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Lundqvist won't play for Capitals this season because of heart condition –



Henrik Lundqvist won’t play for the Washington Capitals this season because of a heart condition.

“Today is a very tough and emotional day for me,” the 38-year-old goalie said in a video on Twitter on Thursday. “For several weeks now, I have been undergoing different types of tests related to a heart condition. And after lots of discussions with doctors around the country and finally receiving the last results earlier this week, I unfortunately won’t be able to join the team this year.

“I now need to continue to process to address and fix these issues.”

Lundqvist signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Washington on Oct. 9 after he had the final season of his contract bought out by the New York Rangers on Sept. 30.

“The Washington Capitals are supportive of Henrik’s decision to step away from hockey at this time due to his heart condition,” The Capitals said in a statement. “Our players’ health is of the utmost importance, and we stand behind Henrik’s decision. We want to wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”

Tweet from @hlundqvist35: Some tough news I need to share with you all..

Lundqvist said he was looking forward to getting an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup with the Capitals, who won it in 2018, after he was unable to in 15 seasons with the Rangers.

He visited the Washington area with his family in October to find a place to live and participated in an informal skate with some of his new teammates at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Nov. 23 before returning to New York.

“I can say for the past two months I’ve felt so inspired and committed to prepare myself for the upcoming season,” Lundqvist said. “The daily skates, and workouts, and just the thought of playing [in D.C.] has really, really brought me lots of excitement. It’s still very hard for me to process all of this and kind of shocking, to be honest. But with the experts involved, I know this is the only way of action.”

Tweet from @Capitals: A message from Henrik:

Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said this month that Lundqvist would compete in training camp with 23-year-old Ilya Samsonov, who pushed Braden Holtby for playing time as a rookie last season, to be the starter. Holtby signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 9.

“Both of these guys will get a chance to play and I think from there, as always, you look at it and you sort things out,” Laviolette said. “Certainly, I don’t think that it’s right to come out and say this guy is going to start or that guy is going to start. There’s going to be a training camp.

“I feel fortunate that I’ve got two really good goaltenders: a veteran goaltender like Lundqvist, who’s been through the wars and been through the battles and has experienced success, and then a really young, strong talent like Samsonov to come in and compete and try to grab the crease and make it his.”

Samsonov was 16-6-2 with a 2.55 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and one shutout last season, but missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an upper-body injury he sustained while in Russia when the NHL season was paused due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Vitek Vanecek was Holtby’s backup in Samsonov’s absence and the 24-year-old rookie is the likely candidate to be the Capitals’ second goalie this season.

“We’ve got another great young goaltender in Vitek down in the minors that is a real strong candidate,” Laviolette said. “So I’m excited to see him play as well. I feel like we’re in good shape with goaltending.”

The Capitals also have 28-year-old Pheonix Copley, who was Holtby’s backup in 2018-19 but did not play in the NHL last season after losing the backup job to Samsonov in training camp.

Lundqvist was 10-12-3 with a 3.16 GAA, .905 save percentage and one shutout last season with the Rangers. But with the emergence of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, Lundqvist started four of New York’s final 29 games and finished with the fewest games (30), starts (26) and wins of his NHL career.

Selected by the Rangers in the seventh round (No. 205) of the 2000 NHL Draft, Lundqvist was 459-310-96 with a 2.43 GAA, .918 save percentage and 64 shutouts in 887 games with New York. He is sixth in NHL history in wins, seventh in saves (23,509), eighth in games, ninth in starts (871), ninth in time on ice (51,816:19) and 16th in shutouts.

He won the Vezina Trophy voted as the best goalie in the NHL in 2011-12 and has been a finalist for four other times (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2012-13).

“I want to thank the entire Capitals organization for not only giving me this opportunity, but also for their support throughout this challenging time,” Lundqvist said. “I will take the next few weeks to be with my family and I’ll be back to share the next steps.”

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Canadiens @ Oilers Top Six Minutes: Habs win festival of penalties – Habs Eyes on the Prize



For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

Do you remember when the Montreal Canadiens traded a bag of pucks and several sticks of gum for Jeff Petry? I sure do. Do you remember the last time Jeff Petry scored two goals in a single game? I sure hope you do, because it was against the same Oilers that acquired pucks and gum for him a few nights ago. The pucks and gum, in case you were concerned, have accounted for zero career goals. Oilers are bad at trading.

