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Showing posts from February, 2021

Morning Forecheck: What to Watch 2/25, Kings Resurgence, Habs Fire Julien

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Photo Credit: Elsa Garrison/Getty Images Welcome to another edition of Morning Forecheck, where I go over some of the biggest news and notes around the league and give my own spin on it. Be sure to subscribe to the site with the link at the top of the site to get the latest updates, and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy for more. Los Angeles Kings, Playoff Team? Already with one of the best prospect pools in the game, the Los Angeles Kings added another blue chip prospect in Quinton Byfield through the second overall pick of the latest draft. As the team continues to transition to their next generation of core players, not many thought they would compete this season for a playoff spot. But here we are towards the end of February and not only are the Kings competing for a playoff spot, they are currently third in the West Division.  Rookie forward and former first round pick Gabe Villardi is showing why he was so highly regarded, with five goals and eight points in 18 games playing as t

Morning Forecheck: Jack Hughes, Senators Steal a Game, Boston Dominates

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Photo Credit: AP  Welcome to the morning forecheck, where I go over some of the news and notes from the day before in the NHL. Make sure you subscribe to the site at the link above to get the latest updates! Jack Hughes Quickly Becoming Worth Price of Admission Although the game didn't quite go as planed for the New Jersey Devils , it was a great opportunity for them to get some exposure on the national stage. With the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins game getting pushed to later in the day to account for the weather, NBC decided to broadcast the Washington Capitals game against the Devils, in turn allowing the nation to get an unexpected look at the latter. Sunday was the first game in the ' Nico Hischier as captain' era, and it got off to an explosive start. New Jersey jumped up on the Capitals 2-0, before the home team scored three unanswered goals. To say that last season was a disappointment for Jack Hughes may be an understatement. The number overall pick in

Morning Forecheck: Nico Hischier Named Captain, Connor McDavid vs Auston Matthews

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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports  Welcome to the Morning Forecheck! Where I tackle some of the news and notes going on around the league. Nico Hischier Named Captain of New Jersey Devils Before making his season debut, Nico Hischier was named the captain of the New Jersey Devils . The 22-year old center was drafted first overall pick in 2017, the first Swiss-born player to do so. He joins Roman Josi as only the second Swiss-born captain in the league history. I feel like this is an awesome move by the Devils. New Jersey drafted first overall in 2017, getting Hischier, and again in 2019 when they got Jack Hughes . They now have two franchise pivots who are still growing and should become one of the better 1-2 punches in the league. The Devils were decimated by COVID-19 with up to 17 players making their way onto the list at a single time. Even with dealing with all of that, they have had a respectable start to the season. New Jersey currently has a 6-4-2 after losing to

Pittsburgh Penguins Net Comeback Win In Sidney Crosby's 1,000th Game

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Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP  It was a special night for Sidney Crosby , and the Pittsburgh Penguins , as their captain played in his 1,000th career game. It was an awesome tribute for one of the best to ever play the game, but in the end they still had a game to play. Tristan Jarry stayed hot, keeping the Penguins in the game, and Kris Letang scored multiple goals as Pittsburgh topped the New York Islanders by the score of 3-2. Crosby recorded an assist on both goals scored by Letang, who opened the scoring for the Pens as well as recorded the game-winning marker. After a defensive gaff that saw Mike Matheson caught in no man's land, he made up for it with his first goal as a Penguin, tying the game at two in the third period. Jarry made 33 saves in total, 16 of which came in the third period that saw the Islanders control easily. New York would easily outshoot the Penguins by a final total of 35-18. Penguins 3 - Islanders 2: By The Numbers The Penguins were completely domin

Florida Panthers: Chris Driedger Creating Unlikely Goalie Controversary

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Photo Credit: Wilfredo Lee/AP  There is no doubting with how things played out last offseason, that it was only a matter of time before we saw a goaltending controversy with the Florida Panthers . What wasn't expected was how soon that came along, as well as who started the controversy. When Sergei Bobrovsky became an unrestricted free agent, people knew they were going to have to open up their check books in order to land the prized goaltender. A two-time Vezina Trophy winner doesn't come along free agency too often, and the Panthers jumped all over it. There are obvious concerns about signing a 30-year old goalie to a long term contract, and the Panthers may eventually pay for the seven-year, $70 million contract they gave to Bobrovsky, but they did it hoping he was the final piece they need to start to truly compete in the East. The move was that much more confusing since a week before the Panthers drafted goaltender Spencer Knight with their first round pick. It's not

Sidney Crosby: At Career Game 1,000; Remembering The Brilliance From #87

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Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP I spent the first part of my life feeling like I grew up at the wrong time to be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Born in 1988, I was too young to remember the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years at the height of their existence. Mario Lemieux . Jaromir Jagr . Ron Francis . So many big names. I remember my dad had a VHS recording of game one and two of the 1992 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks . I watched that tape religiously as a kid. It got to a point where I could memorize that goal by Jagr. You know the one; Yea that's the one. It was amazing, and I would say that tape itself had a lot to do with why I became such a big hockey fan. But outside of that, I don't remember much of getting to watch Lemieux play at his height in the early 90s. Not living in Pittsburgh made it hard to watch the games consistently. No steady access to the internet made it hard to know when they were playing. The years I remember really d

Pittsburgh Penguins: Third Line Dominance Continues In 4-1 Near Perfect Victory vs Islanders

