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On Nov. 29, the Winnipeg Jets fell against the Arizona Coyotes, losing 1-0 in a game where they looked flat but still managed to fire 46 shots on rookie netminder Karel Vejmelka, who doesn’t feature a profile photo on the league’s website.

Similar to the Jets, I too dropped the ball in the betting world, losing all of my bets from Monday. Safe to say, I didn’t help anyone with money that night, luckily it’s a new day and a clean slate for everyone involved.

With that in mind, let’s hope all of us can turn things around when Winnipeg hosts the New Jersey Devils at Canada Life Centre on Friday.

What You Need to Know About the Jets

Since last game, the Jets have fallen all the way down to sixth in the Central Division with a 10-8-4 record. The upside is if the Jets pull off a win Friday, they’ll be tied for third place in the division. If not, well, they’ll just be stuck where they are for at least another couple of days.

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will be back in goal for the boys in blue. On the season, Hellebuyck owns a 7-6-4 record, 2.60 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

Kyle Connor remains the team leader in scoring, with 14 goals and 24 points. On the other hand, Andrew Copp and Nate Schmidt are still tied for the lead share in assists, with 11.

In November, the Jets were outscored 35-32 and only registered 14 of those markers from Nov. 14 onwards. On the other side of things, this team has only allowed 59 goals against this season, which is the eighth-fewest in the league, just ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have allowed 60 goals against.

What You Need to Know About the Devils

The New Jersey Devils currently own a 9-8-4 record through 21 games in 2021-22, placing them sixth in the Metropolitan Division. Over their last 10 games, they possess a mediocre 3-5-2 record.

The Devils are starting Jonathan Bernier during this Friday matchup. Thus far. Bernier features a 4-3-1 record, 2.55 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. New Jersey will be without Miles Wood in this content.

Andreas Johnsson leads the Devils in goals (nine) and points (18) this season. Jesper Bratt currently leads them with 12 assists.

In November, the Devils were outscored 42-38. Currently, this club is ranked 17th in goals against (65) and 21st in goals for (60).

Betting on Monday’s Game

I’m betting with PointsBet.com and so should you!

Moneyline: Devils win at +165.

Prop Bet: Devils score first at +120.

Easy Money: Blake Wheeler with zero points at +110.

Risky Business: Pavel Zacha to score the first goal at +1300.

Parlay: Calgary Flames Moneyline, Vegas Golden Knights ML, Edmonton Oilers ML, Minnesota Wild ML at +816.

Out-of-Town Risky Business: San Jose Sharks straight up at +275.

Happy gambling and good luck!

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In advance of the Calgary Flames’ game on Thursday night with the Los Angeles Kings, they made a roster move. Oft-scratched defenseman Juuso Välimäki has been assigned to the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.

Välimäki, 23, has played eight games and between scratched for the other 14 games this season. When he has played, it’s been (a) decently and (b) on the club’s third pairing. He has two assists in those eight games.

Välimäki is young, talented, and still pretty raw as a pro after missing a season and a half due to injury over his first two pro seasons. He’s headed to a Stockton Heat club that is lacking in high-end defensive talent, so he should be able to go down there, play a ton, and perhaps regain his swagger in all three zones.

$1.125 million of Välimäki’s $1.55 million cap hit will be buried in the minors, which means Välimäki will still carry a $450,000 cap hit while he’s with Stockton. (Since he was sent down after 5 p.m. MT, his demotion won’t be reflected against the salary cap until Friday.)

The Flames have 22 players on their active roster now: two goalies, seven defensemen and 13 forwards.

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Don’t let two wins against bottom-five teams in this league fool you. The Vancouver Canucks still need a boost to their lineup.

With their AHL team now just down the road in Abbotsford, they can make a quick call to get some fresh players that are hungry for ice time.

There has been some flash in the pan performances that have gotten Canucks fans excited about giving a call-up to certain players from Abbotsford. But through those flashes, there have been a few players who look like they could consistently make an impact at the NHL level.

I’ve narrowed it down to three players and talked with each of them about how they feel their game is trending towards getting a chance with the big club.

Will Lockwood

When it comes to energy and aggressiveness, there is nobody on the Abbotsford Canucks that gives it more than Will Lockwood.

Lockwood is playing on both special teams’ units and is fitting in on a very skilled AHL line that is rounded out by Nic Petan and Justin Bailey. The speed on that line shines in the AHL. Out of the three, Lockwood is the most willing to get his hands dirty in the corners and consistently forechecks like a bat out of hell.

Lockwood shows some fight and is the type of player who can match Tyler Motte’s energy on a fourth line. The difference between Lockwood’s pace and Alex Chiasson’s pace is like comparing a cheetah to a fish out of water. Even though Lockwood is smaller than Chiasson, I’d bet the house on Lockwood being more physical in a fourth-line role.

Lockwood has also been the top penalty-killing forward for Abbotsford since he came back from an early-season injury. He has been paired up with Chase Wouters and is almost always the first forward to take the ice for a penalty kill. He knows that penalty killing is going to be an important piece in getting him up to the NHL.

“I’m just continuing to work on my penalty killing down here,” said Lockwood. “I know that the PK will help me move up eventually, whenever that is. So, working on my penalty killing is a main focus of mine.”

Travis Green, other coaches, and Canucks management have made it very clear to Lockwood that they wanted him to work on becoming a confident penalty killer. He has become that in the AHL and all of his best skills look to be transferable to the NHL.

“Everyone in Vancouver was really transparent with what they want from me,” said Lockwood. “They told me what it’s going to take to get to that level and one of the things is the PK. It’s been one of my main focuses down here.”

It feels like he is playing his best hockey of the season over the past few weeks as well. Lockwood has scored three goals and added an assist over his last six games. He is creating a ton of turnovers on the forecheck and being physical on every shift.

When the Vancouver Canucks are ready for a jolt to the fourth line, Lockwood is the man for the job.

Phil Di Giuseppe

Another forward who is doing it all for the Abbotsford Canucks, Phil Di Giuseppe is killing penalties, playing the power play, is on Abbotsford’s top line, and scoring highlight-reel goals.

It came as a surprise that Di Giuseppe didn’t make the NHL roster out of training camp. He looked quick, made all the right plays, was on the penalty kill, and simply looked like he did enough to make the NHL squad out of camp.

Decisions were made and the 28-year-old found himself beginning the season in the AHL.

There are certain players that you watch in the AHL and think to yourself that they are too good for the league, and Di Giuseppe is one of them. But not in a way like Reid Boucher or Nikolay Goldobin. Di Giuseppe brings hustle on the forecheck, good puck-moving skills, and is rarely out of position in the defensive zone.

A lot of the success on his line begins with Di Giuseppe. He’s an excellent passer who doesn’t need time to think plays out. He’s got strong hockey instincts and knows where his teammates are and where they are going to be.

Di Giuseppe has eight points in his last six games. His confidence is sky-high and he is feeling great about where his game is at right now.

“Honestly, I wasn’t very happy with my game at the beginning of the year,” said Di Giuseppe. “ I just put my head down and tried to work it back to where I want it to be. I see it slowly getting to what I expected of myself. I still think there’s a lot more and I’m eager to see what the work and attention to detail do for my game.”

Full of confidence and playing the best he has all season, Di Giuseppe is a veteran with over 200 games of NHL experience. He should be given a look in the Canucks’ lineup.

Jack Rathbone

Most of us know what Jack Rathbone is all about. He is a young offensive left-shot defenceman who can create plays but needs to round out his defensive game before he can truly become an NHL regular. Rathbone is also aware of what he needs to work on to become that everyday defenceman for Vancouver’s left side.

A stint in the AHL has given Rathbone plenty of ice time and the off-ice sessions with the coaching staff have helped him see some of his defensive deficiencies — because there’s not a lot to dislike about what he does offensively.