After all, the Edmonton Oilers once traded Wayne Gretzky, in case you didn’t know. That should tell you all you need to know about that team.

First Period

  • Jake Allen making his first start. I’m already wincing when the puck goes anywhere near his zone.
  • That’s not fair to Allen whatsoever but the recent history of Habs backups has shot my confidence. If you know, you know.
  • I like Ben Chiarot, but I don’t at all like him sliding a brutally inaccurate pass for an icing. That pass was almost as dumb as trying to fight Wayne Simmonds.
  • Alexander Romanov looks like he wants nothing more than to light people up tonight. Welcome to the gulag, Oilers forwards.
  • Josh Anderson just went to the dressing room and I want to cry, sort of. Please be okay.
  • Jake Allen just made a couple of really good saves in a short period of time. A reliable backup? In Montreal? It cannot be.
  • Phillip Danault to the box. Ruh Roh.
  • Joel Armia to the box. RUUUUUH ROH.
  • Ben Chiarot just turned in the most ridiculous, physical shift I have ever seen in a five on three. I hereby pardon him for the icing earlier in the period.
  • I do not, however, pardon him for taking a delay of game penalty to send them right back to that situation.
  • The Habs took THREE straight overlapping penalties and didn’t get scored on. Buy lottery tickets, folks.

Second Period

  • I did enjoy the whole killing of penalties and all, but I would much, much prefer to not see them try to do that in this period.
  • Well, apparently staying out of the box is not a priority. Romanov sends them back to the numerical inferiority.
  • KILLED. It would be nice if the Oilers would take a penalty though.
  • Oh, they actually did

  • Much like the Oilers, the Habs did not score. 0-1 is better than 0-4 though.
  • Oilers take another penalty. The turntables have really turned and tabled and stuff.
  • The Habs, this time, are doing everything but score. Since when is Mikko Koskinen good?
  • Brendan Gallagher to the box now…
  • This game might set a modern record for penalty minutes without any fights or misconducts.
  • (That was definitely not a penalty and I’d be really mad if I was an Oiler fan) YEAH GOOD, YOU OVERPAID SCRUB.
  • Well Shea Weber just scored a goal and the refs waved it off for zero reason. Julien challenges, but I don’t see the refs overturning their own stupid decision.
  • He banked it off Koskinen’s head man, come on, let him have one.

Third Period

  • Real quick on that Weber goal, I feel like the ref was worried about getting challenged FOR goalie interference and ended up being challenged for lack thereof instead. Catch 23 situation, AMIRITE.
  • Just try to stay out of the box, please.
  • Shea Weber does not care what I say and gets himself sent to the place of shame.
  • The Habs’ penalty kill is good. Very good. I do not recognize this team despite having most of the same players it did last year.
  • Jake Allen is legit. He might not be as good as Carey Price, but I’d venture to guess that Price himself would name Allen the best goalie to wear a Habs jersey not named Carey Price in the last 10 years.
  • Oilers back to the box. A disciplined game, this one is not.
  • For as many penalties as there has been, how in the name of Maurice Richard does this game not have more goals?
  • Nick Suzuki to the box. The parade is never-ending.
  • Artturi Lehkonen??? ARTTURI LEHKONEN!
  • 3-0 Habs and go figure; 600 minor penalties and the first goal to be scored on any of them is a shorty.
  • Oilers back to the box for delay of game… Will we see a power play goal?
  • No. At least not yet. We will however have another shorthanded goal. Devin Shore. 3-1, just a tad nervous here.

EOTP 3 Stars of the night

3) That’s the first

2) Might have to retire this meme

1) Best off-season adjustment

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Maple Leafs' Andersen quells outside concern with stellar game vs. Jets –



TORONTO — Call off the hounds.

Crazy as it might sound not even a full week into the NHL season, they had already started to gather outside Scotiabank Arena.

All it took was for Frederik Andersen and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe to acknowledge that the goaltender was not at his best during Friday’s loss in Ottawa for the whiff of controversy to waft through the air.

