A member of the Flyers Delta Dentinal Ice Girls cleans off the hats from the ice surface after
A member of the Flyers Delta Dentinal Ice Girls cleans off the hats from the ice surface after
Jake Allen’s recent struggles could have Blues GM Doug Armstrong scouring the trade market for help in goal as the post-season approaches. Meanwhile, trade talk surrounds the Flyers and Coyotes.
St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen's recent performance has left much to be desired. After a strong effort through the opening two months of the season, the 26-year-old's play declined through December and into January.
After reeling off eight straight wins from Nov. 15 to Dec. 6, Allen has only four victories his last 13 starts. He had a save percentage below .900 in eight of those games and was pulled early in his last two starts.
Appearing on Montreal's TSN 690 last Thursday, NHL insider Bob McKenzie said the Blues are worried about Allen's decline this season. He thinks they could keep an eye on the trade market for a goalie, though they must be careful over what they afford in dollars and return.
In late-December, McKenzie's colleague Darren Dreger suggested the Blues should consider acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fleury carries a no-movement clause and the Penguins must move him in order to protect Matt Murray in the expansion draft. If Allen fails to snap out of his current funk and Fleury's willing to waive his clause, perhaps Blues GM Doug Armstrong might come calling.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop could be another option. The 30-year-old began his NHL career with the Blues. He's eligible for UFA status in July and isn't expected to be re-signed by the Lightning.
The Bolts need a top-four defenseman and the Blues have a pending UFA blueliner in Kevin Shattenkirk. While that seems like a perfect fit for both clubs, Armstrong appears in no hurry to move Shattenkirk. He'll likely remain patient with Allen for the time being, but could consider other options if the netminder fails to improve.
SLIDING FLYERS NOT KEEN ON MOVING YOUNG BLUELINER
A 10-game winning streak by the Philadelphia Flyers from late-November through mid-December had them comfortably in the midst of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Since the streak ended on Dec. 17, however, the Flyers dropped 11 of their past 14 games. Entering this week, they're on the verge of tumbling out of the last wild-card spot in the East.
CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio reports Flyers GM Ron Hextall said he'll only swing a deal if it'll significantly help the club. Given the Flyers poor performance of late, Panaccio feels a trade might be Hextall's only option to improve things.
Finding a suitable deal won't be easy. Panaccio acknowledges Hextall carries “only a few marketable commodities” that might fetch a good return. Rival GMs could have more interest in the Flyers' crop of promising young defensemen.
Hextall won't part with established young blueliners Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere. Panaccio suggests prospects Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin, Robert Hagg and Phillipe Myers have potential to become franchise defensemen. Hextall might not be keen to part with any of them, but it might be necessary if one or two could fetch a return that helps right the Flyers' sinking ship.
The Colorado Avalanche are in the market for good young defensemen and reportedly entertaining offers for left wing Gabriel Landeskog and center Matt Duchene. The Flyers limited salary-cap space, however, would complicate things.
DESPITE DOWN YEAR, DOAN COULD DRAW INTEREST
The ongoing struggles of the Arizona Coyotes makes the club a frequent topic for media trade chatter. Most of the speculation concerns center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Michael Stone. Both are eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and could be moved by the March 1 trade deadline.
In recent years, right wing Shane Doan usually surfaced in the rumor mill, though the conjecture was always quickly quelled by Doan or Coyotes management. This year, however, might be different.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports the Coyotes might consider moving Doan before the deadline. He believes if management approaches the 40-year-old with an opportunity to play for a winner, he might consider waiving his no-movement clause. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch doubts Doan's movement clause will prevent some rival clubs from making inquiries. He claims the San Jose Sharks attempted to land the veteran forward over the last two years.
With only 12 points in 42 games, the aging Doan is on pace for 24 points, his lowest output in a non-lockout season since his 22-point campaign in 1998-99. Still, the 6-foot-1, 223-pound winger has good size, years of experience and leadership ability. He also netted 28 goals and 47 points last season, so perhaps he might regain his scoring touch on a deeper club.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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The Caps and Pens treated us to a scoring bonanza Monday, producing 15 goals. Factoring in the current low-scoring era, was this the wildest game ever?
The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins locked horns Monday night under high expectations. The two franchises have become synonymous with high-octane hockey since they debuted Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby 11 years ago. But even by this rivalry's towering standard, Monday's tilt blew us away. Slowly but surely, the game snowballed into must-see TV, stealing eyeballs from The Bachelor. The two teams exploded for 15 goals, including nine in the second period alone, with Pittsburgh pulling out a crazy 8-7 overtime victory.
