Let’s go camping. The NHL’s open operations.
While it is happening just a bit later this year, then in a normal year, the NHL has opened training camp. The first pre-season games happen on Saturday, the 25th of September. The “Western Division” Champions Montreal Canadiens renew their heated rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. The second game features Central Division rivals Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues at the Enterprise Center.
Montreal missing key pieces
Montreal will be without newly signed Mike Hoffman and all-world goalie Carey Price. Hoffman who inked a three-year deal with the Canadiens is out with a lower-body injury. We expect him to miss all of training camp after failing his physical.
Forward Mike Hoffman was one of five Canadiens players to fail his training camp physical. More from the NHL Training Camp Buzz. https://t.co/Pg5rhmwc7o
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) September 23, 2021
In a story on NHL.com, Montreal head coach, Dominique Ducharme said “The injury occurred during a workout before Hoffman got to Montreal and that the forward will have an MRI to assess the severity of it.”
Goalie Carey Price, who had knee surgery on July 22, began skating on Sept. 16. He will not take part in practices early in camp. Ducharme said, “Price is expected to be ready to start the season.”
“We built a program for him to get back into playing shape,” Ducharme said. “He’s skating right now, though. He’s going to be on the ice next week with the goalie coach and athletic therapist. After that, they’re going to pick it up, go harder, and put him in different situations. Then he’s going to join the team practices with us and get ready for playing games. But we expect him to be ready to play on opening night.”
In the other big news coming out of Habs camp, Ducharme also said “the Canadiens will not have a captain this season.” Defenseman Shea Weber, who was named to the role in 2018-19, will not play this season, and might not continue his NHL career, because of several injuries.
Blues Open Camp with a smiling Tarasenko
The St. Louis Blues also opened camp with some fresh faces and familiar drama. New Notes Pavel Buchnevich, acquired from the New York Rangers and Brandon Saad signed as a free agent, got their first taste of the note and her fans at the Centene community Ice Center in Maryland Heights Mo.
Also in the mix was troubled star forward Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko spoke to reporters and NHL.com, saying he was ready to play.
“My mindset is good,” Tarasenko said. “Happy to be with the guys. I have good relationships with the guys. It’s been a weird summer, but it’s kind of [staying] between us [and] between me and Doug. I’m here to work. As long as I play here, I will work 100 percent. I’m 100 percent healthy. [We’ll] go from here.
Tarasenko has been skating with his teammates for about a month, as this video shows.
— Guy “The Hawaii Blues fan” (@HISTLBluesFan) August 31, 2021
I saw him smiling, and in good spirits during these player-organized workouts. When asked to comment, he declined.
Blues Captain Ryan O’Reilly stated, “I think he’s here and he’s a Blue,” He continued. “That’s a great thing for us. He’s a great player and we’ve all seen it. He looks very healthy, and he’s been back for a month now skating with guys. He’s here and he’s ready to go. That’s the plan. I think we’re a better team with him, what he can bring. I think it’s going to be good.”
Head Coach Craig Berube also felt there would not be a distraction around the troubled star.
“I really don’t believe it’s a distraction at all,” coach Craig Berube said. “He’s been here for a while, skating with the guys, being with the guys, hanging out with the guys. I thought he looked excellent out there today. He’s been part this team for a long time. Yeah, things happen in the summertime or things are said. I don’t go into all that, I don’t worry about that. He’s here playing hockey for us, so I coach him. That’s it. It’s not a distraction in my opinion.
“I don’t believe it’s an issue at all. If he wasn’t bought in, I don’t think he’d have been here a month early skating with the guys and working out with the guys and being around. He’s obviously bought in. He’s part of this team. He’s been part of this team his whole career, NHL career. I don’t see a buy-in problem.”
The Blues are coming off a first-round sweep at the Hands of the President Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche, just two years after winning the Stanley Cup. The Blues finished last season fourth in the revamped COVID West Division. Their 27-20-9 record was good for 63 points. St Louis finished 15th overall.
Kirill still the Thrill
The Blues could see Wild star and Calder trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov, after the forward reached a five-year, $45 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Kaprizov was embattled and had signed a deal with the KHL, allowing him to play there this season if he did not reach a deal with the Wild.
The 24-year-old was a restricted free agent. He played in 55 games last season, leading the Wild in goals (27), points (51), points per game (0.93), and overtime goals (two) while scoring three game-winning goals.
Brady not part of the Bunch,
In other news, St. Louisan Brady Tkachuk remains unsigned by the Ottawa Senators. Thachuk a 24-year-old Restricted Free Agent, has been left off of the training camp roster pending a new deal. He has spent the last month in St. Louis working with his brother Matthew Tkachuk, from the Calgary Flames.
They were being trained by former defenseman Jamie Rivers at his Synergy Hockey school. When asked if the Senators were moving in the right direction, Tkachuk said, “I think they are.”
Big Ben in Dallas Camp
“He’s just going to continue to go through the process to see where he is,” Nill said. “He’s been skating all summer and now we’re going to ramp up the workload and see where he’s at.”
Bishop could not play last season after having surgery Oct. 21 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. According to a story by NHL.com. “He was expected to need at least five months to recover. The Stars play their first preseason game at the St. Louis Blues on Sept. 27.”
Yes, it is that wonderful time again. I hope you enjoy camp as much as I am going to!!!
Till Next time Hockey fans.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing