REGINA, Sask. -- Through two periods here at the Brandt Centre, Team WHL is holding a 3-2 lead in Game 5 against Team Russia in the Subway Super Series.
Kelowna's Colton Sissons was a lot more active with the puck in that period, according to Central Scouting's Chris Edwards.
"He handled the puck a lot more … came out of the corner and took it to the net and, on the power-play, he handled the puck pretty well," Edwards said. "He went to the net and put up a good screen. In the first period he was a physical threat and in that second, we saw more of his puck handling ability."
Edwards has also been impressed with Russian goalie Andrey Makarov, who is in his first season with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. It'll be interesting to see where Makarov sits when Central Scouting releases its preliminary list of the top players from each league on Thursday.
"Makarov has played well; he has a good glove and was at the top the crease, challenging," Edwards said. "He was sucking up point shots and not allowing rebounds."
His opinion of Red Deer's Mathew Dumba hasn't changed.
"I really like what I see in Dumba," Edwards admitted.
Hmm … that Dumba-Duncan Siemens pairing could be one to watch in December when Hockey Canada makes its final decisions on the roster for the upcoming 2012 World Junior Championship.
REGINA, Sask. -- So, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards witnessed a pretty entertaining first period here at the Brandt Centre in which the Western Hockey League stars built a 2-1 lead against Team Russia in Game 5 of the Subway Super Series.
On Russia's opening goal, Red Deer's Matt Dumba went to one knee before the Russian player wired a shot into the top far corner.
"He was trying to block the shot and trying to get out of the way of the goalie at the same time; I blame the goalie more, but it was one heck of a shot," Edwards said. "From what I've seen here in the first, Dumba's a really smart guy and heady. On his second shift of the game, he gave the puck away, but that's going to happen to a guy playing a lot of minutes. He had a great hit later in the period as well."
He was also impressed with Dumba's big hit midway through the period where he separated the player from the puck to the delight of the fans.
"I'd like to see him do it a little more," Edwards said. "I'm surprised a guy like that can hit like that. He also won puck battles and was engaging guys. He looks solid on his skates and really sure on his skates and he moved it up ice quickly. I've liked everything I've seen so far."
Edwards was also impressed with the overall size and strength of the other 2012 top prospect participating in the contest -- Kelowna's Colton Sissons. He didn't get much puck time, but was whistled for an elbowing penalty that Edwards didn't consider a big deal.
"He was pretty good on the forecheck and solid when he decided to throw the body," Edwards said. "You know, you have to be careful out there with the way the game is called now. You have to protect the head a little bit. He didn't handle the puck too much that period, so I didn't get to assess that. Coming out of that period, I'd say Sissons is a hard-working and aggressive kind of guy."
During the period, Edwards also had an opportunity to chat with his teenage niece, Sara (Blair) of Toronto. Anytime is a good time when a scout has an opportunity to speak to a family member while on the road.
"She's a big hockey fan and I wanted to tell her to check out the blogs on NHL.com," Edwards said with a grin.
REGINA, Sask. -- In the hour leading up to the contest between Team WHL and the Russians at Brandt Centre, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards sat down beside scouts from the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars and began reflecting on the upcoming contest and the players.
Calgary amateur scout Blair Reid even discussed one player not in action for Russia on Wednesday but earning plenty of accolades in the Ontario Hockey League of late -- Sarnia's Nail Yakupov.
"He showed up on the game sheet when he played against the OHL stars in Ottawa and me and Blair were just talking about his overall game, how he really showed off his puck-handling ability," Edwards said. "He can get open."
Edwards set the lineups for the game and was glad that Russian goalie Andrey Makarov would be in action as it enables him to catch a viewing of another 2012 draft eligible prospect in addition to Western Hockey League blue chippers Matt Dumba of Red Deer and Colton Sissons of Kelowna.
Edwards also informed me that representatives from all 30 NHL teams were present for the game, including Al Murray of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tony McDonald of the Carolina Hurricanes. McDonald, of course, struck gold at the 2010 Draft with the selection of Jeff Skinner in the first round.
"You could see some GMs in the crowd as well at some point as Steve Yzerman was in Ottawa; probably to see Yakupov," Edwards admitted.
