5 things: Jakob Poeltl comes up clutch as Raptors hold off Pelicans’ comeback – Sportsnet.ca
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Player grades: With blood in the water, Edmonton Oilers finally cage Sharks in overtime – Edmonton Journal
For much of Monday night’s chaotic affair at Rogers Place, it appeared the Edmonton Oilers were destined to lose their third home game of the season to a bottom-three club. But when the dust settled on a wild game that featured 4 goals overturned by video review (3 against the SJS, 1 against EDM), several goal posts, some inexplicable missed calls and a number of circus saves by San Jose’s James Reimer, the Oilers emerged with a 5-4 win in overtime.
Unlikely scoring heroes emerged for the Oilers in the persons of Mattias Ekholm who scored a pair of game-tying goals and Darnell Nurse, who untied it in the dying seconds of the fourth frame. They along with 2-goal man Erik Karlsson of San Jose scored the game’s final 5 goals. Hard to imagine 3 defenders chosen as the game stars in a 9-goal, 83-shot game, but such was the unpredictable nature of this wild affair.
Edmonton dominated the flow of play, with shot attempts of 84-45, shots 51-32, high danger chances of 27-15 and expected goals of 5.7 to 2.7. The tilt of the ice was reflected in our own counts of Grade A shots (31-14 Edmonton) and the subset of 5-alarm chances (17-8). Fair to conclude that the better team won, even as it took 64 minutes and 45 seconds to prove it.
Far too much happening far too fast in this game for precision coverage (which can also be said about the Oilers defence). Grade comments will focus on our tally of contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS), which for the uninitiated usually show best on wingers — who have the most offensive opportunity with the least defensive responsibility — and worst of defencemen, with centres somewhere in the middle. Here is our running count from this game.
No grade but a special shout out to Oilers video coach Jeremy Coupal, who went 3-for-3 on challenging apparent Sharks goals that were ultimately overturned by razor thin technicalities.
#2 Evan Bouchard, 7. Led Oilers’ d-men with 26:01 in ice time and showed well, even as he had a couple of wobbly moments which Ekholm cleaned up. Earned an assist on the 3-3 goal. Rang the post late in OT and then was robbed by Reimer on the rebound. GAS: +5/-0, outstanding for a d-man.
#5 Cody Ceci, 5. Made a bad mistake on San Jose’s third goal when he drifted to the left boards to help Nurse, allowing the eventual goal scorer (Karlsson) to race up the middle of the ice unmolested. Made a goal-saving play in the crease to hold the deficit to 4-3 in the third, raising his grade by a full point. GAS: +1/-3.
#10 Derek Ryan, 4. Played just 9:17 and had little impact on the game. Positive stats of 1 shot, 1 hit, 1 takeaway, and 2/3=67% on the dot. GAS: +0/-1.
#14 Mattias Ekholm, 8. Scored a pair of massive goals that each tied the score, 3-3 midway in the second, then 4-4 late in the third. Both times unexpectedly busted into the slot, delivering a precision backhand under Reimer’s glove in the first instance, then an absolute rocket of a slapshot to the top corner in the second. Also positively involved in the sequence leading to Yamamoto’s goal. Played 22:28 including a team-high 2:07 on the (perfec) penalty kill. 5 shots, 2 hits, 2 giveaways, 2 blocks. GAS: +4/-4, which factored in on 3 GF, 1 GA. Through 10 games in Edmonton, Ekholm has posted outstanding boxcars of 3-6-9, +15 (!) with the Oilers winning 8 of those games.
#18 Zach Hyman, 5. His usual solid grinding in the trenches, leading to some good chances but no goals. Appeared to score on a fortuitous deflection off his body inside the blue paint, but it was overturned for goaltender interference by Hyman himself. Docked 1 grade for a weak backcheck on the third Sharks goal. GAS: +4/-1.
#19 Devin Shore, 4. Played a game-low 5:59 with little to show for it. A couple of iffy decisions. GAS: +1/-0.