“We’ve done a lot of video work,” Rathbone told CanucksArmy. “That has been huge for me, and being able to play more minutes and playing a lot more with the puck on my stick has been good for me. I know that I can play at that level and right now it’s about doing what’s best for my development. Development is being done down here. I take every day down here as the time to work and get better.”

The Vancouver Canucks are currently playing Kyle Burroughs on the left side of their third pairing. It’s clear that this is a spot where the organization would like to have Rathbone playing. He believes that the AHL stint has given him a chance to get into a rhythm and the extra video sessions along with much more game action with the puck on his stick have him ready to be back in the NHL.

Rathbone has been playing big minutes with Abbotsford and has built up confidence that will help him whenever he gets back to the NHL.

“A lot of the confidence-building down here is about getting game reads,” said Rathbone. “You can do as much as you want in practice in terms of reps and drill after drill after drill but the second you get into live action, it’s different. It’s good to build that confidence and start to get into a rhythm here especially when we’re playing a lot of games.”

The Vancouver Canucks snuck out some wins against Montreal and Ottawa but the schedule gets much tougher and placing bets on Kyle Burroughs over Jack Rathbone may end up biting them in the rear.

Rathbone is still very young but he has shown offensive potential in the NHL and will be back with the team soon.

More minutes can’t hurt Rathbone at this stage of his development, so it may take some consistent losses to the NHL team before he gets his call-up.

Sheldon Dries

Fresh off the first hat trick in Abbotsford Canucks history, Sheldon Dries has 10 goals and 17 points in 14 AHL games. He is an undersized left-shot centre who isn’t afraid of the dirty areas. Dries has 48 NHL games under his belt. If he continues to shine in the AHL, maybe he will become deserving of a look at the NHL.

Mikey DiPietro

Not anytime soon, but down the road, if the Canucks’ playoff hopes are completely eliminated, it’s a good idea to get Mikey DiPietro some games. He is likely to be the back-up to Thatcher Demko next season. Before diving into the deep end with that role, a few games of NHL action would benefit the 22-year-old.

The Vancouver Canucks can make a quick call and have a player in the city within an hour.

When they moved the AHL team to Abbotsford, this was one of the big selling points that we heard from the organization. One call can add a hungry player to a lineup that seems like they just ate a full turkey dinner on certain nights.

It’s time to use the Abbotsford Canucks as an advantage and show why moving them from Utica was a smart hockey move.

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We’re finally getting to the part of the season where trade targets are beginning to emerge. A big reason why is that pretty much every team in the league is at least 25% done their schedule and teams are either getting comfortable with the idea that they are either buyers or sellers, or some teams feel like they desperately need to shake things up to save their season.

Jake DeBrusk has been in the rumour mill for a while now and while the recent news that he has asked out of Boston isn’t exactly surprising, it still got the hockey world talking.

DeBrusk’s career started with a bang. In just his second full season he scored 27 goals in 68 games and followed it up with 19 goals in 65 games the next season. Since then, he has just eight goals in 59 games over the last year and a bit. He’s been inconsistent and almost constantly in Head Coach Bruce Cassidy’s dog house.

There is a chance that a change of scenery really sparks the 25-year-old and that’s why there are no shortage of teams reportedly calling the Bruins.

Could the Oilers be one of those teams calling? Sure, but I don’t see it as a fit. DeBrusk has a cap hit of $3.65 million this season so for the Oilers to fit him in, they would have to move out salary. I don’t see them trading Zack Kassian right now and with Mike Smith still on the shelf, they can’t trade Mikko Koskinen either. 

I don’t see a way for the Oilers to squeeze in DeBrusk without screwing themselves over once everyone is healthy.

I fully expect him to be moved relatively soon, but I don’t think it’s likely that he ends up in Edmonton.

TRADE TARGETS ROUND ONE

Mar 21, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian (44) tries to screen Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Seravalli has his first trade targets list of the season up at Daily Faceoff and there are some really interesting names there.

I’ll start with Joonas Korpisalo. Frank says that while there hasn’t been an official trade request, Blue Jackets management knows that Korpisalo would be open to a change of scenery. With a new extension kicking in for Elvis Merzlikins next season and prospect Daniil Tarasov coming through the pipeline, it’s easy to see why the Blue Jackets would want to move out Korpisalo.

If I’m the Oilers though, I don’t think I touch him. He had a great run in the bubble back in 2019-20 but since then he’s been posting below-average numbers. He’s not an upgrade on any one of Smith, Skinner, or Koskinen.

It was still surprising to see Vlad Tarasenko on Frank’s list. The Russian sniper is off to a fantastic start to the year with seven goals and 12 assists in 22 games and some thought that a good start to the year in St. Louis would make him more inclined to stay with the organization that drafted him. Apparently, that’s not the case. His hot start should help the Blues get a good return should they decide to move him though

Other names that surprised me on the list: Tomas Hertl, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, and JT Miller.

Evander Kane is #15 on the list and after passing through waivers this week, he did report to the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate. The Sharks will clearly retain 50% of his contract to make a trade work but even then, I’m not convinced that they’ll find a taker simply because of his term. I expect him to be bought out this summer.

There weren’t a lot of quality d-men on Frank’s first list, so that means there aren’t a lot of players on the list that I think would be good fits for the Oilers. If the Oilers wanted to add a forward though, I think that both Rickard Rakell (MY BOY!) and Reilly Smith would be good fits considering they’re both pending UFA’s. The fact that they both play on division rivals would make a trade difficult though.

HABS GM

The big news last week came out of Montreal, when the Habs did a little house cleaning, getting rid of Marc Bergevin and bringing in Jeff Gorton to be their new VP of Hockey Operations. As Frank Seravalli explained on Daily Faceoff, this was really just a clever workaround to the policy that the club needs to have a GM that speaks both French and English.

There are some interesting names in the mix ot be named the next GM of the Habs though. Daniel Briere, Martin Lapointe and Mathieu Darche are three that really stand out to me. Roberto Luongo would make sense but it’s unclear if he would leave his post in the Panthers organization.

That’s all for this week’s rumours blog. I do expect things will continue to heat up on the trade talk front as we get closer to the Christmas Break. I’ll set the over/under for trades between now and the holiday roster freeze at 2.5… what are you taking?

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The Montreal Canadiens are officially bad.

The Habs started the season with a five-game losing streak, they sit near the basement of the league’s standings and they just fired their general manager, but you aren’t bad in Canada until a fan throws a jersey on the ice. That’s when it becomes official.

During Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche (which, ironically, was the 26th anniversary of Patrick Roy demanding a trade after being shelled for nine goals), a Habs fan decided enough was enough and threw a jersey on the ice.

According to John Lu of TSN, this is the first time in the Habs’ modern era that a fan has thrown a jersey on the ice. Welcome to the club, Montreal. This is nothing new for angry fans in Canada.

Back in October, a fan in Toronto threw a jersey on the ice after the Leafs lost a lackluster game to the San Jose Sharks.

That situation seemed particularly dramatic, as the loss put the Leafs at 2-2-1 for the season. It made a lot more sense back in 2014-15 when multiple fans threw jerseys on the ice as the Leafs were in the middle of an 11-game losing streak.

The tradition unsurprisingly began in Edmonton as the Oilers trudged through their seemingly neverending rebuild in the pre-Connor McDavid days. Back in 2014, the Oilers suffered an 8-1 loss to their provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames, and a jersey wound up on the ice.

Goaltender Ben Scrivens picked up the jersey with his stick and flung it back into the stands. After the game, Scrivens teed off on the fan for disrespecting everyone who had worn the jersey in the past.

“You’re not just disrespecting guys in the room, you’re disrespecting guys who wore this jersey before us. All the great guys who played for this organization and pulled that sweater over their heads. The Messiers, the Gretzkys, they take pride in wearing that jersey. Joey Moss, every day. The unsung heroes around the rink who pride themselves on that logo.

