Friday, September 22, 2017

Afternoon Preseason Injury Notes (Sep 22)

Projected in the 35-point range this season, it was thought that forward Lee Stempniak was going to be a subtle, yet important piece to the Hurricanes season, but it sounds like he has to overcome some back issues, before jumping in with both feet.

Reports out of Carolina today say that the 34-year old has undergone an MRI to see what the extent of his back issues are and how long they expect him to be out.  This isn't a very good sign at the start of the season, but we'll wait to hear what the results are before going into to full panic mode.  We'll probably start adjusting projections, once those results drop, but for now, he'll be day-to-day.

The Red Wings are still waiting for forward Justin Abdelkader to get the green light to resume play on the ice, as he has been held out of scrimmages and the first couple of preseason games with a lower-body injury. He's currently being listed as day-to-day, with the possibility of playing on the weekend. He had a rough injury plagued year in 2017, which hindered his numbers and I only have him as a fringe player, while the Hockey News suggests he could be back to being worthy again. We'll see, I guess.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 22)

It was a full game for both Keith Kinkaid of the Devils and Carey Price of the Canadiens and the winner was... the Devils!  Okay, it's still the preseason and the rosters are not what they are really going to be, but it's something when the lowly Devils get the best of one of the best goalies in the world.

Kinkaid made 28 saves in the 4-1 victory and if it wasn't for a last minute goal for, we wouldn't have any multi-point skaters, but Jesper Bratt scored a late goal to give him a pair, while Stefan Noesen also assisted on both of his goals to get a nod as well.  Kinkaid has a roster spot set, but the other two, still sitting on the bubble, both with some possibility still.

It must be that time of the preseason, when goalies start getting full games, because Tuukka Rask got the nod for the Bruins and he went from start to finish, making 30 saves in a 2-1 win over the Flyers on Thursday night.  Rask is one of my highest projected players this year, as I think the Bruins have improved a fair bit in this off-season and Rask is going to be the guy that cleans up in the points department.

The theme of goalies continued on to the Minnesota Wild playing host to the Winnipeg Jets at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where Alex Stalock put a stranglehold on the back-up job with a 21-save shutout on Thursday night.  The Wild scored midway through the 2nd period and that was all that they could muster and all that they really needed in the end, as the boxscore suggests somewhat of a dud game.

The Chicago Blackhawks flexed a little bit of that familiar muscle on Thursday night and the Detroit Red Wings were the unlucky recipients of their wrath.  The Blackhawks had yet to dress a good portion of their veterans until tonight, but with Jonathan Toews out with a bout of the flu, they had most of their regulars in the lineup for a 6-1 win.

The Blackhawks were led by returnee Brandon Saad, who picked up hat trick in the win, while Richard Panik was also good enough to chip in with a trio of assists in this one.  There were questions about both of these guys heading into the season, more about how would Saad fit in again on his come back to Chicago or how would Panik fare in year two of his tenure with the Hawks?

Nick Schmaltz, Patrick Sharp and Jordan Oesterle were all good enough for a pair of assists each in the win as well.  The Blackhawks made a number of cuts before the game on Thursday, so they will be getting down to the nitty-gritty here soon.

Two teams that struggled defensively in 2017 went head-to-head with rosters that won't quite resemble their opening night lists, except for maybe the home side, the Avalanche, had a couple more key vets on their side, which was likely the tipping point in their 5-1 win.

We skipped a game that had a notable goalie, so let's rectify that by mentioning that Semyon Varlamov got the nod and the complete game for Colorado, making 21 saves in the win.  Try not to get fooled by the trio of assists that Nail Yakupov had last night, he certainly seems to be the guy that loves playing in the preseason and then disappears on opening night.

Alex Kerfoot and David Warsofsky each went one and one last night, while Chris Bigras had a pair of assists, all three vying for some bubble spots on the roster this season.  Kerfoot the more interesting of the bunch, as a big NCAA free agent signing in this off-season, making waves early.

