Save of the Night: Miikka Kiprusoff on the Blues
Save of the Night: Miikka Kiprusoff on the Blues
Mikka Kiprusoff keeps this one off the board despite being down and out.
Mikka Kiprusoff keeps this one off the board despite being down and out.
The Canadiens lost Carey Price to a severe case of the flu, but they didn't miss a beat with newly signed backup Al Montoya.
They have the best winning percentage, the best goals differential and are the only team in the NHL that has yet to endure a loss in regulation. And they have the league’s best goalie in
Al Montoya Carey Price. So it’s no wonder the Montreal Canadiens are at the top of thn.com’s first Power Rankings of this season.
Remember, folks, these are Power Rankings, not NHL standings. They reflect how the team has performed most recently and are measured in order of the team that an opponent would least like to face if it played that night. So if you’re team is low in our rankings, remember it’s because we hate your team, and probably you and your family as well.
THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers
3. Detroit Red Wings
4. New York Rangers
5. St. Louis Blues
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Florida Panthers
8. New York Islanders
9. Pittsburgh Penguins
10. Washington Capitals
Shea Weber was supposed to represent the panacea for Montreal’s power play, but it sits 20th in the league going into tonight’s game against Philadelphia, where they’ll try Alexander Radulov alongside Weber on the point…Since Cam Talbot’s wife gave birth to twins last Wednesday, Talbot is 3-0-0 with just three goals against on 99 shots…After posting a career-low 43 points last season, Gustav Nyquist has 3-4-7 totals in his first five games…After all the talk of resting Henrik Lundqvist more this season, The Rangers played him in back-to-back games over the weekend, the second one against the worst team in the NHL…The way Nail Yakupov has thrived on the Blues’ third line, his trade from Edmonton could develop into a major steal…Not sure how many noticed, but ESPN ranked the Lightning as the No. 1…The 4-1 win over Ottawa Saturday night kicked off a six-game, 11-day road trip for the Lightning…Tough not to cheer for 27-year-old rookie Shane Harper, who had never played an NHL game before this season, but made the Panthers’ fourth-line and scored twice in Florida’s 5-2 win over Colorado Saturday…Islanders captain John Tavares said he thinks it wears him and his teammates out more talking about the bad ice at Barclays Center than playing on it. Pretty sure that’s not the case…After taking part in his first full-contact practice since suffering a pre-season concussion, Sidney Crosby has not been ruled out yet for Tuesday night’s game against Florida…Going into a four-game road trip through western Canada, Capitals coach Barry Trotz shuffled his top two lines, moving Andre Burakovsky to the top line and T.J. Oshie down to the second.
THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Anaheim Ducks
12. Los Angeles Kings
13. Vancouver Canucks
14. Minnesota Wild
15. Boston Bruins
16. Colorado Avalanche
17. Chicago Blackhawks
18. Columbus Blue Jackets
19. Ottawa Senators
20. Nashville Predators
Simon Despres and his concussion have been placed on long-term injury reserve, which could give the Ducks the room they need to sign Hampus Lindholm…Thank goodness for 34-year-old Peter Budaj. He’s the only healthy goalie in the Kings organization at the moment with NHL experience…As much as people seem to want to pigeonhole Bo Horvat as a third-line center, his all-round game and offensive production this year suggest otherwise…Zach Parise scored his 300th and 301st NHL goals on Saturday and needs only 40 more to pass Dave Christian for first on the all-time list among Minnesota-born players…The Bruins have yet to score the first goal of the game in any of their five games this season…The Avalanche are in the midst of a six-day break. John Mitchell is expected to be in the lineup for the first time this season Friday night against Winnipeg…Speaking of season debuts, veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival will play his first game of the season tonight against Calgary after sitting out the first six games as a healthy scratch…The Blue Jackets rallied with big wins over NHL powers after losing their first two games. A big reason for that has been the penalty kill unit, which has allowed only one goal on 11 shorthanded situations, and that was an empty-net goal…The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Senators can score plenty, but have allowed at least four goals in four of their first five games this season...Despite an attack of food poisoning, the Predators managed to beat Pittsburgh 5-1 on the weekend. Their power play is by far the best in the league.
VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. San Jose Sharks
22. Philadelphia Flyers
23. Dallas Stars
24. New Jersey Devils
25. Toronto Maple Leafs
26. Buffalo Sabres
27. Winnipeg Jets
28. Carolina Hurricanes
29. Calgary Flames
30. Arizona Coyotes
The Sharks went 2-for-18 on the power play on their recent five-game road trip, but they still managed to pick up two wins…League menace Radko Gudas will be eligible to return from his six-game suspension Tuesday night against Buffalo…Ales Hemsky reinjured his groin Saturday and will miss Tuesday night’s game against Winnipeg, as will Jason Spezza, who tweaked something in practice Monday…Same old Devils? New Jersey hasn’t scored more than two goals in any of its first five games this season. And that includes two overtimes...The Maple Leafs 5-4 shootout loss to Chicago Saturday marked the fourth time in five games the young Leafs have gagged up a lead late in the third period…Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen doesn’t appear to have been hurt by missing training camp with a contract dispute. He has an assist on each of Buffalo’s four power-play goals this season…This could be a lot worse. The Jets’ only two wins this season have come back when they roared back from three-goal deficits in the third period…The Hurricanes may have to finish their season-opening six-game road trip Tuesday night in Detroit without Jeff Skinner, who wasn’t on the ice for practice Monday…The Flames are porous. They’ve given up at least four goals in four of their first six games and at least five in three of them…The Coyotes are 0-4-0 on their eastern road trip, which still has stops in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
The 2017 draft prospect was unstoppable for the Boston University Terriers. Meet him and learn about more prospects on the fast-track to the NHL
The CHL-Russia series is just around the corner and rosters are already out for the WHL and OHL games. This series has typically been a nice primer for the world juniors, though more so on the Canadian side. Nonetheless, it has also historically been a nice showcase for top draft-eligible players. Nolan Patrick and Cal Foote get the nod out west, while Gabe Vilardi, Nic Hague and Markus Phillips will play for the OHL. I'll have more on the series as it unfolds, but until then let's get to the rest of the prospect world and see who is making noise.
Jake Oettinger, G – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East): As a 17-year-old freshman in one of college hockey's hardest conferences, Oettinger came into the season confident that with hard work, he could become the Terriers' starter. Five games into the campaign, he's already there. Oettinger has started every game for B.U. and is coming off back-to-back shutouts on the weekend. After blanking Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac, the Minnesota native now sits atop the Hockey East goalie board with a .947 save percentage and 1.42 goals-against average. Naturally there were high expectations for the 6-foot-4 netminder coming from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, but the kid is getting as much out of college as he is giving.
“When I came out to the NTDP, one of the key things my dad and I talked about was the opportunity to go to schools like B.U.," Oettinger said. "When I went on my visit, I fell in love. The coaches are all the kind of coaches I want to play for and B.U., where you can get an education and also live in Boston, is just the complete package.”
The same could probably be said for Oettinger, whose size and athleticism make him an ideal NHL goalie prospect. Despite his young age, he has a very mature approach to his development and has good insight into his position.
“Every goalie in the NHL, with maybe the exception of Carey Price, could become a better skater," he said. "If you’re on your feet as long as you possibly can be, you give yourself a better chance to make a save. That’s what I’ve been working on. That, and tracking the puck. That’s so big in the game now. Shots and releases are so fast; you gotta be good at tracking the puck if you’re going to make saves.”
While starter's minutes on a high-octane Terriers squad comes with pressure, that's something Oettinger has seen in the past. Back in Minnesota, he took his Lakeville North high school team to the state final at the Xcel Energy Center. Though they fell to powerhouse Edina, the campaign was full of memories for Oettinger.
“I look back at that now and I wish I would have known that was my only season with Lakeville North," he said. "Those guys are still my best friends and playing them was really special, but something I took for granted a bit. Playing in the state tournament is one of my favorite hockey memories. It was everything I could ask for in one year.”
