Thursday, October 31, 2013

Burke: Fighting Regulates the Level of Violence in Hockey

Calgary Flames' president of hockey operations Brian Burke penned a piece for USA Today in favor of fighting of the NHL, and in it the well known hockey executive says that he loves and respects the game, and its unique stance on fighting.

"Reduced to its simplest truth," Burke writes, "fighting is one of the mechanisms that regulates the level of violence in our game. Players who break the rules are held accountable by other players. The instigator rule has reduced accountability. Eliminating fighting would render it extinct."

Burke seems to cling to the notion that fighting protects non-violent players who, if not policed by their teams' enforcers, would be threatened on a consistent basis by hockey goonery. He mentions that the most violent plays that have occurred in the NHL this season are scary bodychecks and hits from behind, and he believes that without fighting as a deterrent, there'd be more of those scary hits.

Here's an excerpt from the piece:
"It's hard to quantify where our game would be without fighting. It's easy to be repelled by a scary injury such as George Parros'. But I thought the hits on Danny Boyle and Niklas Kronwall were much more dangerous, as was the hit on Max Talbot (which I believe was legal). These are examples of times when fighting did not act as a deterrent. In fact, we can all recite a list of players who clearly operate outside of a system of honor. But today, these are the exceptions. Horrific injuries, stars being mugged, rats who run around hitting people from behind — these stand out to us because they don't happen with regularity. It's fighting that keeps these incidents to a minimum.

Horrific injuries, stars being mugged, rats who run around hitting people from behind — these stand out to us because they don't happen with regularity. It's fighting that keeps these incidents to a minimum."

Is Burke right? Is a player like Maxim Lapierre, who got five games for sending Dan Boyle to the hospital earlier this season, really going to temper his enthusiasm for tattooing the opposition in the boards simply because he may have to deal with an enforcer in the hits' aftermath?

That's a shoddy argument at best. Big, tough NHL players don't shy away from fights--they love them--so why would fighting deter them from dirty play against the opponent's skill players.

There are other, more sensible arguments to make, but I'm not so sure about Burke's assertion that fighting protects the players. Would the NHL be an even more violent game without fighting? That certainly isn't the case in Olympic hockey, so why should it be in the NHL?

Should the inmates really be running the asylum and policing themselves on the ice? According to statistics, fights are down this season, but serious injuries from high-speed collisions are on the rise. Is there really any connection between the two?

Avs Trade for Ex-Cup Winner Talbot

The Colorado Avalanche have traded winger Steve Downie to the Philadelphia Flyers for veteran center Maxime Talbot.

Downie, a 26-year-old Ontario native, was originally drafted by the Flyers. He was traded to Tampa Bay in 2009. He is a two-time 20-goal scorer.

Talbot, 29, has 77 career goals and was a pivotal leader on the Penguins Stanley Cup-winning team of 2009.

"Talbot has won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh," Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post. "He's a great penalty killer. We feel that he's going to (bring) a lot of depth to our team. He's a guy that has performed so really well in the playoffs and we think he'll be a great addition."

Roy added: "I thought that we were a little short in (penalty killing) players, and Talbot is very good in that regard. He's a really good P.K. guy and it's going to help a lot."

Report: Varlamov Kicked Girlfriend in Chest and Stomped on Her

The girlfriend of Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov said that he kicked her in the chest, stomped on her and told her that if they were in Russia he would have beaten her more.

Varlamov appeared in court on domestic violence and kidnapping charges on Thursday in Denver, and posted $5,000 bond by noon.

The woman, whose name has been redacted from the records, reportedly spent five hours getting medical attention and x-rays. Detectives reported that they observed bruising on the left forearm and right hip of the woman. She lives in Russia, but travels to visit with Varlamov, and had arrived for a three-month stay in Colorado.

More from the Denver Post's coverage:
"Her statement is that this is the most minor of the beatings she received. She's received five in all, and the last one was to unconsciousness," said Robert Abrams, an attorney who is representing Varlamov's girlfriend. He said the woman spent five hours in a hospital getting exams and X-rays.

His client has been dating Varlamov off and on for four years. She lives in Russia where she is from but travels to live with him. She had just begun a three-month stay in Denver, Abrams said. He said he would try to keep her here so she can testify against Varlamov but added, "I've got her in hiding."

Varlamov has been given permission to travel, but Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is not prepared to say much to the media about whether or not Varlamov will join the team in Dallas on Friday. "It's a law thing and it's important for me as a coach that I keep my focus on my team and we keep our focus there, and at the same time, let the law decide what's going to be," he said. "I'd rather wait for it to be confirmed by his lawyer than to start projecting things and then at the last minute have to turn back and say he can't play."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Avs' Goalie Semyon Varlamov Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges

Colorado's No. 1 goalie, Semyon Varlamov, was arrested on domestic violence-related charges, and turned himself into Denver police at around 6 P.M. on Wednesday.

According to the Denver Post, Varlamov is being held without bond on second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault charges.

More from the Denver Post's coverage:
"The kidnapping charge is a Class 4 felony, punishable by to two to six years in prison, according Colorado statutes. Class 4 felony kidnapping is defined by taking someone and moving them to another place without their consent.

The assault charge is a misdemeanor.

Varlamov was to remain in jail overnight because he could not post bail due to the assault charge. Varlamov must first appear before a judge — he has a court date set for 10 a.m. Thursday.

Varlamov, prison officials said, is in a cell alone because of his celebrity. When reached at Denver's downtown detention center, he refused an interview with The Denver Post.

The police charges stem from an incident that happened at an undisclosed time Tuesday in the 1700 block of Bassett Street, police said.

Colorado coach Patrick Roy, when reached by phone Wednesday night, had no comment."

In a statement, the Avs said: "The Colorado Avalanche organization is aware of the allegations concerning Semyon Varlamov. At this time, and until the conclusion of this investigation, the Avalanche organization will have no further comment on this situation."

Vid: Pascal Dupuis Pulls Out Tooth on Bench

We saw Islanders Center John Tavares pull out his teeth on the bench against Chicago earlier this season, and on Wednesday it was Penguins' right wing Pascal Dupuis performing that age-old hockey tradition during the Penguins 3-2 victory over rival Boston.

Dupuis took some friendly fire, as the offending stick was held by Kris Letang, who was trying to corral Bruins' forward Carl Soderberg on the play when his stick flew up (rather violently, might I add) and whacked Dupuis in the kisser.

“I tried a second one, too, but it’s glued there,” Dupuis later said.

According to Sidney Crosby, Dupuis' tooth was part of a bridge. “(It) was part of a bridge, so I don’t think it hurt that much,” Crosby said. “But I saw a steel rod in his tooth when it came out. That’s not something you see every day. Kind of funny, kind of gross. Not something you see too often. I said, ‘Hurry up, you’re grossing me out. Just get rid of it.’ ” Pittburgh grabbed a 3-1 lead late in the third period, but couldn't get rid of Boston, the team that swept the Penguins out of last year's conference finals, until the bitter end.

Jarome Iginla scored to make it 3-2, and the Bruins had the Tuukka Rask pulled for the final 1:36 but were unable to sneak an equalizer past Marc-Andre Fleury.

Not So Fast, Jaromir Jagr, You Need Two More Goals

Jaromir Jagr achieved a huge milestone last night--then he didn't.

Many media outlets, including this one, reported that Jagr had passed Phil Esposito and now owned the record for the most NHL game-winning goals. As it turns out, an error in the New Jersey Devils' media notes led to the misunderstanding, which led to this photo opp with Jagr after the game:

According to Devils' beat reporter Tom Gulitti, the erroneous reporting of the game-winning goals record started last season when the Boston Bruins reported that Jagr was tied with Phil Esposito in their media guide.
The mistake spread and was reported widely last night after the game, until the Elias Sports Bureau cleared up the mess on Twitter after the game.

Oh, well, we feel stupid and we're not ashamed to admit it.

But at least we had this tweet to make us laugh:

What will we be fooled into thinking next, that the Toronto Maple Leafs will pass the Montreal Canadiens for most Stanley Cups all time if they win the cup this year?

