Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:11 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:15 pm
By: Adam Gretz
PITTSBURGH -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are losing ground in the playoff race, and they're also starting to lose bodies on the ice.
Just one night after losing forwards Joffrey Lupul and Colby Armstrong, Toronto lost two more players on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh when defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Brown went down on their first shifts of the night and did not return during a 3-2 loss to the Penguins, a game that saw the Maple Leafs blow a two-goal lead, losing for the 11th time in their past 13 games.
Franson did not return after getting hit in the eye with a stick, and Brown left with what was described as a lower body injury.
"We showed signs of enthusiasm and kind of stuck with our game plan," said Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle, coaching his third game with the team after replacing Ron Wilson last week. "I thought we were better from a defensive standpoint in the critical areas. I thought our work ethic was stronger, but we ran out of bodies. We lost two bodies in the first ten minutes tonight and taxes it everybody else. Then it showed on some of the ... I would call them questionable decisions. When to pinch, when not to pinch, turnovers, position versus the regroup, all that kind of stuff. It's the little things that are costing us in these situations."
It wasn't hard to see how outmanned the Leafs were on Wednesday night, spending much of the night tied up in their own end of the ice. For the most part, goaltender Jonas Gustavsson did everything he could to keep his team in the game, only allowing two goals, one of which was deflected right in front of him on its way into the net, before giving up what can only be described as a soft goal to Pascal Dupuis early in the third period for the eventual game-winner.
Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf did not want to use the injuries, including the one to Lupul and Armstrong, as an excuse as it should give other players an opportunity to make an impact in the lineup.
"It's an opportunity for guys to step up," said Phaneuf. It gives guys a little more opportunity, but when you lose a guy like [Lupul] and you lose Army in the same game, and we lose two more guys tonight, guys have to step up. Injuries are a part of the game and you can't use it as an excuse.
"Guys have to adapt to it. Every team goes through injury problems. Look over there [at Pittsburgh]. They have one of the top players in the world, if not the top player out, and they're winning hockey games. You've got to adapt, you've got to have guys step up, and guys did step up, but we just made more mistakes than they did tonight."
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Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:49 pm
By: Adam Gretz
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.
Buffalo Sabres: Thanks to Jason Pominville's overtime goal (as seen above) the Buffalo Sabres managed to gain a little more ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race on Wednesday night.
Their 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes pulled them to within two points of a playoff spot in the East, and they've now won seven of their past nine games, with one of the losses coming in overtime (meaning they still gained a point in the standings). There isn't going to be much time to celebrate this one, however, as they have to get right back into it just 24 hours later when they visit the Boston Bruins.
The Sabres controlled much of the game and after falling behind 1-0 early in the first period, they stormed out in the second period and received a pair of goals from Thomas Vanek and Nathan Gerbe less than two minutes into the period.
Ryan Miller, one of the biggest reasons for the late season turnaround, stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced.
[Related: Sabres 3, Hurricanes 2]
Brad Thiessen and the Penguins: Rookie goaltender Brad Thiessen was a surprise starter for the Penguins on Wednesday night and he ended up playing a heck of a game, stopping 22 of 24 shots and holding down the fort in Pittsburgh as his teammates erased a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-2, come-from-behind win against the Maple Leafs.
His biggest save of the night came late in the third period, with Toronto on a power play, when he slid across his goal crease and made a fantastic pad save on a Phil Kessel one-timer, preserving what was a one-goal lead for the Penguins one-goal.
The Penguins have only won five games that Marc-Andre Fleury did start this season, and two of them have gone to the rookie Thiessen, his only two starts of the year.
[Related: Penguins 3, Maple Leafs 2 -- Letang: the missing piece]
Toronto Maple Leafs: On a night where one of the teams they're chasing in the playoff race -- the Sabres -- picked up two points, the Maple Leafs letting a two-goal lead against the Penguins slip away, the second time they've done so in as many trips to Pittsburgh, is not what they were looking for.
Especially as they suffered even more injuries, losing defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Brown within the first 10 minutes of the game, just one night after losing forwards Joffrey Lupul and Colby Armstrong.
