Tag:Montreal Canadiens
Posted on: September 26, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Daily Skate: Avalanche's Yip out 4-6 weeks

By Brian Stubits

LOSING THE YIPS: The Colorado Avalanche will be opening up the regular season with Brandon Yip on the sidelines after breaking a forearm this weekend against the Blues. He will miss 4-6 weeks. Avs defenseman Jan Hejda is also dealing with a setback, 2-4 works after suffering a knee injury in the same game. (Denver Post)

WHAT'S HIS NAME: Tomas Fleischmann is new to the Florida Panthers, and it showed over the weekend. Check out the jersey that he was sporting in the team's home game against the Lightning. (For those who can't see, it spells F-L-E-S-I-C-H-M-A-N-N) I guess the people in charge of putting names on jerseys didn't brush up on their offseason acquisition list. (Getty Images via Litter Box Cats)

SCOTT'S SCARE: Scott Hartnell played only nine minutes of the Flyers' game against the Red Wings over the weekend because of a heart scare. During the intermission it was discovered he had an elevated heart rate that didn't slow down during the break. A checkup on Saturday showed things were normal, but he will still be evaluated by a cardiologist. (flyers.nhl.com)

SUTERWATCH STARTS: It's almost another full year before free agency begins again, but fans in Nashville are already holding their collective breath. In addition to Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber, Ryan Suter doesn't have a deal for 2012-13 and LeBron James-like quotes aren't helping soothe the anxious Predators fans. (Pred Gold)

HEIDI STRIKES AGAIN: While it wasn't exactly the movie interrupting a regular-season NHL game, but it's close enough. In Montreal the television feed pulled away from the game just moments before Scott Gomez scored the winning goal. It is the latest positive step in a good preseason for the much-maligned Gomez. (Montreal Gazette)

MORE, PLEASE: The biggest concern for this season in Columbus has to be the situation in net for the Blue Jackets. Chris Mason hasn't exactly kept up his rookie form that saw him win the Calder Trophy in 2008-09. But optimism is rising in camp that a return to form might be coming for Mason. (Columbus Dispatch)

MEET MIKA: Branding is the big thing for athletes these days, you have to find a way to sell your "brand." Well Senators rookie Mika Zibanejad is already getting started. Take a look at his personal web site. Not too bad for a guy who hasn't played a game in the NHL yet. (Senators Extra)

OH BOY O'BERTO: Red Wings veteran Todd Bertuzzi is becoming a shootout star. Just check out his latest move on a hapless goaltender, going between his legs to pass it back up to himself and back-handing the puck into the net.

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

Posted on: September 22, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 5:48 pm
 

Breakout players: JVR ready to shine in Philly

Vanr1

By: Adam Gretz

There are plenty of new faces in the Philadelphia Flyers locker room this season, and they are going to have the difficult task of replacing the offensive production that belonged to several of last season's top-scorers that are no longer with the team, including Mike Richards (traded), Jeff Carter (traded) and Ville Leino (free agency). Players like Danny Briere and Claude Giroux are still there to help lead the charge, and big things are expected from 2007 No. 2 overall pick James van Riemsdyk.

The 22-year-old van Riemsdyk is entering his third season in the league and signed a brand new six-year, $26.5 million contract extension earlier this summer, coming off a 21-goal, 19-assist season for the Flyers in 2010-11. Solid numbers for a second-year pro, but it was during the playoffs where he really started to excel. Considering the expensive new deal he signed a couple of months ago, it's pretty obvious the Flyers expect him to continue his development and become a top player in a suddenly re-tooled Flyers lineup. And it's something he should be able to do.

Van Riemsdyk's breakout started during last year's playoffs when he played top-line minutes against Buffalo and Boston, typically against their best players, and finished tied for the team lead in playoff goals with seven. Along with the goals he was arguably the Flyers' best overall forward in the playoffs, making an impact every time he stepped on the ice, even with star players like Richards and Carter still on the roster.

That should continue to be the case in 2011.

He's going to be asked to take on a larger role for the Flyers this season, and as he showed in last year's playoffs, when the game becomes a little faster and goals a little harder to come by, he is more than capable of handling that assignment. Thirty-or-more goals shouldn't be out of the question.