Edwards just watched closely when the players took their pregame warmups. "You just watch how the players skate and, sometimes, you can pick up other things, but you won't really know until the actual game begins," he said.
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards arrived in the Saskatchewan city on Wednesday afternoon, looking as if he was ... ready for a nap.
"Hey, I was in the war room in Toronto [Tuesday] night charting the Devils-Bruins game, got to bed late and got on a flight to Regina at 8 a.m. [Wednesday] morning," Edwards told NHL.com. "I'll be raring to go tonight though."
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards
Hey, did I mention it is minus-7.6 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill here in sunny Regina? I'm not joking. The sun is literally blinding me as I'm sitting here writing in my hotel room, yet, you can churn ice cream if you opened my window.
"The sun?" asked Edwards. "The sun means nothing here, so don't talk to me about the sun. It's going to get dark rather quickly too."
Edwards is not in the same hotel as me and videographer Steven Hoffner, but we will get together at 6 p.m. ET for the drive over to Brandt Centre. Unfortunately, Eddie informed me that the day he leaves for Western Canada also happened to be the day his stove at home broke down.
"Isn't that just typical," he said. "On the day I leave, the stove breaks and now my wife has to deal with that."
So it begins folks; the life of scout is never predictable or forgiving.
But, besides that, it's all systems go from this point forward. Let the pigeons loose! The gray Nissan Altima is going to be put to the test over the next 72 hours. Following the fifth game of the Subway Super Series on Wednesday at the Brandt Centre in Regina, it's 45 minutes West to Moose Jaw for Game 6 of the Series at Mosaic Place.
Then it's a 2-hour drive West to Swift Current before making a 4-hour trek to Lethbridge. Can you dig it?
"We'll get to the arena tonight and I'll pick up the lineups in the scout's room and then watch pre-game warmups," Edwards said. "No doubt the theme of this trip is life on the road as it's never-ending."
He then looked at me and said: "You sure you want to do this?"
Did you ever find yourself teetering on the hind legs of a four-legged chair, struggling to regain your balance. Well, that's the feeling I got after Eddie raised that question. But, hey, I need to experience this. This is what hockey is all about, right? I've been to NHL games and have seen the stars; now it's time to get dirty in the corners with the men who find them.
Throughout tonight's game, I will be sitting alongside Edwards, asking questions about his scouting routine. I'll blog as often as possible to provide you with all the insight. If you have any questions of NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, please email me at any point during my trip at firstname.lastname@example.org with those inquiries. I'll post your question and Eddie's response at some point over the next four days.
REGINA, Sask. - The wind is whipping, the snow falling and it's minus-13 degrees fahrenheit here in the capital city of Saskatchewan. Woo-hoo!
No worries though. I have a parka, gloves and toque. I'm all set for the big scouting excursion. Not to mention plenty of coffee grinds, work boots and a Winter Classic scarf. Thermals, sweatshirts, some music and several maps. Also, I just want to make mention that I'm three blocks away from the Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan and two miles away from Brandt Centre -- site of Wednesday's fifth game in the 2011 Subway Super Series featuring Team WHL against Team Russia.
Funny, I really can't remember the last time I actually heard wind howling this loudly outside my window. I do now.
On the first stop of our four-city Western Canadian scouting trip with NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, the crew at NHL.com will take a glimpse of tomorrow's stars today. The Subway Super Series is currently tied, 2-2, following back-to-back wins by the Ontario Hockey League on Nov. 10 (10-7) and Nov. 14 (6-3), so it's all up to Team WHL.
"This is a great way for Hockey Canada to evaluate players in one setting," WHL assistant coach Ryan Huska said. "This is a big time evaluation for them and it's their opportunity to show that they deserve the invite come Christmas [for participation in the World Junior Championship], so it's important. We really do look at these games in regards to our invites to Christmas camp."
Don Hay, who is head coach for Team WHL and also the head man for the Canadian National Junior Team competing at the 2012 World Junior Championship, agrees.
"We've identified the players who have played well for their club teams in all three leagues and it gives them the opportunity to come out and compete with the best players of our league against international competition," Hay said. "You really get to see them in an environment that is very competitive."
The series concludes on Thursday at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw. We'll then travel to Swift Current before concluding our journey in Lethbridge on Friday.
