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Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:52 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 11:46 am
 

Andrei Kostitsyn traded to Nashville

PredatorsCanadiensBy: Adam Gretz

Reunions seem to be the theme of the week in the NHL.

After the Los Angeles Kings reunited long-time teammates Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, the Nashville Predators have reunited the Kostitsyn brothers after acquiring Andrei Kostitsyn from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2013 second-round draft pick, as well as the conditional draft pick that Montreal sent to Nashville last week in the Hal Gill trade.

This move, of course, will reunite Andrei with his brother, Sergei, as the two were teammates in Montreal between 2007 and 2010. The Canadiens acquired Sergei following the 2009-10 season in a deal that sent Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd to Montreal.

In 53 games this season for the Canadiens Kostitsyn (Andrei) has scored 12 goals to go with 12 assists, and for his career has been a player that you can usually pencil in for 20 goals over the course of a full season. Going to Nashville worked out quite well for his brother and perhaps the change of scenery and getting away from the constant circus that is Montreal will have a similar impact here.

Given the price it took to make this happen, it's definitely a worthwile risk for Nashville.

Also at Eye On Hockey

Complete 2012 Trade Deadline Coverage

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:13 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:14 am
 

Capitals place Nicklas Backstrom on LTIR

CapitalsBy: Adam Gretz

As of 10 ET on Monday, the most interesting news to come out of trade deadline day was the fact that the Washington Capitals placed center Nicklas Backstrom on the long-term injured list, opening up additional cap space which could make the Capitals a candidate to make a big move ahead of the 3 ET trade deadline.

Backstrom hasn't played for the Capitals since Jan. 3 when he suffered a concussion on a hit by then-Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque, and his return at this point is still very much uncertain. Even though he's missed over 20 games this season Backstrom is still the second-leading scorer on the team with 42 points in 38 games, only six points behind Alex Ovechkin.

If he doesn't return for the remainder of the regular season the Capitals can add a significant salary in any potential trade and still bring Backstrom back (if he's ready at that point, of course) for the postseason where the salary cap is no longer in place.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:16 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:20 am
 

Morning Skate: close to a must win for Ducks, Avs

Ducks

By: Adam Gretz


The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

Playoff Race

DucksAvalanche9 PM, Anaheim vs. Colorado

All eyes will be on the NHL trade deadline on Monday, but it's also a huge day in the NHL playoff race.

It's hard to say a game at this point in the season is a "must win" for any team, but if the Anaheim Ducks are going to find a way to pull off this miraculous comeback (and that's really what it would be) to make the playoffs they're going to have to win games like this, against one of the many teams they're still chasing. Preferably in regulation. The Ducks enter Monday's game in Colorado four points behind the Avalanche in the standings, and still six points behind Dallas for the No. 8 (and final) playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Anaheim is coming off yet another win on Sunday night, knocking off the Blackhawks by a 3-1 margin, and have won seven of its past 10 games. Despite all of the Ducks wins over the past month-and-a-half it's been difficult for them to gain any significant ground or move up in the standings. With a win on Monday the Ducks can jump ahead of the Minnesota Wild to move into 12th place in the West.

It's still going to take a ton of work, and Monday's game is one of the big ones.

It's also a big game for the Avs, who also remain in the jumbled mess that is the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race, and a win could move them into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot.

PredatorsKings8 PM, Los Angeles vs. Nashville

Another team that could move into a tie on Monday night? The Los Angeles Kings, fresh off their 4-0 win on Saturday night in what was Jeff Carter's debut with the club. He didn't make an impact on the scoreboard, but Dustin Brown stepped up after his name was mentioned in trade rumors, recording a hat trick and a four-point game.

It was only the fourth time in their past 17 games that the Kings, the lowest-scoring team in the league, scored more than three goals in a single game. So that was a bit of a rarity, and perhaps a sign that the addition of Carter, a top goal-scorer in the NHL over the past few years, can open some things up for other players on the team. If nothing else, it was a nice start.

It's going to get a bit tougher on Monday night as they head into Nashville to face Pekka Rinne and the always stout Predators defense, and a team that's still fighting for potential home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

This is also the first of three meetings for these teams over the next three weeks. So they better get familiar with one another.

BluesFlames9 PM, St. Louis at Calgary

After losing four of their past five, including a shootout loss against Philadelphia on Saturday, a game that saw them blow a 3-0 lead, the Calgary Flames could really use a win on Monday night when the St. Louis Blues come to town. And while a matchup with the Blues, one of the top teams in the West, doesn't seem like a favorable matchup to get back in the W column, the Blues have done most of their damage this season on home ice.

On the road, where they will be on Monday to continue what is a four-game road trip, they've been a losing team this season and carry a 12-13-3 record into Calgary, which is the second worst road record (behind only Chicago) among the current playoff teams in the West.

