All posts by Sean O'Leary

Leafs’ Andersen to start on 2nd consecutive night vs. Avalanche

The Toronto Maple Leafs will turn to Frederik Andersen in goal for the second consecutive night when they take on the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

Andersen started Tuesday's 6-1 loss in Philadelphia, but head coach Sheldon Keefe said the netminder asked to suit up again in order "to be in the fight with the guys," according to NHL.com's Dave McCarthy.

The Leafs crumbled in the third period versus the Flyers, allowing five goals after tying the score at 1-1 midway through the final frame. Following the embarrassing defeat, Auston Matthews said the team "just folded."

Toronto initially planned to start backup Michael Hutchinson, who is 0-5-1 this season with an .876 save percentage and a 4.55 goals-against average.

Andersen is 13-6-3 with a .917 save percentage in 22 games played.

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Matt Stajan retires after 14 NHL seasons

Former Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan officially announced his retirement from professional hockey on Tuesday after 14 NHL seasons.

"Thank you to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames organizations for giving me the opportunity to play and compete in the best league in the world," Stajan said. "I wore both jerseys with great pride, and I will be forever grateful for the experiences that came along with that. Also, thank you EHC Red Bull Munich - it was a great experience to play overseas for such a great organization."

Drafted 57th overall by the Maple Leafs in 2002, Stajan spent five full seasons in Toronto before a midseason trade to Calgary, where he played eight-plus campaigns for the Flames. He concluded his pro career in Germany, playing 52 games for Munich in 2018-19.

Stajan suited up in 1,003 NHL games, posting 147 goals and 264 assists.

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Canadiens place Kinkaid on waivers

The Montreal Canadiens have placed backup goaltender Keith Kinkaid on waivers, the team announced Monday.

Kinkaid signed a one-year, $1.75-million contract with the Habs over the summer to back up Carey Price, but he hasn't had much success in the early stages of the 2019-20 season.

The 30-year-old owns a 1-1-3 record along with a .875 save percentage, allowing at least four goals in five of his six appearances so far.

"Listen, I think it gives him the opportunity, if he passes through waivers, to have a chance to play more often in (AHL) Laval and hopefully to get his game back in sync," head coach Claude Julien said, according to Sportsnet's Eric Engels. "What we've seen from him is good, but maybe not good enough for this instant.

"We need a goaltender who - especially when we call on them infrequently - is making sure he's on top of his game."

Montreal lost its eighth consecutive contest Sunday in Boston and returns to action Tuesday against the New York Islanders.

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Keefe relishes ‘special’ 1st home win with Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was behind the bench at Scotiabank Arena as an NHL bench boss for the first time on Saturday, and he soaked it all in as his club skated to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

"It was fun being here," Keefe said postgame. "Different circumstances than when I've been here in the past. Fitting that the Marlies were in the building this afternoon, that's more what I'm familiar with. It's nice. It's special. A lot of my family here to enjoy it as well. It wasn't the prettiest game at times, but we found a way to get the two points and finish off a good week here."

Keefe, a native of Brampton, took over for the fired Mike Babcock on Nov. 20, while the Leafs were in the midst of a road trip.

Keefe coached in the building during his time with the Toronto Marlies, but he noticed the difference in the arena's atmosphere on a Saturday night with the big club.

"Fans are into it. There's a lot of them. It's a big crowd. It's nice to be at home. As I said, I've been in this environment before but never quite like this. Never quite as full and never quite as much emotion and energy and all those types of things. It was nice and we're hoping it gets better from here," Keefe said.

Toronto's transition to Keefe's systems has been successful so far, as the club improved to 4-1 under their new leader with Saturday's victory.

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Panthers to bench Bobrovsky amid early-season struggles

The Florida Panthers' new $70-million netminder will be riding the bench Saturday when the club takes on the Nashville Predators, as head coach Joel Quenneville is opting to start recently recalled goalie Chris Driedger over the struggling Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We expected to give (Driedger) a game on a merit-based basis by how he played in camp, how he played down there last year and this year," Quenneville told The Athletic's George Richards.

"We will see how he handles what is a great opportunity for him. Bob will certainly get back in there soon. This is not a scheduled start, but that is where it's at."

