Former Canuck Bolduc turns it on
Alexandre Bolduc is healthy and producing again after seasons of being hindered with shoulder problems.
Last year, the Montreal native underwent left shoulder surgery to correct a problem in which his shoulder kept popping out. He missed most of the 2011-12 season. But feeling fit and as strong as ever, Bolduc has been his old aggressive self this fall with 12 goals and 24 points in 22 games with the Portland Pirates.
The 27-year-old has played so well, he’s almost certain to find a spot on the Phoenix Coyotes roster when or if the lengthy NHL lockout gets resolved. The Coyotes signed Bolduc 17 months ago after he spent six years in the Vancouver Canucks organization.
A strong two-way player in junior and solid faceoff man, Bolduc has never scored more than 18 goals since he turned pro in 2005. In his first full season with the Manitoba Moose in 2007-08, he checked in with 18 goals and 37 points. That strong showing prompted the Canucks to sign the 6-foot-3, 200-pound centre.
Bolduc, the Pirates captain, is on pace to beat his pro career highs in goal and point totals this season and possibly earn a full-time spot in the NHL for the first time in his career.
Rangers’ Murphy Nervous Ahead of Team Canada Camp
CALGARY – Ryan Murphy didn’t hold back when asked what he was feeling on the eve of Team Canada’s world junior selection camp.
“I’ve never been so nervous,” the Kitchener Rangers defenceman said shortly after landing in Calgary on Monday. “I’m excited, but I’m really nervous.”
That’s a strong statement when you consider the following: Murphy has played in 43 OHL playoff games over the last three seasons. He was drafted 12th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2011. And he wore the Maple Leaf at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in 2011 when Canada lost in the semi-finals to the United States in overtime.
So, does anything compare to what he’s feeling now?
“Probably my first exhibition game with the Hurricanes,” Murphy said after thinking for a few moments. “I felt pretty nervous then, but I think even this surpasses that.”
And, believe it or not, Murphy is glad he feels this way.
“I think it’s a good thing. It builds you up. It gives you an adrenaline rush. I don’t think it’s a bad thing going into the games.”
Murphy, known as an offensive defenceman, was cut last year after trying to change his style of play during the selection camp. Last year’s coach, Don Hay was defence-oriented and Murphy wanted to show he wasn’t a liability in his own end. The Aurora, Ont. native has since admitted that was a mistake.
“I just want to play my own game and can’t wait to get out there for the first shift and get that over with,” he said. “There’s been a lot of buildup, I’ve been waiting for it for a while. This is my third attempt now and hopefully this year I won’t get that call.
“It’s now or never.”
Ouellet at Team Canada Camp
Photo by Todd Korol, Reuters
Photo by CTWhale
P-Bruins’ Cassidy on MacDermid: ‘He’s played to his strengths’
Providence Bruins left winger Lane MacDermid received a positive mention today in Elliotte Friedman’s well-read ”30 Thoughts” column at CBC.ca as someone who is playing well in the AHL.
I asked Butch Cassidy for his thoughts on MacDermid, who has a goal and an assist and 48 penalty minutes in 22 games in his fourth season with the P-Bruins. Here’s what Cassidy said:
“He’s played to his strengths. He’s good on the forecheck. Very physical. He’s fighting the tough guys.
“Offensively, I’d like to see some stuff happen for him. He’s around the puck on the forecheck and around the net. His game’s better than it was at the start of the year. He’s a little more involved in every area of the game.
“He does the things he’s going to have to do (in the NHL). He’s always first on the forecheck. He’s good on the penalty kill. He’s fighting the heavyweights. He’s finishing his checks. He’s getting cleaner with the puck in the neutral zone and on breakouts.
“The only thing left for him is to improve his offense.”
LA Kings LW Prospect Andy Andreoff Is Catching Up To Pace Of The Game In The AHL
LOS ANGELES — Almost from the moment he was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round (80th overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, left wing Andy Andreoff made it clear that he was going to leave his mark, one way or the other.
Shortly after the 2011 draft, Andreoff left several marks during the Kings’ 2011 Development Camp for their young prospects with some chippy play that included dropping the gloves.
