did you know the Montreal Canadiens power play is 0-for-14 on the season thus far? Yeah, that's a problem and it's deeper than one might expect. [Eyes on the Prize]

• The Pittsburgh Penguins look good. Have they lost weight? Nah, just system changes implemented by Mike Johnston have been tailored to fit the team. [ThePensblog]

• Hockey Scouting in the Modern Age: An Interview with Victor Carneiro of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. [Hockey In Society]

• Oh Oilers fans. Time to seriously temper expectations to the reality of the team. [Oil on Whyte]

• Jared Cowen – The Poster Child For a Mediocre Blue Line? [The 6th Sens]

• Demetrius Rodgers learned how to play hockey - at 38 years old - courtesy of the 'Adults First Goal' program. [USA Hockey]

• Austin Pettis of the St. Louis Rams garnered a lot of attention on Monday Night Football for his tattoo of the Mighty Ducks logo. The Anaheim native explains the ink. [St. Louis Rams]

• Finally, we turn to our friends in the KHL where Marek Kvapil scores a beauty of a bank shot off the goaltender. [YouTube]

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: October 17, 2014, 6:19 pm

LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a (gettin' down on) Friday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

Special Guest Star: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk joins us. 

• Milan Lucic is fined for wanking.

• Blues vs. Kings and last night's action.

• GAME SHOW FRIDAY!

Question of the Day: Who are your favorite hockey siblings, besides the Hansons? Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 17, 2014, 5:51 pm

Milan Lucic, we get it.

You’re in the penalty box, you’re facing the crowd, your gloves are low enough where perhaps it’ll go unnoticed that you’re pantomiming masturbation to the Montreal Canadiens fans. 

Alas, it did not, and Milan Lucic was fined on Friday by the National Hockey League for that lewd gesture.

From the NHL:

Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic has been fined $5,000 for an obscene gesture made during Game No. 53 in Montreal on Thursday, Oct. 16, the National Hockey League’s Hockey Operations Department announced today.

Lucic expressed his self-satisfaction late in the third period of the Bruins’ 6-4 loss at the Canadiens on Thursday night. He was penalized for boarding after hitting Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin after he had released the puck – an opponent, incidentally, that Lucic threatened to “kill” during their post-series handshake in the 2014 Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Lucic went to the penalty box, faced the fans, had a stroke and then raised his hands in the air to mimic hoisting the Stanley Cup. Which, as we said at the time, was really the obscene gesture considering Lucic (1 Stanley Cup) has some catching up to do with the Canadiens (24 Stanley Cups).

It was a scant two years ago that another Bruin, current Edmonton Oiler Andrew Ference, was fined $2,500 for an obscene gesture in Montreal, in which he gave Canadiens fans the finger located between his index and his ring.

But the Lucic punishment still pales in comparison to the granddaddy of all sexual gesture punishments: James Wisniewski in 2010, who was actually suspended two games for a graphic sexual gesture made with this mouth towards Sean Avery of the New York Rangers. Under the CBA at the time, the most he could have been fined was $2,500. The suspension cost him over $79,000.

So consider yourself lucky, Milan Lucic, for only having gotten lucky with yourself.

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 17, 2014, 4:24 pm

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)Semyon Varlamov is on injured reserve with a wonky groin. Reto Berra is “out for a while.” Calvin Pickard was lit up against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. 

The Colorado Avalanche have a bit of a goalie problem at the moment, and you know what that means:

Martin. Brodeur. To. The. Rescue.

The inevitable chatter’s already started about the New Jersey Devils legend and current unrestricted free agent getting the shot he’s been waiting for, i.e. an injury to a starter in the NHL.

Let’s be honest: This would be awesome, from a narrative standpoint.

Brodeur, in likely his last season, playing for the man whose records he shattered. Patrick Roy, in need of a goalie, turning to that former rival, as one of the few people who might understand Brodeur’s unending desire to cling to an NHL career.

Martin Brodeur, playing for Patrick Roy’s team.

I mean, you can’t script this [expletive] any better.

Which of course means it won’t happen, because every great hockey fable we write in our minds is crushed by the weight of reality. Consider:

* Varlamov is only out for a week, with Roy having said that his groin simply hadn’t responded to treatment. Could this become something more systemic? Perhaps. But it’s not like this is a matter of months for Varly, which is the sort of situation one envisioned for a Brodeur signing.

* The Avalanche have been more than comfortable not having a veteran backup for Varlamov, and frankly might not want that long shadow of Brodeur being cast over him.

