Stone, the Ottawa Senators right winger who is in the midst of a second straight 60-point season, collided in the unscheduled freight train known as Winnipeg Jets defenseman Byfuglien in the second period of the Senators win in Manitoba. The good news was the victory by the Senators managed to keep the slim playoff hopes of the only Canadian team still in the playoff hunt alive. The bad news was Stone left the game with a chest contusion after being steamrolled by Byfuglien.
For shame, Great White North. For shame. A year after five of seven Canadian NHL teams booked tickets to the big playoff dance, 0.0 will participate in the post-season. Monday night’s results pretty much nailed the nation’s collective coffin shut. The Ottawa Senators would have to win their final six games, and the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings would have to lose out aside from their remaining head-to-head matchup. So, yeah, Ottawa won’t pull off a miracle two years in a row.
It seems most fan bases and local pundits accepted that fate several weeks ago, however, as no Canadian squad was anywhere near a playoff berth. The Sens still sit 10 points back. It’s time to move on and start asking about next year. Which Canadian team, if any, has the most realistic odds of returning to the post-season in 2016-17? It’s time to rank their chances, from worst to best.
As the NHL regular season winds down, we like to reflect on what has happened since October. Teams and pundits go into each season with certain expectations and each season comes with surprises, both good and bad.
So this week, we’re looking at the biggest surprises from the regular season. No surprise, there’s more bad than good.
I was all in on Phil Kessel enjoying his first 40-goal season. A player still in his prime (a) leaves what, for him, was a hellish media crush in Toronto to join Pittsburgh, a team where he’d be the third-most famous person at best; and (b) is guaranteed to play with a future Hall of Fame superstar center still in his prime, be it Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. And yet, the goals haven’t piled up for Phil the Thrill. The uninspired Kessel we saw last season somehow crept onto the flight to Pittsburgh and returned for this season – with even worse numbers. The problem to me is Kessel’s lack of versatility. He has that tremendous wrist shot he likes to snap on the short side, but he can’t do a whole lot else. Kessel one-timer goals or slap-shot goals are rarities. I have to give credit to the pundits who predicted Kessel wasn’t a natural fit with Crosby or Malkin because Kessel likes to carry the puck more than most snipers. I figured it wouldn’t matter – come on, it’s Crosby and Malkin! – but I was wrong, evidently. (Matt Larkin)
The Winnipeg Jets’ season is all but over, but defenseman Tyler Myers is going to have a long summer of work ahead of him in order to get healthy in time for the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
It was announced Thursday that Myers, 26, will be out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery, but that’s not the worst of it. Once Myers recovers from knee surgery, he’ll have to go under the knife once more to repair a nagging hip issue that has ailed the towering defenseman for the past few seasons.
“The hip he has been dealing with maybe over years,” coach Paul Maurice said. “You can play with it until you can’t, and it’s just gotten to the point that doctors felt this was the time to get it done. The knee is not something that’s necessarily a problem until it becomes one. You cannot get anything done with it, and then it hits that threshold of, ‘We’re going to need to fix this knee.’ That is very, very recent.” Read more
It was a very happy return to Winnipeg for Andrew Ladd on Friday night.
The former Winnipeg Jets left winger scored a goal in a 4-0 win by the Chicago Blackhawks in his first game back in the Manitoba capital since a Feb. 25 trade.
Ladd deposited a shot past Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec 3:06 into the third period after receiving a pass from Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews. Read more
Following a failed holdout attempt to force a trade prior to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, left winger Jonathan Drouin is back with the Syracuse Crunch, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate. Drouin, 20, received permission last week from Lightning GM Steve Yzerman to return to the Crunch. He picked up an assist in a 5-2 win over Bridgeport last Friday, marking the first time he’s seen game action in nearly two months.
With the trade deadline passed and Yzerman willing to wait until the off-season to move him, Drouin had no choice but to return to the Crunch. Remaining on the sidelines for the rest of the season would only further damage his reputation and trade value.
Status: Winnipeg Jets right winger.
HT: 6-foot-3 WT: 235 pounds
DOB: June 3, 1983 In: Sault Saint Marie, Ont.
First Hockey Memory: “My dad (Mark) building an outdoor rink in our backyard.”
Hockey Inspirations: “Growing up I had local guys Rico Fata and Ron Francis – both from the Soo. Obviously Ron Francis – his career speaks for itself. And just the way he worked in the community. And then Rico Fata was close in age but he was a pretty special talent growing up.”
The NHL season is winding down, with just about four weeks of regular-season games remaining. There is still much to be determined in the standings, but as winter turns to spring it’s hard not to look ahead to the playoffs.
But the end of the season means it’s also time to look back. We at The Hockey News make a lot of predictions during the summer and fall before the season begins. Sometimes they’re solid, sometimes they’re way off.
These are our worst pre-season predictions: