Tag:Eric Staal
Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:01 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:40 am
 

Morning Skate: Playoff ramifications galore


By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

In this day and age with only two teams -- two! -- in the entire NHL being more than 10 points out of a playoff spot, it's hard to find a game on the schedule that isn't carrying a huge impact on the playoff picture. Save for Edmonton playing Columbus, they all have an impact.

That holds even if you have two teams hanging on by life support. Which is just what is on the schedule on Thursday night.

7 ET, Anaheim at Carolina: This is pretty much hockey's equivalent of a loser leave town match. The Hurricanes are eight points back of a playoff position, the Ducks are six back. So, you know, you can't lose this game if you want to stay in the conversation.

To be sure, both face very long odds. More specifically, the 'Canes have a 2.94 percent chance of seeing the postseason according to sportsclubstats.com while the Ducks have a 5.52 percentage.

For Anaheim it brings an end to one hellacious road trip that has been going since what feels like the All-Star break. And they've done very well on it until their last momentum-killing game, a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And Carolina? Well they are actually starting to brim with confidence. They just smacked down the Capitals 5-0 -- then again, who isn't these days? -- and are finally getting the expected production from Eric Staal.

So we have two teams near (or at, in Carolina's case in the East) the bottom of the standings playing some of the best hockey in the league. The game is make or break for both. Should be fun.

7 ET, San Jose at Toronto: The Maple Leafs are still in the thick of the futility battle that is the race for eighth in the East/the Southeast Division. It's like everybody has hit a slump together, giving hope to teams that once appeared on the outs. Toronto is no different.

The goaltending was looking good not long ago. Now Leafs fans are begging for help. They are 1-5-1 in the last seven games. In the last six games -- one OT win in there -- they have yielded 27 goals. That's 4.5 per game. They need to take advantage of the home games they have left, starting tonight.

The Sharks, meanwhile, find themselves actually in a battle for the Pacific Division crown. As of now, they are tied with the surging Coyotes. Now the Sharks do have two games in hand on Phoenix, but those do you no good if you don't win them.

On their own whirlwind road trip, the Sharks are riding a four-game losing streak, three in a row without points. Apparently they think the race for eighth looks so interesting they thought they might play their way into it. As of now, they are only three points up on that eighth spot, but again, have games in hand.

7:30 ET, Vancouver at Detroit: Here's the game of the night without a doubt. Neither team is fighting for their playoff lives, instead they are fighting each other for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Oh, and there is something about a 23-game home winning streak being on the line for the Red Wings? I suppose that might garner some interest here too.

But in reality this game is massive on many levels. In addition to the two-point discrepancy between the teams in the standings, it would do the Canucks a world of good to knock off Detroit at the Joe, prove to themselves that they can do it in case it comes up again at playoff time.

Unfortunately for the Wings -- and fans -- Pavel Datsyuk won't be in the lineup for the Wings, sitting out a couple weeks after having his knee scoped.

9 ET, Phoenix at Calgary: This is the West battle being waged in Calgary right here. The Coyotes have been on fire, winning eight of their last nine games and shooting into not only seventh place in the West but in a tie with the Sharks in the Pacific. And they just added Antoine Vermette.

If Phoenix takes two points tonight, you start to wonder if they can prepare for some playoff games in the desert again. Of course that's no guarantee, but they'd be in one good position for it.

But don't sleep on the Flames. They enter the day in ninth place, one back of the Kings and this will be their one game in hand. Here's what makes the Flames a real threat for a playoff berth, if you can believe that. They have 22 games remaining, 14 of them come at home. That's as favorable as any playoff hopeful down the stretch run.

Also worth watching: The Panthers host the Wild with Florida still clinging to the Southeast lead and Minnesota still clinging to their playoff hopes.

The Blues and Predators renew acquaintances in their continued battle for that crucial fourth seed in the West. The Preds have just owned the Blues this season.

The Stars visit the Blackhawks where Chicago has reeled off four in a row after the nine-game losing streak. Dallas is another team that's hanging within striking distance in the West.

The Lightning visit the Jets with Winnipeg entering in a tie for both the Southeast lead and the eighth spot in the East. They need to win these games since they've played more than any team. But the Lightning are still clawing, hanging five points back of the playoffs.

