Cheap Discount New York Rangers Jersey

LOS ANGELES — The Rangers are a defensive team now, and there’s no need to look further than Rick Nash to find the explanation why.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when it would have been a little surprising to hear just how much Nash cares about the penalty kill, and how much he personally identifies with its success and failure. But there he was Sunday night at Staples Center, feeling individually downtrodden after the Kings scored three straight power-play goals in the second period en route to a 4-2 victory.

It was the Blueshirts’ second straight loss to start this four-game western road trip, which took a brief pause Monday for an off day before returning to action Tuesday in Anaheim and concluding Thursday up in San Jose.

Just before they were preparing to leave home, the Rangers’ penalty kill was ranked second in the league. They then gave up two to the Sabres on Thursday night at the Garden, and after stopping the one chance the Avalanche had in Denver on Saturday afternoon, they just fell apart against the Kings.

“It’s something that I’m really proud of,” Nash had said Sunday night, “our rank before these last three games here.”
They had fallen back to 12th in the league (82.1 percent) before league play Monday night, which was quite the precipitous fall in such a short period of time. But that’s how the NHL is working this year, with such overwhelming parity that the smallest drop in performance can send a team spiraling down the standings.

The Rangers know that, and they understand that their hold on the second wild-card spot Monday afternoon was tenuous at best. They also understand it’s going to be an uphill climb while dealing with long-term injuries to Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Kreider, which make the smaller injuries more impactful — like those that recently resulted in absences from Michael Grabner and Marc Staal. Both returned Sunday, while Kevin Hayes has remained out for five straight with his leg contusion.

So that has led coach Alain Vigneault toward a small change in focus. He is getting less offensive production than in years past, with the team averaging 2.94 goals per game this season, ranking 13th in the league, compared to being in the top seven in each of the previous three seasons. But goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been terrific, even as he has faced the second-most shots in the league behind just Toronto’s Frederik Andersen.
That has made Vigneault look for the Rangers to focus defensively first, which might have been a floating idea at times in the past but was never so crucial to their success as it is now.

“What I’ve said 1,000 times, we need to play the right way,” Vigneault said before Sunday’s game. “For me and our group, the focus is going to be on defensive first. We need to play a strong defensive game. Thought [Saturday in Denver] we were pretty good in that area. From playing a strong defensive game, we should get some offensive opportunities.”

That is also the way Nash thinks — that playing a sound 200-foot game is going to lead to his offensive opportunities, which will eventually start going in. It’s true that the 33-year-old has always been a streaky scorer as he plays in the 15th season of his exemplary career. He also knows that the Rangers need him to score, and there was no coincidence that his back-to-back two-goal games at the Garden last week were also two wins against the Flyers and Sabres. Nash’s 13 goals in 48 games is tied for third-most on the team.

But these are now the defensive Rangers, playing that tight-checking five-on-five style. And when a penalty kill comes up, they need to keep the opposition off the board.

Because the margin for error is very little. Nash knows it, Vigneault knows it, and this is the reality they live in as they try to keep pace in a speeding postseason race.

Cheap Discount Ottawa Senators Jersey

Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators

 

 

It is a well-known fact that most people fail their New Year’s resolutions early on in the year. On January 1st, people try to reinvent themselves, to change their habits and bring positive change into their lives, and within weeks, they figure out that it won’t work.

The Ottawa Senators aren’t even bothering with New Year’s resolutions this year. No “new year, new me” for this team. In their first game of 2018, they showed us all that we need not worry about them suddenly tightening up defensively or improving their special teams or playing line combinations that make sense or – god forbid – winning hockey games.

Or successfully tanking. No, we definitely don’t need to worry about that.

This game perfectly encapsulated everything that the 2017-18 Ottawa Senators are, and will apparently continue to be. They are a bad defensive team with a few stars the coach insists on saddling with bad players. They are a team that isn’t good enough to win but refuses to lose, and also plays in front of a lot of empty seats. It sent a clear message to everyone watching that although the year has changed, this team has not. It’s still the same team we all know and (sometimes, occasionally) love.

I, for one, am thrilled.

The Red Wings took control of the play right off the opening faceoff, and very nearly scored a goal before a full minute had elapsed. I’ll let you guess which defense pairing started the game. The next few minutes were excruciatingly familiar to Sens fans, as the team collapsed defensively and couldn’t seem to gain control of the puck for more than a few minutes. It was like that Dave Cameron-coached team that couldn’t break out of their zone or maintain pressure in the offensive zone, except the players were too afraid to make mistakes to be creative so it was just bad all around.

The undisputed highlight of the period was when Cody Ceci got the puck in the offensive zone, then sent a slap pass right into the corner, also known as the only area of the ice where none of his teammates were stationed at that time. Get that man a contract extension.