Oettinger followed his team remotely the next year, as he played for the NTDP and they went undefeated to win it all. He's more than happy for his mates and given how bright his future is, it's hard to knock his decision to leave. And it won't be surprising if he guides the Terriers to a national title in the next couple seasons.
In the Pipeline
Kale Clague, D (Los Angeles): The WHL player of the week with six points in two games, Clague made his mark as soon as he returned from a leg injury sustained at Kings camp. The Brandon Wheat Kings are happy to have the two-way defenseman back, as his smarts and mobility can really make a shift hum.
Max Jones, RW (Anaheim): London may have lost a ton of talent over the summer, but Jones is making sure the offense is still there. The OHL player of the week racked up seven points in two games for the Knights, but the power forward has been hot for awhile.
Michael McNiven, G (Montreal): Signed as a free agent by the Habs, McNiven has been excellent for the OHL's Owen Sound Attack. The kid's got a pretty sick glove hand and when he's in the net, Owen Sound has been winning a lot. The 2.24 goals-against average helps.
Filip Chlapik, C (Ottawa): The Charlottetown Islanders pivot has been hot all season, but it's good to see him continue his torrid pace now that everyone is back from NHL camps. Chlapik has 12 goals and 19 points in 10 games and has also been a demon in the faceoff circle on many nights.
Mathieu Joseph, RW (Tampa Bay): Quick and hard to play against, it's not hard to see Joseph having a Brad Marchand type of career, where agitating opens the door for a scoring role. The Saint John Sea Dogs winger can certainly put up points, with 12 goals and 16 points in 11 Quebec League games so far.
Wade Allison, RW (Philadelphia): Fast and powerful, Allison has hit the ground running in college, posting up five points in four games for Western Michigan. It seems like the momentum he gained in the USHL playoffs last year has carried over to the NCAA.
Kyle Wood, D (Arizona): Acquired from Colorado in the Mikkel Boedker deal, Wood is proving himself quite valuable. In three games with the AHL's Tucson Roadrunners, the big defenseman has amassed six points to lead the league in offense from the blueline.
2017 Draft Stars
Mason Shaw, C - Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL): Look way, way up at the WHL scoring leaders and you'll find the 5-foot-9 Shaw. An excellent playmaker with a knack for setting up goals on a tee, Shaw leads the league with 23 points in 12 games. He'll also drop the gloves when he needs to.
Shane Bowers, C - Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL): A serious offensive threat thanks to his skating, skills and smarts, Bowers is a point-per-game player in the United States League so far. That's a marked leap from his rookie production, which was pretty solid itself, but the kid is hot with six points in his past four games.
2018 Draft Star
Rasmus Dahlin, D - Frolunda (SHL): A great skater and incredibly efficient blueliner, Dahlin made his SHL debut on Friday and notched an assist. Back in the under-20 circuit, he was lighting it up with 11 points in nine games from the back end.
The Islanders at center ice of Barclays Center
The arena’s ice on Friday night was called “unplayable” and “bouncy,” and it has less to do with temperatures than it does the piping under the ice.
New York Islanders fans’ gripes about the Barclays Center have been plenty. There’s been complaints about the sight lines, the travel and the building design, in general, and it has left fans hoping for a return to Nassau Coliseum or for an all-new building for their Islanders to call home. The biggest objection to the arena, though, could be one that doesn’t really impact the fans.
Over the past few games, the center of attention for the Islanders hasn’t so much been the on-ice performance as it has been the ice conditions, which have been downright awful, according to the players.
Winger Cal Clutterbuck’s words rang out the loudest after the Islanders’ 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Clutterbuck called the surface “unplayable” on Friday night, and rearguard Johnny Boychuk added that pucks wouldn’t settle down, meaning players couldn’t do much more than “throw it on net.”
But complaints about the ice can be normal over the course of a season. Combine a string of unseasonable temperatures with a spectator-filled contest and there’s an almost perfect storm for bad, bouncy ice. Trouble is that it hasn’t been a one night issue.