Four more players, in no particular order, that could be on the verge of a breakout season…

OshieT.J. Oshie, Blues A former first-round pick by the Blues in 2005, Oshie has had his ups and downs in St. Louis, including a suspension last season following an unexcused absence. He's reportedly shown up to Blues camp in top shape and has apparently dedicated himself to becoming more of a pro. Talent has never been an issue for the 24-year-old Oshie, and now that he appears to be in great shape and committed to becoming a top player, a breakout season could be right around the corner.


SubbanP.K. Subban, Canadiens With Andrei Markov's status for the start of the season up in the air due to a setback in his recovery from a knee injury, as well as the departure of Roman Hamrlik and James Wisniewski, Subban could quickly become the top offensive option for the Canadiens along the blue line. And the flashy 22-year-old definitely has the tools to make a huge impact. He's kind of a polarizing player at this point in his career -- among both fans and players -- and seems to have that "love him or hate him" attraction, but there's no denying the ability and upside. As a rookie he scored 14 goals to go with 24 assists, which is impressive enough, but he's capable of doing even more damage to opponents.

WilsonColin Wilson, Predators There is perhaps no team in the NHL that relies on its farm system more than the Nashville Predators. This year's team has a couple of interesting youngsters including Nashville native Blake Geoffrion, who scored six goals in 20 gameas last year, and Craig Smith, a fourth-round pick in 2009 that had a sensational summer at the World Championships and the recent prospects tournament. There's also former first-round pick Colin Wilson who has a ton of talent but has yet to fully realize it at the NHL level. Entering the final year of his entry level contract, this could be the season the 21-year-old forward becomes the player the Predators anticipated when they selected him at the top of the 2008 draft.


CarlsonJohn Carlson, Capitals Like Subban, Carlson is coming off an excellent rookie season with the Capitals and has All-Star level potential. He already has experience playing top-pairing minutes -- he also saw time in every situation, including the power play and the penalty kill  as a rookie -- and is loaded with offensive ability. One of the top young defensemen in the NHL and figures to be a core player for one of the best teams in the NHL.

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

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


Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:51 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 11:53 am
 

Daily Skate: Realignment decision needed by Dec.

By Brian Stubits

PROGRESS IN MOVING: In addition to getting the OK to on changes to the net and a goal verification line yesterday, the Board of Governors also opened up the discussion on realignment for next season. In order to prepare the schedule, they will need to make a decision by December. "Obviously we have to make arrangements to move Winnipeg west, and we had an opportunity to explore the issues," Commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL.com. "No conclusions were reached, but it's something I'm hopeful we can resolve at the December meeting."

NOT SO SHARP GLASS: With Zdeno Chara's check of Max Pacioretty into the stanchion in Montreal as the impetus for change, the glass at the Bell Centre has a new look to it. Instead of the sharp, 90 degree angle it was at before, it instead is rounded off, hoping to avoid another ugly incident. (@habsinsideout1)

STARTING OVER: Things hardly went well for Sheldon Souray in Edmonton, flaming out at the end of his career with the Oilers. But this offseason saw him make his way to the Stars where he gets another chance. “It’s not about finding extra motivation to go out and prove other people wrong. It’s about proving myself right.” (Montreal Gazette)

SOCIAL STUDY: The reactions continue to come in from players about the new social media policy the NHL adopted earlier this month. Numerous players on the Predators don't have any problems with it, helping to prove it was more of just a formality than anything Earth-shattering. (Puck Scene)

IS REIMER READY? It's a fair question to ask. The Toronto Maple Leafs are handing the torch over to their young goaltender for the start of this season. Nicholas J. Cotsonika takes a look at whether or not James Reimer is the real deal in Toronto or not. (Yahoo)

NHL'S TRIBUTE: The NHL has put together a video tribute that is being played before some of the preseasgon games, paying homage to all of the former NHL players who died this summer, including Wade Belak, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and all of those in the KHL plane crash. (On the Forecheck)

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

Posted on: September 15, 2011 9:51 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 10:07 pm
 

Markov's knee is still a concern

Markov

By: Adam Gretz

The Montreal Canadiens took a rather large gamble this summer when they signed veteran defenseman Andrei Markov to a three-year, $17.2 million contract extension.

