Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.
Prior to this season, the Nashville Predators had employed only one GM, one coach and one point-per-game player in their franchise history. We know the coaching ranks have swelled to two, and so could the point-per-game club with rookie Filip Forsberg.
The young Swede, whose rights were acquire from Washington for Martin Erat, has 23 points in 23 games and is a major reason why the Predators are the No. 1 team in this week’s thn.com Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.) Read more
Unless Canada’s team for the World Junior Championship gets a couple of big assists from the NHL it is going to be very short on two things – Quebec-born players and right wingers. Both of those could get a boost if Anthony Duclair is released to play by the New York Rangers, but it likely means players will be moving around.
One player who is invited and is expected to play is Ho-Sang’s midget hockey linemate, Connor McDavid, who has been out with a broken hand. McDavid has his next evaluation on Dec. 9 and the Canadian team will know better then about his availability. He’s expected to be ready to play when Canada opens the tournament Dec. 26, but even if he’s not, the team can carry one extra player and put him on the roster anytime before the semifinal, which it intends to do.
It also means that those who evaluate players for Team Canada, for whatever reason, don’t want anything to do with Josh Ho-Sang of the Niagara IceDogs, a first-round pick of the New York Islanders last June. Despite the fact that Ho-Sang has 26 points in 18 games in the Ontario League this season and that only two natural right wingers – Jake Virtanen and Nick Baptiste – were invited to the final camp, Ho-Sang was not invited.
If you need evidence to illustrate the vagaries of NHL goaltending, look no further than Roberto Luongo, the guest editor of the Oct. 20 edition of The Hockey News. One minute you’re on top of the world, winning Olympic gold medals and being talked about as a Vezina Trophy candidate. Not long after, you’re fishing pucks out of the back of the net and making self-deprecating jokes on Twitter.
Let’s start with the following premise: There is no position wracked with more instability and less sustained excellence than that of goaltender. In terms of consistent performance these days, there’s Henrik Lundqvist and then everybody else. It seems that from one season to the next, teams have no idea what kind of goaltending they’re going to get. Where have you gone, six-time Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek? A goaltending fraternity turns its lonely eyes to you. Read more
It’s a fairly common belief in hockey circles that if you’re in the playoffs by American Thanksgiving, chances are you’re going to be in the post-season dance five months later.
So how does that notion hold up to scrutiny? Not badly, actually. But it would be very, very dangerous for the 16 teams that are in the playoffs to think they can basically put in on autopilot for the rest of the season. According to numbers crunched by thn.com over the past 10 years when they’ve actually been playing hockey on American Thanksgiving – something they didn’t do in 2004 and 2012 – teams that are currently in the playoffs have a 77 percent chance of keeping their spots in the top eight.
When you remove the two seasons from the past 10 that did not include the extra point for a shootout win, the probability of making the playoffs goes up to 78.9 percent. Read more
For those who like to portray junior hockey as a string of Mom and Pop operations that struggle to make ends meet in the face of mounting efforts to unionize the players, today could not have been a good-news day.
According to multiple reports, the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec League have been sold to media giant Quebecor. (Which, in the interest of full disclosure, recently negotiated the purchase of 15 magazines from Transcontinental Media, one of which is The Hockey News.) Read more
Interesting story about Bo Horvat. He’s from Rodney, Ont., which is about 50 miles southwest of London, but he spent some of his most formative hockey years in Toronto.
Well, not really Toronto. When he was an atom in 2005-06, Horvat and another player from Sarnia would drive to Toronto every weekend to play for the Toronto Red Wings of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. The player’s father would drive from Sarnia, pick Horvat up along the way and they’d spend the weekend in a hotel room for $89 a night. Read more
The words “much-maligned” and the name Marc-Andre Fleury so often go together that those who don’t follow hockey closely might have the idea it’s actually part of his name. The Much-Maligned Marc-Andre Fleury. Hey, at least it beats the likes of Pilot Inspektor Lee or Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette or Blanket Jackson.
The much-maligned one made his mark on history Monday night when he stopped 27 shots in the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins. In doing so, Fleury became the 31st goaltender in NHL history to record 300 career wins. Fleury accomplished the feat in his 547th career game, which makes him the third fastest to 300 in NHL history behind Jacques Plante and Andy Moog – yeah, Andy Moog. And at 29 years and 361 days, he’s also the third youngest in NHL history to reach the benchmark, behind Martin Brodeur and Terry Sawchuk. Read more
The New York Islanders are not in first place in the NHL today. They’re not even in the top five of the NHL standings. But is there a team in the league any team would like to meet less than the Islanders at the moment?
We doubt it. The Islanders have won eight of their past nine, including back-to-back wins over the team most consider to be the best in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve scored at least four goals in each of their past five victories and are playing with a swagger we haven’t seen from this team in years.
And that’s why they’re on top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. N.Y. ISLANDERS (9): “This is a new hockey club with a new attitude,” said coach Jack Capuano after a home-and-home sweep of Pittsburgh. Coming up: Four Metro division games.
2. ST. LOUIS (1): Jay Bouwmeester’s Ironman streak ends at 737, Ryan Reaves’ consecutive goals streak starts at one. Coming up: Three winnable games at home to Ottawa and Edmonton, on the road to Minnesota.
3. ANAHEIM (5): Rene Bourque played 9:54 and had three shots and three hits in his Ducks debut against Arizona Sunday night. Coming up: Two more at home and a trip to San Jose Saturday night.
4. MONTREAL (3): In the seven games Montreal has lost this season, they’ve been outscored by a margin of 33-5. Coming up: Home-and-home against suddenly hot Buffalo, then a four-game western road trip. Read more