Friday, 6 October 2017

NHL - Pens @ Hawks 1-10 - Thursday, October 05, 2017

Brandon Saad couldn't have dreamed up a better return to the Chicago Blackhawks, who got a hat trick from the 24-year-old forward and opened their season with a 10-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at United Center on Thursday. Saad scored his third goal when he charged to the net on a 2-on-1 and had a pass from Jonathan Toews deflect off him into the net at 5:21 of the third period to make it 9-1.
"It's exciting, for sure, to get [a hat trick] and then to be in this building," said Saad, who was reacquired by the Blackhawks on June 23 in a trade that sent forward Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets. "It's an incredible building to play in, and to have that support and get a hat trick on the first night, it definitely feels good."
Ryan Hartman had five points (one goal, four assists), Patrick Kane had four (one goal, three assists), Nick Schmaltz (two goals, one assist) and Brent Seabrook (one goal, two assists) each had three, and Richard Panik had two (one goal, one assist). Fourteen Blackhawks had at least a point.
Patrick Sharp scored a goal in his first regular-season game with Chicago since returning July 1 as an unrestricted free agent after two seasons with the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks were swept last season by the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round, when they scored three goals.
"We had a lot to prove," Hartman said. "I can't really say we're angry still. It's a new season, but we wanted to come out ready and show that we're a contender."
Corey Crawford made 28 saves for Chicago.
The Blackhawks broke open the game with four goals in 2:55 in the first period. Hartman made it 1-0 at 6:21 of the first period, Saad scored his first goal 45 seconds later to make it 2-0, Schmaltz made it 3-0 at 7:34, and Saad scored again at 9:16 for a 4-0 lead.
Former Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi started for the Penguins, who lost 5-4 in overtime to the St. Louis Blues in their opener Wednesday after raising a banner for their second straight Stanley Cup championship. He allowed four goals on 13 shots and was pulled after Saad scored his second of the game. He was replaced by Matt Murray, who allowed six goals on 31 shots.
"It's embarrassing," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who had an assist and a minus-4 rating. "It was 4-0 [just] 10 minutes into the game. I don't know what to say, to be honest with you. We made mistakes and they buried them. Sometimes you make those mistakes and you get away with them. They capitalized on every one."
Sharp beat Murray at 17:01 to make it 5-0. Phil Kessel scored to make it 5-1 during a 5-on-3 power play for the Penguins at 2:05 of the second period, but the Blackhawks got goals in the period from Kane (3:49), Panik (9:18) and Schmaltz (10:40) to make it 8-1. After Saad completed his hat trick early in the third period, Seabrook scored with 6:15 left to make it 10-1. The Blackhawks set their record for goals in a season opener. Their previous high came in an 8-6 win against the Predators on Oct. 5, 2006. They hadn't scored 10 goals in a game since a 10-1 win Oct. 12, 1988, against the Winnipeg Jets.

Goal of the game
After racing up the right wing, Kane lifted a backhand to the short side that went over Murray's left shoulder, hit the crossbar and went in the net.
Save of the game
Malkin got a breakaway shortly after Kane's goal, but Crawford used his right pad to make the save at 4:14.
Highlight of the game
Kane carried the puck behind the Penguins net, drew a defender and sent a no-look, backhand pass to Hartman, who redirected it into the net. "I skated with [Kane] a lot this summer," Hartman said. "As soon as I saw him going around the net like that, I knew exactly where to go, because I know he likes making plays like that."
They said it
"Win or lose, you've got to evaluate your game and it hasn't been good enough. It's a tough lesson, but we've got to take something from it. Hopefully this is something that's a wake-up call for us." -- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby

"It was almost like it wasn't a real game or something. I mean, it was just amazing. It was a fun start to be part of. It's not like we were trying to run up the score or rub it in anyone's face. We were just out there playing hockey, and guys were excited to play again." -- Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane
Need to know
The Blackhawks are 7-0-0 against the Penguins since 2014-15, and Pittsburgh hasn't won at United Center since Feb. 27, 2009, a 5-4 overtime win. … Schmaltz and center Tanner Kero each left the game with an apparent injury, but Quenneville said they are fine. … Sharp's goal was his 600th NHL point (278 goals, 322 assists).

* Well, there's no hiding the fact that this was an ugly game by the Pens, and even that is an understatement. It was one of the most lopsided loss for Pittsburgh in the history of the franchise, and worst since a 9-0 defeat at the hands of Tampa Bay on Nov. 8, 2003.
The Pens will probably just want to burn the tape on this game and start fresh.
* The bottom fell out on the Pens in the first period when Chicago scored three goals in a 73-second span. Ryan Hartman, Brandon Saad and Nick Schmaltz posted the triad of tallies to give Chicago a 3-0 lead.
The Hawks kept the pressure on even after that and the goals kept coming. Chicago had a 5-0 lead at the end of the first period. They pushed that 8-1 after 40 minutes. But really, the game had ended at the 7:34 mark on that Blackhawks' third goal.
* Good to see Saad picking up the hat trick against his boyhood Pens team. It was a tough loss for Pittsburgh, but you have to feel good for the local kid.
* It was a tough night for the entire Pens squad, but most of all for the goaltenders. Antti Niemi made his Pens' debut, and it's one he'll likely hope to forget. Niemi, facing some of his former Stanley Cup-winning teammates, surrendered four goals on 13 shots. He was replaced halfway thorugh the first period.
Things weren't much better for Matt Murray, who entered the game in relief. Murray, who had played in Pittsburgh's opener the night before, gave up six goals against.
* If there is a one bright spot from this game it was the play of the team's penalty killers. Even though Chicago posted eight goals, a total of zero of them came on the power play. The Blackhawks' offense is obviously stacked, but somehow Pittsburgh's PK units kept it off the board.

