That’s is the Leafs’ record against Edmonton this season, nearly as dominant as the Oilers’ 7-0 mark against the Ottawa Senators. And Edmonton has one last shot — Monday in Toronto — at not allowing the Maple Leafs to take a five-game winning streak over Edmonton into any playoff series they may face down the road.
“Yes, it’s a huge game,” admitted Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto. “Getting these two points is huge. We need to figure out how to win against this team.”
Toronto beat the Oilers soundly three straight games in Edmonton (4-0, 3-0, 6-1), beat them 4-3 and 4-2 before that, and have only lost once in regulation to Edmonton, a 3-1 Oilers win in their first meeting of the season. On Saturday the Leafs got three lucky breaks to win 4-3 in overtime, but a win is a win.
They don’t ask who got the breaks. They ask who got the two points.
“I didn’t think we played well enough… that we deserved breaks,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. “I’m a big believer that you get the breaks that you deserve, and we just didn’t do enough in the game.”
Any time you lead a team by two with seven minutes to play, it’s not all a disaster. Still, a bad seven minutes can make you forget a good 53 minutes — especially when it is against a team that appears to have Edmonton’s number.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit. And it was a game that we had the opportunity to close out,” Darnell Nurse said. “We have a lot of confidence playing with the lead in the third. We need to keep that confidence.”
What is it about Toronto?
“They’ve played well. Every time we play them it seems like they bring their ‘A’ game, or close to their ‘A’ game,” he said.
Is avoiding a five-game losing streak to Toronto top of mind tonight? Do the Oilers need to clear this slate before playoff time?
Nurse was coy with his answer:
“We’re confident against any team we play against.”
Scratches and Selections
Draisaitl, McDavid, Puljujarvi
Nugent-Hopkins, Turris, Yamamoto
Ennis, Haas, Kassian
Shore, Khaira, Archibald
K. Russell, Bear
In eight games versus the Leafs this season, McDavid (10 points) and Draisaitl (nine) have carried the Oilers forwards in scoring. They have 19 points between them, while the rest of Edmonton’s forwards have combined for 12.
“Draisaitl and McDavid made some great plays to keep us around it, but we’re going to have to be a lot better,” said Tippett. “Connor’s line generated most of our chances (on Saturday).”
One corollary of putting No. 29 and No. 97 on the same line is that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goes back to being a second line centre. The fact that he has just 11 even strength points this season in 35 games is a major concern when considering whether to re-up the pending UFA for a number in the $6 million range.
Nugent-Hopkins gets bumped back to left wing Monday while Turris, who has been entirely ineffective after signing with Edmonton as a free agent, gets a huge opportunity at 2C. There’s a spot there for the taking, and Turris will be licking his chops.
Here is how the Leafs will line up. Most notably, Michael Hutchinson gets the start with Jack Campbell coming up injured.
Hyman, Matthews, Marner
Galchenyuk, Tavares, Nylander
Thornton, Kerfoot, Spezza
Mikheyev, Engvall, Simmonds
Shuffling the Deck
The Oilers got their schedule sorted out over the weekend, after missing three games in Montreal when the Canadiens were shut down under COVID-19 protocol by the NHL. It starts with an extra game Tuesday night in Montreal, when Edmonton was supposed to be opening a three-day break at home.
And now Edmonton’s season will end with two games during the buffer week the NHL saved for exactly this purpose, on May 10 and 11 at Montreal.
“The League dictates things, and you’ve got to go along with it,” Tippett said. “Nobody expected that to happen last week, it happened, so now you’ve got to deal with it. Those two games at the end of the year, it does give us an extra flight down there…
“It’s just the way it played out. You’ve just got to embrace it.”
Although the Oilers got an unexpected back-to-back out of the deal, remember that they had a back-to-back scheduled before the postponements which never happened. Also, their scheduled home games against the Habs on April 19 and 20 are now spaced apart — April 19 and 21.
The Oilers do play their last five games of the year on the road now, however, with the possibility of stretching that to a seven-game road trip if they were to open the playoffs away from home.
Coyotes trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland to Canucks – Arizona Sports
Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at Gila River Arena on October 30, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Canadiens defeated the Coyotes 4-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Arizona Coyotes traded captain and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the Vancouver Canucks, as well as forward Conor Garland, the team announced Friday.
Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro first reported talks of the deal.
