The Sabres’ Power Play is Struggling – Here’s Why and Some Potential Fixes

Via Micheline Veluvolu

While the Sabres have had a fine start to the season, and a 4-3 record to show for it, the power play is an exception. That unit is ranked 24th in the NHL, converting chances at a 15.38% clip. The last time the Sabres had a good power play was the 2016-17 season, when they finished first in the league. Of course, that was three coaches ago and only two players from that team are still on the roster, Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons. Since that season, they have finished 20th, 16th, 20th, 12th, and 16th respectively.

The problem has been a combination of players and system, and this article will take a deeper look at what makes power plays successful and point out ways the Sabres can improve. For a team that doesn’t control play at 5v5 (45.86 xGF% via Natural Stat Trick), a good power play can steal you some games.

What’s Wrong

The Sabres power play has a myriad of issues, but the most glaring issue is their lack of goals when set up in the zone. Half of their four goals have come off the rush, and while a goal is a goal, you’d like goals to come from nice play in the offensive zone. The other two have come from wrist shots by Rasmus Dahlin.

The Sabres seem incredibly content with taking shots from the outside, which is not conducive to a successful power play. They aren’t working the puck down low back into the slot, and are incredibly predictable into how they are trying to beat you.

There are some shots that come from the net front, and not surprisingly two of the Sabres’ power play goals have come from that area of the ice.

If you compare this with the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers, who are the two best teams in the league on the power play, the difference is striking.

You can clearly see that these teams get more of their shots from in tight on the goalie, especially Edmonton. Of course it should be noted that these teams have significantly more talent on their power plays, including Hart Trophy candidates in Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon on Colorado, and Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for Edmonton. But the systems they are playing are generating shots from the slot, something the Sabres have not been doing. The Sabres are not generating many high danger chances when on the man advantage, as evidenced by them being dead last in the league in xGF/60 on the power play.

Potential Fixes

The Sabres roster as constructed doesn’t have the offensive firepower to be a top power play team in the league. But it is inexcusable for a team with offensive talents like Dahlin and Owen Power on the back end, shooters like Victor Oloffson, Tage Thompson, and Jack Quinn, and playmakers like Peyton Krebs and Casey Mittelstadt to be this bad a man up.

I would start by taking Jeff Skinner off of the top power play unit. He has only cracked 10 power play points six times in his 12 year career. This isn’t a knock on him as a player, he’s still a good 5v5 contributor, but he has not and will not be a power play weapon. I would replace him with Dylan Cozens. Skinner occupies the slot on the power play, and I would rather have Cozens there, who is a better playmaker. In their last game, head coach Don Granato put Quinn on the half wall opposite of Thompson, and I would keep that change. Quinn is much more of a shooting threat than Mittelstadt, which could open things up. With all this being said, my first unit would be Dahlin at the point, Thompson and Quinn on the half walls, Cozens in the slot, and Alex Tuch in front of the net.

For the second unit, I would keep Power at the point. While he has struggled at times to start this season, he is still far and away their second best offensive defenseman. At the half walls I would have Oloffson and Mittelstadt. Oloffson has one of the best one-timers in the league, he was a no brainer. I was between Mittelstadt and Peyton Krebs for this spot, but decided to choose Mittelstadt because he is a little bit better of a shooting threat. I would put Okposo in the slot, he has a very good wrist shot that has fooled goalies plenty of times from this area of the ice. And finally, I would give J.J. Peterka a chance to be the net front guy. He hasn’t played any power play time in his young NHL career, but he has the skill set that I think could thrive in this setting.

Final Thoughts

The Sabres power play has easily been the most disappointing facet of the Sabres start to this season. A team with the skillsets they have to offer should never be as bad as they are now. While they will never be a top unit in the league, they should easily be an average unit, but to this point they have been one of the worst. With a few changes in both personnel and philosophy, I think the unit can get there.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Injury Report

Via Adam Cairns

Justin Danforth – Danforth will be out for six months, after getting surgery on Monday to repair the torn labrum. He was placed on injured reserve (IR) after the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday

Nick Blankenburg – Blankenburg is day-to-day with an upper body injury after he collided with New York Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko. After the collision, he went to the locker room, then came back, but ended up leaving the game later in that period.

Joonas Korpisalo – Korpisalo underwent hip surgery last season, and is making progress. According to Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch, Korpisalo is expected to make a return to the lineup in the near future.

Adam Boqvist – Tuesday, Boqvist left the game with an undisclosed injury against the Coyotes. He was hurt on a blocked shot, and did not return to the game. It was revealed that Boqvist has a broken foot, and is expected to be out six weeks. Boqvist was placed on injured reserve.

Is Adam Fantilli the Next Jack Eichel?

Via Michigan Athletics

In collegiate hockey, Michigan has been producing some all stars as of recently. Kyle Connor, Max Pacioretty, Matty Beniers, and many more. Currently, Michigan has some future NHL stars like Luke Hughes and Frank Nazar. One player whose having a monstrous freshman season is forward Adam Fantilli.