NHL's Best Halloween Costume (so far) Goes to Brandon Dubinsky

It's not really a contest yet. Columbus Blue Jackets' forward Brandon Dubinsky is in the lead with one day to go. Can anybody top him?

It would be really awesome if he took a few shifts in this gear...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jonathan Toews' Natural Hat-Trick Sparks Blackhawks' Win

Jonathan Toews scored three consecutive goals in a 14:43 span in the second and third periods to rally Chicago from a 4-2 deficit against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, marking the 25-year-old center's first hat-trick since November 17, 2010 in Edmonton.

"It has been a while, so it felt pretty good," Toews said after Chicago's 6-5 win. "It's an exciting thing, it definitely builds your confidence a little bit and hopefully I can ride that out and keep playing well because of it." Prior to Toews' outburst Chicago's backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was replaced by Corey Crawford after he allowed four goals on 22 shots. Khabibulin has allowed ten goals in his last two appearances.

But on this night he and the 'Hawks were rescued by the heroics of Toews. Chicago improves to 8-2-3, one point behind upstart Colorado in the Central Division, with the win.

"The goals we gave up, they were just point-blank chances," Toews said. "Unfair to blame out goaltender. We have to improve and I think we did as the game went on."

"It was a special performance," Chicago's coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews' effort. "As a fan you're going to remember that game.

Toews also had an assist earlier in the game. He has seven goals and six assists in 13 games on the season.

Jagr Breaks Espo's Record with 119th Game-Winning Goal (Not Really: Edited)

41-year-old Jaromir Jagr turned a turnover into a midlife crisis for the Tampa Bay Lighting, and notched his 119th game-winning goal in the Devils' 2-1 win.

Jagr broke a tie with Phil Esposito, the former Blackhawks, Bruins and Rangers center who netted 716 goals in his 19-year career.

***Originally reported as the NHL's all-time record for game-winning goals, it turns out that Gordie Howe had 121.*** (Read more about the error and its origin here)

In 20 NHL seasons, Jagr now has 684 goals and 1,698 points.

Jagr stripped the puck from Martin St. Louis on the play and raced the length of the ice before beating Lighting goale Ben Bishop stick side. The goal gave the Devils a 2-0 lead, and another 41-year-old, Martin Brodeur, helped New Jersey hang on for the win.

Isles' Tavares Has Kinds Words for Departed Moulson

Speaking to members of the media on Monday at Nassau Coliseum, Islanders' Captain John Tavares came out with some high praise for his departed friend and linemate Matt Moulson.

Tavares, 23 and in his fifth year with the Islanders, wanted to set the record straight when it comes to the public's perception of how much he impacted Moulson's rise to prominence as an NHL sniper. Many believed that Moulson would not have the success he achieved had he not been placed on Tavares' line on Long Island. Not exactly true. It was a two-way street, said Tavares.

"I don't think Matt's ever gotten the credit he's deserved for the success I've had," Tavares said. "A lot of the things he's done so well … the little things he's done that's helped my game. Living together that first year (2009-10), door-to-door neighbors our second year, how long we've known each other, the impact he made -- him and his family -- how much they helped me off the ice. Words can't really describe how much he was there for me.

"It's part of the game, part of the business and you understand that. It's sad to see him go, but it's what the team felt was best, and we have to move forward, starting [Tuesday night]."

Tavares, like the rest of his club, was shocked by the deal that sent Moulson and two draft picks to Buffalo for two-time 40-goal scorer Thomas Vanek. But now that it's sunken in, he's resolved to move on and roll with the changes.

"I assume if things were going the way we wanted them to, I don't think there'd be too many changes," Tavares told reporters. "Obviously, [it's] a significant one. We know we haven't played our best and we haven't gotten to the level of consistency that we talked about. There's still a lot of hockey left, and it just goes to show that we have to be better. There's no waiting around for it, and our expectations have to be higher than what we're achieving right now." Tavares and Vanek will debut on the same like tonight along with Kyle Okposo as the Islanders renew their rivalry with the New York Rangers.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vid: Capitals' D Disappears and Sedin Twins Strike

Sounds like it was pretty electric tonight at Rogers Arena, as the Canucks rallied to defeat the Washington Capitals, 3-2. Daniel Sedin put the Canucks, who trailed 2-1 in the third, ahead for good at 5:01 of the third period. The primary assist came from Henrik Sedin, of course.

My question: Where was the Washington defense when Daniel decides to amble into the center of the slot?

The sedins have eight goals and 23 assists combined in 14 games, wouldn't it be nice to put a man on them when they skate into the slot?

Vancouver improves to 9-4-1 with the victory. They outshot the Caps 41-19 with seven of them coming from the Sedin twins, who were a plus-4 combined on the night.

Best in Show: Moulson's Shovel Shot

Watching the replay of Matt Moulson's second goal of the night (see video above) I knew it was the one. Best in Show is a new tradition here, it is basically the goal of the night in the NHL. It could be a save though.

Okay: Best in Show is a play. Yes, a play. Could be a pokecheck. Could be a feathered pass to a winger that results in collision. Could be some glove love. Could be anything. But it will probably be a goal or a save.

Anyhow, Moulson's gets the award tonight on merit. It's a quick, decisive play. A true goal-scorers play. Moulson finds some real estate in very tight quarters and locates the puck after a shot glances of his leg. When he gets the puck he pulls some wizardry and flicks it outside the left arm of Kari Lehtonen.

Moulson had very little time and space and he was being pulled down (or at least falling) on the play. He pulls it to his backhand and does some nice stickwork to put that puck on the move.

Vid: Steven Stamkos' Shaking, Baking Shootout Goal

How does Steven Stamkos make it look so easy? That, my fellow lovers of puck, is the eternal question...

It's just a beautiful, almost casual display of deking that leaves Florida's Jacob Markstrom an unwilling spectator on the goal. It's the kind of improv you just can't teach.

This was Stamkos' first shootout goal of the year to go with his team-leading eight goals on the season, and it sealed the Bolts' 4-3 shootout victory over intrastate rival Florida on Sunday.

The shootout has never been Steven Stamkos' thing--he was 5 for 27 in the skills competition for his career before this big goal--but maybe he has finally figured out what works for him: Less is more. A straight line, some good speed, a few dekes and a nice angle.

After finishing second to last in the Eastern Conference last season, Tampa Bay is off to a surprising 8-3 start, which leaves them percentage points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for first in the Atlantic Division.

Snow's Gamble on Vanek Shows Desperation, Short-Sightedness

After taking twenty-four hours to digest the Islanders trade for Thomas Vanek, it's time to sound off. Many are crediting the Islanders GM Garth Snow for landing a proven elite scorer, and in fantasy land pairing Thomas Vanek and Isles elite Centerman John Tavares could be the formidable combo that puts the Islanders over the top and makes them a bona fide Stanley Cup contender.

But the 2013-2014 season won't be played in fantasy land, and the fact of the matter is that the Islanders are a fringe playoff team at best, with or without Vanek. After news of the trade broke yesterday, Snow spoke of being frustrated with his team's 4-4 start. It's commendable that Snow wants the Isles to move up to elite status after laying the foundations with a terrific infusion of youth over the last few years, but the Isles top line scoring wasn't the issue with their spotty play this year. New York is currently 2nd in the league in power play percentage, and 10th overall in goals per game.

In truth, the Islanders problem lies with a lack of depth on defense and the lack of a top flight goaltender. The team is currently 24th in the league in goals against, and Thomas Vanek, a decidedly offense-first player, isn't going to do anything to help New York in that regard.

So why mortage a chunk of the Islanders future (Snow dealt a first-rounder in 2014 and a second-rounder in 2015) for a player who at best will only marginally outperform the player they traded for him? To make matters worse, why deal that much for a player who is more than likely going to test the waters as a free agent after the season?

Worst case? The Isles get nothing in return for two top draft picks and a player who has helped them become a legitimate playoff contender with three straight 30-goal seasons. Keep in mind that Moulson is a much better value than Vanek. The centerman will probably end up signing somewhere for just over $5 million next season, while Vanek, who already makes over $7 million, will probably be looking for more.