NHL - Philadelphia Flyers @ Sharks - Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Philadelphia Flyers' power play struggled during the preseason, scoring five goals in eight games. Then the regular season began Wednesday, and they scored on their first three power plays in a 5-3 victory against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center. Wayne Simmonds scored three goals, two of them with the man-advantage, including the game-winner at 9:27 of the third period.
"We didn't start working on our power play until the end of camp," Simmonds said. "I think our focus was to get our legs going and make sure we had our 5-on-5 structure down and everything like that. With our power play, both units this year, it's only a matter of time. We kept working on it and we'll continue to work on it. Today was a pretty good showing."

It was the second hat trick of Simmonds' NHL career. The other was April 20, 2013, at the Carolina Hurricanes.
Claude Giroux and Jordan Weal scored for the Flyers, Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakub Voracek each had three assists, and Brian Elliott made 32 saves in his Philadelphia debut.
Kevin Labanc scored two goals in the first period for the Sharks, and Logan Couture scored in the third. Labanc was in the penalty box for all three Philadelphia power-play goals.
"He had good legs, and the three penalties I think came from being a little excited," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "First game and he was trying so hard that he reached on a couple. I don't hold him responsible for a couple of the three. He'll learn from his mistakes and where to back off. You can't teach what he does. A lot of the night, he was our best player."
Martin Jones made 26 saves for San Jose.
Simmonds deflected Gostisbehere's shot from the point past Jones on the power play to give the Flyers a 4-3 lead with 10:33 remaining. It came six seconds after Labanc went to the penalty box for tripping.
Simmonds gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead when he scored on the power play with 2:24 left in the second period. That goal came eight seconds after Labanc was penalized for slashing. Simmonds deflected Gostisbehere's slap shot from the left point past Jones. Simmonds completed the first hat trick in a season opener in Flyers history when he scored into an empty net with 36 seconds left to make it 5-3.
"And he did a lot of other things, and he did them really well," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Simmonds. "He was a real good power forward tonight."
The Sharks tied the game 3-3 at 3:12 of the third on Couture's power-play goal. Joe Thornton had the primary assist. Brent Burns had the other for his 500th NHL point. The Flyers took a 1-0 lead at 8:28 of the first period on Giroux's goal from the slot after a giveaway by Jones. Weal made it 2-0 with a power-play goal from the right face-off circle at 11:16 of the first. Labanc scored his first of the night on a rebound at 17:17 of the first to get San Jose within 2-1. He tied it 2-2 with 19 seconds left in the period with a power-play goal.
Goal of the game
Voracek passed back across the ice to Gostisbehere at the left point for a slap shot that Simmonds deflected into the net from close range for his first goal. "We had a real good shooting mentality," Hakstol said of the power play. "Scored a couple early by having great net-front presence, one or two passes and putting it to the net."
Save of the game
Labanc had the puck in the left circle with a good chance to complete a hat trick, but Elliott got across the crease to stop his slap shot with 10:43 left in the third period to keep it tied 3-3. Simmonds scored the game-winner 10 seconds later.
Highlight of the game
Elliott stopped a point shot from Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon, but the puck bounced into the air, and Labanc knocked it past him with a backhand from close range for his first goal.
They said it
"It was a really hard game, to be honest. A lot of grind. It's the first game of the season. We found a way to win the game, which was good. There are 81 to go, so I wouldn't get carried away." -- Flyers forward Jakub Voracek
"I've got to be more disciplined. That shouldn't have happened, and they scored off them, so I've got to be a little more disciplined and watch where I put my stick." -- Sharks forward Kevin Labanc on taking three penalties that led to three Flyers power-play goals
Need to know
Center Nolan Patrick, selected by the Flyers with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, had three shots on goal and a blocked shot in 13:30 in his NHL debut. The 19-year-old was 5-for-9 on draws (56 percent). … Philadelphia was 3-for-5 on the power play. San Jose went 2-for-6. ... Flyers rookie defensemen Travis Sanheim and Samuel Morin were healthy scratches, as was forward Jori Lehtera. ... Defenseman Tim Heed and forwards Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Carpenter were the healthy scratches for the Sharks.

