Saturday, September 30, 2017

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 30, Draft Day Edition)

Today is the day! We get to pick our teams today! Hooray!  First things first though, let's have a quick peek at what happened last night and see if there is any names we should consider as sneaky picks.

The Canadiens finally pulled out a preseason win on Friday night, topping the Panthers, 3-1.  The preseason panic can finally take a back seat to the regular season panic, which might not be too far away, when it's all said and done.

Charlie Lindgren, one of the depth goalies for the Habs, was the big winner on the night, making 22 saves for the victory.  I don't think this enough to unseat Al Montoya as backup, but it's a good shout, regardless.  Paul Byron had a couple of goals in the win, Andrew Shaw went one and one and Philip Danault had a couple of assists as well.  We might see a couple of these guys drafted today, if not all three.

The Islanders and Sabres were tuning up in Buffalo on Friday night and it was the team from Brooklyn that was the better of the two on the night, winning 3-1.  The expected number one for the Islanders, Jaroslav Halak, made 20 saves for the victory on the night.  Halak will be a big piece of any success the Islanders have this season.  Rookie forward Matthew Barzal finally emerged as a viable player for the pool, notching a trio of assists in the win, while Anders Lee had a goal and an assist as well.  The Islanders are generally a quietly popular team in the pool and this year could be one of their best seasons.

It was an Original Six match-up at the new pizza oven in Detroit, where the Maple Leafs and Red Wings went toe-to-toe in some preseason action.  The Leafs, pretty well suiting up a full roster, was the better team, scoring early in the 3rd to go-ahead and they never really looked back, adding an empty-netter and winning, 4-2.

Frederik Andersen got the call for the Leafs, making 21 saves for the win, while William Nylander, Zach Hyman and Jake Gardiner all had 2 points each.  The concern for the Leafs is how the kids will respond in their second year and already, signs are positive.

It wasn't a great game on the score sheet, but the Capitals and Hurricanes are ready to compete for the playoffs already and it was Carolina that got the best of the President's Trophy winners from the the last couple of years.  The new number one in Raleigh, Scott Darling, was the only notable player, as he made 18 saves in a 3-1 win.  Darling was acquired from the Blackhawks in their annual fire sale and the Hurricanes may come away like bandits with him, especially if they give him a ton of minutes.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Recent Contract Extensions (Sep 29)

The Ottawa Senators are not shying away from Craig Anderson, despite him going into the 2018 season at 36 years old, as they have extended him for another two years on Friday, making sure he has a contract through the 2020 season.  It will be a 35+ contract, where he will be counting against the cap, pretty well regardless of his playing situation, unless he ends up being injured.  The deal will carry a $4.75 million cap hit per season, an increase over his current $4.2 million cap hit and he will also have a no-trade clause as well.  This is some real faith in their keeper.

Last season, Anderson was good for 25 wins and 5 shutouts in only 40 games played, taking time away from the team to lend support to his family in some well-documented trying times.  He goes into this season as the clear number one in Ottawa and he'll likely be an early pick-up in the goalie rush, with the Senators looking fairly prominent on paper and in preseason action.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 29)

It was all Panthers in another preseason battle of the Florida teams, as they thumped the Lightning, 5-2, on Thursday night.  Forward Jared McCann finally broke out for the Panthers, scoring a hat-trick on the night, followed by Radim Vrbata, who had a goal and an assist, while James Reimer made 34 saves for the win and his preseason 2 points.  If the preseason is any indication, the Panthers could be a competitive team this year.

Nikita Kucherov had a pair of assists in the loss, as his game continues to come around on time.  Kucherov was a big scorer last year and he'll be looking to build on that huge season.

The Flyers broke out for five goals against the Bruins on Thursday night, handing them a solid 5-1 loss.  Alex Lyon got a preseason recall, because Michal Neuvirth was under the weather, and he ended up getting some offensive support in a 31-save effort for the win.  It was also a good night for the offense for the Flyers, as Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, four of the big names on the squad, all walked out of this game with 2 points a piece.

The Red Wings welcomed back Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall to action on Thursday night against the Blackhawks, but it certainly wasn't enough, as Chicago got the best of Detroit in this one, 4-2, thanks to a 3-goal 3rd period to come back and win the game.  Rookie forward Alex DeBrincat was the top player in this one, picking up a goal and an assist in the win and there are plenty of expectations that he'll be in the lineup for opening night next week.

The job of Corey Crawford's backup might still need some deciding upon, as Anton Forsberg put in a big effort on Thursday night, making 32 saves for the win.

The Blue Jackets and the Predators needed the skills competition to decide their game in preseason action on Thursday night.  Columbus was 2-for-3 in the shootout, taking the game, 4-3, in the end.  Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves through regulation and overtime and another couple stops in the shootout for the win, suggesting that the Jackets are not going to be far away from success, if they are apart from it at all.