Still, play continued and the score remained even, as Anderson made a few key saves and, to their credit, the Sens did manage to get a few shots on goal. They also gave up a dangerous 2-on-1 with their man back being rookie defenseman Thomas Chabot, but those are just details. No need to dwell on them.

Detroit got on the board soon after the failed 2-on-1, capitalizing on a defensive breakdown that can probably be blamed on every Senators player on the ice. Johnny Oduya failed to get the puck along the boards, Nate Thompson sent a pass right into Erik Karlsson’s feet, and the captain didn’t quite manage to pick up the puck in time. The Detroit forwards made Ottawa’s defense look silly, and took an early lead.

Bobby Ryan almost evened the score shortly afterward, in a positively Condra-esque play. His shot ended up going behind the Detroit goaltender but just in front of the goal line, so that it looked like the puck had gone in but it hadn’t. Like I said, this whole game was pretty reflective of the season the Sens have been having.

Now, I did not watch the intermission on Sportsnet because Sportsnet is unwatchable, but from what I heard, the commentators predictably spent a lot of time bashing Erik Karlsson for his play on the first goal. While I don’t think Karlsson should be completely absolved of blame, it’s worth pointing out that 1) he’s probably not completely healed, and 2) as I pointed out on Twitter, he’s being saddled with bad players and that’s probably a big part of what’s making him look bad.

The second period, just like the first, began with an excellent scoring chance for the Red Wings, this one from Andreas Athanasiou, the guy who scored the first goal and basically walked all over the Sens throughout this game. To be fair, though, I’m pretty sure just about anyone could walk over the Sens at this point in the season. I coached the Sens Blogger Classic this year and I’m not entirely convinced the Sens could beat either of those teams.

After a good scoring chance for Mike Hoffman, Dion Phaneuf got into a tussle with Danny Dekeyser, and both players went to the box. Detroit predictably held the bulk of the play during the 4 on 4, but did not extend the lead. Dzingel and Duchene got a good scoring chance together, and Detroit regained control almost immediately afterward. Craig Anderson was in #BeastMode as he kept the Sens in it even though they clearly deserved to be losing.

Then the Sens got a penalty for too many men on the ice.

Remember what I said about this game perfectly encapsulating the 2017-18 Ottawa Senators?

The penalty kill actually went over much better than any of us could have imagined, though. Only about 30 seconds in, the Wings were assessed a delayed penalty, and the Sens actually managed to play keepaway for the rest of the penalty. It was perhaps the most exciting 90 seconds they’ve played all season. Ottawa even upped the drama by pulling Craig Anderson, leaving us all in suspense as we wondered if they’d manage to score on themselves. Incredibly, they did not, and their brand new powerplay went to work.

It did not result in a goal.

Some things never change.

Detroit finished the second period by almost scoring twice, but Anderson kept the score 1-0.

In a shocking turn of events, Ottawa was the team to start the third frame with a scoring chance. In an even more shocking turn of events, that scoring chance resulted in an actual goal. Ryan Dzingel made a beautiful play, and Mark Stone celebrated with enough enthusiasm for the entire team.

The goal was challenged for goaltender interference. While it was pretty clear that the Detroit netminder had not been interfered with, it would not have been that surprising if it had been overturned, because honestly, what else can go wrong this season? Mercifully, it was eventually deemed a good goal. Mark Stone thought it was a great goal, even. The best goal. Mark Stone is too good for this world. We should all strive to be more like Mark Stone. I don’t think I’m doing a very good job so far.

The Sens picked up their play a little bit after that, with a few good chances coming from Karlsson and Pageau. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when Dion Phaneuf was too slow for Andreas Athanasiou and went crashing into the net. The Detroit player got a shot away, but was awarded a penalty shot anyways. Thankfully, Anderson came through for the Sens and the score remained tied.

Almost immediately after the penalty shot, Karlsson was robbed by Jimmy Howard. The Red Wings finished the game with a very scary sequence resulting in quite a few chances, but did not take back the lead, and the game went into overtime.

Overtime lasted all of six seconds.

Life comes at you fast.

Athanasiou scored right off the opening faceoff, and the Sens went home with a point that would hurt their chances of finishing in the league’s basement and getting a good draft pick, but would not bring their fans joy and satisfaction in the way a win would.

The team didn’t really deserve to win this game, but Anderson did. It would have been nice if they could have at least won for him.

Cheap Discount Philadelphia Flyers Jersey

Flyers v Red Wings
Flyers v Red Wings

 

 

After seeing their win streak snapped on Monday by the Los Angeles Kings, the Flyers will look to rebound tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.

Detroit is coming off of a 6-3 win last night vs the Flyers’ Metropolitan division rival, the New York Islanders. Despite being out shot 37 to 22, the Red Wings were able to pull off the win with much better shot selection. Shockingly enough, the Red Wings sit just six points outside of a wild card spot and the third seed in the Atlantic division. I say shockingly because…well…on paper their team looks pretty bad!