Toronto is falling fast in the standings, and with injuries starting to mount the season seems as if it's on the verge of slipping away.
[Related: Playoff race]
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 4:05 pm
RUN, MARK, RUN!: Rangers (and Oilers, of course) icon Mark Messier announced on Thursday that he will be running in the next New York City marathon on Nov. 6. He's doing it to benefit two charities, the New York Police & Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund as well as the Tomorrows Children's Fund. Messier says he has no goals -- that's a first! -- and would just like to finish. (NHL.com)
WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' DIVISIONS: This might be the most interesting realignment prosposal I have seen to date. This idea calls for the banishment of divisions from hockey, that way you don't have teams being forced to play so ofen in other time zones, a la Dallas, Detroit and Nashville. (Hockey News)
MINI PAVEL: The Red Wings had a classic giveaway for Thursday night's game against the Canucks, handing out Pavel Datsyuk bobbleheads. "Awesome," Datsyuk said about his appearance. "Lots of tan. Looks like me in summertime." Nice keepsake for Red Wings fans. (Detroit Free Press)
HOMETOWN HERO: While Jaromir Jagr didn't return to his original team in Kladno, Czech Republic to play this summer, he is making a very big impression on his old club. To help save the struggling team, Jagr purchased a 70 percent ownership stake in the team, leaving the locals a happy group. (J.J.'s Knights)
TORONTO TROUBLE: Cody Franson was openly sharing his frustration last week that he is the seventh defenseman for the Maple Leafs after they acquired him from Nashville in the offseason. Coach Ron Wilson's response? “He plays the next game and the rest is up to him,” Wilson said of Franson’s status with the team. “He put a lot of pressure on himself talking this week. Now he’s got to perform.” (Globe and Mail)
TOUGH SPOT: The St. Louis Cardinals are currently doing battle with the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS, leaving Blues tough guy Barret Jackman in a tough spot. He played a little with Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan when Morgan was still giving hockey a shot. "He was one of those guys you loved to hate because he had so much energy," (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
OVER THE HILL: Chicago Blackhawks veteran Sean O'Donnell just turned 40 on Thursday and for a short while was on the roster the same time as 18-year-old Brandon Saad. Here's a look at the differences in generations from each of their favorite TV shows to hockey heroes. (ESPN Chicago)
NEW TRADITION: The Islanders are putting a new twist on an old hockey tradition. The idea launched by captain Mark Streit, the Isles are now lining up to create a human tunnel for the announcement of the Three Stars of the game. Here's the rendition after Thursday's rout of the Lightning, including a John Tavares imposter.
Photo: Detroit Red Wings Twitpic
Tags: Barret Jackman, Brandon Saad, Brian Stubits, Chicago Blackhawks, Cody Franson, Daily Skate, Detroit Red Wings, Jaromir Jagr, John Tavares, Mark Messier, Mark Streit, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Pavel Datsyuk, Philadelphia Flyers, Realignment, Ron WIlson, Seaon O'Donnel, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs
Posted on: October 5, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: October 5, 2011 10:01 am
FRANSON FRUSTRATION: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Cody Franson in a trade with the Predators presumably because they thought he could play on their blue line. So did he. Well as they break camp in Toronto, Franson is still on the roster, but is the seventh defenseman. "Right now I'm not too thrilled with it," Franson said. This will be worth watching. (Globe and Mail)
DEBUT DELAY? Martin Havlat is ready to begin his tenure as a member of the San Jose Sharks, but it might have to wait just a little longer. The former Wild forward acquired this summer in a trade flew to Cleveland to meet with a shoulder surgeon hoping to gain clearance for Saturday's first game. Havlat had his shoulder operated on in the offseason after getting hurt in the World Championships. (Working the Corners)
LESSON LEARNED: In September, Milan Lucic made his way into some negative publicity when he was involved in a slight confrontation with his girlfriendand pulled the "Do you know who I am?" card. The young Bruins scorer says the whole incident taught him a major lesson. As far as the "DYKWIA?" card? He says it wasn't to get special treatment, but to ask the police to think of why he, with so much to lose, would do anything to jeopardize it. (CSN New England)
