While you were away: goalies earn rare distinction; more notes
Welcome to While You Were Away, a new feature that catches you up on some of the stories from across the NHL and the hockey world that you might have missed.
We’ll be tracking players who are trending up and down, updating you on roster transactions, offering a few predictions and generally keeping you updated on all things hockey beyond your favorite team.
• There was only one game on the NHL schedule on Sunday night but it wasn’t without some historical relevance: For the first time since 1967, two goalies made their NHL debuts in one game. In Montreal’s 3–1 win, Canadiens netminder Mike Condon bested Ottawa’s Matthew O’Connor. Condon’s, as impressive as he was in training camp while beating out Dustin Tokarski for the backup role behind the all-world Carey Price., likely won't see much time.
But O’Connor, the highly-touted rookie out of Boston College who chose the Senators as a free agent, could factor prominently in Ottawa’s plans between the pipes. Last year’s breakout star Andrew Hammond is currently on the IR with a groin injury and the Sens have back-to-back games this week, so he’ll likely be given another opportunity to show what he can do.
• Speaking of the Senators, owner Eugene Melnyk spoke to the media for the first time since undergoing a lifesaving liver transplant surgery in May. Melnyk revealed to the Ottawa Sun that he received the liver from an anonymous donor and has spent most of his time living in a condo near Toronto General Hospital.
“Nothing can be negative for me now,” said Melnyk. “You can’t hurt me because I’ve been at the darkest end of a person’s life and come back from it.”
• Colorado Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin continued his strong start to the 2015-16 season adding two assists in a 6–3 drubbing of the Dallas Stars. He now has five points through his first two games.
Beauchemin, 35, was acquired by the Avalanche on the opening day of free agency in July. Many believed his addition was not going to be enough to help Colorado’s fragile young defense corps but early indications are that Beauchemin is settling into the lineup nicely.
• Vincent Trocheck scored a goal and added three assists as the Florida Panthers beat up on the Philadephia Flyers 7–1 on Saturday night. Trocheck, a 5'10", 182-pound center, split time last season with the Panthers and their AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage. If he continues to blossom, he’ll be another reason why the young, improving Cats could very well sneak into a Wild Card berth this season in the wide-open Atlantic Division. Sharing the scoring duties may be the key.
• Losing starting goaltender Robin Lehner to an ankle injury for six to 10 weeks was a blow to the Sabres, who gave up the 21st pick in this year’s draft for him (Ottawa took center Colin White). Buffalo is sure to have an exciting, potent attack this season but without stability between the pipes, it could be another long season in the Queen City. As Allan Muir wrote on Friday, the Sabres may try to swing a deal for a replacement, possibly for Calgary’s Karri Ramo or Jonas Hiller
• The NHL named Detroit winger Justin Abdelkader, center Oscar Lindberg of the Rangers, and Arizona netminder Mike Smith its first, second and third Stars of the Week, respectively. Abdelkader is off to a blazing start with four goals, including a hat trick in his first two games. New York’s Lindberg is only the sixth rookie in NHL history to score a goal in each of his team’s first three games of a season. (He has four.) Smith's performance (2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .971 save pct. has to be encouraging to the Coyotes after the buswreck of a season he had in 2014-15.
• Winnipeg’s plan to rely more on it young scoring talent has begun to pay off immediately. They mopped the floor with the Bruins in their season opener en route to a 6–2 win with six different Jets scoring, including rookie Nicolas Petan and Alex Burmistrov, who is fresh off his return to the NHL after a stint in the KHL. None of the goals came on the power play either. Veterans Blake Wheeler, Mathieu Perreault and Andrew Ladd had mult-point games the next night in a 3–1 win over the Devils. It’s early yet, but if coach Paul Maurice continues to roll four lines and spread out the ice time among his forwards, the Jets’ attack could develop into one of the most potent in the league.
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