Fantilli is scoring at an outrageous rate. As of the writing of this piece, he’s played six games, scoring five goals and adding 10 assists for 15 points. At more than a two-points-per-game pace, Fantilli has been a power for the Wolverines, and one of the best upcoming collegiate draft choices since Jack Eichel.

Fantilli’s Game

Many scouts say that Adam Fantilli is the NHL’s next big power forward. While that may be true, he’s also an elite playmaker.

Fantilli’s ability to use his body to shield the puck from opponents is flat out unfair. He uses this, combined with his elite skating ability, to put himself in better position and open ice, giving him time to dish or shoot the puck.

Adam Fantilli scores most of his goals around the net, but he isn’t a black hole when it comes to outside of the crease. He has probably one of the best shots in the draft, he positions his body away from the net when he shoots to fool goalies into thinking pass, then catches them off guard with a heat-seeker shot. Another way he hides his shot is by shooting while in crossovers. On the transition, he’s going to look to shoot while being guarded, and his ability to mask the shot is why he has one of the best goal-scoring abilities in the draft. It’s safe to say, don’t give him any space in front of your net, or the puck’s going to be behind the net minder in the blink of an eye.

Fantilli being a power forward, is also extremely physical. Using his 6’2″, 187 lbs. frame, he’s always looking to lay the pain on opponents, while staying pretty discipline. He’s one of the more physical top prospects we’ve seen since the Tkachuk brothers.

With a combination of all of those traits, Adam Fantilli jocks up to be a great playmaker. His smooth hands helps when entering the zone, and fighting off defenders and back-checkers. His passing ability and vision is another crazy attribute he has. He looks at every single option he has, and commonly threads the needle. However, this could prove difficult in the NHL as he could force turnovers.

Similarities to Jack Eichel

Via USA Today

Every time I watch Adam Fantilli play, I can’t help but think of Jack Eichel.

While Eichel may not be as physical as Fantilli, their play is super similar.

We haven’t seen a freshman forward dominate the NCAA this much since Eichel was a member of the Boston University Terriers. Both play a high-octane offensive game, where they use lethal shots to score goals from hard areas on the ice, and finding teammates like no other.

Eichel would be able to find players from anywhere on the ice using is lazer-accurate passing. Similar to what Fantilli is able to do, they both look at every single opportunity to dish the puck, but don’t sleep on their shot, as they could easily beat a goalie from anywhere on the ice like I’d previously stated. Both use their frame to power their way to the net to create chances in the crease, and it works out like a charm for both players.

In Eichel’s only NCAA season, he scored 26 goals and 71 points in 40 games. If Fantilli played 40 games this year, he would score 100 points. We don’t think he’ll keep that pace up, but we think he can out-score Jack. A last similarity between the two is that they won’t be first overall picks. Barring any crazy falloff or injury, Connor Bedard has the first pick pretty much safe. Jack Eichel had Connor McDavid in his draft, and many say he’d be a first overall pick in any draft if it weren’t for McDavid. The same could be said for Fantilli, as with all of his talent, it still doesn’t equal the level of talent Bedard has.

No doubt Adam Fantilli will be an elite player in the NHL, and will draw comparisons to Jack Eichel.

Panthers Dealt Huge Blow as Ekblad is Placed on IR

Via Getty Images

Florida Panthers star defenseman Aaron Ekblad was placed on long-term IR on Wednesday after suffering a lower body injury, the team announced. This is a huge blow to a team that relied on him for his offensive output, while not sacrificing anything on the defensive side of the puck. Without their number one defenseman, as well as Brandon Montour, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury, young defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Matt Kiersted will draw into the lineup.


Ekblad won’t be eligible to rejoin the team until Nov. 11th at the earliest, meaning he will miss at least 11 games. Ekblad’s injury adds to a compiling list of NHL stars who have been hurt early on in the season, including Patrik Laine of the Blue Jackets, and Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi.


Panthers’ GM Bill Zito said, “It’s not a season ending thing. We have every reason to believe he’ll be back at 100 percent” regarding Ekblad’s injury. Pierre LeBrun of TSN has reported that the injury is expected to sideline Ekblad for 4-7 weeks, giving the first indication of an anticipated time frame.


Ekblad missed 21 games last season with a knee injury, as well as another 21 games in the 2020-21 campaign after he suffered a broken leg against Dallas in late March. It’s concerning to see Ekblad’s injury troubles continue, but it’s good to know that the Panthers most likely won’t be without him for too long this time around.


Other news:
The Panthers signed veteran forward Eric Staal to a one-year contract on Friday. He’ll join his brother, Marc Staal on the team, and is expected to make his Panthers debut on Sunday against the Islanders. He adds depth as well as a veteran presence. Eric has played in 1,293 career games with five different teams, where he amassed 1,034 points.

