Author: Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
Blackhawks set to scratch Campbell as Quenneville 'tinkers' with lineup
By: Jared Clinton
Oct 20, 2016
Chicago’s defensive struggles have coach Joel Quenneville fiddling with his defensive pairs, and that could lead to an unexpected scratch of veteran rearguard Brian Campbell, who took a cut rate to return to the Blackhawks.
Brian Campbell took a hometown discount to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks, but he probably didn’t foresee his return to the Windy City coming along with some unexpected nights off. However, that may be the case come Friday.
According the Chicago Sun-Times’ Brian Hedger, Campbell skated alongside veteran Michal Rozsival in practice and it appears the 37-year-old blueliner will be watching the Blackhawks’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets from the sideline. In his place, it sounds as though Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is set to go with the young duo of Gustav Forsling and Trevor van Riemsdyk on the backend, with his two most veteran rearguards sitting out.
It’s a rather unexpected removal from the lineup for Campbell considering he was a top-pairing defenseman on a Florida Panthers team that made the post-season in 2015-16, but that he has been skating third-pairing minutes with Forsling gives Quenneville the easy option of switching out one of his bottom-pairing guys in order to get one of the scratched blueliners some minutes.
“We don’t want the same two guys sitting out all the time,” Quenneville said, according to Hedger. “Sometimes you don’t want to tinker with a winning lineup, and sometimes…you’ve got to get them in there to play. That’s what we’re visiting.”
That could very well be all there is to it, too, but it’s worth noting that Chicago does actually need to find some combinations that work on the back end, because the Blackhawks continue to struggle mightily defensively through four games. In fact, despite Chicago being lauded for their puck possession ability over the past few seasons, the early season matchups have indicated that this could be a season in which the Blackhawks struggle at dominating the possession game.
Through the first four games of the campaign, Chicago has a sub-50 percent Corsi for percentage and the only team with a worse shots-for percentage is the Montreal Canadiens. Only four teams — the Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings — have allowed more shots against in the early season, and that’s rather unlike the highly skilled Blackhawks teams that were perennial Cup contenders.
However, that does make the decision to take Campbell out of the lineup somewhat confounding. Over the past several seasons, Campbell has been a positive possession player and one of the stronger puck-moving defensemen in the league, despite his age. His ability to carry the puck out of danger hasn’t left him, either. That said, he’s been a sub-50 percent possession player through the start of the campaign.
If Campbell is indeed out of the lineup Friday, it’s hard to imagine any scenario in which he’s watching for longer than a game or two, and even a second outing on the sideline would be unexpected.
In four games this season, Campbell is averaging little more than 17 minutes and has one assist.
Author: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images
Penguins put Pouliot on injured reserve, expected to be out for ‘a while’
By: Jared Clinton
Oct 21, 2016
Derrick Pouliot has struggled to find solid footing in the NHL, and the 22-year-old hit another bump in the road when he fell injured in his season debut Thursday.
The hope in Pittsburgh was that this would be the season that 2012 first-round pick Derrick Pouliot found his way into a full-time role and made an impact on the Penguins’ blueline. If that’s going to be the case, though, it’s going to have to come after Pouliot returns from injury.
Pouliot got his first crack at the lineup Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, and after playing 12:29 and registering one shot on goal through the first two periods of the contest, Pouliot was forced out of the remainder of the game with an undisclosed injury. Post-game, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he had no information about the injury to Pouliot, and the outlook doesn’t look good for the young rearguard.
It was announced Friday that Pouliot has been placed on injured reserve, and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he expects the 22-year-old to be sidelined for more than just a game or two.
Pouliot falling injured so early in this campaign makes for another bump in the road for the youngster, who has had big expectations surrounding him since being drafted eighth overall by the Penguins in 2012.
It took until the 2014-15 campaign for Pouliot to make his debut in the league, but he has found himself bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL for much of the past two seasons. In fact, Pouliot has seen a near equal split of time between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scrantion, the home of the Penguins’ AHL affiliate, but he hasn’t been able to translate his minor league performance to the big club.
In 57 NHL games, Pouliot has just two goals and 14 points and hasn’t been given a role as much more than a third-pairing or seventh defenseman, averaging less than 15:30 of ice time during the 2015-16 season. In the AHL, Pouliot has been much more successful, notching 14 goals and 47 points in 68 games while steadily skating top-four minutes.
