Tag Archives: Hockey

Devils place Boyle on IR with upper-body injury

The New Jersey Devils have placed center Brian Boyle on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, the team announced Tuesday.

In the club's most recent game Sunday versus the Winnipeg Jets, Boyle was on the receiving end of a devastating hit from Dustin Byfuglien.

With Boyle out, the club has recalled 2015 sixth overall pick Pavel Zacha from AHL Binghamton. The 21-year-old began the season with the Devils and went pointless through 10 games before being sent down.

Boyle, on the other hand, has recorded six goals and one assist through 15 contests while averaging just over 13 minutes per night.

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5 things we learned on the Hall of Fame red carpet

TORONTO - There aren't too many dates on the hockey calendar that warrant Hollywood treatment. The Hall of Fame induction night is one of them.

The red carpet was rolled out Monday to welcome dozens of the sport's greats, all on hand to honor the Hall's newest members - Martin Brodeur, Martin St. Louis, Jayna Hefford, Alexander Yakushev, Willie O'Ree, and Gary Bettman.

Here are some things we learned on the carpet:

Gretzky may have a favorite

If anybody can talk a teammate into the Hall of Fame, it's Wayne Gretzky.

Asked to provide the name of someone who deserves to be enshrined but hasn't gotten the call, "The Great One" enthusiastically put forth Kevin Lowe.

Gretzky and Lowe, a rugged NHL defenseman for 19 seasons from 1979 to 1997, played together in Edmonton for nearly a decade. The latter is tied for 10th on the all-time list in NHL titles won.

“I’m biased, I’m a teammate. You win six Stanley Cups and you’re an unselfish player and you’re part of a dynasty and part of what makes a team great," Gretzky said of Lowe, now 59.

"When you’re kids, it’s all about having fun, scoring goals, and just enjoying it. When you’re a professional athlete, it’s about winning. Championships to me are everything.”

Lamoriello is in Gary's corner

About an hour before Gary Bettman wisecracked about getting into the Hall despite facing a barrage of boos every time he appears in public, Lou Lamoriello came to the defense of the longtime NHL commissioner.

Lamoriello, a 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, urged prickly fans to consider Bettman's 25-year body of work.

"I think if you take a step back and look at what the commissioner has done for this game, how he’s expanded the game, how he’s been aggressive in changing the game as the players changed - the speed and strength of the game - it needed changes to allow the game to be the greatest game it is today," Lamoriello said.

"You have to be special to do that, and you have to satisfy a lot of ownership to get a lot of these decisions made, and he has a way of getting everybody to come together. We hear boos in different buildings, but sometimes I think that’s a lot of respect too.”

Healy's motivated to help

It was a little odd that the NHL and a group of retired players reached a tentative settlement in a concussion lawsuit on Monday, of all days.

Maybe a coincidence, or perhaps a strategic public relations move by the league and its lawyers to pair the so-called win with Bettman's induction?

Either way, NHL Alumni Association president Glenn Healy is motivated by the $18.9-million payout, even though it falls way short of the settlement that NFL players received from their league.

“I think the biggest thing for us is that it’s a step. It’s a real step in the right direction to get hope back to families," Healy said. "The calls that I get are never from the player. They’re always from the wives, always from the kids that say to me, ‘I want Dad back.’ And so, it’s a step in the right direction today to try to get some help and some hope for players.

"This is not the end game. We’re not done here. The Alumni is going to dig in with this as well. There will never be an out of bounds. There will always be an issue with this. This is a fast, dangerous game, and we’re not going to stop until we can help every player.”

Brodeur can (or at least could) ball

Martin Brodeur did just about everything over the course of a 22-year career.

He won three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, four Vezina Trophies, claimed the all-time wins record, and scored multiple goals.

According to old teammate and ex-Devils captain Scott Niedermayer, Brodeur's athletic accomplishments extended beyond hockey.

"I remember we were playing some basketball one day down in Florida. We had a day off," Niedermayer said. "Most of us are terrible, couldn’t make a shot, and there’s Marty. It looks like he’s played basketball for 30 years. He was just a natural. He was a heck of an athlete.”

St. Louis may never change

Understandably, given the hockey world's resentment towards players his size at the time, Martin St. Louis had a chip on his shoulder when he broke into the NHL.

Dave Andreychuk, one of St. Louis' mentors and a 2017 inductee, insists the Marty-vs-the-world mentality persisted within the 5-foot-8 winger, remaining a part of his attitude through an illustrious career.

