Category Archives: NHL

Islanders ready for showdown with Taveres, Leafs

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — Islander forward Matt Martin has been in the NHL for 10 seasons, but he couldn’t recall anything quite like the lead up to John Tavares’ return to Long Island on Thursday.
Thursday’s showdown with Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs has been circled on many fans’ calendars for some time, really since the announcement in October that the game would be moved from Barclays Center to the Nassau Coliseum. Since then, the hype has built up and this week hit a fever pitch.
“It’s a little unique because I don’t think it’s too often that star players, I guess, leaves,” Matt Martin said prior to Thursday’s game.
The Nassau Coliseum is expected to be even more hostile than ever with the return of the Islanders former captain, who bolted for Toronto via free agency on July 1. The fans have remained angry over the way Tavares departed the team last summer.
And the 13,917 fans that will pack the Nassau Coliseum are expected to boo the former Islander right from the jump.
“Fans are able to feel how they want to feel about it,” Martin said when asked about the fan reception. “I think obviously they’ll make it hard on him tonight, but John is a hell of a player and he had the right to do what he did. That’s the decision that he’s made for himself and his family, and I think as a team we’ve moved on from that.
“We’re just focused on ourselves and winning hockey games.”

I guess tonight is a big deal or something? #Isles pic.twitter.com/RBR6Gv9e6u
— Christian Arnold (@C_Arnold01) February 28, 2019

For others, the circus around Thursday’s game has been a bit surprising. The Islanders morning skate was heavily attended by the media, which on a normal day consists of only a handful of reporters.
As the media entered the Islanders dressing room, Johnny Boychuk joked about the size of the contingent there for the day.
Tavares’ return had been the headlines even as the Islanders hosted the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Tavares himself had been asked about it on previous trips to the area to play the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.
“I don’t really understand what the big hype is,” Mayfield told Islanders Insight, while the swarm of reporters surrounded Mathew Barzal. “It’s something that they can write about and talk about. For players it’s not as big of a deal I don’t think. It’s like playing any other team, they have some good guys.
They have guys we have to watch, so it’s like any other game really for us.”

RelatedTavares leaving helped improve the Islanders for the long runIslanders need to be better with tough week still ahead
Thursday’s game means just as much for the players as it does for the fans, but for different reasons. The Islanders are even with the Washington Capitals at 79 points in the Metropolitan Divison, but have dropped three of their last four games.
Their bout with the Maple Leafs is also the Islanders second of three consecutive games with playoff-bound teams.
“We need the points for ourselves,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “The focus should be on the way we play. The focus should be on how we play and trying to get the two points. Play our game,  play 60 minutes, not deviate and get it on track a little bit.”
Trotz canceled Wednesday’s practice at the last minute to give the Islanders some time to mentally rest up for the game on Thursday and hone in their focus on what matters.
“Some time to just regroup, get your mind around (the game), physically get a little bit of rest,” Mayfield said about the day off. “Then mentally as well. Just stay away from the rink and stay away from hockey for a little bit. It’s hard to turn your brain off sometimes, so it was nice to get that.”

“We have to get two points. There’s no question. The focus should be on how we play, trying to get the two points, playing our game for 60 minutes and not deviating.” #Isles pic.twitter.com/2R9KEwjJpk
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 28, 2019

Now it’s full steam ahead with the game on Thursday and all the outside noise surrounding it. The Islanders are expecting a passionate group in the stands that will hopefully give them an extra jolt, like they have in previous games.
Trotz’s only message to them, though, was to just be respectful.
“You have to respect that John gave his all for a long time for the organization,” Trotz said. “He’s earned the right to go back home. Some people are upset or whatever, but just be respectful. Cheer us on and let’s have a good hockey game tonight.”


Islanders point streak snapped in 3-1 loss to Bruins

The Islanders had a 2-1 lead in the third period. Then they didn’t.
Then the Boston Bruins had the lead, and eventually a 3-1 win over the Islanders at TD Garden on Tuesday night. The game-winning goal for Boston came less than two minutes after they had successfully challenged what would have been the go-ahead goal for New York.
Cal Clutterbuck scored at 4:52 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy challenged the play on the grounds that Devon Toews was offsides which led to the three-on-two rush and the goal.
Boston’s Kevin Miller managed to keep the puck in the Islanders zone moments later and fire a shot on Robin Lehner. The Islander netminder made the initial stop, but Peter Cehlarik was able to sneak the rebound by Lehner at 6:34 of the third period.
Patrice Bergeron, appearing in his 1,000th career NHL game, scored his second of the night on an empty net goal at 19:05 to seal the game.
The loss snapped the Islanders eight-game point streak (6-0-2) and prevented them from picking up crucial points in the standings. The Islanders remained in first place following Tuesday’s loss, but the Washington Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks pulled them within two points of the Isles.
Lehner made 24 saves in the loss to Boston, which was his eighth defeat of the year.
Specials teams had a mixed night in Boston. The Islanders PK unit was a perfect 3-for-3, with all three kills coming in the first period.
The Power play had a rather sluggish night, going just 1-for-5 and failing to convert on a four-minute power play that could have changed the course of the game.
The power play had been a bleak 0-for-8 in their previous three games.
The Bruins were first to jump on the board on Tuesday as Patrice Bergeron cleaned up a loose puck in the crease at 2:32 of the second period. The Islanders managed to even the game at one at the 16:40 mark off a Jordan Eberle power-play goal.


NwPP: Net weighted Power Play: A preliminary blended descriptive statistic

Through four months of the schedule this season, the Penguins find themselves in familiar territory, among the top one-quarter of teams in power play percentage. However, the Penguins are the league leaders in shorthanded goals allowed. Head coach Mike Sullivan has repeatedly emphasized that the power play must operate with more of a defensive conscience.