Others worth watching

7:30 ET, New York Rangers vs. New Jersey: It's always fun when the Rangers and Devils get together and they continue their rivalry on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. The Devils have won two of the first three meetings this season.

8:30 ET, Winnipeg vs. Edmonton: With a win against Edmonton the Winnipeg Jets can, once again, take over first place in the back-and-forth crazy world that is the NHL's Souteast Division.

Your promised miscellany
Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:03 pm
 

Reports: Rangers no longer in Rick Nash chase

Columbus fans might get their wish ... for the remainder of this season at least. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

It looks like those fans at Madison Square Garden last weeks changint "We don't want you!" to Rick Nash are going to get their wish. At least for now, they aren't.

Multiple outlets reported on Sunday that the Rangers, long seen as the favorite to swing a deal for Nash if he were dealt before the trade deadline on Monday afternoon, are out of the race. They just weren't willing to bend to the Blue Jackets' insistent asking price.

Here's more from Katie Strang of ESPN New York.

Barring a drastic change, a deal to bring the prized winger to New York does looks unlikely, a source told ESPNNewYork.com

The Rangers were believed to be the front-runners for the former No. 1 pick whose availability has dominated trade talks in the days leading up to the deadline, but New York does not appear to be willing to concede to Columbus' demands.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson's asking price for the franchise player is reportedly significant; according to multiple reports he is asking for a roster player, top prospect and a first-round pick, if not more.

All along the rumors had it that the Jackets wanted either Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh or Derek Stepan and the Rangers weren't going to surrender any of those players. It was a stalemate and neither was willing to cave.

The asking price for Nash has always been high in this saga. Not that you can blame Columbus GM Scott Howson for staying so demanding in it all, mind you. But to make it a bit laughable, Darren Dreger of TSN says that that high price has actually gone up.

NHL Trade Deadline
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This Nash saga has gone back and forth a lot. When his agent spoke up for the first time about the rumors, it sounded like the urgency was being put on the Jackets to get a deal done sooner rather than later. Then a contender falls by the wayside and the cost reportedly goes up.

It would appear to leave the Maple Leafs and possibly the San Jose Sharks in the conversation. There is also the possibility of dark horses in the Predators and maybe even the Flyers. But really it doesn't seem like the Jackets are going to find a deal that's amenable to them and Nash to where he'll be dealt on Monday.

Then again, who knows? We'll just have to wait and see by 3 ET on Monday.

More from Eye on Hockey

Nash: "I'm a Blue Jacket today"
Nash's agent speaks, Preds trying to get in

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 10:34 pm
 

Winners & Losers: Stars, Wild get comeback wins

By Brian Stubits

There's always a winner and a loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.

Winners

1. Dallas Stars

Talk about a huge two points. The Stars were down 2-0 to the NHL-best Vancouver Canucks, down 2-1 with less than a minute to play in Dallas. Insert Mike Ribeiro with the tying goal and the Stars had themselves a point. Dallas then picked up the second point on a Loui Eriksson tally in overtime.

They went from picking up nothing to gaining a huge two points. That moved them out of the logjam that is the race for eighth in the Western Conference and into a playoff spot by their lonesome. It also brings Dallas to within three points of the Pacific Division-leading Phoenix Coyotes. And yet this team is still on the fence about buying or selling?

As an extra note, saw this on the Stars broadcast during the game. Going back to 2006, the Canucks were 183-3-12 when leading over two periods. Make that 183-3-13.

[Related: Stars 3, Canucks 2 (OT)]

2. Minnesota Wild

Unlike the eighth seed race in the East where nobody seems to be able to step up and take it, the West is getting carnivorous, in a good way. The Wild, absolutely having to beat the San Jose Sharks to keep any hope of staying in the race alive pulled off their own late comeback.

When Brent Burns slapped home the go-ahead goal with less than 10 minutes left against his old team in his old barn, you had the feeling that it was going to be the dagger. The all-too painful dagger based on the circumstances.

Then Matt Cullen tied it up with his third goal in the last four games. OK, a point is looking good. Unless Jed Ortmeyer tips one in for his first goal in almost two calendar years. Seriously, it was his first goal since March of 2010. Granted, it was only 22 games, but still. Talk about timing.

The task is still tough, especially with every team in the Pacific Division deciding it wants to catch fire right now except for the Sharks, but they remain at that magical five-point mark behind in the race for the playoffs.

[Related: Wild 4, Sharks 3] | McLellan OK after scary incident

3. Robin Lehner, Ottawa Senators

When Craig Anderson went down for an undetermined amount of time, people wondered if the Sens weren't going to fall like a rock. They've been riding Anderson hard all season long.