CHARITABLE RIVALS: When the Capitals and Penguins get together in Pittsburgh on Oct. 13, they will be wearing commemorative patches on their jerseys for the KHL's Lokomotiv team. After the game, they will autograph then auction off the jerseys and donate all the proceeds to the families of the players killed in the plane crash. (CBSSports.com)
STILL NO. 1: TSN put out their list of the Top 50 players in the NHL for this season, so who is No. 1? It's still Sidney Crosby, even if there's no guarantee as to when he'll return from post-concussion symptoms. No surprise that he comes in just ahead of Alexander Ovechkin. (TSN)
LUCKY LINEMATE: The winner of the Marian Gaborik-Brad Richards linemate sweepstakes with the Rangers is ... Brandon Dubinsky. He'll start the Rangers' game on Friday manning the left wing spot on the top line and coach John Tortorella will "see where it goes" from there. (@thenyrangers)
NOT A SAAD STORY: The Blackhawks are loaded with talent. It's why many see them as a Stanley Cup contender this season. So that gives you an idea how much second-round pick Brandon Saad impressed as he not only has earned a spot on the roster, but is slated to start on the first line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. Not too bad for a player whose draft stock slipped. (CSN Chicago)
COUTURIER A CATCH: Saad isn't the only player who slipped in the draft that is looking like more than a player on an extended tryout. Sean Couturier was once seen as maybe the best prospect in the draft but fell to No. 8 where the Flyers were waiting with open arms. GM Paul Holmgren is willing to give up a season of control of his contract if Couturier continues to make an impact. (Philadelphia Sports Daily)
HUBYMANIA ENDS: Not all the top draft picks are going to get that extended look. The Panthers elected to send No. 3 overall draft choice Jonathan Huberdeau back to his junior team on Tuesday despite the forward leading the Cats in scoring this preseason. Interesting that a team so desparate to win and attract fans is willing to let their top prospect develop. (NHL.com)
BOUDREAU MIC'D AGAIN: This time it's clear of profanity ... because it's bleeped out. Bruce Boudrea, the Capitals coach who drew plenty of attention for his actions (and words) in HBO's 24/7 last season, was mic'd up for the Capitals' first preseason game held in Baltimore and let's just say he didn't like getting shut out.
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, Brad Richards, Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Saad, Brian Stubits, Bruce Boudreau, Chicago Blackhawks, Cody Franson, Daily Skate, Florida Panthers, Jonathan Huberdeau, KHL, Lokomotiv, Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat, Milan Lucic, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Sean Couturier, Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals
Posted on: August 12, 2011 10:14 am
LOUSY FOR LUCIC: The Stanley Cup continues to make the rounds among the Bruins, and now it's Milan Lucic's turn. He was the player that had the honor of raising the Cup in his hometown, being met with a mixture of cheers and boos. As we have seen already this summer, a lot of players like to bring the Cup home and share it with the public, but Lucic won't be doing that seeing as how rough some in Vancouver took the Canucks' Finals loss. There was even a party slated for a beach that was scrapped due to fear of hooligans ruining the day. Instead he will have a low-key affair (The Bruins Blog) at his Vancouver home with some family and friends. It's the smart move, but that doesn't make it any less sad to hear.
INJURY ISSUES: When the Maple Leafs traded for Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi, there was some trepidation considering Lombardi missed almost the entirety of last season after suffering the second concussion of his career. Kevin Allen at USA Today says the Leafs and Lombardi are expecting him to be present when camp begins. Allen also goes on to offer updates on a bunch of other injured players such as David Perron, Sidney Crosby and Jonas Hiller.
REWRITING HISTORY: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is doing a summer series on a bunch of what-if scenarios in Minnesota sports, the latest being on if the North Stars never left the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Sure, the city would have a championship to boast about in the last 20 years, but it wouldn't have the Wild and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Worth the robbing of the team?
