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Tag:Pacific Division
Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 5:57 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Will Trotz lose it? Wings-Caps

By Brian Stubits

The Barry Trotz tour of tantrums continues with a stop in Calgary on Saturday to conclude the Predators' first Western Canada swing of the season.

If you haven't been paying attention to the Predators for the past week, you've been missing out. Not so much with their play -- Nashville enters Calgary on a four-game losing streak and a minus-7 on the season -- but from Trotz, the well-renowned head coach for the Preds. He has been less-than pleased about his team's recent performance and hasn't been afraid to tell everybody.

After the Predators lost to the Oilers 3-1, Trotz was clearly upset, saying the team had to "start from scratch." But the majority of the sound bite came from Jarred Smithson, who undoubtedly echoed Trotz's frustration.

"It’s not one guy, it’s not two guys, it’s the whole group. Pekka [Rinne] is the exception. He’s the only guy playing his balls off right now and if it wasn’t for him, we don’t have any points. I don’t know what to say about tonight, it was terrible.”

Oh, but the fun was only just beginning. Because Thursday night brought about a 5-1 loss to the Canucks in Vancouver and more Trotz frustration. A lot more. (Quotes courtesy of Twitter feed from Joshua Cooper of the Tennessean)

His assessment of rookie Mattias Ekholm? "I thought he was horrible, just horrible." Ouch.

How about his feelings on his younger players having to go up against the likes of the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and the rest of the Canucks? “You’re going to have to line up against the best in the league, if you’re scared of that, get a dog.”

Finally, he took the time to thank Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. Seriously. "“I want to thank Alain Vigneault for not playing his top two lines the last 10 minutes.”

Making matters worse before they face Calgary, it looks like they will be without star defenseman and Norris candidate Shea Weber after the hit he laid on Jannik Hansen of the Canucks. That won't help the struggling offense get any better.

The Predators better hope they show up with a better effort in Calgary or it might be a lot of bag skates coming their way.

Somebody's got to lose

There are only two remaining unbeaten teams in the NHL, and they will meet on Saturday. Hopefully they will both be perfect as that makes for one delicious matchup.

The Capitals are sitting at 6-0-0 for the first time in franchise history of their 5-2 win over the Flyers on Thursday. So they enter the battle against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday in Washington unblemished.

The Red Wings will have to go through the winless Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night first, but considering the struggling Jackets will be without Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, you have to like Detroit's chances.

One thing to keep an eye on, Detroit is the only team in the league not to have played five games entering Friday. They're last game came a week ago Saturday against the Wild. So the legs are as fresh as they can get.

Brotherly love

The Carolina Hurricanes have a pretty famous hockey brother on their team. Captain Eric Staal gets chances to reunite with siblings whenever he plays against the Penguins (Jordan) and Rangers (Marc) while his youngest brother (Jared) is in the Hurricanes farm system.

But Friday night will bring about another sibling rivalry for the 'Canes. When they take on the Blues in St. Louis, Anthony Stewart will go up against his brother Chris Stewart. It marks the first time the brothers will play in an NHL game against each other.

"I'm excited," Chris said. "I felt like it's been a long time and a long time overdue. We went for dinner [Wednesday] night, and I'm sure we'll go for dinner again tonight. I look forward to tomorrow."

"It's a big day for our family. They're going to be watching," Anthony said. "They're not going to make it in, but they're definitely excited and the buddies back home are texting us asking if we're going to fight. We'll be fighting on the score sheet. That's probably about it."

Here's their shot

Let's just assume the Red Wings take care of the Blue Jackets on Friday night. Seems like a pretty safe bet. So they will be 0-6-1 headed into Saturday, their final game without Wisniewski. They will have a very winnable game in Ottawa against the Senators.

Ottawa is a league-worst minus-11 on the season, tied with Winnipeg at the bottom of the league. The Sens have given up 31 goals in seven games, that's more than four per game.