We all know the Red Wings’ story by now, they gave way too much money to bottom six guys like Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, and their best defenseman at the moment most likely is Mike Green. Yes, that Mike Green. The guy who was an offensive juggernaut with the Washington Capitals for essentially his first three NHL seasons. Even with all of these poor decisions, they’ve still drafted relatively well and maintain within striking range in the East.

As for the Flyers, they are about to face a team on the second half of a back-to-back for the second time in the past three games. They were able to squeak out a 2-1 win vs. Dallas in the former, now let’s see what happens with the latter. Despite being on that six game win streak, the Flyers’ offense has grown cold since their 4-2 win vs. Toronto last Tuesday. With the Wings’ defense not being too much to write home about, this could be a nice jump starter for an offense that has only scored six goals in their past three games.

Cheap Discount Pittsburgh Penguins Jersey

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

 

 

Carl Hagelin curled around the goal mouth, his skates pointed outward to create a wide base and waited for something to shoot at.

Finally, Hagelin roofed a puck over Chad Johnson for his first goal since Oct. 17 and second this season in 27 games.

“I looked like a goal-scorer right there,” Hagelin quipped after Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at PPG Paints Arena, the Penguins’ fourth victory in a row.

While Hagelin certainly looked like a goal-scorer, his pretty (and overdue) finish serves as of the many reasons the Penguins have looked like a different hockey team over the past four games.

Hagelin’s goal came during five-on-five play, and it involved a player skating on the third line. That checks two boxes of stuff that has troubled the Penguins at times this season.

But whether it was a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame last week or a schedule that has relaxed a bit, the Penguins have found some consistency and gotten the results to match.

What exactly has been happening? Well, here are nine more factors to consider:

• Let’s stick with depth scoring to start.

Over the past four games, the Penguins have gotten four goals from bottom-six skaters. In addition to Hagelin, Bryan Rust scored once shorthanded, produced another at even-strength, and Tom Kuhnhackl picked up his first in 46 games dating back to last season via penalty shot Friday in Buffalo.

“It just gives us a huge boost,” Sidney Crosby said of getting goals from the Penguins’ third and fourth lines. “You know how hard those guys work. … The way that they play, what they do, for them to chip in with a goal, I think we want to follow it up. That’s kind of our mentality going out there.”

• They have been.Another contributing factor here has been the Penguins’ best players being their best players.

Phil Kessel has three goals and six points over his past four. Jake Guentzel has goals in two of the four, three total, and is on a goal-scoring run that’s at six in six and nine in 13.

That’s a mishmash of numbers, but it boils down to this: The guys who are counted upon and paid to score are doing exactly that. Funny how that works.

And nobody, of course, has been hotter than the captain.

• Crosby maintained in the games leading up to this current breakthrough that he was pleased with the chances he was getting. He had faith that sooner or later the goals would follow.

Boy, was Crosby right.

The avalanche Crosby has enjoyed – points in six straight, goals and multi-point efforts in each of his past five – stacks up with some of the best stretches he’s had throughout his career.

If Crosby scores and produces multiple points Tuesday against the Rangers, the goal and multiple-point marks will become career-longs. His total – six goals, 12 points – over the past five also matches the most Crosby has produced during a run of five straight multi-point games.

“We’ve seen Sid’s game coming here for three or four weeks now,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Friday in Buffalo. “Now the puck’s starting to go in the net for him.”

• At the opposite end of the rink, 22-year-old rookie Tristan Jarry’s been keeping it out.

The past four games have seen Jarry pick up four wins while stopping 107 of 112 shots (.955 percentage). Much like Matt Murray, who’s out with a lower-body injury, Jarry has been rattled by nothing.

Jarry has earned teammates’ respect in a big way, too. Patric Hornqvist called him “a hot goaltender” after Saturday’s win, while Evgeni Malkin referred to him as a “great kid.”

Lately, Jarry has been something else: a rock.

• Starts plagued the Penguins early on. You had a 10-1 loss in Chicago, then 7-1 at Winnipeg and Tampa. Those scores might make the losses appear closer than they really were.

Complete opposite lately.

The Penguins have outscored their past four opponents, 8-0, in the first period. Mistakes have been minimized. They’ve immediately set the tone for how they want to play.

It should be seen as no coincidence the Penguins are 13-2-2 when they score first and 9-0-1 when they lead after one.

• Special teams have been huge during this recent run. Remember the stretch the penalty kill allowed two goals-against in five of six?

Distant memory now.

That unit has gone 16 for 18 over the past four games, a success rate of 88.9 percent. The power play has continued to hum along, too, going 5 for 17 during this current winning streak.