“I don’t think it ever left. Right until the end, right?" Andreychuk said. "He was trying to prove to the world that he belongs and that’s his demeanor. That’s who he is. When you think about the career path for Marty, and what he did, I’m in amazement just like everybody else.”

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Stars’ Shore out 7-10 days with lower-body injury

The Dallas Stars can't seem to catch a break.

Forward Devin Shore will be out for seven-to-10 days after suffering a lower-body injury during Monday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, head coach Jim Montgomery announced postgame.

Shore's injury occurred in the same game in which Alexander Radulov made his return to the lineup after a six-game absence. The Stars recently lost defenseman John Klingberg for a month due to a hand injury.

Fellow blue-liners Marc Methot and Connor Carrick will also require more time to recover from their ailments, according to DallasStars.com's Mike Heika.

Shore isn't a household name league-wide, but he entered Monday in a tie for fourth on the team in points with 11 and had enjoyed success skating on the team's top line alongside Tyler Seguin.

The 24-year-old was Dallas' second-round pick in 2012.

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Report: Coyotes’ Chychrun to make season debut Tuesday vs. Red Wings

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun will be activated off injured reserve and make his season debut Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings, according to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro.

Chychrun suffered a season-ending knee injury on April 3, 2018 after he was slew-footed by Calgary Flames forward Michael Frolik.

Arizona selected Chychrun 16th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old has already logged 118 career NHL games across two seasons, scoring 11 goals and adding 23 assists.

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Enjoy this preview of the Canucks’ potential future while you can

BUFFALO - Nobody was supposed to be talking about the Vancouver Canucks this season. Thanks to "The Alien," "The Flow," "Bo," and sidekicks "Goldy" and "Shotgun Jake," the opposite's the case.

But introducing that cast of characters to NHL fans required saying goodbye to the franchise's stars. While April's simultaneous farewells to Henrik and Daniel Sedin put a bow on the most successful two decades in club history, the twins' exit also signaled the end of an agonizing transition from Generation X to Generation Z.

"They were great players for the organization for a long time but, with their retirement, it's given some other players an opportunity to step up and fill that void," Canucks general manager Jim Benning told theScore on the weekend.

Heading into Monday night's game with the Rangers in New York, the 10-6-2 Canucks have scored more goals than 27 teams and sit alone atop the Pacific Division. It's a strange sight considering that the roster's wildly incomplete and the team's underlying numbers aren't pretty.

But one undeniable truth has emerged in Vancouver: In the Sedins' absence, the kids are running the show - and they're damn good.

"We knew it was going to be a challenge here, with Hank and Danny being gone," said Bo Horvat, the blossoming two-way center and potential future captain. "To lose them was definitely tough, but we have guys that are stepping up and taking their spot."

To properly understand the monumental task Benning and head coach Travis Green are undertaking in the post-Sedin era, recall Vancouver's pitiful recent performance.

From 2015-16 through 2017-18, the Canucks were legitimately the worst team in the league, ranking last or near the bottom in several key statistical categories:

CATEGORY CANUCKS NHL RANK
Points % 44.1 31st
Corsi for % 47.6 26th
Shooting % 8.3 29th
Save % 90.7 23rd
Power play % 17.2 28th
Penalty kill % 78.7 29th

So, how are these Canucks doing it, and what might their early-season success say about Vancouver's long-term prospects?

The 1-2-3 punch

OK, about those first few nicknames: Transcendent rookie center Elias Pettersson is "The Alien," or "Petey"; "The Flow" is sophomore sharpshooter Brock Boeser; and "Bo" is Horvat, the trusty leader.

In the wake of Pettersson's blistering start - including 10 goals and seven assists in 12 games, and a spot in the imaginary GIF Hall of Fame - he's already being mentioned in the same breath as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Peter Forsberg, Patrice Bergeron, and (wait for it) Wayne Gretzky. That's some out-of-this-world company.

"He's going to turn out to be his own player. I'm not going to compare him to anybody," Benning said. "But I can tell you this about him: He has that awareness out there where he seems to know where all the players are on the other team and where all of his teammates are when he has the puck on his stick."

Pettersson's been the talk of the NHL since notching a goal and an assist on opening night. He's already running Vancouver's first power-play unit. And he just turned 20 on Monday.

Lanky at 6-foot-2 and 176 pounds, there's a fluidity to his game; he slithers around the ice, dodging defenders and goalies with deceptive body language and puck protection. Off the rush, at a standstill, moving laterally - whatever the circumstance, he's a threat to unleash his exceptional shot, find an open teammate with a clever pass, or deke through the defensive structure.

