Teams with poor records at the end of October and November are already in trouble to make the playoffs.
It’s not time to fret just yet if you’re a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers or Washington Capitals – it was just one game. If the losses start to pile up after 10 contests, however, you might want to cancel your Stanley Cup viewing party. That’s because good starts in the NHL are crucial when it comes to making the playoffs.
We crunched the numbers for a story written by Ronnie Shuker that appears in the Oct. 14 edition of The Hockey News magazine and the results were telling. The data below shows the percentage of times teams made the post-season (from 1993-94 to last season) based on their end-of-month placement in the standings. For example, the team sitting 15th in the East after October games qualified for the post-season 8.3% of the time. Teams 13th in the West through December contests failed to qualify in the top eight. We chose 1993-94 as the starting point since that was when the NHL previously realigned and changed its playoff qualification format. It’s also important to note that teams sitting in third place have lower percentages than many of the fourth-place holder because there were division leaders (primarily from the Southeast) who got displaced.
Report: Gaborik will miss World Cup final, out eight weeks with foot injury
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 26, 2016
The Los Angeles Kings were hoping this season could be a rebound year for Marian Gaborik, but instead the veteran winger is starting his season on the shelf after suffering a foot injury at the World Cup.
Marian Gaborik missed the final 28 games of the 2015-16 regular season, and he could be in line to miss 20-plus games to start the new campaign.
If Gaborik is out the full eight weeks, that sets his return at no sooner than the last week of November. That would mean Gaborik is on the shelf for at least the first 20 games of the Kings’ season. If he can’t return to action until December, he’d sidelined a grand total of 24 games.
Gaborik missing time is nothing new, but it’s an especially bad break for him to fall injured for such a great length of time before the regular season has even begun. Gaborik has only played one full 82-game season in his career, and that came during in 2011-12 with the New York Rangers, and seven times in his 15-year career he has played 65 or fewer games in a season due to injury.
The Kings were hoping this season could be a rebound year for Gaborik, as he took a big step back in production this past season. In the second season of his seven-year, $34.125-million deal with Los Angeles, Gaborik scored just 12 goals and 22 points in 54 games. It was his worst rate of production in any season of his career, and that was reflected in Gaborik’s minutes. Usually a top-six player, Gaborik averaged less than 15 minutes per game for the Kings and he was surpassed as part of Los Angeles’ attack by youngsters Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli.
Gaborik had a good showing at the World Cup, notching two goals in four games, and he’ll be sorely missed in the lineup against a high-powered Canadian offense.
Once he returns from injury there’s hope he can produce like the top-six forward Los Angeles needs him to be, but this certainly isn’t the way Gaborik or the Kings hoped the 2016-17 campaign would start.
Belleville mayor Taso Christopher and Senators owner Eugene Melnyk
Author: via Ottawa Senators/Twitter
Senators officially announce AHL club is moving from Binghamton to Belleville
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 26, 2016
Eugene Melnyk has purchased the Binghamton Senators and is moving Ottawa’s AHL affiliate closer to home. Belleville’s arena is set to undergo some upgrades before welcoming pro hockey.
The 2015-16 campaign was the first since the 1980-81 season that Belleville went without its OHL Bulls, but the departure of the major junior franchise has opened the doors for minor pro hockey to make its way to the city.
After much speculation that the Ottawa Senators would be moving their AHL affiliate to Belleville in time for the 2017-18 season, the franchise and the City of Belleville made the move official Monday in an afternoon press conference. The franchise, which will maintain the Senators name in the move north of the border, has spent the past 14 years in Binghamton, N.Y., but the move to Belleville helps the Senators keep up with the growing trend of proximity between NHL and AHL clubs.
"Our city has a long a storied history with junior hockey but today we welcome professional hockey to Belleville and our soon to be renovated Yardmen Arena," said Belleville mayor Taso Christopher in a release. "Our city not only gets an AHL team but an incredible working partnership with the (NHL’s) Ottawa Senators and its long time owner Eugene Melnyk. Geographically, our relative proximity to the nation's capital makes this a tremendously exciting partnership that will undoubtedly bring our cities and our hockey fans together, United in Red."