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Photo Credit: AP Coming off of one of their worse games of the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins bounced back in a big time against the New York Islanders . Leads have been few and far behind for the Penguins, who had never played a game in which they didn't trail at some point. That ended Thursday night, as Pittsburgh led from start to finish and a late Brock Nelson goal kept it from being a shutout. Building off his game on Tuesday, Tristan Jarry came one save short of a shutout and in the process stopped 31-of-32 shots he face.  Sidney Crosby opened the scoring for the Penguins, redirecting a Kasperi Kapanen shot on goal. Teddy Blueger would score to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead before Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust sandwiched Nelson's power play marker. Things got a little chippy at the end, not surprising for these two when they play each other. Evgeni Malkin got involved near the Penguins' bench and Matt Martin received a misconduct penalty. The two teams will

Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele Racking Up Points In Company of Games' Elite

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Photo Credit: John Woods/CP It's hard to share the limelight when you go up against someone like Connor McDavid . It's even easier to get lost in the shuffle when he is at the top of his game, and he has the night he did Wednesday night. McDavid reached the 500 point plateau in the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday and did so in just 369 games - a mark last met by Sidney Crosby and one that is the eighth fastest in NHL history. Understandably lost in all of that was the goal scored by Mark Scheifele of the Jets, his eighth of the season. It wasn't a milestone for him, although he is 12 goals shy of 200 and another 22 assists from 300, but carries the storyline of his success behind the shadows. In 16 games this season, Scheifele has registered 22 points (8 G, 14 A), good for fifth in the league in points. He's currently sixth in the league in assists, and 13th in goals.  This has certainly been a difficult season for hockey, and sports in

Dallas Stars: Jake Oettinger Making Convincing Case In Crowded Goalie Room

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Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty images Sport/Getty Defense and goaltending helped the Dallas Stars reach their first Stanley Cup Final since the 1999-2000 and they hope to ride the same formula to another appearance this season, a feat they also accomplished over 20 years ago. Known as one of the better backups in the league the last couple of seasons, Anton Khudobin emerged as the go-to guy for the Stars when Ben Bishop was injured and forced to miss the majority of the playoffs. Set on wanting to make sure the team would continue to compete, Dallas signed Khudobin - who was one of the top players on the market - this offseason to a new contract that will keep him in a Stars' jersey for the next three seasons. That of course is also the same amount of time that Bishop has left on his deal, making them both free agents at the same time. Embed from Getty Images A third name has thrown his name in the conversation this season, although it was someone who was expected to push for

Pittsburgh Penguins: Nearing Necessary Shakeup After 3-1 Loss To Washington Capitals

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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gene J Puskar  The Pittsburgh Penguins suffered perhaps their worst loss of the season Tuesday night, a 3-1 flat effort defeat by the hands of the Washington Capitals . After being held off the scoreboard for the majority of the game, a Zach Aston-Reese goal kept the Penguins from being completely shutout, but the contest had been decided far early in the game. Washington controlled the action for the majority of the game where it counted, owning most of the scoring and high danger opportunities, despite the overall shot-attempts being close. The power play was stagnant again. Too many passes were being force into crowds. And there were far too many defensive mishaps (two very costly ones). What summed it up, with the majority of the struggles this season has been through your goaltending - and then that position wasn't to blame in your worst loss of the year, it may be time for something to happen. A loss like this is the perfect opportunity to make the fi

Washington Capitals Finally Defeat Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1

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Photo Credit: Associated Press The 2021 season has certainly been a roller coaster worth of emotions for the Pittsburgh Penguins . They have been able to dig deep and claw out wins they probably shouldn't have as well as find a way to lose games they were in control of. There was no real comeback bid against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, as a late Zach Aston-Reese goal kept Pittsburgh from falling completely quiet. The win snapped a four game losing for the Capitals, as well as their first victory against their rivals this season. Former Penguins Conor Sheary opened up the scoring in the second period, with Jakob Vrana and Lars Eller following up before Aston-Reese put Pittsburgh on the board. Tristan Jarry Was Better, Still Work To Do He had some puck luck go his way in the first period, a frame that he faced 15 shots in total but still got out unscathed. Jarry was a little out of position at times but he made the extra save Tuesday night in situations that he was

Pittsburgh Penguins: Addressing The Marc-Andre Rumors

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Photo Credit: Getty Images There was an interesting tidbit that came out of the interview process that the Pittsburgh Penguins conducted in their search for a new General Manager. As the report goes, one candidate actually pitched his idea on how he would make a trade work that would bring back goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury . It was a small part of the presentation, but nonetheless an interesting thing to come out of the interview process. It was also said that Patrik Allvin , in his brief time as the interim GM, made a call to Vegas, inquiring about a potential trade involving Fleury. Of course nothing came of it, and the Penguins went ahead and hired Ron Hextall to be the next GM and Brian Burke to be the President of Hockey Operations. Embed from Getty Images But of course the team's struggles at the goaltending position has just escalated the talks about the Penguins search for a potential different answer in net.  It would be a storybook type of ending to the whole Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins: Ron Hextall, Brian Burke Create The Much Needed Buzz For Organization

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Photo Credit: Getty Images After a couple week search, the Pittsburgh Penguins narrowed in and hired their replacement to Jim Rutherford as new General Manager. Of course its a name that shouldn’t be unfamiliar if you grew up a Penguins fan, as it is former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Ron Hextall . Embed from Getty Images In a way, Hextal revolutionized the goaltender position. The first to score physically a goal at his position, Hextall was a wizard with the stick, able to handle the puck unlike those who came before him and cleared the path for those after - such as Martin Brodeur . He also fit in quite well with the Broad Street Bully attitude that came with playing for the Flyers. Hextall was no stranger to the rough stuff, logging the most penalty minutes by a goaltender in NHL history. But while he was super aggressive on the ice, Hextall is one of the more patient GMs in the game, who is also known for his ability to build from within. While he certainly separated himsel