#Pens HC Sullivan said the team is "probably there" on doing something drastic with the PP to prevent shorthanded goals. "We have to take more responsibility for having a defensive conscience when guys are in trouble. It doesn't seem like we're recognizing the danger." -SK
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) January 29, 2019

Sullivan on why SHGs have been a problem: Because we don't have a conscience defensively when we're on the ice on the power play, and it's inexcusable. And we've talked about it and talked about it. It's hard to win when you give up a goal like that.
— Angie (@acarducci) December 2, 2018

Two months ago, shortly after Pittsburgh yielded its seventh SHG, Pensblog brother Geoff presented advanced statistics and a detailed video analysis of each shorthanded goal that showed the four forward – one defenseman power play setup is still largely the best combination of players that can be assembled for the current Penguins.
Hockey-Graphs has also delved into various other predictive measurements of power play success.
Is there a composite descriptive statistic that could quantify a team’s total power play performance: goals scored and shorthanded goals allowed while simultaneously accounting for different power play strengths (5-on-4, 5-on-3, 4-on-3)?
In January 2017, Nathan Gabay created Overall Power Play (OPP) to describe combined power play and penalty kill performance, with an excellent discussion of his statistic including historic leaders and historic bottom-feeders.
We intuitively know the limitations of simple power play percentage (PP%). Since it is merely power play goals divided by power play opportunities, it cannot differentiate between power plays that failed to score in the full two minutes or the ones that ended after three seconds because of a penalty immediately committed by the power play unit. Both situations go in the books as 0-for-1.
Here is a table of teams ranked by Power play percentage.

All statistics in this article were recorded after games of January 31, 2019.
Calgary ranks just behind the Penguins in PP% but the Flames have allowed seven fewer shorthanded goals (SHGA). Can we somehow blend the two columns into a single statistic to evaluate overall power play performance?
The following is a preliminary attempt to do so.
Net weighted Power Play (NwPP)
First, NwPP is not “New pee-pee“, but rather, “N-w-P-P“.
And please, no one tell Chris Rock about this N-w-P-P … We wouldn’t want to anger him and suffer through another uncomfortable rant like that time he blistered Jay and Silent Bob…

NET: because we make a straight deduction for shorthanded goals allowed from a team’s total power play goals
WEIGHTED: because we give a weighting factor to each power play strength situation.

The resultant single number is not a percentage but a power play “score” for more comprehensive and accurate team-to-team comparison.
Calculating PPG per 2 minutes (rather than opportunities)
We will measure power plays per unit of time, specifically per two minutes, instead of per opportunities. This is because greater than 97% of power play time this season results from a single two-minute minor penalty.
Net PPG = PPG – SHGA
For every power play strength (5-on-4, 5-on-3, 4-on-3), we calculate net power play goals from power play goals scored minus shorthanded goals allowed.
Weighting factors for goals at 5-on-4, 5-on-3, 4-on-3
Note: Skip this section if you hate math.
Logically, the degree of difficulty of scoring while on a 5-on-3 power play is less than trying to score while playing 5-on-4. Therefore, a 5-on-3 goal should have a lower value based on some weighting factor.

Can we come up with a simple model for hockey players’ goal-scoring output analogous to assembly-line robots? If we describe both 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 power plays relative to the common 5-on-4 in terms of the ratio of penalty killing workers to power play workers, we derive these degree of difficulty weights for each type of power play goal scored.

PK
PP

WEIGHT
OUTPUT

5-on-4
4
5
(4/5) / (4/5) =
1.0000
1.0000

5-on-3
3
5
(3/5) / (4/5) =
0.7500
1.3333

4-on-3
3
4
(3/4) / (4/5) =
0.9375
1.0667

Borrowing from ancient factory skills vs. productivity theory, output is simply the flip side (reciprocal) of the degree of difficulty weight. That is, if it’s only 75% as difficult to score when playing 5-on-3 relative to playing 5-on-4, then we would expect 33% (1 / 0.75) more goal-scoring at 5-on-3 relative to 5-on-4.
Below, the Expected column is simply the output numbers from above. The Actual column represents real 5-on-3 or 4-on-3 PP% relative to 5-on-4 PP%.

5-on-3 EXPECTED
5-on-3 ACTUAL
4-on-3 EXPECTED
4-on-3 ACTUAL

2018-19
1.3333
1.2991
1.0667
1.3250

2017-18
1.3333
1.3823
1.0667
0.8440

2013-18
1.3333
1.3851
1.0667
0.9829

So do real hockey players follow the robot model? In a word, no, obviously. There is lots of fluctuation in actual 4-on-3 scoring due to its small sample size – approximately 1% of all power play time. The results for actual 5-on-3 scoring is closer to our model but still about 2 to 4% different.
Therefore, for our weighting factors, we will choose the five-season actual data from 2013-18 because it is our largest appropriate, recent sample. Again, weights are the reciprocal of the output. So for 5-on-3: (1 / 1.3851) = 0.7220 and for 5-on-4: (1 / 0.9829) = 1.0174.
NwPP Formula
NwPP
= [(Net PPG 5-on-4) + 0.722(Net PPG 5-on-3) + 1.0174(Net PPG 4-on-3)] divided by [Total power play time] x 2 minutes
Comparing PP% vs. NwPP

Green – higher NwPP rank than PP% rank
Red – lower NwPP rank than PP% rank
White – no change
Not surprisingly, the Penguins fall nine spots, from seventh place in raw PP% to becoming the median team in the NHL – 16th place – when ranked by NwPP, partly damaged by their 11 shorthanded goals allowed. Indeed, the large majority of teams that fell have given up a larger than average number of shorthanded goals. Yet Boston, with 10 shorties allowed seems an anomaly, remaining in the top one-fifth of teams. Looking at their splits, Boston is near the top in power play goals scored, but middle of the pack in total power play minutes. This could be interpreted as a club that scores quickly with the man-advantage, thus keeping them high in the NwPP standings since this is a per-units of time statistic.
ROAST ME
Readers with a much more advanced background in math, stats and logic are most welcome to correct, criticize and rebuke NwPP in the manner of Reddit’s r/RoastMe.
As the title indicates, NwPP is preliminary work, but certainly a start at evaluating and describing overall power play performance better than what we currently have in the public domain.