Anaheim Ducks: Top Picks for Your Fantasy Hockey Season

via Puck Prose

Fantasy hockey: Where you and your friends enter a league and try to show each-other who knows the most about the sport of hockey through a draft, signings, and trades on a virtual league. Some NHL teams have players who warrant getting chosen early in the draft, others have sleepers, a term meaning a player who constitutes such a quality is expected – or projected – to do well, though it’s not common knowledge. Say, everyone knows that Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews will do well. They’ll produce at a good pace; and this is expected. However, not everyone might expect Gabriel Vilardi or Andrei Kuzmenko to do well enough to get chosen early-on, or get chosen at all. Every team has sleepers, and we’ll be looking at the top fantasy picks for the Anaheim Ducks: the goaltenders, the defense, the offence, and yes, the sleepers.

Quick tip: for the stat-lines, GP=Games Played, G=Goals, A=Assists, PPP=Power-Play Points, SHP=Short-Handed Points, SOG=Shots on Goal, HIT=Hits, and BLK=Blocks.

The Forwards

Trevor Zegras, C: The league’s most tantalizing player happens to be the first line center of the Anaheim Ducks. Zegras, who has a knack for silky moves and who enjoys showing-off his skills repertoire, recorded 61 points in 75 games last season, which put him on-pace for 67. In the process, he scored 23 goals (tied for 2nd among rookies; Nashville’s Tanner Jeannot scored 24) and recorded 38 assists. Zegras was a -21 on the +/- scale, but we can expect that number to be (at least slightly) lower this season as Anaheim’s corps improves and looks to aim for a playoff spot in the NHL’s weakest division. According to dailyfaceoff.com, Zegras is slotted in the middle of the first line between Adam Henrique (LW) and Troy Terry (RW). As Zegras is only 21 and far from his peak, we expect him to become even more capable in the future, so his point totals will likely increase this season while coinciding with his improvement on-ice. Zegras is one of two players who could hold the spot of Anaheim’s best fantasy pick and is sure to please anyone who can draft him or claim him off waivers.

2021-2022 stat-line: 75GP-23G-38A-17PPP-0SHP-181SOG-56HIT-27BLK

Troy Terry, RW: The second player whose results could yield him as Anaheim’s best fantasy pick is Troy Terry, the 2015 draftee who exploded for 37 goals and 30 assists last season, totaling 67 points in only 75 contests, on-pace for 73. While -11 (which is a recurring theme on Anaheim and one we can expect again this season, though probably not as grave), Terry recorded a lot of shots, which proved beneficial for the user who drafted/claimed him as high-volume shooters can provide a spark to the week-to-week numbers. Terry, who is slotted in on the first power-play unit along with Trevor Zegras, will record power-play points in said slot, yet another important stat in the fantasy world.

2021-2022 stat-line: 75GP-37G-30A-15PPP-0SHP-192SOG-6HIT-27BLK

Ryan Strome, C: Another center makes the list in Ryan Strome, who’ll play his first season as an Anaheim Duck as he was signed by General Manager Pat Verbeek in free-agency from the New York Rangers. Strome was exposed to a wide range of talent in New York, so whether his point totals can match (or beat) last year’s is the main question, but even if they dip slightly, Strome is still work a look. The first power-play unit’s center (on Anaheim this season), Strome scored 20+ goals (21) for the first time in his career during the 2021-2022 season, amassing to 54 points in 74 games, eight less than the league maximum of 82. Another high-volume shooter, Strome is a gifted playmaker who sees the ice well. This quality can pay dividends while on the man-advantage with two sharp-shooters on his unit in Zegras and Terry.

2021-2022 stat-line: 75GP-21G-33A-14PPP-1SHP-161SOG-41HIT-19BLK

Adam Henrique, C: The veteran Henrique recorded his best season last year in terms of points-per-game average of .724, a number higher than any in his 12-year NHL career (He played one game in 2010-2011, and has only four games played this season as the year has just begun). While not the flashiest forward on Anaheim, Henrique is a smart player who understands the game and just happens to be at the right spot on the ice when playing. While his point-totals this season probably won’t surpass those of Zegras, Terry, and Strome, Henrique is still worth a look if your team needs and extra forward and Henrique is available in free agency.

2021-2022 stat-line: 58GP-19G-23A-11PPP-0SHP-141SOG-22HIT-47BLK

Other notable forwards: Frank Vatrano, Max Comtois, Jakob Silfverberg, Derek Grant.

The Defensemen

John Klingberg, RD: The NHL’s top free-agent defenseman during the summer of 2022 found a new home in Anaheim, though probably only temporarily. Klingberg signed a one-year contract with the Ducks and could become a hot commodity at the trade deadline. Klingberg, who is able to walk the line not unlike Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes and Sean Durzi, also makes a great first pass when exiting the zone. This is beneficial (especially this season) for fantasy team owners as Anaheim has a very capable and skilled forward corps. Coming over from Dallas, it’s hard to say how Klingberg’s point-totals will differentiate, but given his past totals and current projection, it’s conceivable that he can produce at least 50-55 points. It should be noted that Klingberg is the only defenseman on the first power-play unit.

