Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:37 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 11:57 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.
Another milestone for Jaromir Jagr: After a slow start against the New York Islanders on Thursday night, the Flyers roared back to earn a 6-3 win against their divisional rival, and leading the way was seemingly ageless veteran Jaromir Jagr with a goal and an assist, a two-point performance that moved him into sole possesion of eighth place on the NHL's All-Time scoring list (ahead of Joe Sakic) with 1,642 career points.
Next up on the list: his former linemate, Mario Lemieux, with 1,723 points.
The win for the Flyers moves them into the No. 5 spot in the East as they jump over the idle Ottawa Senators. The Flyers still have two games in hand on the Senators.
[Related: Flyers 6, Islanders 3]
Winnipeg Jets: Yeah, games between the Jets and Panthers are still important now that we're into March, and this is still only possible in the Southeast Division.
The Jets continued their home dominance this season with a complete and thorough destruction of the Panthers, rolling over them by a 7-0 margin at the MTS Centre. The win puts them back into the top-eight in the Eastern Conference and brings them to within two points of the Panthers for the top spot in the division.
[Related: Jets 7, Panthers 0]
David Krejci and the Bruins: David Krejci hasn't been having the best season in Boston, but he had a huge game on Thursday night during the Bruins 4-3 overtime win against the Devils, recording a hat trick, including the game-winning goal 2:59 into the extra period. The Bruins have been alternating wins and losses for a month-and-a-half now and on Saturday against the Islanders they will have a chance to win consecutive games for the first time since the middle of January.
Pretty amazing for a team that is still second in the conference to that long without any sort of a winning streak. Even one as short as two games. Speaks to how dominant they were earlier in the season.
[Related: Bruins 4, Devils 3]
Florida Panthers: The Panthers no-show performance in Winnipeg can be described to perfection with one replay. This Brian Little goal in the third period that is scored on a 5-on-1(!) rush.
[Related: Playoff Race]
Colorado Avalanche: If the Colorado Avalanche miss the playoffs by one or two points, this might be the game they look back at and ask what the heck happened.
Hosting the worst team in the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and going up against a struggling netminder in Steve Mason, the Avalanche were blanked in their own barn by a 2-0 margin. Even though the Avs generated over 30 shots on goal for the night, they created very few scoring chances and never really gave Mason much of a test.
Not a good performance, and a not a good loss.
[Related: Blue Jackets 2, Avalanche 0]
Photo: Getty Images
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 13, 2012 10:15 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 10:51 am
They must feel like it's been months since there was good news in Montreal regarding their beloved Canadiens.
Mike Cammalleri saying the team was playing like losers and then promptly being shipped out of town -- perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not -- to Calgary for Rene Bourque on Thursday night. In the middle of the game. It was just another episode in the gripping soap opera How the Habs Turn.
But that wasn't all the news coming out of the Canadiens camp on Thursday. There was also the loss to the Bruins in Boston and perhaps of P.K. Subban for a couple of games thanks to Rule 48 and Brendan Shanahan's duty to uphold it.
More specifically, David Krejci was moving up the left wing near the benches when Subban came to knock him off the puck. He had the chance to deliver a hit to the body of Krejci but instead came in with his arm raised and it sure looks to me like he made the principal point of contact Krejci's head. You judge for yourself.
After the hit there was also the matter of Subban going into a shell and trying to stay down on the ice when Andrew Ference came in to pay Subban back for the hit. In something that just really smacks of wrong, Ference actually put the Bruins on the penalty kill as a result.
It was on that power play that the Canadiens scored their lone goal of the game.
I don't see how there is much of a way Subban is going to dodge the Shanahammer here. Seems like a pretty clear-cut call for a two-game suspension, possibly three for Subban.
And likely endless taunting every time the Habs meet the Bruins for his turtling.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 6:01 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 6:08 pm
By: Adam Gretz
It's been extremely quiet on the Sidney Crosby front recently, and as the Penguins continue to struggle to score goals and win games in the face of mounting injuries, that silence was starting to lead to a lot of questions regarding his status.
The Penguins announced on Wednesday evening, just two hours before the start of their game with the Capitals, that Crosby will be joining the team in Washington and will accompany them on their road trip to Florida. Even though he is scheduled to skate on his own, head coach Dan Bylsma said that there is still no timetable for his return.