Bruins Rask Becomes All-Time Bruins Leader in Win Against Capitals

Category : NHL

Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask was on the injured reserve last week. “To recap today’s #NHLBruins transactions: Tuukka Rask has been placed on IR retro to Jan. 19. He won’t play Tues. vs. Jets. Trent Frederic, Peter Cehlarik, & Zane McIntyre (emergency basis) have been recalled from @AHLBruins. Ryan Donato & JFK have been assigned to Providence,” tweeted the organization.
Rask’s timeline for return was unclear, but the goaltender was ruled out for the game against the Jets on Tuesday.
The team, notably missing Rask’s goaltending, went to a shootout, with the Jets scoring two goals in the third period. The Jets won the game 4 to 3 thanks to Kyle Connor who scored twice in a 34-second span in the third period to tie the game. Connor scored his 20th and 21st goal in the third period to force overtime.
Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves for Boston.
Rask returned to the lineup and made his way into the record books on Sunday with a win over the Washington Capitals. The game was a big one for Rask, as the Bruins have struggled to beat the Capitals over the past four years.
The team hadn’t won a game against the Capitals since March 29, 2014, and only five players from the Bruins remain on the team since their last win. A remarkable showing by Rask, he turned away all 24 shots against him to clinch the record, previously held by Cecil “Tiny” Thompson. The shutout, the second of his career, helped him clinch the 253rd career win he needed to reach the milestone.
“It’s a testament to his ability to play every night, the record,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’re happy for him. He’s done a great job for the Bruins organization for years and his performance tonight was excellent. He was in control all night.”
Cassidy has to take some of the credit for the win, pushing the team’s defense to play better than they have in the last few games. The group responded well to their coach, who has also tried protecting his star goalie who is coming off of a mild concussion.
Zdeno Chara, leader of the team’s defense, praised the team’s effort and commitment to play the right way against the Capitals.
David Krejci scored the Bruins only goal of the game in the second period, with a goal that was setup by David Pastrnak and Torey Krug.


