Jordan Eberle’s injury ‘not good’ — where do Oilers turn?

Jared Clinton
Jordan Eberle (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The last thing the Edmonton needed to kick off the 2015-16 campaign was to lose one of their stars, but it appears the injury bug has bitten Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle.

During Tuesday evening’s game between Edmonton and Arizona, Eberle picked up a puck below the Coyotes’ goal line before being shoved from the side. The force of the push sent Eberle shoulder first into the boards and almost immediately it was apparent he was in significant pain. Read more

What can Curtis Lazar and the Senators do for an encore?

Ryan Kennedy
Ottawa's Curtis Lazar  (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators had an incredibly good second half last season. With surprise starter Andrew Hammond on fire and replacement coach Dave Cameron giving the team’s young core a huge boost in confidence, the Sens went 23-4-4 to end out the season, landing themselves a shocking playoff spot and providing game competition for Montreal in the first round.

But that’s all in the past now. A clean sheet of ice awaits Ottawa in 2015-16 and the Sens have learned from last year’s less-than-ideal process.

Read more

Watch Dion Phaneuf line up and level Sabres prospect Brendan Guhle with huge hit

Jared Clinton
Dion Phaneuf

There weren’t many positive things for the Toronto Maple Leafs to takeaway from Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, but if nothing else, at least Dion Phaneuf seems to be in mid-season form when it comes to doling out punishment.

Midway through the second period of Tuesday’s tilt between the Leafs and Sabres, Buffalo defenseman Brendan Guhle, an 18-year-old coming off of his second season in the WHL, got his ‘Welcome to the NHL’ moment when he was lined up and bowled over by Phaneuf.

The hit — which was clean, hard and looked immensely painful — was textbook. You can almost feel the hit on the second slow-motion replay: Read more

THN’s 2015-16 NHL season preview: Colorado Avalanche

The Hockey News
Nathan MacKinnon. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

2014-15 Record: 39-31-12 (90 Pts.)

THN’s Prediction: 7th, Central Division

What To Expect: The Avs sought to get deeper, tougher and better on the blueline, and their major off-season move addressed those needs. In moving Ryan O’Reilly, who was one year away from free agency, Colorado nabbed blue-chip blueliner Nikita Zadorov and towering pivot Mikhail Grigorenko. They polished off the retool by signing Carl Soderberg, who steps in as the No. 2 center, plus depth winger Blake Comeau and veteran D-man Francois Beauchemin as UFAs.

Off-season moves were bold and swift, and youngsters Zadorov and Grigorenko could fit in nicely with Colorado’s young talent. But if playoffs are the goal this season, the summer was a failure. O’Reilly’s departure will be felt at both ends of the rink. He was a possession driver and special teams staple. The Avs don’t come close to replacing one of the game’s most complete forwards by slotting in Soderberg. Read more

Why the Red Wings shouldn’t honor Babcock on opening night

The Hockey News
Mike Babcock (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Keith Gave

After reading in a Toronto newspaper that the Red Wings planned to honor former coach Mike Babcock when he brings his Toronto Maple Leafs to Joe Louis Arena to open a new hockey season, I asked Detroit GM Ken Holland for some details.

He offered none because, officially, there is no such plan. Yet.

“I said we’re thinking about doing something,” Holland said before the Wings opened their preseason recently against Chicago.

Good. As long as this idea is in the developing stage, maybe the Wings will consider this suggestion: Don’t. Read more

Two years of research, 1230 games watched: Why neutral zone play is much more important than you think

Dominik Luszczyszyn
Brock Nelson (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

By now you’re hopefully aware of the ability for shot differentials to show value in hockey, but you might be unaware of what drives them. There are different processes that lead to more shots, but the most effective strategy lies between the blue lines.

How a team enters or defends the zone has a notable impact on its Corsi or Fenwick because a player that carries the puck in with control creates more than twice as many shot attempts compared to those who dump the puck in and chase it.

That was the big finding made a couple years ago by Eric Tulsky – now a hockey analyst with the Carolina Hurricanes – with help from Geoffrey Detweiler, Robert Spencer and Corey Sznajder. That study led to Sznajder’s own project where he spent most of the last two years watching every single game from the 2013-14 regular season to track zone entries for every team.

It’s an insane amount of work to be done by one person, but he’s finally finished, which means the data can start being analyzed. I went through everything at the team level and looked at what components explained a team’s unblocked shot attempt differences most. Here’s what I found. (Keep in mind that this is only one year of data.) Read more

Fates of Quebec City and Las Vegas now rest in hands of 10 powerful men

Ken Campbell
Centre Videotron (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Just think, only 69 more sleeps until the good folks of Las Vegas and Quebec City find out whether they’re going to be watching their very own team by 2017-18. Maybe. After making their presentations to the executive committee of the board of governors, both parties now wait to see whether the board will make a decision whether or not to grant them expansion franchises at its Dec. 7-8 meetings in Palm Springs.

In business parlance, they’re known as Dog and Pony Shows and that’s pretty much what Tuesday’s presentations were. The presentations represent the third stage of the expansion process for the NHL and they’re slick and refined, but the reality is that there’s really nothing in those presentations that the members of the executive board already don’t know. This part of the process is basically a formality. To be sure, the members of the executive board are not going to make a recommendation to the board of governors based on a one-hour presentation.

Read more

Eric Staal wants $9 million per season? Say goodbye to Hurricanes then

Jared Clinton
Eric Staal (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

In 2005-06, Eric Staal had the best season of his career. He posted 45 goals and 100 points, finished seventh in scoring and put an exclamation point on the campaign by hoisting the Stanley Cup on the back of a nine-goal, 28-point post-season performance, making him the playoff’s highest scorer.

At that point in his career, Staal was considered among the league’s elite. He was one of the faces of the NHL. In 2006-07, he scored 30 goals and 70 points and was selected as the cover athlete for EA Sports’ NHL 08, which he followed up by eclipsing the 80-point plateau again with a 38-goal, 82-point campaign in 2007-08. That led to Staal inking a six-year, $57.75-million extension in the off-season, which carries an annual cap hit of $8.25 million. Now, with the 2015-16 season about to begin, Staal’s contract is set to expire.

With Staal heading towards unrestricted free agency, there has been talk the Hurricanes could try to bring him back. But according to Le Journal de Montreal’s Renaud Lavoie, if Carolina plans to re-sign their, they could be on the hook for $9 million per season. Read more