2021-2022 stat-line: 74GP-6G-41A-20PPP-OSHP-139SOG-57HIT-77BLK

Kevin Shattenkirk, RD: Shattdeuces, a terrific offensive-defenseman in his prime, plays on the third defense-pairing with 2011 first-rounder Nathan Beaulieu, but is given power-play exposure on the second unit alongside Cam Fowler. A high-volume shooter and blocker, Shattenkirk found a new home in Anaheim in 2020 and has been a mentor for Jamie Drysdale, Anaheim’s number-one defenseman of the future. Shattenkirk, who is in his contract year, may get moved at the trade deadline to a contending team, which could coincide with a spike in his point totals.

2021-2022 stat-line: 82GP-8G-27A-14PPP-0SHP-163SOG-73HIT-135BLK

Cam Fowler, LD: Half of Anaheim’s top defense-pairing is Cam Fowler, the 2010 draftee who has played all of his 12 NHL seasons and 815 games with the Ducks. A steady two-way defenseman, Fowler suits-up for the second units on both the power-play and penalty kill. A poised member of Anaheim’s blue line, Fowler has recorded 20+ points in every campaign since 2013-2014. Now without Hampus Lindholm, Fowler is given as much responsibility as possible among left-shot defensemen; which means more shots, hits, blocks and, ultimately, points.

2021-2022 stat-line: 76GP-9G-33A-18PPP-0SHP-137SOG-40HIT-72BLK

Jamie Drysdale, RD: The other half of Anaheim’s top defense-pairing is Jamie Drysdale. The 2020 NHL draft’s 6th selection, Drysdale has proven very early in his career that he can play big minutes and do so effectively. Another high-volume shooter, Drysdale recorded 32 points in 81 games last season; not bad for your rookie campaign.

2021-2022 stat-line: 81GP-4G-28A-12PPP-0SHP-137SOG-40HIT-72BLK

Other notable defensemen: Dmitry Kulikov, Olli Juolevi (should he find his footing as he’s a former 5th overall selection), Olen Zellweger (should his junior team, the Everett Silvertips, either get eliminated from or fail to qualify for the WHL playoffs; meaning Zellweger could play in the NHL as early as late-March or early-April 2022).

Goaltending

John Gibson: A goaltender who many believe to be elite, Gibson’s numbers at the NHL level have been below-average since 2018-2019, which is reflective of the team in front of him. Anaheim has failed to qualify for the playoffs every season since the 2017-2018 campaign, so many goals conceded and a low rate of them being scored is indicative of below-average numbers for the coinciding goaltender. However, Gibson is the starting goaltender, so he’ll play the bulk of Anaheim’s games; which is good for fantasy purposes as many leagues have a goaltending-match up requirement per week, meaning that a user’s goaltenders must start x number of games per week in order for their stats to count.

Gibson isn’t a sure-fire selection for any league, but if your team needs a back-up goaltender, Gibson has proved in the past that he can produce some very good numbers (see 2013-2018 at both the NHL and AHL levels). Gibson started in 56 games last season, won 18, and posted a 3.19GAA and .904SV% along with one shutout. Anthony Stolarz is Anaheim’s back-up, and is good to suit-up for 20-25 games this season.

Bonus: Anaheim’s best sleeper pick (and maybe in all of fantasy):

Mason McTavish, FWD: The most dominant player of the 2022 World Juniors, Mason McTavish played on six different professional teams in the span of four years, including four during the 2021-2022 season. He’s now on the Anaheim Ducks, his more-than-likely permanent home. Playing on the second line alongside Ryan Strome (C) and Frank Vatrano (RW), McTavish is a very capable player who seems to think the game on a different level.

What makes a good hockey player a good hockey player is smarts and high IQ. A smart player executes dekes and does little moves relative to the pace of the play; relative to where his opponents are on the ice. When you think about it, the game of hockey is simply ten players, five aside, constantly adapting to broken plays. The best players are the one who can adapt and reset the quickest. Those players are the Mason McTavish-like talents of the NHL.

Recording three points in a brief nine-game stint last season, McTavish then returned to the OHL where he was later traded to the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs. It was with Hamilton where McTavish posted 29 points in only 19 games on-route to the Memorial Cup finals. A member of the top power-play unit in Anaheim, McTavish could be considered the ultimate fantasy sleeper, being rostered in less than 20% of ESPN leagues.

2021-2022 stat-line: 9GP-2G-1A-1PPP-0SHP-12SOG-8HIT-6BLK

A Quick Glance at the Oilers Slow Start

Via NHL.com

Is it too early to panic five games into the season? Most likely. It’s typical in Oilers Country to do so. To start off the season, the Oilers have a record of 2-3-0. Certainly, not the start one was expecting them to have, but what caused this so far? There are a few factors that have been plaguing this squad and making them look like the Pre-Woodcroft Oilers that this fan base definitely does not want to see again.