Penguins - Jake Guentzel

As the 2013 NHL Draft entered the third round and Pittsburgh was getting closer to its pick, former Penguins amateur scout Scott Bell was getting nervous.
Though he was only coming off of his first season with Pittsburgh, there was a player Bell had been watching for years in his native Minnesota who was on the Penguins' draft board. That was Jake Guentzel, who had first gotten on Bell's radar during tryouts for USA Hockey's Select 15 Camp despite his lack of size.
"He weighed 105 pounds and he was like 5-1," Bell said with a laugh. "But he was this magic little player that everybody said, 'he's too small, he's too small.' Then he just kept scoring points and making plays."
Bell used Guentzel's performance there as the baseline for when he watched him play in the state championship game with Hill-Murray School following a season where the forward posted 74 points (24G-50A) as a senior.
And with the USHL being Bell's assigned area to cover as a Penguins scout, he saw a lot of Guentzel after he joined the Sioux City Musketeers for his draft year in 2012-13. Bell watched as Guentzel finished with 73 points (29G-44A) in 60 games, tying a Tier-1 USHL record with a 21-game scoring streak (16G-27A-43PTS).
"At every level, he has always overcome his size," Bell said. "When he got to the USHL, he was doing the same thing. And I was like well, there's a pattern here of 6-7 years."
That prompted Randy Sexton, then the Penguins' director of amateur scouting and current assistant GM with the Buffalo Sabres, to come out and take a look at Guentzel - where he said something that hit home for Bell, who grew up in Inver Grove Heights and played at the University of Minnesota.
"He made the comment, 'oh, he reminds me of a young Neal Broten,'" Bell said. "And for us, Neal Broten - he won the Hobey Baker, he played for the North Stars, he played for New Jersey and won a Stanley Cup and a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics. And it was like well, if he's comparing him to Neal Broten, I'm onto something here. So that gave me some confidence with him."
After that, the Penguins put Guentzel on the draft board that they took with them to the Prudential Center in New Jersey, where all seven rounds of the draft took place in one day because of the previous season's work stoppage.
With their first pick, Pittsburgh traded up to draft goaltender Tristan Jarry in the second round (44th overall). And with their second pick, which was 77th overall - received as part of the trade that sent Joe Morrow and a fifth-round pick to Dallas in exchange for Brenden Morrow - Bell was praying that the Penguins would take Guentzel.
As the third round progressed, everything was going fine until it was time for the 76th selection, which was held by the New York Islanders. Bell knew that Trent Klatt, an Islanders amateur scout from Minnesota, knew Guentzel, so Bell was worried that the Islanders might take him.
Bell waited with bated breath as the Islanders were on the clock. From their draft table, they took the microphone and began to announce their pick.
"From the USHL…"
Bell's heart dropped.
"I assumed oh, they're taking Jake Guentzel," Bell said. "I felt like I was going to throw up because we lost him. I really did. I felt sick to my stomach."
The anticipation built as the Islanders named their selection.
"From Waterloo, Taylor Cammarata."
And with that, the anxiety Bell was feeling transformed into pure joy.
"I jumped up, like oh my god, we're going to get (Guentzel)! This is so wonderful," Bell laughed. "It was a feeling of sickness to ecstasy in about a two-minute span."
After Guentzel went through everything a draft pick does, like stopping at Pittsburgh's draft table, doing media and taking photos for his draft potraits and rookie cards, he went to the Penguins' suite to meet the rest of the scouts.
"All of the other scouts hadn't seen Jake," Bell recalled. "They're like, 'that's your guy?' I'm like, 'that's him.' They're like, 'the kid that looks like a fourth-grader? We took him?' I'm like yeah, 'that's him. He's awesome.'"
Now, four years later, Guentzel is a Stanley Cup champion who led the NHL in postseason goals (13) and game-winning goals (5) playing alongside Sidney Crosby in the 2017 playoffs.
His 21 playoff points tied the league record for a rookie, while the five game-winners were a new NHL rookie mark. So what was it that Bell saw in Guentzel, despite the lack of size, that made him think he would be able to have such success at this level?
"Honestly, I always thought he was the smartest player on the ice," Bell said. "Aside from anything else - skill level, skating - he has always been the smartest. I went back and looked at my reports on him, and most of my reports were, 'He was the smartest guy on the ice.' Every time. When you're revisiting things, that was the one consistent thing with Jake Guentzel, his hockey IQ. It's off the charts."
Bell pointed out the goal Guentzel scored off a setup from Crosby in Pittsburgh's preseason game against Buffalo on Sept. 27 as a perfect example of that.
"He saw that coming and so did 'Sid,'" Bell said. "No one else. He was moving to that spot before the puck even got to Sid. He did stuff like that all the time, even when he was younger. He was always moving ahead of people, or even when he played with not as high-level players as Crosby, he still was a step ahead of everybody."
Bell pointed out that while Crosby and Guentzel made that play look easy, it's actually a complicated one. It began with Conor Sheary digging the puck out from along the boards and sending a short, crisp pass to Crosby, who moved into the slot. Guentzel, who had drifted behind the net, recognized the play unfolding and jumped out to the side of the net. Crosby put it right on his stick, and Guentzel one-timed it into the yawning cage.
"It's a perfect example of how they work," Bell said. "Because Sid was passing there before he even got the puck and Jake was moving there. Their minds were two steps ahead of everybody else on the ice, and they were both on the same page. Jake saw the puck going in that direction, he knew Sid was going to get to it first, and Sid knew Jake was going to go over there because that's the open ice. And then he taps it in."
That's why Guentzel is such a good fit on Crosby's wing after playing center for the majority of his career until he turned pro, and being viewed as more of a playmaker than a scorer. Especially coming out the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where Guentzel finished with 30 goals in 108 career games played with the Mavericks.
"He just didn't get the production because he had a hard time playing with people," Bell said. "I think that's why he was more of a passer, because he always had to make the plays because he was two steps ahead, and no one else was two steps ahead to give him the puck. Now he's with somebody who's on the same level."
And with that, it's no surprise that Guentzel and Crosby have picked up right where they left off. They played together all of training camp, where Guentzel finished second in the NHL with nine preseason points. That chemistry continued into the season opener on Wednesday against St. Louis, where they combined for four points.
With younger players, sometimes management feels like it's important to manage expectations. And that could have been the case for Guentzel, especially considering he spent the first half of his rookie season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and has yet to play a full NHL season. But as Mike Sullivan said, expectations for Guentzel - who scored 16 goals in 40 regular-season games with the Pens last year - are high.
"I think Jake has built a body of work where it's hard not to have high expectations," Sullivan said with a smile. "He's a really good hockey player and shows no signs of slowing down. He has great hockey sense, he's a competitive kid, he thinks the game on a high level, and he has a quiet confidence about him that I think really helps him as a young pro. So internally, we have high expectations of him because we think he's a really good player."
And Guentzel's expectations for himself are high as well.
After he joined WBS for their 2016 Calder Cup run following his junior year in Omaha, he scored five goals and 14 points in just 10 games. And that summer, assistant general manager Bill Guerin said that because Guentzel came in and played so well, he wouldn't be a secret in that league anymore. He'd have to come in and earn it all over again.
That's the same mindset Guentzel has had coming into this year despite his success. As Sullivan has said, it's not in his nature to get complacent, and Guentzel is aware that he's certainly not a secret in this league anymore.
Following the first period of Pittsburgh's eventual 4-2 win over Philadelphia in the Stadium Series, as the Flyers headed to the locker room, one of them said, "Who is this 59 kid?" They didn't know Guentzel then, but now the entire league knows his number and his name.
Simply playing on a line with Crosby attracts plenty of attention from opposing teams, but with what Guentzel accomplished last year, he'd attract attention regardless of what line he was on, and he said he's looking forward to the challenge of that.
"Obviously, other teams might know about you a little bit, but you've got to come back in and do the little things that worked last year," Guentzel said. "You've got to be on top of your game every night and do the little things to keep your game going well. Obviously it's going to be a little tougher this year, but that makes it more fun."
His biggest goal, Guentzel said, is to avoid any slumps and try to be as consistent as possible for a full season. To help prepare for that, he spent the summer training with his brother Gabe, who plays in Europe, at the University of Minnesota, where his dad Mike is associate head coach for the Gophers men's hockey team (Bell just joined the staff as an assistant coach). When Jake wasn't working out with strength coach Cal Dietz, he was playing alongside other NHL players in Da Beauty League in Edina, which formed last summer.
"You kind of do what you've been doing for the last couple years and just try to be ready for a longer season, get that conditioning," Guentzel said. "You've just got to try and adjust to an 82-game schedule and be ready for that."
It helps that he feels confident and comfortable, both playing with Crosby and as a pro in general. During one preseason game, Guentzel - who turns 23 Friday - even remarked about how he was looking forward to playing with "the young guys" and seeing what they could bring. What a difference a year makes.
"You kind of know what to expect coming in," he said. "You're a little bit more comfortable. Just the guys and being around them, it gives you a little more confidence on the ice. Definitely feel better coming into this year."
It also helps that he's been able to get a more permanent living situation after being stuck in a hotel last season. Guentzel has an apartment in downtown Pittsburgh close to teammate Olli Maatta and is living on his own, without a roommate, for the first time in his life.
"It's good. It's different," Guentzel said. "A lot of alone time. Try to keep yourself busy sometimes. But it gets a little lonely. But I'll take it."
Despite having a lot of free time, Guentzel has yet to decorate his new place - "I'm just waiting for my parents to come," he joked. On practice days, Guentzel said he hangs out at the rink for as long as he can before going home, taking a nap and then usually plays video games before getting dinner somewhere in Market Square or the South Side.
Honestly, the biggest adjustment for Guentzel are the off-ice obligations that come with being an NHL player - mainly interviews. Talking with reporters isn't something he's too comfortable with or really had to do in college or the AHL. But as he said, "You come here and it's a big thing, so you've kind of got to adjust to that. It's different, but I guess it's a good thing. And I'll deal with it."
He may come off as a quiet kid, but he has that quiet confidence Sullivan mentioned. And with it, he's ready to get started and build off what he did last year and over the offseason.
"I feel confident," he said. "I feel comfortable out there. You're just trying to do the things you worked on in the summer and try to bring it for another year and do your thing."