Any game with 15 goals involving the two biggest talents of the past generation already deserves some hype, but Monday's game is an even more staggering feat when put into context. Plenty of excited tweets suggested the Caps and Pens were putting on a 1980s re-enactment – which is remarkable considering how different the game is today. Scoring is far rarer, goalies much more skilled. Was Monday's game thus the greatest offensive display of all-time, pound for pound, year for year, despite not actually setting a record for the most total goals between two teams?
The Montreal Canadiens beat the Toronto St. Patricks 14-7 Jan. 10, 1920, and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 12-9 Dec. 11 1985. Those two games share the team goals record of 21. Two games produced 20 goals, once in 1984 and one in 1986, and six games have yielded 19. That rounds out the league's all-time top 10. Here's a closer look, courtesy of The NHL Official Guide & Record Book:
Most goals, both teams one game
21 – Montreal Canadiens 14, Toronto St. Patricks 7, Jan. 10, 1920
21 – Edmonton Oilers 12, Chicago Blackhawks 9, Dec. 11, 1985
20 – Edmonton Oilers 12, Minnesota North Stars 8, Jan. 4, 1984
20 – Toronto Maple Leafs 11, Edmonton Oilers 9, Jan. 8, 1986
19 – Montreal Wanderers 10, Toronto Arenas 9, Dec. 19, 1917
19 – Montreal Canadiens 16, Quebec Bulldogs 3, March 3, 1920
19 – Montreal Canadiens 13, Hamilton Tigers 6, Feb. 26, 1921
19 – Boston Bruins 10, New York Rangers 9, March 4, 1944
19 – Detroit Red Wings 10, Boston Bruins 9, Mar. 16, 1944
19 – Vancouver Canucks 10, Minnesota North Stars 9, Oct. 7, 1983
Fifteen goals puts Monday night's game nowhere near the top 10, but no game from that list has occurred within the past 31 years. It only seems fair to factor in the era. The league-wide goals per game numbers of the seasons represented in the top 10, in order:
Those 10 games occurred in the NHL's peak high-scoring glory years. That makes Monday night's game all the more astounding. It occurred in a time of 5.50 goals per game, almost tripling the league average.
So what if we divide 5.50 goals per game by each of the 10 rates above, and multiply that number by the total goals in the record-setting games? The goals scored get adjusted way down:
21 goals in 1919-20 = 12.1 goals in 2016-17
21 goals in 1985-86 = 14.5 goals in 2016-17
20 goals in 1983-84 = 13.9 goals in 2016-17
20 goals in 1985-86 = 13.9 goals in 2016-17
19 goals in 1917-18 = 11.0 goals in 2016-17
19 goals in 1919-20 = 11.0 goals in 2016-17
19 goals in 1920-21 = 12.5 goals in 2016-17
19 goals in 1943-44 = 12.8 goals in 2016-17
19 goals in 1943-44 = 12.8 goals in 2016-17
19 goals in 1983-84 = 13.2 goals in 2016-17
So, based on those adjustments, last night's 15-goal output trumped all the official highest-scoring games of all-time. If we reverse the adjustment, 15 goals in 2016-17 are the equivalent of 25.9 goals in 1919-20.
The math here isn't perfect, as I haven't applied the adjustment to the 18-, 17- and 16- goal games over the years. There are only so many hours in the day. (update: some readers have kindly pointed out the 9-8 game between the Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers in 2011, which would take the top spot!) But we can at the very least say Monday's 8-7 barn burner was among the most entertaining and offensively brilliant exhibitions in NHL history.
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to thn.com. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin
With Morgan Rielly sidelined, another one of Toronto's top defensemen comes to the fore. Can Gardiner continue to play strong with a bigger burden on him?
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been remarkably healthy this season – must be all that kid blood – but when Morgan Rielly went down with a leg injury early against Buffalo, the squad was put to the test. As the remaining left-shooting D-men, Jake Gardiner and Matt Hunwick were tasked the most. And Gardiner, who came into the NHL as a bit of a wild horse on the back end, proved why he is being trusted more this season.
“He was huge,” said center Auston Matthews. “Going down to five ‘D,’ he came up big. That was really positive for us, being able to shut them down and come out with a win.”
Gardiner ended up playing 29:24, the most any Maple Leaf has played in a game this season. And they seemed like hard minutes; Toronto had to come back from a 2-0 deficit, then defend right to the final buzzer as the Sabres unsuccessfully (but gamely) attempted to tie a 4-3 game. But for Gardiner, making simple plays and letting the forwards push the pace was the key: in the end, Toronto dominated possession 60-40.
