Monthly Archives: September 2017

Blue Jackets’ win streak ends at 16, one shy of NHL record

The longest NHL winning streak in nearly a quarter century is no more.

The Blue Jackets lost a game Thursday for the first time since Nov. 26 in a 5-0 dismantling by the Capitals, ending their run of 16 consecutive wins. A 17th straight victory would have tied the NHL record set by the 1992-93 Penguins.

Instead, hockey’s hottest team will have to settle for the second-longest streak in modern NHL history.

In 2015 he was excused midway through a game against the Rangers because of a migraine.

Boston was trailing 2-1 at the time of Rask’s exit Sunday. Pittsburgh blew the game open in the third period with three goals on six shots against backup Zane McIntyre in the first 4:37 of the frame. Rask stopped 20 of 22 shots before leaving.

It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Bruins, who are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and fading quickly in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The slump has led to speculation the team may fire longtime coach Claude Julien to spark a turnaround.

Julien didn’t mince words following the Bruins’ latest loss.

This is a team that needs all 20 guys going to win, he told reporters. We don’t have enough talent to think we can get away with a mediocre game.

Rask, sporting a 22-11-4 record despite the team’s struggles, entered Sunday ranked fifth in the NHL with a 2.08 goals-against average.

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Finally: Sharks’ Joe Thornton scores on a goalie for first time this season

It took Joe Thornton, by most accounts a future Hockey Hall of Famer, all of 55 games to score on a real, living and breathing NHL goaltender trying to stop him.

I am looking forward to this week, my last lap and next year’s celebration.

Elias, a two-time Stanley Cup champion and New Jersey’s all-time leading scorer, has remained an unrestricted free agent this season after undergoing knee surgery this past offseason. He will skate with the team one last time during warmups in the Devils’ final home game on April 8.

The Devils will celebrate Patrik Elias Week over the team’s final three home games and retire his No. 26 next season. He will be just the fifth player in franchise history to have their number retired to the rafters, joining Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedermayer and Martin Brodeur.

Elias, who turns 41 next month, retires with 408 goals and 617 assists for 1,025 points in 1,240 games.

That creates a situation where the rest of the dollars these teams commit need to be so effective. Pittsburgh’s next big-money contracts come in the form of Phil Kessel and Kris Letang. It also has helped the Penguins that their top-two stars have played on separate lines. That’s all dissimilar from the situation Edmonton now faces.

I want to be my own player, Draisaitl said to the Edmonton Journal. I don’t want to be Malkin (to Crosby) or (Jeff) Carter to (Anze) Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings), said Draisaitl. I just want to be the best player I can be.

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Stars, coach Lindy Ruff part ways following disappointing season

Lindy Ruff is out of a job.

The Stars decided Sunday they will not extend Ruff’s head-coaching contract for a fifth season in Dallas.

I want to personally thank Lindy for his commitment and professionalism over the four years that he served as our head coach in Dallas, general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. Lindy is not only a highly respected coach, he more importantly is a great person and an outstanding family man whom I have the utmost respect for on and off the ice.

Nill said the Stars will begin the search to hire a new coach immediately.

The move wasn’t a surprise, considering Ruff’s four-year contract was set to expire this month. This season was also the second time during Ruff’s tenure that the Stars failed to make the playoffs.

The Stars grossly underachieved this season under Ruff, posting a 34-37-11 for 79 points. He was hired in June 2013 after 15 years with the Sabres.

It’s not impossible to win with this kind of cap construction, though, the Oilers will have to be slick in how they fill up the rest of its roster. The immediate opportunity is to maximize results while McDavid carries a cap-hit of a shade under $1 million on his entry-level deal. There’s unmatched value on any contract in the NHL, and the Oilers, who not only got back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2017 for the first time in 11 years, but also won a round, need to take advantage of the situation.

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Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin out until after All-Star break with lower-body injury

Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin will miss the NHL All-Star Game with a lower-body injury, coach Mike Sullivan announced Wednesday.

Malkin, who has 22 goals and is tied with Sidney Crosby for the team lead with 54 points, also will miss the Pens’ game Thursday against the Bruins.

Sullivan didn’t specify how or when Malkin suffered the injury, although he was unable to put any weight on his left leg following a hit Tuesday by the Blues’ Joel Edmundson.

Sullivan, who also said forward Patric Hornqvist is day to day with a lower-body injury, said Malkin will be reassessed after the All-Star break.

This was an easy one. Daniel Sedin (No. 2) and Henrik Sedin (No. 3) have been incredible players for the Canucks, each en route to 1,000 points, their numbers being retired by the franchise and probably, a pair of spots in the Hockey Hall of Fame. If they do get in, hopefully they do a speech together, taking turns thanking people.

