Archive for November, 2014

Lightning-Rangers Preview (The Associated Press)

By at 30 November, 2014, 4:06 pm

Following a streaky run to the Stanley Cup finals, the New York Rangers have been unable to string together victories with any consistency this season.

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Islanders get back to winning ways, top Devils 3-1 (The Associated Press)

By at 29 November, 2014, 11:13 pm

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders are brimming with confidence these days, thanks to a standout goalie and a newfound winning attitude.

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Bozak scores twice, Maple Leafs beat Capitals 6-2 (The Associated Press)

By at 29 November, 2014, 10:44 pm

TORONTO (AP) — Tyler Bozak and the Toronto Maple Leafs made quick work of the weary Washington Capitals.

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Devils-Islanders Preview (The Associated Press)

By at 28 November, 2014, 11:53 pm

Jaroslav Halak was rested in the New York Islanders’ last game. They hope that did nothing to cool off arguably the league’s hottest goaltender.

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NHL Three Stars: Tarasenko wins in OT; Miller shuts out another (Puck Daddy)

By at 28 November, 2014, 11:44 pm

No. 1 Star: Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues   The game-breaking winger broke the game in overtime, as the Blues completed a rally against the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3. Tarasenko scored on a great individual effort, turning around Justin Schultz. No. 2 Star: Tyler Ennis, Buffalo Sabres It’s possible Ennis is actually a leprechaun. How else to explain the incredible luck he had in scoring a goal of the year candidate and then setting up Matt Moulson’s game-winner with a shot off the glass that ended up being a layup? The Sabres won, 2-1.  No. 3 Star: Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks Miller pitched his second straight shutout, making 31 saves in a 5-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets that was closer than the score would indicate. Honorable Mention:  Rick Nash scored goal No. 16, Marty St. Louis hit 1,000 career points and Cam Talbot made 26 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers. … Patrick Kane scored twice and the Chicago Blackhawks peppered Fredrik Andersen with 37 shots in their 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. … Matt Niskanen had three assists and Alex Ovechkin scored goal No. 12 in their 5-2 win over the New York Islanders. … Tuukka Rask made 36 saves and Dougie Hamilton had a goal and an assist in the Boston Bruins’ 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. … Gustav Nyquist had the shootout winner in the Detroit Red Wings’ 5-4 rally against the New Jersey Devils. Mike Cammalleri had two goals in the loss. … Jiri Tlusty had two goals and an assist in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. … Jimmy Hayes’ goal in the third period completed a Florida Panthers rally and gave them a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Craig Anderson made 43 saves in the loss. … Roller-coaster game between Dallas and Minnesota, with the Wild scoring the first three and the Stars scoring the next four (including No. 18 for Tyler Seguin) and the Wild getting another two for the OT win. That’s where Marco Scandella scored for the win: Did You Know? Jaromir Jagr’s goal moved him into sole possession of sixth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list, passing Mike Gartner. Dishonorable Mention: Jeff Petry was a minus-3. … Matt Calvert was a minus-4, Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner were a minus-3. … Kyle Palmieri was given a boarding major for a hit on Johnny Oduya . … Sidney Crosby picked up a misconduct penalty at 19:47 of the third. … Erik Karlsson was a minus-3. … Jared Spurgeon was a minus-3.

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Capitals-Maple Leafs Preview (The Associated Press)

By at 28 November, 2014, 9:48 pm

The atmosphere has improved around the Toronto Maple Leafs and finding some more success on the power play would only bolster the upbeat mood.

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Capitals beat streaking Islanders 5-2 (The Associated Press)

By at 28 November, 2014, 8:35 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The mood in the Washington dressing room between the first and second periods was quite somber after the host Capitals blew a two-goal lead to the streaking New York Islanders in less than a minute.

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Ducks get defenseman Eric Brewer from Lightning (The Associated Press)

By at 28 November, 2014, 4:02 pm

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Strapped for healthy defensemen, the Anaheim Ducks acquired 16-year veteran Eric Brewer from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday for a third-round pick in next year’s Entry Draft.

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Ducks acquire Brewer from Lightning (The Associated Press)

By at 28 November, 2014, 3:59 pm

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks, strapped for healthy defensemen, acquired 16-year veteran Eric Brewer from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2015 draft.

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New York Islanders are indeed this good (Trending Topics) (Puck Daddy)