“Like I said, you’re a fan, you get to say and do whatever you want. Call me whatever name you want. But when it comes to that logo, that’s a sacred thing for us. It’s disheartening for me to see our fans treat it that way.”

We also saw it happen in Ottawa back in 2017 when the Senators were in the middle of imploding after reaching the Eastern Conference Final the previous spring.

It’s certainly a strange way to protest, given you paid around $200 for the jersey, the organization already has your money and you’ll very likely wind up eventually paying again to replace it, but jersey tossing has become a tradition in Canada.

Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, now Montreal. Who’s going to be next? I’m looking at you, Vancouver.

The post The Montreal Canadiens have joined the Jersey Tosser’s Club appeared first on Daily Faceoff.

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This had all the makings of a bad game for the Leafs.

It’s their first game back in Toronto after a four game road trip that they swept. They’re up against a dominant Avalanche team. Nathan MacKinnon is playing his first game back from injury. Nazem Kadri is on a tear and coming back to play in his old barn. They had their third stringer in net after an injury to Darcy Kuemper forced their hand, with the potential for an EBUG. It just seemed like the kind of game the Leafs would lose.

Not only did they not lose the game, they blew the Avalanche out of the water. It started out with one of their best periods of the season in the first as they exploded for a 3-0 lead, and while the Avs tried to get themselves back into the game with a couple goals to make it 3-2, the Leafs quickly got back up to a three goal lead, and then kept adding to it, resulting in an 8-3 win. While the goaltending for the Avs wasn’t the strongest, resulting in the lopsided score, the underlying numbers were well in the Leafs favour even in spite of the score effects.

Three Stars

3rd Star: Mitch Marner

While it was his linemate that got the attention, Marner also had a really strong game, setting up the first two goals for Matthews, especially the first one when Matthews was all alone in front. After a slow start, Mitch has really found his groove and continued to do Mitch Marner things.

2nd Star: John Tavares

Tavares was coming off of a strong road trip, and he continued it tonight with his fourth straight multi-point game, with the goal to put it back out of reach, and two assists, including setting up Nylander’s opening goal. With three goals and six assists in that stretch, he’s put himself above a point per game with 25 points in 23 games. The underlying numbers aren’t quite there still, but he’s looking more and more like the Tavares of old.

1st Star: Auston Matthews

Matthews shaved his infamous moustache for charity, and not only does he look like what he did when he first arrived in the NHL, he played like it too. He put up his fourth career hat trick in a game reminiscent of that four goal performance in his debut, and was also a force to be reckoned with from a possession standpoint as well with a 62.94% CF% and 77.56% xGF% at even strength tonight.

40th Star: Jonas Johansson

Not to put more salt in the wound for the poor guy, because he was kind of thrown to the wolves with how late he found out he was starting, but it was a rough performance for him, although he didn’t get a ton of help up front either.

Tweet of the Night

This is officially headcanon for me.

Up Next

The Leafs get to relax for a little bit longer as they get two days off again before heading out West again. Well, not *West* West, but more West than they are right now, as they go to Minnesota for a Saturday Night matchup. Yeah, that still doesn’t sound right, Minnesota is not the kind of team the Leafs should be playing on Saturday. Regardless, it’s happening, and you can catch the game at 7p.m. EST on CBC.

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The Calgary Flames headed back on road on Thursday night, visiting California for the first time in 22 months. In a pretty tight-checking and back-and-forth game, the Flames held on for a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

The rundown

The Kings opened the scoring early in this one. Alex Edler put a shot towards the net and Alex Iafallo had position to Erik Gudbranson in front of the net, allowing him to redirect the puck past Jacob Markström to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

But midway through the period, the Flames got that goal back on the power play. Mikael Backlund had an initial scoring chance that was stopped by Cal Peterson. Backlund retrieved the loose puck and found Andrew Mangiapane in front of the net for a quick pass-and-shoot to tie the game up at 1-1.

The Flames took the lead before the period ended with a second power play marker. A puck bounced over Noah Hanifin’s stick and Philip Danault went for an attempted rush, but Oliver Kylington skated back to break it up. He sent the puck back the other way and it ended up with Mangiapane feeding Milan Lucic across the slot. And like clockwork, Lucic went five-hole and beat Peterson to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.

Shots were 14-13 Kings (9-8 Kings at five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-6 Kings in the first period.

The Flames added to their lead in the second period. A neutral zone passing sequence went awry, giving the Flames’ top line a three-on-three zone entry into the Kings’ end. Matthew Tkachuk used Drew Doughty as a screen and uncorked a very quick shot that beat Peterson to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.

But the Kings got a goal back late in the period. The fourth line got a bit scrambly in their own end, which gave Edler a clear lane to pinch and get a nice shot off. His shot beat Markström glove-side to cut Calgary’s lead to 3-2. (It was also Edler’s 100th career NHL goal.)

Shots were 15-11 Kings (15-9 Kings at five-on-five) and scoring chances 14-12 Flames in the second period.

The Kings made a nice push in the third period and carried play for much of the period. But the Flames defended pretty well and got some really nice stops from Markström when they needed them. They held on for the 3-2 road victory.

Shots were 13-8 Kings (12-5 Kings at five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-9 Kings in the third period.

Why the Flames won

The Kings were a little bit better at five-on-five – the Flames had a bit of trouble throughout the games with the speed of their forecheck – but the Flames were opportunistic on the power play and otherwise defended well enough to grind out a victory.

Red Warrior

It’s a tie between Gaudreau and Tkachuk. They were both persistent, noticeable, and generated many, many nice looks.

And while he wasn’t the reason the Flames got the win, Markström was very sharp when called upon.

The turning point

The Flames trailed a bit in the first period, so Lucic’s go-ahead goal on the power play was big. They headed into the first intermission with a lead that they’d never relinquish for the remainder of the evening.

The numbers

Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.

Expected
Goals For%
O-Zone
Face-Off%
Game
Score
Tkachuk 72.5 55.6 2.42
Lindholm 65.5 55.6 1.01
Gaudreau 65.4 55.6 2.16
Hanifin 47.9 27.3 0.16
Andersson 47.6 27.3 -0.47
Mangiapane 47.3 30.0 1.75
Zadorov 46.8 85.7 0.15
Gudbranson 45.1 85.7 0.62
Backlund 42.5 30.0 0.59
Monahan 40.6 40.0 -0.27
Tanev 37.0 36.4 -0.50
Kylington 35.4 36.4 0.21
Coleman 34.5 30.0 0.05
Dube 34.5 40.0 -0.32
Pitlick 31.5 40.0 -0.49
Lucic 16.4 60.0 -0.65
Richardson 12.9 60.0 -1.92
Lewis 11.2 60.0 -2.21
Markström 1.25
Vladar

This and that

Backlund’s first period assist tied him with Lanny McDonald for 18th in franchise history in points (406) and 14th in franchise history in assists (248).

Up next

The Flames (14-4-5) are back in action on Friday night just 30 minutes down the road when they visit the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is just after 8 p.m. MT.

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It’s been a tumultuous year for the Vancouver Canucks, to say the least. But even with all the noise surrounding the organization, one player has been quietly putting together the best season of his short career: Quinn Hughes.

In last night’s 6-2 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators, Hughes put together a four point night, the first by a Canucks defenceman since a young man named Alex Elder did so against Chicago in 2009.

While the blue line around him has been largely suspect, Hughes has been pulling his own weight and then some all season. His 20 points in 23 games puts him in a four-way tie for third place among NHL defensemen in scoring; only defending Norris winner Adam Fox and John Carlson standing in his way.

In a season devoid of many positive Canucks stories to draw from, Hughes’ resurgence has flown almost entirely under the radar. In the shortened 2021 season, his struggles adapting to a much larger defensive role were well documented, but those concerns seem to be a thing of the past.