“When you play well, you get a lot of confidence,” Hornqvist said. “I think you can see that out there. We have a step on their guys. We make those plays under pressure. It helps when the power play and penalty kill have been really good, too.”

• The Penguins’ five-on-five play has been drastically improved.

They’re still at the bottom league-wide – only two teams had fewer than their 41 five-on-five goals entering Sunday’s games – but the Penguins have scored nine five-on-five goals during the past four games.

“It’s very important that we start to score five-on-five,” Malkin said.

Asked what has changed in their five-on-five approach, Crosby answered, “Our mindset has been to get more pucks and more people to the net. We’ve done that. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. For us lately, it has been. We have to continue to do that.”

• To respectfully disagree with Crosby, however, the improvement five-on-five has been more than finding a few bounces here or there. Their overall defensive play has improved.

While the quantifiable part hasn’t dropped much – they’re allowing an average of 21 five-on-five scoring chances per game over the past four compared to 22.7 per game over the first 24 – players feel that they’re playing a much more responsible brand of hockey.

“We’re not giving up a ton of easy chances,” Hagelin said. “There are no goals when we turn the puck over in bad areas. I think that’s what we need to continue doing. Everyone has to do their job, so we can trust each other. That’s when we’re a successful team.”

• There’s also the schedule. Before the Buffalo home-and-home, the Penguins went Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday without games.

Prior to that, they had a day off before the Flyers game. They’re currently in a stretch where they’re playing seven of eight at home, and they don’t play back-to-back again until next year.

So, yeah. It’s good now and could get a lot better.

Cheap Discount San Jose Sharks Jersey

SAN JOSE SHARKS
San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski (8) battles Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (4) for the puck during the second period of their game on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

 

SAN JOSE — Joonas Donskoi scored two goals, the power play came to life and Brent Burns finally found the back of the net, albeit in a shootout.

But the Sharks (10-8-1) offensive struggles continued, despite a whopping 42 shots on goal, as the Anaheim Ducks (10-7-3) spoiled their third period charge by winning in the ninth round of the shootout.
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Here’s what we learned in the Sharks 3-2 shootout loss at SAP Center Monday night.

1. Joe Pavelski denies that the Sharks have scoring issues.

Pavelski still isn’t convinced that scoring is a major issue for the Sharks.

The Sharks captain scowled at a reporter who asked about the team’s scoring woes two weeks ago, saying that while the media is “panicking” about the team’s lack of offense, he isn’t. Pavelski doubled down on his statement after the Sharks 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers last week, pointing out that the team had won six of its last seven games despite its low goal total.
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But the Sharks inability to get the puck across the line is starting to catch up with them at the season’s quarter pole. The squad scored just two goals in regulation Monday, the sixth time in seven games that it has failed to reach the three-goal mark.

As a result, they’ve lost three-consecutive games (0-2-1) on home ice, two of which came against non-playoff teams.

After 19 games, the Sharks rank 29th in goals per game (2.42), 31st in five-on-five offense (26 goals) and 28th on the power play (15.3 percent).
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Regardless, the Sharks captain isn’t changing his stance on the issue.

“The losses are unacceptable — no doubt,” he said before adding: “I believe it’s going to come.”

What is holding the captain’s faith together as the team struggles to score night after night?

Pavelski believes the power play, which has been ranked in the NHL’s bottom third over the last 101 games, will eventually start to produce. He also thinks the puck will start to go in if the team continues to generate a high volume of shots.

The Sharks currently rank eighth in shots per game (33.5), fourth in shot attempts percentage (52.6 percent) and 30th in shooting percentage (5.5 percent). In addition, Brent Burns, who leads all defensemen in shots on goal, is 0-for-82 on the season. The puck will start to bounce his way eventually.

“If we can keep putting up 39 shots…I like our chances,” Pavelski said.

2. The Sharks find their top line.

The Sharks found their top line Monday, and no, they didn’t close the revolving door on Pavelski and Joe Thornton’s left wing.

With Melker Karlsson on the shelf, Joonas Donskoi made his return to Logan Couture’s right wing, reigniting the chemistry they developed during the Sharks run to the Stanley Cup Final. Throw Tomas Hertl into the mix and the Sharks have unearthed a line combination with a legitimate one-two-three punch.

“Him and Melker are similar in the fact that they both get in on the forecheck and they’re tenacious on the puck,” Couture said, referring to Donskoi. “I think Donny’s got — I don’t say this to take anything away from Melker — a little more puck skills, more creativity offensively. And he made some great looks.”

One of those looks came at 3:31 of the first period when Donskoi got the Sharks on the board. He started the play by stripping the puck from Dennis Rasmussen near the blue line, and after Couture got it back over to him, he beat Reto Berra with a nifty move through the five hole.

In the second, he used his stickhandling skills to draw a hooking penalty, and in the third, he set up Hertl with a quality-scoring chance in the high slot.