As part of moving the team to Belleville, Melnyk has purchased the AHL franchise and agreed to an eight-year deal to keep the team in Belleville. The agreement includes $18.5 million in renovations to Yardmen Arena which the city will “immediately undertake” in order to prepare the building for its first venture into pro hockey.
"This community has truly earned the return of hockey and I am committed to making the Belleville Senators an integral part of the city,” Melnyk said in a release. “I want to personally thank the Mayor, Councillors and City staff for their hard work in helping bring the Senators to Belleville. This is the dawn of new era of hockey in Belleville and we are excited to be part of it.”
The Senators’ time in Binghamton has been rather up-and-down, especially over the past few seasons. The club has missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, and between 2005-06 and 2009-10 underwent a five-year post-season drought. However, the 2010-11 campaign signalled the end of that tailspin and marked the most successful season in franchise history.
That team, led by Corey Locke, Ryan Potulny and goaltender Robin Lehner and coached by Kurt Kleinendorst, won the Calder Cup, the first in franchise history.
Since that season, though, Binghamton has missed the playoffs three times and been eliminated twice in the first round, both times at the hands of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Why we should be happy Team Sweden lost at World Cup
By: Ken Campbell
Sep 25, 2016
Team Sweden came into the tournament as a favorite to make the final. And now it's out because of the way it approached the game.
Let’s get something straight here. Sweden did not lose the semifinal game in the World Cup of Hockey because of a disputed goal in overtime. It did not lose because it failed to score on the power play. It didn’t lose because all-world goalie Henrik Lundqvist dropped his stick at one of the most inopportune times of his career.
The Swedish players are heading to NHL training camp instead of the best-of-three final in the World Cup of Hockey because they decided - or probably more accurately, had it decided for them - that they were going to play chess until the third period of their 3-2 overtime loss to Team Europe. They played the game afraid to lose and that’s exactly what happened. It was a display of a dull, turgid, safe and utterly ridiculous brand of hockey given their level of talent that came back to haunt them.
And for that we should all be grateful. Even if you’re Swedish. Because perhaps the people who run the national program in Sweden will go back and realize what an opportunity they frittered by taking a bunch of thoroughbreds and forcing them to trot their way around the track. That’s not how these players play in the NHL. That’s not how they’re wired. Players such as Erik Karlsson have to go and holding them back should not be rewarded.
And it this case it was not. Had Sweden somehow underachieved its way to the World Cup final, it would not have highlighted how absolutely terrible this approach was. Swedish winger Gabriel Landeskog, who told Scott Oake of Hockey Night in Canada after the first period that, “We kind of stood around waiting for each other,” capsulized the game plan right there. Then he added: “We’re in the World Cup of Hockey semifinal. You’re not going to give them anything just to play beautiful hockey.”
Sweden was outshooting Team Europe 10-5 after the first period, then took a 1-0 lead 2:31 into the second. Perhaps thinking one goal would be enough to win, the Swedes eventually shut it down and collapsed, sending the game into a lull of ennui that made it darn near unwatchable. And if they had won, they would have been rewarded for it. But they didn’t, so that’s a good thing. Only after Tomas Tatar made it 2-1 12 seconds into the third period did the Swedes decide they needed to play with just a little more urgency. And by that time, Team Europe goalie Jaroslav Halak had found his groove. If not for a Karlsson floater that hit Roman Josi’s stick, the overtime wouldn’t even have been necessary.
The Swedes obviously saw this game a lot differently than your trusty correspondent did. When asked why with all this talent, and a brain trust that included Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson and Nicklas Lidstrom, his team could play the way it did, Swedish coach Rikard Gronborg responded by saying he thought his team played well.