Your promised miscellany

  • Capitals coach Dale Hunter was hard on goaltender Tomas Vokoun after Washington's second big loss in a row on Wednesday. Of course, without Vokoun, there's no telling how low the Caps would be this season. He's been good for them the majority of the season. (Washington Times)
  • Here's a good read from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun about the always interesting P.K. Subban of the Canadiens. (ESPN.com)
  • Now this is entertaining. Check out Maxime Talbot of the Flyers taking on a fan in a Just Dance 3 challenge at the team's recent fair. (Puck Daddy)
  • While Milan Michalek scored one very pretty goal against the Capitals, Mathieu Perreault had one ugly goal that tried to make him ugly (the puck went in off his face). Guess what? They both counted as one score.

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

Posted on: January 28, 2012 11:40 am
Edited on: January 28, 2012 7:22 pm
 

Columbus will host 2013 All-Star Game

CBJBy: Adam Gretz

On the eve of the 2012 All-Star game, the NHL announced that the 2013 game will take place in Columbus, Ohio, at Nationwide Arena, the home of the Blue Jackets.

It will be the second major event that Columbus has hosted, as the 2007 Entry Draft was held there as well.

If the league continues its current All-Star format with two captains picking their teams from a pool of All-Stars, it's a good bet that Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash will be one of the players making the choices next season. In each of the past two years the host team has provided one of the captains, with Eric Staal being named one last season in Carolina, and Daniel Alfredsson picking his team on Thursday night in Ottawa.

Of course, two things will have to happen for us to get to that point: 1) There's no cancellation of the game due to some sort of CBA hold-up (the current agreement is up after this season, so who knows what's going to happen there) and 2) Rick Nash is still a member of the Blue Jackets.

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

Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Marc Staal takes another step in return



By: Adam Gretz


Marc Staal was able to take another major step in his return from a concussion on Monday morning when he was not only cleared for contact, but was also able to take part in a full practice with his New York Rangers teammates.

Said Staal, via Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record, "I totally felt fully confident going on the ice and taking some hits. There was no doubt in my mind it was the right thing to do."

Staal, the Rangers' best defenseman, hasn't played in an NHL game since last April due to post concussion syndrome. The concussion is believed to have happened during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes in February when he was on the receiving end of a hit from his older brother, Eric. Marc ended up missing a couple of games immediately after the hit, but ultimtely returned to the lineup. The severity of the injury wasn't fully known until he reported to training camp this season.

At this point Staal hasn't ruled out playing in the Jan. 2 Winter Classic at Philadelphia, but also knows that it's important not to rush himself back into the lineup.

In his four NHL seasons Staal has scored 20 goals to go with 61 assists and is currently in the second year of a five-year contract that pays him an average annual salary of $3.975 million. Without him, the Rangers have raced out to a 21-8-4 start and enter the week on top of the NHL's Atlantic Division.

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

Posted on: December 7, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:41 am
 

Mike Murphy allows no goals, still takes loss

murphy1By: Adam Gretz

Mike Murphy, 22-year-old goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes, made his NHL debut on Tuesday night in relief of starter Cam Ward after he allowed six goals on 32 shots against Calgary in a game the Flames ultimately won, 7-6.

Murphy entered the game with a little under nine minutes remaining in the third period and stopped the only two shots he faced ... and he still ended up taking the loss on the stat sheet, despite not giving up a single goal.

With the Hurricanes trailing, 6-4, head coach Kirk Muller pulled Murphy with less than two minutes to play in regulation to get an extra attacker on the ice. That was quickly followed by Calgary's Jarome Iginla scoring an empty-net goal to put the Flames up 7-4. Game over, right? Almost.

Over the final minute of the period, the Hurricanes quickly responded with a pair of goals from Chad LaRose and Eric Staal to cut the deficit to 7-6. Staal's goal came with just five seconds remaining on the clock. Because of that late, and basically meaningless goal, the seventh Flames tally, the one scored on the empty net, obviously became the game-winner. And even though it was scored without a goalie in the crease, since Murphy was the goalie that was pulled, allowing it to be scored, he is the one that gets credit for the loss. Without allowing a goal.

Welcome to the NHL!

