Tag:Colorado Avalance
Posted on: November 13, 2011 3:21 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 9:31 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Where was the Sabres' response?

By Brian Stubits

Results: Friday | Saturday

Let's start with the shot heard 'round the world from Saturday night.

Early in the Bruins' 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres (their fifth straight win for those keeping track at home) Milan Lucic found himself chasing down a puck on a breakaway. Ryan Miller found himself in the tough position of playing the puck before Lucic or waiting for the breakaway attempt. Miller chose option A and the following was the result.

The play had Miller peeved. He gave the hockey world a contender for quote of the year after the game when he was asked about any injury he might have sustained on the play.

"I'm not really going to get into that," Miller said. "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It's unbelievable. Everyone in this city sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of [feces]."

Of course seeing their goalie get trucked by Lucic was tough for the Sabres to see. But maybe the biggest problem of the day for them is why didn't it look like it bothered them? Lucic was given maybe a nudge or two. That's why he skated to the penalty box with a smirk on his face that would have made the Grinch proud.

His comment after the game must have been equally as cutting.

"You know, we wouldn't accept anything like that," Lucic said. "We would have [taken] care of business. But we're a different team than they are."

Ouch. That's pouring salt squarely onto the wound.

The worst part, though, was the Sabres knew they didn't respond in the right away. Paul Gaustad was embarrassed with how his team reacted immediately after the play. And he was on the ice.

"I can do more. I'm embarrassed that we didn't respond the way we should have," Gaustad said. "It falls on myself. I look at myself first, and I wasn't good enough.

More on Bruins-Sabres

"We didn't push back. There's no reason to be scared. We had to go after it, and we didn't."

The only player who seemed genuinely intent on getting back at Lucic was Miller himself. He took a swing with his stick as Lucic went by after the hit and then was restrained by a linesman and was left to shout -- presumably -- some obscenities at Lucic when he was escorted to the box.

I can't help but think back to a quote from last week from John Vogl of the Buffalo News. He said a player on the team told him the Sabres weren't playing as hard in front of Miller as they are for Jhonas Enroth. The general consensus on that was that it was because Miller is so good and the team has grown a bit complacent in front of him. This lack of response and that quote from Vogl could still not be linked, but it makes you wonder.

What I do know is that coach Lindy Ruff wasn't too pleased with his team's response either. He was reportedly hot in the team meeting on Sunday and left the building without speaking to the media, instead responding "[Bleep] the media" when informed reporters were waiting to talk to him.

I can't agree more with the crowd saying the Sabres showed no spine in response to the play. It was no coincidence that the game got away from the Sabres in a hurry after that and the Bruins went on to the 6-2 rout. You have to stand up for your goalie when he gets trucked like this. It's standard procedure to get in a guy's face when a goalie gets a snow shower, let alone a big hit like this.

Should Miller have made this play? Probably not. If you venture into the jungle, expect you might get bit. Either way, he certainly wasn't expecting a hit like that. Lucic saw a golden opportunity to hit a goalie and took advantage of it. It's like anytime a quarterback throws an interception, all the defenders are looking for a chance to lay the quarterback out with a big shot in the name of blocking.

But that doesn't mean that it was a legal play by Lucic. Here is what Rule 69.4 states specifically:

69.4 Contact Outside the Goal Crease - If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for goalkeeper interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent.

When the Bruins meet the Sabres again, we could be looking at a slugfest. Buffalo will look at that game as a chance for retribution. Hey, better late than never, I suppose.

Russian rut

Alexander Semin is one of the more talented players in the NHL, speaking strictly on a matter of offensive skill. It was only two seasons ago that he had 40 goals and 44 assists in 73 games for the Capitals.

But he's also a player that's been singled out for not caring. That was an offseason storyline after former teammate Matt Bradley basically said as much. Funny how there weren't many Caps fans and media rushing to defend Semin for the slight. I think many actually agreed with Bradley.

But that was the offseason. This season isn't going much better for the 27-year-old Russian. He's off to a very slow start by his standards with three goals and five assists in 15 games. He's also a minus-1 and has a team-high 11 minor penalties this season. It seems they have all been some sort of stick penalty (mostly tripping) in the offensive zone.