Hockey is a business, not a riverboat, and Snow's off-the-cuff decision to neglect the teams' true needs of goaltending and defense in favor of a messiah-like forward who is reputed to be lazy on the defensive side of the puck reeks of desperation.

Does snow really consider Vanek to be the missing piece of the Stanley Cup puzzle? Does he really feel the Isles, a team that hasn't won a playoff series in 20 years, is now officially ready to forgo its future to compete now?

The move is far too risky, and the Isles, who were getting great production from Moulson and probably wouldn't have been able to do an extension easily with him, have instead handed the keys to their future to one player who will probably head for the highway at the end of the season.

With the Islanders still seeking to develop their youth and build their depth, now is not the right time for Snow to be making bets on the present at the expense of the future. The Isles are still very much a work in progress, and Snow could have found much better value for his club elsewhere.

In fact, he could have found it right in Buffalo. If he had managed to swing a deal for the Sabres' Ryan Miller, that would have been something to write home about. Getting Vanek and breaking up the Islanders undeniable first-line chemistry is not worth the risk that Snow is taking. When the season is done, he will either overpay Vanek or watch him leave. Either way it's bad business and doesn't address the Islanders real needs.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Islanders Deal Moulson and Picks for Sabres' Thomas Vanek

Impatient with a sluggish 4-4-3 start in which the New York Islanders failed to win back-to-back games, Isles' GM Garth Snow has pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal that sends fan favorite winger Matt Moulson to Buffalo along with two high draft picks for two-time 40-goal scorer Thomas Vanek.

"I didn't like the way we'd been playing," Islanders general manager Garth Snow told Newsday's Arthur Staple on Sunday night. "We're better than our record indicates and we need to take the next step. Thomas is an elite player in this league and he'll help us now and in the future."

Vanek is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, so Snow will have to do some negotiating in order to ensure that the 29-year-old Austrian does indeed help beyond this season. Vanek currently makes over $7 million on his current deal, significantly more the Moulson's current contract, which was a 3-year, $9.4 million deal.

The fact that the Islanders threw in a first-round pick in next year's draft and another second-round pick in the 2015 draft shows that either the Islanders were desperate to get this deal done or they are both very high on Vanek and very confident that they can keep him in the fold by signing him to a new deal.

Moulson has become a star since Snow signed him to a minor league deal in 2009, the same summer that the Isles drafted their current franchise cornerstone, John Tavares. Tavares and Moulson have great chemistry on the ice (they've been called the "Dynamic Duo" among other things), and there are many who believe that Moulson would not have become the three-time 30-goal scorer that he is had it not been for the help of Tavares.

Still, Moulson's numbers, and his contributions to the upstart Isles playoff push last season are irrefutable.

The two players have eerily similar numbers since Moulson joined the Islanders in 2009. Vanek is 110-127-237 and a minus-1. Moulson is 118-105-223 and a minus-10. They are both 29 years of age.

"Matt has been a great player for us the past few years," Snow told Newsday. "Obviously he's a good person. But I can tell you I'm not happy with where we are record wise. We're better than this. We need to take the next step and I wasn't just going to sit by and let games pass."

"It's sad to leave people you care about and love behind," Moulson told "I think over the years I've shown my want to be a part of the organization and turning around the team into being successful. I guess, obviously, in the long run, they didn't feel the same.... I guess this is what happens in pro sports. I gotta move on. Obviously, I'll miss everyone, but this will be a new chapter.""

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Young Girl Gives Michel Therrien the Tongue at Habs-Sharks Game

Nothing I could write could do this video clip justice, so I'll let it speak for itself.

The Sharks defeated the Habs 2-0 to take over the NHL points race. They are 9-1-1 with a plus-25 goal differential in their first eleven games.

Rangers Win for the First Time in Detroit Since 1999

Derick Brassard's breakaway goal (see vid above) at 4:47 of overtime helped the blueshirts fashion a positive ending to what has been a long and grueling season-starting nine-game road trip.

New York wins for the first time in 14 years at the Joe Louis Arena, improving its woeful road record against the Red Wings franchise to 77-166-45-1. More important, the win gives the Rangers two points that they badly needed.

"3-and-6 is a lot better than 2-and-7," defenseman Marc Staal said after the win. "We've got a good feeling going, and we're finally going home, but we have to try to string a few wins together."

The Rangers started the season with the nine-game swing due to renovations to Madison Square Garden, which have been recently completed. New York will meet the Canadiens on Monday in its home opener.

They are currently tied for last in the Metropolitan Division at 3-6.

Detroit, which as only scored five goals in its last four games, split up Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk for the first half of the game in order to spice their anemic offense up. Datsyuk played between Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi, while Zetterberg played between Tomas Tatar and Johan Franzen.

Detroit drops into a tie for fourth at 6-4-2 with the overtime loss.

Devils Show Signs of Life with Late Surge to Oust Bruins

Things were looking pretty grim for the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night in Beantown, as they have all season. Then a pair of late power play goals, notched within :23 seconds of one another, pulled the Devils from the depths of despair.

It wasn't a great night for the Bruins, but they were clinging to a one-goal lead late, and looked to be headed for there sixth consecutive win. Then the penalty parade began. First Torey Krug got hit with a double minor for high-sticking at 16:45. Then things really got sticky when Patrice Bergeron's clear went over the glass for a delay of game penalty at 18:11.

Not even Tukka Raask could save the B's then.

Marek Zidlicky scored the equalizer with the Devils on the five-on-three, firing a slapper from the right point that sailed through a screen and over Tuukka Rask's shoulder. It was his the Devils' defenseman's first goal in 26 games, though he does have eight assists on the year already. Shortly thereafter, with the TD Garden's P.A. announcer still announcing Zidlicky's goal, Andy Greene put the Devils ahead 4-3 with a wrister off a rebound into a wide open net.

Probably not the way the Devils would like to do it on a regular basis, but it does get the club out of hot water for now, with their first road win, and also Martin Brodeur's first victory of the season.

Thanks to the late-game heroics, the Devils jump out of the Metropolitan Division cellar, with a record of 2-5-4.

Vid: Matt Duchene's Spin-O-Rama Goal Propels Avs

After defeating the Hurricanes 4-2 on Friday, the Colorado Avalanche are off to a franchise-best 9-1 start and they are tops in the NHL right now with 18 points. That is a far cry from the team that finished 16-25-7 last season, missing the playoffs by a country mile.

Matt Duchene, who leads the Avalanche with 8 goals on the season, is a big reason that the Avs are off to the shining start. Check out what the Denver Post's Adrian Dater has to say about Duchene's game thus far in 2013:

"We saw another dominant performance from Duchene tonight, most of all. He seemed to do pretty much whatever he wanted out there, settling for two goals and an assist. The transformation of his game from a guy who seemed to always hurry a little too much with the puck and get too fancy at times, to a guy who still plays very fast but with the game slowed down, if that makes sense, has been something to see."

Duchene certainly made it look easy on this play. Thanks to goals like these, the Haliburton, Ontario native is currently on pace to more than double his career-best goal total of 27, which he hit in the 2010-2011 season.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Late Goal Keys Isles' Upset in Pittburgh

The Islanders and Pittsburgh had a surprisingly competitive first-round playoff series last year, and the two Metropolitan Division rivals picked up right where they left on Friday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Josh Bailey scored the game winner at 18:20 in the third, capping off a wild period in which three goals were in a 1:09 span that left the teams tied at 3-3. With Pittsburgh pushing for the regulation win, the Isles broke out of their own zone for the winning tally. After being robbed on a one-timer from point blank range, Bailey took a feed from Frans Nielsen, found a way to elude the check of Chris Kunitz and dove out to sweep the puck into the net past Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

It was a surprise finish to a game that had been largely dominated by the first place Penguins. The Penguins pumped 42 shots on Isles' goalie Evgeni Nabokov, but they went 0-5 on the power play, which helped to let the Islanders hang around long enough for Bailey to work his magic in the waning moments.

