August 17 — Home Improvements, NHL Superheroes & WJC Quarters

Last Night’s News 📰

PAQ-ING HIS BAGS: After nine NHL seasons and a Stanley Cup victory as a member of the 2020 Tampa Bay Lightning, Cedric Paquette is heading to Dinamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Paquette, who recorded 51 goals and 95 points in 448 career games, mustered just two assists in 24 games with his hometown Montreal Canadiens last season.

MARTIN MAKING MARK: On Monday, the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL hired Joel Martin to be the new head coach, becoming the seventh black head coach in pro hockey history and the second currently at the helm of a North American men’s pro hockey team. Martin, 39, is a former minor league goalie and was a goaltender coach before the move.

FIRST IN GROUP, EH?: Canada raced out to three first-period goals against Finland on Monday, securing the top seed in Group A with a 6-3 victory to close out pool play. Dylan Garand made 22 saves in his third start since taking over for Sebastian Cossa, while Mason McTavish led the way with a goal and two assists.

2022 WJC Playoff Round Preview

Group play at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship has concluded, with the top eight teams moving on to the quarterfinals. Here is a recap of the round-robin and a preview of the playoff portion of the tournament, which takes place today.

Anaheim Ducks rookie Mason McTavish led all players in scoring during the group play round of the 2022 WJC (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Note: Records are Win – OT WIn – OT Loss – Loss

Group Play Recap

NORTH AMERICANS DOMINATE: Unsurprisingly, the two favorites had little trouble during group play. Canada won Group A with a 4-0-0-0 record, outscoring its opponents by a combined total of 27-7, highlighted by an 11-1 win over Slovakia. Meanwhile, the Americans swept Group B, going 4-0-0-0 and outscoring opponents by a combined total of 22-4, including a 7-0 shutout of Austria.

FINNS & SWEDES NOT FAR BEHIND: As expected, the second tier behind the USA and Canada includes Finland and Sweden. The Finns finished second in Group A with a 2-1-0-1 record, beating Czechia 4-3 in a shootout and losing 6-3 to Canada. Meanwhile, the Swedes finished second in Group B with a 3-0-0-1 record, getting edged 3-2 by the United States.

MASON McTAVISH MESMERIZES: McTavish, a 19-year-old Canadian forward, led all players in scoring during group play, finishing with 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in four games. He had three more goals than the next-closest players (Matthew Coronato and Carter Mazur of the U.S.) and tied for the lead in assists with American Thomas Bordeleau and Finland’s Joakim Kemell and Aatu Räty. The top goaltender is Sweden’s Calle Clang, who has stopped 34 of 36 shots.

Quarterfinal Preview

Finland vs. Germany (12:00 p.m. Eastern Time)

Germany finished third in Group B with a 2-0-0-2 record, edging Switzerland on Saturday to clinch a quarterfinal berth. These two teams tied with the most power-play opportunities (16) during group play. Finland scored nine power-play goals while Germany managed three.

Sweden vs. Latvia (3:30 p.m. ET)

Latvia finished third in Group A with a 1-0-1-2 record, beating Czechia 5-2 on Sunday to clinch a quarterfinal spot. Sweden had the best penalty kill during group play (92.31%), and both teams were in the top four in save percentage (SV%)—Sweden was second at .930 SV%, Latvia was fourth at .900 SV%.

Canada vs. Switzerland (7:00 p.m. ET)

Switzerland finished fourth in Group B with a record of 1-0-0-3 and clinched a spot in the quarterfinal with a 3-2 win over Austria on Monday. While the Canadians led all teams in goals with 27 during group play, only Austria scored fewer than Switzerland’s eight.

United States vs. Czechia (10:30 p.m. ET)

Czechia finished fourth in Group A with a 1-0-1-2 record and limped into the quarterfinal thanks to a 5-4 win over Slovakia on opening day and a 4-3 shootout loss to Finland last Thursday. While only the two eliminated teams (Austria and Slovakia) allowed more goals than Czechia’s 18, the Americans allowed the least with four.