The traveling road show that are the Vegas Golden Knights were in San Jose on Thursday night, taking on another divisional opponent in the Sharks in some preseason action, still undefeated heading into the game.  The Sharks were ready for the assignment ahead of them, as they iced a pretty strong side and threw Martin Jones in for the whole thing.  The Sharks were the better of the two teams on the night, winning 5-2 and Jones making 15 saves for the win.

Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Joakim Ryan and Chris Tierney were all 2-point players on the night, Hertl the only one of the four players with a goal, the rest all posted pairs of assists.  The Sharks had four other goal scorers on the night, spreading the offense around, showing us why they shouldn't be discounted too badly headed into the season.

The Golden Knights had one bright spot in the loss, as Cody Eakin made his preseason debut and registered a pair of assists on each of the team's goals on the night.  He'll be locked in for a roster spot, undoubtedly and I believe he will be pool worthy this season.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Morning Preseason Injury Notes (Sep 21)

The Boston Bruins gave an injury update on Thursday morning and it sounds like Torey Krug will be on the shelf for a little bit yet.  Krug took a puck to the face on Tuesday night and it was found that he suffered a fractured jaw and he will be reevaluated in three weeks time.  It goes without saying that he'll miss the remainder of the preseason and it sounds like he'll be missing at least the first week of the regular season as well.

I'm taking his projections down a little bit, as it could take him a little extra time to get going this season, especially given that he'll miss these next few weeks and he might have to shake off a little extra rust, when he comes back into the fold.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 21)

There was no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin... no Phil Kessel or Patric Hornqvist.  That didn't matter, Jake Guentzel is trying to lift himself among those names and a 5-point effort against the Red Wings will give him a hand up on that idea.  The Penguins, on the shoulders of their budding young superstar, narrowly beat the Red Wings, 6-5 in overtime, for an exhibition win.

Also having a good game for the Penguins were Conor Sheary, who had a 3-point night, while a 23-year old rookie Adam Johnson and Justin Schultz had a couple of points each.  The depth in Pittsburgh looks promising again this year, which is definitely a scary thought.

The Red Wings still scored a handful of goals as well, which shouldn't be overlooked.  Gustav Nyquist, who may have been a tad disappointing in 2017, had a good start to his preseason with 2 goals and 2 assists on the night.  The Red Wings, if they want to be competitive this season, will need him.  Prospect defenseman Joe Hicketts also chipped in with a pair of assists as well, but he'll have a hard time cracking this blueline this season.

The Devils and Rangers took part in what looked to be a very back-and-forth affair at Madison Square Garden last night, with the Rangers capping off the game with an overtime winner, taking the game, 4-3.

The Rangers' big prize in the off-season, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, got off to a great start, notching 3 assists in the win.  Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello each came away with 2 points a piece, as the vets were the ones coming up big for the home side in their win.

New signing Drew Stafford and tryout member Jimmy Hayes were both decent for the Devils in this one, each posting 2 points in the loss.  The Devils have some bubble spots for Hayes, if he can earn a job, but there could be a push from their youth, which might also keep Hayes unemployed too.

The Islanders and Flyers had a neutral site game as the first game of their split squad double-header on Wednesday night, playing at the PPL Center in Allenstown, PA, with the Flyers, of course, being the home team.  The home-ice advantage worked out in their favour, with a 3-2 overtime victory over Long Island.

Taylor Leier finished with a pair of goals, while Shayne Gostisbehere had one and one and Dale Weise had a pair of helpers.  There are a couple bubble spots up front for Leier to try and capitalize on and a pair of goals will get him a longer look, I'm sure.

At the Barclay's Center, the Islanders were going to take advantage of their home half of the split squad affair with the Flyers and they certainly did, taking their game 3-2 as well, but theirs was done in regulation.

The Islanders didn't have a multi-point player in the win, but the Flyers had an impressive outing from sophomore forward Travis Konecny, who had a goal and an assist in the loss.  Konecny might have a tough time finding some big time minutes, especially with Nolan Patrick coming to town.

The Lightning and the Hurricanes were at it again on Wednesday night and the result was somewhat similar, as the visiting team was the one walking away with the victory in the preseason match-up.  The Lightning posted a 4-3 victory in the game, but the scoring was so even, that no player finished with more than a single point for the winning side.