"The one thing we've done this season is, even when we're not playing our best, we've found a way to keep ourselves in it," said Josh Bailey. "Nabby really made the difference and it was a good confidence-building win for us." The Islanders improve to 4-3-3 with the win while Pittsburgh finishes its first ten games at a 7-3 clip.

Another Horrid Hit: Talbot Crashes into Boards after Pouliot's Shove

The NHL season is well under a month old and already seven suspensions have been handed out by the NHL's Player Safety Department. With John Scott's hit on Boston's Loui Eriksson on Wednesday prompting an in-person experience, make that eight.

Could we have number nine?

This hit by Rangers' left wing Benoit Pouliot caused one of the most violent collisions of the season (and given what we've seen so far, that is saying a lot) on Thursday, and Pouliot was given a major and a game misconduct for the play.

Talbot fell awkwardly, and while Pouliout only gave him a shove, the real sin committed by the Rangers' forward was that the hit was from behind. If you can see numbers, back off. Especially when rapidly closing in on the boards. That's what the NHL has been preaching all season, and because of it, expect Pouliot to lose some pay over the hit.

For the record, Talbot continued to play and didn't blame Pouliot, saying that he didn't even feel the hit. “I can’t really skate that well, so I may have stumbled on my feet,” Talbot said, according to CSN Philly’s Sarah Baicker. “I didn’t feel like I got pushed or anything.”

The video shows Pouliot clearly trying to slow Talbot down as he is falling, and that is certainly a mitigating circumstance. His hit was nothing like the malicious blindside hit that John Scott put on Eriksson on Tuesday, but nevertheless Pouliot did show a lack of control in hitting Talbot when he had his back turned to him.

In case you missed it, here is the Scott hit on Eriksson:

Roy Likes Stastny at Center, Regardless of Contract Year

He may have been a goalie in his playing days, but Avalanche first-year head coach Patrick Roy knows a good team's foundation is built on it's centremen.

With Avs center Paul Stastny in his contract year and Colorado stacked at center, Roy tells the Denver Post's Adrian Dater that doesn't mean that the 27-year-old will become trade bait by the end of the season.

"It's a beautiful problem to have," Roy said. "I'd rather deal with this than having no centers. Honestly, it hasn't been a problem so far. Everybody is having their share of ice time. We're very lucky. You look at all the teams at the top of the standings, they all have three very good centers and four good lines. When you build a team, you want to build it (up) the middle."
Stastny is currently earning $6.6 million, and could become a No. 1 center for a lot of NHL teams. The Avalanche, with prolific Matt Duchene and up-and-coming Nathan MacKinnon in the fold, might not see him as No. 1.

Roy is more concerned with getting Stastny to shoot the puck than what will become of his contract at the end of the year.
"I'm very happy with Paul," Roy said. "We had some fun (Thursday) morning, because I like to see him shooting more. On the power play, he passed on almost an open-net situation, but this is the way Paul is. He's a center who loves to pass the puck. This is a line (with Gabe Landeskog and Alex Tanguay) that we have to remind them, 'One of you will have to shoot at one point if you want to score a goal.' But he has a good view of the game and loves to talk about the game."

Vid: Kings, Coyotes Play Wild One, Dwight King Gets First Career Hat Trick

Why are we watching Kings-Coyotes highlights? Because this was the game of the night on Thursday. Almost every goal is pure brilliance. Watch at the :22 mark (***see video above***) when Kings center Anze Kopitar flicks a behind-the-back pass to get the Primary assist on Dwight King's goal. It is magic.

The Kings blew a 4-0 lead and eventually won 7-4.

Even the empty netter, which gave King his first career hat trick, was solid (it's not ideal finishing a hat trick with an empty netter, but c'est la vie).

Here's a great quote from Kings' coach Darryl Sutter that I came across on the L.A. Times Kings coverage:

"Good thing they didn't kick a field goal on the last play of the game."

Watch Steven Stamkos Turn on the Jets against Chicago

It's not the smoothest or the most dramatic. But it is awesome. Tampa Bay's 23-year-old Center Steven Stamkos has seven on the year, to go with seven assists.

Stay with the video for the secondary angles and you will be rewarded.

Jonathan Toews Performs a Jedi Mind Trick on Radko Gudas

Tough loss on Thursday for the Chicago Blackhawks, who fell in Overtime to Tampa Bay, 6-5.

Other than Tampa's win, the story of the game was Jonathan Toews' unassisted game-tying goal for Chicago. Evidently, Toews put a hex on Lightning Defenseman Radko Gudas, and the curse (street name: Jedi Mind Trick) actually caused Gudas to score on his own goalie as if possessed by the devil or Ken Daneyko.

***See video above.***

But Gudas broke the curse in overtime, assisting on the winner by rifling a snap shot that Martin St. Louis deposited in the twine at 1:16 (his 5th goal of the season) after collecting up the big rebound.

Tampa Bay improves to 6-3 with the win.

Chicago is 6-1-3.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Luongo Gets the Best of Cory Schneider as Canucks Down Devils

The Devils lost 3-2 in a shootout against Vancouver in the first meeting of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider since Schneider was shipped off to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick in the off-season.

It was a long-running soap opera in Vancouver, in which Luongo, originally the man, became the non-man, and Schneider, originally a back-up, became the man. Or were they both the man? Or was neither? At times it was hard to tell, as it always is in a goaltending controversy.

The media made much of this, but as Schneider said this summer it wasn't really a divisive situation between the two talented netmiders:

"I don't think it was as bad as everyone made it out to be," Schneider said. "It wasn't like this was something that took over our team in any way. It was something Roberto and I had to deal with, but we're both professionals and we get along and we enjoy each other, so it wasn't as hard for us as maybe some other people. But I think ideally you'd like to have verification and a defined role on your team."

That said, it doesn't mean that they didn't want to beat their old teams badly on Thursday, and Schneider was hard on himself after giving up a few soft goals to allow Vancouver to force the extra session. “Not a very good one by me,” Schneider said. “Just two real bad goals that cost a point. We should’ve never went to a shootout. No disrespect to Vancouver, I thought I kind of gave them two goals there. (Luongo) made some big saves in the third, they hung around and won the shootout.

“So, it’s my fault we lost the point tonight.”

He's right. There's pretty much no defending either of these goals.

The Devils fall to 1-5-4 after ten games, and Schneider took it hard. “We played great, we deserved to win. Those guys worked their butts off and played mistake-free hockey,” Schneider said. “I made two mistakes and they both end up in the back of the net. It’s unacceptable on my part."

Bruins Score with :01 Left to Hand San Jose First Loss

The NHL's last undefeated team went down tonight in Boston, but not before taking it to the wire in a battle of two of the best teams in their respective conferences.

David Krejci scored on a deflection of Adam McQuaid's point shot with :01 remaining to hand the San Jose Sharks their first loss of the season.

Patrick Marleau had tied things up just :18 into the period, but it wasn't meant to be for San Jose, who falls in regulation for the first time in its first ten games.

The Sharks drop to 8-1-1 with the loss, while the Bruins improve to 7-2. Tukka Rask stopped 38 of 39 Shark shots in the win, while Antti Niemi stopped 15 of 17.

Is Cody Hodgon's Power Play Marker a Cheap Goal?

We've never figured out why the NHL allows this type of goal. In our opinion it's cheap, as Cody Hodgson directs the puck into the net with his skate (and clearly intends to do it). No, their is no distinct kicking motion, so the rules allow it, but should it be legal to score this way? We don't think so.

Goals are meant to be scored by shooters. Goalies have it hard enough, dealing with deflections, screens and getting run out of their crease by freewheeling scorers. They shouldn't have to see their GAA's inflate on this type of goal.

Agree or disagree?

Flames' Sean Monahan Staying Put in Calgary

He's their third-leading scorer and he's a big reason why the upstart Calgary Flames are looking more like a playoff contender than most thought they would be.

Now, 19-year-old Sean Monahan is a full-fledged pro, too.