Nick Foligno had a goal and an assist, while both Artemi Panarin and Alexander Wennberg each had a pair of assists in the win, really rounding out their offense.

Predators defenseman Matt Irwin had a goal and an assist in the loss as well and it looks like he'll be a steady piece of the already strong Nashville blueline.

The only notable player in the Flames/Canucks game on Thursday night was Vancouver backup-to-be Anders Nilsson, who made 30 saves in a 3-1 win.  The offense was spread out pretty well among the three goals for the Canucks on the night, so Nilsson gets the only nod, which isn't so bad.  He could be a good depth goalie, especially down the stretch, when the Canucks might not be contending for a playoff spot and pressing on Jacob Markstrom isn't really necessary.

The Avalanche continued to roll through the preseason with a 4-2 win over the Golden Knights last night.  Semyon Varlamov is really trying to impress, picking up another full game win, making 34 saves for this one.  It's hard to believe that the Avalanche are going to be any different than the last couple seasons, but if Varlamov is ready to carry them on his back, you just never know.

Sven Andrighetto and Chris Bigras were the notables on the scoresheet, each coming away with 2 points.  Again, if this team chooses to compete, they'll be ripe with sleeper picks, up and down their lineup.

It was a well-rounded effort from the Kings on Thursday night, as they got the better of the Coyotes in preseason action. Jonathan Quick made 37 saves for the win, while Jake Muzzin, Mike Cammalleri, Alec Martinez and Tyler Toffoli all came away with a couple points each.  The Kings are one of those mystery teams heading into the season, thinking that they should be better than they have been over the last couple years, but it's not outrageous to think that some of them are over-the-hill either.  It's buyer beware with the Kings this year, as they may look okay to pick for your team, but... but... but... are they?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Noon Camp Demotions (Sep 28)

The Ottawa Senators have made their decision on the goaltending front and it should come as no surprise that the odd-man out is Andrew Hammond, as he was placed on waivers for the purpose of assignment on Thursday.  This leaves the duo of Craig Anderson and Mike Condon to tend the net for Ottawa this season and assuming Hammond clears, he won't be far behind in the AHL.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 28)

We already know that Antti Niemi has won the back-up job for the Pittsburgh Penguins, so now it is all about getting those preseason legs worked into regular season legs with the current starts and he got a good workout out of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night, stopping 38 of 42 shots in a 5-4 win.

It's still scary to think what this Penguins team will be capable of offensively this season, especially when Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary led the way with 3 points each and then Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby each had 2 points.  These Penguins are going to go early and quickly, I'm thinking.

The Sabres scoring four goals last night was no feat to sneeze at and Ryan O'Reilly was the most notable player, notching a pair of assists in the loss.

There may be no one happier in this preseason than Cory Schneider these days, as he is finally seeing some offense being played in front of him and that was one thing he didn't get to see enough of last season. The luck that brought Nico Hischier to the team, the trade that saw Marcus Johansson come from Washington, among other moves, and the Devils are finally giving their goalie some help... in the preseason.  Hischier had another goal and a pair of assists, while defenseman Damon Severson had a couple of assists as well and Schneider made 22 saves for the win, as the Devils topped the Capitals, 4-1.

The Canadiens took their preseason schedule to Quebec City for one of their last preseason games on the schedule, playing another neutral site game against the Maple Leafs, but it certainly didn't help their preseason record, as they dropped this game as well, 4-2, to go 0-6-0 in the preseason, thus far.

Curtis McElhinney got the start and the win for the Leafs, making 29 saves to do so, while the only offensive bright spot in the game was roster hopeful Andreas Johnsson, who had a goal and a pair of assists.

The Canadiens have two more home preseason games to play, still looking for that elusive win.

The Winnipeg Jets came back from being down 3-1 in the 2nd period, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Ottawa Senators in front of their home crowd, 5-3, on Wednesday night.  Connor Hellebuyck got the nod in this one for the Jets, making 15 saves for the win and helping his cause to be the number two guy this season.

Dustin Byfuglien had a goal and 2 assists for a 3-point night, while Bryan Little had a pair of goals, Nic Petan went one and one and then Nikolaj Ehlers had a pair of assists as well.  Things are still looking up for the Jets in this preseason, they could figure to be a strong team, especially for the hockey pool, in 2018.

The Carolina Hurricanes had a preseason home game in Saskatoon of all places on Wednesday night, playing host to the Edmonton Oilers, who are clearly the closest team to their neutral site, but that's neither here nor there on this night. The Oilers were the better of the two sides, blanking the Hurricanes, 4-0.

Laurent Brossoit stopped all 24 shots for a shutout, while Connor McDavid scored a pair of goals and added an assist for a 3-point night.  It's starting to look like all systems are a go for the Oilers, which is certainly a scary thought.