“I don’t feel terribly tired,” he said afterwards. “It depends on the game – you play 29 minutes but it’s all in the offensive zone, but another game it’s all in the defensive zone, so it just depends.”
The evolution of Gardiner has been interesting to witness. He’s the best possession player on the team this year and has been one of the best for the past few seasons. He’s a little more responsible with the puck now and is on pace to smash his previous season high for points (his record is 31 and right now he’s at 22 with half a season to go), while playing the same amount of minutes he has been for the past couple years.
“My stats are better than they usually are, offensively,” Gardiner said. “But more importantly, I feel like I’m a more all-around player, playing against tougher competition at times. My goal was to be more consistent and I think I’ve done that.”
Gardiner was a hot-shot prospect back in his Minnesota high school days, playing for the Minnetonka Skippers. High school games in the state run 17-minute periods and teams aren’t very deep, which means top players get a lot more ice time than they would elsewhere. I asked Gardiner if the Buffalo game reminded him of his time with the Skippers and he had a laugh.
“Yeah, a little bit,” he said. “I played over half the game back in the day, for sure.”
Rielly is now listed as day-to-day and will miss Toronto’s game against the New York Rangers on Thursday. Given how much offense the Rangers can put up, this will be another good challenge for Gardiner, even though he won’t have to play as many minutes. Some folks have questioned whether or not Rielly is a No. 1 defenseman and while I feel he has the skills and just need a little more help (his partner is Nikita Zaitsev, an NHL rookie, albeit a good one), it certainly wouldn’t hurt the Leafs to have Gardiner evolve even further when it comes to defensive play. The spotlight will be on Gardiner for the short term, so let’s see what he can do.
Jack Capuano couldn’t turn things around fast enough in New York, and the Islanders announced Tuesday afternoon that he has been let go and replaced by assistant coach Doug Weight.
The New York Islanders have rattled off five wins in their past 10 games and picked up 12 of a possible 20 points, but it hasn’t been enough to get the club out of the Eastern Conference basement. And with the season officially more than halfway through, the club has seen enough to determine that a change is necessary, announcing Tuesday that coach Jack Capuano has been let go.
Capuano’s firing comes the day following the Islanders’ 4-0 win over the Boston Bruins and during a season in which everyone from GM Garth Snow to captain John Tavares has gone to bat for the coach. With Capuano out from behind the bench, interim coaching duties will now fall to assistant GM and coach Doug Weight.
"The New York Islanders would like to thank Jack for his tireless work throughout his seven seasons with the organization as Head Coach," Snow said in a release. "His leadership guided the team to the playoffs in three of the past four years, which included two straight 100-point seasons. He is a great coach and an even better person. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward."
The 2016-17 campaign was an almost complete disaster from the very start of the season. The Islanders started off flat, dropping six of their first 10 games and completing the first quarter of the schedule with just six wins to their name. Frustrations mounted throughout the first two months of the season as the offense struggled, the power play was flat, the penalty kill was porous and the Islanders struggled to find any positive in the way they were playing.
The timing, however, is a bit strange. Besides the fact it comes immediately following one of the Islanders’ more impressive wins of the season, it also comes during a time when the team is in one of its best stretches of the season. According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, though, Snow said the reason for relieving Capuano of his duties now had little to do with the performance of the team at the moment and more to do with the fact the Islanders didn’t see Capuano as their coach for next season.
Despite the difficult season, Capuano will leave the organization as one of the best coaches the franchise has ever seen. Though no one will likely ever reach the heights that legendary Islanders bench boss Al Arbour did, Capuano finishes his tenure with New York having coached the second-most games in franchise history (483), collected the second-most wins (227) and became the only coach since Arbour in 1992-93 to coach the franchise to a post-season series victory.
That playoff series victory, one that was 22 seasons in the making, was cause for hope entering this current season, which is a major reason the Islanders’ performance this season was so disappointing. However, Capuano can take solace in the fact that he led the franchise to the post-season in three of his six full seasons behind the bench and helped the club to two of its best seasons in the modern era in 2014-15 and 2015-16. He was the fourth-longest tenured coach in the league at the time of his firing.
"It's an honor to have served this historic franchise and its passionate fans," Capuano said in a release. "I'd like to thank Garth and our ownership group for the opportunity to be the head coach of the Islanders. I'd also like to recognize our coaching staff, training staff and players for all of their hard work.”
According to LeBrun, Snow said there’s no timeline for the Islanders to name their next bench boss, and there’s certainly a chance the Islanders enter the off-season with Weight remaining the bench boss. Weight, who played the final three seasons of his career with the Islanders, has been an assistant coach with New York since 2011-12.
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