Going from skating alongside a steady partner like Chris Tanev in one’s rookie season to needing to play the stabilizing role next to a Travis Hamonic or Tucker Poolman isn’t an easy adjustment for a 22-year-old to make. We saw as much when Hughes finished the COVID shortened year with an expected goals percentage of 46.11, meaning opponents were getting more scoring chances at 5v5 with him on the ice than he and his linemates were generating the other way.

This year, Hughes and the Canucks are on a pace of 51.38 percent with him on the ice at even strength. Putting together that kind of improvement is massive, especially when you factor in the current overmatched state of the rest of the Vancouver blue line. Now just imagine the heights he could reach with a set partner.

With so many question marks on the right side, Hughes has had his linemates shuffled around multiple times. He and his most common partner, Tucker Poolman, have spent around 157 minutes on the ice together according to Evolving Wild. Compare that to Tyler Myers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who’ve played approximately 248 minutes as a unit.

If last night was any indication, Travis Green may have finally found the most optimal option for Hughes in Luke Schenn. Schenn struggled to lock down a regular spot in the preseason, but against Ottawa, the pair looked comfortable at both ends of the ice and even connected on a gorgeous goal during the second period.

In an interview with The Athletic’s Thomas Drance, Hughes spoke highly of Schenn but also highlighted his belief that he can find success with any partner. “I just do my job. I do what I can, I go out there and do my thing. I’ll play with anyone, I’ll just play,” Hughes said. “It’s not my job to say who I’m going out there with and I like playing with Schenner. He brings the physical play and he keeps me dialled in.”

Regardless of who he’s playing with, there’s no doubt that Quinn Hughes is finding real success in a Canucks season where it’s desperately needed. And with the Canucks bringing their first two game winning streak of the season back to Vancouver for a make-or-break homestand, maybe that progress Hughes has made is starting to rub off on his teammates at just the right time.

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There’s plenty to discuss on this week’s edition of the Oilers Prospect Report, so let’s waste no time and dive into the thick of it.

World Junior Call Ups

It comes with no real surprise, but the Oilers 22nd overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft, Xavier Bourgault, has been selected for Team Canada’s World Juniors camp this month. Bourgault has dominated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 17 goals and league-leading 33 points.

The biggest surprises, though, are the snubs. Outside of the Oilers organization, Brandt Clarke was the most notable admission and a couple of others like Matthew Savoie and Brennan Othman. Also missing from the list were Matthew Savoie’s older brother Carter and Oshawa Generals forward Tyler Tullio.

Carter Savoie has put up great numbers in the NCAA for the University of Denver. The sophomore leads with 11 goals and 19 points in 12 games. He’s also top 15 in the NCAA points race and 5th in goals.

As for Tullio, out of the seven OHL players invited to the camp, only Luke Evangelista has more points than him. Tullio’s 28 points are also more than Dylan Guenther, Connor Bedard and Shane Wright, who have all played equal or more games than him.

When you have the depth that Team Canada has, there will be snubs. It would’ve been great to see those two in Edmonton, but it’ll still be good to watch Xavier Bourgault on the Rogers Place ice surface potentially.

Quiet Week in Bakersfield

Similarly to the Oilers, the Condors were hit with a COVID scare, which postponed one of their games. Due to that, they only played one game which came against the San Diego Gulls on Saturday night.

The Condors fell 2-1 after Buddy Robinson beat Olivier Rodrigue midway through the third period. Rodrigue gave them a solid start stopping 19 shots for a 0.905 save percentage. That now back-to-back starts for him with a .900 save percentage or better.

Ostap Safin scored the Condors lone goal late in the second period, with Dmitri Samorkov getting the primary assist.

European Love

There isn’t much talk about the European prospects of the Oilers. The one that stands out is Maxim Denezhkin, who Edmonton selected 193rd overall in the 2019 draft.

Denezhkin is currently with Lada Togliatti in the VHL in Russia. He’s producing at just under a point per game rate with 8 goals and 23 points in 29 games for them. He’s not a big forward at 5’10’, but his track record suggests that he has no problem scoring points.

Dezezhkin is the Oilers fourth-highest scoring prospect behind Bourgault, Tullio and Petrov.

Games Played Goals Assists Points
AHL
Cooper Marody Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 14 6 7 13
Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Dmitri Samorukov Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 10 1 1 2
84th overall, 2017 Last 7 days 1 0 1 1
Dylan Holloway Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 0 0 0 0
14th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Filip Berglund Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 12 0 2 2
91st overall, 2016 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Graham McPhee Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 11 2 1 3
149th overall, 2016 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
James Hamblin Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 14 3 2 5
Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Markus Niemelainen Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 14 1 2 3
63rd overall, 2016 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Michael Kesselring Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 11 1 1 2
162nd overall, 2018 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Ostap Safin Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 9 1 0 1
115th overall, 2017 Last 7 days 1 1 0 1
Philip Broberg Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 13 0 10 10
8th overall, 2019 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Philip Kemp Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 8 0 1 1
208th overall, 2017 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Raphael Lavoie Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 14 0 3 3
38th overall, 2019 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Ryan McLeod Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 7 1 4 5
40th overall, 2018 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Tim Soderlund Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 1 0 0 0
Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Vincent Desharnais Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 14 1 3 4
183rd overall, 2016 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
William Lagesson Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 11 0 2 2
91st overall, 2014 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Games Played GAA SV %
Ilya Konovalov Bakersfield Condors Goaltender Season 6 3.11 0.867
85th overall, 2019 Last 7 days 0 0 0
Olivier Rodrigue Bakersfield Condors Goaltender Season 7 3.21 0.86
62nd overall, 2018 Last 7 days 1 2.04 0.905
Games Played Goals Assists Points
Europe
Maxim Berezkin Lokomotiv Yaroslav (KHL) Forward Season 26 1 1 2
138th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 2 0 0 0
Maxim Denezhkin Lada Togliatti (VHL) Forward Season 29 8 15 23
193rd overall, 2019 Last 7 days 3 0 2 2
Jeremias Lindewall Modo Hockey (Sweden) Forward Season 20 0 3 3
200th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 3 0 0 0
Ornskoldsvik 4 3 3 6
Aapeli Räsänen KalPa (Liiga) Forward Season 27 5 10 15
153rd overall, 2016 Last 7 days 2 1 0 1
Patrik Siikanen JVP (Liiga) Forward Season 19 5 3 8
195th overall, 2018 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
NCAA
Skyler Brind’ Amour Quinnipiac Univ Forward Season 14 1 3 4
177th overall, 2017 Last 7 days 2 0 0 0
Filip Engaras University of New Hampshire Forward Season 14 4 4 8
169th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 2 1 1 2
Tomas Mazura Providence College Forward Season 7 1 0 1
162nd overall, 2019 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Luca Munzenberger University of Vermont Defence Season 12 0 2 2
90th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 2 0 0 0
Carter Savoie University of Denver Forward Season 12 11 8 19
100th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
OHL
Matvey Petrov North Bay Battalion Forward Season 22 16 17 33
180th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 3 1 5 6
Tyler Tullio Oshawa Generals Forward Season 19 6 22 28
126th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 2 0 2 2
QMJHL
Xavier Bourgault Shawinigan Cataractes Forward Season 21 17 16 33
22nd overall, 2021 Last 7 days 3 1 1 2
USHL
Shane Lachance Youngstown Phantoms Forward Season 17 1 2 3
186th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 1 0 1 1
WHL
Jake Chiasson Brandon Wheat Kings Forward Season 0 0 0 0
116th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Max Wanner Moose Jaw Warriors Defence Season 22 1 4 5
212th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 3 0 0 0

 

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On Nov. 29, the Winnipeg Jets fell against the Arizona Coyotes, losing 1-0 in a game where they looked flat but still managed to fire 46 shots on rookie netminder Karel Vejmelka, who doesn’t feature a profile photo on the league’s website.