Crosby hasn't played for the Penguins since December 5 against the Boston Bruins, a game that saw him take several hits, including a center ice collision with teammate Chris Kunitz, as well an elbow from David Krejci.
The timing of this announcement, as well as Crosby joining the team on the road, is definitely interesting, if not totally bizarre. Following the Penguins' 5-1 loss to Ottawa on Tuesday night Bylsma was pressed on the issue (Crosby's status, as well as the status of defenseman Kris Letang, out with a concussion)
"He's still light exercise off the ice and hasn't gone to a different stage in his rehab in terms of his symptoms, said Bylsma in his post-game press conference.
"The injury they have is symptom based, you don't progress until those symptoms go away. Kris Letang is obviously on the ice and skating, he's progress and Sid is still in light exercise off the ice."
Crosby, of course, missed the second half of last season, as well as the playoffs and the first month-and-a-half of this season due to a concussion. In the eight games he played this season he scored two goals to go with 10 assists.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:06 pm
Just like that, Sidney Crosby watch is back on.
The Penguins announced last week they were going to withhold their superstar for two games as a precaution after Crosby said he wasn't feeling 100 percent following a loss to the Boston Bruins. We then shared that there were rumblings he could be out for longer than those two games.
That's definitely the case now. Caution will continue to be the word of the week as Crosby is going to remain on the sidelines for the time being.
"Not [feeling] bad," Crosby said. "I'm not happy about watching. But I have to make sure with these sort of things that I'm careful and making sure I'm 100 percent before coming back. No timetable."
"It's frustrating for Sid," coach Dan Bylsma said. "Sid knows his body better than anyone else. He's not feeling 100 percent. He'll return when he is 100."
If you're a Crosby and/or Penguins fan, you have to be worried about more post-concussion symptoms for the Kid.
"I did my ImPACT test and it went pretty good. That was a good sign. It's much different than previously going through that stuff. That was encouraging. I skated following day after with exertion. I just didn't feel right. After talking with everyone I figured it was better to be cautious and not take any chances. That's where I'm at right now.
"The ImPACT isn't everything. You have to listen to your body on these things too. That was encouraging. My ImPACT was much, much worse after I did it in January. This is something I have to be careful with."
If people weren't holding their breath before, they should be now.
"Yes [I've had symptoms the last couple days]. If I didn't I wouldn't be practicing.
When Crosby came back, the concerns people had didn't revolved around how he'd be as a player, but how he'd respond when he took another hit. The culprit in this case appears to be an inadvertent elbow to the head from David Krejci a week ago. While the tests didn't reveal a concussion, if he is feeling the symptoms again, it might as well be.
To scare Penguins fans even more, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points out that a lot of players have passed the ImPACT test only to be diagnosed with a concussion later.
So that's one of many questions at this point. Did Crosby actually suffer another concussion or did he have a setback? Crosby doesn't know how a doctor would call it, but he knows how he labels it.
"I don't even think frustrating begins to describe it," Crosby said.
Could we be looking at another long absence before he's 100 percent and able to return?
"I have a pretty good idea of these things now and I know this is not where I was before, so that is encouraging," Crosby said.
It certainly is, but the question is how much further along is he? He said he's better than he was in August, but remember that he didn't come back until mid-November. So that means Crosby Watch is back on.
Unfortunately, this is likely how Crosby's career will go from now on. He'll never get over the concussions that kept him out for almost a year. He might one day physically, but the questions will forever persist any time that Crosby takes a hit.
Here is video of the full interview.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 12:37 pm
By: Adam Gretz
One of the most anticipated matchups of the regular season finally takes place on Thursday night as cross-state rivals Pittsburgh and Philadelphia face off at the Wells Fargo Center. These games are always a highlight of both team's schedules, and usually involve some level of on-ice chaos.
This time around, it's the first meeting between the two teams since the Flyers' dip into the free agency pool over the summer that included their signings of former Penguins Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot.
Talbot was a playoff hero for the Penguins in recent years, scoring two goals in their Game 7 win over the Detroit Red Wings in 2009, helping the team claim its third Stanley Cup title. There was also his famous silencing of the crowd in Philadelphia earlier that postseason following his fight with Daniel Carcillo in a Game 6 series clinching win.
