WHAT’S IN A RULE?
Lander is in the KHL for AK Bars Kazan now and has eight points in nine games.
Nugent-Hopkins had Laleggia on his left wing during scrimmage Saturday because Jussi Jokinen didn’t skate. Jesse Puljujarvi was on the right side.
“This is a cool opportunity for him ... 20 goals is a lot considering he didn’t move to the wing until halfway through the season,” said Nugent-Hopkins who played on a powerhouse Vancouver midget AAA team with Laleggia that won a provincial championship. Laleggia was team captain.
“I’ve known him since we were really young and he was a dominant, dominant defencemen. The transition is easier than it would be for other guys though because he’s always been skilled and fast,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “But it also says a lot because this isn’t like going from centre to the wing. He’s going from defence.”
The emergence of players like Conor Sheary in Pittsburgh has opened the door for lots of 175-pound wingers.
“The game is changing. You don’t have to be huge or a powerhouse up there. What you need is smarts,” said Nugent-Hopkins.
“I always wanted to play forward but my coaches wouldn’t let me (minor hockey and college),” said Laleggia. “This is how I’d prefer it.”
McLellan isn’t sure what to make of the new NHL rule which will give a team a minor penalty if they challenge a goal for offside and lose it.
“I think we’ll be more considerate of the situation and time in a game. If we’re down 2-1 and the other team scores with five minutes left, we might gamble and call it,” he said. “If we’re tied and they make it 2-1, we might not. We don’t want to gamble and have the other team go right to the power play. We’ll have to be more selective.”
Coaches used the challenge to slow the momentum of another team, too, using it like an unofficial time-out. If they were wrong, they simply lost their only challenge opportunity; now they’ll get a penalty.
Conversely, McLellan didn’t like standing around if the challenge was on the other side.
“You’re not playing for two or three minutes. It drains everything and you have to get the excitement going again,” he said.