"It seems like every game he comes up with something that's unexpected. That's why he's so fun to watch," Benning said. "You can never know, on any given night, what trick he's going to pull out of his bag."

Check out the video above to watch his latest circus act on loop. That behind-the-back, off-the-skate dangle in overtime provoked audible gasps inside KeyBank Center in the dying moments of Saturday's matinee against the Sabres.

"Oh, it was just nasty," linemate Jake Virtanen remarked. "... We see it all the time from him in practice. It's still pretty insane to see it because it's in the game. I don't think I or anyone else would try it."

Though Pettersson suffered a concussion on a hit from Michael Matheson in the Canucks' fifth game, the injury hasn't cramped his style. The 2017 fifth overall pick continues to finesse his way into prime scoring areas while showcasing surprising defensive chops.

"He's as good defensively as he is offensively. And he competes," defenseman Erik Gudbranson said of Pettersson, who's drawn seven penalties. "I'm extremely impressed with that. The way he supports his D-men in his own end is really good and he fights to get into position."

Horvat added: "The stuff he does away from the puck is what has impressed me the most. ... His shot and his point-getting, and his playmaking ability aside, he is creating offense by being in the right position and having a good stick."

With Pettersson and Boeser years away from unrestricted free agency and Horvat under contract through 2023, the Canucks have three foundational forward pieces - "engine players," as Benning puts it - under team control for the foreseeable future.

Boeser, nursing a groin injury at the moment, demonstrated in his injury-plagued rookie season that he's capable of consistently contending for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. As long as he can stay on the ice, there's no reason The Flow can't hang with Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews, Gen Z's premier snipers, for the next decade-plus.

And at center, Pettersson's flamboyant style draws attention away from blue-collar Horvat, the squad's leading scorer two years ago and a nine-goal, 16-point man already. The thick pivot is beloved within the organization because he's responsible in all three zones.

"I think when Bo's playing his best, he's strong on his faceoffs, he's good in his own zone, and he's a horse to play against, and it results in scoring chances as well," Green said.

Jennifer Hefner / Getty Images

Since the defensively minded Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter have managed to appear in a combined 18 games, Horvat's been deployed as the Canucks' shutdown center. The 23-year-old's offensive-zone faceoff rate (43.4 percent) hasn't dipped this low since 2015-16.

“Young players that are wired like Bo feel like they've got to do it all to help the team win, and we've talked to him about that a lot," Green said. "... The emergence of Petey, and Beagle and Sutter going down, it's kinda forced him into that role a little bit. But that's how we envision him playing long term."

Look at the past 10 Stanley Cup-winning groups and you'll find that every single lineup boasted at least three drivers up front. Think Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel/Staal in Pittsburgh for three Cups; Toews, Kane, and Hossa in Chicago for three; Kopitar, Carter, and Brown/Richards in Los Angeles for two; Bergeron, Krejci, and Marchand in Boston in 2011; Backstrom, Kuznetsov, and Ovechkin in Washington last season.

You don't win a championship with just three impact players - the core is bigger than that, and there are 23 names on the roster - but Vancouver may have something special brewing. Pettersson, Boeser, and Horvat each fill critical roles, and time is on their side.

The (incomplete) supporting cast

If the Canucks hope to ride this current wave a little while longer, they must evolve, because the league's fourth-youngest roster is beating the odds. Despite ranking in the bottom five in virtually all shot-related statistics - including Corsi, scoring chances, and high-danger attempts - and owning a negative goal differential, Vancouver's got a .611 points percentage.

Pettersson, Boeser, and Horvat need support, this season and in the future, from all over the depth chart.

“We’re a team that needs to have everyone playing well. We’re not going to just have 13-14 play well (and find success)," Green said following the Sabres game. "When we have our whole team playing well and buying in, we find ways to win."

The Canucks are dangerously thin on defense and in goal due to injuries and, frankly, a lack of talent. Beyond Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton, the back end's something of a patchwork. In another two or three years, Quinn Hughes and Olli Juolevi should be on the blue line with Thatcher Demko between the pipes, and the trio should be making an impact. But during the first season of the post-Sedin era, that area of the roster remains an unlikely source of help or inspiration.

That offers Vancouver's lesser-known forwards a chance to shine. Twenty-three-year-old Nikolay "Goldy" Goldobin and 22-year-old "Shotgun" Virtanen are taking advantage, and not a moment too soon for their NHL careers. Both players are 2014 first-round picks, and they're running out of time to impress Canucks management and coaches with Goldobin on an expiring contract and Virtanen a season behind.

