It seemed like nothing else could possibly go wrong for the Montreal Canadiens. Since November, they’ve fallen from the top of the Atlantic Division to outside a playoff position, the offense is sputtering and it doesn’t look like Carey Price is going to be back until at least late February. So, again, it didn’t seem like anything else could possibly go wrong.
Well, the Canadiens incredible bad luck continued Tuesday night as captain Max Pacioretty was forced to exit their contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets after Montreal blueliner P.K. Subban blasted a puck that was deflected by Blue Jackets winger Scott Hartnell before catching the Canadiens winger square in the cheek: Read more
The CHL Top Prospects Game runs this Thursday in Vancouver and it will be a strange year for the showdown. To begin with, three of the top four prospects in the NHL draft aren’t even eligible to participate – Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi all play in Europe. On top of that, hometown hero Tyler Benson of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants will miss the contest due to a lingering injury, so his captaincy of Team Cherry has been ceded to top defenseman Jakob Chychrun instead. The other bad news out west is that Red Deer center Conner Bleackley (Colorado) will miss six weeks with a fractured kneecap. The Rebels host the Memorial Cup, so at least his season’s not finished. Let’s get to the rest of the prospect world:
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo must be wishing Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban had stayed out of Monday’s game.
Subban hadn’t taken part in the morning skate with teammates and the official word was that he was questionable for Monday’s tilt against the Blue Jackets with the flu. News didn’t come until hours before the opening faceoff that Subban would be healthy enough to suit up in Columbus, and if Monday’s game was any indication of how Subban can play with the flu, it’s no wonder he’s a Norris Trophy candidate when he’s healthy.
The highlight of Subban’s game came midway through the second period with Montreal down 2-1. After a Canadiens zone entry was broken up, the puck skittered to center ice where it was collected by Andrei Markov and moved to Subban, who wound up and hammered a shot right at Korpisalo. It’s too bad the shot wasn’t clocked because Subban’s slapshot might have been a record-setting blast: Read more
The Montreal Canadiens haven’t said what exactly is ailing goaltender Carey Price, but whatever the lower-body injury is that Price is dealing with could have him on the shelf for another month.
In a press conference Thursday, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said Price’s recovery has been much slower than originally anticipated before adding Montreal expects his return to be no sooner than three weeks to one month down the line.
“Everybody’s body is different — heal quicker or slower,” Bergevin said. “His position is very demanding for his injury, so he has gone slower. There hasn’t been any setbacks. I don’t have exactly a date, but I don’t think it’ll be before another three weeks. Maybe even a month. We don’t have a timeframe.” Read more
The NHL standings are very close. The league has rarely seen the kind of parity being displayed so far this season. More than halfway through the season you can count on one hand the number of teams that are already out of playoff contention.
While teams like the Capitals and Kings start to run away with their divisions, there are a number of teams stuck right in the middle, right on the crowded playoff bubble.
As the all-star break approaches, here are our picks for playoff bubble teams that will be in or out of the playoffs come April.
As the Winnipeg Jets struggle to gain ground in the Western Conference standings, there’s growing interest in GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s contract talks with defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and left wing Andrew Ladd. The duo are eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, prompting questions over their future with the franchise.
Of the duo, the 30-year-old Byfuglien could attract the most interest. With his offensive skills and physical presence, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound blueliner could fetch a quality return if Cheveldayoff decides to trade him.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie claims Cheveldayoff’s fellow GMs anticipate Byfuglien could be available before the trade deadline. They doubt the Jets can afford to re-sign him and promising blueliner Jacob Trouba.
The one saving grace from the John Scott Fiasco of 2016™ is that the hockey world will almost certainly never have to experience the likes of it ever again. Nothing has been decided at the NHL level, but it would be ludicrous to think the league would not take steps to avoid this embarrassment ever again, either by allowing fans to vote for All-Star Game participation only on a pre-selected list of candidates or lessening the weight given to the fan vote.
So no more silly campaigns that leave the league looking like a village idiot. It strikes one, though, that hockey fans are the only ones who do these things. Other leagues have fan voting to select their participants and you don’t see utility infielders, bench warmers or third-stringers involved. Must have something to do with the product on the ice. When the game is a joke, people treat it as such. Perhaps the 3-on-3 format will do something to rectify that, so let’s give it a chance.
The John Scott drama is officially over.
It was controversial enough to see the 6-foot-8 enforcer voted into the 2016 All-Star Game as a captain by the fans. It was even more controversial to see Scott traded to the Montreal Canadiens and subsequently demoted to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.
Wherever people stood on Scott’s All-Star Game participation – from believing he made a mockery of the event by playing to being excited to see the big monster competing in the 3-on-3 tournament – most of us could agree the entire situation was an embarrassment for the NHL. Scott graciously chose to participate in the game and honor the fans who voted him in, and he and his wife Danielle are expecting twins, so it was a double slap in the face to see him removed from the All-Star Game by the trade and shipped off to Newfoundland shortly before his wife gives birth.
But the wrong has been righted. The NHL announced Tuesday Scott would still captain the Pacific Division squad despite no longer playing for the Arizona Coyotes and despite the fact playing in the AHL would typically make him ineligible for the All-Star Game. That means no Eastern Conference player will have his invite reneged, and it means Arizona’s Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson remain uninvited.