Jets - News Round Up

It's mid-September and Jets forward Mark Scheifele is clear on a couple of things. First, making the playoffs.
"We have to make it this year," he said. "I think we have the team that has the ability to do big things. We can't be complacent, we can't be satisfied with being good every other game. We have to focus on being consistent each and every night and know if we do that, we'll be successful, we'll make the playoffs and hopefully have a long run."
Have your attention yet? Wait for the next one. He wants to be better than Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid - two of the game's very best, who he trailed by only seven and 18 points, respectively, in the 2016-17 scoring race by year's end. That was a comment he made during an interview at the NHL Media Tour at the league offices in New York before training camp, and it wasn't a spur-of-the-moment-type quip. In fact, he'd been thinking about it for a long time.

"You want to be the best and I've seen Connor and Sid are the two guys that are at the top of the chart. It's something I definitely think about every day. Everything I do, I think about if Connor or Crosby are doing this, and that's kind of what motivates you. You want to get that edge on them."
Scheifele had a taste of leading the NHL in scoring - something he did until Nov. 21 of last year - and while some players would say they don't pay attention to milestones and stats, the 24-year-old was aware of where he stood and uses that fact as even more motivation.
"You want to be the guy that pushes for more," Scheifele said. "I've got to do more work, I've got to work harder at staying here [next time]. That's the toughest thing. It's easier getting there but it's harder to stay there, and that's obviously what the best players in the world do. …  I don't want to have just one good year where I'm up there. I want to be there each and every season and be fighting for it each and every year."
Head Coach Paul Maurice is one of Scheifele's biggest fans and believes his top centreman has already achieved elite status in this league.
"He is now and he's looking for a far higher ceiling," Maurice said. "The tell for fans, it won't be his points. He capped out at 82 last year, but he's thinking about hundreds and we're all for it. But the big jump in our game is him driving the whole game, at both ends of the rink out against the other teams' best and producing. And He's very close to that now. I'm running him against the other teams' best already."
With the quality of players that Scheifele is competing with for the Art Ross Trophy, he realizes how special it was to be on top of the pack and so did his family.
"Every time my parents saw the NHL scoring leaders in the paper they cut it out," Scheifele said. "I definitely took a picture of where it was me, Connor and Stammer (Steven Stamkos) all at the top. We all work out together and it was kind of funny to see all of us at the top."
You would think his friendship with Stamkos and other top players from other teams would make it hard to forget when he plays against them, but that's not the case.
"We're all competitors. It's not like you're going to take it easy on one of your buddies," he said. "If they're a friend of yours, you almost want to go harder on them. I think that competition is just the way we are. We're all competitive, we all want to be the best and that's what I like about the game. For me, I get to work out with some of the best players in the world and skate with them everyday. I think that makes me a better player.
"Obviously you're not going to tell everyone everything. There's a part of it where you want to get the edge on a guy and you want to better than him, but you're also pushing each and every day. If he's doing something you want to do it a little bit better than he does. You want to be little faster, a little stronger. If they do something cool, then I do something cool, whatever it is. That's the way I look at it."
Scheifele isn't always on the ice or working out in his push to become the best player he can, which over the course of an 82-game season, could cause him to burn out. There's plenty rest and relaxation on the schedule, too, which helps him get away from the game during the busier times when mental fatigue becomes just as much, if not more of a factor than the physical side.
"I usually relax with buddies, with family," Scheifele said. "That's the biggest thing for me, I definitely value my friends and family time a lot. That's kind of my time away from the game."
Of course, he can only stay away for so long. After all, hockey is what he lives for.
"My parents obviously know me better than anyone else in this world. They know if I'm going too far, but they know I want to be the best and I want to do everything in my power to succeed, and they're always behind me no matter what."
A good example of his efforts to separate himself from the game every once in a while came on a recent trip to New York to take in the final major of the tennis season, the U.S. Open, where he saw Roger Federer in action for the first time.
"I've been a tennis fan my whole life," Scheifele said. "My parents played growing up, so that meant me, my brother and sister kind of did, too. We grew up watching tennis, we saw my parents enjoyed watching it and we are all big Federer fans. I've seen him at the Rogers Cup, but I was in New York and I said there's no way I'm not going to this, so we got tickets. I know my mom wants to go to Wimbledon, so that's one thing I definitely want to do for her is to take her to Wimbledon and experience that one day."
It doesn't get any better than Wimbledon.
Scheifele always sets the bar high.

