Thoughts Are Mine Only: How About That Laine Guy?

Thoughts from a quiet yet not so quiet night around hockey.

*You couldn’t have drawn it up any better. Auston Matthews gets stoned on a breakaway by Michael Hutchinson in overtime, Patrik Laine takes the feed from Dustin Byfuglien on the counterattack and puts a laser past Frederik Andersen for his first career hat trick.

*Speaking of which, who did I have in the hat trick challenge last night?

*Laine is unbelievable. His release is in mid-career form already. The first goal he scored on the night may have been his best yet, the poise in tight space along with ability to create space for himself before firing one past Andersen was quite impressive.

*High circle on the left side will now be named ‘Laine’s Office’.

*Going up 4-0 only to lose in overtime is the latest in Maple Leaf growing pains, something they’ve experienced plenty of through three games. Expect more over the course of the remaining 79. Such is expected of a young team flush with talent.

*Mark Scheifele with a three-point night. He’s up to six through four games.

*Jimmy Vesey talked the talk over the summer with his holdout until August 15 deadline for teams to sign drafted players, saying no to the Nashville Predators, who eventually traded his rights to Buffalo, where he said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ again. Signing with the Rangers days after being released into the open market, he’s walking the walk now. He has just one goal through four games, but he’s making things happen on the ice. On a breakaway chance in the first period of New York’s 2-1 loss to Detroit, he did everything but finish.

*Jimmy Howard looked like his old self on Wednesday, stealing the show with 32 saves as the Red Wings managed to win, 2-1, despite being outshot by a 33-18 margin. Since winning 130 games and posting a 2.35 GAA to go along with three seasons of .920-plus save percentages, Howard has won just 58 games with a 2.61 GAA and .909 save percentage in three seasons since. Petr Mrazek might have some competition on his hands.

*Chris Kreider’s three-game streak of multi-point games to begin the season was snapped, but he picked up an assist on Mika Zibanejad’s goal 1:09 into the game. He has points in 10 of 12 games going back to last season. He has 8-8–16 totals in those 12 games.

*Henrik Lundqvist has just an .875 save percentage through three games.

*Lightning prospect Taylor Raddysh with four more points for Erie Wednesday night in the OHL, now has seven goals and 21 points through eight games. The Bolts took him in the second round of this past draft. Can’t Steve Yzerman just catch a break for once?

*Minnesota prospect Dmitry Sokolov recorded his second hat trick in four games for Sudbury. All eight of his goals this season have come in his last five games.

*From the Western Canada U16 Challenge: Mitchell Brown had two goals and four points in British Colombia’s win over Manitoba. Brown, a defenseman already listed at 6-foot-1 and 176 pounds at 15 years old has his rights held by Tri-City. He plays for the Okanagan Hockey Academy in the CSSHL. He has a point in four games this season. He played at the bantam level last season, putting up 22 points in 25 games. Dylan Holloway scored with two seconds remaining to give Alberta the 4-3 win over Saskatchewan.

*First overall pick in the 2016 WHL Draft, Peyton Krebs, had two goals and an assist for Alberta. Krebs, who will suit up for Kootenay next season, has six goals and 15 points for the UFA Bisons AAA Midget team. He spent the last two seasons with the Rocky Mountain Raiders AAA Bantam squad, in which he put up 74 goals and 168 points in 60 games over the two seasons. He had 102 in just 27 games last year.

*Two more assists on Wednesday night for Cal Foote (son of Adam) a top defensive prospect for next year’s draft. He’s got eight assists in 11 games, but no goals.

*Medicine Hat hung 10 on Kootenay on Wednesday; the third time this season the Tigers have broken the seven-goal mark.

*Battle of Connecticut in college hockey as Quinnipiac took on UConn. The fourth-ranked Bobcats won 5-2 in a game closer than the score indicated.

Links

Five general managers around the NHL who might already be on the hot seat.

Here’s an ICYMI: SI media columnist Richard Deistch does his NHL media roundtable. Lots of interesting stuff in here.

Matt Murray returned to the ice on Wednesday. There could very well be a goalie controversy brewing in Pittsburgh.

The Kane-Anisimov-Panarin line carrying the load for the Blackhawks once again.

Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts for the week.

 

Advertisements

Three Stars of the Midweek

NHL

Auston Matthews, Toronto: Do we really need to explain this? At one point it was looking like he was going to bury eight. The savior has arrived in Toronto.

Connor McDavid, Edmonton: The first overall pick in 2015 prior to Matthews being selected first in June logged defenseman-like 23:27 in the Oilers 7-4 win over Calgary. Oh, and he had two goals and an assist to boot.

Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis: His second goal was an empty-netter, but his goal with 32 seconds left in the second period set the tone for the Blues three-goal third period in their 5-2 win over Chicago.

CHL

Nicolas Hague, Mississauga: The Steelheads poured it on Guelph with an 11-3 win on Wednesday. Hague, a defenseman, accounted for three of the goals, finishing with four points while finishing with a plus-four. A projected first round pick in 2017 with dimensions of 6-foot-5/216 pounds, the 17-year-old has five goals and eight points in seven games.

Jeremy Bracco, Kitchener: More good news for Leafs fans. Bracco, a second-round pick by Toronto in 2015, had three goals and five points in the Rangers 8-4 win over Guelph on Monday. He factored in four of the five powerplay goals for Kitchener, including two of his three goals. The Long Island native has five goals and nine points in three games, following up a strong first OHL campaign in which he put up 64 points in 49 games after leaving Boston College to join Kitchener. He had 14 points in nine games in the 2016 OHL playoffs.