Wild Sluggish In 3-1 Loss to Dallas

Welcome back from the NHL All Star break folks!  Let’s give you a quick run down of what (probably) took place for most of the Wild players who did not attend the event itself.  Spend some relaxing time away from the bitter below-zero cold in exchange for some place sunny and along the beach, check.  Consume a few drinks and a few beers down by the beach, check.  Not have a care in the world, check.  So with a few days off the players return from their mini-vacations to the reality of the grind that lays before them.
The same is true for the Dallas Stars, who are hoping to try to get off to a fast start in the home stretch of the season.  With the schedule compressed and every point bringing you a step closer to the playoffs no one wants to stumble out of the gate.  Can the Wild pick up from where it left off by earning a victory in Dallas?
1st Period Thoughts: You know how to make your team look like you’re not completely rested? Start your plodding, slow players in the first few shifts. I mean, why not start your speedier guys to try and set the tone and possibly generate some offense. Instead, both teams are just skating back and forth, not accomplishing much of anything. Yet, Dallas will weather this kind of slow, defensive game much better in the long run. But I will say that I do feel better having Eric Fehr back in the lineup. Just before his injury, he was really starting to look like he found his spot on this team. Plus, he definitely adds a calming, veteran presence on this team. And like Eric Staal he has a Stanley Cup in his resume. Another thing that indicates that this team hasn’t played in a while, were the consecutive icing calls the Wild took near the midpoint of the period. The longer Minnesota goes without looking more controlled, the more dangerous things can be. But I suppose some of that can be chalked up to the fact that the Wild had only one practice during all this time off, and that practice being yesterday. And it’s going to be hard getting back into the swing of things with the strange schedule that Minnesota has in the immediate future. As the period continues, we’re starting to see Devan Dubnyk’s bad habit of overplaying the puck behind the net when he gets bored.  The Stars were ramping up their physical play and the Wild seemed to be ok with just taking a hit instead of delivering a check of their own.  As much as we tease Devan Dubnyk for leaving his crease to play the puck, Ben Bishop was trying to be ‘helpful’ by playing pucks which seemed to flirt with disaster.  Dubnyk would leave his net to sweep away a dangerous loose puck on a diving poke check that sent Alexander Radulov flying.  A few minutes later, Dallas had another great chance from in close as Jason Spezza was denied by Dubnyk.  Minnesota was having a difficult time creating much in the way of scoring chances, but a good shift by the Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker line resulted in a few quality shots on goal in the waning minute of the period.  Not a great period, the Wild looked winded out of sync like you’d expect from a team that had only been the ice once in 8 days since its last game.
2nd Period Thoughts:  The 2nd period did not start too well.  The Wild got caught pinching too much and the Stars raced back down the ice that nearly resulted in a goal for Denis Gurianov if not for a poke check by Marcus Foligno.  Dallas would score on the very next shift as Roman Polak sent a shot on goal that Andrew Cogliano redirected by Dubnyk.  1-0 Dallas.  It was Cogliano’s first goal as a member of the Stars, but he’d give Minnesota its first power play opportunity as he raked Parise across the face with his stick giving the Wild a 4-minute power play.  The first 3 minutes of the man advantage were pretty awful.  No cohesion, lots of errant passes and discombobulated scrambles for the puck and virtually no shots being taken.  In the last minute the team finally started to activate its defense a bit and it was Eric Staal setting up Brad Hunt from beneath the goal line and the former Bemidji State star wired it by Bishop.  1-1 game.  Minnesota would then give Dallas its first power play on its next shift as Staal was given a slashing minor.  The Wild’s penalty kill could best be described as helter skelter as they struggled to work pucks out of the zone which meant they leaned heavily on Dubnyk’s ability to make saves and he did a great job with a fair amount of traffic near his crease.  Even after the Wild killed off the penalty, the Stars would continue to swarm all over the Minnesota end and Dubnyk was sharp.  The Wild tried to turn the tables with a better forechecking effort and while they were able to generate a few more shots in the last few minutes none were of the high danger variety and they’d go into the intermission knotted up at 1-1.  A better effort, but still rather rusty.
3rd Period Thoughts:  The 3rd period started out rather cautious as both clubs were wary of making a major mistake that would result in quality scoring chance in their own end.  Time and space were tough to come by and teams were making sure they took the body after nearly every shot sent on goal.  You could sense the level of anxiety building in the arena as the game kept rolling along knotted at 1-1.  Please excuse me for going off on ab it of focused rant on Victor Rask.  He seems to have good hands, but his legs are slow and his stride is just clunky.  Rask seems to hesitate in just about every race for the puck, but he’s actually pretty adept at cherry picking but all too often he just doesn’t have that step or two to create separation.  The Stars would take the lead as Tyler Seguin sent a shot from the wall that trickled through Dubnyk.  2-1 Dallas and it was a pretty soft goal as there was no screen and the shot was taken from a fair distance away.  Minnesota tried to answer back, but the Wild couldn’t appear to find any open ice to send much in the way of shots on goal.  The Wild had shortened its bench to being a two-line team rotating between the Koivu line and the Staal line.  Neither line had a lot of jump and time steadily dissolved off the clock.  Minnesota wanted to pull Dubnyk with 1:23 left in the game, but does this club have any gas in the tank to make a late push?  Nope.  The Wild didn’t have the focus or the energy to make a few simple passes and as Dubnyk left the ice Koivu passed a puck to an area where no one was at and Granlund tried to recover only to give it away to Seguin to sealed the game with an empty netter.  3-1 Dallas victory.
Wild Notes:
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Eric Staal, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno, Pontus Aberg, Victor Rask, Matt Hendricks, Eric Fehr, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Brad Hunt, Nick Seeler and Greg Pateryn.  Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk.  Nate Prosser, Anthony Bitetto and J.T. Brown were the scratches.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Tyler Seguin, 2nd Star Devan Dubnyk, 3rd Star Miro Heiskanen
~ Attendance was 18,124 at American Airlines Arena.
Wild Prospect Report:
LW – Kirill Kaprizov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the talented Russian is heating up offensively as he had 2 goals (including the overtime game winner) on 6 shots in CSKA’s 3-2 victory over Dinamo Minsk.  He then followed it up on Thursday with a goal and two helpers on 4 shots in CSKA’s 5-4 win over Ak Bars Kazan.  Kaprizov has 24 goals, 39 points, 12 PIM’s and is a +29 in 50 games.
RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the rugged power forward had an assist in the Screaming Eagles’ 5-1 win over Sherbrooke on Wednesday night.  Boudrias has 18 goals, 38 points, 23 PIM’s and is a +11 in 43 games.
C – Andrei Svetlakov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the 4th line center had a goal and went 6-for-13 on his draws in CSKA’s 5-4 victory over Ak Bars Kazan.  Svetlakov has 5 goals, 11 points, 21 PIM’s and is a +12 in 39 games.
Minnesota High School Hockey Report:
Let’s Play Hockey released its latest rankings for Boys and Girls in Class A & AA.  Here are their rankings as of January 30th, 2019.  Check it out!
Girls Hockey
Class A
#1 Warroad
#2 Breck
#3 Mound-Westonka
#4 South St. Paul
#5 Proctor / Hermantown
#6 Thief River Falls
#7 Cloquet-Esko-Carlton
#8 Rochester Lourdes
#9 East Grand Forks
#10 Duluth Marshall
Class AA
#1 Blake
#2 Edina
#3 Forest Lake
#4 Andover
#5 Eden Prairie
#6 Wayzata
#7 Brainerd / Little Falls
#8 Roseau
#9 Maple Grove
#10 Hill-Murray
Boys Hockey
Class A
#1 Hermantown
#2 St. Cloud Cathedral
#3 East Grand Forks
#4 Thief River Falls
#5 Totino-Grace
#6 Mahtomedi
#7 Alexandria
#8 Orono
#9 Sartell-St. Stephen
#10 Warroad
Class AA
#1 Edina
#2 Minnetonka
#3 Blaine
#4 Andover
#5 Maple Grove
#6 St. Thomas Academy
#7 White Bear Lake
#8 Eden Prairie
#9 Benilde-St. Margaret’s
#10 Hill-Murray


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Islanders fall 4-3 to Hurricanes as winning streak gets snapped

#UNIONDALE, N.Y. — All good things must come to an end.
For the Islanders that meant an end to their six-game winning streak on Tuesday night. Hampered by a sluggish effort, poorly timed penalties and a couple of unlucky bounces, the Islanders fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in front of a near sellout crowd at Nassau Coliseum.
It was squandered power play in the third period with the game even at two that sent things in the wrong direction for New York. Justin Williams, who was just sprung from the penalty box with just under three minutes to play, was able to sneak a backhander behind Thomas Greiss to put Carolina ahead 3-2.
The Hurricanes added another goal just over a minute later on the power play off a wrist shot from Jaccob Slavin.

“They had a good kill. They were the better (team) on the special teams in that regard,” Anders Lee said. “As a power play, we have to know our outs. We had our outs. We just didn’t enter the way we wanted to and we didn’t really end up getting our control on our unit. The other unit had some good opportunities, but on our end it wasn’t good enough.”
The loss snapped what had been the long active winning streak in the NHL and kept the Islanders from extending a streak like that to seven games for the first time since 1989-90. It was also the Islanders first regulation loss at Nassau Coliseum since they returned to the venue in December.
The Islanders effort on Tuesday night was far better than the one they had in St. Louis on Saturday, but it was not where it should have been against a dangerous Hurricanes team.