Similar to the Jets, I too dropped the ball in the betting world, losing all of my bets from Monday. Safe to say, I didn’t help anyone with money that night, luckily it’s a new day and a clean slate for everyone involved.

With that in mind, let’s hope all of us can turn things around when Winnipeg hosts the New Jersey Devils at Canada Life Centre on Friday.

What You Need to Know About the Jets

Since last game, the Jets have fallen all the way down to sixth in the Central Division with a 10-8-4 record. The upside is if the Jets pull off a win Friday, they’ll be tied for third place in the division. If not, well, they’ll just be stuck where they are for at least another couple of days.

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will be back in goal for the boys in blue. On the season, Hellebuyck owns a 7-6-4 record, 2.60 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

Kyle Connor remains the team leader in scoring, with 14 goals and 24 points. On the other hand, Andrew Copp and Nate Schmidt are still tied for the lead share in assists, with 11.

In November, the Jets were outscored 35-32 and only registered 14 of those markers from Nov. 14 onwards. On the other side of things, this team has only allowed 59 goals against this season, which is the eighth-fewest in the league, just ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have allowed 60 goals against.

What You Need to Know About the Devils

The New Jersey Devils currently own a 9-8-4 record through 21 games in 2021-22, placing them sixth in the Metropolitan Division. Over their last 10 games, they possess a mediocre 3-5-2 record.

The Devils are starting Jonathan Bernier during this Friday matchup. Thus far. Bernier features a 4-3-1 record, 2.55 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. New Jersey will be without Miles Wood in this content.

Andreas Johnsson leads the Devils in goals (nine) and points (18) this season. Jesper Bratt currently leads them with 12 assists.

In November, the Devils were outscored 42-38. Currently, this club is ranked 17th in goals against (65) and 21st in goals for (60).

Betting on Monday’s Game

I’m betting with PointsBet.com and so should you!

Moneyline: Devils win at +165.

Prop Bet: Devils score first at +120.

Easy Money: Blake Wheeler with zero points at +110.

Risky Business: Pavel Zacha to score the first goal at +1300.

Parlay: Calgary Flames Moneyline, Vegas Golden Knights ML, Edmonton Oilers ML, Minnesota Wild ML at +816.

Out-of-Town Risky Business: San Jose Sharks straight up at +275.

Happy gambling and good luck!

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In advance of the Calgary Flames’ game on Thursday night with the Los Angeles Kings, they made a roster move. Oft-scratched defenseman Juuso Välimäki has been assigned to the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.

Välimäki, 23, has played eight games and between scratched for the other 14 games this season. When he has played, it’s been (a) decently and (b) on the club’s third pairing. He has two assists in those eight games.

Välimäki is young, talented, and still pretty raw as a pro after missing a season and a half due to injury over his first two pro seasons. He’s headed to a Stockton Heat club that is lacking in high-end defensive talent, so he should be able to go down there, play a ton, and perhaps regain his swagger in all three zones.

$1.125 million of Välimäki’s $1.55 million cap hit will be buried in the minors, which means Välimäki will still carry a $450,000 cap hit while he’s with Stockton. (Since he was sent down after 5 p.m. MT, his demotion won’t be reflected against the salary cap until Friday.)

The Flames have 22 players on their active roster now: two goalies, seven defensemen and 13 forwards.

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Don’t let two wins against bottom-five teams in this league fool you. The Vancouver Canucks still need a boost to their lineup.

With their AHL team now just down the road in Abbotsford, they can make a quick call to get some fresh players that are hungry for ice time.

There has been some flash in the pan performances that have gotten Canucks fans excited about giving a call-up to certain players from Abbotsford. But through those flashes, there have been a few players who look like they could consistently make an impact at the NHL level.

I’ve narrowed it down to three players and talked with each of them about how they feel their game is trending towards getting a chance with the big club.

Will Lockwood

When it comes to energy and aggressiveness, there is nobody on the Abbotsford Canucks that gives it more than Will Lockwood.

Lockwood is playing on both special teams’ units and is fitting in on a very skilled AHL line that is rounded out by Nic Petan and Justin Bailey. The speed on that line shines in the AHL. Out of the three, Lockwood is the most willing to get his hands dirty in the corners and consistently forechecks like a bat out of hell.

Lockwood shows some fight and is the type of player who can match Tyler Motte’s energy on a fourth line. The difference between Lockwood’s pace and Alex Chiasson’s pace is like comparing a cheetah to a fish out of water. Even though Lockwood is smaller than Chiasson, I’d bet the house on Lockwood being more physical in a fourth-line role.

Lockwood has also been the top penalty-killing forward for Abbotsford since he came back from an early-season injury. He has been paired up with Chase Wouters and is almost always the first forward to take the ice for a penalty kill. He knows that penalty killing is going to be an important piece in getting him up to the NHL.

“I’m just continuing to work on my penalty killing down here,” said Lockwood. “I know that the PK will help me move up eventually, whenever that is. So, working on my penalty killing is a main focus of mine.”

Travis Green, other coaches, and Canucks management have made it very clear to Lockwood that they wanted him to work on becoming a confident penalty killer. He has become that in the AHL and all of his best skills look to be transferable to the NHL.

“Everyone in Vancouver was really transparent with what they want from me,” said Lockwood. “They told me what it’s going to take to get to that level and one of the things is the PK. It’s been one of my main focuses down here.”

It feels like he is playing his best hockey of the season over the past few weeks as well. Lockwood has scored three goals and added an assist over his last six games. He is creating a ton of turnovers on the forecheck and being physical on every shift.

When the Vancouver Canucks are ready for a jolt to the fourth line, Lockwood is the man for the job.

Phil Di Giuseppe

Another forward who is doing it all for the Abbotsford Canucks, Phil Di Giuseppe is killing penalties, playing the power play, is on Abbotsford’s top line, and scoring highlight-reel goals.

It came as a surprise that Di Giuseppe didn’t make the NHL roster out of training camp. He looked quick, made all the right plays, was on the penalty kill, and simply looked like he did enough to make the NHL squad out of camp.

Decisions were made and the 28-year-old found himself beginning the season in the AHL.

There are certain players that you watch in the AHL and think to yourself that they are too good for the league, and Di Giuseppe is one of them. But not in a way like Reid Boucher or Nikolay Goldobin. Di Giuseppe brings hustle on the forecheck, good puck-moving skills, and is rarely out of position in the defensive zone.

A lot of the success on his line begins with Di Giuseppe. He’s an excellent passer who doesn’t need time to think plays out. He’s got strong hockey instincts and knows where his teammates are and where they are going to be.

Di Giuseppe has eight points in his last six games. His confidence is sky-high and he is feeling great about where his game is at right now.

“Honestly, I wasn’t very happy with my game at the beginning of the year,” said Di Giuseppe. “ I just put my head down and tried to work it back to where I want it to be. I see it slowly getting to what I expected of myself. I still think there’s a lot more and I’m eager to see what the work and attention to detail do for my game.”

Full of confidence and playing the best he has all season, Di Giuseppe is a veteran with over 200 games of NHL experience. He should be given a look in the Canucks’ lineup.

Jack Rathbone

Most of us know what Jack Rathbone is all about. He is a young offensive left-shot defenceman who can create plays but needs to round out his defensive game before he can truly become an NHL regular. Rathbone is also aware of what he needs to work on to become that everyday defenceman for Vancouver’s left side.

A stint in the AHL has given Rathbone plenty of ice time and the off-ice sessions with the coaching staff have helped him see some of his defensive deficiencies — because there’s not a lot to dislike about what he does offensively.