Michael Bullion, Portland: Coming off a rough outing in which he allowed seven goals on 28 shots in a 7-3 loss to Swift Current, he stopped 48 of the 52 shots he faced in the Winterhawks 5-4 win over Regina on Wednesday night.

 

 

 

Three Stars from Thursday Night: Miller Leads Soo to Second Win

The calm before the weekend storm, there were just two CHL games played on Thursday night. Here were the three best performers from those two games; an OHL matchup between Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor, and a QMJHL showdown between Cape Breton and Charlottetown.

First Star: David Miller, Sault Ste. Marie – Back with Soo after spending parts of two seasons with Kitchener, Miller is out to a strong start to the 2016-17 season. That continued in Thursday’s 3-1 win over Windsor, as he led the Greyhounds with a goal and an assist while winning 10 of 16 draws for the Greyhounds. He has four goals and six points in three games through the early goings of the OHL campaign.

Second Star: Jordan Ty Fournier, Cape Breton – Fournier, a 6-foot-2 left-shot forward and the younger brother of CHL alumni Dillon and Stefan Fournier, scored just six goals in 62 games for Cape Breton last season. He appears to be well on pace to not just matching, but surpassing that total with comfort as he registered a hat trick in Thursday’s 8-3 win for the Screaming Eagles over Charlottetown. His plus-five rating was a game-high.

Third Star: Jake Coughler, Charlottetown – Coughler was one of the brighter spots of an 8-3 loss for the Islanders on Thursday, scoring two of Charlottetown’s three goals while being one of four plus-players on the night for the Islanders, with a plus-two.

Three Stars from Wednesday Night: Palmu Breaks Out for Owen Sound

There wasn’t much action around the CHL on Wednesday night, but enough action to garner another three stars in the rare mid-week games.

First Star: Petrus Palmu, Owen Sound – Quiet on the offensive side through the first two games of the 2016-17 OHL campaign for Owen Sound (no goals, one assist), Palmu broke out in the Attack’s third game of the season on Wednesday night with a goal and three assists in Owen Sound’s 7-5 win over Hamilton. He was on the ice for five of the seven goals Owen Sound scored while being on the ice for none of the five it allowed. A left-shot winger with strong hockey sense and plus-speed, Palmu would likely be property of a NHL club had it not been for his lack of side (5-foot-6, 165 pounds). He has 46 goals and 96 points in 117 games over two-plus seasons for Owen Sound. He played on Finland’s silver-medal winning squad at the 2015 U18 championships, a lineup that included NHL prospects Sebastian Aho, Patrik Laine, Markus Niemelainen, and Jesse Puljujarvi.

Second Star: Jared Bethune, Prince George – Consider this partly an acknowledgment of his efforts on Tuesday, when he notched a hat trick for the Cougars in a 7-6 win over Vancouver. He followed up that performance on Wednesday with a goal and assist in a 2-1 win over Kelowna. He opened the scoring with a goal 56 seconds into the game before assisting on what turned out to be the game-winner in the second period. A left-shot power forward, Bethune has nine points through four games in his third WHL season. At one point an NHL Draft prospect who received a ‘B’ rating from the Central Scouting Bureau, his stock dropped following early struggles in his junior career. However, it looks like he’s beginning to finally catch his stride in the league.

Third Star: Ty Edmonds, Prince George – Tuesday’s win for the Cougars was far from a bright spot for the team’s goaltending corps, allowing six goals in Prince George’s 7-6 win. Edmonds recovered Wednesday night with a 32-save effort in the 2-1 win over Kelowna, shutting the door in the third period by stopping all 15 shots he faced when the Rockets outshot he Cougars, 15-5.

Three Stars from the Weekend: Keilly Out to Blazing Start for Charlottetown

So here we are – one weekend of CHL action down, many more to go in the months counting down to the Memorial Cup. Plenty of good of good hockey has been played since the OHL opened for business on Wednesday. Here was the best of the best:

First Star – Kameron Kielly, Charlottetown: It was a monster weekend for the right-shot forward to begin his fifth QMJHL season, fourth in Charlottetown. Kielly put up three goals and nine points in two wins for the Islanders. Five of the nine points came in Sunday’s 6-2 win over Moncton.

Second Star – Liam Herbst, Guelph: Playing in his first action for the Storm this past weekend after spending parts of three seasons in Ottawa, Herbst backstopped Guelph to a pair of wins to the tune of 75 saves on 77 shots. Forty of the saves came in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Saginaw, in which the Storm won despite being outshot, 41-23, by the Spirit.

Third Star – Vladislav Lukin, Tri-City: The 19-year-old right winger got things off on the right foot in Saturday’s opener, an 8-3 win over Spokane. Lukin factored in six of those tallies, scoring three times and assisting on three other goals. Michael Rasmussen, who scored three of his four goals on the night in the first period, had his first two goals of the night set up by Lukin. A 6-foot-1 Russian forward who turns 20 in January, Lukin scored 21 goals last season, his second season in the WHL.

#NoWinsForNolan

Brandon forward Nolan Patrick, the presumptive first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, got points in each of his first two games to kick off the season, an overtime loss for the Wheat Kings followed by a Saturday tilt against Moose Jaw that was suspended due to fog.

On Friday, he got the scoring going with a goal at 8:57 of the first period before setting up Stelio Mattheos later in the period. However, Moose Jaw scored unanswered goals to win the game in overtime, 3-2. He set up Mattheos again on Saturday night, Brandon’s only goal as play was suspended in the second period.