* Stylistically, it’s not exactly a good fit. The Avalanche defense sells shots on goal in bulk. Brodeur has always been at his best when facing limited shots; his mental toughness and focus, rather than a Hasek-ian ability to flop around, as always been his forte. Now that he’s 42 and his agility isn’t even what it used to be two seasons ago, this could be disasterous. Although Brodeur’s puck-handling skills would be an asset in bailing out that blue line and assisting in the team’s breakout offense.

* Last, and perhaps not least: Brodeur and goalie coach Francois Allaire are on opposite ends of goaltending philosophy. He famously rejected Allaire’s butterfly style as a young goalie, actually walking out on Allaire’s school as a teenager. This isn’t to say they don’t get along now – and frankly, it’s not like Allaire’s going to teach this dog any new tricks. But their past is a vital part of this speculation when you consider how well Allaire worked with another goalie on the open market: Ilya Bryzgalov, who had a better season than Brodeur did last season.  

As did Tim Thomas. As would have Tomas Vokoun had he not been injured. They’re available, too.

So this might not be the best fit. Nor might it happen at all.

But of all the landing places for Brodeur in all the NHL, is there a better place to bellow his swan song than the Rocky Mountains, trying to win games for the man whose win records he shattered?

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 17, 2014, 2:34 pm

Until his eventual comeback in the NHL, Ville Leino will live in infamy.

To some he’s an epic bust, signing a 6-year, $27-million contract with the Buffalo Sabres and getting mercifully bought out from it this year. To others, he’s a victim of circumstance, mismanaged and thrown into a deteriorating locker room that’s now in a full rebuild. 

Guess which way Ville thinks things went?

Now a member of Medvescak Zagreb of the KHL, Leino met the media this week to discuss his new gig and his old digs. Mislav Jantoljak of Grocery Twigs was there, and provided these questions and answers from Ville:

Given the fact that Buffalo is paying you $1.22 million for the next six seasons not to play for them what do you hope to accomplish with Medvescak as far as your hockey career goes?

"I’m going to enjoy my game here, trying to help the team, trying to score some points, but most of all enjoy hockey. That’s when I play my best. It’s going to be a new start for me in Europe because it’s a totally different league and a totally different atmosphere – it’s going to be fun for me."

During your hockey career, what has been your favorite moment?

"Well, when we had that Stanley Cup run and we lost in the Finals with the Flyers. I played in the playoffs and we had a great team, winning games and even next year we had a great team so the Philly years were the best time for me. My time with Jokerit was also good, but playing in the Stanley Cup Final and the playoffs – that’s a great thing."

And the worst?

"My Buffalo time was pretty bad overall. I was disappointed for the players and the organization and I think they are going to be like that. It’s hard to play in the NHL if you don’t have a good team. Obviously, that was kind of a tough time but sometimes life goes hard and you have to bounce back."

What really happened in Buffalo? I mean, in Philadelphia it seemed like you career was on an upswing, you play fantastic hockey and then you sign in Buffalo and things don’t quite work out…

"There’s a huge difference between teams. NHL is hard, you have to have chemistry, a good line, you have to have a good team to win, a good coach and GM and everything in place. Like we were just talking about those great organizations, Philly, Detroit, they were that, Buffalo is not that. They, well, during my time they fired two coaches, GM had to go, they just have 2-3 players that used to be there when I got there. They are going to struggle for the next couple of years. It seems like everything went wrong, I mean, I was injured all the time and then, obviously, I had a lot of pressure with the money and I think the last year, they were just trying to get through it and buy me out after the season anyway. I could sense that, I knew it was coming. It’s hard to play when everything goes against you every day and you don’t kind of know what the situation is so I’m just glad that’s over with."

***

Read the full interview here.

“We were talking about great organizations, and Buffalo is not that.” Why that sounds like the kind of team that gives out a six-year deal to a winger with one good season who they try to turn into a center!

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 17, 2014, 1:52 pm

In the second period of the Boston Bruins’ 6-4 loss at the Montreal Canadiens, a green dot danced around the crease of goalie Tuukka Rask.

Somewhere inside Bell Centre sat an idiot. And they had a laser pointer.

We’ve seen this before, of course. Miikka Kiprusoff had a laser hit his mask several times at the Vancouver Canucks back in 2010. Ditto Jose Theodore, who had it happen that year in a game at the New York Rangers.

In this case, Rask said the laser didn’t affect him.

“You know, I saw it in the second but it was in the offensive zone. Good thing I didn’t go blind or anything,” he told ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald.

Here's a look from NESN, via Kevin V.:

As we’ve said in the past: Laser pointers are explicitly banned from arenas, but there’s only so much that ushers and other personnel can do.

It’s on us, as fans, to police our own. And shining a laser point on the ice, no matter how much you loathe the opponent, is something narc-worthy.  

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More From Yahoo Hockey:

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: October 17, 2014, 7:01 am

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