Murray says he feels like a scapegoat for Senators’ struggles

Matt Murray knows he hasn't been good enough for the Ottawa Senators to start the season, but he says he's somewhat in the dark about why the franchise placed him on waivers over the weekend.

"They said it was a management decision. That's about all I got," Murray said Tuesday during his first media availability since joining the Belleville Senators, Ottawa's AHL affiliate.

The netminder added that he hasn't heard from Senators general manager Pierre Dorion since being waived.

Murray holds a substandard .890 save percentage and a headache-inducing 3.26 goals-against average across six starts this campaign, which probably isn't what Ottawa expected when it signed the two-time Stanley Cup champion to a four-year, $25-million deal last October.

However, Murray has struggled to stay healthy. A non-COVID-19 illness sidelined him to begin the season. He then suited up for two games before sustaining a head injury. The 27-year-old eventually returned to action for another three contests and then tested positive for COVID-19.

He returned to the crease last Wednesday and surrendered four goals in a loss to the San Jose Sharks. That was the last game he played before the Senators, who sit in the league's basement with a 4-14-1 record, placed him on waivers Saturday.

Murray gave an honest answer Tuesday when asked if he felt he was being blamed for Ottawa's early-season struggles.

"I do, yeah. I also think that's part of what you sign up for as a goalie. I think that comes with the territory," he said. "I don't think I've been bad, but I haven't been good enough to win."

Murray said the Senators informed him about their plan to waive him with the intention of sending him to Belleville following the team's 4-0 road loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. He didn't dress for that game.

The netminder flew back from California on his own after hearing the club's decision. He summed up his feelings during that flight with one word Tuesday.

"Confusion. Honestly, it was the main one," Murray said. "A lot of confusion, but at the end of the day, I thought about what I wanted to get out of (an AHL stint).

"I'm here to make the most of it and keep my eye on the prize and eventually obviously get back up there as soon as possible."

Murray has played in just 33 games with the Senators over two seasons. He's authored a .892 save percentage and 3.35 goals-against average during that span.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Evander Kane: Reports of Sharks’ locker room tension ‘news to me’

Following his first practice as a member of the San Jose Sharks' AHL affiliate, Evander Kane addressed his part in a tumultuous summer that has put a temporary pause on his NHL career.

Kane ended last season leading the Sharks in scoring with 49 points in 56 games. However, he cleared waivers just a couple of months later and was assigned to the San Jose Barracuda after an offseason full of NHL investigations. The league ended up suspending Kane for 21 games for violating its COVID-19 protocol.

Reports also surfaced in August that Kane's teammates were frustrated by his behavior and didn't want him to return to the Sharks.

"I don't think you're going to have a group of people for ... 150, 160 days get along perfectly," he said Tuesday, according to NBC Sports. "I think there's been a big misconception of the entire team or multiple players. It's funny, I had my end of the year meeting last year, and it was nothing but positive, positive, positive, and how great I was with the young guys, how great of a season I had.

"But apparently something happened in the summer that I wasn't aware of. It was all new to me and news to me. It was interesting."

Kane added that he hasn't spoken to any of his Sharks teammates.

"I've been doing my own thing, getting myself prepared. Handling my business, as I'm sure they have," Kane said, according to The Athletic's Kevin Kurz.

The winger cleared the league's September investigation into allegations from his estranged wife, Anna, that he gambled on NHL games. The league later opened up two subsequent probes looking into domestic abuse accusations made by Anna and Kane's alleged use of a fake vaccination card.

"You'll have to refer to the NHL statement that they put out via the suspension," Kane said. "I served my time, I did my 21 games, now I'm back.

"I'm fully vaccinated, and that's all I have to say about it."

Kane also stayed tight-lipped about his plans for his future within the organization and league.

"I think we have a good plan in place. I'm not going to get into that too much. But I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Devils sign Jack Hughes to 8-year, $64M extension

The New Jersey Devils locked up 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes with an eight-year contract extension that carries an average annual value of $8 million, the team announced Tuesday.

The 20-year-old's production has been slow to start his career, tallying 52 points over 117 games across his first two campaigns. However, he looked poised to explode this season, recording two goals and an assist in two contests before a dislocated shoulder forced him to miss 17 games. He's returning Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.

The Devils now have their top two centers locked in through 2026-27, as 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier signed a seven-year extension at $7.25-million per season in 2019.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Kings get Doughty back after 16-game absence due to knee injury

The Los Angeles Kings' workhorse is making his return to the lineup against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.

Drew Doughty will play in the evening's matchup after missing the previous 16 contests, Kings head coach Todd McLellan confirmed, according to the club's editorial content manager Zach Dooley.

Doughty hurt his right knee on a collision with Dallas Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa on Oct. 22. Five days later, the team revealed Doughty sustained a contusion and was expected to return to game action in about eight weeks, which would've had him coming back around Dec. 22.

The veteran blue-liner, who'll turn 32 on Dec. 8, was enjoying a productive start to the season before missing time. Doughty posted a goal and six assists while averaging 22:37 of ice time over the first four games of the campaign, including a four-point effort in a season-opening win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

Doughty has spent his entire 14-year career with the Kings. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, then won the Norris Trophy in 2016.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

NHL Tuesday player props: Go over on these 2 shot props

We didn't have a player props post yesterday. However, those of you who follow me on Twitter were able to enjoy a 3-1 night on shot totals. That pushes our record to 42-30 on the year for +11.49 units.

We'll look to keep the good times rolling tonight.

Jesper Bratt over 2.5 shots (+115)

Jesper Bratt is cooking on home soil. He has recorded at least three shots on goal in four straight games and has averaged 3.8 shots on target over his last five at the Prudential Center.