“I play with a little edge,” the 6-1, 201-pound native of Pickering, Ontario said at the time.
Fast forward to December 2012, and that edge is still apparent, as Andreoff works on his game in the American Hockey League with the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate.
“I have a little bit of an edge to my game,” Andreoff told Frozen Royalty during an exclusive interview. “Especially in this league, you’ve got to play your role, and [his line is] in a checking role, kind of the energy line. I think we’re doing well, so far.”
Andreoff, who has scored three goals and has contributed two assists for five points, with a -1 plus/minus record, with 34 penalty minutes in 21 regular season games, is adjusting well so far to the move up from the Ontario Hockey League to the AHL.
“It helped out, from last year, playing a couple of regular season games, and playoff games [with the Monarchs],” said Andreoff. “I kind of hopped right into it.”
“When I first started playing [in the AHL] last year, the first couple of games were a bit of a struggle, keeping up with the speed, and the size,” added Andreoff. “As the games [passed], I got more confident with the puck. [His teammates] helped me a lot. They helped me get prepared before the games and practices.”
Speaking of his teammates, it did not take long for Andreoff to make an impression on them.
“[Andreoff] is a pretty big body who can play a rough game,” said Kings left wing Jordan Nolan, who is playing for the Monarchs during the NHL lockout. “He’s always working his hardest. You always know when he’s on the ice. He’s got a few, big goals, too.”
“He’s always around the front of the net, looking to bang one in,” added Nolan. “He’s pretty skilled for a big guy. He’s tough, and he definitely protects his teammates, so he’s a pretty good team player.”
As it goes for most players in their first season in professional hockey, Andreoff has a lot to learn, and much to work on to improve his game.
“We’re trying to improve his quickness off the spot, and his defensive positioning,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “But he’s a rugged kid, and he can play on both sides of the puck. He’s scored some nice goals, and he’s been asked to go out on the penalty-kill from time to time. He’s getting more and more in step with the pace of the game.”
“In the early going, some of the newcomers, [like Andreoff], were able to contribute,” added Morris. “But as the season wears on, a few things start to get exposed, and we’re really working with him, trying to get him to be quicker off the mark.”
Improving on his quickness and the grasping the concept of catching up to the pace of the game at the AHL level is key. After all, as most young players talk about, the players Andreoff is facing now are usually bigger, stronger and/or faster than those he skated against in junior hockey.
“The main thing has been the size,” he stressed. “There’s a lot of size and speed, but there’s also a lot of quick, little guys who are really good. The defensemen are huge—6-4, 6-5, 230 pounds. You’ve got to battle a lot harder. That’s been the main focus for me, being more prepared in the corners, and winning the battles.”
“The main thing for me is puck protection in the corners,” he added. “You have to keep getting better on puck protection, and working with the puck in the corners. It’s key to win every battle down there.”
“I’ve also been working on my quick feet, improving my skating. It’s just improving on those things that’s the main focus for me.”
As Morris mentioned, Andreoff still has some work to do on his defensive positioning.
“I’m learning as the season goes on, game-by-game,” said Andreoff. “I’ve been watching video a lot, seeing how my defensive zone play is.”
With the Monarchs getting hit hard early in the season by the injury bug, Morris has had to shuffle his forward lines and defensive pairings for several weeks.
Andreoff had the luxury of playing with the same line mates for much of his time with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. But now, he is finding the frequent juggling of line combinations to be quite the challenge.
“[What’s been tough is] how much all the lines can change—they can change every game—and how tough the lineup is to crack, with the [NHL] lockout,” Andreoff noted. “There’s a lot of NHL guys [here], like Nolan and [left wing Dwight] King.”
“It’s tough to be ready for that,” Andreoff added. “You don’t know if you’re going to be in the lineup in every game, so you have to work through that. You have to work hard in practice every day.”
Although Andreoff has work to do, Morris is impressed with what he has seen so far, and he indicated that Andreoff has great potential to improve.
“His whole game—he has that edge, and he has that compete [level] and skill to grow his game considerably.”
