Two huge stories came out of yesterday’s action around the league. But first, to the local news and wonderful reliving of Islanders history.
ALERT: FIG picks go here. I’m sorry I forgot about them. Too much else going on around these parts.
- Jordan Eberle had a hat trick in the game, his first as an Islander. Here’s hoping it jump starts the playoff push. [Newsday]
- It was, of course, the number 27 retirement ceremony for John Tonelli. It was a fantastic ceremony. JT was fighting back tears, I think he had Anders Lee choking up, a lovely affair. [NHL | Newsday]
“The number means a lot to me, too. I’ve worn it for a long time. But for him, he’s the one who made 27 27 for the New York Islanders.”
- As Dan beautifully penned before the game, Tonelli didn’t need the banner to cast a shadow. [LHH]
- Stan Fischler’s column this week is all about John Tonelli, and fittingly so. [Maven’s Memories]
- If you missed any or all of the ceremony, MSG Networks has published the whole thing, and we have it for you here. [LHH]
Other Islanders News
- So, let’s preview this evening’s game, yes?
- VIDEO: The captain gets the animation treatment when he joins Mike Rupp on NHL Network Ice Time. His spot premiered yesterday morning. [NHL]
- Before Friday’s game, the Islanders sent Cal Clutterbuck to Bridgeport for conditioning (more on that below), sent Kieffer Bellows to Bridgeport (more on that below, as well), and recalled Andrew Ladd and Otto Koivula, who were both in the lineup. Some strange maneuvering ahead of the deadline. [LHH]
Derick Brassard is on the ice today, I presume in the fishbowl.
Derick Brassard, with added facial protection attached to helmet, skating with Noah Dobson this morning at #Isles practice rink.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) February 23, 2020
- Lou Lamoriello has gone out and gotten the big fish at the deadline before, but he usually tends toward smaller deals. Also, Scott Mayfield was home when the Isles were in Denver. [Newsday]
- For about 12 minutes on Friday afternoon, it appeared that Lou had traded Ilya Sorokin’s rights to the Blackhawks. Then, Darren Dreger had to walk it back. [LHH]
- VIDEO: Last night on Saturday Headlines during Hockey Night in Canada, Elliotte Friedman touched on the Islanders, noting they were after Mikko Koivu before Koivu decided to enforce his no-trade clause and saying they were still in the mix for Chris Kreider from the Rangers.
- The Sound Tigers lost 5-4 in a shootout last night to the Hershey Bears. Simon Holmstrom scored the game-tying goal with just over two minutes left, his fifth in his last seven. Oliver Wahlstrom also had a goal, assisted by Sebastian Aho and Josh Ho-Sang. Cal Clutterbuck, who’s there on a conditioning assignment, did not record a point. [Sound Tigers]
Bellows, despite being demoted Friday morning, was in the press box at the Coliseum on Friday night.
Kieffer Bellows, who was sent down today by #Isles, is still here, sitting in the press box. Conspiracy theorists, do your thing...— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) February 22, 2020
And, he wasn’t in the lineup for Bridgeport last night. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
F: Schilkey-St. Denis-Clutterbuck— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) February 22, 2020
Jobst - Bardreau - Ho-Sang
D: Wotherspoon-Burroughs (C)
A little (a lot) more, on 27, 367 and 55:https://t.co/D4xyvqXgZB
Friday night’s and Saturday’s NHL scores. On Friday, of particular relevance, the Rangers beat the Hurricanes 5-2 in regulation. On Saturday, the Devils beat the Capitals, the Flyers topped the Jets, the Sabres squashed the Penguins, the Hurricanes beat the Maple Leafs, the Rangers eked out a win against the Sharks, and the Panthers lost to the Golden Knights, all in regulation. And, the Blue Jackets dropped a shootout to the Predators.
- There was a sizable trade on Friday: the Bruins sent their 1st round pick, prospect Axel Andersson, and 3⁄4 of David Backes’ contract, which has this year and next at a full cap hit of $6 million, to the Ducks for Ondrej Kase. Kase’s a great player but struggles to stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, this was a massive steal for the Bruins. And Kase is still under RFA-control. [SCOC | Anaheim Calling]
- Buffalo placed Zach Bogosian on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract, and once he cleared, he was released. He is now a free agent, and some teams in need of big defenders are already calling.
- The Canadiens may not be that far from competing. I feel like the mainstream media says this a lot, but it’s different coming from Eyes on the Prize.
- The Golden Knights made Las Vegas a hockey town—and they plan to keep it that way. [ESPN]
- The Canucks have had many jerseys in their time: variations of blue and green, the Flying V in red, yellow, and black, the orca eating the ‘C,’ etc. But what you haven’t seen is the Flying V in blue and green. This hobbyist made one.
The Two Big Stories from Saturday’s Games
- First, Alex Ovechkin finally got goal no. 700 in New Jersey. The entire Caps bench cleared to congratulate him and the crowd in Newark gave him a standing ovation. There’s a video of the whole thing in the article. The Devils won in the final minutes of regulation, though, to spoil the fun. [NHL]
- That should have been the story of the day, and ordinarily it would be. But then something crazy happened in Toronto. Goalie James Reimer started for the Hurricanes but was injured on the first shot he faced. Petr Mrazek, who had played the night before against New York, had to come in. Midway through the second period, Mrazek came way out of his net to play the puck and new Leaf Kyle Clifford went after the puck head down, not even noticing Mrazek before barreling him over. Two goalies injured meant it was emergency backup goalie time! In comes 42 year-old Zamboni driver David Ayres, wearing all Leafs gear and a Canes jersey to protect a 3-1 lead. He gave up two goals, but Carolina absolutely shut down the Leafs and didn’t allow them a thing in the third period and Ayres got the win, 6-3.
- The Leafs lost to their minor league Zamboni driver. THE LEAFS LOST TO THEIR MINOR LEAGUE ZAMBONI DRIVER. I mean sure, he came in with a lead and it was mostly the team in front of him that won the game, but Toronto knew they were facing a beer-league goalie and couldn’t generate anything! How embarrassing. The Toronto media takes have been astoundingly beautiful, and there are calls for John Tavares’ head. Back in July 2018, we were all hoping for something like this. But this is beyond my wildest dreams. Their coach was pissed, too.
Craig Button lost his mind about it:
- DGB compares this loss to some of the other most embarrassing Leafs losses, which is a fun look-back of Toronto’s incompetence if you’re into that kind of schadenfraude. [The Athletic]
- Meanwhile, in David Ayres’ corner, it becomes a memory that will last a lifetime, for him and the Hurricanes. He was named first star of the game and got a standing ovation from the Toronto faithful. [Sportsnet]
And he was mobbed in the locker room, and honored by coach Rod Brind’Amour.