Presumably, now, that talk should disappear as quickly as it arrived. Andersen was rock solid during a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets that calmed the waters on a number of fronts.

“It was a much simpler game for Fred and he looked extremely confident and in control here tonight,” said Keefe. “So that gives us confidence as a team and it should give him confidence, too, that whatever he has done to prepare from last game to this one, it benefitted him.”

It had been an unusual 48 hours between starts: Andersen didn’t dress at all for the second half of the back-to-back against the Senators, getting in extra work with goalie coach Steve Briere on Saturday morning before watching Jack Campbell play while Aaron Dell backed up.

That wiped his schedule clean of the typical game-day meetings plus the extra stretching and mental preparation the second goaltender goes through even when not likely to see any action.

“A little new thing we’re trying,” said Andersen. “I think it was good. … I got to stay at the hotel a little bit longer and just come for the game.”

There’s a decent chance it’s a one-off after Dell got claimed by New Jersey from the waiver wire on Monday, leaving Michael Hutchinson to move up to Toronto’s taxi squad as the No. 3 goaltending option.

That won’t bother Keefe since he didn’t think there was any magic in the plan.

All it did was buy his No. 1 guy more time to sharpen his game following training camp that included no exhibition games and a frantic charge towards the season. Still, it was reassuring to see Andersen confidently turn aside 27 Winnipeg shots, arguably the best of them against Mark Scheifele late in a first period where the Leafs controlled zone time but hadn’t yet grabbed a lead.

“It was his best game, for sure, just the way that he tracked the puck,” said Keefe. “He looked super calm in there. I think it’s also not a coincidence that it was probably the easiest night he had in front of him tonight. You know we didn’t give up very much at all and when we did there wasn’t much by way of second chances in around the net.

“We did a much better job in that area.”

There are a couple obvious reasons why Andersen’s play is under such scrutiny. He’s in a contract year and coming off the worst statistical season of his career, for starters. Plus the Leafs explored the goalie market for a replacement before bringing him back this fall.

But, to let you behind the media curtain, it’s also because this has been a non-story for so long and the possibility of intrigue now exists.

Andersen has played 247 games for the Leafs since arriving here in 2016, with Curtis McElhinney next on the franchise’s list during that period with 32 appearances. Campbell has seven games under his belt for the blue and white.

However, with huge expectations and an uncertain future beyond the summer, the tectonic plates are shifting beneath the surface. Any existing loyalties aren’t likely to outlast a run of substandard performance.

And for an offensively-inclined team that has historically struggled to lock games down, you can’t have a goalie fumbling away strong efforts like the one we saw against Winnipeg. That’s where Andersen made some big strides. The Leafs controlled puck possession and the entirety of the second period and still found themselves in a tight 2-1 contest with 20 minutes to play.

“If anything, it made it harder for us in the third period,” said Keefe. “I think hard is good for our team with where we need to grow.”

Andersen is a stay-in-the-moment performer, the kind who would never let you know if he felt outside pressure. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

He turned aside 12 third-period shots and took a second star turn when the buzzer sounded.

There will be more nights off for him than usual with a compressed schedule that includes four games in six days this week, but performances like this will quell the outside concern.

“Freddie’s one of the best in the league,” said Leafs captain John Tavares. “We’ve got so much faith in him. … Just being well sorted defensively without the puck and working to get it back will make life easy on him because we know he’s going to make the saves when it’s predictable and he’s able to challenge and be aggressive and be the netminder that he is.”

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Report Cards: Dominant 2nd period powers Toronto Maple Leafs past Jets – Maple Leafs Hot Stove



That was a lot fun!

The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to secure their third win of the season with a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. This came largely on the back of their second period, where at one point Toronto was outshooting Winnipeg 19-1. That’s obviously not something that’s going to be sustainable over a larger sample, but it was nice to see the Leafs’ top tier talent take over the game for stretches.

To break things down in some more detail, let’s dive into the individual player grades.


5/5 Stars

Game Puck: Auston Matthews (C, #34) — There were a few great candidates in this game. I decided to go with Matthews, but there aren’t any wrong answers among Toronto’s $11 million forwards – they were all dominant at even strength.