In return, the Coyotes will get forwards Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel and the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft that was used to select Dylan Guenther. Arizona also receives a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round selection.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Oliver for everything that he has done for the Coyotes the past 10 years,” Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said in a press release. “He is a tremendous player and person and we wish him and Conor the best of luck in the future.
“We are very pleased to acquire the ninth overall draft choice in this year’s NHL Draft along with Loui, Antoine and Jay. Loui and Jay are both Stanley Cup champions and along with Antoine, they are all solid veterans who will provide us with great leadership and experience.”
Ekman-Larsson, 30, has spent the entirety of his NHL career with the Coyotes after being selected sixth overall in the 2009 NHL Draft. The defenseman has 128 goals and 260 points over his Arizona career, for a total of 388 points.
Last season, Ekman-Larsson recorded three goals and 21 assists in 46 games. He has been the captain of the team for the last three seasons.
The Coyotes signed Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year, $66 million extension in the summer of 2018, a deal that has six more seasons left on it for $8.25 million each year. According to Gambadoro, Arizona will pay for roughly $1.2 million of that salary each of the next six years.
The 25-year-old Garland has been one of the Coyotes’ primary goal scorers in the previous two seasons. The winger had a team-high 22 goals in the 2019-20 season and 12 last season.
Garland is a restricted free agent this offseason.
Beagle, 35, had five points in 30 games last season while the 31-year-old Roussel contributed four points in 35 games. Lastly, the 36-year-old Eriksson played in only seven games.
Roussel is on an expiring deal worth $3 million next year, as are Beagle ($3 million) and Eriksson ($6 million).
The 2021 NHL Draft takes place on Friday.
Sabres select Owen Power with No. 1 pick in 2021 NHL Draft – Sportsnet.ca
The NHL draft turned Michigan maize and blue Friday night. And there’s a Hughes sibling reunion set to happen in New Jersey.
The Buffalo Sabres opened the draft by selecting Wolverines defenceman Owen Power with the top pick, and were immediately followed by the expansion Seattle Kraken choosing Michigan centre Matthew Beniers at No. 2. It marked the first time since 1969 that teammates went with the first two selections.
Three picks later, the Wolverines became college hockey’s first program to have three teammates go in the first round after the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Michigan winger Kent Johnson fifth.
“Extremely excited for Owen, Matty and their families. Its’ already a great night for Michigan Hockey. Go Blue,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson texted to The Associated Press after the Kraken made their selection.
That’s not all, however. Luke Hughes, who is committed to playing at Michigan, was chosen fourth overall by the the Devils, where the defenceman is united with brother Jack, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft.
Hughes watched the draft on his family’s living room couch with both of his NHL-playing brothers, rounded out by Quinn, who was selected seventh overall by Vancouver in 2018. Jack Hughes immediately jumped up and began hugging Luke upon hearing Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald announce the pick.
Ontario junior centre Mason McTavish was the only player without Michigan ties to round out the top five, after he was selected third overall by Anahiem.
The draft was held remotely for a second consecutive year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with commissioner Gary Bettman hosting the draft in New Jersey, where he introduced teams to make their selections from their home arenas.
On a day the Sabres traded Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers, general manager Kevyn Adams continued his offseason bid to overhaul a struggling franchise by choosing the stalwart defenceman’s heir apparent. Power is listed at six-foot-six and 213 pounds and was the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s top-ranked North American prospect. After scoring three goals and adding 13 assists in 26 games during his freshman season at Michigan, the 18-year-old Power cemented his draft stock by helping Canada win the world hockey championships.
From Mississauga, Ontario, Power is leaning toward returning to school for his sophomore season, something Adams has said would not play a factor into his selection.
“Not thinking about it too much right now, trying to enjoy the night. That’s something I’ll worry about later,” Power said of his future, while surrounded by his family and friends in his backyard.
As for a message to Sabres fans, he said: “I’m super excited to be part of the franchise and ready to get going.”
Power was the third player drafted first directly out of college, joining Michigan State forward Joe Murphy in 1986 and Boston University goalie Rick DiPietro in 2000. And he became the 16th defenceman to go No. 1 since 1970, and first since the Sabres chose Rasmus Dahlin at No. 1 in 2018.
Power and Dahlin have similar two-way, play-making skills, and will have the opportunity to form the backbone of a retooled defensive unit for years to come.