It's not the first time it's happened in the NHL, as former Los Angeles Kings goalie Mario Gosselin (via the HfBoards) had something similar happen back in 1989 when he stopped all six shots he faced in relief of Kelly Hrudey in a 7-6 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: December 1, 2011 1:26 pm
 

Rangers' Marc Staal plans to return this season

By Brian Stubits

The Rangers have been incredibly quiet when it comes to the recovery of Marc Staal from the concussion he suffered at the hands of his brother Eric, the Carolina Hurricanes captain. But on Thursday the silence was broken.

Staal has begun taking light skates with some of his Rangers teammates, something that can only be categorized as a positive. But we learned from the Sidney Crosby situation, there is still a long way to go from here.

"Return long way away," Staal told the media in Carolina, where the Rangers play Thursday night, "but plan is to come back this year."

That cheer you just heard was the entire Rangers fan base in New York. Staal is a defensive force for them, a key cog on the back end. With the way the team is playing without him, the idea of his return is enough to excite the fans that the Rangers could be serious contenders in the East.

Staal was shutdown just before the season began. At the time, the Rangers said that it was just precautionary. It soon became much more than that. But his concussion actually goes back to last season, Feb. 22 to be exact.

Despite suffering the concussion, Marc played out the rest of the season with the Rangers, something that frankly shouldn't have happened. But he said on Thursday that he had convinced himself he was OK to play, that perhaps he "sugar coated things." In the end, though, it was his decision to play.

This is the hit from brother Eric that caused the concussion.

It's a very interesting dynamic, brother injuring brother. And considering the blood involved in the situation, it's no surprise that Marc said he holds no grudges against brother Eric. Instead he credits "my brothers, no matter how strange that sounds" for the support they have given him.

Now it's a matter of the Rangers giving him the medical support he needs to get right. First and foremost is his well-being. Only once they are certain that is OK will the hockey part come back into play.

But I have no doubt the Rangers have no problem being patient if it means they can get Staal by the end of the season at 100 percent.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 28, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Paul Maurice fired as Hurricanes coach

maurice1By: Adam Gretz

Monday turned out to be a bad day to be a head coach in the NHL's Southeast Division. Not long after the Washington Capitals fired Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with Dale Hunter, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that they have fired Paul Maurice.

He will be replaced by former NHL player Kirk Muller, who was previously the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League.

This was Maurice's second stint with the Hurricanes franchise, also coaching the team from 1995-96 (when it was still based in Hartford) through the 2003-04 season, leading the team to the Stanley Cup Finals during the 2001-02 campaign where they would ultimately lose to the Detroit Red Wings. Following a two-year stint behind the bench in Toronto, Maurice returned to Carolina during the 2008-09 season and guided the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Finals. This was Maurice's 15th season as a head coach in the NHL, having compiled a 460-457-99-68 record (the 99 are ties from his pre-lockout coaching days) and qualifying for the postseason just four times.

Through the first 25 games of this season the Hurricanes have struggled out of the gate, winning just eight games and currently occupying the bottom spot in the division, while the team's best players, Eric Staal and Cam Ward, have been mired in early season slumps.

More NHL Coaching Changes
Following Monday's division-wide shakeup, Tampa Bay's Guy Boucher, currently in his second year on the job, is now the longest tenured head coach in the Southeast. Washington and Carolina will be introducing new coaches on Monday, while the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets have first-year coaches with Kevin Dineen and Claude Noel, respectively.

If nothing else, the division is a nice illustration as to just how short the shelf life is for a head coach in the NHL.

Muller was previously an assistant coach at the NHL level with the Montreal Canadiens, and was in his first year as a head coach in the American Hockey League. The No. 2 overall pick in the 1984 draft, he played 19 seasons in the NHL with New Jersey, Montreal, the New York Islanders, Toronto, Florida and Dallas, scoring 357 goals and was always one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Bryzgalov gets to meet Winnipeg

By Brian Stubits

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Let's call this the Ilya Bryzgalov tour of fun.

It started with Bryz facing his former team on Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes. His old pals still in the Phoenix red? Let's just say not all of them had flattering comments to make about their former netminder.

There was Derek Morris (no, not THAT Derek Morris) talking about how Bryzgalov gives up soft goals. He even went so far as to say he's glad Bryzgalov is gone and Mike Smith is in. Adrian Aucoin wasn't the most complimentary either.

In the end Bryzgalov got the last laugh with a 2-1 win. Afterward he was only complimentary of his ex-squad.

"It's my former team and not an easy team to beat," he said.