Slow Starts

Quite frankly, starting the game off slow have always been an issue for the Oilers in their entire history. From Dallas Eakins to Todd McLellan to Ken Hitchcock to Dave Tippett and now Jay Woodcroft, the Oilers have almost always started their games off slow and hemmed in their own zone a lot of the time. This issue seemed to be clarified come playoff time last season, but this bad habit has perked back up in every game thus far and it’s been costing them. They were lucky enough to comeback against the Canucks during their season opener but the next game, halfway through the 1st period they were down 4-1 against their provincial rivals. This slow start also cost them an easy win against Buffalo where they only played a good third period and absolutely peppered Eric Comrie, and a Blues team where the only goal of the game was on the power play. They NEED to fix up this issue if they want any chance of winning games.

Lack of Finishing and Poor Defensive Play

We all knew heading in that the Oilers defense wasn’t great. As I wrote in my expectations for the team this season as well in my Ryan Murray article, while not being a top d-core in the league, the defenders the Oilers have could still get the job down. However, the only one who’s been consistently good has been Cody Ceci. Brett Kulak has struggled ever since being elevated to the 2nd pair and I don’t know if it’s because of an injury, the increase in minutes or what, but he doesn’t look like his steady presence he brought to the team last year. While I do think he rebounds, I believe Kulak is best suited for the 3rd pair and come deadline day the Oilers must acquire a legit top 4 LHD option.

What we didn’t know heading into the season is that the Oilers superb offence would forget how to finish. Evander Kane, Kailer Yamamoto, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele have a combined four goals between them thus far. While Hyman has been providing value on special teams, and great 5-on-5 play with his tenacious fore-check, the others have been extremely underwhelming. As of right now, the Oilers most consistent forwards have been Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Ryan McLeod. Once the Oilers get consistency and actually convert on their chances from their other players, their record will easily get better.

Goaltending Woes

It’s not been the best start for Jack Campbell with his new team. He started slow against Vancouver, but then made a lot of huge saves to get his team the win. However, getting pulled in the 1st period against Calgary was really tough on him. He played alright against the Hurricanes and was great against Buffalo. He’s the guy for at least the next three years and if the Oilers want any success, it’s going to have to come from him. It usually takes awhile for goalies to get comfortable with their new team’s systems and even working with a new goalie coach. So while I’m not concerned about his play just yet, if it continues on until mid-November one would have to be worried.

Final Thoughts

The Oilers SHOULD be fine for the rest of the season. They usually have a slump every year in December, but who knows. Maybe that slump is occurring earlier than expected. This is still a good team and I still stand by that they can make it to the Western Conference Finals. Monday night against Pittsburgh will be a fun, entertaining game for both sides and I know the Oilers will come out of the gates with fire as they try to turn around this slow start to the 22-23 campaign.

You can find me on Twitter: @Shae_Nuge93.

Canucks Rough Start: Time to Panic?

Via GettyImages

The Vancouver Canucks began their season on a tough road trip. Starting the season against the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Minnesota Wild before their home opener, was going to be brutal from multiple viewpoints. After the first three games, the Canucks are 0-3-0 and all three losses are in an embarrassing fashion.

The Canucks are the “first team in NHL history to lose each of their first three games of the season while blowing a multi-goal lead in each contest” (@SNstats on Twitter). This raises a lot of questions and concerns. While it’s easy to look at the negatives, you have to also consider the circumstances.

The Canucks started the season at Edmonton. Starting the season against Connor McDavid is no easy task. It’s even harder when you look at the injury report for the team. They don’t have off-season acquisition forward, Ilya Mikheyev, or top defensemen in Travis Dermott or Tyler Myers. This has caused a lot of lineup shuffles. Defensemen Tucker Poolman left Saturday’s game against Philadelphia after an undisclosed injury, which lead to Noah Juulsen being called up from Abbotsford.

Performance has not been perfect for the Canucks. There have been sloppy plays all around the ice, there have been unnecessary penalties that they have taken, and the play needs to step up if the team wants to be successful in the Pacific division.

The power play needs to capitalize on power play opportunities. In Wednesday’s game against Edmonton, the Canucks went on the power play eight times, and they only capitalized with one power play goal (Andrei Kuzmenko). In Saturday’s game against Philadelphia, the Canucks went 0-5 on the power play. In Mondays game against the Capitals, the Canucks went 1-1 (J.T. Miller). In Saturday’s game against Philadelphia, the Canucks “allow short-handed goals in back-to-back games to begin a season for the first time in franchise history” (@SNstats on Twitter).

There have also been bright spots this season. In their game against Edmonton, the Canucks “set the franchise record for the fastest two goals to begin a season (2:40), which beats the previous mark of 3:55 set in 1983 against the Flames.” (@SNstats on Twitter). Andrei Kuzmenko also became the first player in Canucks history to score a power play goal in his NHL debut, and he was also the 21st player in Canucks history to score in his NHL debut. (@SNstats on Twitter). Elias Pettersson also set the 3rd fastest goal to start a season in Canucks history when he scored 1:52 into the game. (@SNstats on Twitter). While the Canucks set three franchise records against Edmonton, they still blew a 3-0 lead after the first period.