It wasn't a gamble because he isn't worth that type of money in the current market as a point-producing defenseman and power play quarterback, but because he's entering his mid-30's and has missed significant playing time in each of the past two seasons, suffering two torn ACL's, the most recent of which cost him all but seven games of the 2010-11 regular season.

It appears that he's had a bit of a setback in his rehab according to Tony Mariano of the Team 990 Radio, and had to have some water drained from his knee three weeks ago.

The setback was reportedly a result of overtraining, which obviously means he needs to now dial it back a notch and take things a little slower. Given that he just signed a contract that's paying him over $5 million per season and has appeared in just 52 regular season games the past two years, the possibility of him not being ready for the start of the season has to be a concern for the Canadiens given how much he means to their defense and power play.

When he's on the ice Markov runs Montreal's power play, logs between 22 and 24 minute of ice-time per game and is one of the top scoring defensemen in the league. During the 2009-10 season, when he appeared in just 45 games, he recorded 34 points, which followed a season that saw him put up a career-high 64 points, a mark that was second among all NHL defensemen that season, trailing only Washington's Mike Green (73).

In his absence last season the Canadiens top power play options on their blue line were P.K. Subban, James Wisniewski (acquired from the Islanders in late December) and Roman Hamrlik. As a group they were good enough to help the team finish with the seventh best power play mark in the NHL (in previous years with Markov in the lineup on a regular basis they were at the top of the NHL). The problem for this season is Wisniewski and Hamrlik have since moved on to new teams, with Wisniewski going to Columbus and Hamrlik signing with the Capitals. If Markov is not ready for the start of the season that would place almost all of the workload on the 22-year-old -- and extremely talented -- Subban to lead the power play.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: September 5, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 10:12 am
 

Daily Skate: Burmistrov feels at home in Winnipeg

By: Adam Gretz

BURMISTROV FEELS AT HOME There have been rumblings in recent months that some players aren't looking forward to playing in Winnipeg. One player that is seems to be excited about it is 19-year-old winger Alexander Burmistrov, the team's first-round draft pick last year. Burmistrov told the Winnipeg Sun how much he's looking forward to playing in Winnipeg because "people love hockey here and it's cold here, and that's what I know." In 74 games last season he scored six goals to go with 14 assists while playing just over 13 minutes of ice-time per game.

CONCERNS FOR MONTREAL DEFENSE The biggest question mark for the Montreal Canadiens this season: injuries to their defense. Andrei Markov played in just seven games last season and is coming off his second major surgery in as many years. His health, as well as the health of Josh Gorges, will play a huge factor in what success the Canadiens are able to have in 2011.

THOMAS' DAY WITH THE CUP Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas had his deal with the Stanley Cup on Saturday morning and took it back to Vermont where he spent his college days stopping pucks.

PANDOLFO GETS TRYOUT WITH Islanders The New York Islanders announced over the weekend that veteran forward Jay Pandolfo will attend their training camp on a tryout basis. He last played in the NHL during the 2009-10 season as a member of the New Jersey Devils (the only NHL team he's ever played for) scoring four goals in 52 games. In 819 career games he's scored 99 goals. He spent last season making a brief appearance in the American Hockey League with the Springfield Falcons, recording six points (two goals, four assists) in 12 games.

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

Posted on: August 29, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Eastern Conference spots seem set for some time

By Brian Stubits

Sometimes simple and obvious things just hit you. Things you had realized before but for some reason they jump to your attention again. It tends to happen a lot more often during the lazy hockey days of summer.

That's exactly what happened when I began to think about the makeup of hockey markets/organizations, particularly in the Eastern Conference. What popped into my head was the fact that the contenders this season are likely to be the same as they were last season, and for the most part the same they were the season before that. And it's likely they will remain the contenders for the season after next, too.

At that moment I realized the NHL is starting to resemble the NBA in a way. And that's not good. One of the biggest reasons the NBA is in a lockout that seems to have no end in sight (Ken Berger and the Eye on Basketball guys have that covered) is the very issue that only a handful of teams enter every season with a chance to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Everybody's favorite stat about the (lack of) parity in the NBA is the simple fact that since 1984, only eight different organizations have won the championship. That's eight teams in 28 seasons.