The Flames announced on Wednesday that Monahan would be staying with the big club, and thus be playing the first year of his three-year entry-level contract. It was a decision that was made purely for hockey reasons, said Flames' GM Jay Feaster told the Calgary Herald. With the blessing of ownership, the Flames made what they think is the right decision for the club and the player, not the bottom line. “They made it clear, ‘Don’t make what you’d perceive to be a financial decision... make a hockey decision,’” Feaster said Wednesday evening in the lobby of the team’s downtown hotel in Dallas, according to Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald. “That’s what we did. We’ve seen his skill. We’ve seen his smarts."

Monahan, a Brampton, Ontario native, just turned 19 on October 12th. Needless to say, the centerman was pleased with the Flames show of faith in him. "“Once I got the news, I was pretty excited,” said Monahan. “There’s still a lot more to come and I still have to prove myself.”

The Flames have been high on Monahan all year, but they reportedly didn't finalize their plans to keep him in the fold until after their four-game west-coast road trip. Feaster met with Monahan on Wednesday morning and asked him what he would do if he was in charge of the decision.

Monahan didn't hesitate to say: "keep me."

Feaster and the Flames don't want to rush Monahan, or burden him with expectations, but that didn't stop Feaster from tossing out a hefty comparison. “I don’t know who I would want to project him to be," he told the Calgary Herald. "But I know who he reminds me of in terms of his maturity, the way he carries himself, the seriousness, the studiousness... Brad Richards in Tampa. Brad was a real student of the game. He worked hard. He was a consummate pro. This guy reminds me of Brad in so many ways.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Alain Vigneault Says Rangers' Struggles Are More about Competing than System

Newsday's Steve Zipay reports that Rangers new head coach Alain Vignealt isn't happy with his team's level of competitiveness in its first seven games. The Rangers are 2-5 and have given up 29 goals and been outscored by 18 thus far this season. Zipay caught up with Vigneault after a recent Rangers' practice session to get this quote:
“There’s still some understanding on their part to be put together (on systems). That being said, our situation (2-5) right now, has in my estimation, a lot more to do with us competing better, competing harder, and having a push, when a push is needed on the ice. For whatever reason, it has not been there as consistently as it needs to be at the NHL level, hopefully we’ll be better…I’m new to this group…I had no expectations one way or another. I do know that my teams compete, my teams play hard and they’re hard to play against, and we haven’t been that way and it’s my responsibility to get it there.”

Doesn't sound like all is hunky-dory in New York.

To make matters worse, Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist is battling an undisclosed lower body injury and may miss Thursday's tilt against the Flyers.

Oilers' Taylor Hall Expected to Miss Four Weeks

The Edmonton Oilers are off to a rough start in 2013, as they've limped out to a 2-6-1 start and are at the bottom of the barrel in the Pacific Division.

Now, they're limping even more.

The Oilers announced today that Taylor Hall will be out for four weeks after spraining his left knee ligament in a knee-on-knee collision with Ottawa's Eric Gryba.

Hall, who broke the Oilers' 32-year-old record for fastest two goals in a game against the Islanders last week, had three goals and five assists in nine games, good for a minus six.

It's not the first time the former No. 1 overall pick has missed substantial time due to injury. His rookie season was cut short when he sustained an ankle injury in a fight, and he had season-ending shoulder surgery in 2012. He's even been cut by a skate blade in warmups in 2012--that required 30 stitches.

“I don’t think it was a dirty play at all," Oilers GM Craig McTavish told the Edmonton Journal, "but Taylor plays a hard-driving, forceful game, and we have to try to help him find a way to stay more healthy, but when you play (that game) injuries quite often happen.” 

The Oilers will finish their six-game road trip tonight in Montreal.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Vid: Antti Niemi Robs Bertuzzi in Motown Shootout

Antti Niemi was the magic man between the pipes for the Sharks in Detroit tonight, and we've got video to prove it.

The 30-year-old Finland native made a save that Sharks' commentator Drew Rememda deemed every bit as awesome as Tomas Hertl's now famous between-the-legs goal against the Rangers earlier in the season. is asking readers if it's the save of the year.

It could be.

Niemi flicks up his right pad to make the miracle save while Bertuzzi has him dead to rights out wide in the last frame of the shootout.

After a scoreless tie led to a shootout, Logan Couture put the Sharks ahead in the final frame before Bertuzzi's stoning ended the Game.

The Sharks remain the NHL's lone unbeaten squad at 8-0-1 for the season.

Colorado Blanks Penguins Thanks to Jean Sebastien Giguere

Despite being outshot 34-14, the surging Colorado Avalanche did what they've done pretty much all season--win.

All the talk was on Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon before the game, but when it was over the hero was Jean Sebastien Giguere.

Crosby, MacKinnon: Hometown Boys to Clash

On the strength of a Gabriel Landeskog goal the Avs wiggled out of Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center with their fifth consecutive road victory, a 1-0 smother job over the Penguins on Monday.

The real hero? Giguere. Thanks to him, the Penguins have been shut out with Sidney Crosby in the lineup for the first time at the Consol Energy Center.

Is it any surprise that a Patrick Roy-coached team is leading with its goaltending, and leading the league in the standings?

Maybe it shouldn't be.

The Avalanche were poised and patient on Monday, protecting a 1-0 margin against an onslaught from Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz and Co. Those three Penguins tallied 19 shots, many of them in a frenzied final period, but time and time again it was the defensive commitment of the Avalanche that helped them stave off the Penguins.

When the defense failed, Jean Sebastien Giguere was letter perfect.

Thanks to that combo, the Avs are first in the Central Division at 8-1 after going 16-25-7 last season.

The Penguins peppered Jean Sebastien Giguere with 16 shots in the final stanza, finding numerous ways to crack the the Avs defense. But when they slipped behind the defense (or blazed through it), Pittsburgh couldn't bury the tying tally against Colorado's stifling netminder. Even the seven power play opportunities the Penguins forced went wasted against the 36-year-old Montreal Native.

While Giguere was doing his thing, it was the Avs captain who would provide the goalie with all he would need in the second period. Gabriel Landeskog's third of the season at 5:26 of the second came after he raced out of the penalty box following a hooking minor. On a harmless looking play, Landeskog's shot through a screen had eyes, clicking through a maze of sticks before it headed to the twine.

From that instant on it was primarily Pittsburgh pushing the envelope and Colorado swarming in the defensive end with a sense of purpose and practicality.

In the end, thanks to Giguere, the Avs stole away with the win.

"These guys have a lot of firepower," chirped Giguere after the game. "I knew it was going to be a difficult game for me. You have to be ready, you have to be on your toes. Luckily I felt really good tonight."

In three games, Giguere has a .67 GAA. In five games, the Avs other Goalie, Semyon Varlamov is 5-1 with a 1.67 GAA. With those gaudy numbers it's safe to assume that the Avs are the best defensive team in the league. At least for now. But can it last?

We will find out soon enough.

Dustin Penner Gets Knocked Out by Ryan Garbutt, Posts Vid to Twitter

Dustin Penner was the victim of a helmet-to-helmet collision during Anaheim's 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars, and he's not happy about it.

This from the L.A. Times:
In the second period, Ducks wing Dustin Penner was helped off the ice by Getzlaf, Perry and trainer Joe Huff after being knocked unconscious briefly by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Dallas' Ryan Garbutt, who could face NHL discipline Monday for the incident despite no penalty being called. Penner walked on wobbly legs to the dressing room and underwent a battery of tests that continued after the game with the team doctor, Craig Milhouse. As the Ducks were winning, Penner asked to see Garbutt's hit on him and viewed it several times — as NHL officials are expected to do to establish if Garbutt was targeting Penner's head and whether he left his feet at impact.

Penner evidently saw enough to be convinced that the hit was dirty, and he took to Twitter later in the evening to voice his views:

Naturally that led to a spirited debate, and, finally, this tweeted reply from Penner:

Garbutt will receive an in-person hearing with the NHL's Player Safety Council, which means he could face a suspension of six games or more. No penalty was called on the play.

Penner, meanwhile, might consider some media sensitivity training. Just sayin'.