If they can't get the win in Ottawa, then you really have to wonder how long it will be. After playing the Senators, Columbus will play Detroit (4-0-0) at home, go to Buffalo (5-1-0) and Chicago (4-1-1), play the Ducks (4-1-0) and Maple Leafs (4-1-1), visit Philadelphia (4-1-1) then host Chicago again. Finally, they'll get a reprieve and face the Jets at home.

Columbus could sure use one or both of the games this weekend.

Mile(stone) marker

San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton will play in his 1,000th career game this weekend when his team plays the Devils Friday night in New Jersey. Then on Saturday he'll play No. 1,001 in Boston, the city where he began his career.

Thornton was a member of the Bruins from 1997 until the 2005-06 season when he was sent to the Sharks for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart.

To show how good he's been throughout his career, here's a stat courtesy of fellow Eye On Hockey blogger Adam Gretz (@agretz on Twitter): Only five players have at least two 90-assists seasons: Joe Thornton is one of them. The others: [Wayne] Gretzky, [Mario] Lemieux, [Bobby] Orr, and Adam Oates.

"It goes by incredibly fast," Thornton said. "As a young guy everybody says enjoy it because it goes by very quickly. It sure does. Now I'm the older guy telling the younger guys."

Of course with all his accomplishments, including the Art Ross and Hart trophies in 2005-06, he's missing the biggest one, the Stanley Cup. That's the goal this season, but the Sharks are slow out of the gate.

"We're obviously 1-3 in the standings but I feel we've played pretty well," he said. "Just stay positive and start getting some points."

Quick start

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has himself quite a little streak going. He has recorded back-to-back shutouts, one against the Blues, the other vs. the Coyotes on Thursday night.

Assuming he gets the start on Saturday back home in Los Angeles, he'll get a stern test from the Dallas Stars, who are off to a quick start themselves.

They come into the weekend in Tinsel town with a 5-1-0 record and will not only face Quick's Kings, but first must go through the 4-1-0 Ducks on Friday. Throw in the Sharks' potential and the Pacific Division might be on its way to being a monster this season.

There will be some good hockey in Southern California this weekend, so enjoy.

Southeast Winnipeg

The most awkward divisional alignment begins this weekend when the Jets will host the Hurricanes. It is Winnipeg's first taste as a member of the Southeast Division, an arrangement that is just a touch unnatural, something that will be remedied before next season.

Hockey night indeed

It's always worthwhile when the Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens do battle. They played the first game of the season (get the honor thanks to Boston's pregame Cup ceremony) and will have Part II on Saturday in Montreal.

Let's play two

We'll also have a pair of division leaders doing battle for the second time in three days. The surprising Colorado Avalanche, a perfect 5-0 on the road this season, will be in Chicago to face the Blackhawks on Saturday night. Chicago won the opening game of the home-and-home series, beating the Avs 3-1 on Thursday.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:25 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 8:50 am
 

Morning Skate: Canucks, Sharks don't disappoint




An overtime with only four skaters per side, the shootout and the date were the only elements that ruined the illusion Thursday's Vancouver Canucks-San Jose Sharks tilt wasn't a playoff game. 

The Sharks, who trailed by two goals early, tied the game on three occasions -- the last with 20.3 seconds left as Ryane Clowe's one-timer beat Cory Schneider as his counterpart, Antti Niemi, sat in favor of the extra attacker. (It was actually 6-on-4 since the Sharks were on the power play.) The Canucks won the game, 5-4, as Schneider was perfect in the shootout and Vancouver's Alex Burrows scored the only goal. 

For two teams who could meet in the postseason for the first time, it didn't get much better for the second week of March. 

“It really was (a playoff vibe),” Sharks captain Joe Thornton told reporters after the game. “These are two really good teams. We're on our end still fighting for our playoff lives, so we need to get as many points as we can. The atmosphere was great and it was an exciting game to be a part of.”

The Pacific Division-leading Sharks pulled within a point of Detroit Red Wings, who sit second in the Western Conference. Still, the Sharks are also seven points away from falling to ninth place and out of playoff picture. 