Donskoi surpassed his 2016-17 goal total in the third, scoring the game-tying goal on the power play, his seventh tally of the year.

“Great to have him back. We missed him last year,” head coach Pete DeBoer said. “Nice to have him back in town.”

3. The power play wakes up after DeBoer reshuffles the deck.

With two new units, the Sharks produced their most dangerous two-minute power play in three weeks when they generated five shots on goal in the second period. In the third, they snapped a six-game scoreless drought with the man advantage, recording their first power play goal in 24 tries.

For a second-consecutive game, the Sharks split the Fab Four into two groups, sending out one unit with Couture, Donskoi, Hertl, Danny O’Regan and Brent Burns and another with Pavelski, Thornton, Mikkel Boedker, Tim Heed and Kevin Labanc.

Couture said the shake up changed the Sharks mindset with the extra man.

“It’s just mentality and getting back to working harder,” he said. “Sometimes you need change, and I think the power play got to a point where it definitely needed it.”

O’Regan, who was playing in just his fifth NHL game, got the nod with the first unit in the third, setting up Donskoi’s goal off a rebound by using his shiftiness to create a shot on goal.

“Danny’s been creative on the power play,” Couture said. “He’s come in and done a good job. I feel comfortable playing with him. He stepped into a spot where he did well in the American League and it’s translated to the NHL.”

Cheap Discount St. Louis Blues Jersey

The New York Islanders were embarrassed Friday night in Dallas. They were on the short end of a 5-0 score. They had only 14 shots on goal all game. And afterward they got called out by their coach, former Blue Doug Weight.

Saturday night, they took out their frustration on the Blues with three goals and 12 shots in the first period alone. The Blues, mind you, entered the game having allowed only six first-period goals through their first 17 games — a league low.

But things were different this night, a 5-2 Islanders victory before 18,761 at Scottrade Center, leaving coach Mike Yeo understandably upset about the team’s slow start.

“That’s three games in a row now,” he said, referring to sluggish first periods by his team. “We got away with it for two, so we’ve been playing with fire. Our start tonight, you look at our urgency with the puck and our urgency to defend.”

Or lack thereof.

When this campaign started, the Blues didn’t let a string of offseason and preseason injuries slow them down. Or seven road games in their first nine contests. With Saturday’s game against the Islanders, the Blues completed a stretch of seven home games in nine contests . Home or away, injured or healthy, the Blues kept winning. Almost every time out.

Alas, Saturday wasn’t one of those nights. Their historic start hit a bump against the Islanders (9-6-2). At 13-4-1, the Blues still lead the Western Conference with 27 points and remain one point behind Tampa Bay for the top overall spot in the NHL. They now head out on a three-game trip to western Canada starting Monday in Calgary.

With the possible exception of a 5-2 loss to Florida in Game 5, the Blues’ first loss of the season, they hadn’t experienced a game like this. And the Blues were a tired team against the Panthers, playing their third road game in four days.

If any team should’ve been tired Saturday, it would be the Islanders, who were playing back-to-back after their debacle in Dallas. But it was the Blues who were outscored and outhustled.

“A little bit of adversity to show what kind of character we’re going to have here,” defenseman Colton Parayko said. “Go on the road, out west, I think it’s going to be a good challenge for us to bounce back and come back together as a team.”

Islanders star John Tavares got the Blues’ uncharacteristic night started early in the proceedings, emerging from behind Jake Allen’s net, patiently waiting for the Blues’ defense to commit, and then burying his 13th goal of the season at the 3:21 mark.

It marked the fourth time in the past five games that the opposing team had scored first on the Blues, so no big deal, right?

It became a bigger deal midway through the period when Casey Cizikas outmuscled Vince Dunn for a rebound in front of Allen to score on a backhand for a 2-0 Islanders lead.

And then a really big deal at the 13:18 mark when the Islanders counterattacked after a sequence in which the Blues had a couple of excellent chances on New York goalie Thomas Greiss. The end result was a perfectly executed 2-on-1 rush by the Islanders with Jordan Eberle squeezing one inside the post on Allen’s glove side.

“They came out hard, they made some good plays,” said forward Brayden Schenn, who scored the first Blues goal. “I think scoring in the first five minutes gave them some energy, some life. We would have liked a better start.”

It marked the first time all season the Blues trailed 3-0 in the opening period, and only the third time all year they had given up as many as three goals in any period. The Blues haven’t trailed much all season, and the only previous time they trailed by as many as three goals came in their first loss of the season — that defeat Oct. 12.

Things got no better early in the second period. Joshua Ho-Sang made it 4-0 at the 3:35 mark, a goal that ended Allen’s night. Again, only against Florida had the Blues trailed by as many as four goals this season — a 5-1 deficit in the third period of that game.