With coach Bruce Boudreau on an accountability kick this year, it has led to some reduced time for Semin. So much so that he was benched in Washington's 2-1 win on Friday night against the Devils. He only logged 8:25 of ice time according to the official stats.

He did see a return to some normal ice time in Saturday's 3-2 loss to New Jersey as Boudreau doesn't seem to want to bury his star's confidence.

“I thought he tried really hard. You're not going to keep benching him and benching him and benching him,” Boudreau said after Saturday's game. “He got a penalty early -- he went for the puck. That wasn't a lazy penalty.

“You guys are getting the wrong impression: The penalties are part of why he didn't play [Friday], but it wasn't the whole reason. He just wasn't playing very well, and we wanted to win the game. So we went with what we thought were the nine best players at the time. Everybody assumes it's because he took two penalties. He was still playing after he took the two penalties.”

Semin declined to talk to reporters after the game on Saturday, both the English-speaking media and the Russian-speaking crowd.

This is getting to be an interesting situation in Washington. Semin is obviously gifted, that is not in dispute. He is a free agent after this season. If things don't improve not only on the ice but off of it, it will be interesting to see how interested the Caps will be in bringing him back, particularly with the money he will likely command. He is making $6.7 million this season.

Rangers rolling

It was such a pedestrian start for the Rangers this season. They were 3-3-3, were still having troubles scoring and the addition of Brad Richards didn't seem to make a difference.

Then coach John Tortorella got this crazy idea to switch up the lines and split the tandem of Richards and Marian Gaborik that had New York fans dreaming big before the season began. Wouldn't you know it's worked. The Rangers are on fire these days, dumping the Hurricanes 5-2 on Friday night for their sixth straight win.

I'm starting to think the Rangers like their plush new (or renovated) digs at Madison Square Garden. They are now 5-1-1 at home this season. That's their best start since 1992-93..

Oh, and the Rangers are 4-0-0 with Sean Avery back in the lineup, outscoring their opponents 16-6 in those games. He scored his first goal of the season Friday. Just sayin'.

It's all in the Hitch

The Ken Hitchcock era is off to a nice and somewhat predictable start in St. Louis.

In the three games the Blues have played under their new coach, they have two shutouts, including Saturday's 3-0 blanking of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In those three games, they have earned five of the six possible points.

We all had an idea that the Blues would get better defensively and thus would have better goaltending under Hitchcock, but this quickly? I'd like to credit it more to the wakeup call of a coach being fired and a new one leading them than anything tangible at this point.

Either way, victorious goaltender Brian Elliott was pleased.

"That was the complete game we've been wanting," Elliott said. "Everybody was hustling. Everybody was working hard. No one took a shift off."

Veteran's Day surprise

We return to Boston for maybe the best moment of the weekend.

Before the game at TD Garden on Saturday night, the Bruins, honoring a family of an active soldier in Afghanistan, helped offer a special surprise. When the parents of the soldier came out to drop the ceremonial first puck, the Bruins announced there was a surprise and they were soon reunited with their son, on leave from Afghanistan.

It's hard not to get a little choked up watching that, it's a great moment brought to us by the Bruins.

I'm a sucker for these reunion videos. I got lost one day going through all the videos at the Welcome Home blog. It's chicken soup for the soul type of stuff, especially on Veteran's Day. I'd just like to say thank you once again to any vets out there reading.

Not Flame retardant

Nature isn't the only place where a flame will conquer snow any day of the week. It appears to be a law of hockey too.

The Colorado Avalanche just can't beat the Calgary Flames, no matter where the game is played. On Saturday the Avs failed for the eighth straight time trying to beat their division rivals, and that was with one spirited comeback.

Miikka Kiprusoff is as composed as any goalie in the league when he's under pressure. Just see the final minute of the 4-3 on Saturday as an example. The final minute was incredibly intense and Kiprusoff didn't look like he was trying to hang on to the tenuous lead; he had the poise of a goalie with an 8-1 edge.

Meanwhile the Avalanche, after that 5-1-0 start have now fallen back to 8-8-1 with their seventh loss in nine games.

Quote of the week

First of all, we all know it's Miller's quote referenced above. But consider this the Miller-less category.