#21 Klim Kostin, 4. He too played little, just 7:57. 3 hits but 2 giveaways. GAS: +1/-0.
#25 Darnell Nurse, 7. Some chaos on his watch, but plenty of good moments as well, most notably the game-winning goal scored on a breakaway with just 15 seconds remaining in OT. Nice sprint from a big defenceman with 29 shifts and nearly 25 minutes on his game log. GAS: +5/-4.
#26 Mattias Janmark, 5. Earned an assist on Bjugstad’s 1-1 goal, but among those burned on San Jose’s fourth. Played just 8:47, though his 1:28 on the PK led all forwards. GAS: +3/-1.
#27 Brett Kulak, 4. Played in an all-lefty D pair with Broberg and had some chaotic moments behind the blueline, notably on the 2-2 when he stepped up to try to do his young partner’s’s job only to leave his own area uncovered. Bam! Breakaway. Goal. GAS: +0/-2.
#29 Leon Draisaitl, 8. All over the ice, with the Oilers dominating possession (shot attempts 28-9 at 5v5). Set up both of Ekholm’s goals. Did everything but score himself, firing 7 shots on goal and an eighth that rang iron. Was twice robbed by Reimer on a late powerplay, firing a pair of one-timers from his favourite spot that were foiled by a flailing glove save that just deflected the puck over the crossbar, and then seconds later by a diving stop by Reimer that defied belief. Great stretch pass to send McDavid in alone. Dominated the faceoff dot with 20/29=69%. GAS: +14/-1, and no, that is not a typo.
#36 Jack Campbell, 4. Allowed 4+ goals for his sixth straight start, but unlike the others, managed to pull out the win. It would have been 7 goals but he was saved thrice by video review. All 3 were ugly goals — down too early on a shot over his shoulder, a going-wide shot that bounced off the inside of his blocker arm and into the net, and an ineffectual dive on a 2-on-1 where the shot slid under him and into the middle of the net. At least 1 iffy goal that did count, a fat rebound punted into the slot for the 1-0. His defence was little help on the 2 breakaways, but Campbell thwarted neither. Finally settled down late in the game and contributed some nice stops, including a dandy off Tomas Hertl in OT. 32 shots, 28 saves, .875 save percentage.
#37 Warren Foegele, 6. A mostly solid game, highlighted by a great pass to Bjugstad for the 1-1. Played 13:27, the most on the bottom 6, including over a minute on each special team. GAS: +4/-1.
#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 8. His best game in quite some time, he was buzzing around all night. Scored the 2-1 by converting a chance from the slot, seconds after creating the chaos with a dangerous tip on net. Set up the game winner with a heads-up stretch pass to Nurse in OT. Respectively his 10th goal and 10th assist of the season, in the process becoming the 10th Oilers forward with double-digit goals. Played 20:05, with 3 shots, 2 hits, and boxcars of 1-1-2, +3. GAS: +9/-0.
#72 Nick Bjugstad, 6. Another effective game at 3C, playing 12:34 in all situations including a shift in overtime. Scored the 1-1 by going to the net and converting Foegele’s sharp pass. Unable to cut out a key pass on the 4-3. Led the Oilers with 4 hits. GAS: +4/-1.
#86 Philip Broberg, 5. Back in the line-up for a second straight game, on a 6-man D crew this game. Played 13:27, delivering a relatively conservative game, even as he was involved in a goal each way. Made a strong play in the neutral zone and an effective ring-around pass to Janmark to kick-start the 1-1. But he (and Kulak, Kane and Hyman) got beaten for a breakaway on the 2-2. The only Oiler to not generate a shot, nor even an attempt for that matter. GAS: +1/-2.
#91 Evander Kane, 2. Surely his poorest game as an Oiler. Kane was a day late and a dollar short all night. Directly involved in 3 Sharks goal with poor coverage or none at all in the case of a particularly lame backcheck on the first Karlsson goal. Led the squad with 3 giveaways. Took the only 2 Oilers penalties of the game and got away with a third. He did draw a penalty and produce a dangerous thrust on net in the third, barely enough to avoid the dreaded “1” grade. Natural Stat Trick had him on the ice for 2 scoring chances for, 11 against, this on a night the Oilers went 48-18 in that count with Kane on the bench. Our own counts are similarly damning — GAS: +1/-6, especially poor for a winger.
