Tag:Bryan Little
Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 3:43 pm

Weekend Preview: Jets look to carry 'mo' to Pitt

Winnipeg is only three points behind Florida and Washington in the Southeast. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

WASHINGTON -- Here we are in mid-February and the Winnipeg Jets are still lingering right there in the playoff picture, just outside the East's top eight (even closer to the Southeast Division lead). That's how crucial Thursday night's Houdini act was in Washington, to take two points from a game that was seemingly lost.

The next question becomes how they can follow that up?

Winnipeg finishes off a travel-heavy stretch this Saturday in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. It will be their eight road game in their last nine overall, a crucial stretch in their season that many thought would bury their playoff hopes. I admit, myself included.

Instead, they were given a golden opportunity with a lucky bounce to pick up some serious steam for a playoff push.

"We have a big game in Pittsburgh," forward Bryan Little said on Thursday after the 3-2 win in D.C. "If we get a couple points there it would be a great road trip for us."

And it would bring them some strong momentum into a home-heavy stretch they are about to hit.

"We've been playing well at home all season, so we'd be really pumped with that," Little said.

That's why the game against the Pens is so big. It would more or less signify that the win in Washington was a springboard to launch them into their homestand. But any sort of momentum gained from it is for the most part lost with a flat showing in the 'Burgh.

"We've won two in a row now," said Evander Kane, who has played two games since returning from a concussion. "We have to be able to put together strings together and long winning streaks because that's how you're going to make the playoffs."

That's the goal, obviously, bring the playoffs back to the 'Peg. Maybe the White out too. So what better way to head into a stretch where nine of their next 10 are at the friendly confines of MTS Centre than a win in Pittsburgh?

They'll be taking on a Penguins team that will get a lift courtesy of a returning player. No, not Sidney Crosby, but instead Jordan Staal. Coach Dan Bylsma announced on Friday that Staal will be back in the lineup after dealing with a nagging knee issue.

So it's up to you Jets, make that win in Washington really count.

What the Devil has gotten into them?

The New Jersey Devils aren't just hanging around in the playoff race like the Jets, they are climbing into the conversation for home-ice advantage in the first round.

In a rarity, the Devils actually lost in a shootout on Thursday night to the St. Louis Blues. It brought an end to New Jersey's five-game winning streak but extended their points streak to eight games.

The catalyst in the run has been not only the stellar play of Ilya Kovalchuk, but Zach Parise's outburst. With his name being talked about as a possibility in trade discussions, Parise has only shown why teams would love to have him -- including the Devils, of course. In the last six games he has six goals and two assists. Not too shabby.

In case you haven't checked the standings in a while -- here's our nifty Playoff Race -- the Devils have jumped over the Penguins for the time being in the Atlantic Division race and are just three points behind the Flyers.

You have to like the odds of their points streak being extended to nine on Saturday. That's when they'll play the Florida Panthers at the Rock, the fourth and final meeting between coach Peter DeBoer and his former team from Florida. Seeing how the Devils have looked strong in winning two of the three from the Cats and would have taken the other if not for a complete meltdown in the third period, it doesn't seem like this is the time they will be stopped in their tracks.

Add in Florida being 1-6-4 in its last 11 road games and, well, you can see where this is going.

Chicago blues

It's high time the Blackhawks find themselves again. They are mired in a stretch that could be too difficult to overcome when it comes time for seeding in the Western Conference, especially if it continues.

In the midst of a nine-game road trip that still has five more stops to go, the Blackhawks are reeling. They've lost six in a row, picking up a point in only one of those losses. You wouldn't figure the next four games being in San Jose, at Phoenix, in Nashville then at the Rangers will make it much easier, particularly with the Sharks and Coyotes coming back-to-back this weekend.

It seems preposterous, but a couple more games and all of a sudden the Blackhawks are going to find themselves in a serious fight for a playoff spot period, let alone the seeding.

As big as the one Friday night in San Jose is, that game in Phoenix will be particularly big as the Coyotes have made a little surge in recent days and have climbed into the eighth spot in the West. It could pull Phoenix to within three points of Chicago if their skid continues.

Fifth time's the charm?

The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will have their fifth of six meetings this season on Saturday in Philly, a little matinee.

Despite it being their fifth game of the series, it's actually the first that will be played at Wells Fargo Center. So maybe that will be what the Flyers need to get off the Rangers schneid. They have been on the losing end of all four games so far.

There likely won't be any Ilya Bryzgalov in net again, though. And that's not because he's being benched, enjoying some nice tea in his thermos. Instead, he's enjoying some tea in his thermos because he's ill and, you know, people suggest you drink tea.

Obviously it hasn't mattered who has been in net for the Flyers this season, they haven't been able to figure out the Rangers yet. A game like Saturday's is huge for confidence, if not the standings.