That was Step I, reunion with the team he used to play for. Step II is visiting the city he could have played for, but never would have on Saturday afternoon.

You remember earlier this year, before the Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, don't you? Most of the speculation was that the Coyotes, not the Thrashers would become the Jets. So Bryzgalov was asked for his thoughts on the matter and considering he's usually always candid, the response he gave didn't exactly sit well with the 'Peggers.

Here is what he said in April.

"You don't want to go to Winnipeg, right?" Bryzgalov said. "Not many people live there, not many Russian people there. Plus it's cold. There's no excitement except the hockey. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids. It's going to be tough life for your family.

"I better go to somewhere in Russia, KHL, to be honest. Because KHL is Russian people, it's family, friends. Even as a cold place, I can speak to people in Russian language."

Think the people in Winnipeg forgot about that? Of course not. After all, there is no excitement except the hock ...

Bryzgalov remembers it too, and he did back off a bit on Friday.

"I didn't mean it and I didn't want to offend anybody," Bryzgalov said (from Ted Wyman at the Winnipeg Sun). "I'm pretty sure it's good people, beautiful people live in Winnipeg. I'm pretty sure it's passionate fans. I didn't mean it to be honest. That's it."

Since returning to the NHL this season, the Jets fans have enjoyed once again the art of goalie taunting. No doubt they will serenade the goalie with "Illlll-yaaaa" chants all game long, but they could have just a little more juice in store. A popular Jets fan forum has taken to posting sign ideas for fans at the game. I'm envisioning a WWE event or ESPN College Gameday site with signs all over in the crowd. Make it happen Winnipeg.

Of course, with all of the anticipation in Winnipeg for the chance to boo and jeer Bryzgalov, it will probably be Sergei Bobrovsky that starts.

As far as the game on the ice is concerned, the Jets are playing better hockey these days and have been getting the habit of knocking off some of the traditionally stronger East teams at home. They come into the game against the Flyers -- the top team in the East at the moment -- having won the last two home games, both against teams in the playoffs last year (Capitals and Lightning). They also knocked off the Penguins at home early in the season.

When you add in the absence of Jaromir Jagr for the game and it won't be a walk in the park (get it?) for Bryzgalov and the Flyers.

Back on track

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Canadiens were in disarray. They were off to their worst start in more than 60 years. Assistant coach Perry Pearn was fired. Jacques Martin seemed to be only a couple of losses away from meeting the same fate.

Since an October 24 loss to the Florida Panthers and the subsequent dismissal of Pearn, the Canadiens have very quietly rebounded. I mean, when have you known the Habs to do anything quietly? They have posted a 7-3-1 record since that game and have climbed within three points of the division-leading Sabres.

The natural connection to make is to see the team has done well since firing Pearn, so that must have something to do with it. While I don't want to completely dismiss the idea -- there could be some credence to the belief that it was a "wakeup call" for the Habs players -- it probably is more coincidental than anything. Montreal just happened to have a rough patch at the beginning of the season.

This is where I caution you not to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. The Canadiens have evened themselves out and are at .500 (if we treat OT losses as ties). Of course, that doesn't mean Martin's seat isn't still hot, it's just not scalding at the moment. He's been passed by Scott Arniel and Paul Maurice in the hot seat rankings.

We will get a better idea of which team more closely resembles the truth: the one that started the season or the one that is 7-3-1 of late. That's because they will go up against arguably the hottest team in hockey on Saturday night. What the Rangers been up to lately? Oh, they're just on a seven-game win streak.

Roller coast of tough love

Speaking of highs and lows, check out the Detroit Red Wings. Talk about a roller coaster of emotion.

The Wings came out of the gate winning their first five games. They followed that up with six straight losses before rebounding with four consecutive wins. Now they have lost two in a row. Pretty amazing for a team to be 17 games in without anything but a streak.

Overall, they have lost five in a row on the road.

"It's tough, nothing that we want to do," said Henrik Zetterberg of the road losing streak. "We have another chance Saturday [in Los Angeles] to turn it around."

That will come on Saturday afternoon against an on-the-up Kings team, 4-1-0 in their last five.

"Do we want to be a good team or not?" coach Mike Babcock said about what will be the subject matter of a team meeting (Detroit News). "Life doesn't just go on good for you. You make a decision it's going to go good for you. You decide for yourself you're going to be successful. You decide for yourself that you're going to make a difference and have a good career. No one just gives you stuff.