In addition to checking a few top prospects eligible for the 2012 Draft in Pittsburgh, including defenseman Matt Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels and forward Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets, we'll be documenting the 'Life of a Scout' through the eyes of veteran Ontario Hockey League scout Chris Edwards.
Scouting is no easy task, particularly for a husband and father of two (Reagan, 3 weeks old, and Abby, 4 years old). We'll get to the bottom of what life is like on the road with one of the more respected individuals in the scouting fraternity. Edwards has spent the last 12 years travelling through more than his share of snow drifts in Ontario and Western Canada.
Over the next three days, we'll find out, among other things I'm sure, what he looks for in a player, how information is logged, his relationship with other scouts not employed by Central Scouting, if he ever played a practical joke on a fellow scout, life on the road and who might be the finest player he's ever scouted.
Stay tuned …
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
After skating with the team for the first time Wednesday since suffering a concussion late last month, is appears Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has the green light to make his return to the lineup on Friday at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
"I was happy with what I did, so I don't think it's an issue at all," Alfredsson told the team's website. "I'm just going to take it one day at a time and we'll go from there."
Alfredsson was injured Oct. 29 against the New York Rangers when he was hit by the Rangers' Wojtek Wolski. On Tuesday, he passed the required baseline test.
"Isn't that good news?" Senators head coach Paul MacLean said. "I can't wait until (Friday)."
The Senators have gone 1-3-1 without Alfredsson and slipped three points out of a playoff spot. For the season, Alfredsson has 4 goals and 7 points in 10 games. Of the Senators' 16 games this season, 11 have been decided by one goal, so having Alfredsson's veteran knowledge certainly will be a welcomed addition. The Senators have won six of those 11 one-goal contests.
"There is no explanation for it, or else we would have dealt with it," Maurice told the media following his team's practice at Prudential Center on Tuesday. "He's just trying to find chemistry with other people and he has taken that pressure of his offensive game completely to heart.
"I don't think it's the breakout game that will ultimately send him on his way, either. Eric competes as hard as he can away from the puck, and he'll always make sure that part of his game is good. The stats don't always tell you I was right, but his last six minuses had nothing to do with him."
Through 14 games this season, Staal has 3 goals, 5 points and a League-low minus-16 rating. He has been held pointless in five straight games, during which he has a minus-7 rating.
Staal was asked if last year's hit on his brother, Marc, had anything to do with his slow start.
"That has nothing to do with it," he said. "I don't know, I just haven't found a groove offensively yet. I think it's early, I've had a lot of looks and lot of opportunities and chances around the net but just haven't been hitting the back of the net. As far as (the hit) being on my mind going into every game, it's not even close. Hopefully I can stay with it, get things turned around and help us win some games."
Despite his offensive woes, forward Jeff Skinner still sees the relentless determination each and every practice.
"Every player goes through tough times, scoring droughts and slumps, and you can't really judge a player based on that," Skinner said. "Especially a guy like Eric, who dominates games and does so much more than put points on the board. He logs huge minutes (20:02 of ice time per game) against other team's top line and top defensive pair. He wins big faceoffs on the penalty kill and blocks shots and he's physical. He still brings all those things to the game, even though he's in sort of little slump. But that's what makes him a good leader."
Said Maurice: "Eric doesn't play a perimeter game and he pushed his offensive game to places he had a hard time recovering from early on this season … but he hasn't done that the last five or six games."
NEWARK, N.J. -- On Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes recalled center Zac Dalpe from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte. Left wing Drayson Bowman, who went scoreless in two games, was reassigned to the Checkers. Dalpe, 22, skated on a line with Tim Brent and Anthony Stewart on Tuesday in preparation for Carolina's meeting with the Devils.
"I've been looking for a place to get Derek into a game and was never overly down on Jamie's game," Maurice said. "(McBain) had a real rough night against Washington (in a 5-1 loss on Nov. 4) and that kind of the opened the door for Derek. But I've liked (McBain's) play overall. If Derek has gone in and really heated it up and had a great game (against Dallas on Sunday), we would probably be looking at someone else to scratch from the lineup."
Additionally, Maurice said that Jussi Jokinen, who will miss his third straight game with a lower-body injury, could return to the lineup as early as Friday.
