Say What?!? - July 7
Say What?!? - July 7
"I think it's really time to move on."
- Roberto Luongo on the possiblity of staying in Vancouver
"I think it's really time to move on."
- Roberto Luongo on the possiblity of staying in Vancouver
Anders Lindback isn’t starting material, but he’s a cheap stopgap for the time being. Lindback has played 130 games spread across five organizations.
Jeff Zatkoff’s injury was bad news for the Kings, but the timeframe for his return to the lineup is far from the worst-case scenario.
The 29-year-old goaltender fell injured hours before the Los Angeles’ weekend tilt with the Vancouver Canucks and was placed on the injured reserve, but after evaluation, coach Darryl Sutter said that he’s not expecting Zatkoff to be sidelined for much more than a week, according to LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen.
Already dealing with a long-term ailment to starting netminder Jonathan Quick, losing Zatkoff for an extended period of time would have undoubtedly forced the Kings to look outside the organization for help in goal. Peter Budaj, who started Saturday, is a suitable stop gap but he’s not the long-term solution. Realistically, there is no long-term solution for Quick being sidelined.
That said, the Kings seemed prepared to roll with Zatkoff barring any acquisition from outside the organization to help Los Angeles in goal. But that feeling seems to have changed, no doubt spurred on by Zatkoff’s short-term ailment.
Even though Zatkoff’s return is possible as soon as Los Angeles returns home from a brief two-game road trip this coming weekend, the Kings went looking for someone who could fill their need in the interim and have reportedly gone out and inked experienced backup netminder Anders Lindback, according to expressen.se’s Henrik Sjoberg.
While the deal hasn’t yet been made official, the likelihood is that Lindback will sign a two-way deal of some sort to stick around with the Kings organization for the remainder of the season.
The 28-year-old Swedish keeper has 130 games of NHL experience, suiting up for the Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes, but he’s been nothing more than mediocre over his time in the big league. Over the course of his career, Lindback has posted a 2.87 goals-against average and .904 save percentage, and his numbers have dropped precipitously since leaving Nashville in 2012-13.
While he may not exactly be full-time starting material, signing Lindback would mean the Kings could then send fourth-stringer Jack Campbell back to the AHL. Campbell, the 11th overall pick at the 2010 draft, is a reclamation project of sorts after some tough seasons with the Dallas Stars, and he needs more seasoning in the AHL if he’s going to become a full-time NHLer of any kind.
Bringing Lindback in also affords the Kings some choices when Zatkoff does return. A pair of backups for Zatkoff allows Los Angeles to choose which netminder they would want to send back to the AHL to play alongside Campbell, and the more options the better, as the Kings may have to start by committee over the coming months.
It’s still not the ideal situation in the Los Angeles crease — and nothing short of a miraculous recovery for Quick will be — but if the Kings were looking for a cheap stopgap, they could do much worse than signing Lindback and hoping he can be serviceable during Los Angeles’ time of need.
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Anaheim has dropped five of its first seven games and the outlook doesn’t look brighter for the Ducks as they lost both Ryan Getzlaf and Jonathan Bernier to upper-body injuries Tuesday.
The Ducks’ second run under coach Randy Carlyle hasn’t quite gone according to plan through seven games this season, and it doesn’t seem like Anaheim can catch a lucky break.
After piecing together a short win streak over their past two outings, the Ducks dropped a tight 2-1 game in overtime to the rival San Jose Sharks Tuesday night. Though the loss stings, it’s the potential long-term impact of the contest that could stand to do the most damage in Anaheim as the Ducks lost goaltender Jonathan Bernier and center Ryan Getzlaf to upper-body injuries before the third period.
Bernier, 28, got the nod against the Sharks in place of starter John Gibson, but his evening lasted a mere 20 minutes. In the first frame, Bernier faced 11 shots and allowed a single goal against, but he was forced out of the contest with what Carlyle referred to as a “muscle injury,” according to the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens.
As for Getzlaf, the Ducks’ captain was forced to leave the contest after the second period after blocking a shot with his arm. Getzlaf wound up leaving the game following the block, but returned to play out the remainder of the second period before exiting the contest for good.
Here is the play where Getzlaf takes puck off left hand/forearm. He went to locker room right after. pic.twitter.com/UTOZH9tkDy— DucksNPucks (@DucksNPucks) October 26, 2016
No updates were available on the status of either Bernier or Getzlaf. Carlyle said the pair would be evaluated again on Wednesday to determine the extent of their ailments, and both could effect the team in much different ways.