Players were much less outspoken about the conditions following Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, but not exactly silent on the ice issue. Captain John Tavares told the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte that he didn’t want to talk about the ice but said it was “a little better” Sunday, while coach Jack Capuano said it was simply something both teams had to deal with.
“We don’t want any excuses,” Capuano said, according to Botte. “Whether the ice is good or bad, both teams have to play on it. I’m sure they’re trying to do the best they can here, and I’ll leave it at that.”
But the issue with the ice goes well beyond the temperature. According to Staple, the team has ice engineer and dehumidifiers that work to keep the rink in its best possible shape, but the biggest issue is literally an underlying one.
Staple reported that the Islanders are currently using plastic pipes below their ice surface instead of steel, and Chris Botta added that “all other NHL rinks have steel pipes.” Botta said that arena management knows of the issue, as do the Islanders, but it wasn’t fixed during the summer because it would have required a complete shutdown of the building.
When temperatures drop, the issue of warm weather impacting the playing surface will most likely fade away — or at least lessen, given that the sheet should stay much cooler in the winter — but as the season nears its culmination, the temperature could again be an issue and the team’s annoyance with the ice could again come to the fore.
Rumblings about the Islanders’ unhappiness with Barclays Center have been ongoing nearly since the day the puck was dropped to start the 2015-16 season, and they persist to this day. And if bad ice conditions continue without any fix in sight, you can almost guarantee the talk of the Islanders looking for a new home is going to continue.
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If defenseman Brent Burns heads to free agency, he'll generate considerable interest, including from the Oilers, who still need to improve their blueline.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns could be the best player available in next summer's unrestricted free agent market. It remains to be seen, of course, if he tests the open market. The Sharks will likely do all they can to keep him in the fold.
If the 32-year-old Burns heads to free agency, he'll generate considerable interest. The Edmonton Journal's David Staples cites Oilers insider Bob Stauffer speculating the Edmonton Oilers could pursue the Sharks rearguard, just as they did power forward Milan Lucic this summer.
The Oilers still lack a true top-two defenseman and Burns would certainly address that need, but they'll have to pay a lot to get him. His current annual salary is $5.76 million and he could command upwards of $8 million per season on the open market.
With over $55 million invested in 17 players for 2017-18, the Oilers could afford Burns in the short term. However, rising star Leon Draisaitl is coming off his entry-level deal and could seek a significant raise on a long-term deal. In 2018, superstar Connor McDavid and promising blueliner Darnell Nurse will also be in line for lengthy and expensive new contracts. They must ensure they have sufficient cap space to re-sign those young stars.
The Oilers also won't be the only club with serious interest in Burns. A significant bidding war for his services could put him out of Edmonton's price range.
STARS NOT INTERESTED IN BROWN
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports a recent rumor had the Dallas Stars interested in Los Angeles Kings left winger Dustin Brown. However, Friedman claims that speculation was shot down.
Whoever started the “Brown-to-Stars” speculation was engaging in wishful thinking. The former Kings captain is in the third season of an eight-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $5.85 million. He also carries a modified no-trade clause indicating eight trade preferences.
Even if the Stars were on Brown's list, they have no reason to pursue him. Since 2013-14, Brown's offfensive production has dried up, managing consecutive 27-point performances (2013-14, 2014-15) and only 28 points last season. At 31, his best seasons are now well behind him. The last thing the Stars need is a fading power forward on an expensive long-term deal.
RANGERS CAN'T FIND TAKER FOR McGILRATH
Earlier this month, the New York Post's Larry Brooks reported the New York Rangers were believed seeking a trade partner for little-used defenseman Dylan McIlrath. So far, however, they're not getting much interest in the 24-year-old blueliner.
Brooks followed up this week by speculating Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is likely listening to any trade offers for McIlrath. However, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder must establish himself as an NHL regular to bolster his value. Brooks believes Gorton would accept a third-round pick.
In his previous three seasons, McIlrath skated in only 37 games with the Rangers. Heading into Saturday's contest with the Washington Capitals, he played only one game this season. At this rate, McIlrath seems more likely to be a waiver candidate.
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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