Nathan MacKinnon Set to Face Sidney Crosby in Battle of Former No. 1's

Colarado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon hasn't been intimidated by the speed and physicality of the NHL in his first eight games, but when he faces his fellow Nova Scotia native Sidney Crosby tonight at the Consol Energy Center, that could change.

The two grew up in the same hometown and were both selected with the overall No. 1 pick in the NHL draft, but tonight they will be on opposite sides, as the 7-1 Penguins take on the 7-1 Avalanche in a heavily anticipated cross conference battle.

The No. 1 and No. 2 prides of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia have a lot of respect for one another. That's to be expected for MacKinnon, who has watched Crosby lead the Penguins to a Stanley Cup and take Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal, but Crosby is keenly aware of MacKinnon's talent as well.

"Obviously he skates really well, and I don't think you see too many young guys that can shoot the puck like he can in their first year," Crosby said. "I think he's got a great shot. I think he's got all the tools -- really good hands, he works hard, and he's not afraid to go into traffic areas and create chances that way. So I think he gives himself a lot of opportunities to create things."

MacKinnon is fourth among rookie scorers with seven points and he's been a solid plus-3 for the resurgent Avs in eight games. After two dominant seasons in the QMJHL, which included an MVP award in last year's Memorial Cup, MacKinnon has become a key contributor for Patrick Roy's team.

All Sidney Crosby has done is lead NHL scorers with 17 points as the Penguins have raced out to a sizable lead in the Metropolitan Division. But that's no surprise. When Crosby is healthy, he's the best in the game.

Will MacKinnon, who recently turned 18, help steepen the tradition of Cole Harbour by becoming a star in the NHL? Probably too early to tell, but all indications are that he might.

One thing's for certain, regardless of the outcome of tonight's tilt. Call it a victory for tiny Cole Harbour, Novia Scotia.

"Two first overall picks is mind-boggling," Cam Russell told Russell, who grew up in Cole Harbour and is now the general manager of the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the team MacKinnon played for the past two seasons, is at a loss when trying to explain it. "Nobody knows how to explain it," he said. "You've got a very humble community that doesn't want to take any of the accolades for it, but you've got players like Sidney and Nathan that are special, special kids, and it is in them to be the best at what they do, that determination and competitive fire. They have the world-class skill, but it is tough to get there without the right people around you and helping you out. There's a lot of people in Cole Harbour who have never gotten the pats on the back for helping all of us out."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jets' Defenseman Jacob Trouba Placed on IR after Scary Collision in Winnipeg

Photo: Tim Cambell, Winnipeg Free Press

After a scary collision on Friday night, Jacob Trouba was on his feet at the Winnipeg Jets practice facility on Saturday morning, albeit in a neck brace, which he will reportedly wear for two weeks.

Trouba, a highly regarded 19-year-old defensemen, went head-first into the boards last night during the Jets 4-3 shootout victory over the Blues, and was taken off on a stretcher and sent to the hospital for x-rays.

On Saturday, Trouba sent out this funny tweet, before talking to reporters in Winnipeg:

He says he'll need to wear the neck brace for two weeks, then have another go-round with doctors. "I’ve got to wear this for a couple of weeks and then get re-evaluated," Trouba told reporters. "That’s where we’re at right now."

Trouba said he was scared, but he probably could have gotten to his feet if it weren't for the caution of medical staff. "I think I was more scared than anything," Trouba said in this Winnipeg Free Press article by Tim Campbell. "I went in pretty hard. My neck was sore so they didn’t really want me to move it. I probably could have gotten up and skated off but they didn’t want me to move. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t, just to be careful."

The defenseman, who was the 9th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, couldn't quite explain how he got so tangled up along the boards on the play. He appeared to miss a check on Blues' Jordan Leopold, then fell violently into the boards and was unable to use his arms to protect his head along the boards. "I think I was trying kind of hit him with my hip and I just kind of, when I turned my right foot, caught his skate and didn’t really get around. I didn’t really have much time to react, kind of fell."

The Jets are calling the injury a neck sprain, and have replaced Trouba for the meantime with Adam Pardy from the team's AHL affiliate.

Vid: Marc-Andre Fleury Gives Up Goal from Center Ice against Canucks

Marc-Andre Fleury is 7-0 on the season.

It's a perfect record but it hasn't come without a few mistakes. Today, Fleury made his mistake early, by badly botching this 100-foot slapper from Canucks' Alexander Edler. Watch as the puck kicks up off his chest protector, bloops up over his head, lands behind him and spins over the goal line.

In the video (above) it actually looks like Fleury sees the puck. Clearly he didn't.

But not to worry, Fleury stopped the one the shot that counted on Saturday against Vancouver. When he denied Ryan Kesler in the shootout the Penguins had their fifth home win against zero losses, and Fleury had his 7-0 record despite this extremely soft goal.

Penguins Are 5-0 at Home after Shootout Victory over Vancouver

In a game that had a little bit of everything, the Pittsburgh Penguins had just enough to get by the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout on Saturday.

Evgeni Malkin beat Roberto Luongo with a backhand after a sweet deke, and Marc-Andre Fleury stoned Ryan Kesler's attempt to prolong the game, stacking the pads and bringing the Consol Energy Center crowd to its feet.

For Fleury the stop marks the 14th consecutive time that he has made the game-winning save when his Penguins have the chance to close out a shootout at home--a remarkable stat.

Pittsburgh, which has won all five of its home games this season, improves to 7-1 with a plus-12 goal differential. Fleury has won all seven games he has played.

Sidney Crosby turned in another fine performance for the Pens, notching his seventh goal (see below) in the first period, then adding his ninth and tenth assists on the next two Penguin tallies. Crosby leads the NHL with 17 points, which puts him on pace for about 170 for the season.

Vancouver drops to 5-3-1 with the loss, good for third in the Pacific Division.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Maxim Lapierre Suspended Five Games for Illegal Hit on Dan Boyle

Maxim Lapierre will receive a five game suspension for his violent hit from behind against Sharks d-man Dan Boyle, the NHL's Player Safety Department announced on Friday. The hit resulted in Boyle getting his jaw smashed into the boards and going unconscious on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Lapierre will forfeit $28,205.15 in pay. He already has served one game of the suspension.

Other than the fact Boyle flew back to San Jose and texted a journalist, nothing is known about the severity of his injuries.

Above you will see the hit that put Boyle in this state. It's a somewhat innocuous play from the beginning, but the single most important thing to note is that Boyle has his back to Lapierre, and Lapierre has several seconds to recognize this fact and tailor his body check to the situation.

Instead the Blues forward rubs Boyle out with a hard hit that sends the defenseman to the hospital. Now, it could be said that Boyle turned away from an oncoming forechecker on the play, and this is true. But what also must be noted is that Lapierre was aware of the the fact that Boyle had turned away, thus he had time to pull back instead of taking advantage of the fact that Boyle was exposed as an easy target.

Shanahan is clear to point this out in his assessment of the situation. He does a thorough job of explaining the mitigating circumstances, and then he hits Lapierre with the suspension. It's the right call, explained the right way, and it's out there as teaching fodder for anyone who is smart enough to pay attention.

If you can see the other players numbers, it's time to pull back on the hit. Hockey is rough enough without back-stabbing hits. We saw that with Jacob Trouba tonight. Whether or not Lapierre's intentions were malicious, the ultimate result was a severely injured and unconscious player that was hit from behind.

Vid: T.J. Oshie's Dazzling Shootout Goal

I wanted to post this clip from Thursday night's Hawks-Blues shootout, because T.J. Oshie's goal is a thing of beauty.

It was also the lone goal of Thursday's shootout that gave the Blues their second win in two tries against the Blackhawks this season.

Oshie's wizardry is second on this video clip (Kane's miss is first--that's pretty entertaining too). We at TSP highly recommend that you watch it if you like the art of the deke.

Oshie is a plus-.500 shootout scorer for his career and this goal demonstrates why.

