All posts by Sean O'Leary

NHL, SMT announce expanded partersnhip for puck, player tracking

The NHL is expanding its partnership with SportsMEDIA Technology (SMT) as its source for puck- and player-tracking technology, the league announced Thursday.

"Fan engagement and technological innovation are at the forefront of everything we do. Using technology to depict exactly how fast, how skilled our game and our players are, enhances the connectivity our fans have with hockey," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

"We are thrilled to expand our partnership with SMT, a leader in the sports technology industry and established partner of the NHL. Through our partnership, we look forward to continuing to innovate our scoring and puck- and player-tracking systems, as well as how we bring to life limitless data points, which will take fans more inside the game than ever before"

In January, the NHL announced it would introduce puck and player tracking for the 2019-20 season, but then cut ties with Jogmo World Corp - the league's original tracking partner - in September.

Moving forward, the goal is for SMT to deploy puck- and player-tracking systems in every NHL arena by the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. According to the release, the data will be used for the following:

  • Updating the NHL's official scoring system, which will include puck- and player-tracking data.
  • Developing and installing tracking systems in all NHL arenas.
  • Distributing data in the form of innovative graphics and visualizations to NHL media partners and other stakeholders.

Tracking data has been experimented with by the NHL in the past, including at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and at multiple All-Star Games.

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Point to make season debut vs. Maple Leafs

Tampa Bay Lightning pivot Brayden Point will make his season debut in Thursday night's matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs, head coach Jon Cooper confirmed to reporters.

Point was expected to be out until late October after undergoing offseason hip surgery. He recently practiced on a line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and skated with the Bolts' top power-play unit.

The 23-year-old had the best season of his young career in 2018-19, registering a career-high 41 goals and 92 points in 79 games. Point's impressive production earned him a three-year, $20.5-million contract in September.

Point's return is a welcome sight for the Lightning, who are coming off back-to-back losses that prompted Stamkos to publicly call for major changes to the team's style of play.

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Doughty: Canucks shouldn’t be ‘beating a team like ours’

Drew Doughty might just make enemies with all of Western Canada before the 2019-20 season is through.

The Los Angeles Kings blue-liner was asked for his thoughts after Wednesday's 8-2 waxing at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks, and again raised eyebrows with another candid assessment.

"I mean, I ain't gonna park it, it's just embarrassing," Doughty said, per Kings insider Jon Rosen. "I mean, a team like that should not be beating a team like ours 8-2. There's actually no way. I know they had a lot of energy right off the bat because it's their home opener and they had their whole ordeal with the captain and whatever. But we had chances to come back, and then we just gave up a goal right after we scored a goal. It was a bad team effort by everyone on this team, I thought."

Doughty's been under the microscope all week due to his rivalry with Matthew Tkachuk and his performance versus the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Doughty had three points, including the overtime winning goal, and said he wanted to "shove it in their faces" with a spirited celebration after being incessantly booed all night.

Wednesday's game didn't go as well for the 29-year-old, as he finished minus-3 in over 23 minutes in the loss that brought Los Angeles' record to 1-2.

Doughty's comments about the Canucks aren't exactly easy to justify, as Vancouver finished 10 points clear of the Kings in 2018-19.

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Hurricanes’ Martinook out 6-8 weeks after surgery on core muscle

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook will miss the next six-to-eight weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle injury on Friday, the team announced.

Martinook's registered one point in Carolina's scorching 4-0 start to the 2019-20 season, averaging just under 12 minutes per night for the Metropolitan Division leaders.

The 27-year-old signed a two-year, $4-million contract with the Hurricanes in January and was named an assistant captain prior to the current season.

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Stars’ Honka signs deal in Finnish league with opt-out clause

Disgruntled Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka has signed with JYP Jyvaskyla of the Finnish league, the team announced Thursday.

Honka is a restricted free agent, and his Finnish deal includes an opt-out clause that runs until Dec. 1 - the deadline for RFAs to sign an NHL contract this season.

Dallas drafted Honka 14th overall in 2014, but despite a promising skill set, he's yet to establish a consistent role on the blue line. Honka only appeared in 29 games with Dallas last season, and he was a healthy scratch for the club's final 35 contests and its entire playoff run.

However, he's put up strong underlying numbers during his stints in the big leagues, and he's produced multiple prolific offensive campaigns with the AHL's Texas Stars.

Honka asked the Stars for a trade in September The Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes were among the teams that reportedly showed interest in acquiring the 23-year-old right-handed shot.