“I don’t think we were passive. I think you’re wrong there,” Gronborg said. “We need to show patience, and I think we showed patience. But at the end of the day when they’re scoring six goals against us in an exhibition game, we didn’t show patience. That’s what happens. This is a very good team we’re playing against. What we wanted to do was obviously make sure we don’t get turnovers and we don’t get odd-man rushes against, and I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight. We put ourselves in a position of winning this game. In the offensive zone we don’t put reins on our players. We don’t put defensive assignments in the offensive zone. So I don’t think I agree with you there.”
Looks like we weren’t watching the same game. Nobody said the Swedes had to get all turnover happy and turn the game into a round of pond hockey, but at some point, don’t you realize you’re better than the other team and play to your strengths. The Swedes lost 6-2 to Team Europe in the final pre-tournament game and instead of using that game as a lesson on how to manage the puck better, it responding by thinking it couldn’t try anything creative.
“That’s what teams have done against them and that’s why they lost against this team,” Daniel Sedin said. “They’ve been playing a full-out attack and you can’t do that against this team. They want us to make mistakes and we played a patient game thinking it was going to pay off in the end and it didn’t. It’s easy to say after the game that we should have attacked more.”
Actually, it was quite easy during the game to say that. Anyone who was watching could see where that game was going. And the fact the way it went the way it did is a setback for Sweden, but a triumph for the game. Sweden teased us all tournament, telling us they still hadn't played their best game. They certainly didn't do that Sunday and now they won't have a chance to do it again in the World Cup.
Senators’ scrimmage turns ugly after MacArthur concussed by blindside hit
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 25, 2016
Clarke MacArthur’s career could be in jeopardy after he suffered another concussion, this time during a training camp scrimmage. MacArthur, 31, missed all but four games in 2015-16 while battling concussion symptoms.
Clarke MacArthur has spent nearly an entire year trying to fight back from concussion issues that have plagued him, and a blindside hit during a scrimmage at Ottawa Senators training camp could again be threatening his ability to lace up his skates this season.
During a Sunday scrimmage, the red team, which included MacArthur, was working the puck from out behind their goal when the play moved up along the boards. With the puck coming around to MacArthur’s side, he stripped an attacking player and was about to turn the puck up ice when defenseman Patrick Sieloff, who was acquired as part of the Alex Chiasson trade with the Calgary Flames, pinched down and crunched MacArthur into the boards.
The hit caught an unsuspecting MacArthur and, in a scary scene, left the veteran winger down in the corner. Senators winger Bobby Ryan immediately went after Sieloff, dropping the gloves and fighting the defenseman. Video of the hit and the aftermath can be seen below, via Sportsnet:
The fracas continued after Ryan and Sieloff were separated, and Chris Neil came after the blueliner shortly after he and Ryan had fought. According to Murray Pam, Senators development coach Shean Donovan asked Sieloff to leave the scrimmage, in what seemed to be hopes that order would be somewhat restored.
Following the scrimmage, Senators GM Pierre Dorion confirmed that MacArthur, 31, did suffer another concussion on the play, which is devastating news after he worked so hard to get healthy and return to action. Dorion said MacArthur was driven home from the arena.
“There’s a level of concern any time anyone has a concussion,” Dorion said in an interview provided by Murray Pam. “In Clarke’s case, he’s had a history. We held him out last year even though he was cleared just to make sure that he’d be OK for this camp…We’re at a point where we’re heartbroken here. It’s a human being, it’s his life and that should be the biggest and the foremost priority today.”
Dorion added that MacArthur would be re-evaluated Monday, and the Senators will continue to monitor his progress.
The concern is that another concussion for MacArthur could be enough to put an end to his career. His last NHL game came on Oct. 14, 2015 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and MacArthur told the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren in March that he had thought his career could be over.
“At one point in late November, early December, I was thinking I was done, maybe this is it,” MacArthur told Warren. “I had to get out of there. Every day you’re coming to the rink and you want to go on the ice. It’s like going to Disneyland. Everyone else goes on the rides and you’re outside the doors, watching.”
MacArthur signed a five-year, $23.25-million contract extension with the Senators in August 2014, but has played only four games of his new deal, which kicked in ahead of the 2015-16 season.