Bobrovsky signed a seven-year contract with the Panthers this past summer that made him the league's second-highest-paid goalie at $10 million per season.

The two-time Vezina Trophy winner was expected to help push a talented Florida roster to the next level. But through 21 appearances this season, Bobrovsky owns the NHL's second-worst save percentage at .884.

The 31-year-old Russian seemed to draw Quenneville's ire while allowing four goals on 20 shots versus the Washington Capitals on Wednesday in his most recent start.

"That was a well-played game from our point of view, and we just need some saves to win the game in a game like tonight," the coach said.

Driedger, 25, was the Ottawa Senators' third-round pick in 2012. He's spent the opening portion of the 2019-20 season with the Springfield Thunderbirds, Florida's AHL affiliate, posting a 6-8 record and a .938 save percentage in 14 contests.

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Marchand: Concussion spotter is ‘busy eating pizza and cheeseburgers’

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand didn't mince words when asked about concussion spotters pulling him in the third period of Friday's matinee versus the New York Rangers.

Marchand appeared to be shaken up after a collision with Rangers blue-liner Jacob Trouba in the dying seconds of the second period. He returned for the third, but the spotters took him off in the final frame.

"That's embarrassing," Marchand told reporters postgame, including Conor Ryan of the Boston Sports Journal. "They had 30 minutes, 20 minutes to sit there and view the tape and call that in, but they made me come out in a 2-1 game as we're starting to get momentum.

"The guy up there is busy eating pizza and cheeseburgers and can't watch the game. Maybe next time he'll pull his head out of his butt and watch the game."

Here's a look at the play:

Marchand was ultimately cleared and wound up returning to the contest. Friday's affair marked only the fifth time in 26 games this season Marchand has been held off the scoresheet.

Hours after the game, Marchand took to Twitter to apologize.

The Bruins won the game 3-2 in overtime on a goal from David Krejci.

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Habs’ Julien ‘frustrated as hell’ after club’s 6th straight loss

The Montreal Canadiens are sputtering, and head coach Claude Julien didn't hide his displeasure after the team's sixth consecutive loss on Thursday night.

"I'm frustrated as hell right now," Julien said postgame, later adding that he's tired of losing, according to Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette.

The Habs lost 6-4 on home ice to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, dropping another contest to a team below them in the standings. During Montreal's current skid, the team has lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, the Devils twice, and the Boston Bruins in an 8-1 drubbing.

Defensive issues have been at the forefront of the Canadiens' struggles, with the team surrendering 31 goals during its run of losses.

Montreal has now fallen outside the playoff cutline, and the Canadiens trail the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third spot in the Atlantic Division by one point with a game in hand.

The Habs return to action Saturday for a matinee with the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Bruins sign Coyle, Wagner to multi-year extensions

The Boston Bruins have signed forwards Charlie Coyle and Chris Wagner to multi-year contract extensions, the team announced Wednesday.

Coyle signed a six-year deal worth $5.25 million annually, while Wagner inked a three-year pact worth $1.35 million per year. Both players were set to hit unrestricted free agency at season's end, along with teammates Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Jaroslav Halak, and Joakim Nordstrom.

Coyle was acquired from the Minnesota Wild ahead of last season's trade deadline. The 27-year-old Massachusetts native was a good fit in Boston right away, and he chipped in 16 points in 24 games during the Bruins' run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring. This season, Coyle's posted five goals and nine assists in 24 contests while averaging 16:30 of ice time per night.

Wagner is an effective depth piece, and he produced a career-high 19 points in 76 games in 2018-19.

The Bruins sit comfortably atop the Atlantic Division with a 16-3-5 record.

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Lundqvist grabs sole possession of 5th on all-time wins list

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist moved into sole possession of fifth on the NHL's all-time wins list with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night.

Lundqvist made 26 stops to pass Curtis Joseph with the 455th win of his illustrious career.

More to come.

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Flames’ Brodie returns to lineup for 1st time since collapsing at practice

Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie is back in the lineup versus the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time since collapsing at practice on Nov. 14.

Brodie missed a total of five games, and he's back on his regular pairing alongside Calgary captain Mark Girodano.

More to come.

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