Jets' Jacob Trouba Takes Gruesome Fall

There was good news for the Winnipeg Jets -- they defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in a shootout on Friday -- but the news was mostly bad. When Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba crashed clumsily into the boards during the second period at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, wrenching his neck and being carted off on a stretcher, the crowd went silent.

See the video above. ( showed many angles of the replay and it was not pretty.)

We've seen many violent hits this season, and I will write about Maxim Lapierre's hit and suspension in another post, but 19-year-old Trouba's (ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft) fall is the ugliest collision with the boards that we've seen all year. And there wasn't even a check on the play.

Trouba just got hung up and lost control. he gets in a race for the puck with Jordan Leopold, and at the last second he tries to cut behind the Blues defenseman and ends up losing his balance and catapulting himself into the boards.

Hopefully he's okay. Initial reports are that he's fine.

Update: According to a tweet from Scott Brown, the senior director of corporate communications for the Jets, Trouba has been taken to hospital for X-rays. “He is alert, communicating, and moving all limbs.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ottawa's Craig Anderson Makes Backward Save in Senators Win over Devils

Sens' netminder Craig Anderson made 42 saves in Ottawa's 5-2 victory over the reeling, winless Devils, but this backwards inside-pad save takes the cake. After playing the dump behind the net, Anderson gets caught on the wrong side of the cage, but his calm, cool and collected response more than makes up for the mistake.

The Senators improved to 3-2-2 with the win, while the Devils drop to 0-4-3.

Hall Scores Two Goals in Eight Seconds, Oilers Still Lose to Islanders

Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall broke one of Wayne Gretzky's scoring records on Thursday night in Long Island when he notched two tallies in eight seconds in the first period against the Islanders (Gretzky had two in nine seconds in 1981 to set the previous Oiler record).  

Hall scored his second and third goals of the season at 15:52 and 16:00 of the first to give Edmonton a 2-1 lead, but second period markers by Kyle Okposo and John Tavares helped the Islanders drop Edmonton to 1-6-1 on the season.

Hall also broke Gretzky's record for the fastest hat-trick to start a game in Oilers history last year, when he netted three goals in the opening 7:53 of a 4-0 victory over the Canucks in Edmonton. Gretzky had held the record since 1986, with a time of 12:38. 

The Islanders improved to 3-2-2 with the victory.

Lundqvist Blanks Caps Again

New York's 2-0 win over the Washington Capitals wasn't necessarily about Henrik Lundqvist, but the Rangers, when they are at their best, always are. That is why Lundqvist's third consecutive shutout against Washington was so important for New York on Tuesday. Must-win scenarios in October in the NHL are few and far between, but New York's tragic west coast trip has created an air of desperation around the squad already this season. They gave up 20 goals in a forgettable trio of games (and fell into last place after five games), and soon enough questions about the efficacy of new coach Alan Vigneault's defensive system have emerged.

At least for now, those questions are in remission.

Lundqvist stopped all 22 shots he faced, and the Swede has now stopped 84 consecutive shots against Washington, dating back to Mike Ribiero's overtime winner in game 5 of last year's series between the two teams.

The victory gives Lundqvist his 46th career shutout, and the Rangers, at least for now, can breathe a sigh of relief.

Lundqvist was crisp when he had to be, and his defense was stingy in front of him. The Rangers battled hard for pucks and position, eventually rallying behind John Moore's perfectly placed wrister at 12:05 of the second stanza. Less than two minutes later Ryan Callahan would finish the scoring with a goal from in close. The rest was about Lundqvist and the inspired Defense.

 "I felt like we came in here with a lot of confidence that we can beat them even though we've had a rough start," Lundqvist said.

The Rangers will cap off a nine-game, season-opening (doesn't quite seem far, does it?) road trip with three more games in the next ten days. The space between games should give them time to work out some ripples on practice ice. It's something they clearly need, in spite of tonight's win.

But there's no denying that Tuesday's win was a step in the right direction. Brad Richards, who had two assists, agrees. "Our [defensive] zone, our neutral zone, everything was a lot more in sync," Richards said on "You could tell we were on the same page a lot more tonight."

The Rangers improve to 2-4 on the season while Washington drops to 2-5. In the 8-team Metropolitan Division, only one team (Pittsburgh) is over .500.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sharks' Dan Boyle Okay after Night in Hospital in St. Louis

The San Jose Sharks remained unbeaten after trouncing the St. Louis Blues 6-2 on Tuesday night, but they lost one of their key cogs in their machine when Dan Boyle went down and out after this vicious hit by Maxim Lapierre.

Lapierre, who has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL and will likely be suspended because of the hit, received a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting Boyle from behind with his forearm during the first period on Tuesday. The former Canadien, Duck and Canuck is in his first season with the Blues.

The hit may not look that malicious, but the aftermath was scary, as Boyle lost consciousness. "He was shaking, his eyes were up at the roof," teammate Logan Couture said of Boyle. "We tried talking to him and he wasn't responding. I've never seen anything like it."

According to Couture, Lapierre, who was suspended four games in 2010 for a hit he put on then-Shark Scott Nichol, was jawing with the Sharks from the bench quite a bit before the incident. "After the first shift, he's yelling at us from their bench that he's coming after us, and then he does that," Couture said. "I don't even know. It's pretty gutless."

Boyle remained in a St. Louis hospital Wednesday afternoon, though he was expected to fly home to San Jose later in the day for further medical evaluation, wrote David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News.

During an exchange of texts with Pollack, Boyle sounded optimistic about his condition, though no medical reports have been released. "I'm OK. That was scary," Boyle texted. "Hopefully the symptoms will be very minor if any going forward."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Patrick Roy Ties Mario Tremblay for Best Coaching Record to Start an NHL Season

Patrick Roy and his Colarado Avalanche are on a roll.

The Roy-led Avalanche disposed of the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Tuesday night, marking a coaching milestone for the man many consider to be the greatest goalie in the history of the game. Roy's Avs have been near perfect all season, and even though red-hot goaltender Semyon Varlamov allowed two goals for the first time all season, Steve Duchene's pair of markers helped Colorado put Roy one game from owning the NHL's longest coaching winning streak to start a tenure at seven games.

Roy, who currently shares the record with his former coach and confirmed enemy Mario Tremblay, says he really doesn't care about it. "I don't care about the 7-0," Roy said. "That's what I said to the guys before the game. We have to take care of the things we can control. What we control is how well we play the game."

But his team, who have gelled nicely under their first-year coach, do care. "For him coming in as an NHL rookie coach, people really didn't know what he was capable of. We knew as a player but not as a coach," Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said of Roy. "He's done a great job, and we love playing for him."

Roy, who played for Mario Tremblay when he won the first six games of his tenure in 1995, has a well-documented disdain for Tremblay. Roy was left between the pipes in a blowout against the Red Wings that season until he allowed nine goals in the 11-2 thrashing that came from Detroit. Check out the video below--this was no small incident in Roy's career.

On Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings, Roy can eclipse Tremblay's record (and stick the ultimate pin in his Tremblay voodoo doll), and, more important, expand his team's burgeoning early-season lead over Chicago and St. Louis.

Patrick Kaleta Suspended 10 Games for Headhunting Jack Johnson

Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta, who has been fined or suspended six times in the last four seasons, including his last incident which occurred just 21 games ago on March 3 (when he was suspended 5 games for shoving New York Rangers Brad Richards into the boards) got a 10-game suspension from the NHL today.

See the video and hear NHL discipline Czar Brendan Shanahan's explanation above.

According to USA Today's Mike Brehm, Tuesday's suspension will cost Kaleta $152,439.

WATCH: Mike Green Lays a Huge Hit on Oilers Forward Jesse Joensuu (NOT)

We've heard of changing on the fly, but this missed check by Washington Capitals d-man Mike Green is surely not what the Caps had in mind. Watch as Green fails to recognize the fact that Oilers forward Jesse Joensuu has moved by the time he arrives, and tumbles face-first into his team's bench, prompting an impromptu line change.

Not to worry. Alexander Ovechkin tallied his sixth goal of the season later in the game, a nifty little one-timer from the slot to put the Capitals ahead 3-1, and Washington went on to get a home W against the reeling Oilers, 4-2.