“He’s been playing so well for us all season,” Parayko said. “It’s kind of tough to lay an egg for him like that, but it’s over now for everyone. We just have to make sure we come out in the next game and do our game.”

Cheap Discount Tampa Bay Lightning Jersey

Nikita Kucherov
Nikita Kucherov

 

 

DETROIT—Nikita Kucherov had synthetic ice laid down in his two-car garage to help him perfect the wicked shot and release that allows him to be one of the NHL’s most dangerous offensive threats.

The garage is his laboratory where the Tampa Bay Lightning star works for hours to refine technique, improve accuracy and experiment with ingenious ways to humble goaltenders. Twenty minutes per session. At least twice per day in the summer. But it’s not as if Kucherov has created a new shooting method. His formula for success is far from a secret.

“He works at his game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Time and effort. He didn’t show up to Tampa in September. He showed up in July and he was on the ice four or five times a week just working on his game. We are reaping the benefits of that.”

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Golden Knights play it right in shattered Vegas: Cox

The Lightning’s 5-1 start is rooted in several factors, including GM Steve Yzerman’s off-season moves and Steven Stamkos’ good health, but Kucherov’s latest scoring binge is chief among them.

The Russian winger has scored in each of his team’s first six games, joining Mario Lemieux, Yzerman and Keith Tkachuk as the only NHL players to do that over the past 30 years.

“He’s a special player with a special shot,” Stamkos said.

Kucherov’s shot release seems is the merger of perfect hand-eye coordination, balance and technique. The movement of his stick seems effortless and yet the puck explodes off his blade.

“It’s like a sling shot,” said Stamkos, who knows plenty about shooting a puck.

Kucherov scored twice Monday in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 win against Detroit, giving him seven goals in six games. All of his goals are like works of art.

“(Look) at the different ways he’s scoring goals,” Stamkos said. “He’s got two beautiful backhanders, a couple of great wristers. He’s constantly working on his game.”

Stamkos compares Kucherov to former Lightning player Martin St. Louis in the way they worked at their craft. St. Louis averaged 32 goals per season for the Lightning from 2002-11.

“With the work ethic they both had — before practice, after practice — we shouldn’t be surprised by their success,” Stamkos said.

Kucherov’s elusiveness is the underappreciated aspect of his scoring touch. He creates shooting lanes with a carefully-considered plan of attack.

“You don’t want to be predictable,” Kucherov said. “Always try to make defenceman (wonder) what I am going to do next. Make them confused. Use their mistakes.”

This season is a continuation of Kucherov’s brilliance last season when he dominated in the second half in an unsuccessful effort to carry the Lightning into the playoffs. Cooper upped his playing time then, and now Kucherov is playing more than 20 minutes per game.

At 24, he’s just arriving in his prime years and we haven’t seen his best yet. He was one of three players who scored 40 or more last season.

“He scored 30, then he gets 40 and he’s not sitting around (saying) ‘I got 40.’ He says ‘I want to get 50.’ You like the hunger of that. But that doesn’t come easy.”

Cooper says the reason Kucherov gets 20-plus minutes is that he accepts his responsibility away from the puck. “He works at his 200-foot game,” Cooper said. “What why you can put him on the ice when you are trying to protect a lead.”

If Kucherov can score tonight at New Jersey, he can be the first NHLer to score in seven consecutive games to start a season since Keith Tkachuk did it in 2008-09. Lemieux also scored in seven consecutive games in 1992-93

Stamkos said Kucherov’s release ranks in the top three to five in the game today.

“And when you have confidence, it’s probably the best,” Stamkos said. “When you are on a streak like (Kucherov’s), you feel like you can’t miss. You feel like the puck is glued to your stick. You feel like anything you shoot goes in.”

Cheap Discount Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey

Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs

 

Tonight, the 3-0 Toronto Maple Leafs welcome the 2-0 New Jersey Devils to the Air Canada Centre for an early season tilt.

The Devils are hungry for their third straight win to open up the regular season. In order for the Toronto maple Leafs to beat the Devils, Mike Babcock needs to game-plan for Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier.

Taylor Hall

Let’s take a look at Hall first.

In his childhood, Hall played bantam and minor midget hockey for the Greater Kingston Pedrators. Scouts saw great talent in Hall’s game and he was selected second overall in the OHL entry draft by the Windsor Spitfires.

Hall had quite a stint in junior hockey. He helped the Windsor Spitfires to win back to back Memorials Cup in 2009 and 2010.

He was selected number one overall in 2010 NHL entry draft by the Edmonton Oilers. In six season with Edmonton, Hall tallied 298 points. Hall played on the top line alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. He is one of the NHL’s best players, when healthy.
Enter Peter Chiarelli

Peter Chiarelli, Edmonton’s General Manager took over the reins in April of 2015.