Oh, and if you like fights, this might be your game. Last weekend's matchup broke out into an MMA show.

Mr. 1,000

It feels like we've had a lot of players hitting the 1,000 game milestone this season, doesn't it? On Thursday night Chris Neil of Ottawa celebrated entering four-digit territory. On Friday night it will be Tomas Holmstrom's turn.

The longtime Swedish Red Wings forward has obviously seen some good times in Detroit throughout his career. That tends to happen if you stay in a Wings uniform long enough. He'll be honored for that when the Ducks visit the Joe.

On the ice, this is actually quite the matchup. The Wings are still riding this ridiculous home winning streak, up to 18 games now. The Ducks, meanwhile, have come flying up from the basement and are now within eight points of a playoff spot in the West, still a long way to go but better than before. They are 11-2-2 in the last 15.

So don't be surprised if this is the team that's finally able to upset Detroit in Detroit and spoil the fun of Holmstrom's night.

We're going streaking!

Here is a look at the streaks -- both good and bad -- heading into the weekend.

Montreal Canadiens: Yes, that's right, the Habs are on a winning streak. They take a three-game run to their rivals in Toronto.

Vancouver Canucks: Remember when they were behind Minnesota in the Northwest? Me neither. They have a 15-point lead and carry a three-game win streak into Calgary on Saturday.

Coyotes: I said they've been on a run lately and that means they have a league-high four straight wins. Only Chicago awaits this weekend.

Blackhawks: See entry above: Six straight losses. Will they keep counting? Trips to San Jose and Phoenix on the docket.

Minnesota Wild: They have slipped out of the top eight in the West now having lost three consecutive games. A visit from Columbus is next on Saturday.

Ryan Miller: OK, I never put players on here, but Miller deserves a spot. The Sabres goalie has been much-maligned but he has turned a corner of late. He's on the run of his career. No, really. From Mike Harrington at the Buffalo News.

"Ryan Miller's 0.95 GAA and .969 save percentage over the last five games are the best in his career for any five-game stretch."

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

Posted on: August 31, 2011 9:45 am

Dail Skate: Vancouver keeps searching for rioters

By Brian Stubits

STILL SEARCHING: I guess the Vancouver police were serious about wanting to bring all of the people responsible for the post-Stanley Cup riot to justice. Some of the offenders already came forward and admitted to their deeds after the Canucks lost Game 7 and the Cup. But plenty more have gone thus far unpunished. That's why the Vancouver police have set up this website with photos of some offenders asking the public for help identifying the people so they can face their punishment.

LENGTHY NEGOTIATIONS: The Kings are still trying to find common ground with defenseman Drew Doughty, so to do so, they are reportedly giving Doughty more options concerning the length of the prospective deal. Helene Elliott at the L.A. Times has the full story, including this take from Kings G.M. Dean Lombardi: "Everything's been amicable. We're waiting to hear back from them. They said they'd get back to us in a day or two." Maybe there's an end in sight after all?

FORMAL FILING: Also from Elliott at the L.A. Times in the same Doughty story, the Kings have filed their grievance with the with the NHL over the deal with the Oilers that had Colin Fraser going to L.A. in exchange for Ryan Smyth. “The Edmonton Oilers have a few days to respond. Commissioner Gary Bettman will then decide whether to hold a hearing, though Lombardi said the Kings can request one.” So it continues.

SPREAD THE LOVE: Yesterday's Daily Skate touched on the Devils considering retiring Scott Niedermayer's number. Now the O.C. Register is wondering if the Ducks shouldn't do the same thing? Niedermayer only played five seasons with the Ducks, but he was a big reason why Anaheim brought home the Stanley Cup.

PROSPECT WATCH: Wondering how the advancement of Rangers prospects is coming along? The New York Rangers blog has an update on defensemen Tim Erixon, who insists he has a true two-way game as he makes a push for the roster. Then there's a little nugget about Dylan McIlrath as well.

A LITTLE LOVE: Bryan Little isn't seeming to have any problems getting acclimated to life in Winnipeg. He is enjoying the passion and support the hyped-up Jets fan base is showing, with Go Jets Go! chants at every turn. From the Winnipeg Sun: “The province is so pumped about having a team back, and that just gets all of us, the players, just more excited to play,” Little said.

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

Posted on: August 18, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 12:31 pm

Evander Kane sticks with No. 9

Kane9By: Adam Gretz

Finally, the debate as to which number Evander Kane will wear this season in Winnipeg is over.

Kane, the Jets 20-year-old forward, will continue to wear the No. 9 he's been wearing for his entire career after former Winnipeg great Bobby Hull -- who had previously worn the number with the original Jets franchise -- gave him the permission he was looking for. It's been a hot topic of discussion for much of the offseason and was made complicated because the current Jets franchise (which has its roots in Atlanta as the Thrashers) has no connection to the previous Jets franchise (the one that currently plays in Phoenix) that retired Hull's No. 9.