#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8. Outstanding all-around game, firing 7 shots on net, passing effectively, and working his tail off. Both of his assists came from won battles, the first on the edge of the San Jose crease, the second deep in the defensive zone late in overtime. Was one of several Oilers to ding the iron. Was also tackled by Reimer, a “good penalty” to save a goal had the refs even realized it was a penalty at all. 2 takeaways and a solid 6/9=67% on the dot. GAS: +9/-1.
#97 Connor McDavid, 8. His magic hands deserted him from time to time, but he nonetheless created scoring opportunities all night long. Couldn’t score himself, but earned primary assists on Yamamoto’s goal and Ekholm’s second. 11 shot attempts off his own stick, 6 on net and another on a third period breakaway that found the post. 9/13=69% on the dot. Played a monstrous 28:06 and was still flying at the end of it. GAS: +13/-1, and that’s not a typo either.
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Fanatics to become NHL official on-ice uniform outfitter in 2024-25 – NHL.com
Fanatics will become the NHL’s official on-ice uniform outfitter in 2024-25, taking the next step as a performance brand and longtime NHL partner in a 10-year agreement announced Tuesday.
This will be the first time the Fanatics logo will appear on game uniforms in professional sports. But the company has made Major League Baseball game uniforms with the Nike logo since 2017, and it has made the NHL Authentic Pro line of official performance and training apparel and headwear worn by players, coaches and staff since 2018.
Fanatics’ partnership with the NHL has evolved over the past two decades to include NHL e-commerce and retail operations, fan apparel and headwear, replica jerseys, licensed memorabilia, performance and training products, on-ice Stanley Cup champions apparel and headwear, and now official on-ice uniforms for players and authentic jerseys for fans.
“This expansion of our partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of our shared commitment to innovation, performance and serving our players and fans,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “… Our players and fans should look forward to what Fanatics will bring to the best uniforms in all of sports.”
Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin called this a “seminal moment” in the company’s history and “a testament to the hands-on, collaborative relationship” it has built with the NHL over the years.
“I can’t wait to see our brand on official on-ice uniforms for the first time,” Rubin said.
Adidas has been the NHL’s official on-ice uniform outfitter since 2017-18 and will finish strong next season, said Brian Jennings, NHL senior executive vice president of marketing and chief branding officer.
Jennings has seen the jerseys for the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Oct. 29 and the 2024 Discover NHL Winter Classic between the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Jan. 1. He has been involved in the development of the jerseys for the 2024 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Feb. 3.
“We’re going to be doing some incredible stuff next year to delight and excite our fans,” Jennings said. “What we anticipate is a professional and seamless transition. We’ll have a pivot point and move on over to Fanatics for the ’24-25 season with that same thrust for our event designs and team designs being at the forefront.”
When Fanatics takes over, the company won’t make radical changes, said Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics Commerce, the merchandise division. It will have a multiyear plan to make gradual, data-driven changes over time, the way it has with products in the past.
“We look for evolution, not revolution,” said Mack said. “We’re not going to change it up just to change it up.”
Feedback from fans has helped guide the design process of replica NHL jerseys, leading to innovations like a more tailored female jersey and foldable crests for easier storage. Mack said replica jerseys have received a 4.5-star rating on a 5-star scale, on par with authentic products.
Feedback from players and equipment managers has contributed to the design process of the NHL Authentic Pro line and the on-ice Stanley Cup champions apparel.
“They understand the nuances and the importance of servicing, listening and having a feedback loop from the players and staff, which is really critical and will continue to be ongoing in this relationship,” Jennings said.
Each NHL game jersey today is made in a factory in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, near Montreal. Fanatics will continue to use the same factory, the same specs for players and even some of the same fabrics, at least at first. The company has assembled a team of people with decades of experience working on NHL on-ice and performance products.
