All posts by Ian McLaren

Leafs set franchise record with 10th straight home win

The Toronto Maple Leafs have never had a stretch like this on home ice.

With a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday, the Leafs have now recorded 10 straight home wins for the first time in franchise history.

The streak dates back to Jan. 31 and is comprised of wins over the Islanders (two), Ducks, Predators, Senators, Lightning, Blue Jackets, Panthers, and Bruins. The last loss on home ice came at the hands of the Avalanche back on Jan. 22.

Toronto will have a chance to extend the home winning run to 11 games when the Leafs host Dallas on March 14.

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Report: Scheifele’s injury not serious, but doubtful for Thursday

Mark Scheifele appears to have avoided another major injury.

The Winnipeg Jets center is reportedly doubtful to play Thursday against New Jersey, but an upper-body injury suffered Tuesday in New York isn't believed to be serious, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

Scheifele missed 16 games with an upper-body injury earlier this season, but head coach Paul Maurice said the latest ailment is not related.

Through 50 games, Scheifele has recorded 21 goals and 30 assists.

An official update is expected prior to Thursday's tilt with the Devils.

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Wild trade Mike Reilly to Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens have acquired defenseman Mike Reilly from the Minnesota Wild for a 2019 fifth-round pick, which was previously acquired from Washington.

Reilly was drafted 98th overall in 2011 (fourth round), and has four goals and 14 assists in 84 career NHL games.

He's spent the bulk of his professional playing days in the AHL, where he's averaged 0.52 points per game.

His addition offsets the Canadiens dealing Joe Morrow to Winnipeg earlier in the day.

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Report: Bruins add Wingels from Blackhawks

The Boston Bruins reportedly dealt for forward depth prior to the trade deadline, adding Tommy Wingels from the Chicago Blackhawks, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

The return is reportedly a fifth-round pick, according to Jay Zawaski of 670 The Score in Chicago.

Wingels is a 29-year-old winger who recorded seven goals and five assists in 57 games for Chicago this season.

He was also a member of the 2016 San Jose Sharks team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

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Western arms race: Who’s better, the Predators or Jets?

With all due respect to the surprising Vegas Golden Knights, the Western Conference appears set to come down to the defending champion Nashville Predators and the upstart Winnipeg Jets.

Both teams made additions prior to Monday's trade deadline, loading up for what seems like an inevitable second-round playoff meeting between the Central Division powerhouses.

Which club has the advantage? Here's how it breaks down position by position:


Jets' Lines
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers Paul Stastny Patrik Laine
Mathieu Perreault Brian Little Jack Roslovic
Andrew Copp Matt Hendricks Joel Armia
*Adam Lowry Brandon Tanev
Predators' Lines
Filip Forsberg Ryan Johansen Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala Kyle Turris Craig Smith
Scott Hartnell Nick Bonino Ryan Hartman
Calle Jarnkrok Colton Sissons Austin Watson
*Mike Fisher Eeli Tolvanen

*Top seven based on average ice time

(Lines courtesy: Daily Faceoff)

The Jets made a huge splash Monday by acquiring center Stastny from the St. Louis Blues, arguably giving Winnipeg the NHL's best top nine.

Winnipeg has already scored 206 goals through 62 games - fourth-most in the NHL. As we'll see below, that's come with minimal aid from the blue line, and the addition of Stastny will only help them get the puck to the opposition's net with greater regularity.

Nashville addressed an area of weakness from last year's roster by adding depth down the middle in the form of Turris and Bonino, and Fisher is back in the mix as added insurance.

Hartman was brought in via Chicago on deadline day for added scoring, with the Predators having recorded a ninth-ranked 191 goals through 61 games, but with a good chunk coming from the defense.

The highly touted prospect Tolvanen may be an X-factor if he signs his entry-level deal for the balance of the season, but, as it stands, the Jets are stronger up front.


Jets Predators
Dustin Byfuglien Roman Josi
Jacob Trouba P.K. Subban
Tyler Myers Mattias Ekholm
Josh Morrissey Ryan Ellis
Toby Enstrom Alexei Emelin
Dmitry Kulikov Matt Irwin
Ben Chiarot Yannick Weber

Nashville's defense corps is widely regarded as the best around the NHL, and for good reason.

The Predators are allowing a league-low 2.46 goals per game this season, and everyone but Emelin and Weber boasts a positive Corsi rating at even strength, indicating good puck movement and an ability to keep it away from Rinne.