Chiarelli isn’t a huge fan of young talent and had made some very questionable trades in his past with the Boston Bruins. He was responsible for trading Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars after he claimed Seguin wasn’t mature enough to be a Bruin.

Shortly after Chiarelli joined Edmonton, he dealt Hall to the Devils in the most lop-sided trade in recent NHL history. The Oilers received Adam Larsson from the Devils.

I understand that Chiarelli felt that Edmonton struggled on defense and had a week top 4, but, trading Hall surely wasn’t worth it. Edmonton’s winger depth now is atrocious. Milan Lucic is past his prime, Patrick Maroon is inconsistent, and the Oilers’ prospects, Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi are still developing. The only elite winger the Oilers have right now in their top six is Leon Draisaitl, and he should be a centre.

The Oilers could use Hall right about now especially as they are looking at making a run for the Stanley Cup this season.
Welcome to the Garden State

Last season was Hall’s first in the Garden State. Hall had a decent season, but missed a few games early on with a torn meniscus. Hall was still able to provide the Devils with strong offensive play last year and tallied 20 goals and 33 assists.

To begin the 2017-18 season, Hall has three assists in two games. Hall is keen on getting the puck past Frederik Andersen tomorrow to notch his first goal of the campaign.

Nico Hischier

I am more concerned about Hischier than Hall.

Hischier hails from Naters, Switzerland and played for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads last year.

Hischier had an impressive season in Halifax, totaling 38 goals and 48 assists in 57 games.

The Devils selected Hischier number one overall in the 2017 entry draft and Hischier is already making a strong impact in the Garden State. In his first two games with the Devils, he has an impressive corsi-for percentage of 59.1 and fenwick-for percentage of 58.8.

Hischier is being paired with Marcus Johansson, who had a career high in goals last season with the Washington Capitals. With Johansson at his side, Hischier has the potential to have a very strong offensive season.

As long as the Leafs game plan involves shutting down Hall and Hischier, they should feast upon the Devils tonight.
Prediction

My prediction for tonight’s game is that the Leafs will continue their winning streak and will defeat the Devils 5-2.

Until the Devils decide to pair, Hall, Hischier and Johansson. The Devils will fail to produce stellar offensive hockey.

Yes Devils’ fans may argue, that they have been doing quite well to open up the season. But, the Devils haven’t faced tough teams yet. They beat the Colorado Avalanche and the Sabres. Both teams who are destined to be golfing in mid-April.

I do believe that the Devils will have strong offensive seasons in the next five years. But, they need to add a few more pieces to their offense in order to really have a strong season and go far into the playoffs.

Cheap Discount Vancouver Canucks Jersey

Rookie blue-liner proving to be a big surprise

Jalen Chatfield had plenty to chat about Monday.

There was his strong showing in Calgary and Edmonton last week — two goals and three assists by the undrafted defenceman in the National Hockey League pre-season outings — and a belief within the Vancouver Canucks organization that they may have something special in the late-blooming blue-liner.

Chatfield is also a huge National Football League fan. And because the 21-year-old native of Ypsilanti, Mich. is the product of biracial parents — his father is white, his mother is black — his take on anthem protests by NFL players was another talking point following a practice at Rogers Arena.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that NFL owners should respond in the following manner to players who kneel, sit or ignore the anthem: “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired.”

Jalen Chatfield
Jalen Chatfield

 

It created a firestorm of response from the NFL, its players and supporters of the right to protest, and it obviously resonated with Chatfield.

“I’ve been seeing that (protests) because I watch a lot of football,” said Chatfield. “It’s just their (players’) opinion and the way they express themselves. And for me, they have the right to protest. Personally, I’m neutral in the situation and they can do whatever they want.

“I’ve been living in Canada the last few years and it’s pretty good living here. I see a lot of stuff going on in this world and, at the end of the day, we’ve got to be united as one.”

Pretty good stuff from a guy who has had his own challenges to carve out a hockey career.

Passed over in the OHL and NHL drafts only heightened Chatfield’s resolve to silence his critics and make some noise with a game that features strong skating, a two-way awareness and offensive potential.

With the Canucks’ back end looking virtually set with the pairings of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher and Michael Del Zotto and Erik Gudbranson, getting another pre-season start Thursday or Saturday before being dispatched to the Utica Comets would only further Chatfield’s learning curve.

“It’s been a fun camp and I’ve been catching up on the pace,” said Chatfield. “I’ve been learning a lot and I’m just trying to play my game and battle hard. I’m trying to show them something every time I’m on the ice and I’m just going to keep doing that.”

A cheeky backhand goal to the far side off a pinch against the Flames is what excites the Canucks. Production from the back end has been on the wane and there may be potential in Chatfield. He never lit it up in Windsor — eight goals last season with the Memorial Cup-champion Spitfires — but his game is only starting to come around after he was overlooked by so many teams.