Alex Ovechkin (No. 1) is the best player in franchise history and will likely finish his career as one of the top 3-5 goals scorers (considering era effects) of all time. He passed Fedorov for the most goals by a Russia-born player, long ago earning the title of best Russian in NHL history. The Capitals also added Mike Green (No. 29) in this draft.

Maybe it should just be 2001, with Ilya Kovalchuk carrying an otherwise unproductive group. Let’s go with 2003, though, which includes Braydon Coburn (No. 8) and Tobias Enstrom (No. 239), two defensemen who both will finish their careers with a lot of games played. Bonus points because Dustin Byfuglien (No. 245) also came from this class.

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Jose Altuve is hitting over .500 in July is underrated

You would think it would be difficult to be impressed with Jose Altuve at this point, given he’s been so good for a few years now and we so often dismiss the known for the new. But he keeps finding ways to impress.

Altuve is batting .507 in July, in which there are only six days left. It is not an empty .507, if there were even such a thing: Altuve’s line for the month, over 17 games and 83 plate appearances, is .507/.554/.760.

What’s incredible is that batting over .500 for the month hasn’t raised Altuve’s numbers as much as you’d think. He was already hitting .330/.401/.528 at the end of June, so while things have certainly improved and he’s now at .365/.431/.574, this wasn’t some weird rebalancing from earlier struggles that brought Altuve close to his norm. This was Altuve already having an Altuvian season and then taking things to the next level.

FOX didn’t have Alex Rodriguez standing next to outfielders with a mic while they were trying to run down fly balls, but they did the next-best thing by giving George Springer and Bryce Harper mics and earpieces so they could be interviewed while they played the outfield.

MLB might not love that Harper started talking about the NFL with Joe Buck while he was being interviewed, but that’s what you get for doing it live.

The interviews themselves had some fun moments. Springer talked a little about defensive positioning, and Harper explained that yes, he did have a shirt on under his jersey, it’s just that it was real low. Of course, you could barely hear Harper say this, because his mic was also real low thanks to his unbuttoned jersey.

Really the only negative to this is that no one hit a ball directly at one of these guys in a way that made them loudly swear on camera.

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Here’s the MLB hit leader born in each of the 50 states

Adrian Beltre got his 3,000th hit right at the end of July, making him the first Dominican-born player to reach that threshold. This got us at SB Nation thinking about various hit leader lists, and eventually, we ended up wondering about which states had the most impressive baseball hitters born there, as measured by hits.

So, with help from Brittany Cheng and her map-making skills, we have a map of the United States for you, one that shows the MLB player with the most hits born in each of the 50 states, as well as the District of Colombia.

And now, for random notes scrawled while looking through the lists of players born in every state in order to produce the map above.

This is another way of saying that if you’re just here for the map, well, there you are. It’s right there, above these small paragraphs. Personally, I prefer this version of the map and the small tweak contained within…

I just got the advanced stuff right away, Bo said. A lot of people learn things when they get into the big leagues, but I think that I got to learn those things when I was young.

If you want to play in the big leagues, you better hit. Dante said. So we put our efforts on two-strike hitting and hitting breaking balls; things that I think most people don’t. Most people put their efforts on the swing … my gosh, most 10-year-olds can swing a bat. Actually hitting at the big league level is about other stuff.

If the Cubs were in the NL East, they’d be nine games behind the Nationals. If they were in the NL West, they’d be 17 games behind the Dodgers, closer to the Padres than second place. They still have a chance to make good on those near-unanimous first place predictions from the preseason, but only because of the relatively weak Central.

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NHL trade deadline: Red Wings trade Brendan Smith to Rangers

Less than 24 hours after missing out on Kevin Shattenkirk, the Rangers added some much-needed depth to the blue line.

The Red Wings parted with the 28-year-old defenseman for a pair of picks; a 2018 second-round pick and third-round pick this year.

In 33 games this season, Smith has five points (two goals, three assists) in just over 18 minutes of average ice time this season. Smith also has 43 hits on the year.

The trade comes on the heels of the news that Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi will miss roughly two weeks with an ankle injury.

Smith has -1 plus/minus this season, and the 28-year-old has missed time with an MCL sprain earlier in the year.

Ryan Getzlaf (No. 19) and Corey Perry (No. 28) have been one of the most dynamic duos in the NHL for nearly a decade. They won the Stanley Cup together as kids in 2007, and have been trying to claim it again as the dueling driving forces of a successful franchise.

Getzlaf and Perry would be enough, but the Ducks also selected Drew Miller (No. 186) and Shane O’Brien (No. 250) as well.