When Jets prospect Jansen Harkins first arrived in Winnipeg two summers ago, he knew that in order to become an effective player at the pro level one day, he needed to become just that much quicker in order to keep pace and push it with the elite skaters of the modern-day game. Now, entering the 2017-18 season as a member of the Manitoba Moose, he's more than ready to make the jump after the most productive off-season of his career.
"I had a pretty consistent summer with my trainer and skating coaches," Harkins said. "Nowadays, everyone has so much help. I don't think there's any player in pro hockey that isn't trying to get better and faster and quicker. Everyone at this level is a good skater and the difference is to become a great skater, with quickness and explosiveness off the puck.
"Being an offensive guy, that's something that definitely helps your game in setting up chances and just creating some more offence."

Harkins played his entire junior career with the WHL's Prince George Cougars, where he set a franchise record with 242 career points (75G, 167A) in only 270 regular-season games.
"Every time I'm on the ice, I want to make a play," he said. "Especially in pro, you're going to get less chances, so when you do get them, you've really got to make sure you make something out of it."
Hovering around the 20-goal mark in each of his last three years with the Cougars, Harkins is known more for his playmaking ability than his marksmanship, but is confident he'll develop that side of his game more with time in the freer-flowing American Hockey League.
In fact, it's already happening.
KELOWNA, CANADA - JANUARY 3: Jansen Harkins #12 of Prince George Cougars warms up against the Kelowna Rockets on January 3, 2015 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images) KELOWNA, CANADA - JANUARY 3: Jansen Harkins #12 of Prince George Cougars warms up against the Kelowna Rockets on January 3, 2015 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
At the September Young Stars Classic in Penticton, B.C., Harkins had three goals in just three games, including a pair in the tournament finale that saw the Jets defeat the Calgary Flames 4-1. The first was a highlight-reel marker that saw him instinctively sidestep a 6-foot-3, 205-pound defender before driving a quick shot over the goalie's glove hand, while the second was more of a grinding type goal - sticking with a rebound in tight and eventually chopping it home from a sharp angle to snuff out the Flames.
"My game fits the pro style pretty well," he said. "I think the game pretty fast. When everyone is out there doing their job, I relax and know what I'm supposed to be doing.
"That gives me more time to make plays."
Like that night in Penticton. Harkins, a natural-born centre, was put on the right side for this contest and showed no ill effects from his transition to the wing. Instead, his versatility, finesse and powerful new stride was on display, giving many - including his new head coach - a strong first impression.
"He's a really intelligent player," said Moose Head Coach Pascal Vincent, who led the prospects in Penticton. "He understands the game and what needs to be done. There's a nice progression going on there and at the start of it is his hockey sense, which is excellent."
He must have picked it up somewhere.

Jansen's father, Todd, was a former second-round pick himself and had success as a goal-scorer in more than 10 years with various teams in minor pro leagues across the U.S. before finishing his career in Europe. He appeared 48 NHL games with the Flames and Hartford Whalers as well, scoring three goals, three assists, and recording 78 penalty minutes in the early nineties.
Today, Todd is the general manager of the Cougars and has been for the past three years, getting an up-close look at Jansen's development all the way from Day 1.
"I don't know about breaking the game down, (but) he always told me his opinion," said Harkins. "If I'm not playing very well, he'll tell me and if I am, that's when we get to talk about it in a fun way.
"He's definitely always been there and provided a second opinion and support, which is awesome."
Now, for the first time in a while, those post-game chats will have to be done over the phone. It's a new chapter in this young man's career, and he's officially off on his own.
One day after a tough 7-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets got back to work, and did so with a slightly different look. Head coach Paul Maurice shuffled his lines, a continuation of the move he began in the second period of last night's game. At that time, he moved Mathieu Perreault to Bryan Little's wing with Patrik Laine on the other side, while Nikolaj Ehlers joined Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.Those two lines were the same today, while Nic Petan - who didn't play last night - slotted in on the right wing with Adam Lowry and Shawn Matthias. Brandon Tanev, Andrew Copp, and Joel Armia rounded out the forward lines.
The team looked over video from the loss before taking to the ice for a full 60-minute practice, which finished with 20 minutes of conditioning work.
"That wasn't even close to a bag skate, nobody puked," Maurice said. "(Maybe) if we had spent another 20 minutes at it. Back-to-back practices early in the year, it won't happen later in the year, your conditioning is something you want to maintain and improve on.
"It was only a hard skate the whole practice if the players worked hard at it, and they did. There was real good intensity, at the end of the skate we had it should have had them bent over a little bit, and it did."
The forwards weren't the only ones to see a shuffle, as the defensive pairs were switched up in practice as well, with two days to go until the Jets take on the Calgary Flames:Kulikov-Trouba
"Going on the road I think we know we have to play a simpler game. Not as much offensive creativity, especially coming out of our own end," said Jacob Trouba. "As defensemen, just get the puck up to the forwards and chip it out and keep going, and play with some speed. We had plenty of chances last night. Obviously we didn't keep enough pucks out of our net.
"We've got 81 games left, and we have to move on to the next one."
To help the team move forward from the loss, Maurice had the Jets forwards work on driving to the net, and the defencemen improve their presence in front of the net.
"Three or four of those drills had that component," Maurice said. "We have to get to the net harder, and certainly we have to do a better job of identifying who we've got, and being in better body position. Goal number seven is a pretty good example of that."
While Maurice wouldn't fully commit to the lines used in practice today being exactly what the Jets will look like against the Flames. But he made one thing clear; the team isn't waiting around to fix things.
"We're not sitting and waiting three weeks. We've got to get it going," he said. "This franchise doesn't move forward until it can defend. You can put all the talent in the world on the ice, you're not winning a thing until you've got a real good comfort level to defend."

