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Hiller, Flames beat Avalanche 2-0 (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 30 Sep 2014 21:09:27 PDT)
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Jonas Hiller made 28 saves, and the Calgary Flames beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 in a preseason game on Tuesday night.

What We Learned: The self-inflicted idiocy of David Clarkson (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 29 Sep 2014 06:24:25 PDT)


Ferland scores twice as Flames beat Avs 2-1 (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 19:46:02 PDT)
DENVER (AP) -- Michael Ferland scored twice, including the go-ahead goal early in the second period, and the Calgary Flames kept Colorado winless in the preseason by beating the Avalanche 2-1 on Sunday night.

Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: Calgary Flames (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 27 Sep 2014 09:51:16 PDT)
(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!)     Last Season In Emojis

Canucks' Miller, Eriksson team to blank Flames (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:50:52 PDT)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Ryan Miller and Joacim Eriksson teamed for a shutout and Henrik Sedin had three assists in the Vancouver Canucks' 3-0 exhibition victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.

Canucks beat Flames 3-1 (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 25 Sep 2014 20:56:14 PDT)
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk scored for Vancouver in the Canucks' 3-1 exhibition victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.

Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: Chicago Blackhawks (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:44:16 PDT)
(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!)   Last Season In Emojis

Glencross lifts Flames past Coyotes in OT (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 24 Sep 2014 19:32:49 PDT)
SYLVAN LAKE, Alberta (AP) -- Curtis Glencross scored on a power play at 3:10 of overtime to give the Calgary Flames a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes in an exhibition game Wednesday night.

Nolan not convinced on analytics; Datsyuk injures shoulder; Mighty Ducks reunion (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:25:58 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Incredible. RT @JuhoNurmikoski : Yep.. Nhl 15 is sooo realistic.. Well we are all #Canucks ! #nhl15 pic.twitter.com/ryE6H8EE9o — Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) September 23, 2014 • "If it's in the game, it's in the game..." Sure. • Ted Nolan isn’t convinced just yet by analytics: “The information I use is with my eyes and my soul and my heart. If I see someone who’s competing and I know he’s competing, that’s good enough for me. I don’t need a machine telling me how hard he worked. I can see it myself.” [ Olean Times ] • Logan Couture on C-gate in San Jose: “The letter thing is I think overblown by people on the outside. Within this room, we’re confident going forward. If we have a captain, if we don’t have a captain, if someone else is the captain, we don’t really care. There’s enough leaders in here to do a good job.” [ Yahoo ] • Monday’s preseason game against the Penguins saw the Red Wings leave a bit beaten up. Pavel Datsyuk hurt his shoulder and Darren Helm broke his nose after taking a stick to the face. Datsyuk should miss about a week after having an MRI on Tuesday. [ Freep ]  • With a rash of preseason injuries, is summer training for NHL players a growing concern? [ Sportsnet ] • We all know about Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid, but don’t sleep on defenseman Noah Hanafin in the 2015 Draft. [ TSN ] • “And it stank like crap. It would pee all over the suits and it would fling its poo all over the studio.” - TSN host James Duthie speaking about a former colleague of his. [ National Post ] • The Calgary Flames are worried about Mikael Backlund’s abdominal strain that has kept him off the ice since training camp began. [ Calgary Herald ] • The cast of D2: The Mighty Ducks reunited over the weekend to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their win over Iceland. They even formed a Flying V! [ Hollywood Reporter ] • It’s early, but the LA Kings aren’t deviating much from the lines they used to win a Stanley Cup last season. [ Jewels From the Crown ] • Taking a look at the Minnesota Wild with a fantasy hockey spin. [ Dobber Hockey ]  • Shawn Matthias could find his place with the Canucks this season. [ Canucks Army ] • One lucky St. Louis Blues fan had his wish of addressing the team before a game granted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. [ Eye on Hockey ] • A Virginia couple went all out for their Capitas-Flyers themed wedding. [ Washington Post ] • It’s going to be a long, dark winter in Sudbury for the Wolves. [ Buzzing the Net ]  • Are Ben Smith, Marcus Kruger, and Jeremy Morin the solution to the Blackhawks’ fourth line? [ Blackhawk Up ] • Finally, via sagasal , here’s what happens when Paul Maurice channels The Undertaker:

MacKinnon, Schneider top Jensen's fantasy breakouts (NHL)
(Tue, 23 Sep 2014 08:00:00 PDT)
Last season, forwards Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars , Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks and Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers went from reliable fantasy producers to elite-level assets. On the defenseman and goalie fronts, fantasy owners witnessed Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames and Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche joining the likes of stardom at their respective positions.