And the there's the Jagr angle. He is still the second greatest player in franchise history, and a large part of the first two championships the team won in the early 90s, and all of that is going to get overshadowed for the foreseaable future, or at least as long as he wears the Flyers orange and black, because of what happened over the summer.
By now, you're probably already familiar with how it all went down, but if you're not, a quick refresher: After spending three years playing in the KHL, Jagr was ready to make a return to the NHL and the Penguins were one of the teams interested. What followed was a highly publicized free agency courtship between them and the Detroit Red Wings, before both teams ultimately backed out of the bidding with Jagr signing a one-year pact with Pittsburgh's fiercest rival, essentially burning every bridge that wasn't already burned when he asked for a trade out of Pittsburgh 10 years ago.
And with that, the stage is set for Thursday night, even if it seems to mean more to the fans of the two teams (especially the Penguins fans) than it does for the players on the ice.
Three talking points heading into Thursday's game:
1) Matchup with Jagr more for Penguins fans than Penguins players: Regarding the Penguins' first meeting with Jagr since his signing with Philadelphia, defenseman Brooks Orpik said, via Josh Yohe of the Tribune-Review, "I think this whole thing is more for the fans. I've been here the longest of anyone, and I've never played with him. Had one training camp with him — that was it."
And that's probably accurate. When Jagr last suited up for the Penguins, players like Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and James Neal were all under the age of 14. Defenseman Simon Despres would have been 10 years old, and none of the players on the roster played a single game with him in the NHL.
After they missed out on Jagr, the Penguins ended up signing veteran forward Steve Sullivan who has spent most of this season playing on a line with James Neal and Evgeni Malkin. He hasn't been Jagr, but he's been solid with 12 points in 28 games.
2) With Jagr, the Flyers can still score ... a lot: Two months into the season and Jagr has proven he can still play at a high level, even at the age of 39, averaging a point-per-game with nine goals and 13 assists in his first 22 games this season, playing mostly on a line with the NHL's current leading scorer, Claude Giroux. The additions of Jagr and Talbot were part of a summer-long re-tooling by Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, and while it seemed that goaltending would finally become a strength (or at least, no longer be a glaring weakness) with the addition of Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes, it's the offense that's continued to carry the Flyers, even in the absence of defenseman Chris Pronger.
The Flyers, at this point, have silenced any doubt as to whether or not they have enough offense following the losses of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Ville Leino to compete for a top spot in the East, currently putting the highest-scoring team in the NHL out on the ice. Giroux has been everything the Flyers could have hoped that he would be at their top-scoring option, while rookies Matt Read and Sean Couturier have played large roles.
3) Sidney Crosby Isn't Playing And Nobody Knows Why: When the Penguins announced on Wednesday that Sidney Crosby will miss the next two games (including Thursday's game in Philadelphia) it was assumed that it was a result of his center ice collision with teammate Chris Kunitz. And while that wouldn't have been good news, it would have been better than worrying about whether or not it was a head injury. But that may not be the case. As Mike Colligan of the Hockey Writers pointed out on Thursday, Crosby took several hits during what was an extremely physical game with the Boston Bruins on Monday, including an elbow from David Krejci (poor video quality by clicking here). Because the Penguins were so vague with their description, saying only that he "took a hard hit," and because NHL teams guard injury information like it's gold in Fort Knox, we're left to guess as to which play has him sidelined "as a precaution."
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Tags: Adam Gretz, Boston Bruins, Chris Kunitz, Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, David Krejci, Detroit Red Wings, Evgeni Malkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Bryzgalov, James Neal, Jaromir Jagr, Jeff Carter, Jordan Staal, Max Talbot, Mike Richards, Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Simon Despre, Ville Leino
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:15 pm
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Posted on: December 4, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 6:43 pm
It's about time we start taking the New York Rangers seriously, wouldn't you say?
The view in the Eastern Conference is that it's the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins followed by every other team. While that's still the case -- I mean, they have combined to win two of the last three Stanley Cups -- there has to be a setting at the table for the Blueshirts, no? (Yes, Flyers fans, Philadelphia too.)
It's amazing to think about a team from New York being overshadowed. Teams all across Major League Baseball wish that were possible in their sport. But this Rangers team is rather quietly just chugging along. The latest steamrolling effort came in Tampa, where Brad Richards returned to one of his favorite places and helped the Rangers take down his and coach John Tortorella's former team, the Lightning, 4-2.