The Winnipeg Jets held practice for the final time at BELL MTS Iceplex on Friday before departing on a three game Western Canada road trip that starts in Calgary on Saturday night against the 0-1 Flames.There were no changes to the lines and defense pairings from Thursday's skate, so Nic Petan could make his season debut on a line with Shawn Matthias and Adam Lowry.
Speaking of Lowry, he quietly led the Jets forwards in ice time on Wednesday against the Maple Leafs with 20:23, thanks in large part to all the power play and penalty kill time he logged.
"He's going to do both. We'd like to stay out of the penalty box and on a percentage basis in the game we did that relative to our opponent (Toronto)," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "He does a great job net front. He's a good screener (on the power play) and he gets his handle on the pucks. We need him to kill penalties as well, he's in the three hole in terms of our lines so his 5-on-5 time will be reasonable."
"It's always nice to play a lot," added Lowry. "We would have liked to have converted on some of those power play opportunities. I don't think it will be too often I have the most ice time out of our forward group."
Statistically, the score sheet says the Jets went 0-for-8 with the man advantage, but Lowry believes that's where the team excelled in terms of generating offence.
"You look at the puck movement and the changes we were able to create on the power play, it wasn't like we had a tough time getting into the (offensive) zone or we couldn't set up or have any zone pressure," explained Lowry. "We fired 16 or 17 shots, and one of the goals was right at the end of the power play. Obviously, you are going to feel a lot better about yourself if you score two or three power play goals on those eight opportunities.
"I think the message in our room right now is that the power play is moving in the right direction. Obviously, it's the results that matter but there is something we can build off of."
The Jets worked to improve on the defensive side of things over the last two days, and that work will be important against two more playoff teams from 2017 in Calgary and Edmonton to start the road trip. Maurice felt the team responded well in the two practices following the loss to Toronto on opening night.
"(They) worked hard yesterday," said Maurice. "Our first 23 minutes of practice today was about speed and they had an awful lot of it. So they were rolling pretty good today."
"The last couple of days here we've really come to the rink working hard," added Josh Morrissey.. "It's been not as cheerful and what not because no matter what, no one likes to get embarrassed like that, so obviously we put it behind us. The last two days we've really upped the intensity at practice and we want to take that business attitude into this road trip."

NHL - Leafs @ Jets 7-2 - Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Patrick Marleau scored two goals in his debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 7-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets in the season opener at Bell MTS Place on Wednesday. Marleau, who spent the past 19 seasons with the San Jose Sharks before signing with the Maple Leafs on July 2, scored his 509th and 510th NHL goals.
"Great play by [Auston Matthews] getting it over to me and then kind of kicked it up to my skate and was able to deke around [Jets goalie Steve Mason]," Marleau said of his first goal.
Nazem Kadri, William Nylander and Mitchell Marner also scored, and Matthews and James van Riemsdyk each had one goal and two assists for Toronto. Frederik Andersen made 35 saves, 17 in the first period.
Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault scored for the Jets. Mason allowed five goals on 20 shots and was pulled for Connor Hellebuyck 36 seconds into the third period. Hellebuyck made nine saves. Toronto killed all eight of Winnipeg's power plays. The Jets scored 13 of their 17 preseason goals with the man-advantage.
"Our penalty kill came up huge for us and we scored when it counted," Matthews said. "They've obviously got some shooters, some guys that can put the puck in the net, and we definitely limited some of their chances. Obviously, Freddie came up just huge sometimes. That's what you need, especially in a game like this. We know they're calling it tight so we've got to be better in that area."
The Maple Leafs scored three times in a span of 2:38 in the first period.
Kadri made it 1-0 at 15:45 on the power play. Van Riemsdyk was unsuccessful on two quick shots on goal before Kadri scored off a rebound.
Van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 at 17:40 followed by Nylander, who scored 43 seconds later to make it 3-0.
"You blink and it's 3-0," Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. "We just weren't able to dig our way out of it."
Marleau scored at 8:32 of the second to make it 4-0.
"You can see how hungry they are out there, not only in games but in practice," Marleau said of Matthews and Marner, who assisted on his first goal. "They're striving to get better each and every day and you want to be part of that and you can feed off that for sure."
Marleau scored his second of the game 36 seconds into the third, his wrist shot beating Mason from the slot. Marner made it 6-0 on the power play at 8:07.
"We did it to ourselves on some of them," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "The third goal is a reasonably easy read to make if you're thinking about defending at that point. But we're thinking about let's get it back as fast as we can, and that is a bit of a holdover concept. And that's how you get in trouble. Relax, patience. But we blew the zone on that and got in real trouble with it."
Scheifele scored at 11:31 to make it 6-1 but Matthews scored 26 seconds later to make it 7-1. Perreault made it 7-2 at 12:57.
"There's a lot of things that we did right tonight, and then you can see when you don't do it right you end up giving up a couple goals so it's a good reminder," Marleau said.

Goal of the game
Matthews drew two defenders to the right corner, allowing a clear path to the net. Matthews passed the puck out to Marleau and his deke beat Mason.
Save of the game
Andersen got his right pad on a wrist shot by Shawn Matthias on a breakaway with the Maple Leafs leading 3-0 early in the second period.
Highlight of the game
Patrik Laine took the puck at Toronto's blue line and carried it down low, backhanding a cross-ice pass through the crease to Scheifele, who scored on a one-timer at the side of the net.
They said it"We took so many penalties. The goalie had to be so good early. You know how hockey is, if they score on one of those early, and they get confidence, who knows, the game could be different, especially in their building. We were able to make a few adjustments on our penalty kill and we scored timely goals. You don't have to worry about scoring goals when you score right away." -- Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock
"I think we came out the way we wanted to. We played hard, we played fast, put it to the net, got a lot of shots through. I think they got a couple lucky bounces. I don't know what happened." -- Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers
Need to know
Wednesday was seventh time Toronto has scored at least seven goals in a season opener. ...Marleau skated in the 1,494th game of his NHL career and first with a team other than the Sharks. ...Matthews, who scored four goals in his NHL debut last season, became the fourth player in League history to start each of his first two seasons with at least three points in his team's season-opening game. He had a goal and two assists.