“I thought we just mismanaged the game,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “It was on use. I didn’t think we had enough of the lines going. I thought the Nelson line was really good for us, but the rest not as good as I’d like to see…
“There are certain moments and certain events that you have to execute what is in the best interest of the group at the time knowing the score, knowing the situation and we didn’t do that today. That’s a good way to lose hockey games.”
The Islanders played a decent first period, outshooting the Hurricanes 7-5 and scoring the game’s opening goal. Brock Nelson found the back of the net off a quick wrist shot that beat Curtis McElhinney at 13:42.
The lead was short lived with Carolina responding at 15:10 thanks to a goal from Saku Maenalanen. They jumped in front with six seconds left in the first period off a goal from Greg McKegg.
The Islanders looked as though they had tied the game in the second period, but the goal was overturned because of an offside call. Devon Toews scored in the third to tie the game before the Islanders surrendered two goals.

Brock Nelson was able to score his second goal of the night to pull New York within one.
“The last two minutes of periods you have to be aware of the time and situation,” Jordan Eberle said about the late goal against in the first. “Make sure you’re making plays to not get yourself in that situation.”
The frustrating loss for the Islanders sets up an interesting scenario heading into a home-and-home with the New York Rangers beginning on Thursday. The Islanders are back on the outside looking in as far as a playoff spot goes and points in both of their upcoming games are vital.
The loss to Carolina, which is five points behind the Islanders in the standings, make them all that more important.


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Wild unable to generate any momentum in lackluster 4-0 loss in Boston

An extra cup of coffee, perhaps a soda during lunch which is something you do when you’re trying to keep your eyes open after a rough night of sleep.  No doubt, the 2nd day of two long days of work always is a bit more taxing physically let alone your mental focus.  For NHL teams in a back-to-back you toss in time spent traveling.  While the flight from Montreal to Boston is a mere 1 hour and 20 minutes, there is the ordeal of going through customs which certainly can turn into a headache.  This is exactly what the Wild have endured before tonight’s game against Boston.
The Bruins have been sitting back and patiently waiting for the Wild to arrive after a few days off.  Beyond spending some time for film study and practice, what else do you think they’ve done with that extra time?  Hopefully they’ve tired themselves out chasing around their families or stayed out a little too late the night before.  Can Minnesota get a victory against the Bruins?
1st Period Thoughts: Well, we’re less than a minute into the game, and we already have an excuse in the making. That being that the Wild arrived in Boston late last night while the Bruins were at home and asleep in their beds. But at least we have chances on both ends of the ice. With the way things were looking in that first minute, I was worried that we were going to spend the entire night in our own zone. So far, the Wild have been finding ways of not only getting the puck into the offensive zone, but have even managed a couple of shots on goal. It also seems like Alex Stalock is looking to play a mobile game, which I am not comfortable with. The Bruins have some players where it seems like they can score whenever they want (think of the 25 goals by David Pastrnak), with that in mind, I would be far more comfortable if Stalock would remain in his crease as much as possible. Yet even that wish isn’t enough, because even when he does stay in the goal, a nice screen and a deflection gets Danton Heinen on the scoreboard for the first goal of the night. Yet while it seemed early on that Minnesota was going to be able to get decent shots on goal, after they got the first three shots of the game, they hadn’t been able to tally any more. And as the old adage goes, you can’t score if you don’t shoot. The first power play of the night would go to Minnesota after Zdeno Chara interfered with Jordan Greenway. But like the limited shots on goal have been, they didn’t get one shot on goal during the man advantage. The longer this period continues with Minnesota’s limited shots on goal, it feels like it’s just allowing Boston to give a speed demonstration: skating, passing, and shooting. This of course forces the Wild to just try to hold on and try to keep up. I’m tired of playing catch up. And there’s more catch up to be had, with a goal by Brad Marchand which he was able to get by grabbing a rebound off of the back boards. Unfortunately for all involved, there’s still over eight minutes remaining in the period. This makes me wonder if we’ll see Devan Dubnyk at some point during the night. Sadly, even when the Wild get the puck into the offensive zone, they’re being kept to the perimeter, and they’re not even allowed to get a low percentage shot. So far, the two Wild skaters who have tried to make things happen, are the two guys with Boston connections, Greenway and Charlie Coyle. Both have had their chances, and it’s imperative that someone makes something happen, so why not one of them. Boston’s Kevan Miller would take the next penalty for holding Nino Niederreiter. Again like the rest of the game, Minnesota is finding it difficult to set anything up. The power play would be short-lived, with Eric Staal getting called for tripping goaltender Tuukka Rask. That power play would prove deadly, earning Jake DeBrusk the first power play goal the Wild have given up on this road trip. As the Wild head into the locker room down 3-0, you have to wonder if they have anything left in the tank, heck even to just keep more goals from being scored.
2nd Period Thoughts: Again, the Wild got the first three shots on goal in the period. They get those shots, and then Boston is able to either break up the passes or get them back to the perimeter. It’s a very effective way to stop any attempts by Minnesota to tip the momentum their way. Like a friend of mine said, should the Wild lose this one (which seems likely with how things are going and how they look in general), this is still a 3-1 road trip. It’s a win all around, and at this point, we need to take those small steps forward where we can get them. It looked like the Wild were going to have just a hope with a shot by Jared Spurgeon and then Luke Kunin deflecting the puck to then Coyle standing near the crease hoping to get the puck as it trickled between Rask’s pads. Unfortunately, Rask was up to the task and didn’t allow any puck movement. Minnesota would head back to the penalty kill, with Zach Parise getting called for tripping. The Bruins wouldn’t waste time, with Patrice Bergeron making it 4-0 Boston. So as you can probably tell, I’m already thinking about this road trip being over. Yes, it’s been successful, but it’s time to get back home. Time go get back to game starting in Central Time. I do like the occasional Eastern Time start, but it also takes away a little time between work and start time. Minnesota would get the next power play after John Moore got called for interference after shoving Kunin into the goal. And just like Minnesota’s previous two power plays, it looks like they’re not going to be able to get anything set up, which is funny because they’re so slow and deliberate with anything they do. When you take so much time to get things done and then have nothing to show for that time, that’s when the frustration sets in. With just over two minutes remaining in the period, again I’m feeling like I can’t wait to get out of this period. Thankfully we didn’t allow more goals than the Bergeron goal.
3rd Period Thoughts: I guess if there’s a silver lining early in this period, the Wild have almost evened up the shots on goal. But then when you look at the shots, very few of them have been of any decent quality. With the exception of the fourth line, it feels like everyone else is still back in Montreal. They haven’t looked ready (or interested) in playing much of the night. To add insult to injury, when this team is tired (from both the road trip and a back-to-back), they look even slower. Heck, not just look slower, they are slower. It would be nice if the team and its management would decide on an identity for this team. When this team had speedy wingers like Jason Zucker, Erik Haula, and even Jordan Schroeder, this team could get things done. Of course the problem then, is that they were too soft. Now we’ve added size and lost speed, but I can’t say that we’ve really gained physical players. Sure Greenway and Nick Seeler can be physical, but there are still other bigger players who continually don’t play their size well. It would be nice if this team could figure out what they want (and find a nice balance) and then actually buy in and execute that style. One sad side effect to this game, is that after the great work in the first three games of the road trip, and getting back into the playoff picture last night, they’re most likely going to lose that wild card spot in the next day or so. While both Anaheim and Vancouver are off tonight, either one can easily leapfrog Minnesota. The only ace up the Wild’s sleeve are the games in hand that they possess. Time to get back to Minnesota. Time to get some rest. Time to regroup.
Wild Notes:
~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, Marcus Foligno, J.T. Brown, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Greg Pateryn, Nick Seeler and Nate Prosser. Alex Stalock got the start with Devan Dubnyk serving as back up.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star, Tuukka Rask; 2nd Star, Patrice Bergeron; 3rd Star, Brad Marchand
~ Attendance was 17,565 at TD Banknorth Garden.
Iowa Wild Report:
Record (20-8-4-3)  47pts  1st in AHL Central
20.3% Power Play (12th in the AHL)
84.8% Penalty Kill (6th in the AHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #25 Justin Kloos ~ 12G 15A = 27pts
2. #9 Cal O’Reilly ~ 5G 22A = 27pts
3. #23 Mason Shaw ~ 3G 18A = 21pts
4. #42 Kyle Rau ~ 8G 12A = 20pts
5. #36 Colton Beck ~ 12G 7A = 19pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Mike Liambas ~ 75 PIM’s
2. #37 Hunter Warner ~ 42 PIM’s
3. #21 Carson Soucy ~ 38 PIM’s
Top Goaltenders:
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (10-4-4)  2.28GAA  .922%SP  5SO
2. #35 Andrew Hammond (9-4-1)  2.92GAA  .907%SP
Recent Score: Iowa 2, Rockford 6
YouTube Highlights