The Jets, however, aren't far behind. Winnipeg is allowing only 2.61 goals per game (fifth-lowest), as well as one shot per game less than Nashville (31.4 as compared to 32.4).

On top of that, their top six all boast positive Corsi ratings at even strength, and seventh man Chiarot is almost level.

Offensively, however, Nashville gets a big boost thanks to 15 goals from Subban and 10 from Josi. Here are the respective contributions from each team:

  • Predators: 42 goals, 107 assists, 37 power-play points
  • Jets: 22 goals, 108 assists, 52 power-play points

Altogether, based on excellence at both ends of the ice, Nashville gets the edge on defense.


Jets Predators
Connor Hellebuyck Pekka Rinne
Michael Hutchinson Juuse Saros

Rinne played some of the best hockey of his life in backstopping the Predators to the Stanley Cup Final last year, posting a .930 save percentage over 22 games. So far this season, he hasn't tailed off, with a 32-9-4 record and .929 save percentage.

Hellebuyck has an almost identical record (32-9-8) with a slightly lower save percentage (.924), and while he's living up to the billing of one of the game's best young goalies, he brings zero NHL postseason experience to the table.

The Jets may have the better long-term option, but based on the current levels of play, Rinne's run a year ago, and the defense immediately in front of him, the edge in net right now goes to Nashville.


Winnipeg's forward group is as deep and talented as it gets, but Nashville gets the edge on defense and in net, thereby setting the Predators up for the best chance of representing the West once again in the final.

The Jets deserve a lot of credit. They do have a young goalie they're confident in, but they know Nashville has the best defense, so coming out of nowhere and acquiring Stastny is a move they needed to make, especially after missing out on Derick Brassard.

If these teams do indeed meet in the playoffs, bank on the series going the distance.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Blackhawks trade Hartman to Predators for 1st-round pick

The Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Ryan Hartman to Nashville on Monday, the Predators announced.

Chicago is also sending a fifth-round 2018 pick to Nashville, and is receiving a 2018 first-round pick, a 2018 fourth-round pick, and forward Victor Ejdsell.

Hartman, 23, is in his second full NHL season after being drafted 30th overall in 2013. He recorded 19 goals and 12 assists in 76 appearances as a rookie in 2016-17, but has managed only eight goals and 17 assists in 57 games this season.

He's set to become a restricted free agent this summer.

The Predators no longer own a first- or second-round pick in this year's draft, while the Blackhawks are now well stocked to fill the pipeline:

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Predators officially sign Fisher for remainder of season

Mike Fisher is officially back with the Nashville Predators.

The club has signed the former captain to a one-year, $1-million contract for the balance of the 2017-18 season, general manager David Poile announced Monday.

Fisher declared his intent to come out of retirement for the stretch run back on Jan. 31, and rejoins a team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago.

In 72 games last season, Fisher recorded 18 goals and 24 assists, but contributed only four assists in 20 playoff games.

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Senators trade Ian Cole to Blue Jackets for 3rd-round pick

The Ottawa Senators traded defenseman Ian Cole to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a third-round pick in 2020 and forward prospect Nick Moutrey, the Senators announced Monday.

Cole was recently acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the Derick Brassard deal and did not suit up for the Senators, who apparently planned to flip him.

In Moutrey, Ottawa gets a 22-year-old forward who was drafted 105th overall (fourth round) in 2013. He has three goals and three assists in 22 games for the AHL's Cleveland Monsters this season, and will be assigned to the Senators' minor-league affiliate in Belleville.

Cole is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

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Report: Capitals checked in on Ryan McDonagh

The Washington Capitals reportedly checked in on one of the top defensemen believed to be available in advance of Monday's trade deadline.

According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, the Capitals took a look at Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers, but they seem to have moved on.

Washington, however, continues to explore adding to the blue line even after acquiring Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek.

McDonagh is an intriguing trade candidate as he's not considered a rental player. He has one full season remaining on a contract that carries a cap hit of $4.7 million.

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Canadiens’ Plekanec will sit with trade deadline looming

Tomas Plekanec will not be in the lineup for Saturday's game against Tampa Bay, the team announced.

The decision comes with the trade deadline set for Monday, and amid reports the veteran center is attracting suitors after Derick Brassard was dealt by the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

Plekanec is in the final season of a two-year deal that carries a cap hit of $6 million. In 60 games this term, he's chipped in six goals and 18 assists.

The 35-year-old has spent the entirety of his NHL career with the Canadiens, recording 232 goals and 373 assists in 981 regular-season games since being selected 71st overall in 2001.

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