Now look at the Eastern Conference in hockey. The Capitals have been atop their division for four straight seasons. The Penguins and Flyers are perennial contenders. Same goes for the Bruins while the Rangers, Canadiens and Sabres are regulars in the 5-8 range in the standings.

Of course that leaves teams like the Islanders (four-year playoff drought), Maple Leafs (six-year drought), Jets/Thrashers (one appearance in franchise history), Hurricanes (perennial contender for first runnerup these days) and the Panthers (10-year drought) to fend at the bottom.

So where do these teams fit? When you have a team like the Islanders seeming ready to step up and compete for the playoffs, who are they going to surpass? The Eastern Conference is full of traditional hockey markets in the American northeast and Canada, big markets either in hockey-crazy cities and ones with rich histories. The West has a few of those as well -- namely Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago -- but not as many as the East.

But have a look at the chart below detailing the past four seasons. Five teams have made the playoffs in each of those seasons and four teams have failed to advance beyond the regular season even once.

Last four seasons
Team Average finish (Eastern Conference) Playoff appearances 2011-12 payroll (capgeek.com)
Capitals 1.75 4 $65,190,128
Penguins 3.5 4 $62,737,500
Bruins 4.5 4 $56,682,976
Flyers 5 4 $64,124,761
Devils 5 3 $58,429,167
Canadiens 5.75 4 $59,770,510
Rangers 7.25 3 $62,935,334
Sabres 7.5 2 $67,895,357
Hurricanes 8.75 1 $49,775,000
Senators 9 2 $51,845,834
Lightning 11.5 1 $59,326,083
Maple Leafs 12.25 0 $59,115,000
Jets/Thrashers 12.25 0 $48,284,166
Panthers 12.25 0 $49,882,042
Islanders 13.75 0 $45,970,166

You get the feeling that at least five spots are locks in the East this year with two more almost assuredly the same. In the lock category you start with four of the five teams that have been staples: The Capitals, Penguins, Flyers and Bruins. Add in the up-and-coming Lightning for good measure. Hard to imagine any of those five not making it this season. In the next two spots I think you can add the Rangers and Sabres. With new owner Terry Pegula, the Sabres seem destined to become another playoff regular. These are teams that all improved (or in the case of Boston, didn't have to improve, but more or less stay in tact after winning the Stanley Cup) and were already playoff caliber.

By my stellar mathematical abilities, that leaves one spot essentially up for grabs. Among the group fighting for it will be the Canadiens (the other team to make it each of the past four seasons), Devils and, well, the rest of the conference. Outside of the Senators who are building for a few years from now and maybe the Jets, every team in the conference looks to be better now then they were at the end of last season.

And here's the thing: I don't see how it will be easy to unseat these teams at the top of the conference. Sure, you will have the occasional team slipping through like the Lightning. To extend the analogy back to the NBA, that's like the Oklahoma City Thunder building after years of struggle to a competitive level. But they still have to fight through the Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs, all of which are almost guaranteed to be in the hunt. It's hard to imagine a time when the Lakers won't be contenders, and when they have been (post-Shaquille O'Neal) they rebuilt in a hurry and won the title shortly thereafter.

That's what I'm seeing for the Eastern Conference, that kind of perennial favorite similarity. It makes sense, obviously. The best free agents will want to go to the best teams in the best hockey cities and the biggest pay checks. That's to be expected. And that's a huge reason why these teams are able to stay above the equator. It doesn't hurt to have the infrastructures they all have at their disposal, too. From fan support to smart organizational minds and moves, they win more often than not. Success begets success. It's no coincidence that these are also the teams most heavily featured on national TV.

Let's look at the Capitals. Owner Ted Leonsis has been mentioned his 10-to-15-year plan ... not a plan that calls for 10-to-15 years to win the Cup (although it's starting to look that way) but instead to keep the Caps a Cup contender for that time. And because Washington D.C. has shown itself to be a strong hockey market and is appealing to free agents, it's easy to see how the Caps can sustain that. You have a young Alexander Ovechkin on your roster? Lock him up! Just throw a 13-year contract in front of one of the sport's best players and he's aboard for the long haul. Try and do the same when you're in Tampa Bay and you have a situation where you are only able to secure Steven Stamkos for five seasons.