“We’ve done a lot of video work,” Rathbone told CanucksArmy. “That has been huge for me, and being able to play more minutes and playing a lot more with the puck on my stick has been good for me. I know that I can play at that level and right now it’s about doing what’s best for my development. Development is being done down here. I take every day down here as the time to work and get better.”

The Vancouver Canucks are currently playing Kyle Burroughs on the left side of their third pairing. It’s clear that this is a spot where the organization would like to have Rathbone playing. He believes that the AHL stint has given him a chance to get into a rhythm and the extra video sessions along with much more game action with the puck on his stick have him ready to be back in the NHL.

Rathbone has been playing big minutes with Abbotsford and has built up confidence that will help him whenever he gets back to the NHL.

“A lot of the confidence-building down here is about getting game reads,” said Rathbone. “You can do as much as you want in practice in terms of reps and drill after drill after drill but the second you get into live action, it’s different. It’s good to build that confidence and start to get into a rhythm here especially when we’re playing a lot of games.”

The Vancouver Canucks snuck out some wins against Montreal and Ottawa but the schedule gets much tougher and placing bets on Kyle Burroughs over Jack Rathbone may end up biting them in the rear.

Rathbone is still very young but he has shown offensive potential in the NHL and will be back with the team soon.

More minutes can’t hurt Rathbone at this stage of his development, so it may take some consistent losses to the NHL team before he gets his call-up.

Sheldon Dries

Fresh off the first hat trick in Abbotsford Canucks history, Sheldon Dries has 10 goals and 17 points in 14 AHL games. He is an undersized left-shot centre who isn’t afraid of the dirty areas. Dries has 48 NHL games under his belt. If he continues to shine in the AHL, maybe he will become deserving of a look at the NHL.

Mikey DiPietro

Not anytime soon, but down the road, if the Canucks’ playoff hopes are completely eliminated, it’s a good idea to get Mikey DiPietro some games. He is likely to be the back-up to Thatcher Demko next season. Before diving into the deep end with that role, a few games of NHL action would benefit the 22-year-old.

The Vancouver Canucks can make a quick call and have a player in the city within an hour.

When they moved the AHL team to Abbotsford, this was one of the big selling points that we heard from the organization. One call can add a hungry player to a lineup that seems like they just ate a full turkey dinner on certain nights.

It’s time to use the Abbotsford Canucks as an advantage and show why moving them from Utica was a smart hockey move.

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We’re finally getting to the part of the season where trade targets are beginning to emerge. A big reason why is that pretty much every team in the league is at least 25% done their schedule and teams are either getting comfortable with the idea that they are either buyers or sellers, or some teams feel like they desperately need to shake things up to save their season.

Jake DeBrusk has been in the rumour mill for a while now and while the recent news that he has asked out of Boston isn’t exactly surprising, it still got the hockey world talking.

DeBrusk’s career started with a bang. In just his second full season he scored 27 goals in 68 games and followed it up with 19 goals in 65 games the next season. Since then, he has just eight goals in 59 games over the last year and a bit. He’s been inconsistent and almost constantly in Head Coach Bruce Cassidy’s dog house.

There is a chance that a change of scenery really sparks the 25-year-old and that’s why there are no shortage of teams reportedly calling the Bruins.

Could the Oilers be one of those teams calling? Sure, but I don’t see it as a fit. DeBrusk has a cap hit of $3.65 million this season so for the Oilers to fit him in, they would have to move out salary. I don’t see them trading Zack Kassian right now and with Mike Smith still on the shelf, they can’t trade Mikko Koskinen either. 

I don’t see a way for the Oilers to squeeze in DeBrusk without screwing themselves over once everyone is healthy.

I fully expect him to be moved relatively soon, but I don’t think it’s likely that he ends up in Edmonton.

TRADE TARGETS ROUND ONE

Mar 21, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian (44) tries to screen Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Seravalli has his first trade targets list of the season up at Daily Faceoff and there are some really interesting names there.

I’ll start with Joonas Korpisalo. Frank says that while there hasn’t been an official trade request, Blue Jackets management knows that Korpisalo would be open to a change of scenery. With a new extension kicking in for Elvis Merzlikins next season and prospect Daniil Tarasov coming through the pipeline, it’s easy to see why the Blue Jackets would want to move out Korpisalo.

If I’m the Oilers though, I don’t think I touch him. He had a great run in the bubble back in 2019-20 but since then he’s been posting below-average numbers. He’s not an upgrade on any one of Smith, Skinner, or Koskinen.

It was still surprising to see Vlad Tarasenko on Frank’s list. The Russian sniper is off to a fantastic start to the year with seven goals and 12 assists in 22 games and some thought that a good start to the year in St. Louis would make him more inclined to stay with the organization that drafted him. Apparently, that’s not the case. His hot start should help the Blues get a good return should they decide to move him though

Other names that surprised me on the list: Tomas Hertl, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, and JT Miller.

Evander Kane is #15 on the list and after passing through waivers this week, he did report to the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate. The Sharks will clearly retain 50% of his contract to make a trade work but even then, I’m not convinced that they’ll find a taker simply because of his term. I expect him to be bought out this summer.

There weren’t a lot of quality d-men on Frank’s first list, so that means there aren’t a lot of players on the list that I think would be good fits for the Oilers. If the Oilers wanted to add a forward though, I think that both Rickard Rakell (MY BOY!) and Reilly Smith would be good fits considering they’re both pending UFA’s. The fact that they both play on division rivals would make a trade difficult though.

HABS GM

The big news last week came out of Montreal, when the Habs did a little house cleaning, getting rid of Marc Bergevin and bringing in Jeff Gorton to be their new VP of Hockey Operations. As Frank Seravalli explained on Daily Faceoff, this was really just a clever workaround to the policy that the club needs to have a GM that speaks both French and English.

There are some interesting names in the mix ot be named the next GM of the Habs though. Daniel Briere, Martin Lapointe and Mathieu Darche are three that really stand out to me. Roberto Luongo would make sense but it’s unclear if he would leave his post in the Panthers organization.

That’s all for this week’s rumours blog. I do expect things will continue to heat up on the trade talk front as we get closer to the Christmas Break. I’ll set the over/under for trades between now and the holiday roster freeze at 2.5… what are you taking?

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The Montreal Canadiens are officially bad.

The Habs started the season with a five-game losing streak, they sit near the basement of the league’s standings and they just fired their general manager, but you aren’t bad in Canada until a fan throws a jersey on the ice. That’s when it becomes official.

During Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche (which, ironically, was the 26th anniversary of Patrick Roy demanding a trade after being shelled for nine goals), a Habs fan decided enough was enough and threw a jersey on the ice.

According to John Lu of TSN, this is the first time in the Habs’ modern era that a fan has thrown a jersey on the ice. Welcome to the club, Montreal. This is nothing new for angry fans in Canada.

Back in October, a fan in Toronto threw a jersey on the ice after the Leafs lost a lackluster game to the San Jose Sharks.

That situation seemed particularly dramatic, as the loss put the Leafs at 2-2-1 for the season. It made a lot more sense back in 2014-15 when multiple fans threw jerseys on the ice as the Leafs were in the middle of an 11-game losing streak.

The tradition unsurprisingly began in Edmonton as the Oilers trudged through their seemingly neverending rebuild in the pre-Connor McDavid days. Back in 2014, the Oilers suffered an 8-1 loss to their provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames, and a jersey wound up on the ice.

Goaltender Ben Scrivens picked up the jersey with his stick and flung it back into the stands. After the game, Scrivens teed off on the fan for disrespecting everyone who had worn the jersey in the past.

“You’re not just disrespecting guys in the room, you’re disrespecting guys who wore this jersey before us. All the great guys who played for this organization and pulled that sweater over their heads. The Messiers, the Gretzkys, they take pride in wearing that jersey. Joey Moss, every day. The unsung heroes around the rink who pride themselves on that logo.

