The Dallas Stars’ playoff hopes took a hit on Sunday night in a blowout 7-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. The Stars, who haven’t qualified for the postseason since 2007-08, currently sit in 5th place in the Central Division and are locked at 75 points along with the Phoenix Coyotes. The lopsided loss to the Jets is certainly a bad look with just 15 games left on the schedule, but Dallas’ season can hardly be considered over at this point.
Although the Stars playoff status is of the bubble team variety, the 2013-14 season has to be considered a major success in getting the franchise back on track as a winner. General manager Jim Nill’s offseason retooling that included the additions of Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Shawn Horcoff has helped give the team a core group worth getting excited for the future over, even if attendance happens to be down at the American Airlines Center. It’s the addition of Seguin, in particular, which has helped the Stars the most. The former No. 2 overall draft choice set career highs in both goals and points over the past week, and he’s played a major role in Jamie Benn’s ascension to near-elite status in the league. So, how does last June’s blockbuster trade with the Boston Bruins look now? Read the rest of this entry »
The 2013-14 NHL season has served as quite the launching pad for several young defensemen. 2012 first round draft choices Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Jacob Trouba, Cody Ceci, and Olli Maatta have all logged major minutes with their respective teams, while 2013 fourth overall pick Seth Jones has played in all 61 of the Nashville Predators games as a 19-year old rookie.
It’s a talented crop of young defenders, but their collective emergence is still somewhat surprising given the prominent roles each has assumed with his team. Murray has paired with James Wisniewski in Columbus and the latter is a dark horse Norris Trophy candidate, Trouba and Jones average over 20 minutes of ice-time per night, Lindholm has helped form what is arguably the Ducks most effective pairing with Francois Beauchemin, Morgan Rielly is blossoming as a great two-way defender, Cody Ceci is settling into his role with Ottawa, and Olli Maatta is currently in second in scoring among rookie defensemen. Read the rest of this entry »
Douglas Murray moving at a familiar speed: crawl
The Montreal Canadiens are sporting a very tidy 7-1-2 record over their last ten games. As wins over Pittsburgh and Toronto in their last two contests have demonstrated, you don’t always look good coming out on top. Both games were sloppy, error-filled affairs, but the Canadiens picked up the ever important two points in both games. As far as fanbases of teams currently sitting in playoff positions go, only the Toronto Maple Leafs rival the Canadiens in terms of dissonance towards its head coach. You’re not alone if you think the Canadiens are succeeding in spite of Michel Therrien’s coaching schemes. In fact, you’re probably part of the majority.
In a pre-Olympics piece for Sportsnet, Chris Boyle looked at some of the causes for the Canadiens’ struggle through the month of January. In short, the Canadiens were giving up a lot more high-quality scoring chances than they had through the season’s first few months. Boyle chalks it up to Therrien’s coaching schemes. It’s an interesting look at some shot quality data, and it speaks to large problem on the Canadiens backend. It’s a 6-foot-3, 245 pound defenseman named Douglas Murray. The Canadiens success the rest of this season and in the postseason, if they reach it, will depend on building more support around Carey Price and Peter Budaj, and jettisoning Murray for the scrap heap.
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If there was any doubt that the Buffalo Sabres were not locked in the throes of a full-scale rebuild, then this past weekend should have squashed any remaining uncertainty on the subject. The Sabres shipped Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis for an impressive haul that included Jarolsav Halak, Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first round draft choice in 2015, and a conditional third round pick in 2016. Less than 24 hours later, the Sabres said goodbye to President of Hockey Operations Pat Lafontaine, who resigned and returned to his previous post with the NHL.
The rebuild is on. It will get uglier before it gets better, but the Sabres are on the right path.
Although Sabres general manager Tim Murray netted a decent prospect, a first round draft choice, and ‘right now’ players in Halak and Stewart, the weekend was not without controversy. Lafontaine’s resignation came amidst rumors of organizational dysfunction, which purportedly may have been over a disagreement over whether to extend Miller (Lafontaine) or trade him (Murray). Lafontaine held final say in the team’s transactions prior to the appointment of Murray as GM, thus it was Murray’s way on Friday evening. If it truly was Lafontaine’s desire to lock up a 33-year old goaltender, the team’s most attractive trade chip, to a new deal then it’s probably best that the former NHL great is out of the picture. Read the rest of this entry »
Gary Suter enjoyed 17 seasons as one of the NHL’s most productive defensemen. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookies in 1985-86 and won a Stanley Cup in 1989 with the Calgary Flames. Suter also had a knack for dishing out some of the game’s more notable acts of violence. Here’s a look at four of Suter’s most despicable incidents.
4. Suter staples Scott Young in the 1995-96 playoffs
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The puck finds a familiar place behind Ondrej Pavelec
The 2014 Men’s Olympic hockey tournament kicks off on Wednesday, but we’ll have to wait until Thursday to get a look at the defending champions. There’s a short amount of time and a lot for Canadians to learn about the 11 teams that will be competing for the silver medal. Below is a handy guide of reference points for the rest of the competition in Sochi. Read the rest of this entry »
After months of speculating, debating, and rosterbating, Team Canada finally unveiled its Olympic hockey roster on Tuesday. So naturally, it’s time for more debating. While the arguments over how someone like Chris Kunitz, Dan Hamhuis, or Marc-Edouard Vlasic would get the nod over say Claude Giroux, Martin St. Louis, Eric Staal, Mike Richards, Joe Thornton, Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook, or -insert favorite Canadian player’s name here-, are many and in some cases legitimate concerns, this is the roster until injury dictates otherwise.
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