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Habs, Bruins, injuries…

Sep 21, 2017

There’s no secret that the Habs and B’s aren’t the best of franchise friends.  But during the preseason, where rosters are largely filled up with players who have yet to participate in the heated rivalry, so there should be expectations of a lower-impact game, right?  WRONG.

This week, the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins squared off in Quebec City (to a shockingly only half sold-out crowd).  Boston had played the Red Wings on Tuesday.  The game in itself was not a violent affair, but that didn’t stop the pre-season injury count from rising by one more.

The casualties of these meaningless contests were Montreal’s defenceman Noah Juulsen and Boston’s Torey Krug.

Krug took a nasty puck to the face against the Wings on Tuesday, leaving him in a crumpled heap on the ice.  He will miss the rest of the preseason with a non-displaced fracture of the jaw.  He should be cleared to play when the regular season officially begins on the 4th of October.

Juulsen will miss the rest of camp and some extra time, as he is out for six weeks with a broken foot.  It is a shame, as he was on the fast track to making the big team after two seasons with Everett Silvertips of the WHL, where last season he tallied 12 goals and 12 assists in a career-low 49 games.

“We like the way he skates and his transition game,” [Claude] Julien told reporters after the game in Quebec City. “He’s going to get a chance to make this team and if he doesn’t he’s not going to be too far away.”

All of the injuries piling up in these meaningless games makes me question whether the NHL should reduce the number of games played, or perhaps add two games to each team’s regular season and wipe out the exhibition schedule altogether.

Speedy recovery to both players!



Things I missed – catching up

Sep 18, 2017

I can only watch, read and write so much, so periodically I fall behind.  I’m sorry, but I do have some extra time coming up, so expect me to be posting up a heck of a lot more stuff and far more regularly.  Anyway, here’s what I think is important stuff that I have missed:

  • Bryan Little agrees to 6-year extension with Jets | I really think Bryan Little is a very over-looked and under-rated player.  He consistently puts up solid numbers and has been a solid leadership presence on what was once a very young Jets team.  From the Jets’ perspective, I think they know what they are paying for, and got reasonable value for their money here.  I believe a bit of it is a payment for past performance, but repaying loyalty is something I applaud.
  • David Pastrnak signs 6-year, $40 million deal with Bruins | Boston got great value here.  I am stunned that it took so long, as the Bruins had been offering pretty much this package from the very beginning.  Either way, they needed to get this done, as Pastrnak is their most gifted offensive talent and a complement to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.  Pastrnak’s camp showed class by accepting significantly less than the Leon Draisaitl numbers that had been bandied about in the press.  He’ll still get a shot a bigger money as a UFA while he’s still in peak playing years.
  • Clarke MacArthur fails medical test after concussion plagued seasons With the Ottawa Senators saying that they don’t know why he failed, some have suggested they are trying to bury him on injured reserve a la Joffrey Lupul.  I have a hard time believing that, as MacArthur has always been known as a good team guy, well liked and coach-friendly.  Hopefully he gets better soon.
  • Wild agree to terms with LW Foligno on 4-year, $11.5M deal | I think again, Minnesota got good value for an every occasion player who still has untapped upside.  Foligno is nothing flashy, but fits in well as a third line winger who can move up if needed.
  • Avalanche agree to 2-year deal with defenseman Nikita Zadorov | Second most urgent thing on Joe Sakic’s to-do list is now in the books.  This in no way impacts the much discussion Duchene situation.  Zadorov is one of those guys who I think could still bolt to Russia if he doesn’t see the Avalanche improving.  He is too good of a player to waste of a team being run into the ground by an incompetent GM.  This is really Sakic’s proving ground.  If he mishandles Zadorov, he will be removed as GM.  Write that down!
  • Wild, captain Mikko Koivu agree to 2-year, $11 million deal | I think Koivu’s on the down-slope of his career, but out of respect for their captain, they paid more in order to pay him for less years.  He will continue to be extended like this in perpetuity until he can play no longer.  It is a decent value extension for both sides, and I think the next one will be around the $4.5 million mark.

Well, that’s the important stuff.  I’ll be back to posting tomorrow, so until then, be safe and be sane!  Well, at least safe!