Well that precipitated the recalling of Lehner from the AHL and he responded well. Particularly on the day that the Sens went out and acquired another goaltender who presumably is going to be getting playing time down the stretch in Ben Bishop.

The Islanders might have scored three in the loss, but don't read too much into it from Lehner's end. He was good enough to make a good impression.

[Related: Senators 5, Islanders 3 | Sens get Bishop from St. Louis]

4. Martin St. Louis

He gets the award as the top performer of the day with his hat trick for the Lightning in their win over the Devils in New Jersey. It was his second trick this season, in fact.

With Florida's win, the Lightning didn't gain any traction in the Southeast race and are still eight points out. But what it tells you is that the Lightning are going to be one aggressive spoiler down the stretch. They have been playing much better of late but it's likely going to prove to be too little too late. That doesn't mean they won't have an impact on the rest of the playoff race.

[Related: Lightning 4, Devils 3]

Losers

1. Southeast Division chasers

The Florida Panthers began the day already tied for first place in the division and they had games in hand on the chasing Jets and Capitals. For the second straight night, the rest of the division was able to get excited to see Florida down 2-0 in the game. And for the second straight night, the Panthers overcame that 2-0 deficit to pull out two points against the Montreal Canadiens.

After being honored pregame for becoming the Panthers franchise's all-time games played record holder, Stephen Weiss took the celebration two steps further, potting two scores as the Panthers dominated after giving up the second goal and won really going away, 4-2.

They became the last division leader to hit 70 points to move two points up on the Jets, three on the Caps. They still have played three fewer than Winnipeg and one less than Washington. This is why those games in hand can be so big, but only if you convert them into points.

[Related: Panthers 4, Canadiens 2]

2. Chicago Blackhawks

For the first time in 40 chances, the Blackhawks finally scored a power-play goal. It came from Patrick Kane, who has struggled himself to score this season, no less. That was pretty much the end of the good news.

The Ducks got the benefit of the doubt when Andrew Cogliano was awarded a goal after a very long review where it appeared he might have kicked the puck in. Did he hit it with his stick? It looked like he could have, but there was no indisputable proof that Cogliano legally played it after or not. Still, Cogliano was given the game-tying goal and Anaheim went on for the win.

The bad news for the Ducks, the teams that were in action that they're chasing each won. That's why it's so hard for them to overcome this deficit. Despite a big win over Chicago, they remained six points out of the playoffs.

Light-hearted moment of the night

We're adding this section tonight just to share this video from the Canucks-Stars game and coach Alain Vigneault cracking up uncontrollably on the bench.

Kevin Bieksa is seen giving a good chuckle too. Apparently it was in response to Vernon Fiddler's awesome Bieksa impression.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 7:25 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 7:47 pm
 

Sharks coach McLellan leaves game after being hit

McLellan was apparently responsive after the fall. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

There was a pretty scary moment in the second period of the Sharks' game in Minnesota on Sunday against the Wild. The cameras for FSN Minnesota didn't catch what happened, just everybody on the Sharks bench standing and looking awfully concerned.

Soon after coach Todd McLellan was seen coming to his feet then being helped down the tunnel back to the team's locker room.

The news came from the Sharks PR that McLellan was hit in the head by a stick on the bench accidentally. It might not sound like it, but seems like pretty good news. Of all the possibilities, that seems to be as good as you could have hoped. The Sharks PR said that he was alert and responsive in the locker room.

A little more detail from the Sharks PR.

The scene was very scary to behold with paramedics coming across the ice with a stretcher in case it was needed. So it was a great sight to see McLellan walking off the bench, even if it was with some assistance.

The Sharks are finishing up a long road trip that has seen them on the road for nine games and about two weeks. The game against the Wild was their last one before finally returning back to California. Especially after this, that plane can't get back to San Jose quick enough for the Sharks.

It's been a rough month or so for NHL coaches. Buffalo's Lindy Ruff suffered a couple of broken ribs at a Sabres practice and has been wearing a flak jacket since on the bench. Edmonton's Tom Renney suffered a concussion when he was hit with a puck.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 5:33 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 7:47 pm
 

Nash: 'I'm a Blue Jacket today'

Jackets fans in Pittsburgh make their plea on Sunday. (Getty Images)

By: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- During the pre-game warmups at the Consol Energy Center on Sunday afternoon, in advance of their 4-2 loss to the Penguins, a collection of Blue Jackets fans assembled along the glass and made what can only be described as a desperate, hail mary attempt to persuade the Columbus front office to not trade their captain -- and best player -- Rick Nash.

It's not going to have any impact on what happens over the next 24 hours, of course, but you certainly can't blame them for making the effort.