Off the ice, Andreoff lives with fellow AHL rookie and Kings forward prospect Tanner Pearson, and there appears to be a bit of a debate regarding who the better cook is.
As one might expect, Andreoff claimed that his cuisine reigns supreme. However, his claim appears to be rather dubious, given that Pearson previously told Frozen Royalty that he tends to stick to healthy dishes. Further, Pearson apparently has, at the very least, several dishes in his culinary repertoire, while Andreoff is a food rut.
“I like cooking steak and green peppers all the time,” Andreoff said, proudly.
Pearson is obviously no culinary savant, but to put it mildly, Andreoff is playing catch up in the kitchen. He certainly has some work to do if he intends to make good on his claim.
Ho-Sang vs Oshawa
World Junior Hockey Championships: Third time’s the charm for Ryan Murphy
CALGARY — Before knocking on Ryan Murphy’s door – to tell him he had made the team – Team Canada head coach Steve Spott thought about pulling, what would have been by far, a world class prank.
Murphy, who plays for Spott with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, had been cut from Team Canada on two previous occasions.
“It did go through my head to bring him downstairs in front of the (selection committee making the cuts),” said Spott. “But I said, if he’d had a cardiac arrest going down the stairs, I’d have felt awful about that.”
The joke might sound unbelievably cruel if you don’t understand the close bond Spott and his star defenceman have forged. When Spott was promoted to become the head coach and general manager of the Rangers, Murphy was the first player he drafted.
When Murphy had been cut twice before by Team Canada, it was Spott who helped soothe the disappointment and worked to rebuild the defenceman’s confidence.
And there’s also the fact that Murphy, with his wicked sense of humour, is renowned for carrying out his own pranks.
“Murph is one of the biggest pranksters I know on our hockey club,” said Spott. “And that might have been the ultimate for him.”
But this time it was no joke.
“To finally not get that call (to be cut), it was the best feeling of my life,” said the first-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes. “To get that knock on the door from coach Spott made it that much more special.
“It beats every other year when I’d see the boys tweeting a picture of all their new stuff.”
The smooth-skating, offensively gifted defenceman is among the 23 players who will head to Ufa, Russia, for the tournament which begins on Dec. 26.
Spott also took care of some other business on Friday, naming locked-out Edmonton Oilers star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as Team Canada’s captain and Jonathan Huberdeau and Scott Harrington as alternates.
Murphy had his best showing of the camp against a team made up of university players on Thursday afternoon. After the game, the 19-year-old was forced to wait more than an hour to find out his fate.
He said he spent most of his time on Skype with forward Daniel Catenacci, who was also in camp. The session between the two ended moments before Catenacci was called to be cut.
Other forwards not making the team were Hunter Shinkaruk, Mark McNeill, and Tom Wilson. Defencemen Mathew Dumba, Ryan Sproul and Frankie Corrado were also dismissed along with Laurent Brossoit, who was the lone goaltender cut.
By far the biggest surprise amongst the players cut was Sudbury Wolves defenceman, Corrado, who had a stellar camp which included scoring two goals.
“(Spott) said it was a tough decision,” said Corrado. “He said it was one of the toughest (decisions) they had to make, so I can always take that, but obviously I’m not happy I’m not on the team.
“I feel like I played well and I played as hard as I can.”
Murphy’s roommate, Ottawa 67’s forward Sean Monahan, had been sent home in the first round of cuts, meaning he had to gut out the wait alone in his hotel room. Once he found out he had made the team – via Twitter – he started looking through the peephole of his door to see what was happening in the hallway.
“I was waiting for it,” said Murphy. “Finally I got that knock and I saw coach Spott out there with a grin on his face.”
Spott said Muphy’s addition to the team wasn’t a case of favoritism though, noting that close friend and assistant coach Andre Tourigny, who will run Team Canada’s defence, would have had the final say.
Murphy said his previous experiences at camp had taught him to play his own style of game.
“Last year I went into camp thinking I had to be perfect in my defensive end,” said the Aurora, Ont., native. “I think that maybe took away from my offensive game, but that’s why I get invited to camps like this, because of my offensive ability and to run the power play.”