Matthews did an excellent job of getting to the dangerous areas on the ice, generating eight scoring chances from the slot. One of them was a knuckler off the cross-bar on the power play. When he wasn’t able to get to the middle, Matthews used his speed and length to hold onto the puck and wait for an opening.

That’s just silly.

Mitch Marner (RW, #16) — He also had a fantastic game, picking up that rebound goal seen above and an empty netter at the end of the game. What’s funny is I thought his impact on the game defensively stood out more than anything.

We’ve come to expect Marner to make game-breaking plays off the rush, but I don’t think we give him enough credit for how far along he’s come defensively. He has a knack for picking off passes in all three zones, which is part of the reason he’s become such a great penalty killer.

My favourite play of his was this “pick and pass” in the offensive zone.

His ability to think the game faster than his opponents is what’s separated him offensively at every level. Watching him develop this aspect defensively has been quite the treat to watch.

John Tavares (C, #91) — I can’t get over his ability to stick-handle through traffic and generate offense from high-danger areas. NHL defenses are designed to not let you get there and Tavares somehow manages to find a way multiple times every game. He fired 9 shots from the slot in this game, a few of them by singlehandedly cutting through the defense and creating his own shot.

Coaching Staff — Playing 11 forwards and 7 defensemen is something I’ve advocated for in the past. Bottom-half-of-the-lineup players hate it, but it gives you a chance to get an extra shift for one of your star players and have some more flexibility on your blue line. Kudos to Sheldon Keefe & company for following in Jon Cooper’s footsteps; I think it’s a good strategy more NHL teams should be implementing. Let’s also give Toronto’s coaching staff some credit for getting another strong 200-foot performance from a team that we know isn’t always the most defensively responsible.


4/5 Stars

TJ Brodie (RD, #78) — Transition defense isn’t sexy, but it’s how you prevent goals in the modern game. Brodie wasn’t giving Winnipeg’s forwards any room when they approached Toronto’s blue line, forcing a lot of dump-ins, which led to quick retrievals and breakouts the other way.

He also might’ve saved the game with this slide at 6-on-5.

He’s not the dynamic one on his pairing, but I loved what I saw from him in this game. Tight gap defensively, smart passes under pressure in the defensive zone, and boom — you’re up the ice and back on offense.

Zach Hyman (RW, #11) — I still think it’s a bit much to ask Hyman to be the primary driver of offense on Toronto’s third line (at least he’s had to be so far this season). Then again, maybe I need to give the man some more credit.

He was able to generate eight shots from the slot in this game, putting him in the Matthews & Tavares neighbourhood. Some of those are jam plays on the power play, but most of the offense Hyman creates is by getting to the dirty areas in the offensive zone, winning the puck back, and driving it through the defense.



3/5 Stars

Justin Holl (RD, #3) — If you don’t mind scrolling back up to Matthews’ section, check out how far down Holl skated in for that one-timer. Most defensemen play it safe and fire a low-percentage shot from the boards or blue line in that situation, but Holl had the presence of mind to jump into the slot and significantly boost his team’s chances of scoring.

Now, he didn’t look great on the goal Toronto gave up, but we’ll break that down in more detail when we get to Kerfoot’s section.

Joe Thornton (LW, #97) — There was one point where Thornton found himself on the left wall of the power play. He made a gorgeous little feather pass to Matthews in the middle of the ice for a quality chance. The rest of his game was pretty quiet, although we did get to see his usual solid board play and heady passing in the offensive zone.

William Nylander (LW, #88) — After an underwhelming first period, Nylander opened up the game with this pass to Tavares.

That’s a fortuitous bounce to land on his stick, but man did he get Connor Hellebuyck to bite on that fake shot. Nylander did a good job of stripping pucks in the offensive zone with some well-timed stick checks, although I’d like to see him move his feet a bit more often towards the end of his shifts.

Ilya Mikheyev (LW, #65) — The box score numbers don’t reflect how strong Mikheyev was on the backcheck in this game. He’s such a powerful skater when he gets going, which is what allows him to seemingly skate through defenses when he wants to. His limited offensive skillset is going to prevent him from converting on those chances as often as you’d like, but he’s a guy I’d trust out there in almost any situation because of how responsible he is defensively.