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Rig Radio 01-03-2019, "Chiarelli."

In this episode Jason & Séan discuss Peter Chiarelli. They aren’t happy.

 
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Something's Gotta Give

In the spring of 2015, three great hockey things happened:

The Washington Capitals did not get eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2nd round (though they did get booted by the Rangers)
Team Canada, led by Sidney Crosby, won the gold medal at the World Championship
The Edmonton Oilers won the NHL draft lottery (and with it the opportunity to select Connor McDavid – a generational player and prodigious talent.)

It’s that third thing which brought light back into the eyes of Oiler fans, and hope back to an organization that had been wandering in the desert for years. With the dismissal of Craig MacTavish as GM and the hiring of both Peter Chiarelli (GM) and Todd McLellan (head coach), it finally felt like the Oilers had maybe bumbled their way out of the darkness and into something not seen since the Penguins won the Crosby lottery in 2005.
There was more hope than when the team had H.O.P.E., more optimism than a casual fan could bear, and there was talk of a Stanley Cup in the not-so-distant future. The Oilers would make the playoffs and McDavid’s career would mirror Crosby’s – Stanley Cup finalist in year 3 and champ in year 4. The dynasty years would be relegated to the dustbin of history because McJesus had arrived and was going to save us all. Even writers on this very website got caught up in the McDavid hoopla and boldly declared that the Oilers would win the Stanley Cup in 2020, under the leadership of Taylor Hall. (ed: Hooboy.)
The reality, as fans are aware, is much different.
Instead of being near the top of the Pacific Division (a division for which this team was purportedly built), the Edmonton Oilers are going to limp into 2019 with (at best) a 19-18-3 record. If they manage to beat the Jets on New Years Eve, they’ll have 41 points in 40 games. Last season, after a 5-0 NYE shellacking by the Winnipeg Jets, they had 39 points in 39 games.
If you don’t believe that, here’s some proof (from last year’s NYE pregame):
See, the Oilers have dug themselves a bit of a hole this season, and they might not be able to dig out. Based on their current pace, the Oilers are on track to hit 80 points this season, far off the mark for a playoff spot.
Assuming the cutoff for the playoffs is about 95 points, the Oilers have to earn 58 points in their remaining 44 games in order to have sniff. That means they have to play at a 108 point pace (without giving up Bettman points to conference rivals) to get there.
It’s a tall order and I’m not sure it can be filled.
What Happened?
In the immediate short-term, the Oilers lost an absolute stinker to the Sharks yesterday (the final score says 7-4 but the Sharks stopped trying after it was 7-2 and even that’s being generous to the Oilers), in an effort that can only be described as abysmal. It’s the Christmas holidays, it was an afternoon game, there were a bunch of kids at the game and the Oilers did everything imaginable to suck the life out of the building, including let the Sharks score while the goal announcement for the Oilers first was still on.
Without going into too much detail, the game was bad and the Oilers should probably be a little embarrassed by what happened. They were outmatched in every way by the Sharks, a team so deep that Joe Pavelski was held to just one assist on 7 goals. Erik Karlsson, fresh off a suspension, had 4 points and played an absolutely beautiful game (though Joe Thornton didn’t score any goals, never mind the 4 needed for a rooster trick). Without making light of what happened, it was absolutely like watching boys against men, or as another fan put it “this is like watching the Canadian women’s soccer team play the men’s national team. And the Oilers are the men.”
This wasn’t the worst game the Oilers played this season, but it was emblematic of all that is wrong with the team. Outside of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, there is no scoring depth. Alex Chiasson (who was cut from the Washington Capitals and signed by the Oilers to a PTO in September) is their 3rd leading goal scorer, which is really all that needs to be said. Instead of following a Pittsburgh model, which is to surround good players with other good players and have more than one scoring line, the Oilers seem unable to keep more than two top-tier players at a time (though the verdict on Draisaitl’s ceiling is still out and what he’s shown since this season started hasn’t exactly been earth-shattering, mostly because he’s not been driving his own line but is instead riding shotgun on McDavid’s wing where it would be impossible not to score).
If this game against the Sharks taught fans anything, it’s that the Oilers are not even close to being ready for any kind of postseason success. The problem, of course, is that this is the same story from last year, and the year before, and the year before, and pretty much every year since 2007.
See?
This season is a wash, and it’s finally starting to wear on local media. At some point, someone has to ask some hard questions about the plan going forward. I’m not sure who that will be, but someone has to ask those questions and fans deserve some answers. […] There are too many games left in this season for fans to get restless. Here’s hoping the team can figure it out before someone burns Rogers Place to the ground.
 