Since losing to the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in a shootout on October 29, the Rangers have gone 12-2-0. They won seven straight games before dropping two on the road and then have since reeled off five wins in a row since being shutout by the Panthers on Nov. 23.
And how about Richards, the big acquisition in the offseason? In the most recent five-game winning streak he has four goals and five assists. Looking at the team's last nine games, Richards has points in seven of them. The only two he didn't get on the score sheet? The two losses.
Don't think he didn't savor a win in his old stomping grounds. From the New York Daily News.
I don't think anybody that's in the organization or is a Rangers fan is too unhappy these days.
The problem in recent seasons in New York certainly hasn't been the goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding in recent seasons and could have been a Vezina Trophy winner at some point if he had a little more offensive help. Let's be honest, team success is helpful in winning individual awards and the lack of offense wasn't helping the team achieve a whole lot of success.
But things are finally clicking. It's no wonder the Rangers have won 12 of their last 14 games. In six of their last seven wins, the Rangers have scored at least four goals.
Marian Gaborik is back to scoring like he did before coming to New York. He has a team-high 12 goals. It would appear he's beginning to thrive again now that there is somebody else -- Richards -- to take a good chunk of the spotlight and expectations off of him, somebody to share those heavy burdens with.
Start spreading the news, the Rangers aren't leaving any time soon.
The other team in New York, the Islanders, have been anemic when it comes to scoring goals. The offense has been horrible all season long. So of course they became the first team this season to have one of its players score four goals in a game.
The Isles needed all four scores from Matt Moulson on Saturday in Dallas, his final tally of the night being the game-winner.
"They [John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau] really gave me some good chances, all I had to do was sweep it into an open net," Moulson said. "The win's the biggest part. Score as many goals as you want, but the win's the most important thing."
The win in over the Stars caps off a very successful four-game road trip for the Isles. They picked up seven of the eight possible points, the only point missing came in Friday's shootout loss to the Blackhawks.
Yes, there is actually a hint of optimism on the Island again after another brutal start.
Good to have Gabby back
Bruce Boudreau's debut as the Anaheim Ducks coach was eerily reminiscent of his debut with the Capitals for years ago. His team was playing the Flyers, built a three-goal lead before losing it and going to overtime. The only difference was the Capitals won that game four years ago while a double minor in overtime cost his Ducks dearly as they lost in overtime.
But Boudreau had plenty of positives to take from the game, most notably the team's effort.
However it's what he said after the game that really caught my eyes and made me grateful Boudreau is already back in coaching. Having familiarity with the Flyers from his time in Washington, Boudreau said he was anticipating what Philly would do.
“I knew exactly what Philly was going to do,” he said. ”I knew the guys that were going to dive and they did. They got away with it. The only one that didn’t get away with it was [Wayne] Simmonds. It looked like he got shot. And he went down until he start peeking and no one was calling it and then he had to get back up.
“[Scott] Hartnell looked like he’d gotten shot by a bazooka. He didn’t miss a shift and then he comes in and scores the tying goal.”
Props for dropping a bazooka reference on us, Bruce. The implication is that the Ducks didn't really deserve all of the penalty minutes they accrued to contribute to the loss.
I'm sure Philly fans will love Boudreau as much as Rangers fans after this.
While the first leg of the Flyers' back-to-back was all about the opposing team and its new coach, the second leg was about one of the Flyers players.
For the first time this season, Ilya Bryzgalov started both ends of a back-to-back, and it's probably no coincidence that it involved playing in his former city, Phoenix (or Glendale, if you'd prefer). They saw the Bryzgalov they came to know and love, too.
The Flyers goalie was sharp enough to allow just two goals and lead his new team over his old team with a 4-2 victory.
"I was walking in the building, and I can't explain what I felt, but it's something," Bryzgalov said about his return. "I played here three-and-a-half years. Winning lots of games, losing lots of games. Part of my soul is left here.
"I was surprised if they were going to boo me because I don't think I deserved it. I think I did lots of good things for this city and for this team and same thing. They did lots of good things for me. I really appreciate everything they've done for me."
He shows his appreciation by beating his old team. Nice (we kid).
This is how you make people believe you're for real.
The Florida Panthers just made a quick cross-country trip for games in Los Angeles and San Jose. While they lost 2-1 to the Kings on Thursday, they outshot and pretty much outplayed the Kings.