The home side, however, did have one familiar name hit the scoresheet more than once and that was Elias Lindholm, who posted a couple of helpers in the game.  Lindholm is one of three Hurricanes players that I have projected in the 50-point range and if the Hurricanes can get their game together, the 22-year old could easily surpass expectations.

The Washington Capitals took a pretty good squad to the Bell Centre in Montreal on Wednesday night and they were rewarded with a pretty full effort from their guys, taking a 4-2 win away from this one.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was the headliner in this game, as the only player with multiple points in the win, as he finished with a goal and a pair of helpers.  Kuznetsov and his restricted free agent contract was one of a couple that incited some change within the Capitals roster this summer and he's off to a start, where the team can feel confident that they made the right decision.

The St. Louis Blues held their own with the Columbus Blue Jackets in town on Wednesday night, but still needed overtime to dispatch their division rivals, 3-2.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, while Jaden Schwartz had a pair of assists as well.  The Blues will need both of these guys to hit their stride early on, if they are going to make a splash, back into the playoffs this year,

The Jackets saw a pair of goals from Zac Dalpe, a bubble player in this training camp, and Sonny Milano, a long-time prospect in their system, still looking to finally crack this roster.  Neither are expected to make an impact, but you never know.

It was a fairly veteran-laden roster for the host Winnipeg Jets, but that wasn't enough for a win for the home fans on Wednesday night, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to an Edmonton Oilers team that didn't bring all of its weapons.

Okay, the Oilers didn't have all their big weapons, but this was a good time for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to reassert himself into a top six spot in the lineup for opening night and he did well, with a trio of assists in the win to lead the way.  Newcomer Jussi Jokinen was also on top of his game, scoring a goal and adding a pair of assists, while veteran forward Mark Letestu had a goal and an assist as well.

The young Canucks were in Calgary, as the veterans were getting ready in China, taking on the Flames in a different kind of preseason tilt for both sides.  The Canucks were giving extended time to the young guys to make an impact, while the Flames were already trying to pare down their roster for those key roster cuts in the coming days.  A quick start for the Flames wasn't enough, as the kids clawed their way back from a 3-1 deficit to win 5-3 on Wednesday.

Young defenseman Jalen Chatfield was the best Canucks player on the scoresheet, picking up a goal and a pair of assists, while Jake Virtanen went one and one and Cole Cassels had a pair of assists.

Flames junior prospect Dillon Dube had a couple of assists, while the Flames jumped out to that big lead, but obviously, it wasn't enough.

Lots of chatter about an improved Arizona Coyotes team on paper and that product may have translated fairly well on the ice last night, as their group laid a 5-1 beating on a fairly young Anaheim Ducks team.

For the Coyotes, it was all names that you are hoping to see as a poolie, as both Clayton Keller and Christian Fischer each had a pair of goals and an assist for 3-point nights, while Max Domi had a goal and an assist to also make his mark on the blog post.  Let's see how the Coyotes fare against some more veteran laden teams, but they are off to a good start anyways.

This game was more about this morning, than it was last night, but since the post was going to be published after the game finished, we'll count it here.

It was a 5:30am MT start for the Canucks and Kings in Shanghai this morning, the first of two games to be played in China, helping to grow the game ahead of the 2022 Olympic Games in China and one could argue that the display of the new penalty calls may not have been the wisest way to get the game growing, but that's neither here nor there.  It's a big deal and any hockey is better than no hockey!

It was the Kings getting the better of the Canucks in the first game, as they had a bit more jump in their game, capitalizing on some turnovers and a somewhat lethargic opponent.  Defenseman Alec Martinez came out as the top player in the game, finishing with a goal and 2 assists, while Tanner Pearson had a pair of goals, Jeff Carter went one and one and Jake Muzzin had a couple of assists as well.  Jonathan Quick made 31 saves, playing the entire game and earning the win as well.

Game two will go on Saturday morning, a 1:30am MT start, which should be part of the Saturday morning post.