The reasons are obvious, much the same as the Yankees in baseball (and now the Red Sox). You can pen each of those teams into the playoffs before the season even starts and you are most likely going to be right. But this isn't supposed to happen in hockey, not with a supposedly game-evening hard salary cap. It's just the inherent advantages are too tough for a lot of teams to compete with. Essentially, the margin for error is razor thin for the lesser markets/organizations.

Toronto is the exception (sorry Leafs fans) to the big-market success model. It is probably the best hockey market in the NHL, has an incredibly devoted fan base and has not been afraid to spend. But even the Leafs are struggling these days to break that glass ceiling and butt their way into the playoffs. They couldn't beat out the Rangers for Brad Richards' services in free agency.

Now this is why they play the game. You can't lock in these teams to the playoffs. After all, who saw that Devils season coming last year? You still have to earn your way into the postseason. But if you are a fan of one of the bottom-feeders in the East, I'd suggest you cool your jets. The East's upper echelon is pretty well full of NHL aristocrats. The competition will be better and the spots will likely be more fiercely fought for, but it will be hard to break through.

In the West you can hear the mid-level teams saying "welcome to our world."

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 25, 2011 2:25 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 2:27 pm
 

Alexei Kovalev stays firm on Ottawa media stance

By Brian Stubits

You have to give Alexei Kovalev this: he is sticking to his word.

In an era when 99 times out of 100 that a player says something controversial or in any way offensive he apologizes, it is nice to see when players won't retract, stand by the words they clearly meant to say. That's what we have Kovalev.

Last month he had some critical comments about the media, particularly the members in Ottawa. Remember Kovalev saying this?

"There are different journalists. My opinion of Ottawa journalists is that they don't watch hockey at all. When they fly with the team and go through the [metal detector] at an airport, their bags are filled with beer. You realize right away what these people do when they write about the NHL.

"I am annoyed when people write [nonsense]. Figuratively speaking, to earn half a hundred dollars they are ready to make up some garbage. But they show that they're doing their job."

Well Kovalev recently discussed those comments again with sports.ru in Russia. Thankfully Dmitry Chesnokov at the Puck Daddy blog was able to translate what Kovalev had to say.

"It means I was right. Otherwise they wouldn't have reacted the way they did. The Montreal media is more experienced [than Ottawa]; hockey has been there longer, people there understand hockey ... If they criticize, they do it for cause. And it Ottawa they criticize regardless of how you play."

Not entirely sure I follow the logic leap from being angry at insulting comments to showing the comments were true, but nonetheless he's holding his ground. Of course, it probably helps he's sniping from another continent, but still. Baby steps.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 12, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 9:41 am
 

Gretzky, Bourque, Chelios to appear in NHL '12

BourqueBy: Adam Gretz

If you're a gamer and patiently waiting to pick up a copy of EA Sports NHL '12 when it hits the shelves in September, you're going to have an opportunity to use some of the NHL's greatest all-time players in this year's version of the game.

On Friday EA Sports announced the first three legends that will appear in the game: Wayne Gretzky, Boston Bruins great Ray Bourque, and Chris Chelios sporting his Chicago Blackhawks gear (he also spent many years -- and won Stanley Cups -- with the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings).

They still need to announce the remaining six legends, and based on the images they've released (blank silhouettes) there is at least one goaltender in the group, and Patrick Roy seems like he would be a solid bet.

Personally, and if EA Sports had a sense of humor about this, I would love to see Jeremy Roenick make the cut, simply because his spot in the '94 version of the game is regarded as one of the best video game players ever (yes, people track these things). It was also part of an iconic moment in 1990's popular culture in the film Swingers (adult language in this clip). Unlikely? Sure. But I can still have my sentimental dreams.

Of course, narrowing it down to just nine players (the three we already know of plus the six yet-to-be-announced) is a difficult task that will never please everybody.

You can check out a quick trailer that helps us get an idea as to what the legends will look like in action over at the EA Sports website.

Photo: EA Sports

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz 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