“It’s just part of life,” said the six-foot, 188-pound Chatfield. “Some get the easier path and some take the longer road and I’ve always been taking the longer one.

“But it has made me who I am today. I think I can play a two-way game and just as hard defensively as I play offensively. I went through a lot of adversity in my hockey career and I’ve just stuck with my game plan.”

Part of the plan was to enjoy sports and not get jaded early by the pressure to become somebody special. His dad played basketball and his sister played soccer, but just playing outside was all Chatfield ever wanted to do. It included biking, rollerblading, skateboarding and baseball.

“That really helped my athleticism,” he said. “And I watched a lot of hockey. I watch how a guy might play a 1-on-1 and I don’t really focus on any player. I just focus on being a pro. Here, I watch Tanev a lot and try to do some things he does in practice.”

Canucks general manager Jim Benning believed Chatfield was worth signing to a three-year, entry-level deal in March because of his natural ability.

“I thought he was excellent in both (Alberta) games,” said Benning. “He’s very mobile and he’s competitive in the puck battles. But it’s his ability to skate the puck up ice and jump up and get his shot through. Of the guys we had in those games, he was a bit of a surprise.

“Sometimes players develop later and he has the skating and competitiveness to make himself into a player. And he doesn’t give up. What stood out for us is he just loves playing the game and he’s serious, but it always looks like he’s having fun with it and that contagious.”

OVERTIME — Brock Boeser skated with Henrik and Daniel Sedin on Monday and with four goals in his three pre-season outings, there’s a chance the right-winger could get a look with the twins on Thursday against Calgary at Rogers Arena. “It was my first time practising with them and honestly it’s an honour to play on their wing and make the most of it,” said Boeser. “This whole camp is to make the most of it and this is a big one to contribute and gain some chemistry with them.” Bo Horvat (shoulder) is expected to skate Wednesday after being injured by a Drew Doughty hit Thursday. Cole Cassels (upper body injury) and Ryan White (concussion) remain sidelined while winger Reid Boucher was placed on waivers Monday.

Cheap Discount Washington Capitals Jersey

WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals return to the ice for the first time since the playoffs, as they travel to New Jersey to face the Devils in the first of their seven preseason games. You can listen live at 7 p.m. on WFED 1500AM or online at www.capsradio247.com.

Here are three storylines worth monitoring Monday night:

Roster competition: Defensemen

Among the bigger stories this training camp are the vacancies on the Washington blue line. With the offseason departures of defensemen Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Nate Schmidt, the Capitals have a legitimate competition for roster spots on the back end.

A number of those competing for work in the NHL will suit up for the Capitals tonight, as Christian Djoos, Lucas Johansen, Tyler Lewington and Aaron Ness join veterans John Carlson and Taylor Chorney in Newark.

Djoos, who is expected to partner with Carlson tonight, is among the favorites to make the jump from AHL Hershey to the Capitals. A seventh-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Djoos finished third in scoring among AHL defensemen last season with 13 goals and 58 points in 66 games.

“He’s proven himself at the American League level,” general manager Brian MacLellan said of Djoos. “He definitely has the skill level to play. He moves the puck, he’s smart, and he plays better with smarter players. For him, it’s going to be, can he adapt to the pace of the game, can he adapt to the strength of the game and how well does he defend?”

Chiasson makes Capitals debut:

A number of other roster spots are also up for grabs up front, with veteran forward Alex Chiasson in the mix. Chiasson is attending Capitals training camp on a tryout and will be in the lineup Monday night at Prudential Center. The 26 year-old had 12 goals and 24 points in 81 games with the Calgary Flames last season.

“He’s got really great size,” head coach Barry Trotz said of the 6’3”, 205-pound right winger. “You can tell he’s a pro. He’s got really good hands. He seems to have a good net-front presence at times, and he gets around the ice really well.”

Hello again:

The Devils lineup will include a familiar face in former Capitals forward Marcus Johansson. Johansson was traded to New Jersey in June as the Capitals looked to shed payroll to fit under the salary cap.

Johansson spent seven seasons in Washington, recording 102 goals and 290 points in 501 games. Although he primarily played as a winger in Washington, the Devils are considering using him as a center. The 26 year-old is expected to center New Jersey’s top line for the preseason opener, alongside Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri.

The Devils lineup will also include a pair of noteworthy rookies in No.1 overall pick Nico Hischier and Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher.

Below is how the Capitals are expected to lineup against the Devils (veterans indicated in bold)

Damien Riat – Chandler Stephenson – T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky – Travis Boyd – Alex Chiasson

Nathan Walker – Lars Eller – Kevin Elgestal

Beck Malenstyn – Tyler Graovac – Riley Barber

Christian Djoos – John Carlson

Aaron Ness – Tyler Lewington

Lucas Johansen – Taylor Chorney