1. Andersen stands out early on as Leafs take three straight penalties to start game. The Leafs kicked off their regular season with a tough matchup against the Jets, and their task was made much more difficult in the early parts of the first period due to a trio of minor penalties in the first 11:21 that gave Winnipeg a number of opportunities to stake out a lead. However, goaltender Frederik Andersen, who looked sharp throughout the pre-season, turned aside all of the Jets' power play chances and a whopping 17 shots through the first 20 minutes of action.
As the second season of Andersen's Leafs career began, he looked as focused and structurally sound as he did for the grand majority of last year, when you could make a good case for him as Toronto's most valuable player night-in-and-night-out. He certainly showed his value in preventing Winnipeg from scoring early and allowing Jets fans to become a factor - and in thwarting their scoring aspirations on all four man advantages the home team enjoyed in the opening frame.   
2. Buds burst out with barrage of goals late in first frame, open up big lead before intermission. Andersen's array of saves allowed his teammates to shake off their discipline issues in the first, and on Toronto's first power play of the first, the Buds took the first lead of the night thanks to centre Nazem Kadri's first goal of the season at the 15:45 mark.
Then, just 1:55 later, the Leafs added to that lead on an even-strength marker from winger James van Riemsdyk, who also had the primary assist on Kadri's goal. And 43 seconds after that - and following a hellacious forecheck by winger Zach Hyman that established Leafs puck control in the Jets zone - winger William Nylander fired the puck into a wide-open Winnipeg net to make it 3-0 for the visitors with 1:37 left until the first intermission.
Toronto's forwards proved last year they could build up offence quickly, and after their goalie bailed them out of the first half of the opening frame, their scorers atoned for it the rest of the period.

3. Marleau scores first as a Leaf on gorgeous play that gives Buds four-goal advantage in second. Winger Patrick Marleau was the Leafs' most notable off-season acquisition, and the 20-year NHL veteran wasted no time in his debut with Toronto to show Buds fans why he was so beloved in San Jose: after taking a slick backhanded saucer pass from centre Auston Matthews inside the Jets' blueline, Marleau drove to the net and deftly stickhandled the puck in close until goalie Steve Mason had no chance to stop him, then quickly tapped it into the net for his first as a Leaf at the 8:35 mark of the second.
Matthews deserved credit for the setup - his second assist of the game - but the soft hands and incredible hand-eye-coordination of Marleau was what finished it. The 38-year-old Marleau had amassed 508 career regular-season goals before he signed with Toronto, but his 509th was a thing of beauty, and will forever have a little extra-special meaning for him and for Leafs Nation.

4. Marleau strikes again early in third to force a Jets goalie change, put Leafs in commanding lead. The Leafs killed off six Jets power plays before the third period began, but started the the final regulation frame by quickly applying pressure in Winnipeg's zone - and they were rewarded for it when Kadri found Marleau directly in front of Mason, and Marleau beat the Jets netminder for the second time in the game to make it 5-0 for Toronto at the 36-second mark. Marleau will be on highlight reels because of his pair of goals, but he also deserves kudos for his efforts on defence: Leafs head coach Mike Babcock played him for 2:44 of penalty kill time, 2:06 of power play time and 14:41 overall, and the veteran did not disappoint in any aspect of the game.

5. Marner, Matthews add goals in third as Leafs sew up first victory of the year.
The third period turned out to be much looser than the two that preceded it, with both sides giving each other a pair of man advantages and a number of high-quality scoring chances. But it was the Leafs who added to their lead again after Marleau's second of the game: winger Mitch Marner, who had the secondary assist on Marleau's first goal, scored his first of the year with a power play marker at 8:07.
Winnipeg got on the scoreboard 3:24 later on centre Mark Schiefele's first of the season, but the Buds answered back 26 seconds after that when Matthews deflected a Connor Carrick shot into Winnipeg's net to make it 7-1 and give Matthews three points in his first game as a sophomore. Jets centre Mathieu Perreault scored exactly one minute later for the final goal of the game, but by that point, the Leafs had established themselves as the better team.

All-in-all, Leafs Nation had to be happy with this outing, as even the rough spots for Toronto - for example, the eight power plays Toronto surrendered all were killed off - had positive elements to them. Andersen was tremendous when he needed to be and stopped 35 of 37 Jets shots, Marleau made a terrific first impression in a Buds uniform, and the Leafs' potent offence delivered more than enough goals to win the game. The Blue & White will head back to Toronto to prepare for their next game - Saturday night against the New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre - with the confidence they can do more than a little damage.
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has loaned defenceman Martin Marincin to the Toronto Marlies (AHL), while defenceman Calle Rosén has been recalled from the Marlies. Marincin, 25, skated in 25 regular season games for the Maple Leafs in 2016-17 and registered a goal and six assists. He also appeared in six Stanley Cup playoff games for Toronto. Marincin has skated in 128 career AHL games - all with the Oklahoma City Barons - and has recorded 45 points (10 goals, 35 assists). Rosén, 23, is entering first NHL season after playing the last two seasons with the Växjö Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). In 2016-17, Rosén registered 19 points (six goals and 13 assists) and 10 penalty minutes, ranking second among U24 SHL defencemen in both points and points per game (0.46). He also recorded five goals and two assists in 11 Champions Hockey League games with Växjö. His five goals led all defencemen in the tournament. Rosén signed a two-year entry level contract with the Maple Leafs on May 16, 2017.