NHL Teams as Superheroes

When you hear the word “blockbuster,” do you think of superhero movies or NHL teams making a big splash during the offseason? Here at the Morning Skate, we thought—why not both? Welcome to our installment of NHL Teams as Superheroes!

Ottawa Senators as Spider-Man

Peter Parker isn’t exactly the most feared high school student and, in most situations, is an afterthought. The Ottawa Senators know that feeling well as they are often the forgotten Canadian team after the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. This offseason, it seems the Senators were bit by their own radioactive Steatoda nobilis as they became more powerful with the additions of Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux. Once the guys put on their uniforms on Oct. 13, there is no telling how high they can climb. 

New York Rangers as Batman

Surprisingly there are plenty of parallels between Batman and the New York Rangers. Starting with author Dennis O’Neil stating, “Gotham City is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November.” Also, the Caped Crusader’s public identity is billionaire Bruce Wayne, while the Rangers organization values in at $2 billion. With plenty of characters in the big apple, including Ryan Reaves, Igor Shesterkin, and Mika Zibanejad, there will always be excitement at Madison Square Garden, especially when the clock strikes 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 11th. 

Colorado Avalanche as Superman

Superman is known to be the best of the best, and this past spring, the Colorado Avalanche proved to be just that. Clark Kent has developed into the hero we know and love, and fans had to patiently wait for the Avalanche to climb from the bottom of the standings to the champions they are today. If you’re wondering what the Avalanche’s kryptonite is, that would be a season-ending injury to either Cale Makar or Nathan MacKinnon. 

Detroit Red Wings as Captain America

Captain America is a classic similar to an Original Six team. His shield is iconic, just like the logo of the Detroit Red Wings, which constantly ranks as the best in the league. Steve Rogers was born eight years before Detroit had a hockey team, with both standing the test of time. It also does not hurt that the Wings’ current captain, Dylan Larkin, is from Michigan. Captain America indeed. 

Nashville Predators as Hulk

Well, “Hulk Smash” and the Nashville Predators play in Smashville—need we say more? Last season, the Predators led the league in hits with 30.12 per game. Forward Tanner Jeannot, “The Oxbow Ox,” finished the 2021-22 campaign with 318 hits in 81 games, second most among players in the league. Hulk may smash everything within reach, but the Preds take a more direct approach by hammering their opponents—and the occasionally designated cars and planes.

Home Improvements

After the 2021-22 NHL season saw the return of packed arenas and capacity crowds, it reminded us how beneficial home ice is. The Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche went 32-5-4 at Ball Arena during the regular season and notched a 7-3 home record in the playoffs. That said, it stands to reason that playing in front of your home fans should offer somewhat of an edge.

If the friendly confines of your home arena don’t provide a boost, that’s a problem. That was the case for several teams—good and bad—this past year. These three teams don’t want a repeat of last season when pulling host duty for the upcoming campaign.

Washington Capitals

What was going on at Capital One Arena last season? The Capitals went 19-16-6 (compared to 25-10-6 on the road), the NBA’s Washington Wizards went 21-20, and the NCAA’s Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team went 6-11. The Caps might be the most perplexing, as they were still good enough to manage 100 points and a playoff berth. Perhaps a slightly better home record could’ve helped them avoid a Wild Card slot and a first-round date with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers.

Ottawa Senators

Canadian Tire Centre (Jeff Morris/THW)

The Senators’ 15-22-4 record at the Canadian Tire Centre last season doesn’t merit much more than a shrug for a non-playoff team that ranks last in average home attendance. Now that Ottawa has added talent in the form of Alex DeBrincat, Claude Giroux, and others, that record will no longer suffice. If crowds return to Canada’s capital city amidst a wave of fresh new faces, win totals could soon follow.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings enjoyed an exciting and successful campaign that saw them ride a young, emerging roster to a surprise playoff appearance. As evidenced by the crowds at Arena, few in LA took notice. Unfortunately, that seems to be the rule more than the exception regarding the Kings’ place in Los Angeles sports. If Kevin Fiala and Quinton Byfield can spark some excitement in a market cornered by the Lakers, Dodgers, and Rams, maybe they can net more home than road wins!