Monday Musings – Sept. 18/2017

Sep 18, 2017
Oh, it's in! Tyler Wong scores leading Vegas to a 9-4 win over Vancouver | Photo: The Province

First off, did anyone else overdose on lackluster pre-season hockey?  Thought so!  Anyway, at least we know there isn’t going to be a lockout or other form of work-stoppage, and real hockey is just around the corner!  That said, I won’t bore you with any real “game analysis” or the like, rather, let’s just peek at some highlights of the weekend.

So, Friday was pretty tame, with only anticipation of hockey to come.  Dialed in some TV pre-season shows, and generally had a stress-free day (well, after I got back from the hospital for a checkup).  Saturday is always hockey day in this Czech-Canadian household, so needless to say I was up at the crack of dawn, eager and ready to turn on the television and take in my heroine-like fix of the greatest game on ice!

The joke was on me, however, as I had completely forgotten that I had moved to the West coast, and that we were three hours behind the action.  Even though it was only 4:30am, it meant I would have to shuffle my viewing schedule to omit some soccer.  Not a big sacrifice, right?  DONE!  Now, come on time – please fly by and get me to my game of the day:  Vegas at Vancouver.

I had watched an almost complete Canucks team play against an almost complete Kings team the night before (not really worth going into much detail about it), and it was nothing but a parade to the penalty box, as the officials are apparently going to crack down hard on faceoff infractions and stick taps around the hands (slashing?).  The players, apparently, had not been properly informed or instructed or even told what the criteria for the call would be, and thus ended up really giving both coaching staffs a chance to view what might well end up being 8th liners at best.

But this would be different, right?  Because it’s the first opportunity to see what the motley assortment Vegas GM George McPhee cobbled together in Sin City.  To see how many defencemen one team could actually ice in a given game!  So many new things!

It went pretty much as expected.

17 total power plays were called, and I would estimate about 65% of infractions would not have been called last season.  The penalties were evenly doled out, with Vegas enjoying nine man-advantage situation’s to Vancouver’s eight.  The Golden Knights converted three times, while the Canucks potted two.

The standout players were all on Vegas, as part of the Canucks was likely either packing or on their way to China (Boeser was good, with a goal and an assist, Jordan Subban was also solid).  The biggest notable was likely Tyler Wong, an undrafted right winger, who is a tad undersized but very determined.  He scored three goals and added a helper, but his tenacity and nose for the puck…  The drive he showed (and the scoring touch) make me believe he has very good chance of breaking camp with the big club.

Another player who really showed some promise was right winger Tomas Hyka, who was drafted in 2012 by the Kings in the sixth round.  He had a previous sniff in North America, but never found traction, went back to Europe to develop, and now wants back in to the NHL.  I think Vegas presents just the perfect opportunity for him to play useful minutes, and entrench himself into a full-time NHL job.

Finally, only because I could blurb a bit about everyone which would be painfully uninteresting, Cody Glass is someone who is a high-risk/high-reward player that I think will emerge a masterstroke for McPhee.  If he ever fills out his 6-foot-2 frame, he has the potential to become one of the cornerstones of this franchise moving forward.  Great skating ability, good view of the game and smart decisions was all I saw from him.  Scrappy, if not feisty at times during the game, we can only hope he develops into at least a second line center.

The game was borderline hockey, but it did the trick in terms of hearing the commentary, the arena sounds, the fans…  At least you wouldn’t get looked at funny if you called it hockey in public.

Duh – Golden Knights win 9-4.

Sunday is always awkward, with football being another household religious affair.

Football won out the day (CFL first, then NFL), so I won’t bore you with anything but the fantastic news that the Falcons beat the Packers!

Monday is still going on, and I’m watching the “Battle Of Ontario“, part 0.1 (pre-season notation).

The Senators look really good, despite missing captain and defenceman supremo, Erik Karlsson, who is now expected to be out until possibly late November, early December.  All eyes are on 20-year old defensive stud prospect Thomas Chabot, who looks solid, but unspectacular on a pairing with Dion Phaneuf.  I think the reality is that Phaneuf is simply not the right fit, and we won’t be able to properly evaluate Chabot’s immediate role on the team until we see him with Karlsson.  Shame that it won’t be until later in the season.

Among forwards, Mike Hoffman looked like he’s ready to go, with two nice goals.  He had a comedic moment that you hope is only a preseason thing though…  (Not posted to youtube yet, will update hopefully!)

The Leafs don’t look quite right, although they are icing a deep forward corps.  Curtis McElhinney was a sieve, and is now in peril of losing the backup job to Garrett Sparks, who didn’t look much better.  But this team isn’t going anywhere if Frederik Andersen goes down for any length of time.

Matthews seems like he’ll pick up where he left off last season, and I believe he will benefit from Patrick Marleau‘s presence on the powerplay, where he scored an astonishingly low eight goals last season.  The rest of the contingent looks impressive, and I believe the Leafs may well win their division this season.

The Senators, once fully configured, will have a slight setback from last season.  It is just my belief, but when a team over-achieves one season, they often come crashing back to EArth the following year, and that involves cratering – i.e going further down than the surface.

Anyways, one last thing to touch on is Joffrey Lupul‘s Instagram post insinuating that the Leafs are cheating the cap system by keeping him (and others in the same boat) buried on Injury Reserve, while he has declared himself fit to play.

First off, if he’s fit to play, he can go get that confirmed by his own doctor, and apply for reinstatement.  Secondly, he should stop accepting paycheques to make a point.  He wants to play, not just be paid.  The Leafs, of course, don’t want his ridiculous contract on the books, in case they need to fill up at the trade deadline.  $5.25 million is a deadline-type budget, so unless the Leafs can find a trade partner (Duchene?), Lupul should quit his bitchin’ and not make things worse for the NHL.  You can’t have this type of discussion publicly as it detracts from both sides.  First, the Leafs aren’t going to accommodate a trouble-maker.  Do Lamoriello and Babcock strike anyone as the type of men who respond well to allegations of improper behaviour in the pubic eye?  Me neither!

Secondly, Lupul is a veteran, and as such should know the basics of the business.  If you want to be traded, make yourself an attractive commodity.  Lupul’s actions do not accomplish that at all, again because teams don’t want to be part of the court of public opinion when it comes to cheating or circumventing the rules.

Next time slam a cheeseburger in your cyber mouth Joffrey!

See you all again next Monday!  Enjoy your week!



Prospect Victor Mete opening eyes at Canadiens camp

Sep 16, 2017

BROSSARD, Que.— The whistle blows and Victor Mete pivots backwards, collects the puck, turns 180 degrees on a dime and fires a cross-ice bank pass off the boards to Max Pacioretty to start a 3-on-2 rush drill. In another sequence, he straddles the blue line at full speed, playing pitch and catch with his defence partner before taking a one-timer, and then he sneaks down into the crease and finishes off another pass—this one into the opposing corner of Michael McNiven’s net.

On breakout drills, Mete’s motoring, his skates crossing over frenetically as he transitions the puck efficiently to the forwards. On break-ins, when the puck’s coming towards him, he’s well-positioned to defend the rush, punching his stick into the passing lanes, his head swivelling to ensure he’s marked his opponents.

Two days into Montreal Canadiens camp, the 19-year-old defenceman from Woodbridge, Ont., who has shown considerable improvement in each of his three seasons with the OHL’s London Knights, is offering everyone in attendance a glimpse of why he’s become one of the team’s most intriguing prospects. He has an NHL skating stride, makes confident decisions with the puck, and he hasn’t looked remotely out of place on a pairing with superstar Shea Weber.

It’s not a stretch to say that there isn’t another defenceman in attendance at this camp that fits Mete’s profile, and therein lies the rub. While this kid may very well prove over the next three weeks that he’s prepared to be an NHL-calibre player, the chances that he’s prepared to log over 20 minutes a night, play in all situations and play against the best opposing forwards on every shift—as he’d have to do as Weber’s partner—are astronomical.

“It’s really good to play with him for the reason of being able to compete against top guys on other teams and see how I can do against them,” said Mete after Saturday’s workout.

But no simulation—not an intra-squad scrimmage like the Canadiens will have on Sunday, or an exhibition game like they’ll have on Monday—will give Mete a true sense of what that challenge will resemble when the puck drops on the regular season and the games begin to matter. And while Canadiens coach Claude Julien said after the team’s first on-ice session Friday that you always want to evaluate a player by putting him in a position where you can best evaluate him, it seems apparent that part of the reason Mete’s stationed where he currently is has to do with the fact that his skills fit well (probably better than anyone else’s) with what Weber brings to the table.

