More hockey? You’d be hard-pressed to find a fan who wouldn’t want it. Earlier this week, there had been some discussions about the NHL potentially expanding the season back to an 84 game schedule for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign. Last night on Hockey Night in Canada’s 32 Thoughts segment, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman expanded on those rumors with an idea of what that schedule might look like, and how the league could get there.
In effect, the schedule would be expanded an additional two games to promote intra-division rivalries, such as the one between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers or the one between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, both of which have seen their head-to-head matchups drop off in recent years. As Friedman details, the schedule would consist of four games against each of the other teams within the division, three games each against each team in the opposing division, and two against each team in the opposite conference. To balance things out, each team’s slate of preseasons games could be cut down. It doesn’t appear that any change is imminent, however Friedman adds that there is a willingness to discuss the change between the league and the NHLPA, however there hasn’t been much dialogue on the subject recently.
- Things didn’t look good for Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone last night when he went down in obvious pain during the third period of the team’s game against the New York Islanders. The winger struggled to get off the ice with the assistance of his teammates, but surprisingly was able to come back and join them in the final moments of the game. Unsurprisingly, after the game, Vegas head coach Bruce Cassidy was asked about the status of his star forward, telling The Athletic’s Jesse Granger that the hope is Stone’s injury is “just a stinger,” but he wouldn’t know much more until today. Cassidy added that Stone was not 100% when he rejoined the team late in the game. So far, no additional information has come out about Stone’s status. Vegas next plays at home on Monday against the Sabres.
- Yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres were able to get forward Kyle Okposo back from injury and Jeff Skinner back from suspension, but were without defensemen Owen Power, Jacob Bryson, and Ilya Lyubushkin. The team didn’t have much information on Power or Bryson, and the same holds true today, however according to The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington, Ilya Lyubushkin is set to return tomorrow against Vegas. Noticeably absent from the ice this morning were defensemen Rasmus Dahlin and Mattias Samuelsson, but as Harrington adds, both were absent simply for rest purposes.
- With the World Junior Championship just eight days away, Hockey Canada announced its leadership group for this year’s World Juniors team. Captaining the group will be Seattle Kraken forward and fourth-overall pick in 2022, Shane Wright. Assisting him will be Arizona Coyotes forward Dylan Guenther, Dallas Stars draft pick and current Kamloops Blazers forward Logan Stankoven, Anaheim Ducks draft pick and Quebec Remparts forward Nathan Gaucher, as well as Chicago Blackhawks draft pick and Mississauga Steelheads defenseman Ethan Del Mastro. Canada will kick things off against Czechia on December 26th.
- Many don’t necessarily think about when an NHL team chooses to recall a player from their affiliate, it could set off a chain reaction of needs within their system, and that’s just what happened with the Washington Capitals and their goaltenders. When Darcy Kuemper went down a couple of weeks ago, the team recalled Hunter Shepard, which Hershey was able to cope with by recalling Clay Stevenson from the ECHL. No problem. But, when Washington also recalled Zachary Fucale yesterday in the wake of Shepard’s upper-body injury, Hershey was forced to sign an emergency back-up to a PTO for their game last night. Today, the Bears were able to smooth things out in net prior to their game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this afternoon, bringing up netminder Tyler Wall from the South Carolina Stingrays, Hershey and Washington’s ECHL affiliate. In a corresponding move, defenseman Martin Has has been sent to South Carolina. While this is a relatively minor move, it does give context for the transactions NHL teams make that sometimes seem to be done just for the sake of doing them.