Ryan out with concussion; Suter discusses loss of his father; new Rick Nash (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:55:42 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

Couture, Skinner lead Cubeta's fantasy breakout list (NHL)
(Mon, 22 Sep 2014 08:00:00 PDT)
Last season, forwards Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars , Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks and Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers went from reliable fantasy producers to elite-level assets. On the defenseman and goalie fronts, fantasy owners witnessed Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames and Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche joining the likes of stardom at their respective positions. PLAY YAHOO FANTASY HOCKEY

Top 10 NHL players on the Hockey Hall of Fame borderline (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 22 Sep 2014 07:03:04 PDT)


Austin Schultz leads Oilers in split-squad game (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 21 Sep 2014 22:02:30 PDT)
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- Austin Schultz had a goal and an assist in the Edmonton Oilers' 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in a split-squad exhibition game Sunday night.

TJ Brodie scores in Flames' split-squad win (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 21 Sep 2014 20:25:37 PDT)
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- TJ Brodie scored on a power play 2:06 into the second period in the Calgary Flames' 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in a split-squad exhibition game Sunday night.

Burke: 'Unacceptable' aggression from athletes (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:37:00 PDT)
Brian Burke believes players who take aggression from the ice into their personal lives don't deserve to earn professional-athlete wages. The Calgary Flames' president was asked at the Global Business Forum how he would have handled the Ray Rice scandal.

Hiller talks Boudreau; NHL resolutions; Peverley cleared to work out (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:02:43 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Arrrrrrrrrrrr matey! Happy #TalkLikeAPirateDay ! http://t.co/64nlVBLQLZ pic.twitter.com/c8W1ALBNVq — Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 19, 2014 • Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day. • After Teemu Selanne’s book comments  were released on Thursday, Flames goalie Jonas Hiller piled on Bruce Boudreau. “It didn’t end how I wanted there, and I didn’t feel I got his support there 100% at the end of the year.” [ Calgary Sun ] • Fifteen minutes in their first practice, the Flyers lost captain Claude Giroux to a lower-body injury. He's expected to miss two weeks. [ CSN Philly ] • The Royal Half has uncovered the lost texts Teemu Selanne sent during Game 7 against the LA Kings. [ The Royal Half ]  • For the second year in a row, Ryan Whitney has been invited to attend Blues camp on a tryout. [ Blues ] • NHL Network US announced that they channel will be broadcasting 22 preseason games in-between airings of WaxVac and Money Mutual commercials. [ NHL.com ] • Rich Peverley’s comeback has taken a step: he cannot skate just yet, but doctors have cleared him to work out. [ Dallas Morning News ] • Sean McIndoe has some resolutions for the new NHL season, including “Let’s stop making everything about character” and “Let’s let the Great Analytics War die.” [ Grantland ] • The trend among NHL teams toward having more players talented enough for 5-on-5 minutes is growing. [ TSN ] • There are a lot of good vibes surrounding the Islanders as they enter their final season in Nassau Coliseum. Can they take that next step this year? [ The Fourth Period ] • The Panthers aren’t going anywhere says Panthers owner. [ Sun-Sentinel ]  • Good interview with Florence Schelling, bronze medal winning goaltender for Switzerland’s women’s Olympic team. [ In Goal Mag ] • Ticket sales in Denver are down, among the lowest in the NHL, but Avs ownership has committed to spending in order to improve the on-ice product. [ Denver Post ] • Taking a look at some of the weaknesses on the Blackhawks roster. [ The Committed Indian ] • The Coyotes are depending on their youth to help bring some Ws to the table. [ Fox Sports Arizona ]  • Dan Carcillo tells Seth Rorabaugh, “I don't think I've hit my full potential yet.” [ Empty Netters ] • Evander Kane and goaltender are just two of the storylines surrounding the Jets as training camp opens. [ Arctic Ice Hockey ] • Breaking down the new Penguins jersey. [ Hockey by Design ] • The all-advance stats team of the Ovechkin era on the Capitals includes the great Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov. [ BrooksLaichYear ] • Finally, here’s Jaromir Jagr talking about how he wants to play until he’s 50 because Jaromir Jagr is awesome: 

Talented crop of rookies has fantasy upside (NHL)
(Fri, 19 Sep 2014 07:00:00 PDT)
We've already broken down the 2014 draftees and who can have an immediate impact on the fantasy landscape . Realistically, any of these players could find their name on the fantasy rookie of the year trophy, as Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche did last season.