Jason Spezza (C, #19) — Are we really obsessing about faceoffs again? I’m glad Spezza is winning draws at an elite level – it gives the Leafs a specialist option on special teams – but let’s remember that even-strength faceoffs don’t really matter that much. What happens after the faceoff is much more important, and frankly, I’d like to see more from Spezza in that department offensively.

Zach Bogosian (RD, #22) — Was that Erik Karlsson wearing #22 for Toronto? In all seriousness, Bogosian had his best shift of the season when he was circling around the offensive zone, getting himself into open ice and making the next pass. I’d love to see him show off some of that edgework more often in the offensive zone. The rest of his game wasn’t anything special, but it wasn’t an abject disaster, which should keep Leafs Twitter off of his back for another…48 hours?

Travis Dermott (LD, #23) — There weren’t too many stand-out moments for Dermott aside from what I thought was a soft holding penalty*. He did have a few nice slip passes on the breakout and smart keep-ins at the offensive blue line.

*At some point, I’ll need to acknowledge my Dermott bias

Mikko Lehtonen (LD, #46) — It’s tough to evaluate a #7 defenseman who plays less than 7 minutes, but I really liked this play Lehtonen made on the breakout to get Hyman into open ice.

We’ll see if Toronto’s coaches ever trust Lehtonen enough defensively to get him some more minutes. When the puck is on his stick, he clearly has some talent.

Frederik Andersen (G, #31) — Aside from Kyle Connor’s snipe off a cross-seam pass, Andersen wasn’t really tested in this game. This was probably his most difficult save.

That’s two games in a row the Leafs have been able to limit their opponents to very few Grade-A scoring chances. Based on history I doubt that’s going to last, but it’s certainly been nice to see for once.

Morgan Rielly (LD, #44) — I love it when Rielly jumps up in the play as a fourth forward to help give his team numbers off the rush. I hate it when Rielly takes unnecessary shots from the blue line, especially when he’s on the ice with the world’s best 5-on-5 scorer.

I’m also not a fan of how often he gets burned off the rush.

This happens far too often for a player with his skating ability. He made some incredible plays off the rush offensively, but there are still quite a few flaws in Rielly’s game I’d like to see him correct.


2/5 Stars

Alexander Kerfoot (C, #15) — Justin Bourne had a great breakdown on Twitter explaining how Kerfoot blew his coverage on the Kyle Connor goal.

We’ll show you the clip below, but keep an eye on #15 and remember he’s centering what’s supposed to be the Leafs’ checking line.

I’ve watched this play more times than I’d like to admit. Personally, I’d like to see Holl react a bit quicker there on the pass through the middle of the slot, but Bourne’s right. Kerfoot needs to take his defensive role more seriously. It’s part of the reason I was shouting at my TV when he nearly got caught for an odd-man rush with a 1-goal lead and 10 minutes remaining.

Jimmy Vesey (RW, #26) — He made a clever pass on the penalty kill to turn a 2-on-1 into an Ilya Mikheyev breakaway. When it comes to his impact at 5-on-5, though, I have to be honest – I’m just not seeing it with Jimmy Vesey. He’s failing to make skilled plays off the rush; pucks seem to die on his stick in the offensive zone; aside from a few nice backchecks, I don’t really see what he does to drive results.

Wayne Simmonds (RW, #24) — As much as I love the idea of Wayne Simmonds, watching him get caved in at 5-on-5 every night is a worrying trend.

You don’t need to be a stats nerd to know that’s bad.

Jake Muzzin (LD, #8) — He did have a few big hits on Nik Ehlers and Blake Wheeler, although the only play fans will remember is Muzzin’s turnover in the defensive zone that led to a goal against shortly afterwards. I’m never a fan of overreacting to one “big mistake” an NHL defenseman makes in any given game, but even if we excluded that turnover, this wasn’t Muzzin’s best night.

He looked hesitant on the breakout, circling back and forcing those dreaded stretch-pass dump-ins instead of making the pass north up the ice when he had the chance.

Heat Map

Here’s a quick look at where each team’s shots were coming from at even strength, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Winnipeg Jets

The Leafs controlled 61 percent of the shots and 70 percent of the scoring chances at even strength. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Game Score

Game score is a metric developed by The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn to measure single game performance. You can read more about it here.Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Winnipeg Jets

Final Grade: A

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