Still, Kane wanted to get permission from the Hockey Hall of Famer before he continued to wear the number, and according to the Winnipeg Free Press, that persmission finally came.

Here's what Kane had to say during an interview with Ed Tait of the Free Press:
"It's very cool to be able to wear No. 9," Kane said Wednesday night in a phone interview from Vancouver. "Bobby was an outstanding player who represented the city and it's definitely a real honour to be able to wear that number. You know, I was just checking about what the organization's plans were for No. 9 and then this story seemed to become a lot bigger than I thought it would."

"And I did get the feeling from a lot of people on Twitter and others that many were encouraging me to wear it.

"I'm pretty excited just to see a jersey let alone to pull one on," Kane added with a chuckle. "It's going to be fun for all the guys that first day in the dressing room pulling on that jersey for the first time. That opening night against the Montreal Canadiens (Oct. 9)... it's a little bit away still, but it's hard not to think about it. It's going to be a real special moment in which history will be made. I can't wait."
Tait also adds that Kane had originally offered to switch to No. 91, but that the Jets encouraged him to continue wearing the No. 9.

One of Kane's teammates, forward Bryan Little, had a similar situation regarding his No. 10, which had also been retired by the original Jets franchise after it was worn by Dale Hawerchuk for much of the 1980s during what was a Hall of Fame career. Little ended up switching numbers and will wear No. 18 this season.

I understand why it was such a big deal, but at the end of the day neither one of these guys should have felt any obligation to switch numbers. Or to even get permission, which makes Kane's desire to get Hull's blessing seem like an extremely nice gesture on his part. Because he didn't have to do it. Even though the team has the same name, the franchise history that was created by players like Hull, Hawerchuk and Thomas Steen (his No. 25 was retired by the Jets in 1995) belongs to the Coyotes. There's no connection to this current team or its history.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 3, 2011 10:24 am

Daily Skate: Latvia picks Nolan; Zherdev to KHL

By Brian Stubits

NOT KEEN ON KEENAN: Last week we told you that former NHL coach Mike Keenan was one of two finalists for head coach of Team Latvia. Turns out he was No. 2. Latvia announced Wednesday that it is hiring another Canadian and former NHL coach, tabbing ex-Sabres and Islanders boss Ted Nolan to lead the team.

NIKKI SKIPS: Earlier this week, colleague Adam Gretz addressed the issue of where would Nikolay Zherdev play next season, speculating it could be Winnipeg or possibly a jump to the KHL. Turns out it's the latter. The former Flyers forward will play next season with Atlant Mytishchi of the KHL, joining Alexei Kovalev on the team.

TOUGH WEEK: It hasn't been a kind few days to the Islanders. The future of the franchise was made cloudy with the resounding no vote on a new arena for the team. So when the team announced very early Wednesday morning they had re-signed forward Jon Sim, it shouldn't be bad, right? Not until the Isles tweet this a short while later: "Jon Sim has not been resigned. A glitch in Bridgeport's email sent a press release from last summer. We apologize for any confusion." Oops.

PERRON STILL OUT: From the department of news you never want to see, Blues forward David Perron isn't going to start training camp with his teammates as he is still dealing with concussion symptoms. He is expected to play at some point next season, Andy Strickland says the two sides just agreed Perron needs more time.

NUMBERS GAME: It's a very awkward situation with the Jets as far as the history of the franchise ... is the team playing under Thrashers history or Jets, who are now the Coyotes? Evander Kane already asked Bobby Hull about wearing his retired No. 9 Jets jersey and Bryan Little has run into the same issue with Dale Hawerchuk's No. 10. But instead of asking to wear it (Hawerchuk said it was no big deal) Little is just going to change numbers himself. (Via Puck Daddy)

BUFFALO ADDS TO STAFF: The Sabres added a coach to Lindy Ruff's bench, announcing the hire of Kevyn Adams as an assistant coach. He joined the staff in 2009 in a player development role.

PITTSBURGH SIGNS TOP PICK: The Penguins took care of some house cleaning by getting their top pick in this year's draft in the fold, signing defenseman Joseph Morrow to a three-year entry-level contract.

Avalanche OF CONFIDENCE: Erik Johnson is expecting a big season in Colorado (Via Denver Post). The defenseman is changing up his workout, trying to prepare for a great year. And he's talking the talk about it too, sending a message to Capitals fans. "It's not going to be a [high] pick [to the Caps in exchange for Semyon Varlamov]. It's going to end up being a great trade for us. People are saying we got the short end of the trade and they're happy because they think we're going to finish at the bottom of the league -- and we're not going to do that this year."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl 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