WHL season gets underway: the coast-to-coast (Buzzing The Net)
(Fri, 19 Sep 2014 04:17:08 PDT)
Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ... WHL Nick Patterson ponders whether post- Mike Johnston Portland will still be best in the U.S. Division . ( Everett Herald , The Columbian ) Our own Scott Sepich has previews for the U.S. and B.C. divisions . The Vancouver Giants are starting the season with three goalies, notes Steve Ewen . One, and possibly two, will play in the opener vs. Victoria. ( Vancouver Province , Vancouver Sun ) Daniel Nugent-Bowman highlights the intractable problem of starting the season while stars and stalwarts are at NHL camps: "It simply doesn't make sense. ( Saskatoon StarPhoenix ) There's your Calgary Hitmen season storyline: from first-round ouster to the WHL penthouse? ( Calgary Sun ) How will a stint with the Dallas Stars (thank you, Derek Laxdal ) propel Edmonton's Mads Eller into the new season? ( Edmonton Sun ) Everett will have to score a lot more than 3.0 goals per game. ( Everett Herald ) Torrin White is one of the few Moose Jaw Warriors who was around for the club's last playoff run in 2012: "I think we should be able to attain it ... We're a skilled team and we're moving the puck quickly." ( Moose Jaw Times-Herald ) Sophomores Matteo Gennaro and Brendan Guhle will find themselves in much bigger roles in Prince Albert if a certain pair of 19-year-olds find spots elsewhere with Western Canada NHL franchises. ( Prince Albert Daily Herald )

Blackhawks open training camp at Notre Dame (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:05:43 PDT)
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks want to get back to the Stanley Cup final.

Kitchener Rangers' Brandon Robinson has scary face-first collision with boards during NHL prospect tournament (VIDEO) (Buzzing The Net)
(Mon, 15 Sep 2014 20:59:28 PDT)
In the here and now, the Kitchener Rangers' Brandon Robinson is perhaps fortunate to have not suffered a more grievous injury. In the long run, the footage of the 18-year-old crashing face-first into the boards on Monday night while playing for the Detroit Red Wings rookie squad at the Traverse City, Mich., prospect tournament should give pause to wonder about whether those events are good for the overall health of young players. During the third period on Monday, Robinson collided into the boards, leading to a scary scene where the former OHL first-round pick lay motionless on the ice for several minutes . The good news is that Robinson, who on the cusp of his fourth junior season, is " moving well and talking ," although he was to undergo X-rays in order to determine if he suffered a cervical spinal fracture. As best as one can tell, it was a freak incident. Robinson was trying to check a Wild defenceman when he hurtled over him and hit the glass.  It goes without saying the same play just as easily could have happened in a junior league game. At the same time, taking into consideration the facial injuries the Columbus Blue Jackets first-round pick Sonny Milano suffered on Friday and Vancouver Canucks farmhand's Frank Corrado's gratuitous forearm to the head of Calgary Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau , it's within reason to question the greater worth of these September prospect tournaments. It goes without saying that the NHL clubs see it essential for helping instil expectations in the players in their pipeline, even though a lot of the participants are undrafted free agents. However, the high-intensity environment of a short tournament involving eager-to-please players willing to do anything to impress the coaches/GM/director of amateur scouting might carry a heightened injury risk. It's also probably emotionally draining for players who believe they're playing for a contract and, if unsuccessful, still have a whole season to complete.   That is, admittedly, an emotional argument based on anecdote. The one saving grace is Robinson was not worse, probably thanks to being in his physical prime at a burly 6-foot-3 and 216 pounds. He was seen wearing a neck brace Tuesday morning and doctors said he can resume his hockey career when he's ready. Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet .

What We Learned: Do NHL players actually care about Corsi? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 15 Sep 2014 06:05:07 PDT)