"The other teams are trying to. We have to make some decisions."

Ovie debate continues

Alex Ovechkin is drawing a lot of heat these days, and unfortunately for him it isn't over goal celebrations.

At first glance, his numbers don't seem bad (seven goals and seven assists in 17 games) but this is Ovie we're talking about here. Obviously a lot is expected of him.

Right now he is struggling. And, maybe as a result, the Capitals are struggling. Are the two connected? Somewhat. Obviously No. 8 is a big part of the Caps. They especially need more than one goal in a five-game span, such as his current stretch.

So what better place than Toronto for Ovechkin and Washington get find their confidence again? Since James Reimer went down, the goaltending in Toronto has returned to its pre-Reimer state: atrocious. Moreover, Ovechkin has always put up good numbers at the Leafs' place, scoring 23 goals in 23 games there.

It would help ease some of the increasing hysteria in "the nation's hockey capital" if he and the Caps could bust out the scoring stick again in a Hockey Night in Canada showcase.

How much more for Maurice?

That's becoming a popular question in NHL circles right now. Is Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice one or two more losses away from being fired?

Something's gotta give right now in Carolina. The 'Canes have lost six of seven and their star player, Eric Staal, is still struggling to make much of an impression. This was supposed to be a year of progression, not the other way around. After just barely missing the playoffs last spring, the hopes were that the 'Canes would again contend for the postseason as presently constructed.

It would probably go a long way toward calming the panic that is setting in not only among the fans, but GM Jim Rutherford as well, if they handle the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. As you'll recall, Rutherford has fired Maurice before, he could certainly do it again.

We're going streaking

As the great Lou Brown said in Major League: "Gentlemen, we won yesterday. If we win today, that's two in a row. If we win tomorrow, that's what they call a winning streak. It has happened before."

So with that obvious definition in mind, here's a look at the winning streaks in play.

Flyers: As mentioned above, they play in Winnipeg on Saturday and they enter having won three in a row.

Rangers: Also covered, they have won seven games in a row and take that streak into Saturday's tilt against the Habs.

Boston Bruins: The B's also enter the weekend winners of their last seven games and only have one game to play, that's Saturday at the Islanders.

Ottawa Senators: Yes, the Sens have found themselves on another run, winning three in a row. Their lone weekend game comes on Sunday night in Vancouver.

Chicago Blackhawks: Riding a four-game streak, the Blackhawks will have to do the Alberta two-step with the Flames on Friday and Oilers on Saturday.

St. Louis Blues: That's right, that Ken Hitchcock move is working out pretty well. The head to Minnesota having won three consecutive.

Kings: Lastly (boy there are a lot of streaks right now) the aforementioned Kings also take a three-game run into their Saturday game against the Red Wings.

Among the losing steaks, we'll just list the top (or bottom) and that's the Oilers, losers of four in a row.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:01 am
 

Report: Marc Staal to see concussion specialist

By Brian Stubits

Things have been quiet on the Marc Staal concussion front. That's because the Rangers essentially put a gag order on the issue so there has been little to report.

But Friday marks the first time this season Eric Staal faces the Rangers and considering it was him who put his brother out of action with the concussion-inducing hit, it brought attention back to the story. So what has been happening on the Marc Staal front?

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Marc was told to stay off the ice for a month.

A news blackout has been imposed regarding Marc’s condition, but The Post has learned the 24-year-old defenseman will be examined next week in Boston by concussion specialist Dr. Robert Cantu.

The examination, sources have told The Post, will follow a one-month “shutdown” period ordered by Cantu when Staal visited him during the week of Oct. 16 while the Rangers were in western Canada.

This situation has never sounded good from the start, but we've come a long way from Staal being held out of practice and preseason games for precautionary reasons. Unfortunately, this is starting to resemble the Sidney Crosby situation.

As for brother Eric, this is going to further prolong his agony, particularly with all the questions leading up what is normally a brother-meet-brother battle.

"I wouldn't say it has kept me awake at night, but it's tough," he told NHL.com. "If I could take it back I probably wouldn't hit him knowing where we've gone and what has gone on since then. But it was one of those plays, bang-bang, happens so quickly, and I hit him hard."

It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Eric gets when the Hurricanes visit MSG on Friday, both from the fans and the Rangers.

Photo: Getty Images

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