The season is not in panic mode. Though Twitter may be speculating on how much longer Bruce Boudreau will be the coach with Mike Yeo being an assistant coach, there is no reason Boudreau should be replaced any time soon. The Canucks need to work out some issues on the ice and off the ice. After Monday’s 6-4 loss to Washington, there was a player-only meeting in the locker room. Hopefully, this meeting will have kick started the motivation to compete for a full 60 minutes.

This team is good, do not give up yet on this squad. Once they get going, they will be competitive for the Pacific Division. Once the team is healthy, they will have normal lines and normal NHL-level players on the team. This will allow for a normal power play and a normal penalty kill unit to happen. Fans just need to step back and look at the roster and realize this is not our full team right now.

Winnipeg Jets: New Guys & Player Notes

Via arcticicehockey.com

Week one of the 2022-23 season, we are seeing a few new faces and some prospects trying to solidify their spots in the Winnipeg Jets lineup. Lets go over some.

Sam Gagner

Signed a one year, $750 000 contract on September 2, 2022.

Played 81 games for the Detroit Red Wings last season putting up 31 points (13 G,18 A).

Drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1st round 6th overall in 2007.

Sam Gagner, a former 1st round pick brings valuable experience and depth to Winnipeg. Started the season playing on the fourth line, will be called upon to move up in the lineup throughout the season when injuries occur.

David Rittich

“Big Save Dave” signed July 13, 2022 to a one year, $900 000 contract.

David Rittich will be relied on to give starter Connor Hellebuyck a night off throughout the 2022-23 season. Last season with the Nashville Predators he played in just 17 games, starting 12 of them, with a record of 6-3-4, GAA 3.57 and SV% .886.

Staying healthy and not be the reason Winnipeg loses many games will be considered a successful 2022-23 campaign for Rittich.

Axel Jonsson-Fjällby

Drafted in 5th round 147th overall in 2016 by the Washington Capitals.

Claimed off waivers by the Winnipeg Jets on October 10, 2022 from the Washington Capitals.

Once visa issues are cleared and he gets into a few practices with the Jets, look for Axel Jonsson-Fjällby to get a look on the fourth line.

He was used on the penalty kill in Washington when now Jets assistant coach, Scott Arniel, was an assistant for the Capitals in 2021-22.

Saku Mäenalanen

Signed July 19, 2022 to a one year two way contract.

Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 5th round 125th overall in 2013.

With only 34 NHL games played with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2018-19 season and spending the last three seasons in his home country of Finland, the 6’4” 207 lb Saku Maenalanen will look to build his NHL resume after earning a spot on Winnipeg’s fourth line to start the season.

Kyle Capobianco

Signed July 14, 2022 to a two year 1.525 million contract.

Drafted in the 3rd round 63rd overall in 2015 by the Arizona Coyotes. Kyle Capobianco, a defenseman, may require an injury or two on the Jets blue line to get a chance at regular playing time.

To be sent down the AHL, he would have to clear waivers.

David Gustafsson

David Gustafsson, 22 year old center drafted 60th in 2018 by the Winnipeg Jets.

Earned a stop on the opening night roster as the fourth line center and hasn’t looked out of place with fellow newcomers Saku Maenalanen and Sam Gagner on his wings.

Dylan Samberg

Dylan Samberg, 23 year old defenseman drafted 43rd overall in 2017 by the Winnipeg Jets.

Samberg has yet to play in the first two regular season games, look for him to step into the lineup in place of Logan Stanley sooner rather than later.

Morgan Barron

Morgan Barron was acquired March 21, 2022 from the New York Rangers as part of the Andrew Copp trade.

Played in fourteen games with Winnipeg and five more with the Manitoba Moose before the end of the 2021/22 season.

Barron is locked in as the Jets third line left winger with center Adam Lowry and right winger Mason Appleton.

Other roster notes:

On October 8, 2022 defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic was claimed by the Montreal Canadiens off waivers.

Dominic Toninato and Jansen Harkins both played 77 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 2021-22, and both cleared waivers and were sent to the AHL Manitoba Moose. Look for them to be atop the recall list for Winnipeg throughout the season.

Brad Lambert and Ville Heinola are two young prospects Jets fans are waiting impatiently to see develop and get a chance to play in the NHL on a regular basis. How they fare early in the AHL season will determine if/when they get called up.

The State of the Devils – An Overreaction of Two Games

Via TheScore

After suffering two defeats by the score of 5-2 at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, fans of the New Jersey Devils are left with much to be desired.

Offseason Overview

The offseason held some promising moves for Devils General Manager, Tom Fitzgerald.

They’d start off by drafting Slovakian defensemen, Simon Nemec, with the 2nd overall pick.