There’s been a lot of talk among Edmonton MSM about young players like Jesse Puljujarvi underperforming. It’s understandable that there is a close watch on him, given the relative lack of success from other young players in recent years. The problem with this team has nothing to do with Jesse Puljujarvi, or Leon Draisaitl or even Connor McDavid (though some fans will try to convince people otherwise). Puljujarvi, for example, is having a better season for a lot less money than some other players, including one whose name starts with Milan and ends with Lucic.
No, Really. What Happened?
Since hindsight is 20/20, it’s easy to look back at some of the decisions that Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the management team made and try to pick the one that caused the trouble. It wasn’t enough, apparently, that the Oilers lucked into Connor McDavid and were able to add him to a roster that included future Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall.
Much has been made about whether or not a do-nothing GM like Steve Tambellini would have been able to build a better team by, well, doing nothing, and based on what has been done since Chiarelli took over, the answer is yes. Without knowing for sure, it’s fair to surmise that the team would probably be better without any panic trades.
There have been thousands of words written about the moves that Peter Chiarelli has made, good and bad, and instead of dedicating another thousand or so to those transactions, here’s a refresher from the day of the now-infamous “General Disappointment” press conference at the GM meetings in 2017.
Starting with the trade of 2015 picks 16 & 33 for Griffin Reinhart, Chiarelli’s big decisions have been hit and miss. (Reinhart was left exposed in the expansion draft, picked up by Vegas and placed on waivers. Matthew Barzal, the player the Islanders took with that 16th pick, has 17 points in 18 games and is part of an actual second scoring line in Brooklyn. In case you were wondering how that went.) While trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson addressed a need on defence, it didn’t really do much for offensive production. Last season that wasn’t as important, as Leon Draisaitl really stepped up and played at almost a point-per-game pace. Bringing in Milan Lucic wasn’t the answer on offence either, but the promised grit and swagger seemed to outweigh the lack of offensive talent from the outset. Moreso than the Hall trade (because Larsson does contribute defensively and can get the puck up to a winger so that the winger doesn’t have to carry the puck out of the defensive zone AND into the offensive zone), dumping Eberle’s salary in favour of Ryan Strome (who can play but is nowhere near as good as Ebs) is the decision that will come back to haunt Chiarelli and his management team.
To hear the Oiler GM say that he’s disappointed is almost laughable. From the day of the Eberle trade to about 3 minutes before that quote came to light, there’s been discussion about whether or not this team is good enough as constructed (spoiler: it’s not). Some fans and bloggers knew right away that Sekera’s injury was going to cause some trouble and the GM did nothing to address that gap on defence, choosing instead to force Todd McLellan to deploy a subpar roster, one that includes Kris Russell’s $4m on the 3rd pair. This roster also has a dearth of secondary scoring, which is problematic because the primary scoring isn’t really happening at any great clip.
Peter Chiarelli made some bad moves, and hasn’t been able to recover from them. What’s happened since he took over is nothing short of a travesty, especially considering that he is the general manager of a team with Connor McDavid on the roster. Since McDavid’s rookie season the Oilers roster has changed more than a college football team, except that there hasn’t been any real success at bringing in new players. There’s still the issue of Edmonton not being a desirable free agent or trade destination, which speaks more about the organization than people are willing to acknowledge. Chiarelli’s no Nick Saban, that’s for sure.
What Can Be Done?
Before exploring any solutions, a story.
Last season, at a game in Las Vegas, the Oilers laid a giant egg. In that particular game in Vegas, Kris Russell scored an own goal to put the Golden Knights up 5-2. Russell, the much-maligned shot-blocking defenceman has been pilloried, and often rightly so, for his role in the Oilers misfortunes. He’s a favourite whipping boy of those who do not support the decisions that Chiarelli makes, and has become something of a symbol for the lack of on-ice success.
Instead of being excited about how the season is progressing, fans have found themselves looking into top draft prospects (again), and looking at the successes of former Oilers on new teams. Management as found a way to pass the buck for any kind of accountability with respect to the team. The coach is bound by the roster he’s been given, and can’t put talent he doesn’t have available on the ice. There’s discussion of trades as sellers, not as buyers.
Nothing is going right.
The thing that stings the most is that all of these problems could have been prevented with some better decision making. Thursday’s own goal, while scored by Kris Russell, should be awarded to Peter Chiarelli.
While Russell wasn’t to blame for that own goal, he should never have been put in the position where he scored one. The blame for that also lies with the Oilers general manager.
So what can be done?
In the short-term, absolutely nothing. Chiarelli already fired Todd McLellan and hired Ken Hitchcock, who led the team to an impressive 9-2-2 record before their current 5-game slide.
There were very obviously some issues with roster deployment, some of which have been corrected, but the biggest issue was in roster construction. This team started the season with two players on PTOs (Chiasson and Jason Garrison), and both made the team. Without looking, it’s pretty likely that the Oilers are one of very few teams to have more than one PTO signing on the permanent roster (even if Garrison is a healthy scratch most of the time).
Beyond having two PTO contracts, the thing that is the most frustrating about the Oilers is that after Chiarelli traded away two of their top scoring wingers in consecutive offseasons, the Oilers are still somehow on the hunt for scoring depth on the wing. They’re also on the hunt for a solid puck-moving defenceman, which is also incredibly infuriating.