It's hard to pick just one, but all my choices are coming from Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo. To say the he has been unimpressed with his team the last few outings would be pretty accurate. This quote came on the heels of the 5-2 loss to the Kings on Saturday.

"Like, we think we’re there. We’re not even close," Yeo said (courtesy of Michael Russo at the Minneapolis Star Tribune). "Like, we think we’re good enough yet, that because we won five games in a row that we’re there. It’s not even close. We said this when we were winning these games. We’re not there. We along the way forgot what we have to put in to winning hockey games.”

It sounds to me like a coach who is trying to bring his team back down to Earth after a great stretch of games, that Yeo sensed his team needed a little humbling.

Photo: US Presswire

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

Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 10:05 am
 

Daily Skate: Deal or no deal to buy the Blues?

By Brian Stubits

There are 12 teams getting their season under way tonight in the NHL. Two of them will come early in Europe as the Kings-Rangers and Sabres-Ducks battle at 1 ET. Then tonight there are four more games back in North America, including the Rick Nash/Jeff Carter era beginning in Columbus. Scoreboard

DEAL OR NO DEAL? It recently came out from Jeremy Rutherford at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Matthew Hulsizer, the Chicago man who nearly bought the Coyotes, has reached a verbal agreement to purchase the Blues. But Andy Strickland at True Hockey says not so fast, there is a lot of work that needs to be done, but at least things are promising.

EARLY RETURN: Nothing like a small sample size. Yes, the Flyers played solid defense on Thursday in beating the defending champion Bruins in Boston, but Ryan Bright says the plan of GM Paul Holmgren that saw sweeping changes this offseason already looks good. It very well could be, but remember; Matt Cooke is on pace for 164 goals, too. Time will truly tell. (Philadelphia Sports Daily)

HIS WAY OF HELPING: Ilya Kovalchuk is doing his part to raise money for the Yaroslavle Victims Families Fund. He is going to give away signed 8x10 photographs of himself to anybody who donates $17 dollars or more. To make a donation, contact PuckAgency, LLC at info@puckagency.com to say you want to donate. A response e-mail will be sent to you with instructions on what to do. (Fire and Ice Blog)

TWITTER TRASHTALKING: Speaking of good causes, the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are encouraging fans to engage in a Twitter battle for Friday's game in Sweden. The Kings have announced that for ever #GoLAKings hashtag, that follower will be entered in a contest for a free round-trip flight and the Kings will donate to the Children's Hospital in L.A. for 5,000. Safe to assume the Rangers have a similar plan. (Pro Hockey Talk)

HERE TO STAY: Last season, ballyhooed Hurricanes prospect Zac Dalpe got just a taste of the NHL, playing in just 15 games a season ago, scoring three goals and an assists. But this year he hopes to stay from beginning to end in Carolina and the 'Canes would love it if he could bring home a second straight Calder Trophy to Carolina. (News and Observer)

QUICK STARTS: The Colorado Avalanche will have No. 2 overall draft pick Gabriel Landeskog on the roster, getting meaningful minutes this season. So that begs the question: who are the best rookies in Avalance/Nordiques history? Here is a list of the Top 10. (Denver Post)

NEW AND IMPROVED: Things are finally feeling they are headed in the right direction in Columbus. The team has some Stars, the financial future seems fixed and there's real excitement for the team. Aaron Portzline previews the season that lies ahead, including one interesting cereal box. (Columbus Dispatch)

HE CAN BE YOUR HERO: Meant to include this in yesterday's Skate, but here is Kris Versteeg of the Florida Panthers being put on the spot at a preseason fundraiser after a bidding war (jacked up by GM Dale Tallon) buys a song from the crooner. Credit to Versteeg, who doesn't hesitate or shy away from a, um, rendition of Enrique Iglesias's Hero. The song starts right around the 2-minute mark.