By at 28 November, 2014, 1:22 pm

You would have to agree that over the last few weeks the New York Islanders have been more than a little bit lucky. After all, no team is “win 10 games out of 11” good under normal circumstances, but here we are with them having done it. Further to that point, they’ve gone to overtime or a shootout in five of those games, and come out winners every time. So clearly, they’re getting the bounces. But having seen some stuff this week that expressed some amount of incredulity that the Islanders — the New York Islanders, for god’s sake! — are currently sitting out point out of the top spot in the league, and tied for the largest point total in the Eastern Conference. This of course turns the hockey we’ve known it more or less since the turn of the century on its head, because as we all understand in our bones that the Islanders are meant to be the dross of the Metropolitan née Atlantic division. They’re current 16-6-0, nearly halfway to the entire wins total from all of last year (34) and looking extraordinarily likely to eclipse 40 wins for just the second time since the Second Bettman Lockout. At present, the club’s .727 winning percentage in the regular season is second in franchise history behind only that “arguably the greatest team ever” 1981-82 club, which went .738. People, perhaps understandably, just can’t square that with their perceptions, but it’s important here to examine exactly why the Islanders are winning despite making relatively few changes in the lead-up to this extraordinary start to the season. The first and most obvious change has come in net, because Garth Snow seems to have finally realized that having a good goaltender is good and having a bad one is bad. This would appear to be a simple enough concept but the fact is that it continues to escape many general managers despite the ready availability of good goaltenders on the market in any given year. The Islanders’ years of getting sub-.900 team goaltending effectively ended when Evgeni Nabokov was told to pack his bags, and Jaroslav Halak brought in instead, for the criminally low price of a fourth-round pick and $4.5 million against the cap. Halak is currently delivering pretty obscene numbers (.923) but it’s only five points above his career average, and thus doesn’t seem too unsustainable. Put another way, even if he regresses to his career norms, he’s still, A.) going to be very good, and B.) going to constitute such an upgrade over previous years in terms of the number of goals he prevents (between 20 and 25, or something like four or five wins) that his cap hit will pay for itself in wins multiple times over. But you can’t really go and mention the goaltending without talking about the way in which Snow upgraded his defense since the trade deadline. First, he tricked Philadelphia into taking Andy MacDonald, arguably the worst top-pairing defenseman in the league, off his hands (though it must be said that MacDonald is of course not a top-pairing defenseman and judging by his quality probably isn’t even a second-pairing guy, but he’s averaging more than 21 minutes a game with the Flyers, and pushed north of 23 with the Isles, so that’s how he’s used).  Then Snow waited in the weeds for the Bruins and Blackhawks to decide they had to ’86’ someone from their D corps to fit under the cap, and scooped up Johnny Boychuk (22 minutes and huge relative possession numbers against top competition) and Nick Leddy (better possession, slightly fewer minutes) for a combined price of three middling-to-inconsequential prospects, two second-round picks, and a conditional third. Both are playing together, in fact, and succeeding beyond reasonable expectation. But 20-plus games into the season together, and knowing what we know of their work in Boston and Chicago, there’s no reason to think it’s all that unsustainable. Two defensemen like that shouldn’t have cost Snow exactly no one from his NHL roster, and yet he played it smart by poaching from two over-bloated rosters. That’s two quality depth defensemen to complement Travis Hamonic, and allow the team to not-overuse billion-year-old Lubomir Visnovsky. That also allowed them to do a better job of easing less experienced guys like Calvin de Haan (who’s being used as a shutdown guy alongside Hamonic) and Thomas Hickey into the more prominent roles without basically throwing them to the wolves. So in with those guys and out with MacDonald, yes, really did make that much of a difference. With this new second pairing, the Islanders attempt nearly 60 percent of the shots at 5-on-5, and outscore their opponents 2 to 1. With MacDonald last year, they took just 44.4 percent, and were outscored nearly 2 to 1. (And for the record, he’s currently doing about the same for Philly.) Those two changes alone made that much of a difference. Which is to say nothing of the Islanders’ goals-per-game, which is currently fourth in the league. With new, better defensemen who don’t get the team hemmed into its own zone for minutes at a time, and instead get the puck up the ice with expediency, guys like John Tavares and Kyle Okposo are flourishing in ways they simply couldn’t before. The continued maturation of younger players like Anders Lee and Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome likewise help a lot as well. Meanwhile, Snow’s expensive high-profile new signings Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin have been proven to be possession drivers despite high-quality competition, allowing the team’s two biggest stars to take easier assignments, and push them around a little more easily. While neither of the imports is scoring a lot — just eight goals and 20 points between them — they’re making a difference in ways many likely wouldn’t have expected if they subscribed to, say, the Torontonian view of Grabovski and Kulemin’s play. If they really played Lone Wolf Hockey, their apparent willingness to play more shutdown roles would not actually exist. You’ll recall it wasn’t so long ago that this team lost five games out of seven from Oct. 18 to Nov. 1, and despite the fact that they were 6-5-0, many people were wondering aloud whether changes needed to be made. No one is wondering that now, and given the way in which the roster has been put together and deployed, one might have to wonder whether Snow and Jack Capuano might be in line for a twin-bill executive and coach of the year awards. No one, certainly, has done more with the perception of less. Let’s put it another way: The Islanders last year were considered a disaster, with bad possession numbers and a little bit of bad luck mixed into a noxious brew of failure (49.5 CF%, 98.4 PDO). They only attempted about 55.5 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, and allowed close to 56.6. The Islanders this year are one of the best teams in the league, with great possession and a little bit less bad luck mixed into a rejuvenating tonic of success (55.5 CF%, 99.5 PDO). They’re attempting 60.2 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, and allowing just 52. And hey, their goaltending is actually good. No team has transformed more in one offseason in recent memory than these Islanders, and they’re not winning through the smoke-and-mirrors nonsense advanced by the Avs and Leafs of recent years. All their fundamentals — talent level, underlying numbers, etc. — are solid in every way you choose to examine them, indicating that they’re probably going to be a top team in the East more or less for the remainder of the year barring a major setback, such as injury to a key player.  You can certainly stay fifth in possession numbers and 14th in PDO through a quarter of any given season through good luck and total accident, but I’ve seen enough Islander games at this point to believe this is real. Even if they stop winning all these overtime games and shootouts. Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here . MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

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