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Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele loved being a bubble boy in the Edmonton hub, even as he hobbled around with a crushed Achilles tendon after his board skirmish with Matthew Tkachuk in Game 1 of the play-in round.
“From what I saw in Edmonton, it was so professionally done. They did such a great job with the bubble and the hotels and everything. I’d like to thank the NHLPA, every single person that put in work into making that happen, from when we got there to when we left it was so professionally done,” said Scheifele, who could run for Edmonton Chamber of Commerce president.
“They made it so easy as players to have food and different varieties of food, a lounge for all of our team to hang out, and the little courtyard area in front of the rink where you could hang out and shoot hoops or watch the game on the big screen out there,” said Scheifele, talking to Winnipeg media. “It was cool to connect with friends you used to play with or knew from minor hockey or played in world juniors.
“When you go all the way until the end, it’s a long time being in that bubble, but when you’re fighting for the Stanley Cup, there’s no better reason in this world to be in this bubble than for fight for the Stanley Cup and the chance to lift that trophy.”
SPEAK YOUR MIND
One thing about Rick Tocchet: He speaks his mind as a former-player-turned coach. Before his Zoom call Tuesday, he said he didn’t like his Arizona players’ habits at practice and knows his team has to change its mind-set.
“We always used to joke as players when you won a round, order the rings. Well we need to be off the cloud and back to Earth as fast as we can. This is going to be hard, hard, hard,” said the Coyotes bench boss as his team prepared to play Colorado Wednesday in Game 1. “That’s a team built to win the Stanley Cup.”
START YOUR ENGINES
The Vancouver-St. Louis series features two of the three busiest face-off men — Ryan O’Rielly and Bo Horvat — and they could be going head-to-head. O’Rielly took the NHL’s most draws at 1,556, winning 56.6 per cent. The Canucks captain Horvat was third with 1,483 and won 57.3 per cent. Jonathan Toews took 1,494 for No. 2.
“Obviously, it’s better to start with the puck than without it,” said Vancouver coach Travis Green.
The Canucks were second (54.0) to the Flyers (54.6) in team face-off percentage. The Blues were sixth at 51.6. Amazingly, Vancouver and St. Louis took almost identical draws, with Vancouver’s 4,008 compared to St. Louis’ 4,020.
SITTING ISN’T SO PRETTY
Marc-Andre Fleury sat for the Golden Knights opener against the Hawks while trade deadline pickup Robin Lehner started against his former Chicago club in Game 1. Since Fleury had started all 27 Vegas playoff games over the previous two seasons, this was a news flash but his play showed some slippage during the regular-season with a 2.77 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.
Lehner, an unrestricted free-agent after the playoffs end, played two of the round-robin games for seeding in the Edmonton hub, while Fleury played only one and gave up four goals in 17 shots.
Vegas coach Pete DeBoer doesn’t have the same loyalty to Fleury that Gerard Gallant had in their playoff runs before he got fired, of course, but DeBoer is fully cognizant how much Fleury, who turns 36 in November, means to the Golden Knights.
“Marc-Andre is the ultimate pro,” said DeBoer. “Every NHL player has a lot of pride and wants to play every night but there’s no one more professional in his relationships within the team and how he handles things or how he is in the community than Flower.”
While Lehner can move on after the playoffs, Fleury has two more years left at $7 million on the salary cap.
While there was great concern with Scheifele’s Achilles and whether or not it was torn in the board skirmish with Tkachuk, the Jets centre’s career could be in peril. But Teemu Selanne had his tendon severed on Jan. 27, 1994, 51 games into his second NHL season after his 76-goal rookie campaign in Winnipeg. Don McSween stepped on the back of his leg in Anaheim. Selanne *only* scored another 580 goals.
This ’n’ that: Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers took nine minor penalties in the four-game series with Minnesota, which is obviously a problem. “Yeah, we’ve talked. He plays a big man’s game, but that’s too many,” said Green … Blues winger Sammy Blais (leg) is likely out for Game 1 against Calgary. He was hurt in Sunday’s second period against Dallas and left 30 seconds into the third frame … Vegas is so deep they’re scratching Tomas Nosek, who played 68 league games and was “fantastic in the three games of round-robin,” according to DeBoer … Arizona centre Nick Schmaltz, who took a high hit from Ryan Reaves in the tune-up to the tournament, looks better at practice but probably won’t play. The Coyotes’ other goalie, Antti Raanta, had taken a puck in head in warmup but skated for 30 to 40 minutes Tuesday and is getting closer to at least dressing … When Colorado signed Val Nichushkin last summer after he went the whole 2018-19 season in Dallas without a goal, it looked like a swing and probable miss, but he scored 13 regular-season goals. “We hit it out of the park bringing him in,” said Avs coach Jared Bednar.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020