Vigneault's Defensive Scheme Under Question After Rangers Horrid West Coast Trip

The New York Rangers have given up 20 goals in their last three games, put their backup goaltender on waivers, and will limp in to Washington to face the Capitals on Wednesday. So, what gives?

Is this just a bad start from a team that is going to eventually right the ship and make a push to be one of the top teams in the newly formed Metropolitan division, or are the Rangers in big trouble? Could it be the the Rangers actually miss their irascible, controversial former coach John Tortorella, and because they miss him so dearly, they haven't been able to warm up to Alan Vigneault?

 Reports are that the Rangers are having difficulty adjusting to the coaches' defensive scheme, which calls for more active patrolling of the corners by pairings, instead of keeping one d-man in front of the net at all times. According to NY Newsday's Steve Zipay, the scheme might have a lot to do with the Rangers' struggles thus far this season. "Some of the fault lies in new coach Alain Vigneault's scheme, which asks two defensemen to hunt in the corners, battle, recover and start the transition or clear the puck out of danger," writes Zipay. "A center often is deployed in front of the net." If this is the case, it's not only the d-men that have a new system to adapt to, it's also the Rangers' centermen.

 It's early yet, but the Rangers top six defensemen a combined minus-31, something is obviously not working. The Blueshirts minus-16 goal differential is by far the worst in the NHL after five games.

 The Rangers, 1-4, will look to right the ship in their sixth consecutive road game on Wednesday, when the take on the 2-4 Capitals.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Top 10: NHL Goals of the Week

Clearly, Tomas Hertl's freakishly good between-the-legs roof job against the Rangers takes the cake in this week's top ten goals, but there were plenty other wicked awesome goals to choose from. Check 'em all out above... We enjoyed Alex Hemsky's "artful display" at No. 5, because of the sheer casual nature of Hemsky's dipsy doodling. Thomas Vanek's between-the-legs one-timer, which came in at No. 3, wasn't too bad either, nor was Radek Dvorak's pitching wedge over the shoulder of Detroit's lunging netminder Jimmy Howard, which came in at No. 6. Even Phil Mickelson could like that goal.

Bobby Ryan Nets a Goal in Return to Anaheim

According to this USA Today piece, there may be five reasons why the Anaheim Ducks were right to trade Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators, but here is one reason why Bobby Ryan can feel good about coming back to visit his old club on Sunday at the Honda Center.

That reason? A one-timer just to the left of the doorstep to give Ottawa its lone goal on the evening.

Should we call it even? Not so sure...

Ryan netted one for the Sens, but his old linemates, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, combined for three of Anaheim's four tallies as the Ducks charged to a relatively easy 4-1 victory.

Ryan, a four-time 30-goal scorer for the Ducks, has three in five games for the Senators, but his production hasn't helped the Senators from falling to 1-2-2 on the season. The Ducks, meanwhile, are 4-1 without Ryan's services.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Krys Barch Goes Head over Heels in Panthers Home Opener

The Panthers notched a strong 6-3 victory over the previously undefeated Penguins in their home opener on Friday night, spearheaded by Brad Boyes third and fourth goals of the season, but temporarily the Panthers were head over heels when Penguins D-man Rob Scuderi layed this perfectly executed hip check on Krys Barch. It was enough to slow the Panthers down for a moment, but on this night the Panthers proved to be too good.

The Panthers improved to 2-3 on the season with the win, and bounce back from a horrendous effort the night before in which they were crushed by their interstate rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-2.

"Being their home opener, not having a great game last game, we all expected they would come hard," Sidney Crosby said after the game. "They didn't surprise us and we didn't take them lightly at all. We didn't execute well."

Tavares Pulls out Teeth on the Bench During Isles Loss to Blackhawks

The Isles were outplayed thoroughly in a 3-2 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on friday evening in Chicago, but the game wasn't all the Islanders lost. New York's star center John Tavares also lost a tooth (or two?) when he took a puck to the mouth during a scrum along the boards. Watch the video and see the Isles' captain pulling out a Chiclet on the bench, before returning to the ice without missing a shift.

Tavares, the NHL's third-leading goal scorer in 2012-2013, proved that a player can score goals and possess the toughness of a fourth-line checker in today's NHL (we've always known that, but it's still fun to point it out). That fact wasn't lost on a commenter on a the Islanders Point Blank hockey blog, who had the following to say about Tavares' toughness while taking a shot at the Islanders crosstown rivals in the same sentence:

"Rick Nash would of fainted and the training staff would of brought out a stretcher for him. Hey Nash learn from the BEST."

Tavares and his missing tooth will take on Nashville tonight.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Canucks' Edler Suspended Three Games for Headhunting Sharks' Tomas Hertl

It didn't take long for the San Jose Sharks' 19-year-old goal-scoring machine Tomas Hertl to become a marked man. Just one game after his ridiculous between-the-legs breakaway goal went viral on the internet, Hertl was kept off the scoresheet in Vancouver. But that didn't stop the Sharks from improving their NHL-best record to 4-0, with 4-1 victory over the Canucks, their second of the season.

It didn't stop the NHL from handing down stiff punishment to Edler, who is a second-time offender, either. Kudos to the NHL for that, and for providing us with a nifty little video to explain why Edler's hit was egregious (see above).

There was no penalty on the play and, thankfully, Hertl suffered no injury.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lamplighters: Bobby Ryan Gets His First Goal as an Ottawa Senator

Wednesday featured only three games in the NHL, but the Blackhawks-Blues tilt was a doozy which came down to our No. 1 goal of the night.

1. Steen Finishes off the 'Hawks in St. Louis

The Hawks were a little too gung-ho in the Blues' end and ended up give up a three-on-one in the waning moments of their battle in St. Louis. Alexander Steen took care of the rest, rifling this one through the pads of a disgruntled Corey Crawford. Final score? Blues, 3, Hawks 2. The Blues remain undefeated and atop the Central division at 3-0 (tied with Colorado).

2. Bobby Ryan's First of the Season:

Bobby Ryan netted his first marker as an Ottawa Senator with this nice wrister through a screen that catches the roof. Ryan also scored the first of his 148 career NHL goals against L.A.

3. A Rocket By Subban Sparks the Habs.

P.K. Subban makes this one-timer off a nice feed from Max Pacioretty look easy, but this laser nearly ripped a hole in the twine. Sadly, for Les Canadiens, it wasn't enough to get them over the hump against the undefeated Flames. Yes, that's right, I said undefeated Flames. They are 2-0-2 and tied with Vancouver and San Jose atop the Pacific with six points.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tomas Hertl's 4th goal against the Rangers is Mindblowingly Awesome

I used to hate hot-diggity-dog-diggity moves like this, until I realized that today's NHL'ers are actually good enough to make these moves work as bona fide goal-scoring plays.

What 19-year-old Tomas Hertl did against the New York Rangers and poor, poor Martin Biron for his 4th goal of the game and 6th of the season was just plain ridiculous. We already had our top three goals of Tuesday's action posted before this humdinger sent the Shark Tank crowd into a frenzy. But Hertl's between-the-leg beauty, pulled off at warp speed, makes all of our top three look like bantam hockey.

Have a look:

Hertl is now the youngest NHLer to score four in a game since 1988 and the first Shark to ever score five--let alone six--in his first two career games. In short, Watch out for this kid...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lighting the Lamp: Jokinen Skate to Stick, Staal Miracle Deflection

Our top three tallies from October 8th's NHL action:

1. Jussi Enough:

We'll start out in Pittsburgh where Jussi Jokinen made a pretty play on a pass from Sidney Crosby to put the Pens up 1-0 against his former team. The goal is great but what where is the Carolina defense on the play? What, is this flag football?

The Pens are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since '94-'95.

2. Staal's Blind Deflection This is a great goal. A lucky goal, but a great goal.

3. Sweet Puck Movement by Isles Trio

The chip pass up the middle to spring speedy Michael Grabner was sweet, but the give-and-go that Frans Neilsen and Josh Bailey clicked on was sublime. It's almost too fast to catch on video...