“We’re going to inject them into the equation so that we can bring Fanatics innovation with also the best of what’s been done in the past, and that’s why I think fans should be excited,” Mack said. “There’s a lot to like about what’s been done historically, but each time we’ve done something new with the NHL, we’ve actually taken that and taken it to the next level.”
What might the next level look like for official on-ice uniforms?
“I believe what you’ll see over time is an evolution in the chassis of the jersey, an evolution in design elements, and that’s going to be player-driven,” Mack said. “As you see the exciting stars of the game, we’re going to want to know what they feel will help them feel great about their performance. We’ll translate that into the product, and then the fan will be getting something that’s really player — and equipment manager — informed.”
Jennings said Fanatics will keep the NHL on the cutting edge.
“The vision projecting out two or three years is to really start to look at what innovations we can make in the uniform business,” Jennings said. “One of the things that we talk a lot about is making sure nobody leapfrogs us as far as having our sweater and our uniform being at the forefront of any of the leagues as far as world-class design and performance for the athlete.
“And then ultimately for a fan who wants an authentic jersey, they can get that, and Fanatics already makes a replica jersey that is certainly very fan friendly.”
Fanatics will apply the innovative vertical commerce model it uses for other products to the authentic NHL jerseys, allowing fans to purchase them in real time when, for example, a team acquires a player.
“We think we’ll be uniquely positioned to capitalize and grow the business,” Jennings said.
NBC’s Tara Slone on speaking her mind about James Reimer: ‘We have to talk about this’ – The Athletic
On Saturday night, Canadian broadcaster Tara Slone was on the air in California, covering a breaking story as part of her new job with the San Jose Sharks and NBC Sports. Goaltender James Reimer was refusing to wear a Pride-themed jersey during warm-ups, citing his religious beliefs.
“I think it is an active thing that he is doing by sitting out and not wearing the Pride jersey,” she said during the broadcast. “I think a lot of us are very disappointed. We were hoping that the whole team would show this act of solidarity and inclusion and acceptance.
“What’s hard to watch happen, I think, right now, is this sort of ripple effect.”
Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov boycotted his team’s scheduled Pride night in January. Days later, the Rangers elected not to wear Pride-themed jerseys as scheduled. Earlier this month, the Wild declined to wear Pride jerseys during a pregame warm-up.
The rest of the Sharks wore the Pride jersey.
“I woke up today just really sad,” Slone said in an interview with The Athletic on Monday. “It’s less about James Reimer himself, and more about what’s happening in the world, which I find so painful.”
Slone relocated to California last fall, months after Sportsnet announced the cancellation of “Rogers Hometown Hockey,” which she had co-hosted with Ron MacLean. Her partner, former defenseman Dan Boyle, had settled in San Jose in retirement.
In November, Slone began working as host/contributor for the Sharks and NBC Sports Bay Area. As reaction continued to roll in from the weekend, she fielded questions from The Athletic.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
When did you hear about the stance James Reimer was going to take?
I think a lot of us were anticipating there would be a holdout or two. Coach (David) Quinn was asked about it a few days before the Pride game. And with his answer, it just didn’t seem like the whole team would be wearing them. So we were prepared for somebody to hold out.
I got a text from my producer, Sean Maddison, shortly after it was announced. It was Saturday morning.
How did you decide what you would say on the air?
Obviously, for me, it’s a balancing act, right? I work for the team. I also work for the broadcaster that works for the team. I knew I had to be careful. Honestly? My first feeling was I was so heartbroken for the organization itself, because I knew how much work had gone into all of the events leading up to the Pride game itself.
And I know how much work they do internally. That’s one of the things about being employed by the team: I know that this is an organization that puts their money where their mouths are in terms of internal education. It’s not just a one-night thing.
What really sucked is seeing that their efforts were being overshadowed by James Reimer’s decision. I knew that I had the faith of NBC. They brought me in for a reason. They knew exactly what they were getting when they decided they wanted me to be part of the team.