Goldobin, acquired from the Sharks at the 2017 trade deadline, has found a home in the lineup early this season. He's recorded eight assists, already a career high, and seems to be developing some chemistry with Pettersson in an extended audition on the rookie's wing: Four of those helpers came on Pettersson's goals, and they've linked up somehow on seven of Goldobin's nine points, including the Russian's lone marker.

“That’s one of the reasons why we traded for him," Benning said of Goldobin's match with a skilled center. "... We liked his ability when he has the puck, to make plays and bring offense to our group. There are some things as a player that he needed to work on, and he’s working on those things and he’s gotten better."

In Virtanen's case, the Canucks gave him something specific to work on over the summer, telling the 6-foot-1, 208-pounder to find a way to hit the net more often.

Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images

So far, so good: 80 percent of his shot attempts have counted as shots on goal (up from 66 percent in 2017-18), and he's scored seven times after putting up a career-high 10 goals in 75 games last season.

With the Sedins' even-strength and power-play time up for grabs, Virtanen has a golden opportunity to make himself indispensable to a forward group desperate for some versatility.

"Jake can shoot the puck. He has a good release on his shot," Benning said. "He's a unique player because, for a guy his size, he's fast. He can get in on the forecheck and disrupt the play. He can get to the net."

Speaking of that shot: In August, a Vancouver radio host joked about shotgunning (chugging a beer from a hole punctured in the side of a can) every time Virtanen scored this season. For a dedicated but win-starved Canucks fan base, that joke turned into a legitimate movement.

Beginning with Virtanen's goal in the season opener, dozens of people have taken the #ShotgunJake challenge and documented it on social media.

"If people are having fun watching us play hockey, then that’s really what we're working towards," said Gudbranson, who's right in the middle of the old and new guard at age 27. "If he can keep going, beer sales are going up, I guess."

If Virtanen and Goldobin keep making headway, the Canucks could discover that they've already added a pair of wingers to their core. Along with the Big Three, plus Beagle and fellow veterans Loui Eriksson and Antoine Roussel, the Canucks could slowly but surely be developing a respectable four-line group.

For now, the Canucks are young, loose, and promising over the long term, while enjoying every minute of this unexpected and probably unsustainable short-term ride.

"At the core, we're a bunch of buddies playing on a hockey team. We try to keep it that way," said Gudbranson.

"We had our own expectations. We've set our goals that are achievable and we've prided ourselves on getting better every day and every single game."

Bottoms up.

John Matisz is theScore's National Hockey Writer. You can find him on Twitter @matiszjohn.

(Statistics courtesy: NaturalStatTrick.com, Hockey-Reference.com, and NHL.com)

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Predators place Arvidsson back on injured reserve

The Nashville Predators placed forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with an upper-body injury Monday, per the team.

The designation comes just one game after Arvidsson returned from injured reserve following a three-game absence due to a lower-body injury.

The 25-year-old apparently sustained the upper-body injury late in the third period of Saturday night's game against the Dallas Stars when he crashed into the boards after being slashed by defenseman Esa Lindell, according to The Athletic's Adam Vingan.

Arvidsson's placement on injured reserve means he'll miss at least a week, which comes at a busy time for the Predators as the club will play four times over the next six days.

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Kings’ Campbell out 4-6 weeks with torn meniscus

Los Angeles Kings goalies can't catch a break.

Jack Campbell will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus and miss the next four-to-six weeks, the team announced Monday. The injury occurred during the club's 1-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

The news comes with Jonathan Quick already sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus of his own two weeks ago.

In a corresponding move, the Kings recalled Cal Petersen from the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old has had a rough go this season, going 2-3-1 with a 4.29 goals-against average and a .881 save percentage in the AHL.

Campbell had fared admirably in Quick's absence, posting a 5-7-0 record with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

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Gretzky praises Pettersson, compares rookie’s game to his own

Consider Wayne Gretzky on board the Elias Pettersson hype train.

The Great One dished out some high praise when asked about the Vancouver Canucks phenom, saying he sees a lot of similarities between his game and Pettersson's.

Pettersson has burst onto the NHL scene after dominating the Swedish League last season, living up to the immense hype and then some with 10 goals and 17 points in his first 12 games.

While a Calder Trophy is on the horizon for the 2017 fifth overall pick, Pettersson's got a long way to go to match Gretzky, who notched 137 points and won the MVP in his rookie season.

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