Dishonor For Connor: Analyzing race to bottom for Connor McDavid (Trending Topics) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 12 Sep 2014 06:52:34 PDT)
It's pretty clear by now that there is significant stratification in the NHL.   There is a small handful of great teams — Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Jose, St. Louis — and quite a few more very good ones. There are several middling teams thrown in as well, which range from decent to kind of bad, but which will have no impact on playoff proceedings overall. Then there is a small number of truly dismal teams, and it is this group of three or four clubs that will be of particular interest this season. Unlike the last time a true “generational talent” came into the NHL (2005, when Sidney Crosby was the consensus No. 1 by a mile), there is actually going to be a season played this year, and for the most part we don't have to get into conspiracy theories about the selection process. The results you see on the ice over the next several months will dictate who picks where, which is the way it should be. But here's the thing: This year isn't really like last year, in terms of being able to say, “Oh yes, the Sabres are clearly the worst team in the league.” Well, they're clearly the worst team in the league at present, but the gap between them and some of the other contenders for that fateful No. 30 spot in the standings isn't quite so pronounced as it was last year. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ] The over-under numbers that came out earlier this week got me thinking about that portion The first thing to keep in mind about the Sabres of last season is that they were, in addition to being the worst team in the league, almost hopelessly unlucky. They only got to 52 points last season, which is pathetic (literally 40 points below league-average), despite the fact that Ryan Miller and the rest of the goalies stopped 5 percent more shots than the average NHL goaltending (.918); if they'd kept Miller the whole season, instead of wisely trading him, they'd have probably gotten closer to 60. He was that good for them. But even 60 would have been bad, and the fact that they shed Miller and will instead rely upon Michal Neuvirth to push things along. Things will not go quite so well for them in the goaltending department as a consequence, but Neuvirth isn't bad or anything, and the rest of the team has improved. They brought in Brian Gionta and Andrej Meszaros among other NHL veterans, and re-signed Matt Moulson after trading him to Minnesota. Now that's asset management. The team's biggest problem was scoring, and it's not really been addressed, but the likelihood that an entire team shoots just 7 percent again (almost two points below league average) next season seems quite low. So the question becomes whether that increase will square up with a potentially big drop in save percentage, and how adding some better players in front of Neuvirth will affect their shots-against total. One assumes that the answer is “not enough to make a difference”, and so this will still be an almost-incredibly bad team, all things considered. I feel pretty confident saying that they weren't really as bad as a 52-point team last year, and they won't be that bad again this time around. They are, however, clearly still downright awful. It'll be interesting to see if the luck actually goes their way this season, too, and effectively screws them into a race with some other teams for dead last. It's not probable, but it's certainly possible, that such a thing could happen, especially if one of the other deeply bad teams ends up getting the same kind of tough bounces Buffalo did last year. But because the rules for the draft lottery have been changed to take away some of the advantage of finishing 30th — a hearty screw-you to the tanking crowd from the league — it's also fair to examine the group of teams that might come next, and I'd say there are probably only two or three who have a legit shot at finishing 29th. And by the way, it goes without saying that even if you're picking second in the draft come June, you're still walking away with a very good player in Jack Eichel, whom most scouts said would have been No. 1 overall in this past draft, had he been eligible. The team that seems to be the prohibitive favorite to finish one step up from the basement is the Calgary Flames, but they're a team that actually improved somewhat this offseason, and might be able to stay afloat better than they should want. The fact is that they finished 27th despite getting awful goaltending (.902) and suffering some major injuries to key players (their man-games lost was third in the league last year, many to key players). They didn't really replace Mike Cammalleri after predictably seeing him walk in free agency, but they shored up some of the team's depth issues with actual decent possession drivers. And, most critically to their non-losing, they brought in league-average goaltender Jonas Hiller, which is not what teams near the bottom of the league should be doing.   Is this the year the Flames bottom out? I wouldn't be surprised, but they weren't truly as pitiful as they needed to be last year, and things might even improve for them this year (albeit slightly). Carolina is another interesting potential bottom feeder this season, even if Eric Staal actually delivers something useful. They added next to nothing — three former Maple Leafs! — and changed coaches again, and still, for some reason, plan on making poor Anton Khudobin split time with Cam Ward. That alone ensures that they're going to lose more games than they probably should. But it's also difficult to believe that Khudobin is really as good as the numbers say he is (career .926 save percentage, same as he posted last year) because we're still talking about a guy with just 57 career games under his belt. Maybe he regresses with a heavier workload, but even if he steps back considerably from his career numbers he'll still be above average. Unless Ward really steps up, this is still a team that's not very good, and that outweighs even world-class goaltending in a lot of cases (see also: the 2013-14 Sabres).   As for the people throwing Florida into this mix, that seems unlikely. They're a team that's young and improving, with high-test players in critical positions. They also brought in some very solid depth (Willie Mitchell, Jussi Jokinen, Dave Bolland) to shore up the bottom of what was a thin roster before. Go down their top-9 forwards and six defensemen and you won't find a lot wrong with that lineup. Are they a playoff team? No, but they're not skulking along with the dregs of the league either. This is especially true because they're going to get a full season out of Roberto Luongo, who remains one of the best goalies in the league. That's a huge upgrade from the other four goaltenders they used last season, and I warn you that this is a real list: Tim Thomas (40 games, .909), Scott Clemmensen (17 games, .896), Jacob Markstrom (12 games, .874(!!!)), and Dan Ellis (six games, .836(!!!!!!!!!!!)). Altogether, those guys faced 2,110 shots in 4,000-plus minutes — 31.2 per 60 minutes, which is a lot — and allowed 220 goals. That's an .895 team save percentage, and that's going to get you second-to-last every time. With Luongo carrying the water now, though, it will be almost impossible to get below .910 as a team; that's a goal savings of about 30 goals over the course of a season, or as much as 10 extra standings points, just on goaltending alone. The rest of the team improving as well should push the Panthers pretty safely out of the basement. Then there's Edmonton, which has likewise improved and wasn't even as bad as Calgary last season. A full year of Ben Scrivens should do wonders for their dismal goaltending, and the team also added a number of depth forwards whom the underlying numbers like quite a bit. Plus, not having to deal with yet another coach firing might make it a little easier for the team to actually know what the hell it's supposed to be doing at any point in the game, and that, too, means improvement. The Islanders are so much better now than they were as a 67-point team last season that their candidacy for their position isn't worth discussing. The Vegas odds say the three worst teams in the league this year will likely be Buffalo, Calgary, and Florida, but I'd swap out the Panthers for their old Southeast Division foes in Raleigh. The fact of the matter is that the salary cap (and specifically its floor) is bringing greater wealth distribution in terms of how bad teams are able to improve by adding good players. Last year, the worst teams in the league were almost historically bad, but they've all taken a step forward. It'll still be a dogfight to see who's picking with the Nos. 1 and 2 spots, but I doubt it will be quite so pitiful. Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here . [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ]