Beniers was ranked sixth overall among North American prospects. He had 14 goals and 24 points in 24 games for the Wolverines.
In 1969, Rejean Houle and Marc Tardif were Montreal Junior Canadiens teammates, who were selected with the first two picks by Montreal. In 1963, Garry Monahan and St. Michael’s Juveniles teammate Peter Mahovlich were selected first and second.
The Sabres made a splash earlier by adding a second first-round pick, 14th overall, and defenceman Robert Hagg in dealing Ristolainen to Philadelphia.
The trade is part of Adams’ bid to rebuild through youth after Buffalo finished last in the overall standings for a fourth time in eight seasons and extended its playoff drought to an NHL record-matching 10th year.
The acquired pick from Philadelphia is actually 13th in the draft order after the NHL stripped the Arizona Coyotes of their first-round pick, 11th overall, for testing players in violation of league’s combine policy.
The Coyotes, however, moved back into the first round by acquiring the Canucks’ pick, ninth overall, in a five-player trade that sent Arizona captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson to Vancouver earlier in the day.
The first European players selected were from Sweden in back to back selections. Defenceman Simon Edvinsson went sixth to the Detroit Red Wings, followed by under-sized forward William Eklund, who was chosen seventh by the San Jose Sharks.
More people watched Seattle NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 than Cubs-Cards on ESPN – Awful Announcing
In the grand scheme of things, 637,000 viewers nationally is not a huge number for a cable channel with any level of significant distribution. Most things on broadcast TV not only beat that, but beat it by quite a bit, and that kind of number isn’t usually even amongst the top cable broadcasts. However, the news that ESPN2 pulled that number in for its (NHL-produced, but featuring ESPN figures) coverage of the NHL expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken Wednesday night was certainly interesting, especially as so much of the actual news around that draft was reported in advance, and also given that their main-network coverage of the MLB game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals drew fewer viewers. Here’s a comparison of Wednesday night sporting events from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:
Sports TV of note from Weds:
AEW Dynamite on TNT: 1.148 million viewers
Primetime Oly programming on NBCSN: 773,000
PTI on ESPN: 648,000 viewers
NHL Expansion Draft on ESPN2: 637,000 viewers
Cubs-Cardinals on ESPN: 509,000 viewers
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 22, 2021
On the negative side, that draft didn’t even draw the numbers of studio show Pardon The Interruption (however, that airs on ESPN rather than ESPN2; they’re similar in distribution, but many people turn on main ESPN first). It also didn’t draw the numbers of early Olympic programming from NBCSN. On the positive side, it outdrew a national MLB game. And it drew more than the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft five years ago (595,000 on NBCSN for a combined broadcast of that draft and the NHL Awards). And it’s a good sign for ESPN, as this is their first big NHL event they aired under their new deal.
And yes, as Ourand noted in a follow-up tweet, that Cubs-Cards game didn’t have regional sports network blackouts, so Cubs and Cardinals fans could still watch it on their local RSNs. And most probably did, so it likely primarily pulled the national audience that didn’t have those RSNs. But it’s still interesting to see an ESPN2 event outdraw an ESPN event, especially when the ESPN event is a live game and the ESPN2 event is a one-team expansion draft (and one where most of the information was previously available to the public).
If ESPN versus ESPN2 programming decisions were made strictly from a standpoint of what they thought would draw more viewers, this result would go against that. That’s not entirely the case here, as the MLB on ESPN package comes with some restrictions on where games can air. But it’s still interesting to see the NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 outdraw a live MLB game between two prominent teams.
That is also perhaps further evidence that draft “spoilers” don’t always damage the ratings that much. That’s long been a debate, from the NFL’s heavy pushes against pick-tipping to the NBA’s more moderate approach (which sees pick-tipping still happen with some different language, and which hasn’t really led to obvious ratings losses).
In the case of this draft, figures who don’t work for expansion draft rightsholders Sportsnet (Canada) and ESPN (U.S.) reported many of the picks early, with Frank Seravalli (formerly of TSN, now of Daily Faceoff) and Pierre LeBrun (TSN/The Athletic) getting many of those, other national figures getting some more, and local reporters getting some others. So a mostly-full picture was available before the broadcast for those who wanted to find it. But that didn’t stop a significant amount of people from watching this, and that maybe shows that the league pushes against pick-tipping aren’t always that impactful.
[John Ourand on Twitter]
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