On Saturday they went into San Jose and fell down early to the Sharks. The Panthers stormed back in the second period and eventually won the game 5-3. It was the first time this season the Sharks lost a game when scoring the first goal.
As is becoming common again, there were even a few plastic rats on the ice, even in California.
Of course, it was the top line of Kris Versteeg-Stephen Weiss-Tomas Fleischmann doing the damage again after Versteeg missed the Kings game with a bad neck.
Now the Panthers begin their third consecutive week (!) as the Southeast Division leaders by welcoming Tomas Vokoun and the Washington Capitals to Florida on Monday. Still quite stunning.
This is as great of a run as we've seen in hockey in a long time. The Bruins just finished reminding the Toronto Maple Leafs who the boss of the Northeast is. After beating the Leafs earlier in the week in Toronto, the B's took care of the Leafs a second time, this time back in Boston, 4-1.
With the win, the Bruins haven't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. That's an entire month (14 games) of earning points in every game. The only non-two-point game was the shootout loss to the equally hot Detroit Red Wings on Black Friday.
There are a lot of heralded players on the team. One of them, David Krejci, just received a big extension from the club. Another guy that could soon be getting a nice new contract is Chris Kelly, and he'd be on the unheralded side.
But his goal on Saturday, the game-winner, was already his 10th on the season. He came in to Boston as more of what people love to call a "role player." (Resisting urge to rant ...) Now he is only five goals from matching his career high of 15, which he set twice with the Senators, most recently in 2009-10.
We'll have more on the Bruins later this week from Adam Gretz, but this is one helluva run
Quote of the weekend
There were a few candidates this week. We shared them already, lines from Richards, Bryzgalov and Boudreau.
Like a lot of other players this season, Kovalchuk was booed in his visit to the 'Peg. What were his thoughts on the matter?
"They should support me, maybe I'm one of the reasons they moved here." Ouch. Sorry, Atlanta.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Brad Richards, Brian Stubits, Bruce Boudreau, Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Kelly, Dallas Stars, David Krejci, Florida Panthers, Henrik Lundqvist, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ilya Kovalchuk, John Tavares, John Tortorella, Kris Versteeg, Los Angeles Kings, Marian Gaborik, Matt Moulson, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, P.A. Parenteau, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Scott Hartnell, Stephen Weiss, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tomas Fleischmann, Toronto Maple Leafs, Wayne Simmonds, Weekend Wrap, Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: December 1, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: December 1, 2011 2:13 pm
The Boston Bruins announced on Thursday morning that they have re-signed forward David Krejci to a three-year extension. This comes on the heels of the Anaheim Ducks firing head coach Randy Carlyle and replacing him with Bruce Boudreau.
How are these related, you ask? It was only speculation, but in the Bobby Ryan trade rumors, a swap with the Bruins involving Krejci was a popular rumor, so with the Carlyle firing it appears more like Ryan could be staying put. Thus, Krejci is for sure staying put in Boston.
Krejci's cap hit will be $5.25 million for the three seasons of his deal.
The salary on the deal is a bit high. He doesn't exactly scream $5 million-plus player, now does he? Seeing how Krejci hasn't matched his 2008-209 totals of 22 goals and 51 assists since, but he's still only 25 years old.
But I'll give GM Peter Chiarelli a little benefit of the doubt. Theoretically, this new contract extension will carry Krejci through his prime years, of which he is just entering.
Krejci's playoff performances probably helped, too. In 44 career playoff games Krejci has 19 goals and 25 assists, including 12 goals, 11 assists in last season's run to the Stanley Cup.
Chiarelli has done an excellent job building the Bruins for the future in addition to the now. By locking in Krejci for a few more seasons, the B's have the core of their team under contract for next season now. The biggest name unsigned for next season is Tuukka Rask, after that they are looking at Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Benoit Pouliot, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, Joe Corvo and Johnny Boychuk.
On top of it, according to Cap Geek, Chiarelli still has around $11 million to sign any of those players or wait until free agency and pick up some. He really has done a pretty masterful job not only building a Stanley Cup-quality team, but doing it in a financially responsible way. This Krejci deal might not fall completely in line with that, but he is capable of giving the Bruins about 60 points per season, so it's not a bad investment.
Make the grade: What does Chiarelli earn for this signing?
Photo: Getty Images