Ducks extend Boudreau; Murray talks Ryan, Methot; Subban for Habs captain? (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 11 Sep 2014 10:19:29 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

Ducks extend coach Boudreau's contract thru 2017 (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:23:07 PDT)
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Bruce Boudreau has transformed the Anaheim Ducks from underachievers into contenders, and the club is confident the coach can finally chase down his first Stanley Cup championship.

NHL Fantasy Hockey: Crucial training camp battles in Western Conference (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:40:58 PDT)
Dobber launched his fantasy hockey website DobberHockey back in 2005 and has been Puck Daddy's resident fantasy hockey enthusiast since 2009. Anaheim Ducks - John Gibson vs. Frederik Andersen Sure, a case could be made for the left winger on the Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry line, but we all know that Dany Heatley is going to come out of camp with that spot, then he'll blow it for a few games, then he'll lose the spot by late October. After that, the real competition will begin between the likes of Devante Smith-Pelley, Kyle Palmieri, Jakob Silfverberg and Patrick Maroon. But the competition that will happen in training camp will be the (fantasy) impactful battle between the pipes. The rookie Gibson will take on the sophomore Andersen. Two very good goaltenders with high upside duking it out, with the winner getting 50-55 starts and the loser getting 30. The ancillary numbers for both goalies will be awesome, but getting the extra wins and total saves will mean a lot to their fantasy owners. I give the edge to Andersen in this one. Arizona Coyotes - Wing Spot on Scoring Line Lauri Korpikoski has a bit of upside, but he's best suited as a 35- to 40-point third liner. Martin Erat got bitten by the 'You Suck' bug at some point in the last two years (no other explanation for what we've seen out of him). So the door really is wide open for 19-year-old Max Domi. But he'll have to step through it in training camp. Any sign at all that he's not ready for the NHL and the Coyotes will suffer through settle for Erat and Korpikoski on scoring lines. Calgary Flames - Forward Spots Up for Grabs The only locks in Calgary's top six are Mikael Backlund, Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan. You could probably add Mason Raymond as well, even if he's not suited for such a role. So that leaves two openings in the top six and there is another opening on the checking line. While Curtis Glencross, David Jones, Joe Colborne, Devin Setoguchi and even youngsters Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett and Sven Bärtschi battle for the coach's favor in getting on a scoring line, there is a checking-line center job available as well. Unless the Flames sign another pivot, it's looking as though Max Reinhart and Sam Bennett will compete for it. When all the dust settles, I think Bennett will be sent back to junior, Colborne and Glencross get second-line jobs (to start) and Gaudreau makes the team on the third line eager to work his way up. Four days into training camp that opinion could be completely upside down. Chicago Blackhawks - Jeremy Morin vs. the World The Blackhawks can squeeze Morin onto this team if they sit Peter Regin and cut Teuvo Teravainen. But that's just the first obstacle. He has the advantage in that one - he has to clear waivers to be sent down and he'd never make it through. The second clash will be between he and some of the secondary scorers on the team for a bigger chunk of the power-play pie. When the Blackhawks suffered from a bunch of injuries late last season, Morin stepped up. When given ice time and opportunity he produced (six points in the last six games). He'll have to rekindle some of that magic to grab some PP time from Kris Versteeg, Bryan Bickell and Brad Richards. Colorado Avalanche - Maxim Noreau vs. Stefan Elliott While Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie anchor the first power-play unit (which seems destined to be incredibly potent), the No.3 blueliner on the PP totem pole is up for grabs. This would seem to be down to Stefan Elliott and newcomer Maxim Noreau. Elliott at one time was arguably the top offensive prospect defenseman to own in fantasy hockey before regressing badly in 2012-13. He somewhat recovered last season but still has ground to make up. Noreau was a solid prospect in his own right, but just before possibly making the NHL full time with the Devils, he decided to play in Switzerland where he led all defensemen in points in 2012-13. That was the year Linus Omark and Damien Brunner dominated that league and the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Joe Thornton and Tyler Seguin played. Noreau was fourth in scoring among defensemen in 2013-14, but he missed 14 games. The long and the short of it is - the guy has hockey sense and he can move the puck.  Dallas Stars - Jussi Rynnas vs. Anders Lindback The battle for that second-line winger spot with Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza (or, if Valeri Nichushkin plays there, then it's the battle for the first-line winger spot) will be one to watch as well. Erik Cole, Antoine Roussel and Colton Sceviour will vie for the right to get 40 points on that line. But I'm more interested in the backup goalie battle. On a strong team like Dallas, 15 wins for the backup is very doable. Especially when you consider that starter Kari Lehtonen tends to miss chunks of the season with an injury or two: Last year it was a concussion in March and a lower-body injury in October (eight games). The season before that it was his groin (eight games). Back in 2011-12 it was another 12 games with a groin injury. Lehtonen doesn't miss long stretches, but you can always count on two to four weeks when he will be sidelined. That's when owning Rynnas (or Lindback) will pay off for you.  Edmonton Oilers - Second-Line Center Mark Arcobello is on a one-way contract so he's on the Oilers this year. Don't forget that last season, when Sam Gagner was hurt, Arcobello kicked off the campaign with 10 points in 10 games. He also played AHL hockey with both Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall on his line and they showed pretty good chemistry. However, the Boy Wonder has arrived. Will Leon Draisaitl make the team? If so, it will be at the expense of Arcobello's numbers.  Los Angeles Kings - Brayden McNabb and Andy Andreoff vs. Roles in the Organization This is the one team in the league that has every round peg already slid neatly into a round hole. Here are your 12 forwards, here is your 13th forward, here are your six defensemen and here is your seventh defenseman, these are your line combos - voila. The easiest depth chart to put together. McNabb is on a one-way contract now and seems to be earmarked for that No.7 spot on defense. And historically, as with Slava Voynov, Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez, the Kings transition the blueliners onto the roster slowly. But the 23-year-old McNabb has always been a strong puck mover at other levels and will battle in training camp for more respect. Another player on the cusp, without the one-way contract though, is Andreoff. He could be the next Daniel Carcillo, Zac Rinaldo or Sean Avery. Camp will determine if he's the 14th forward (i.e. first call-up). And with an early injury in the lineup he could give roto-leaguers a PIM boost. And interestingly enough - Avery, Andreoff and myself - all hail from Pickering, Ontario. Something in the air here that breeds agitating, annoying pricks…