Vancouver, meanwhile, has won four in a row and remains seven points ahead of Philadelphia in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. 

Schneider again showed he's not a bad second option as starter Robert Luongo rested. He made 44 saves, probably none better than when Clowe directed a crossing pass that Schneider somehow got his right pad on early in OT. It was one of his nine saves in the extra frame as the Canucks, who have the second-best best penalty kill in the NHL, snuffed out a Ryan Kesler high-sticking penalty. 

"Tonight you could say they were the better team on the ice," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told The Associated Press. "But at the end of the night, our goaltender kept us in the game and we found a way to win."

Line Changes
  • Injured Max Pacioretty joins Twitter
  • Eye on Hockey: Habs owner critical on NHL
  • Eye on Hockey: Bettman defends Chara decision
  • Eye on Hockey:Kubina suspended 3 games
  • Blues' Halak beats former club


  • THORNTON, SEDIN WEIGH IN: Thornton may have a little ax to grind when it comes to the team he traded him. Henrik Sedin, the usually soft-spoken Vancouver Canucks captain, doesn't wade into controversies often. 

    But before Thursday game, each came to the same conclusion: The NHL got it wrong by not suspending Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for his check that led to the scary injuries to Montreal's Max Pacioretty. Here are Thornton's comments via The Vancouver Sun.

    “It's just something with Boston; it seems like they have a horse shoe,” Thornton said. “There's just something about Boston and the disciplinary (decisions) are on their side. I'm not sure why that is or anything. I'm not assuming that Colin's kid being on the team, that's why.”



    That was Thornton's not-so-subtle jab at league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, whose son, Gregory, plays for the Bruins. It was his second in command, Mike Murphy, who made the call not to fine or suspend Chara as Campbell recused himself. 

    Thornton's comments weren't exactly a hit in Boston. 

    “Win a big game when it counts,” Boston TV analyst Mike Milbury retorted. 

    Sedin, however, backed up Thornton’s sentiments and said the fact that Chara isn't considered a dirty play should not have entered into Murphy's decision like it did. 

    “Exactly,” Sedin said. “What are you doing to do the next time Trevor Gillies comes down and runs a guy into the thing? You can't give him anything. And you tell the guys (Chara) has no history, so the next time he does it he still has no history because he didn't get suspended. I don't see the reasoning behind it. Give him at least something to show that's not acceptable.”


    THURSDAY'S RESULTS
    Buffalo 4, Boston 3 (OT)
    Philadelphia 3, Toronto 2 
    Ottawa  2, Florida 1 
    Nashville 4, Minnesota 0 
    St. Louis 4, Montreal 1
    Phoenix 3, Calgary 0 
    Vancouver 5, San Jose 4 (SO)
    CBSSports.com playoff tracker

    Photo: Getty Images

    Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:24 am
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    Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:32 am
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    Posted on: March 7, 2011 1:47 am
    Edited on: March 7, 2011 1:53 am
     

    Morning skate: Don't four-get Pacific Division




    The Pacific Division could be very well represented when the playoffs commence next month. 

    Four teams would currently get berths if the playoffs started this morning: San Jose Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings. Had the Anaheim Ducks not dropped a 3-0 decision to the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night, they would have booted the Kings out of the eighth seed. 

    No other division has more than three teams in contention at the moment. Here’s a look again at our playoff tracker.

    The Pacific has placed four teams in the playoffs twice since the current division system was established before the 1998-99 season. (The Northeast leads the way, placing four teams in on four occasions.) The Pacific has only had fewer than three teams in the playoff mix only three times and two Pacific teams skated with the Stanley Cup --- Dallas (1999) and Anaheim (2007) -- during that span.

    How tough would it be for all five to make it in, something that hasn’t happened in the division era?

    It would take a freefall by the Calgary Flames (3-2 winners Sunday over the Nashville Predators) or the Chicago Blackhawks -- two of the hottest teams in hockey. The fourth-place ‘Hawks are riding an eight-game winning streak and the fifth-place Flames are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.