So that leaves, well, whom to fill a regular spot at center? J.T. Miller was drafted as a center, but has flourished on the wing with the Rangers. Matt Puempel has some offensive skill, but has been unable to find consistency at the NHL level with the Senators and Rangers. Boo Nieves is the top minor league option, but he missed much time a year ago because of a concussion and still needs seasoning, and is more of as fourth-liner at this stage anyway. Then there’s Lias Andersson, the seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft who impressed at prospects camp and in the World Junior Summer Showcase with Sweden.

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Hockey players gracefully dance to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ theme song

Disney’s live-action version of Beauty and the Beast will be released next month, inspiring the Toledo Walleye to host a Beauty and the Beast night.

In preparation of the big night, two players from the ECHL team, goaltender Jeff Lerg and teammate Jean-Paul LaFontaine, skated to the theme song from the Disney classic.

The immense success Crosby has experienced has made him an easy player to hate for many visiting arenas, but when it comes to the Penguins’ rivalry with the Flyers, it wasn’t going to take much for him to become an immense heel in the eyes of Philadelphia hockey.

In Crosby’s very first matchup in Philadelphia, the bad blood began brewing right away when Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher caught Crosby in the mouth with a high-stick, shattering three of his teeth.

That wouldn’t be the lasting image of Crosby in his first game in Philadelphia, though. The Penguins rookie would later return with a bang, scoring the overtime winner to secure a 3-2 Pittsburgh win.

I call it a challenge, General Manager Peter Chiarelli told Sportsnet Wednesday. Certainly in doing the math and all the roster roll-outs leading up until this year, you look at all different situations and you look at potential numbers that these guys are going to reach and you get prepared for it. It’s a challenge for us to backfill and maintain talent in addition to these two players, and frankly, it was a point of discussion with both of them in their negotiations and they both acknowledged it in some shape or form.

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Penguins’ Kris Letang to miss 4-6 months after neck surgery

Pittsburgh’s injuries keep piling up.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will miss the rest of the regular season and the playoffs because of a herniated disc in his neck, the team announced Wednesday.

Letang is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair the injury and is expected to need four to six months to recover.

To recap, the Oilers still hate Manning’s guts for his role in causing McDavid to miss 37 games a season ago, likely costing the phenom the Calder Trophy.

Manning said he received death threats.

The last time the Flyers and Oilers met, in Philadelphia on Dec. 8, McDavid called Manning classless and claimed the defenseman admitted his intent to injure him on that fateful play. Manning denied any such thing, and the war of words were put on hold until Thursday.

McDavid didn’t have any direct run-ins with Manning during the game, but his did tack on three points to his season total for an NHL-best 66 in 58 games.

Although Neuvirth initially appeared unconscious, he was soon moving around as trainers and medical staff assisted him. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and transported to Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital.

We sent him to the hospital for precautionary reasons, and everything so far has been good,” team general manager Ron Hextall said.

Hextall said Neuvirth would not travel with the team for its game in New York Sunday night against the Rangers.

Neuvirth made six saves before the incident and was credited with the victory after rookie Anthony Stolarz shut down the Devils in the Flyers’ 3-0 win.

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Phil Kessel is eating hot dogs out of the Stanley Cup

Phil Kessel is starting to get comfortable with the Stanley Cup. So much so that he’s using it as a serving vessel.

The Penguins winger posted a pair of photos to his Instagram account Monday that showed him smiling over the hot dog-filled trophy.

While the Cup is accustomed to being employed in all sorts of debauchery during its summer tours with winning players, this may be a first.

Sadly, there was no immediate word on whether Kessel considers a hot dog a sandwich.

Crosby missed the first six games of the 2016-17 season due to a concussion suffered in practice. For a player who missed so much time previously in his career due to head injuries, it was a scary omen that certainly raised questions about Crosby’s long-term health and his status moving forward. But once Crosby got back on the ice, he left little doubt about how effective he could be and in his current condition.

A torrid start saw Crosby score 26 goals in 31 games, including this piece of hand-eye coordination against the Dallas Stars.

Hype be damned, Crosby spent his teenage years making all the scouts and pundits and prognosticators look pretty smart. In his first tour of NHL duty, Crosby became the youngest player in the history of the league to reach 100 points in a single season, doing so at 18 years and 253 days old.

The official window for teams and pending unrestricted free agents to finalize contracts opened July 1. But plenty of chatter goes on behind the scenes during the NHL’s weeklong interview period, when teams submitted qualifying offers to retain the rights to restricted free agents Monday. Those players have until July 5 to elect to go to salary arbitration with their teams. July 6 is the deadline for teams to elect to do the same.

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