When it comes to Bernier’s injury, the worst-case scenario would see him out long term, but even that shouldn’t harm the Ducks in any significant way so long as Gibson can stay healthy. The 23-year-old netminder was pegged to take the bulk of the starts to begin with and has seen action in six of Anaheim’s seven games, making it clear he can handle the heavy workload. While he may have struggled in his first few appearances, he stopped 24 of 25 shots in relief of Bernier on Tuesday and Gibson has only allowed seven goals on the past 94 shots he has faced, good for a .926 save percentage.
And if Bernier is sidelined for a significant period of time, the Ducks can easily turn to Dustin Tokarski as their backup. Tokarski may not be the ideal option, but he’s played well enough in his NHL opportunities to be a serviceable backup in a pinch.
It won’t be as easy for the Ducks to deal with an absence to Getzlaf, however. With eight points in seven games, Getzlaf is Anaheim’s leading scorer, he’s logging nearly 19 minutes of ice time per game and he’s the pivot of the Ducks’ top line. Replacing him is already nearly impossible, but it’s made all the more difficult by the absence of Rickard Rakell.
Rakell, 23, may have a new contract, but the versatile forward still hasn’t been able to suit up for the Ducks as he awaits a visa. The expectation is that Rakell will have the matter sorted out shortly, but it could leave the Ducks without a second legitimate top-six option down the middle for a brief period.
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The Flyers celebrate a goal.
Enjoy the plethora of goals now because it's very likely goaltending improves, rookie stars slow down, and referees put their whistles away.
Much has been made of the plethora of goals that have been scored in the NHL so far this season. Dynamic players and suspect goaltending have combined to give goal judges a case of repetitive stress injuries from pressing the goal-light button so often during the league’s first 93 games.
And the numbers are there to back it up. So far this season, teams have combined to produce an average of 5.91 goals per game, which doesn’t take into account the goal awarded to teams that win shootouts. In addition, there are 54 players who have played at least four games so far who are averaging a point per game, and that includes nine defensemen and six rookies. One of those players – Zach Werenski – is both a defenseman and a rookie and, going into Wednesday night’s games, freshman Auston Matthews leads the league in scoring and is on a 137-point pace.
It’s impressive to be sure, but is it going to continue? Almost certainly not. Even though this season is a little more productive out of the gate than most, the reality is that scoring is usually higher during the first part of the season before levelling off. It has been speculated that it’s so much more dramatic this season because the offensive players have already found their groove after having participated in the World Cup, but defensemen and goaltenders were part of that tournament, too.
And it’s not as though this is unprecedented. In fact, not long ago, scoring was at the same pace as it is now after roughly the same period of time. After 92 games in 2009-10, teams were actually scoring more than they are this season, averaging 5.97 non-shootout goals per game. The season before, the average was just slightly lower, at 5.86 goals per game after 91 games. And what ultimately happened? Well, in 2009-10, things evened out and the league finished the season at 5.46 non-shootout goals per game, which is pretty much average for this era. The league had four 100-point scorers and a total of 23 full-time players who averaged at least a point per game. In 2008-09, the league had three 100-point men and 20 regulars who averaged a point per game.
It will be interesting to see where this season goes. You’d have to think that there are a number of goaltenders who will find their games before long. Having sleeker pants can’t possibly be making that much of a difference. But what will bear more scrutiny is how the rookies and young players continue to produce as the season goes on.
Remember, these rookies who are filling the net are going through the league for the first time at the moment. Once opponents get a book on them, it’s probably going to be that much more difficult to make the same kinds of eye-popping plays they’re making right now. And none of them has experienced the rigors of the NHL on a long-term basis. Even Connor McDavid played only 45 games last season, so nobody’s sure how good he’s going to be after 60 games of going against the top shutdown lines in the league.
But more than anything, NHL coaches are notorious for finding ways of shutting down offensive players. They will have their teams adapt defensively and as the season moves on, will be clamping down on star players a lot more closely. And that doesn’t even take into account the inevitable erosion in the standard of officiating that seems to happen every year. As the season goes on, the hooking and holding that occurs early often degenerates into tackling and full nelsons by the end of the season.
Perhaps none of that will happen, but recent history tells us that it almost always does. There’s a chance the quick feet, hands and minds of the young players who have dazzled us for the first eight percent of the season will continue to do so, undeterred by checking and officiating. But that being said, it’s far easy to destroy a masterpiece than to create one. By the same token, it’s easier to stop star players from scoring, particularly when you’re abetted by a league that seems to love parity as much as the NHL does, than it is to continue to create offense. This is a league that goes to great pains to point out how close its games always are, conveniently forgetting the fact that it’s impossible to have large margins of victory when nobody is scoring.
It would be wonderful to see this level of scoring continue or, shocker of shockers, even rise a little. Enjoy it now, but it would be unwise to count on it continuing in the long term.
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.