With Pouliot sidelined, the Penguins have brought 26-year-old David Warsofsky up from the AHL. Warsofsky skated in 12 games with Pittsburgh in 2015-16, scoring one goal and averaging 17:45.
Jaromir Jagr reaches the 750-goal plateau with slick power play finish
By: Jared Clinton
Oct 21, 2016
Jaromir Jagr’s first goal of the season was a big one career-wise, and now he’s only 51 back of Gordie Howe for second all-time.
Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe finally have some company in the 750-goal club.
Not since Gretzky notched his 750th goal during the 1992-93 campaign has there been another player to reach the milestone, but ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr finally reached the mark with a power play goal Friday night against the Washington Capitals.
With the Florida Panthers on the power play, Jagr worked the puck back along the boards to Jonathan Marchessault, who then put the puck down below the goal line to Aleksander Barkov. While the pass was being made to Barkov, though, Jagr had cut back into the center of the ice and was charging hard towards the net, where Barkov spotted him for a perfect one-timer that Jagr blasted past Capitals netminder Braden Holtby:
With the marker, Jagr becomes the oldest player to reach the milestone, as Gretzky and Howe had reached the 750-goal plateau at age 31 and 41, respectively. But there are two interesting — and incredibly coincidental — facts about Jagr’s milestone which go beyond him simply being the oldest to reach the mark.
When Gretzky reached the milestone, he did so two games into his 1992-93 season, and, like Jagr, Gretzky’s 750th goal was his first of the season. That two of the greatest players of all-time both ended one campaign at 749 goals only to register their 750th on their first tally of the subsequent year is a nice bit of trivia, but the timing between all three 750-goal players reaching the mark is even more interesting.
Howe became the first player to reach the milestone when he netted his 750th goal 1970 and, as mentioned, Gretzky followed suit by scoring his 750th in 1993. The 23-year gap between Gretzky and Howe wasn’t of much interest at the time, but with Jagr scoring his 750th in 2016, 23 years after Gretzky hit the mark, it’s a remarkable coincidence.
Of course, the 23-year trend goes out the window when Alex Ovechkin inevitably reaches the 750-goal plateau by, say, the 2022-23 campaign.
Stars’ Sharp sidelined after suffering ‘concussion-like symptoms’ following huge hit
By: Jared Clinton
Oct 21, 2016
The Stars don't know exactly when they can expect Sharp’s return, which means yet another player has been added to Dallas’ growing injury list.
The Dallas Stars are going to be without Patrick Sharp, but they don’t know just how long the veteran winger will be on the shelf.
Sharp, 34, was forced to leave Thursday’s game against the Kings during the second period after being walloped along the boards by Los Angeles blueliner Brayden McNabb. Early in the frame, with Dallas on a power play, Sharp took a pass from Devin Shore and stepped over the blueline with Jeff Carter giving chase. In order to sidestep Carter, Sharp moved along the right wing boards where he was met with a solid jolt from McNabb.
No penalty was called on the play, and the replay shows that McNabb caught Sharp about as square on the shoulder as possible.
Regardless of how clean the hit may have been, though, Sharp immediately grabbed his head and was slow to get to his feet. He remained out on the power play for another 20 seconds before leaving the ice, but after heading to the bench, Sharp left the game. The Stars later announced he wouldn’t return due to “concussion-like symptoms,” and Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Sharp’s absence will go beyond Thursday’s game.
“Sharp will be out,” Ruff said, according to Mark Stepneski. “He missed the rest of the game on the hit but I don’t know what the time frame is.”
And even if Sharp is diagnosed with a concussion, that won’t make his timeframe for return any more clear. Unlike other injuries where it’s easier to gauge recovery times, a concussion can sideline a player for a few games or for months at a time.
The good news for Sharp, though, is that he doesn’t have a long history of serious head injures. In October 2010, Sharp, then with the Chicago Blackhawks, was forced out of the lineup with what was at the time called a “slight concussion,” but he returned after missing just one game and hasn’t missed any time with head injuries since.
The timing of the injury is brutal for Dallas, especially after an off-season in which seemingly none of their key top-six players could stay healthy. Already, the Stars are without Jiri Hudler (flu), Ales Hemsky (groin), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee) and Jason Dickinson (hip), so losing Sharp — and possibly Patrick Eaves, who also left the contest Thursday after a blocked shot — would be another serious blow to the dynamic Dallas offense.
Through four games this season, Sharp had mustered just one assist but had put 10 shots on goal.