“Like I said, you’re a fan, you get to say and do whatever you want. Call me whatever name you want. But when it comes to that logo, that’s a sacred thing for us. It’s disheartening for me to see our fans treat it that way.”

We also saw it happen in Ottawa back in 2017 when the Senators were in the middle of imploding after reaching the Eastern Conference Final the previous spring.

It’s certainly a strange way to protest, given you paid around $200 for the jersey, the organization already has your money and you’ll very likely wind up eventually paying again to replace it, but jersey tossing has become a tradition in Canada.

Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, now Montreal. Who’s going to be next? I’m looking at you, Vancouver.

The post The Montreal Canadiens have joined the Jersey Tosser’s Club appeared first on Daily Faceoff.

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This had all the makings of a bad game for the Leafs.

It’s their first game back in Toronto after a four game road trip that they swept. They’re up against a dominant Avalanche team. Nathan MacKinnon is playing his first game back from injury. Nazem Kadri is on a tear and coming back to play in his old barn. They had their third stringer in net after an injury to Darcy Kuemper forced their hand, with the potential for an EBUG. It just seemed like the kind of game the Leafs would lose.

Not only did they not lose the game, they blew the Avalanche out of the water. It started out with one of their best periods of the season in the first as they exploded for a 3-0 lead, and while the Avs tried to get themselves back into the game with a couple goals to make it 3-2, the Leafs quickly got back up to a three goal lead, and then kept adding to it, resulting in an 8-3 win. While the goaltending for the Avs wasn’t the strongest, resulting in the lopsided score, the underlying numbers were well in the Leafs favour even in spite of the score effects.

Three Stars

3rd Star: Mitch Marner

While it was his linemate that got the attention, Marner also had a really strong game, setting up the first two goals for Matthews, especially the first one when Matthews was all alone in front. After a slow start, Mitch has really found his groove and continued to do Mitch Marner things.

2nd Star: John Tavares

Tavares was coming off of a strong road trip, and he continued it tonight with his fourth straight multi-point game, with the goal to put it back out of reach, and two assists, including setting up Nylander’s opening goal. With three goals and six assists in that stretch, he’s put himself above a point per game with 25 points in 23 games. The underlying numbers aren’t quite there still, but he’s looking more and more like the Tavares of old.

1st Star: Auston Matthews

Matthews shaved his infamous moustache for charity, and not only does he look like what he did when he first arrived in the NHL, he played like it too. He put up his fourth career hat trick in a game reminiscent of that four goal performance in his debut, and was also a force to be reckoned with from a possession standpoint as well with a 62.94% CF% and 77.56% xGF% at even strength tonight.

40th Star: Jonas Johansson

Not to put more salt in the wound for the poor guy, because he was kind of thrown to the wolves with how late he found out he was starting, but it was a rough performance for him, although he didn’t get a ton of help up front either.

Tweet of the Night

This is officially headcanon for me.

Up Next

The Leafs get to relax for a little bit longer as they get two days off again before heading out West again. Well, not *West* West, but more West than they are right now, as they go to Minnesota for a Saturday Night matchup. Yeah, that still doesn’t sound right, Minnesota is not the kind of team the Leafs should be playing on Saturday. Regardless, it’s happening, and you can catch the game at 7p.m. EST on CBC.

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The Calgary Flames headed back on road on Thursday night, visiting California for the first time in 22 months. In a pretty tight-checking and back-and-forth game, the Flames held on for a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

The rundown

The Kings opened the scoring early in this one. Alex Edler put a shot towards the net and Alex Iafallo had position to Erik Gudbranson in front of the net, allowing him to redirect the puck past Jacob Markström to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

But midway through the period, the Flames got that goal back on the power play. Mikael Backlund had an initial scoring chance that was stopped by Cal Peterson. Backlund retrieved the loose puck and found Andrew Mangiapane in front of the net for a quick pass-and-shoot to tie the game up at 1-1.

The Flames took the lead before the period ended with a second power play marker. A puck bounced over Noah Hanifin’s stick and Philip Danault went for an attempted rush, but Oliver Kylington skated back to break it up. He sent the puck back the other way and it ended up with Mangiapane feeding Milan Lucic across the slot. And like clockwork, Lucic went five-hole and beat Peterson to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.

Shots were 14-13 Kings (9-8 Kings at five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-6 Kings in the first period.

The Flames added to their lead in the second period. A neutral zone passing sequence went awry, giving the Flames’ top line a three-on-three zone entry into the Kings’ end. Matthew Tkachuk used Drew Doughty as a screen and uncorked a very quick shot that beat Peterson to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.

But the Kings got a goal back late in the period. The fourth line got a bit scrambly in their own end, which gave Edler a clear lane to pinch and get a nice shot off. His shot beat Markström glove-side to cut Calgary’s lead to 3-2. (It was also Edler’s 100th career NHL goal.)

Shots were 15-11 Kings (15-9 Kings at five-on-five) and scoring chances 14-12 Flames in the second period.

The Kings made a nice push in the third period and carried play for much of the period. But the Flames defended pretty well and got some really nice stops from Markström when they needed them. They held on for the 3-2 road victory.

Shots were 13-8 Kings (12-5 Kings at five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-9 Kings in the third period.

Why the Flames won

The Kings were a little bit better at five-on-five – the Flames had a bit of trouble throughout the games with the speed of their forecheck – but the Flames were opportunistic on the power play and otherwise defended well enough to grind out a victory.

Red Warrior

It’s a tie between Gaudreau and Tkachuk. They were both persistent, noticeable, and generated many, many nice looks.

And while he wasn’t the reason the Flames got the win, Markström was very sharp when called upon.

The turning point

The Flames trailed a bit in the first period, so Lucic’s go-ahead goal on the power play was big. They headed into the first intermission with a lead that they’d never relinquish for the remainder of the evening.

The numbers

Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.

Expected
Goals For%
O-Zone
Face-Off%
Game
Score
Tkachuk 72.5 55.6 2.42
Lindholm 65.5 55.6 1.01
Gaudreau 65.4 55.6 2.16
Hanifin 47.9 27.3 0.16
Andersson 47.6 27.3 -0.47
Mangiapane 47.3 30.0 1.75
Zadorov 46.8 85.7 0.15
Gudbranson 45.1 85.7 0.62
Backlund 42.5 30.0 0.59
Monahan 40.6 40.0 -0.27
Tanev 37.0 36.4 -0.50
Kylington 35.4 36.4 0.21
Coleman 34.5 30.0 0.05
Dube 34.5 40.0 -0.32
Pitlick 31.5 40.0 -0.49
Lucic 16.4 60.0 -0.65
Richardson 12.9 60.0 -1.92
Lewis 11.2 60.0 -2.21
Markström 1.25
Vladar

This and that

Backlund’s first period assist tied him with Lanny McDonald for 18th in franchise history in points (406) and 14th in franchise history in assists (248).

Up next

The Flames (14-4-5) are back in action on Friday night just 30 minutes down the road when they visit the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is just after 8 p.m. MT.

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Rss

It’s been a tumultuous year for the Vancouver Canucks, to say the least. But even with all the noise surrounding the organization, one player has been quietly putting together the best season of his short career: Quinn Hughes.

In last night’s 6-2 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators, Hughes put together a four point night, the first by a Canucks defenceman since a young man named Alex Elder did so against Chicago in 2009.

While the blue line around him has been largely suspect, Hughes has been pulling his own weight and then some all season. His 20 points in 23 games puts him in a four-way tie for third place among NHL defensemen in scoring; only defending Norris winner Adam Fox and John Carlson standing in his way.

In a season devoid of many positive Canucks stories to draw from, Hughes’ resurgence has flown almost entirely under the radar. In the shortened 2021 season, his struggles adapting to a much larger defensive role were well documented, but those concerns seem to be a thing of the past.

