Rumor Roundup: With current tandem struggling, Edmonton may look for help in goal

Ben Scrivens (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the Edmonton Oilers began this season it was believed the additions of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth finally addressed their goaltending issues. Unfortunately, they’re struggling through the early going. The Oilers enter this week with a combined goals-against per game of 3.28. Scriven’s goals-against average is 2.94 with a save percentage of .899, while Fasth possesses a 3.63 GAA and .885 SP.

In the recent past the Oilers’ poor goaltending numbers could be explained away by their weak defensive game, but this season they’ve improved in that department, entering the week 18th in shots-against per game compared to last season’s 26th overall placement. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Nervous GMs may make moves near American Thanksgiving

Tyler Myers

Since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005, early-season NHL trades have become rare. Even the ability for teams to absorb part of a player’s salary failed to spark an increase in player movement during a season’s opening weeks.

That partially explains why it took a month for this regular season’s first trade to occur, when the Dallas Stars shipped aging defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Travis Moen. Since that deal there’s anticipation over when the next NHL trade will take place. Read more

Watch Nashville Predators mascot start pie fight with Oiler fans

Matt Larkin
Gnash, Nashville's mascot, returned from injury triumphantly Tuesday night.

Staged? More than you may think. Funny either way.

Gnash, the Nashville Predators mascot, is back with a vengeance. He had been sidelined since training camp after breaking his fibula while training for the upcoming season.

He made some wheelchair-bound appearances while he healed up, but he returned in full force for Tuesday’s game against Edmonton. Gnash made his presence felt by stuffing a pie in a seemingly unsuspecting Oiler fan’s face. The fan’s response? Pie it forward, baby (rimshot!). He unloads on his laughing lady friend. Check it out:

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Rumor Roundup: Colorado’s struggles could result in shake up for Avalanche core

Colorado Avalanche. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche are currently struggling to recapture last season’s 52-win, 112-point performance. Entering this week, the Avs have won only four games while their 13 points in 16 games left them near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

It was a matter of time until their early difficulties sparked some trade speculation. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports it’s believed Avalanche GM Joe Sakic and coach Patrick Roy could shake things up if the club fails to get its act together soon. Read more

Chris Kreider getting reputation as habitual crease crasher

Kreider Price

What makes New York Rangers’ winger Chris Kreider a unique player is his combination of size and speed. At 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 lbs., that same speed also makes him a danger when he comes crashing towards the net.

And, after Sunday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, some are starting to wonder about Kreider’s intentions when he gets close to the crease.

In the contest – a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Oilers – Kreider received a goaltender interference penalty for contact, no matter how incidental, with Edmonton netminder Viktor Fasth: Read more

Henrik Lundqvist is getting his first save-of-the-year-candidate save in early this season

Adam Proteau
Henrik Lundqvist (Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

Goaltending is about technique, but it’s also about knowing where the game is headed – and Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist illustrated that with a stupendous save Sunday night against Edmonton.

Lundqvist’s Blueshirts were trailing the visiting Oilers 2-1 midway through regulation time when Edmonton winger Benoit Pouliot made a beautiful move before passing to teammate Justin Schultz for what looked to be a sure goal. Emphasis on “looked to be”: Read more

Does Taylor Hall need to change his approach to the game?

Ken Campbell
Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

As Taylor Hall sits on the sidelines for the next two-to-four weeks with a knee injury, the fourth significant wound of his young career, the time off might give him some time to reflect on his approach to the game. After all, Hall turns 23 next week and has a lot of productive NHL years ahead of him, assuming of course his aggressive approach to the game doesn’t cut his career short.

And therein lies the quandary for both Hall and his team. The Edmonton Oilers need Hall to be in their lineup every game, not three-quarters of them. He is emerging as the go-to offensive player and a leader on this young team and having him out of the lineup is an enormous blow. In fact, if this injury goes the distance or beyond, it’s not a stretch to suggest any hopes the Oilers have of making the playoffs this season will die.

But on the other hand, Hall’s devil-may-care attitude is part of what makes him such a great player and you don’t want to tame that. How do you tell a guy to stop going to the net so hard when going to the net and using his size is what makes him one of the best left wingers in the league today? (With Alex Ovechkin moving back to the right side, it’s a toss-up between Hall and Jamie Benn at the moment.)

Hall has been besieged by injuries, the latest of which came Saturday night when Chris Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks bowled Hall over on the way to the net before Hall’s right knee collided with the goal post. Some of Hall’s injuries have been because of youthful foolishness – his rookie season ended eight weeks early with a high ankle sprain he sustained in a fight with Derek Dorsett and he received a 30-stitch laceration because he wasn’t wearing his helmet during a warm-up. But it’s hard to blame Hall for the concussion he got when he fell and was accidentally kneed in the head by Cory Sarich or for needing shoulder surgery after being catapulted into the boards by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson.

Perhaps Hall might want to have a conversation with a guy like Wendel Clark. The Toronto Maple Leafs icon established himself as a fan favorite and NHL star by adopting a take-no-prisoners attitude, but it was also that approach to the game that wore his body down badly, caused him to miss enormous amounts of time and put a premature end to what might have been a Hall of Fame career had he stayed healthy and productive. The thing about playing that way is it’s very, very hard and it gets more difficult to endure it with every passing year. Peter Forsberg is another example of a player who found himself in the same conundrum as Hall in terms of finding a balance between playing with passion and disregard for his health and not being available to his team.

The Oilers will say they don’t mind seeing Hall fighting and driving to the net the way he does, but you’d think that privately it has to have them a little nervous. If this franchise is going to ever take a step forward, it’s clear it will have to be with Hall leading the way. And he can’t do that if he’s on the mend. As great a player as Forsberg was, later in his career his teams could not count on him being in the lineup from one game to the next.

Hall is nearly 23 years old and going into this season he had already missed 48 of a possible 294 games, which is about a quarter of his career so far. That might not seem like a lot, but as Hall gets older, those injuries and the residual effects from them are going to start piling up. It will take longer to get healthy and each one will have a more significant toll on his body.

For Hall, this is not about becoming more sheepish on the ice and shying away from contact. To ask him to do that would take away a major component to his game and make him far less effective. It would also amount to throwing out the baby with the bath water. What it is about, though, is playing with a little more regard for his health. Perhaps he doesn’t have to make himself so vulnerable when he carries the puck or goes into the corner, or maybe he takes an extra split second to figure out that he can’t drive to the net without a major collision and he looks for another option.

It’s definitely a fine line, but it’s one Taylor Hall is going to have to learn to toe if he and the Oilers have any hopes of becoming everything they want to be.

Five NHL coaches on the hot seat after one month

Edmonton's upcoming road trip will put Dallas Eakins' job security to the test. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

What does a slow start mean in the NHL? In some cases, it’s a harbinger of more poor play. Other times, it’s bad puck luck, which is correctable. Regardless of the cause, however, poor starts make heads roll every year. The advanced stats tell us GMs are often too hasty to axe their coaches, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The most common victims are bench bosses who ended the season prior on thin ice. They often get the boot as soon as they give their GMs an excuse to do so.

Here are five coaches who have to think about updating their resumes in the near future.

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