Fantasy specialists: Who helps in each category (NHL)
(Wed, 10 Sep 2014 07:00:00 PDT)
When drafting a fantasy hockey team, it's always important to make sure you address every statistical need. The goal is to put together the best possible well-rounded roster.

Puck Daddy Power Rankings: NHL expansion, slagging Ovechkin and Canada’s worst contract (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 10 Sep 2014 06:06:37 PDT)
[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]   6. Setting odds   It's been said in this space before that when it comes to setting odds, the big betting houses seem to really struggle with hockey. This year, it seems, has been no exception. You'll remember that last season the Leafs' over/under was somewhere in the neighborhood of 96 points, and any reasonable observer who had access to sufficient data and chose to put some money on it could have — and really should have — made a lot of money on what was essentially a suckers' bet. There was no actual way the Toronto Maple Leafs of last season would ever get anywhere near 96 points, and let's please also recall that the 84 they did get was buoyed by some of the most incredible goaltending in the league last season from Jonathan Bernier. On Tuesday morning Bovada released its annual over/under lines on NHL teams' point totals for the coming season, and most seemed pretty reasonable, as you might expect. But there were a few outliers that savvy bettors could exploit. For instance, the New York Islanders began Tuesday with an over/under of 81.5 points, meaning that all the positive changes they've made from last season would basically amount to about one extra win. This is hogwash. It was also apparently obvious to gamblers, because that line was hiked to 83.5 within just a few hours. And it's still a huge value, because this is a playoff team, just based on the addition of a goaltender who's not going to stop just 89 percent of the shots he faces. Other teams that offered considerable initial value: Dallas at 89.5 (will be higher), New Jersey at 83.5 (will be much higher), and Colorado at 98.5 (will be lower). By the way, you shouldn't gamble on sports. But if you're going to anyway, don't be a sucker. 5. Getting in line for an undervalued defenseman When you can't even get guys to your training camp for an invite, you might be in a little bit of trouble. It seems that Raphael Diaz, a right-shot mobile defenseman who's a legitimate NHL player, was invited to Detroit's camp, but declined, instead choosing to go with a similar offer from the Calgary Flames. This left the Wings, still, with no right-shooting D on their roster. That's obviously a problem. (And it should be obvious why Diaz chose Calgary over Detroit: the Wings have seven defensemen on one-way contracts, pending Danny DeKeyser's new deal. Calgary, meanwhile, has six, and just about anyone should be able to beat out Ladislav Smid for a job these days.) Meanwhile, this is the second defenseman the Flames have pulled to their camp just on the prospect of making the team (Sheldon Brookbank is the other, and he accepted about two weeks ago). They also signed Corey Potter to a two-way deal that could land him with Calgary as well. Add in at least one young defenseman (Tyler Wotherspoon) looking for a job with the big club, and you have to say that Brad Treliving has done well to make sure the bottom pairing on his NHL club isn't total garbage. You have to like Diaz's chances to make the team, because he can push possession and score a little bit, even if he is teeny-tiny and not even close to the “Brian Burke” type you'd expect for a bottom-pairing guy. The guy is very useful, and Calgary needs more young-ish (Dias is 28), useful players who won't actually help them win anything this season. He fits that mold perfectly. 4. The Darcy Kuemper situation Contract talks are ongoing in Minnesota to bring back the only goalie who might be able to provide them with stability for next season. Darcy Kuemper still doesn't have a deal, and the sticking point is one that he shouldn't have to deal with (it's actually not dissimilar to what Diaz went through when not-choosing Detroit): The Wild currently have two goaltenders on one-way deals, and they consequently want him to take a two-way . That's good business on the team's part in theory. The reality is that Niklas Backstrom almost certainly will get hurt at some point this season, or Josh Harding will have his MS unfortunately flare up again and prevent him from playing. At that point, having the ability to recall someone who posted a .915 save percentage last season would probably be really helpful. But it is ridiculous to ask him to take that deal, given his performance last year when the team needed him in dire circumstances. Kuemper is 24, and posted solid enough stats in the NHL and AHL the last few seasons that a team should just say, “Yup, this is an NHL-ready player,” even if he has only gotten into 32 career games. But the Wild can't, because they have to stick with two goalies who present major risks. So Kuemper is reportedly considering the KHL instead, and good on him for doing so. There's no reason at all that he shouldn't be making seven figures to play hockey somewhere. Even if it's just leverage against Minnesota, you can't really blame him. Why would he deny himself the ability to make money? 