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Doughty on Flames fans after OT goal: ‘You kinda wanna shove it in their faces’

Drew Doughty was the center of attention Tuesday night in Calgary, and he made the most of it.

The Los Angeles Kings defender was booed relentlessly by the Saddledome fans as a result of his ongoing feud with Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, but he delivered a three-point performance that included the overtime winner and then a spirited celebration. Afterward, Doughty said he relished the opportunity to send the fans home with a loss.

"Oh yeah. As much as I love getting booed every time I touch the puck, you kinda wanna shove it in their faces," he said in the locker room, via TSN. "And before that overtime started I knew I had a great opportunity and I was like, 'Every time I get that puck I'm ripping it.'"

The rivalry between Doughty and Tkachuk dates back two seasons from when the Flames star was suspended two games for an elbow to the head of the former Norris Trophy winner. The animosity between them has been persistent ever since, and Doughty fueled the fire ahead of Tuesday's game by saying, "We both know who the better player is" when asked for his thoughts on Tkachuk.

Tkachuk also had a big game on Tuesday, as he registered three points, including a late equalizer that sent the contest to overtime.

He and Doughty won't have to wait long to renew hostilities, as their clubs will clash on Oct. 19 in Los Angeles.

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Jets holding Morrissey out vs. Penguins as precaution

It turns out Josh Morrissey isn't ready to go after all, as the Winnipeg Jets' top defenseman will be held out of Tuesday's contest versus the Pittsburgh Penguins for precautionary reasons, head coach Paul Maurice announced, according to The Athletic's Ken Wiebe.

Morrissey was a late scratch for Sunday's game after suffering an upper-body injury in warmups. On Monday, Morrissey was deemed good to go for the club's next game, but he apparently didn't feel well following practice, according to Mitchell Clinton of JetsTV.

The Jets will also be without blue-liner Dmitry Kulikov, who was given a personal leave from the team on Tuesday. Defensemen Sami Niku and Nelson Rogier have been recalled from the AHL's Manitoba Moose to help fill out Winnipeg's incredibly thin back end.

Puck drop will go at 7 p.m. ET in Pittsburgh.

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Stamkos tears into Lightning after poor start to season

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is calling for some major improvements from his squad just three games into the 2019-20 campaign.

The Bolts, who are Stanley Cup favorites again this season, fell to 1-1-1 on Sunday after a humiliating overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in which Tampa failed to record a single shot on goal in the second period. It was the Lightning's second defeat in as many nights, and Stamkos has seen enough.

"We just continue to be the freewheeling team that thinks we can just come into games and win because we're skilled," Stamkos told Diana C. Nearhos of the Tampa Bay Times. "We keep falling back into the same old habits that we've been doing, that cost us the season we had last year.

"Unless we change things, it's going to be a really, really, really long year."

Stamkos' comments refer to last year's playoffs, where the Lightning were swept by the Blue Jackets in the first round. Columbus ultimately derailed Tampa's Presidents' Trophy-winning campaign with a physically dominant showing.

The sweep was the most disappointing defeat in a long list of recent playoff shortcomings for the franchise, and the Lightning are under significant pressure this season to finally get over the playoff hump after returning virtually the same roster from a year ago.

"Everyone is sick of talking about it and not doing it," Stamkos said. "Let's go do it."

Stamkos has scored two goals in three games while averaging over 20 minutes per night to start the season.

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Canucks trade Biega to Red Wings for David Pope

The Vancouver Canucks have traded defenseman Alex Biega to the Detroit Red Wings for winger David Pope, the Red Wings announced Sunday.

Biega, a 31-year-old right-handed shot, played 41 games with the Canucks in 2018-19, registering 16 points. Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, Biega has 179 NHL games under his belt.

Pope, a fourth-round pick of Detroit in 2013, split time between the AHL and ECHL last season. He only managed three points in 28 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins but mustered 13 points in 20 playoff contests with the Toledo Walleye.

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Watch: Mantha scores all 4 goals in Red Wings’ win over Stars

Detroit Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha beat the Dallas Stars all by himself on Sunday night, burying four goals during the club's 4-3 victory.

Mantha potted a natural hat trick in the second period, then added his fourth goal of the contest with less than a minute to go in the final frame.

Here's a look at each tally from his otherworldly performance.

A one-time blast:

A beautiful individual effort:

A lucky bounce:

And the game-winner:

Mantha's efforts marked Detroit's first four-goal game from a single player since Johan Franzen notched five versus the Ottawa Senators in 2011, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.

Mantha now sits atop the NHL in goals with five through two games, tying him with Auston Matthews.

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