You also can't blame Nash if he's simply ready for Monday's 3 PM trade deadline, no matter what happens (if anything happens), to come and go, ending what has been three weeks of speculation, rumors and, well, at times complete insanity.
NHL Trade Deadline
More NHL coverage

He had no interest in addressing questions as to whether or not Sunday's loss, a game that saw him score a shorthanded goal in the second period, would be his final one in a Columbus sweater, the only one s ever worn during his first eight-plus years in the NHL.

He offered "no comment" when asked if he agreed with his agents recent statement about it possibly being for the best if a trade is completed sooner rather than later.

And who knows, at this point, even if he won't admit it, it might be for the best if something does happen sooner rather than later.

His agent already made it clear that the list of teams that he will accept a trade to will not grow in the offseason, so the list of potential trade partners for Columbus isn't going to change.

The Blue Jackets, owners of the worst record in the NHL through the first five months of a season that, at its best, can only be described as a complete  disappointment, are already in what appears to be an everything-must-go fire sale mode. Over the past week alone the team has traded forwards Antoine Vermette (to Phoenix) and Jeff Carter (to Los Angeles), seemingly selling them off at their lowest possible value, perhaps before they had to, blowing up the ship in a season that has been crushed by inconsistent (or just plain bad) goaltending, injuries, and performances that have fallen below expectations.

At this point it's hard to imagine the Blue Jackets, Nash or no Nash, making much of a push next season especially in a division that already houses some of the best teams in the NHL (Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis), which would just be another year in what has been a never-ending cycle for Nash and the Jackets.

Through it all, he has certainly been a patient man over the past nine years in Columbus, easily the best player in franchise history and one of the few consistent bright spots for a team that has made the postseason just one time in its existence.

It's still not known what's going to happen before Monday, but everybody involved has taken pretty much the same approach as the waiting game continues -- for now, he's still a Blue Jacket.

"It's been a great time living in Columbus," said Nash on Sunday. "I'm a Blue Jacket today and we're going to do everything we can to move forward as a team. Like I said the other day, these fans deserve a winning team. They're the ones that have been the most patient."

His head coach, Todd Richards, said pretty much the exact same thing.

"Rick Nash is part of our team," said Richards. "Right now he's a Columbus Blue Jacket. Twenty-four Hours from now that might be a different story but right now he's a Columbus Blue Jacket and you treat him as one of our players."

For as long as he is one of their players, of course.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:03 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 6:00 pm
 

Turris not suspended for high hit on Corvo

By Brian Stubits

Brendan Shanahan was not all that busy with Kyle Turris as Bruins play-by-play man Jack Edwards predicted on Saturday night.

Ian Mendes of Sportsnet reported on Sunday afternoon that Turris is going to be in the lineup for the Sens' visit to the Islanders on Sunday. it was made official by Brendan Shanahan later Sunday with an official statement.

“Because there was enough head contact on this hit, the Department of Player Safety felt it was necessary to convene a hearing to examine the play further,” NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan said. “After reviewing the video extensively as we heard Turris' explanation of how the play developed, we concluded that the head was not targeted intentionally or even recklessly and that the circumstances surrounding the hit contributed significantly to the amount of head contact that resulted.

“We therefore have decided that there will be no supplemental discipline added to the penalty assessed on the play.”

Edwards was pretty incensed with a hit that the Senators' Turris laid on Joe Corvo down in the corner. It seemed to be for good reason, too. At least I thought.

This is the type of play that I think takes away from the clarity that had been coming with the explanations this season. I've watched all the videos Shanahan has released this season for suspensions and I can't quite make sense of why this isn't worthy of at least a game, even with Shanny's explanation. I just really dislike the idea of judging a player's intent. Of course every player is going to stay it wasn't their intent.

Shanahan later spoke to NHL.com about the decision, going into much greater detail. It's really interesting to read it all, but here's a taste.

"The hearing is an exercise in getting more specific information," Shanahan told NHL.com on Sunday after the decision was rendered not to issue any supplemental discipline to Turris. "We know and understand the perspective of the player is to get himself out of any supplemental discipline. No player lies down and says give me something. But, on the closer calls like this one, it's important for us to hear from the players' perspective on the play and it has an influence on our decision. It shows that at 10, 11, or midnight we don't just make up our minds and it's final.
 
"We also feel we owe it to the player that has gotten the hit to the head," he continued. "Even if he doesn't like the end result, I think it's important that they know the thoroughness involved, that we put a halt to our day and we're not sweeping it under the rug. We're trying to be as thorough as possible with each and every case."

I'm admittedly on the pacifist side when it comes to fighting, but this is one time when I'm OK with it still being in the game. I've argued that with the league punishing these players now more than they have before, it wasn't as necessary. Well, the Senators and Bruins are about to meet again Tuesday in Boston and you can rest assured that it will be your classic "chippy" contest.

More NHL Discipline news

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com