His line has more or less been the Devils' top unit of late and it's benefited from cushier usage in their own building. That should continue Tuesday.

Not only is Bratt trending upward on his own, he finds himself in a very favourable matchup against San Jose. The Sharks are bleeding shots, ranking 28th in shot attempts against per 60 minutes of five-on-five play over their last 10 games.

I like Bratt's chances of staying hot in this one.

Ryan Hartman over 2.5 shots (-130)

The Arizona Coyotes are a terrible hockey team. They don't generate much and are prone to giving up shots in bulk, as we saw last night against Winnipeg.

Now, the Coyotes are on the latter half of a road back-to-back against the Wild, one of the most dominant five-on-five sides in the NHL.

A lot of that dominance stems from Minnesota's top line, which is centered by Ryan Hartman. The Wild have controlled nearly 57% of the shots - and 60% of the expected goals - with Hartman on the ice.

Hartman's line should be able to generate a lot of shots against this Coyotes team, with plenty of them coming off his stick. He's amassed 53 shot attempts over the last 10 games and recorded at least three shots on goal in eight of them.

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Bruins head coach Cassidy lands in COVID-19 protocol

Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is in COVID-19 protocol, the club announced.

Cassidy has mild symptoms, and assistant coach Joe Sacco will assume primary duties behind the bench, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Tuesday, according to the Boston Globe's Matt Porter.

Boston is already without suspended star Brad Marchand, who was handed a three-game ban Monday for slew-footing Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Sunday.

It hasn't been an ideal 24-hour period for the Bruins. Forward Jake DeBrusk's agent confirmed Monday his client is requesting a trade. He will remain with the team while the club and his representative try to arrange a deal.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

MacKinnon will play Wednesday vs. Maple Leafs after missing 8 games

Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon will suit up against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, head coach Jared Bednar confirmed on Denver's Altitude Sports Radio on Tuesday, according to The Athletic's Peter Baugh.

MacKinnon has missed the last eight games with a lower-body injury. Bednar said on Nov. 10 that MacKinnon would miss "give or take three weeks."

The 26-year-old has produced a goal and nine assists over eight games this season.

Colorado went 7-1-0 during his most recent absence. MacKinnon also missed the first two contests of the campaign, over which the club went 1-1-0.

The bolstered Avalanche will face a Maple Leafs squad that's currently the hottest team in the NHL. Toronto has won four straight games and nine of the last 10.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Calder Trophy Power Rankings: Everybody loves Raymond

In our second edition of theScore's 2021-22 Calder Trophy Power Rankings, we feature two new freshmen making their marks early on this season.

5. Dan Vladar, Flames

Rich Gagnon / Getty Images Sport / Getty
GP Record SV% GSAA
5 4-0-1 .946 4.8

Previous rank: N/A

Show us someone who had Vladar on their Calder Trophy radar heading into the season, and we'll show you a liar. Despite a hot start to his first season with Calgary, Vladar is a long shot as a backup to take home any individual hardware. Still, his recent body of work deserves some credit.

Filling in behind starter Jacob Markstrom, Vladar has been brilliant for a Flames team making plenty of noise in the Western Conference. Along with a sterling save percentage, Vladar has notched two shutouts in the early going. He's making a case for the most underrated signing of the offseason, as well as a long-shot push for top rookie.

4. Dawson Mercer, Devils

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
19 14 16:13 52%

Previous rank: 4

Mercer's fourth-place ranking is far from a knock on his play, as the Devils freshman remains a steady contributor in his first season. However, he hasn't quite done enough to usurp the top Calder contenders on our list. Mercer sits in a tie for second in rookie scoring while also ranking second among all New Jersey skaters.

He's earned enough trust from his coach to play top-six minutes - which is no small feat for a first-year center - and he's made the most of his opportunities to make a lasting impression. Mercer was one of three first-round picks the Devils made in 2020, and it appears they struck gold with at least one of them.

3. Moritz Seider, Red Wings

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
22 14 22:17 52.14%

Previous rank: 2

Seider's offensive production has slowed down a touch since our last rankings, but he's still contributing in every facet of the game on the Red Wings' top defensive pair. The German stalwart leads all rookies in average ice time by a significant margin and ranks second among Detroit's rearguards in even-strength minutes.

Additionally, Seider is still tied for second in rookie scoring despite the relative dry patch, and the majority of his production is coming at even strength. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Seider's debut campaign to date is his play in the defensive zone. He's provided a ton value in shot and scoring chance suppression, leading Detroit's regular defensemen in goals against per-60, Corsi against per-60, and expected goals against per-60.

2. Trevor Zegras, Ducks

Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport / Getty
20 14 16:33 53.41%

Previous rank: N/A

After a modest start to a debut season with sky-high expectations, Zegras has begun to heat up. The supremely skilled star-in-the-making vaulted up the rookie scoring race to second thanks to a near point-per-game clip in November.

Zegras is on the positive side of many key metrics, and if he continues to put up points for a surprisingly competitive Ducks squad, he'll be a strong Rookie of the Year candidate all season.

1. Lucas Raymond, Red Wings

Gregory Shamus / Getty Images Sport / Getty
22 21 17:03 55.13%

Previous rank: 1

Through two months, the Calder is Raymond's to lose. He leads all rookies in goals, points, and shots while routinely showcasing electrifying game-breaking talent for a Red Wings team that wouldn't be anywhere near a wild-card position without him in the lineup.

Raymond is a weapon at even strength and on the power play thanks to a lethal release that can beat any goaltender clean. Combine his shot with elite hockey IQ and deft playmaking, and it's clear Raymond is bound to become a special player.

Honorable mentions: Michael Bunting (TOR), Seth Jarvis (CAR), Bowen Byram (COL), Stuart Skinner (EDM)

(Analytics source: Evolving-Hockey)

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.