They would trade two picks to the Washington Capitals in exchange for goaltender Vitek Vanacek and another pick, hopefully solidifying the goaltending for a team that suffered consistency from in between the pipes.

Signing veteran leaders and proven winners in forward Ondrej Palat and Brendan Smith in free agency.

Finally, trading struggling young defenseman in Ty Smith and a pick for defenseman John Marino.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Devils made some swaps on the coaching staff, sending out assistant coaches Mark Recchi and Alain Nasreddine, and adding Sergei Brylin, Ryan McGill, and Andrew Brunette.

There’s no doubt the team, on paper, improved from these moves and transactions. They were positives and made lots of additions in their subtractions. There should of been optimism, but weary Devils fans had learned their lesson from past seasons after successful offseasons.

Entering the Preseason

Going into preseason, there were no complaints. Many fans were unhappy with Lindy Ruff still being employed after two miserable seasons, but there were no excuses this time. His first season would be a strange, Covid-shortened year, where only 52 games were played, and without say, they did not make the playoffs.

The following year, fans expected a major step. Signing prized free agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton, goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and forward Tomas Tatar.

After a slew of injuries and playing seven different goalies throughout 82 games, the Devils fell short of the playoffs once again.

This year, with the looming pessimism, fans only ask for a step in the right direction. The preseason showed some level of optimism. With a record of 5-2-0 through seven games, the Devils had consistent contributors and solid goaltending. This happens every season, though. A great offseason, a great preseason, yet a poor regular season that leads to no playoffs.

Devils vs Flyers

The New Jersey Devils opened up their season against their rival in the Philadelphia Flyers.

With new head coach, John Tortorella, the Flyers would be ready do go, more disciplined and hard working than ever. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the game, mostly on the hire of John Tortorella, but the Devils were favored in this game.

The Devils would score first. a powerplay goal from Alexander Holtz, the first goal of his NHL career would put them up 1-0. Four Flyers goals later, Damon Severson would score, but an empty netter would make the final score 5-2. The goaltending was once again leaving much to be desired. Mackenzie Blackwood had had a rough two seasons, and the first game this year looked rough. It’s not all his fault, as missed man coverage and messy line changes would prove to be game-deciding factors in this one. The Flyers wanted it more, they outworked the Devils, and Carter Hart had a spectacular night, as well as the Devils not being able to finish chances.

Calm Before the Storm: Devils vs Red Wings Pregame

The Devils had a chance at redemption, where on Opening Night, they’d play the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit is another young team looking to take a step, and they game was hyped up to be major for the Devils. Vitek Vanacek would make his Devils debut in place for Blackwood.

“A Must-Win Game”

– Devils forward Miles Wood on the home opener vs the Detroit Red Wings

Before the game, while the Devils and their staff were being announced, Lindy Ruff’s name was met with loud boos from the fans.

“Am I being booed?”

– Devils head coach Lindy Ruff being met with boos after being introduced

Devils vs Red Wings

With Vanacek in net, the Devils would look to put the Red Wings down like a bunch of sick dogs. Dougie Hamilton would score the only goal in the first period, but the second period would be incredibly hard to watch for the Devils faithful.

The Red Wings would score two goals, then the Devils would score shortly after Detroit’s second tally, Miles Wood crashing the net off a Fabian Zetterlund feed.

Detroit would score two more goals, including Dylan Larkin adding one with eight tenths of a second left. The second period would end with an immense amount of boos coming from the home fans, and it was deserved.

The third period, the Devils showed little fight, and with another Detroit tally, the boos would drown out the sounds of bodies hitting boards, sharpened skates on the ice, and the chirps of the players. Along with the boos, would come “Fire Lindy” chants coming from the fans. It was a miserable opening night, one to forget.

Post Game

The disappointment coming from inside the locker room, the media, and the fans was evident. The media was hard on the players, and Lindy Ruff. Ruff was met with a question regarding the fan’s chants of his name.

We’ve got passionate fans here” – “They’re used to winning. But that’s part of my job. I take full responsibility for when this team loses. Great history here. The fans want W’s up on the board. It’s as simple as that.”

– Lindy Ruff in response to the fans chanting “fire Lindy” in the third period vs the Detroit Red Wings

The game left a sour taste in the mouth of all New Jersey Devils fans, but what now? Two games into the year, and it all looks the same as previous seasons.

What Now for Lindy Ruff?

With the rope being even tighter for Lindy Ruff, he needs to get his team looking sharp again. Everyone necessary is healthy on the team, they didn’t play super challenging opponents, and the play overall looks sloppy unmotivated.

Not much needs to be said, clean it up the next few games, or he’s out. Andrew Brunette, the new blood on his staff, just came off a season in which he replaced Joel Quennville and helped lead the Panthers to one of their best seasons of all time. He’ll for sure take over the reigns if Ruff doesn’t pick the slack up.

A common complaint amongst the players is the lineup. It seems to switch after every game, regardless of a win or loss. Dealing with injuries and tweaking the lineup based off that is one thing, but consistently moving players around denies any chance of chemistry.