And I think part of it is to address issues like this, to have real conversations about hockey culture. If they were looking for another hockey talking head, I’m not it. I am not an analyst.
.@TaraSlone and @BrodieNBCS discuss James Reimer not wearing a Pride jersey during warm-ups pic.twitter.com/uqxz3wRn2A
— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) March 19, 2023
Had you scripted what you were going to say?
I didn’t script anything, no. And I haven’t watched it back, actually, so I don’t really remember what I said. What made it easy for me is that I felt so aligned with what Brian Burke had sent me.
Did you interview him?
He texted it to me. I had spoken to him. He came through with the Penguins. I’d spoken to him after Ivan Provorov refused to wear his Pride jersey. I wanted to get Burkie’s thoughts. I knew that, in this case, he would have something to say. Reimer played under him. Reimer played for him at a time when Brendan Burke was out, and when Brendan died. (Reimer was with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, and Brian Burke was the Maple Leafs’ GM, when Brendan Burke died in February 2010.)
To me, other than just being disappointing — and disappointing on behalf of the team itself — it is just such a dangerous time for that community. I felt so heartbroken that this was something that was going to be used as a further launch point for all the people who have demonized the LGBTQ+ community.
That was, and remains, the biggest heartbreaker of this whole thing.
What has been the reaction?
Really divided. A lot of people applauding NBC for allowing that to happen. Applauding the Sharks. Applauding me, I guess. But there’s just so much vitriol out there. People standing by Reimer’s freedom of religious expression. And just complete, horrible, weaponization. Using it as a platform to energize all these false narratives.
Honestly? I feel kind of sick to my stomach. It’s really not about what I’ve taken personally. It’s about what I’m seeing out there, and what is an indication of where the greater world sits. We’re a long way from equality and understanding, that’s for sure.
You’ve been on NBC for less than a year …
Yeah. I only got my work visa in December.
Were you concerned about what kind of editorial freedom you might have, given your brief tenure?
It wasn’t a matter of that. Like I said, they knew who I was coming into this. Both the Sharks and NBC really created a situation for me because of who I am, because of what I bring. And my outspokenness is part of what I bring. I’ve said this many times at this point: It’s really refreshing for me to be in a place where I am celebrated and not just tolerated — where my viewpoints are actually encouraged.
At the same time, it is a balancing act, and I have to be careful. I want to make sure that I’m honest, but also fair to the team. I spoke to Scott Emmert, who’s the (vice president) of communications. He knew that we were going to say something. I assured him. I said: “Scott, I’m going to be fair, but we have to talk about this.”
Nobody told me to watch myself. Nobody gave me anything to say or not to say.
How are people reacting around San Jose?
I don’t know. I’ve only been hanging out with my 13-year-old daughter. (Smiles) But certainly, in the hockey world and in the Sharks fan community, it’s the biggest topic of conversation.
What happens next?
I think it has opened some important discourse. I really wonder, though, moving forward, how the fans are going to react to Reimer. But as I’ve seen in hockey — over and over again — stuff, unfortunately, tends to be forgotten pretty quickly. I think what happens next is life goes on. It’s been a hard enough season for the team. It’s almost over. I think everybody would love the chance to just regroup.
How have you adjusted to working in California?
Working as a team is really different. You come across the challenge of finding stories about that one team, for however many broadcasts a year. And just making sure you are representing the organization properly.
The fanbase is different here. I think it is a much more diverse fanbase. A rabid fanbase. They’ve had a lot of years of success. With the team, it’s not the happiest place right now. But I think people have a lot faith.
Do you have a sense of how long you’ll stay in California?
(Laughs) Well, the man I love is here. If I left, that would mean leaving him, and I have no intention of doing that. He’s not leaving. He’s built his dream home. And job-wise, I’m really excited about the future with both the Sharks and with NBC.
I think we’ll re-assess what everything is going to look like in the offseason. But I certainly hope this is just the beginning for me.
(Photo of Reimer: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)
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