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the club has acquired goaltender Calvin Pickard from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Tobias Lindberg and a sixth-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. Pickard, 25, posted a 15-31-2 record with a 2.98 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage in 50 games with Colorado in 2016-17. He was selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion draft on June 21, 2017. In 86 career NHL games, all with Colorado, Pickard has a record of 28-44-6 with a 2.77 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Pickard has also represented Canada internationally at the 2016 and 2017 World Championships. In 2016, he appeared in two games for Canada and registered a 2-0 record with a 0.50 goals-against average and a .971 save percentage, capturing a gold medal. In 2017, he appeared in seven of Canada's 10 games and posted a record of 5-2-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average and .938 save percentage, earning a silver medal.
The Moncton, N.B., native, who was originally selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round (49th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft, has been assigned to the Toronto Marlies of American Hockey League (AHL). Lindberg, 22, appeared in six games for the Maple Leafs during the 2015-16 season and registered two assists after being acquired in a trade with Ottawa on Feb. 9, 2016. The Stockholm, Sweden native has appeared in 66 regular season games with the Toronto Marlies and recorded 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists). Lindberg also skated in three Calder Cup playoff games with the Marlies during their 2016 playoff campaign.

Winnipeg's newest netminder had just made a gargantuan save off Patrick Marleau to keep the contest even after William Nylander and the visiting Maple Leafs turned back on a 2-on-1 break. The hometown crowd of more than 15,000 erupted in cheers and The Heavy's 'How You Like Me Now?' blared over the speakers, all to the beat of his 19 teammates banging the boards in a show of appreciation.
Then, less than 10 minutes later and on Toronto's third shot of the new season, Nazem Kadri found a loose puck at the side of the net and buried the icebreaker on the power play, mere seconds after Mason made two big saves on James van Riemsdyk. Three of the Leafs' next 10 shots found the twine, too, and the rout was on despite the Jets heavily outshooting their Canadian counterparts in the opening 30 minutes.
"It definitely wasn't what we were looking for. It just wasn't good enough," Jets goalie Steve Mason said.
"At the end of the day, it's my job to be sharper than that. … It just wasn't a good game for myself."
Marleau scored his second of the night just 36 seconds into the third period, and Mason's night came to an early end after allowing five goals on 20 goals.
Head Coach Paul Maurice wasn't pinning any of them on his goaltender, saying his debut was no rougher than anyone else's in a 7-2 final.
"He's going to have a couple he'd like to have back, but there wasn't anything you're looking at saying, 'My God, how did he miss that?'" Maurice said. "The first goal, he got bowled over by our own guy; he's got no chance on that. The next one was a real quick little deflection, and he's not going to do anything with the third one."
Patrik Laine, who had an assist on Mark Scheifele's first of the season, was disappointed in how the team left Mason to fend for himself.
"It's frustrating because we practiced our defensive play so much during training camp, and then in the first regular-season game the opponent scores seven goals. It wasn't the ideal start, but we'll just try to move forward."
As for Mason, he has full confidence in his ability to bounce back. He'll look for redemption when the Jets begin a three-game road trip on Saturday in Calgary.
"It's a bad game. It happens. It sucks when it does happen, but you put it behind you and get out of it."

It wasn't the night the Winnipeg Jets were looking for. After scoring 13 power play goals in seven preseason games, the Jets couldn't light the lamp on three early opportunities on the man advantage against the Toronto Maple Leafs, ultimately falling by a score of 7-2 in front of a sold out Bell MTS Place. Patrick Marleau scored twice for Toronto, with Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, William Nylander, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner added singles. Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault scored for the Jets in the loss.
"It doesn't take much for them. They finish on the opportunities they have. They're a good, sharp offensive team. They got the pucks to the net real quick," head coach Paul Maurice said postgame. "Their goalie was good. He made some real good saves. I'm not saying that's the game. He handled his rebounds especially well I thought."
The Jets would finish 0-for-8 on the power play on the night, and captain Blake Wheeler said the game changed quickly after Toronto's opening goal, the first of three in a 2:38 span.
"We had a number of power plays, and it was doing everything but scoring. Then we took a penalty and let a greasy one in. From there, you blink and it's 3-0," said Wheeler. "We just weren't able to dig our way out of it.
"It's tough to on the spot regroup and try to get your game going again. It's too bad we couldn't find a way to try to salvage one somewhere within the next 10 minutes and get some momentum going our way."
That first goal came with Jacob Trouba off for hooking. Kadri banged in a loose puck after Steve Mason turned away two chances from James van Riemsdyk in tight. Less than two minutes later, Tyler Bozak won an offensive zone face-off to van Riemsdyk, who's wrist shot deflected off the stick of Josh Morrissey at the hashmarks, and beat Mason on the stick side. Nylander rounded out the scoring in the opening frame. With a delayed penalty coming to Winnipeg, Auston Matthews circled the Jets zone and left a drop pass at the point for Jake Gardiner, who found Nylander by himself back door for the tap-in.
"It definitely wasn't what we were looking for. It just wasn't good enough," Mason said.
"At the end of the day, it's my job to be sharper than that. … It just wasn't a good game for myself."
Marleau - playing in his first game with Toronto after signing July 2 - made it 4-0 when Matthews sent a backhand saucer pass over the stick of Trouba to Marleau, who broke in alone, faked forehand and beat Mason on the backhand to make it 4-0. Marleau would score his second of the night 36 seconds into the third, ripping a pass from forechecking Kadri past Mason from the top of the circle. That was the end of the night for Mason, who gave way for Connor Hellebuyck after stopping 15 of 20 shots.
"Five was enough. He's going to have a couple he's going to want to have back," said Maurice. "The first goal, he got bowled over by our own guy, he's got no chance on that. The next one is a real quick deflection, and he's not going to do anything with the third one."
After Marner made it 6-0, Scheifele was the benefactor of a slick goal line backhand saucer pass from Patrik Laine. Scheifele one-timed the feed from the bottom of the circle for his first of the season. Perreault and Matthews would score late to bring the final score to 7-2. Wheeler says it's important the team leaves this result behind when they reconvene at Bell MTS Iceplex for practice tomorrow, even if it may be difficult.
"Probably if you're in the season a little bit, you can throw this one in the trash and move on. The fact it's the first game, it's not obviously the way you want to start, especially at home," said Wheeler. "Hopefully it's a good shock to the system and we can get back at it tomorrow."