Monthly Archives: November 2015

First Quarter NHL Playoff Predictions  

Though the 2015/16 season is still young, with most having played about a quarter of their overall games, but teams are starting to show their grit.

Big teams like Pittsburgh, Anaheim and Chicago all had quite miserable starts to the season but have now either bounced back or are in the process of doing so.

The season is long, and there’s always the trade deadline and playoff push to come. As it stands there are a few very strong contenders for the playoff spots.

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Coaching On Ice: The NIHL Player-Coach

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By Emma Hill

As competition in the National Ice Hockey League is at its strongest this season, the role of the player-coach is more prominent than ever before, but the question is: are on-ice leaders the key to success, or can a more simplistic set up seize the silverware?

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NHL Teams Pay Tribute to Paris Attack Victims

As passionate as we all are about the sport of ice hockey, the sports world is a small one compared to all that has happened in the past approximately 96 hours. On Friday, three teams of terrorists attacked six locations in Paris, France, including a concert hall and stadium. At least 129 people were killed. 352 were injured, 99 in very serious condition.

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Losing The Fight

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Back in April 2012, my soon-to-be wife and I sat in a pair of nosebleed seats high in the rafters of the Prudential Center, New Jersey. This was our first NHL game and I remember being in awe at the perfectly painted white expanse before me as I took my seat.

Hidden somewhere in the stands, the organ was grinding out modern rock classics as names like Kovalchuk, Parise, Elias and Tavares (the Islanders were in town) flashed up on the jumbotron. I sat there with my $10 beer and a souvenir puck in my pocket taking it all in.

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The ‘World’ Cup of Hockey

“There will be protests in Bratislava and Riga. #FreeLatvakia” ~ @Steve_Dangle

Well, truthfully these protests will be non existent, but a recent Steve Dangle podcast pricked my attention for an amazingly brilliant rant/argument against Gary Bettman’s tournament to stick a finger up towards the IOC by the Sportsnet Blogger, who is potentially one of my favourite bloggers out in the hockey world, and inspired me to write this opinion piece on the forthcoming World Cup of Hockey and in fairness how stupid I believe it is.

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San Jose Sharks Desperate for the Return of Logan Couture

After getting off to an incredible start, 3 wins in 3 with two shutouts, the San Jose Sharks have been on the decline. In their last 12 games they have won 4 and lost 8.

The difference between those opening fixtures and now is the lack of Logan Couture. On October 15th Logan went down in training with an injury which turned out to be a fractured right fibula, at the ankle. On the 17th he underwent successful surgery but his prognosis declared him out for 4-6 weeks.

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The Sharks commence a tough 6 game road trip this week, in which they will face: Detroit Red Wings – 13th, Buffalo Sabres – 14th, Boston Bruins – 17th, Philadelphia Flyers – 19th, Pittsburgh Penguins – 21st, Columbus Blue Jackets – 22nd.

The only redeeming factor about this torrid trip is that the puck drops at midnight (UK time) in each of these games so some earlier viewing for us Britain-based Sharks fans.

San Jose doesn’t play at the SAP Center again until the 25th of November, when they host current Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. But Couture may not even be back for that.

The end of his prognosis comes on November 26th, but even then added time needs to be considered for him to fully recover and get match fit.

Speaking to CSN Bay Area, coach Peter DeBoer has stated that Logan Couture will accompany the team on the road trip, but will not take to the ice prior to the squad returning to California.

At the beginning of this month Couture told CSN California that he’s still unsure about when he will return:

 

“I don’t know the time when I’m going to be back playing, skating or anything like that.”

 

Via his Twitter feed, the 9th overall pick of 2007 posted some encouraging news on the 1st November:

Though the Sharks forward only recorded a single assist in the first few games of the season his presence is clearly missed. Tomáš Hertl has been filling in as the second line center but doesn’t provide the same all-round game that Logan Couture does.

Hertl is still fairly new to the league, and serves as a great faceoff winner and sniper, but his second line team mates, Patrick Marleau especially, are far more productive offensively with a two-way playmaker like Logan on their line.

Couture is such an important player to the Sharks, he provides a keen eye for playmaking, a constant goal threat, great hockey sense, hard work at both ends of the ice and, he’s a pure team player.

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The next couple of weeks still look pretty bleak for the flailing Sharks, especially as the lowest ranked team on the road trip, the Columbus Blue Jackets, defeated the Fins 5-2 at the Shark Tank earlier this month. Blue Jackets’ keeper Sergei Bobrovsky made 41 saves in that game.

It is possible that Logan Couture will return in San Jose’s last game of the month, against divisional rivals the Calgary Flames, but as DeBoer will know, he needs to be fully recovered before he skates out in an NHL game again.

Follow Ben Chopping on Twitter, and while you’re at it, follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

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Pavel Datsyuk return gives Detroit a huge boost for their tough schedule

Detroit Red Wings’ 4 time All-Star forward Pavel Datsyuk is expected return for the Red Wings in their game against the floundering San Jose Sharks.

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Datsyuk will take to the ice for the first time since he underwent surgery, on June 26th, to repair ruptured tendons in his ankle. He was given a come back time of middle November.

He began skating again in mid-October and has been practicing with his fellow Red Wings since October 26th. General Manager Kevin Holland claimed, to MLive.com, that the decision to play Pavel will be made following their practice session the day before they host the Sharks.

Coach Jeff Blashill stated that Pavel Datsyuk’s situation was still “day to day” but all reports claim that Datsyuk will skate out against San Jose.

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Despite being 8-6-1, the Red Wings are second in the Atlantic Division, but face a very tough schedule, playing 6 games in 9 days. The next week-and-a-half includes trips to Boston, Ottawa, St. Louis,. The Bruins and Blues away games are tired games for Detroit.

The return of Datsyuk will do wonders for the Red Wings. His presence will greatly increase their shots per game average, in which the Michigan side are currently ranked 30th in with 25.3 Shots/GP.

The Russian skater is just an all around pest to any opposition, regularly leading the league in takeaways, constantly tricking defenders with his deft stickhandling, and he’s always looking to get on the score sheet.

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Last season, despite suffering from injury, he sealed 70 points in 70 across all NHL games. His scoring prowess, along with his 13 years of NHL experience, are exactly what’s needed to help the Red Wings gain some consistency.

They won their first 3 games of the season, by a combined score of 11-4, but have failed to gain any kind of positive consistency since.

However, they come into the Sharks match up off of the back of a shutout victory against the Washington Capitals, in which they frustratingly stopped Alex Ovechkin form equaling the all time Russian goal scoring record in the NHL.

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As previously stated, it’s the attack that has been struggling of late, and Blashill’s plan is to include Pavel on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg. Speaking to MLive, the Red Wings coach had this to say about his intended lines when Datsyuk returns:

 

“I think they’re [Datsyuk and Zetterberg] two of the smartest players in the National Hockey League, when they play together I think those smarts exponentially improve.

 

“We’ve talked about who’s the best partner with them. We decided this morning on Abby.

 

“I thought Abby [Justin Abdelkader] had one of his better games in a while against Washington. He’s been a good mix on that line in the past.”

 

The return of Pavel “the deke master” Datsyuk is going to be huge for the Detroit Red Wings and gives them a great chance to win the majority of their games, during the torturous 6 games in 9 days schedule.

 

Follow Ben Chopping on Twitter, and while you’re at it, follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

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