Not having any depth on the wings, and having almost all defencemen playing up a pairing, plus having some sizable question marks in net have led to a team barely hanging on rather than looking like a contender. A team with Connor McDavid should always be in contention for a playoff appearance, and probably a deep run, rather than hoping it lucks its way into a solid draft pick again.
At the end of the 2017-18 season, Oilers CEO and chief evaluator Bob Nicholson spoke to the media about the grand design for whatever was next. He did a lot of equivocating, something with which Oilers brass has become very adept, and basically said nothing except to reassure fans that there is a plan going forward. What that plan is, one can only imagine.
Nicholson says there’s a plan to get into the playoffs, but his assertion came in the same style as a kid who’s telling a lie but can’t remember what lie he told before so he keeps backtracking and saying more untrue things. To say that the goal of the organization is to get the team into the playoffs is missing a serious mark. With Connor McDavid on the roster, the Oilers should be contending for a Cup on a regular basis (a la Chicago, LA and Pittsburgh) instead of being on the outside looking in. Brian Hall pointed out that the massive turnover in playoff teams from year to year means that even if a team plans to make the show, there’s no guarantee.

In any case, the Oilers need to make some changes, and the organizational rot is a lot deeper than people first thought. The owner can’t fire himself, but he could fire everyone below him, and he should. If he doesn’t, that playoff plan won’t come to fruition, for the 12th time in 13 years.

 
Now What?
This team needs to get itself back into playoff shape. It cannot do that with the current roster. There simply isn’t enough talent on the ice on any given night for the team to win day in and day out.
There is no easy solution to the Oilers’ problems. There’s no time machine that will take us back to April 2015 and not hire Chiarelli as GM, so instead the only way out is to keep going forward.
The fanbase is, of course, getting a little restless. For a couple seasons, at least, it was nice not to think about who the Oilers would take with their first round pick, and good to know that there was some hope out there in Oilerland.
Having Connor McDavid was supposed to make this team into something but instead fans are left with a team that couldn’t fight its way out of a paper bag if you cut the bottom off. 
A team with 4 players who have scored more than 20 points cannot be competitive. A team with one real scoring line and very little secondary offence will not win more games than it loses. A team with five defencemen playing above their skill levels on a nightly basis cannot regularly beat teams with legitimate top pairs.
A team whose owner hires and promotes his friends and seems unconcerned with the way in which the team performs will never be competitive. A team that lives in the past the way that the Oilers do will not break free from the ‘glory days’ as long as it keeps bringing back old players to fill management roles.
From 2016:
It is time for this team to put its money where its mouth is, and show fans that when the players and coaches and management say “this year will be different” they actually mean it.
It is time for this team to reward the hope and optimism with which they are greeted at the beginning of a season, and break free from the shackles of the 1980s and the collective memory that paralyzes us all.
Finale
Since 2007, it has been very hard to be a fan of the Oilers. It is mostly an exercise in futility, knowing that the emotion fans put into the team is rarely matched by the product they see on the ice. Hearing coaching staff and management say the same things over and over without anything being appreciably different gets old real fast.
From top to bottom, the Edmonton Oilers organization is a mess.
Going to games at Rogers Place feels like a chore – the lineups are long, the beer and food are expensive, the sightlines aren’t great and it’s definitely quieter than a library at almost any time during a game.
There is very little fan engagement, especially on social media, and it is patently obvious that the organization is only concerned with the experience of the highest-paying customers.
There is an apparent lack of concern for the product that goes out on the ice every night, because Connor McDavid will still fill seats. There is a faction of fans who don’t see an issue with the team losing more than it wins, and they see no problem with uncritically supporting the Oilers.
It’s hard to say how long that will last when Connor McDavid asks for a trade.
 


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Islanders head into Christmas break with 3-1 win over Dallas

The Islanders gave their fans an early Christmas present on Sunday night, defeating the Dallas Stars 3-1 and heading into the holiday break off a successful west coast road trip.
It was the early third-period goal by Anders Lee that served as the game-winner for the Islanders. Lee deflected a shot from the point, which snuck by Dallas’ starter Anton Khudobin.
The goal was originally awarded to Jordan Eberle, but was later changed to Lee.

The win capped off a four-game west coast trip that saw the Islanders make stops in Colorado, Arizona, Las Vegas and Dallas. The Islanders went 3-1-0 on the trip.
New York heads into the holiday break two points out of the third spot in the Metropolitan Division. They are three points out of the final wild-card spot.
“You look at the teams that we played and the road trip it’s out west a little bit,” Lee told reporters after the game. “It’s a critical time of year right before a little bit of a break, where you can start thinking about that or a day off or something. We just played good hockey for four games.
“We laid a little bit of an egg in Vegas, but we responded really well tonight.”
The Islanders fell behind in the second period, despite playing a good game to start. Tyler Pitlick was able to sneak one by Robin Lehner at 6:20.
Casey Cizikas scored a fluky goal at the 14:10 mark of the second period to tie the game at one. Leo Komorav scored an empty net goal with a minute left in the game to seal the win.
The Islanders did lose a player in the win. Cal Clutterbuck left the game with a lower-body injury. However, Barry Trotz told Newsday’s Andrew Gross that it was “nothing major.”
Devon Toews made his NHL debut in the win. The rookie defenseman saw 18:05 of ice time, which included 1:49 on the power play.
The Islanders will be off for the next four days before they return to action on Friday at home against the Ottawa Senators.


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