DOUGHTY SPECULATION: The negotiations go on and on and on in the Drew Doughty talks with the Kings, the possibility growing that they will continue well into September. So while we all wait, Red Light District decided to take a gander at what Doughty's contract should be worth, which should put him at the top of the Kings payroll.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 10:33 am
MOTIVATING MEMORY: You might remember the story of Mandi Schwartz, the Yale women's hockey player who became an inspiration to many in her fight against leukemia before eventually succumbing to the disease four months ago. Her brother Jaden is one of the Blues' top prospects and he is dedicating his season to his late sister, saying she is the biggest inspiration as he tries to make the Team Canada roster for the World Juniors. "From here on out, this tournament, this camp -- everything is for [my sister]," Schwartz told NHL.com following the opening day of Canada's development camp. "While I'm obviously trying to do this for me, my family and for Canada; most of all, it's for her."
STILL GROUNDED: Chris Pronger continues to move along in his rehabilitation efforts, trying to get back in playing shape to join the Flyers this season. In an interview with Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post, Pronger talked about his continued efforts to get back on the ice, but the snag at the moment is that he hasn't lifted weights in six months and strength is sort of important for a hockey player, especially a physical presence on the blue line. Back problems usually slow that process down. Pronger also has some thoughts on the offseason overhaul for Philadelphia, liking the move to defense first.
LEBDA STILL IN NASHVILLE: When the Predators acquired Brett Lebda in a one-sided traded with the Maple Leafs that saw the Preds ship Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson away, it seemed clear that it was a salary shedding move by Nashville and Lebda would be on his way to another team after going on waivers. Well that might not happen (via Pro Hockey Talk) as Lebda cleared waivers untouched yesterday. Now the Preds might be stuck with him and his $1.45 million salary that is on a one-way contract. It will be interesting to see if he will stay in the NHL or be stashed in the AHL.
DUCK IN A SHORT ROW: If Randy Carlyle makes it to the end of his new contract, he will have been the head coach of the Ducks for nine seasons. In today's NHL, that might as well be three decades. Eric Stephens of the O.C. Register looks at the long tenure of Carlyle in Anaheim and how rare a stay it is.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: For those that follow Eye on Hockey on Twitter, note a change in the account name. If you followed before, nothing has changed. If you weren't following, why not? Either way, for housecleaning purposes, the new address is @EyeOnHockey.
Posted on: August 7, 2011 12:29 pm
By: Adam Gretz
MINNESOTA SENDS SHEPPARD TO SAN JOSE For the third time this summer the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks completed a trade, with the latest one being a relatively minor transaction. On Saturday night the Wild sent forward James Sheppard to the the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a third-round draft pick in 2013. Sheppard was the ninth overall pick in 2006 and has been a disappointment thus far, having scored 11 goals in 224 NHL games.
DID THE FURRIES BREAK SOME NHL NEWS REGARDING THE 2012 DRAFT? Word has quickly spread over the past couple of weeks that the 2012 NHL Entry Draft could be held in Pittsburgh, and this past week the rumors managed to take a turn for the absurd. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News points out that the rescheduling of a Furry convention (you know, the people that dress up like animals), which was supposed to take place in Pittsburgh the same weekend as the NHL Draft, could be a sign that the draft is returning to Pittsburgh for the first time since 1997. The city asked the Furries to reschedule due to an opportunity to host a rare event its wanted to host for several years, which is assumed to be the NHL Draft. IceBurgh would approve.
LEBDA HITS THE WAIVER WIRE According to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet, the Nashville Predators placed defenseman Brett Lebda on unconditional waivers on Saturday, perhaps so they can buy him out. Lebda spent last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs where he scored one goal in 41 games, and was traded to the Predators, along with forward Robert Slaney, this summer in a deal that sent Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson to Toronto.
WHEN GLOBAL ECONOMICS AND HOCKEY COLLIDE In case you were wondering how the S&P's downgrade on US debt could impact the NHL (don't be afraid to admit it, you know you were asking), Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck has some possible answers. Interesting read.
Photo: Getty Images