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

Posted on: September 28, 2011 10:03 am
Edited on: September 28, 2011 10:27 am
 

Daily Skate: Doughty stalemate, K.C. auditions

By Brian Stubits

STANDING STRONG: There's a lot more going on these days, but don't forget that Drew Doughty is still not in camp with the Kings, stuck in a contract stalemate. President of the Kings' parent company Tim Leiweke is on GM Dean Lombardi's side in an informative conversatoin with Helene St. James. (L.A. Times)

KANSAS CITY AUDITIONS: Once again Kansas City played host to an NHL exhbition game and once again the city showed well for the game between the Penguins and Kings with 17,779 packing the Sprint Center. But the latest audition still doesn't do much to boost the city's chase for a new team. (Kansas City Star)

DON'T I KNOW YOU? Not everybody hates Sean Avery, the New York Rangers' world-reknowned pest. Check out this look-alike fan in Prague, where the Rangers are getting ready for their season opener. What's one thing Petr Rada likes about Avery? "He's a very funny guy." I'm curious how many agree to that. (NHL.com)

THRILL FROM KIRIL: Looking to get a roller-hockey game going on Long Island, one of the players realized they were short a man. Being friends on Facebook with Kirill Kabanov of the Islanders, one player decided to take a shot in the dark and ask Kabonov to join them. Next thing you know, the Isles prospect was there, creating one Wild roller game. (New York Times)

SPEECH THERAPY: There has been a ton of discourse regarding Wayne Simmonds (apparent but not proven) use of a gay slur on the ice. Here's an excellent one from Bruce Arthur asking why, if the NHL can get rid of the dangerous hits in its league it can't get rid of other hurtful actions. (National Post)

MOVING ON UP: That didn't take long. The No. 2 overall pick in this summer's draft, Gabriel Landeskog to the Avalanche, was declared the most NHL-ready prospect there was. Now he's showing it. The Swede has already worked his way on to the top line in Colorado with Paul Stastny and David Jones. (Denver Post)

SHARK CENSORSHIP: For many years you have been able to see shirts near the penalty box and benches in San Jose for Bad Boys Bail Bonds. The owner, a long-time season ticket holder, advertised with the team last year but didn't renew, saying the exposure wasn't worth it. Now the Sharks are banning patrons from promoting or marketing their businesses. There are some unhappy people. (Puck Daddy)

NOTHING BUT NET: In an attempt to help fans see the action on the ice through the mesh netting, the Capitals tried something new on Monday at the Verizon Center, debuting a new white net, hoping it would blend in better and be less obtrusive. Early returns from the fans say not so much. It could be back to normal sooner than you'd think. (Capitals Insider)

JUST SHOOT ME: If the Predators are looking to increase their scoring on the power play, there's a pretty simple suggestion: shoot more! Here's a breakdown of how often (or little) Nashville is shooting with the man advanatage among other Western Conference teams. (Pred Gold)

BACK ALREADY: It was just on Monday when it was said that Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda was expected to miss a couple of weeks with a knee injury. Yet on Tuesday Hejda was right back on the ice, joining the Avs in practice without skipping a beat. Just in case you didn't believe it, Adrian Dater included some video. (Denver Post)

Photo: Dan Rosen

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

Posted on: June 24, 2011 4:56 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 6:48 pm
 

Maple Leafs acquire D Liles from Avalanche

Earlier today, we took a look at the trade market headed into the NHL Draft and noted that Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs would likely be one team making moves.

A few hours before the draft and they've already begun.

The Maples Leafs have traded for Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles for a second-round pick.

In Liles the Leafs are getting a 30-year-old defenseman who has an offensive touch. Last season for the Avs, Liles had six goals and 40 assists. His 46 points were the second-highest total of his career, all spent in Colorado, behind his 49 points in 2005-06.

The Avalanche are clearly in a mode where they are starting over and covet the draft picks at this point and are willing to sacrifice players on the wrong side of 30 to get them.

For Toronto, it acquires somebody who can step in right now and contribute. While the Leafs are in a playoff drought (haven't been in since the final season before the lockout), they took a step forward last season, remaining on the outside of the playoff bubble into the final week. Perhaps Burke thinks he can put together a team that can make it into the postseason while still building for the long-term.

Also on Friday, the Leafs announced that they have hired former Thrashers coach Rick Dudley in a scouting role with the team. Dudley, not retained when the team moved to Winnipeg, is recognized as one of the sharper eyes of talent in the NHL and will begin with his new team starting with the draft tonight.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL


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