“Ideally, if you had a player who’s a puck carrier, that’s always nice to pair with a guy like Shea, who’s capable of moving the puck well and is capable of being so reliable that his partner won’t be scared to start the rush because he knows Shea is there,” said Julien.

Mete might be the Canadiens’ best fit to skate alongside Shea Weber. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

You look at David Schlemko, who the Canadiens acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights, and it’s hard to say he fits that description—even if his advanced statistics suggest he’s a reliable puck mover. Ditto for Karl Alzner, who signed as a free agent and will likely serve as a defensive anchor for the more offensive Jeff Petry.

Joe Morrow was signed to be a depth puck mover and is currently practising alongside Brandon Davidson. Both of them appear to be on the fringe of the roster.

Eric Gelinas is on a tryout and is currently paired up with Zach Redmond, who spent the majority of last season as a member of Montreal’s AHL affiliate. And Jakub Jerabek, a prolific offensive defenceman who signed out of the KHL this summer, has also been paired with an AHL regular in Brett Lernout.

And while Mark Streit was signed to show he can still be a valuable contributor at this level, it would be inconceivable that his 39-year-old body could handle the rigours of being a top-pairing defenceman on a nightly basis. That’s probably why he’s started camp on what most have presumed would be the team’s third pairing, alongside Jordie Benn.

“We want to see different players play with [Weber] and we’ll go with the best combination,” said Julien.

When Weber was asked on Saturday who the ideal fit would be, he smirked and said, “Bobby Orr.”

Ryan Dixon and Rory Boylen go deep on pucks with a mix of facts and fun, leaning on a varied group of hockey voices to give their take on the country’s most beloved game.

Picking arguably the greatest defenceman to ever play the game is obviously a comment made in jest, but in picking Orr, who was known for his explosive skating and his elite and unique decision-making ability, Weber reveals that he’s well aware of what made his previous partnership with Nashville’s Roman Josi such a success.

He can see how Mete could be a fit.

“He’s good,” said Weber. “I didn’t realize how young he was. He’s really good with the puck, he’s mobile, and at that age it’s pretty good. I thought he was older than he was. For him to be that young, he should have a good career ahead of him.”

Perhaps it’ll start sooner than anyone expected.

But if Mete isn’t ready for all that comes with playing as Weber’s partner, it seems clear the Canadiens are going to have to find someone with a similar profile who can handle that duty. And even though they have $8.4 million available to spend under the salary cap, they have no guarantees such a player will be available anytime soon. |


Penguins sign forward Jordy Bellerive to entry-level deal

Sep 16, 2017

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed forward Jordy Bellerive to a three-year, entry-level deal, the team announced on Saturday.

The 18-year-old led the Penguins at the 2017 Prospects Challenge in Buffalo with four goals and three assists in the three games, including a hat trick against the New Jersey Devils.

The five-foot-10, 194-pound native of North Vancouver, B.C., put up a combined 92 points in the last two seasons with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, including 27 goals in 2016-17. Bellerive contributed 14 points in 20 games during Lethbridge’s run to the 2017 WHL championship.

September 16, 2017


Takeaways:  The Penguins have a few holes to fill, especially the third line center not sure this does anything to address that, but may as well give your prospects a sniff of the big leagues, if only for nine games.  The reality is that it is an entry-level deal with no guarantee of making the team, but it does start the contract ticking.

Jordy Bellerive


AGE: 18


3 Years


Entry-Level Deal




N/A |


Fiddler retires after 14 seasons

Sep 14, 2017

Fiddler announced his decision Wednesday in a story for The Players Tribune.The 5-foot-11 center says he thought the New Jersey Devils would be his final team when he signed during the 2016 offseason. But, Fiddler wrote, Nashville general manager David Poile and Devils GM Ray Shero, who launched his professional career, worked out a trade sending him back to the Predators where he started in the NHL.

Fiddler says coming full circle was special with the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final a “perfect way to finish my career.”

He finished with 104 goals and 261 points and also played for the Coyotes and Dallas.

Takeaways:  I have always liked Fiddler as a third line role-player.  He didn’t bring anything flashy to the game, just good solid work ethic and a willingness to drop the gloves for his teammates.  The hat-trick in the video was the first game I ever saw him play in, having only learned about him through EA Sports, and once I watched that, I always expected him to score more.  But, I’ll always settle for a good knuckle-duster!

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