It’s not on the coaching staff if a player misses the net, or if a goalie lets in a soft goal. A coach should be fired if the team is lacking preparedness, or if everything is sloppy and looks unmotivated. The sloppiness of the team is surprising, which could lead to the termination of Ruff.

As for the Goaltending

Splitting both games one apiece, both Mackenzie Blackwood and Vitek Vanacek didn’t look all that great.

Blackwood looked sloppy with the coverage in the net and positioning left many questions. In his game, the defense wasn’t outstanding, but a goalie needs to bail his team out. He ended his game with an .883 Sv%

Vanacek looked pretty miserable to say the least. The rebound control just wasn’t there, and his skating looked borderline minor hockey-esk. He was never destined to be a starter in the NHL, but he’s still needed in the Devils’ 1A-1B scenario. He ended his game with a .773 Sv%.

Overall, the team still faces many questions, and I’m not the one to quickly overreact to small sample sizes, but this year the reaction time for issues has to be quick. The Devils cannot afford to play with two sub-par goalies all year and throw the season away, and the same goes for keeping Ruff around.

It’s only two games into the season, and this may have been an overreaction, but it’ll hopefully work out soon.

Avalanche Send Down Meyers, Waive Sedlak

Via Colorado Avalanche and NHL.com

With a 6-3 away victory over the Minnesota Wild, the Colorado Avalanche improved their limited early-season record to 2-1-0 on October 17th. While the Wild continued their rather unsuccessful start, the Avs left their game in St. Paul with two points and enough data to start forming opinions on their new players.

The result: Ben Meyers was reassigned to the Colorado Eagles of the AHL and Lukas Sedlak was placed on waivers. He’ll join Meyers in Loveland with the Eagles if he clears.

While the top line has rocked its way through all three games, the following remainder of the forward group, with the exception of Valeri Nichushkin, has been lackluster to start.

Nathan MacKinnon has seven points. Mikko Rantanen has six, including his first goal against the Wild. In contrast, the Avs’ second line of Evan Rodrigues, Alex Newhook, and Nichushkin has yet to find chemistry — or the back of the net. Nichushkin’s four goals are all on special teams: three on the power play, and one shorthanded into the empty net against the Wild. So far this season, the second line has 45.45% Corsi for in 27 minutes of 5v5 and only 38.51% expected goals for, according to Natural Stat Trick. That’s pretty rough compared to the first line, which sits at 59.5% Corsi for. Despite the downfalls of +/-, it’s also worth noting that Newhook, Rodrigues, and Nichushkin are the only negatives on the team at -3, -3, and -1, respectively.

This lack of scoring, however, is not unique to the second line, as the fourth line has also struggled. Lukas Sedlak and Kurtis MacDermid have recorded zero points in three games. Ben Meyers, the Avs’ big college free agent signing, lucked out with a fluky goal against the Wild but was otherwise invisible in the line’s roughly six minutes of ice time in Minnesota, a pretty clear display of a lack of trust.

In response, the Avs are sending down Meyers and Sedlak, despite Meyers’ goal on Monday. Kurtis MacDermid will stay up, as he plays a utility role for the Avalanche as a 13th forward or 7th defenseman. There’s also his tenacity for punching, the reason for his acquisition by the Avs. While it is unsurprising that a rookie like Ben Meyers might need time to adjust to professional hockey, his start to the season is disappointing following his final college season and NHL debut, where he scored in his first game.

The team will need to call up two players from the Eagles to fill the open spots left by Meyers and Sedlak, as injured Darren Helm and Gabriel Landeskog have yet to practice with the team. The two most likely candidates for call-up are Anton Blidh and Martin Kaut, the final cuts from this year’s training camp and preseason games. Blidh seems to be a favorite of Coach Jared Bednar, who liked the forward’s game in multiple preseason matches earlier in October. Kaut’s preseason was inconsistent, but he’s had a successful start to the season with the Eagles with two goals and one assist for 3 points in 2 games.

Other possible candidates are Charles Hudon, signed by the Avs in July and cut late from training camp, and Sampo Ranta. Ranta had a 10-game stint in the NHL with Avs last season, but he failed to score a point in any of those ten games. He’s also yet to record a point with the Eagles in their first two games, so it seems like long odds for him to get the call-up.

There’s a chance Bednar completely surprises everyone and calls up the likes of Mikhail Maltsev or Oskar Olausson, but don’t hold your breath on that one.

Until Helm and Landeskog return, the Avs’ lineup is going to be weak on depth ⁠— much weaker than they were at the end of last season. But, the team also started the 21-22 season with Nathan MacKinnon out, Cale Makar nursing a wrist injury, and Alex Newhook in the minors. There are no reasons to fret about the 22-23 Avs’ roster quite yet.

The Avalanche are simply using the early season to experiment with their bottom nine ⁠— especially their fourth line. Let’s hope they find a lineup with a bit more chemistry.