Going from skating alongside a steady partner like Chris Tanev in one’s rookie season to needing to play the stabilizing role next to a Travis Hamonic or Tucker Poolman isn’t an easy adjustment for a 22-year-old to make. We saw as much when Hughes finished the COVID shortened year with an expected goals percentage of 46.11, meaning opponents were getting more scoring chances at 5v5 with him on the ice than he and his linemates were generating the other way.

This year, Hughes and the Canucks are on a pace of 51.38 percent with him on the ice at even strength. Putting together that kind of improvement is massive, especially when you factor in the current overmatched state of the rest of the Vancouver blue line. Now just imagine the heights he could reach with a set partner.

With so many question marks on the right side, Hughes has had his linemates shuffled around multiple times. He and his most common partner, Tucker Poolman, have spent around 157 minutes on the ice together according to Evolving Wild. Compare that to Tyler Myers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who’ve played approximately 248 minutes as a unit.

If last night was any indication, Travis Green may have finally found the most optimal option for Hughes in Luke Schenn. Schenn struggled to lock down a regular spot in the preseason, but against Ottawa, the pair looked comfortable at both ends of the ice and even connected on a gorgeous goal during the second period.

In an interview with The Athletic’s Thomas Drance, Hughes spoke highly of Schenn but also highlighted his belief that he can find success with any partner. “I just do my job. I do what I can, I go out there and do my thing. I’ll play with anyone, I’ll just play,” Hughes said. “It’s not my job to say who I’m going out there with and I like playing with Schenner. He brings the physical play and he keeps me dialled in.”

Regardless of who he’s playing with, there’s no doubt that Quinn Hughes is finding real success in a Canucks season where it’s desperately needed. And with the Canucks bringing their first two game winning streak of the season back to Vancouver for a make-or-break homestand, maybe that progress Hughes has made is starting to rub off on his teammates at just the right time.

Rss

There’s plenty to discuss on this week’s edition of the Oilers Prospect Report, so let’s waste no time and dive into the thick of it.

World Junior Call Ups

It comes with no real surprise, but the Oilers 22nd overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft, Xavier Bourgault, has been selected for Team Canada’s World Juniors camp this month. Bourgault has dominated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 17 goals and league-leading 33 points.

The biggest surprises, though, are the snubs. Outside of the Oilers organization, Brandt Clarke was the most notable admission and a couple of others like Matthew Savoie and Brennan Othman. Also missing from the list were Matthew Savoie’s older brother Carter and Oshawa Generals forward Tyler Tullio.

Carter Savoie has put up great numbers in the NCAA for the University of Denver. The sophomore leads with 11 goals and 19 points in 12 games. He’s also top 15 in the NCAA points race and 5th in goals.

As for Tullio, out of the seven OHL players invited to the camp, only Luke Evangelista has more points than him. Tullio’s 28 points are also more than Dylan Guenther, Connor Bedard and Shane Wright, who have all played equal or more games than him.

When you have the depth that Team Canada has, there will be snubs. It would’ve been great to see those two in Edmonton, but it’ll still be good to watch Xavier Bourgault on the Rogers Place ice surface potentially.

Quiet Week in Bakersfield

Similarly to the Oilers, the Condors were hit with a COVID scare, which postponed one of their games. Due to that, they only played one game which came against the San Diego Gulls on Saturday night.

The Condors fell 2-1 after Buddy Robinson beat Olivier Rodrigue midway through the third period. Rodrigue gave them a solid start stopping 19 shots for a 0.905 save percentage. That now back-to-back starts for him with a .900 save percentage or better.

Ostap Safin scored the Condors lone goal late in the second period, with Dmitri Samorkov getting the primary assist.

European Love

There isn’t much talk about the European prospects of the Oilers. The one that stands out is Maxim Denezhkin, who Edmonton selected 193rd overall in the 2019 draft.

Denezhkin is currently with Lada Togliatti in the VHL in Russia. He’s producing at just under a point per game rate with 8 goals and 23 points in 29 games for them. He’s not a big forward at 5’10’, but his track record suggests that he has no problem scoring points.

Dezezhkin is the Oilers fourth-highest scoring prospect behind Bourgault, Tullio and Petrov.

Games Played Goals Assists Points
AHL
Cooper Marody Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 14 6 7 13
Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Dmitri Samorukov Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 10 1 1 2
84th overall, 2017 Last 7 days 1 0 1 1
Dylan Holloway Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 0 0 0 0
14th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Filip Berglund Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 12 0 2 2
91st overall, 2016 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Graham McPhee Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 11 2 1 3
149th overall, 2016 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
James Hamblin Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 14 3 2 5
Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Markus Niemelainen Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 14 1 2 3
63rd overall, 2016 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Michael Kesselring Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 11 1 1 2
162nd overall, 2018 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Ostap Safin Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 9 1 0 1
115th overall, 2017 Last 7 days 1 1 0 1
Philip Broberg Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 13 0 10 10
8th overall, 2019 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Philip Kemp Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 8 0 1 1
208th overall, 2017 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Raphael Lavoie Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 14 0 3 3
38th overall, 2019 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Ryan McLeod Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 7 1 4 5
40th overall, 2018 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Tim Soderlund Bakersfield Condors Forward Season 1 0 0 0
Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Vincent Desharnais Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 14 1 3 4
183rd overall, 2016 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
William Lagesson Bakersfield Condors Defence Season 11 0 2 2
91st overall, 2014 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Games Played GAA SV %
Ilya Konovalov Bakersfield Condors Goaltender Season 6 3.11 0.867
85th overall, 2019 Last 7 days 0 0 0
Olivier Rodrigue Bakersfield Condors Goaltender Season 7 3.21 0.86
62nd overall, 2018 Last 7 days 1 2.04 0.905
Games Played Goals Assists Points
Europe
Maxim Berezkin Lokomotiv Yaroslav (KHL) Forward Season 26 1 1 2
138th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 2 0 0 0
Maxim Denezhkin Lada Togliatti (VHL) Forward Season 29 8 15 23
193rd overall, 2019 Last 7 days 3 0 2 2
Jeremias Lindewall Modo Hockey (Sweden) Forward Season 20 0 3 3
200th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 3 0 0 0
Ornskoldsvik 4 3 3 6
Aapeli Räsänen KalPa (Liiga) Forward Season 27 5 10 15
153rd overall, 2016 Last 7 days 2 1 0 1
Patrik Siikanen JVP (Liiga) Forward Season 19 5 3 8
195th overall, 2018 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
NCAA
Skyler Brind’ Amour Quinnipiac Univ Forward Season 14 1 3 4
177th overall, 2017 Last 7 days 2 0 0 0
Filip Engaras University of New Hampshire Forward Season 14 4 4 8
169th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 2 1 1 2
Tomas Mazura Providence College Forward Season 7 1 0 1
162nd overall, 2019 Last 7 days 1 0 0 0
Luca Munzenberger University of Vermont Defence Season 12 0 2 2
90th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 2 0 0 0
Carter Savoie University of Denver Forward Season 12 11 8 19
100th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
OHL
Matvey Petrov North Bay Battalion Forward Season 22 16 17 33
180th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 3 1 5 6
Tyler Tullio Oshawa Generals Forward Season 19 6 22 28
126th overall, 2020 Last 7 days 2 0 2 2
QMJHL
Xavier Bourgault Shawinigan Cataractes Forward Season 21 17 16 33
22nd overall, 2021 Last 7 days 3 1 1 2
USHL
Shane Lachance Youngstown Phantoms Forward Season 17 1 2 3
186th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 1 0 1 1
WHL
Jake Chiasson Brandon Wheat Kings Forward Season 0 0 0 0
116th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 0 0 0 0
Max Wanner Moose Jaw Warriors Defence Season 22 1 4 5
212th overall, 2021 Last 7 days 3 0 0 0

 


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