Spott said he had spent a lot of time talking to Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman. The 44-year-old coach said he wanted his team built for speed on the Olympic ice surface in Russia, so keeping Murphy makes a lot of sense as long as he can stay defensively responsible.
The biggest surprise, in terms of age, might have been the inclusion of Halifax Mooseheads stars Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. The world junior championship has always been touted as a tournament for 19-year-old players, but the pair was so fantastic in camp, they earned their spot without ever looking out of place.
“They played like they were 27 and for me that’s what made the difference,” said Spott. “They didn’t play like 17 year olds.”
Team Canada will leave for Europe on Saturday, first heading to Helsinki, Finland, for a few exhibition games before flying to Ufa.
Last year Canada finished with the bronze on home ice in Calgary and, as per usual, the expectations are high – especially for Murphy, because he’s been a spectator for so long.
“The next step is a gold medal.”
Red Wings’ prospects Jake Paterson, Xavier Ouellet to play for Canada at World Junior Championships
A pair of Detroit Red Wings prospects, goaltender Jake Paterson from the Saginaw Spirit and defenseman Xavier Ouellet, were selected Thursday by Team Canada for the World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.
Paterson (6-1, 183), in his second full season with Saginaw (OHL), is 11-12-3, with a 3.49 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. The Red Wings selected Paterson in the third round (80th overall) of the 2012 entry draft, citing his athletic ability and calm demeanor.
Ouellet (6-0, 190), Detroit’s second pick (48th overall) in 2011, has five goals and 25 points in 26 games for Blaineville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior League. He’s a two-way defenseman who moves the puck well.
Detroit signed him to a three-year entry-level contract in March. He will begin his pro career next season, competing for a spot on the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The roster announcement came at the conclusion of Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp, which ran from Dec. 10-13 in Calgary, and included 36 players.
Connor Crisp’s hat trick leads Erie Otters past Niagara IceDogs 4-2
The Canadian Press
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Connor Crisp had the hat trick as the Erie Otters downed the Niagara IceDogs 4-2 in Ontario Hockey League action Thursday night.
Crisp scored a goal in each period, and finished the hat trick on the power play, to give him 12 goals on the season. Dane Fox had the other goal for Erie (9-19-5).
Galchenyuk shines in parting game
In their last game before heading to the World Junior Championships, Alex Galchenyuk and Connor Murphy gave Sting fans something to remember them by.
Galchenyuk had a hat trick en route to a five-point night, and Murphy’s eighth of the season earned a free burger for the fans as the Sarnia Sting trounced the Kingston Frontenacs 7-4 Saturday in front of 3,197 at the RBC Centre.
With the win, the Sting enter the Christmas break having won eight of their last nine and with a firm grasp on first place in the West Division.
“We had a lot more talent on this team last year than this year, and we’ve got the same record at the break,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “We’re pretty happy with the way these kids are playing. The last 11 games have been pretty good.”
Galchenyuk was dominant in his final game before likely missing six games representing the United States in Russia. After Nikolay Goldobin opened the scoring for the Sting, Galchenyuk made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal, sniped two more tallies with beautiful wrist shots, and was involved in some great tic-tac-toe passing to set up Reid Boucher’s first of two goals of the game.
“It’s not thinking about, ‘Oh, I have to score goals and then go to the World Juniors.’ You just want to show a pretty good show to Sarnia fans here … and show them what they want. I think I’ve done it pretty good,” he said.
Galchenyuk’s five points give him 61 on the season, leaving him one behind Niagara’s Ryan Strome for the OHL lead.
Boucher finished with a three point night for the Sting, as did Charlie Sarault, who picked up his 200th career point with the first of his three assists.
The game was tight through the first 30 minutes, as Kingston kept pace just a goal behind the Sting on goals from Jean Dupuy, Samuel Schutt and Spencer Watson, making it 4-3.
However, three straight tallies from Sarnia broke the game wide open before Sam Bennett’s late goal made the final 7-4.
J.P. Anderson made 20 saves in net to get the win for the Sting, while Kingston’s Mike Morrison was pulled after stopping 16 of 21 shots in the first two periods. Back-up Colin Furlong saved 13 of the 15 shots he faced.