"He had good day (at practice on Tuesday)," Maurice said. "It was just a morning skate, but we were hoping he would have a good day and we'll give him a pretty good tug (Wednesday) and if all goes well, he'll practice with the team on Thursday with the idea of playing on Friday (against the Rangers)."
Here are the probable line combinations for the Hurricanes:
Kovalchuk, who pulled a leg muscle in the third period of last Thursday's 4-3 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, did participate in the team's morning skate on Tuesday after sitting out on Monday. He appeared to be comfortable in his brief 20-minute workout with the team on the ice. The veteran winger is optimistic he will return to the lineup on Friday against the Washington Capitals.
On Tuesday, Kovalchuk told reporters the injury was "getting better" and was "definitely going in the right direction."
"I feel much better now so another couple days … it's good that we have a couple days before back-to-back games (against Washington)," Kovalchuk said.
Following Tuesday's contest against the Hurricanes, the Devils are off two days before battling the Southeast Division-leading Capitals in a home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday.
Still, Devils coach Peter DeBoer would prefer to have Kovalchuk at full strength whenever he does decide to give it go once again. The fact the Devils pulled out a 3-2 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets without their star winger in the lineup on Saturday probably made Tuesday's decision to sit Kovalchuk a tad easier.
"Kovy is status quo but obviously getting better," DeBoer said. "The fact he's out there, but he's not going to play. Anytime you have an injury like this, it's tough to predict exactly how it's going to come along but he's made huge strides the last 3-to-4 days and if he continues to do that then I think he has a good chance at playing Friday."
It is worth noting, however, that Kovalchuk has a career best 67 points, including 33 goals, in 54 career games against Carolina.
"You have to be careful," Kovalchuk said. "With this kind of injury you want to be 100 percent sure. You don't want to reinjure yourself and sit for two weeks after that."
Additionally, defenseman Andy Greene will likely return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. DeBoer told the media following practice that Greene "looks like he'll be ready to go but we'll hold off until game time to make that decision."
"The strength has returned and that's the biggest reason why we'll give it a shot," Greene said. "It felt good at practice and we'll give it a go and hopefully I feel good (Wednesday)."
Forward Eric Boulton, who was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 21, has a non-displaced fracture of his hand; an injury suffered in a fight with San Jose's Douglas Murray. Defenseman Mark Fraser and forward Rod Pelley were placed on waivers on Monday, but each practiced with the team on Tuesday. Pelley will be in the lineup on Tuesday but Fraser will not assuming Greene returns.
Here are the probable line combinations for the Devils:
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After losing four games in a row, including his most recent outing when he was relieved in the first period, it's no wonder Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller hasn't exactly been in a great mood these days.
Miller, who was pulled after allowing three goals in less than seven minutes in an eventual 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 2, was vividly upset with his recent play when asked about it during the Sabres morning skate on Monday at First Niagara Center.
"I don't want to be pulled out of a game. I want to, you know, I want to [expletive] win the game," Miller told John Vogl of the Buffalo News.
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff opted to start Jhonas Enroth on Friday against the Calgary Flames (a 2-1 victory) and Saturday against the Ottawa Senators (a 3-2 shootout victory). It marked the first time since the 2006-07 season that a healthy Miller sat out consecutive games. Ruff wouldn't reveal his starter on Tuesday on home ice against the Winnipeg Jets.
"I'm here to win," Miller, winner of the 2010 Vezina Trophy, told reporters. "That's the emotion you get from me. If I'm discouraged, if I'm [ticked] off, that's just how it is. I want to win. I don't want to be out there getting scored on."
For the season, Miller is 4-5-0 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in nine appearances. Enroth is 4-0-0 with a 1.41 GAA and .950 save percentage in five games.
"I'm just trying to do everything that's in my control," Miller said. "You can't always control what happens in front of you or the coach's decision or anything. You just have to react to it. Goaltenders are judged on how they react, whether it's the puck going in or if they make the save or if they get pulled out of the game or if when they get put back in. It's all about how you react. I'm just trying to do my best to be ready to react in a way that helps this club."
This team has been a real treat to say you've been the head coach of them. I'm extremely proud of this group ... after the disappointment of (the Game 6 loss) is digested, it's always a lot easier as a coach when your team has emptied its tank, and that team emptied its tank for me for three months.
— Senators coach Dave Cameron after getting eliminated in the first round by the Canadiens