3. Expansion talk That got put to a rest pretty quickly. A week ago we were talking about the league adding as many as four teams, then Gary Bettman had to go out and say all those teams would cost like a billion dollars and ruin all our fun. It's great to speculate about this kind of thing, and you have to think that where there's smoke, there's fire. Reporters don't hear “there could be four new expansion teams in the next three seasons” and publish it out of nowhere, for no reason. This isn't a “Sidney Crosby is rotting in an Ottawa jail” rumor here. Multiple reports from independent sources at the same time? And then some pretty detailed comments on them from the commissioner himself? Come on. With that said, if the price tag for a new NHL franchise is indeed that high — and granted, this is Toronto we're talking about here, and not, say Seattle or Las Vegas — then there probably aren't too many people who can afford to buy. I think we can all accept the fact that it's going to happen at some point, just not right now, and probably not how we expect. At all. So, I guess just hold your horses for a while? On the other hand: . @PKSubban1 wants Houston in the NHL expansion conversation: "Because that’s where Beyonce is from." — Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) September 9, 2014 2. Continuing to slag Ovechkin I'm not quite sure when this space became a one-stop shop for defending Alex Ovechkin from idiotic criticisms, but here we are anyway. This time, the criticism comes from — who else? — Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, who says that Ovechkin, the two-time (two-time!) defending Rocket Richard winner is “ on the hot seat ” in Washington. (And it's worth noting here that The Hockey News in particular seems to have a serious infatuation with bad-mouthing Ovechkin. Please recall Adam Proteau's ludicrous “ The Caps would be better off without him ” drivel from earlier this summer.) “ How does a 50-goal scorer end up on the list of players on the hot seat?” A myopic fool puts him there to generate page views? By piling up points on the power play, being an uninspired player 5-on-5 and not leading his team to the playoffs, that’s how. Oh, see? I was right! As to this specific criticism: Did Ovechkin “pile up points on the power play? Yes. He had the second-most of anyone in the league, apart from teammate Nicklas Backstrom, at 39 in 78 games. This is, somehow, seen as a bad thing, I think? As for the “uninspired” even-strength play, let's please not remember that Ovechkin scored the fifth-most goals in the league in such situations (27) en route to his second consecutive Rocket Richard, and would have probably had more even-strength assists than his paltry 12 if Adam Oates hadn't put Jay Beagle on his line for a good portion of the season. As for not leading the team to the playoffs, I concede. It's easy to forget Ovechkin is responsible for the .906 on-ice even-strength save percentage behind him. Ovechkin might be one of the least-feared 50-goal scorers in the history of the game... This is like being unimpressed with the coloring of a particular albino endangered rhino is. “I've seen whiter.” Okay, sure you have, but, like, how many do you see around? There are currently two guys in the league who are close to a sure thing to score 50 goals a season in the current iteration of the NHL: Ovechkin and, when healthy, Steven Stamkos. Ovechkin has an exceedingly rare talent, and even if he's not the best player with that talent, he's still one of two people alive. So seriously, grow up. 1. Actually having the worst contract in Canada Last Friday, the CBC put up a poll asking which contract given to an NHL player by a Canadian team is the worst of all of them. This is a fairly easy question, but we're going to save the answer for the end. The choices presented included one option per team, with the exception of the Canucks. The poll posits that the following players have the worst deals on their teams:  Max Pacioretty (164 points in his last 196 games) Clarke MacArthur (guaranteed 20 goals and 45 points, plus big possession numbers) Dion Phaneuf (a captain, and as good a No. 2 defenseman as there is in the league, especially if Randy Carlyle weren't his coach) Zach Bogosian (who's not Ondrej Pavelec) Matt Stajan (a decent No. 2 center with no help who's only making $3.625 million) Mark Fayne (a possession-driving defenseman on a team paying Nikita Nikitin and Andrew Ference) Daniel and Henrik Sedin (they're the Sedins, for god's sake!) Is even one of these deals the worst contract on their own teams? Obviously, most of them aren't even bad. But how about Rene Bourque in Montreal? Chris Neil in Ottawa? The aforementioned Ondrej Pavelec in Winnipeg and Andrew Ference in Edmonton? Deryk Engelland in Calgary? Ryan Miller in Vancouver? Or how about, easily, the worst contract in the entire NHL, let alone just Canada? How about David Clarkson in Toronto? That's one hell of an editorial oversight.  (Not ranked this week: NHL15. It really shouldn't be possible to screw up this hard, but here we are. After years of effectively not doing much to change the gameplay or presentation of the NHL series, EA Sports had the opportunity to really wow players with the introduction of NHL15 for the Xbox One and Playstation 4 next-gen consoles. Instead, they offered a game so stripped to the bones that it's laughable. The list of modes to which players have grown accustomed but were not included in the launch is available here , and boy is it lengthy. But good news, deeply disappointed gamers: In the first-post launch update, the NHL15 team will add all the features you've been craving, like the ability to get your coach's useless feedback in Be A Pro mode (“You were out there for a goal against, that's a minus.”), and also see who the Three Stars of the Game were after every game you play (very important stuff there). There are other modes that will get minor tweaks too, like the ability to see when a player is injured in Hockey Ultimate Team. Then, another month later, they'll let you play the game online with six people on a team, like you've been able to do for years. What a great opportunity for you, the consumer. Meanwhile, most reviews of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 version of the game essentially call it a $60 roster update. Good job all around from EA Sports. They shouldn't be embarrassed at all.)

How many points will your NHL team earn in 2014-15? (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:27:30 PDT)
One of the harbingers of the upcoming NHL season is the release of 2014-15 odds from ye olde oddsmakers, and seeing how quickly they change as wagerers do their wagering.  Bovada released its annual regular-season point total over/unders on Tuesday, and already some of the lines have moved. But here they are upon their initial release; keep in mind these are betting lines, meaning they’re set up to entice you to wager rather than being to-the-digit predictions of teams’ point totals. From Bovada: Over/Under Point Totals Anaheim Ducks - 105½ Arizona Coyotes - 80½ Boston Bruins - 112½ Buffalo Sabres - 65½ Calgary Flames - 71½ Carolina Hurricanes - 81½ Chicago Blackhawks - 111½ Colorado Avalanche - 98½ Columbus Blue Jackets - 90½ Dallas Stars - 89½ Detroit Red Wings - 91½ Edmonton Oilers - 80½ Florida Panthers - 70½ Los Angeles Kings - 106½ Minnesota Wild - 98½ Montreal Canadiens - 93½ Nashville Predators - 76½ New Jersey Devils - 83½ New York Islanders - 81½ New York Rangers - 95½ Ottawa Senators - 78½ Philadelphia Flyers - 90½ Pittsburgh Penguins - 105½ San Jose Sharks - 102½ St Louis Blues - 105½ Tampa Bay Lightning - 94½ Toronto Maple Leafs - 88½ Vancouver Canucks - 88½ Washington Capitals - 88½ Winnipeg Jets - 80½ ***  A few reactions: 1  The 112-point Colorado Avalanche getting their points set at 98.5 is interesting. Many are predicting a point regression for the Avs, but will it be steeper than that? 2. The Sabres’ 65 points are of course the lowest betting total in the league. And while we all assume they’re Dishonor For Connor, keep in mind that their 52-point season last year was the first time a team finished with less than 60 points in an 82-game season since the 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers. It doesn’t happen often. 3. Um, 93.5 points for the Montreal Canadiens? What’s the French phrase for “automatic over, collect profits in a few months”?  

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