All news releases should be written with the candor that the International Ice Hockey Federation displayed in its ruling against a Russian world junior defenseman.
The Boston Bruins need some heroes right now. Tenuously holding on to the final wild card slot in the East, there is little margin of error for the B’s, which is why David Pastrnak’s overtime goal against lowly Carolina was so crucial Sunday night.
That tally, plus an Ottawa loss, gave Boston a bit of breathing room, but it also illustrated just how great the Bruins did in plucking Pastrnak 25th overall this past summer in the draft.
The CHL playoffs begin tonight and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Connor McDavid has one last chance to win it all with the Erie Otters in the Ontario League, but the powerfully-built Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have designs of their own. Out in the Western League, Kelowna and Brandon seem to be on a collision course for the final, while the Quebec League has the added wrinkle of sending two teams to the Memorial Cup – one being the host Quebec Remparts, who won’t want to crawl in through the back door.
Here’s a look at all the first-round matchups in the CHL, with a bit more info on one series per league that has me riveted from the get-go.
During one of the off-days at the World Junior Championship, the way the camera lights were pointed, Auston Matthews of Team USA was literally standing in the shadow of Jack Eichel.
Don’t count on that lasting much longer. The Great American NHL Draft Hope of 2015™ (Eichel) and The Great American NHL Draft Hope of 2016™ (Matthews) were roommates at the WJC, a tournament that began what those at USA Hockey hope will be a long, championship-filled relationship. Read more
When the Boston University Terriers needed Jack Eichel the most, he was there. For the first 60 minutes of the Beanpot final against Northeastern, the consensus No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft was crazy dangerous, but had yet to make his mark on the scoresheet. But seconds into overtime, Eichel swooped towards the Northeastern net, drawing a controversial penalty on Huskies defenseman Matt Benning.
“His speed is intimidating; teams know when he’s out there,” said Terriers coach David Quinn. “He gives us a swagger and it’s infectious. But it’s a respectful swagger.”
Less than a minute later, Eichel helped set up Matt Grzelcyk’s winning goal on the power play and the Terriers were celebrating.
He’ll be taking a bus to the game instead of a charter flight, his sweater will have a big ‘K’ on the front instead of a ‘C’ and he’ll be playing with teenagers instead of men, but when you go 145 days between games the way Sam Bennett has, it’s impossible not to be excited.
Bennett draws into the Kingston Frontenacs lineup tonight in Belleville for his Ontario League season debut tonight – and his home debut against the Sudbury Wolves Friday night – 4 ½ months after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder while in training camp with the Calgary Flames. And if the fourth overall pick is harboring any bitterness about not having a chance to play in the NHL this season, he’s doing a very good job of hiding it. Read more
All is not well in Leaf Land, as Toronto has sunk into a funk that has eclipsed the cataclysmic slumps of the recent past. As reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston yesterday, Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas has publicly stated that if the team needs to start from scratch, that’s what they’ll do in order to make things right.
Luckily, this is a great time to do so.
Weather permitting, Boston’s NCAA Beanpot tournament will end next week and hopefully I’ll be there. In the meantime, some more important dates were established when the CHL announced the hosts of next year’s Super Series with Russia: Kamloops, Kelowna, Owen Sound, Windsor, Rouyn-Noranda and Halifax. With that out of the way, let’s take a trip around the world of prospects.