    Making the chances even more remote is the fact teams typically face only other division opponents in the closing weeks of the season, meaning it’s very difficult to make up ground in the conference standings without darkening a division foe’s chances.

    Not that it enters into the equation this time of year. 

    DEAL NOT SO SUITE: An opinion page columnist at The Washington Post called for Capitals and Wizards principal owner Ted Leonsis to take back the two luxury boxes at Verizon Center donated to the city by previous ownership. The suites were a gift to city hall after D.C. approved a $50 million upgrade to the arena in 2007 and the boxes that cost as much as $175,000 annually for everybody else are meant for “economic development purposes.” Colbert I. King wrote that it’s unclear whether the two free suites are actually being used in that manner.
    So taxpayers don't know whether the luxury suites have been used only to promote the city or whether they have been used to reward campaign contributors and volunteers, to curry favor with special-interest groups, to entertain family members and friends, or for the officials' personal enjoyment.


    COYOTES' LOSSES MOUNT: The Chicago investor seeking to take over the Phoenix Coyotes and Jobbing.com Arena told The Arizona Republic this weekend that the team has already lost $40 million this season --- $10 million more than a season ago. The NHL, which has run the team since its previous owner filed for bankruptcy protection two years ago, still expects to sell the team to Matthew Hulsizer without losing money, a price that currently sits at $210 million. 

    The Coyotes, who enter action Monday sixth in the Western Conference, have shown signs of life financially, according to team president Mike Nealy.

    Despite ownership uncertainty and the NHL tightening the team's front-office budget this season, the Coyotes made gains in ticket sales, ticket revenue and overall revenue per game, according to league statistics dated last month obtained by The Republic.
    Nealy said at the end of the season, with lucrative sell-outs and a potential playoff run this spring, he expects losses to drop below last year.


    The long-running ownership drama took another turn when ESPN.com reported that the City of Glendale is expected to file a lawsuit today against Goldwater Institute, a watchdog group opposed to a bond sale that would help finance the sale. 

    Confused? TSN.ca has created its own Jets Meter.   

    LINE CHANGES: Marian Gaborik, out the last two weeks with a concussion, returned to the lineup for the Rangers’ 7-0 rout of the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. In 14 minutes, 28 seconds of ice time, he had four shots and two penalty minutes.  . . . Jarome Iginla became the 10th NHL player to reach 30 goals in 10 consecutive season as he netted a second-period tally in the Calgary Flames’ victory over the Nashville Predators on Sunday.  . . . . For a complete look at Sunday’s action, click here

    Photo: Getty Images
    Posted on: March 4, 2011 2:51 am
    Edited on: March 4, 2011 3:10 am
     

    Morning skate: Is this finally San Jose's year?



    The San Jose Sharks, winners of the Western Conference the last two seasons, didn't look like they'd contend for much more than a low playoff seed, if that, just a few weeks back. 

    Then Antti Niemi, the goalie the Sharks acquired from the Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks last offseason, took over. The Sharks have won 17 of the last 20 games -- all with Niemi in net -- including Thursday's 3-1 victory over Detroit Red Wings at HP Pavilion. Niemi (above) made 26 saves in his latest win.

    The Sharks have won eight in a row, are tops in the Pacific Division and now sit three points behind the Red Wings in the Western Conference. (Here's a look at our playoff tracker.) 

    The Sharks have integrated defensemen Ben Eager (acquired in from the Atlanta in January) and Ian White (acquired from Carolina last month) and are relatively healthy, minus defenseman Dan Boyle (upper-body injury) and goalie Antero Niittymaki (groin). Both are expected to return soon. The taht has a solid stable of forwards -- including Dany Heatley, who had a two-goal effort on Thursday -- and a capable defense. 

    For a team that was a trendy pick for the few seasons to win it all, could this be the season where the Sharks advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history? Maybe even win it all?

    Or, are the Sharks just teasing us again?


    A PLEA IN PHOENIX: After about two years, the Phoenix Coyotes ownership saga could be coming to an end. That's if a citizen watchdog group drops it objections over how the City of Glendale is helping finance the transaction via a sale to of $116 million in bonds. FOXSportsArizona.com's Matt Swartz reports the Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs and Greater Phoenix Economic Council leader Barry Broome spoke at a news conference on Thursday where they urged the Goldwater Institute not to follow through their threat of a lawsuit, which could prevent investor Matthew Hulsizer from taking over the team. Hulsizer said he intends to keep the team at Jobing.com Arena, although any more delays ups the chances that the league-controlled franchise that once called Winnipeg home could be headed back north of the border. 

    GILLIES HEARING TODAY: New York Islanders enforcer Trevor Gillies is scheduled to meet with NHL officials in Toronto this afternoon to discuss Wednesday's blindside hit of Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild. (Link to hit here.) TSN.ca reports that such in-person meetings usually mean a suspension of five or more games is on the horizon. Gillies had just returned from a nine-game suspension for a blow to the head delivered to Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi on Feb. 11. Because of that, Gillies will be treated as a repeat offender. 

    LINE CHANGES: Jason Arnott has acclimated himself pretty well in Washington. His slapshot late in the third period led the Capitals past the visiting St. Louis Blues, 3-2. That makes it one game-winning goal and a primary assist on a game-tying tally in Tuesday's victory over the Islanders since he arrived from New Jersey. . . . Philadelphia forward Kris Versteeg scored twice against his former club, but the Maples Leafs rookie goalie James Reimer made a key glove save in the closing seconds to preserve a 3-2 victory. The Leafs, who dealt Versteeg before the deadline for a first-and third-round picks, moved two within three points of eighth place in the East. . . .  The Buffalo Sabers, unable to score on a power play late in regulation, failed in thier bid to move into eighth place in the East, as Carolina won, 3-2, in OT. 
    Photo: US Presswire

    Posted on: March 2, 2011 3:30 pm
    Edited on: March 2, 2011 3:42 pm
     

    Game of the night 3-2-11

    Calgary Flames (33-23-9) at Chicago Blackhawks (34-23-6)

    Alex Tanguay, Getty Images United Center, 9 pm ET
    Calgary: 5th in West, 75 points (6-2-2 in last 10 games)
    Chicago: 7th in West, 74 points (7-1-2 in last 10 games.)

    BREAKDOWN: The game features two of the hottest teams going and they just happen to be jockeying for position in the Western Conference, where the bottom half of the standings shuffle around from night to night. (Idle Chicago dropped two slots last night alone.) Neither team has the best shot at catching the leaders in their respective divisions, making these games all so vital.

    The Flames are coming off a 6-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The ‘Hawks are winners of five in a row and this will be the first game for defenseman Chris Campoli, acquired at the deadline from the Ottawa Senators. He will likely be paired with Brian Campbell tonight, according to Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald

    Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has netted 11 points over the last six games. Flames winger Alex Tanguay is coming off a three-point night (one goal, two assists) and enters on a five-game points streak. 


    Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:56 am
    Edited on: March 2, 2011 4:21 am
     

    Morning skate 3-2-11: Quick payoffs

    Jason Arnott assisted on the equalizer for the Washington Capitals with 48 seconds left in regulation. Rostislav Klesla’s helper was part of the Phoenix Coyotes’ late run. Scottie Upshall forced OT with a second-period goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets

    Overall, several deadline day acquisitions made immediate impacts as they donned new sweaters on Tuesday. That’s not even counting Brad Boyes (power-play goal for the Buffalo Sabres) and Cory Stillman (goal and an assist for the Carolina Hurricanes), both acquired days before Monday’s deadline who also contributed to their new teams. (OK, it was also for an old team in Stillman’s case.)

    Here’s a breakdown of the highlights: 

    GREAT 8 RESURFACES: No, not the ice -- even if Alex Ovechkin has blended into the background during some games as much as your average Zamboni driver this season. Ovechkin, who is almost certain to finish with a career low in goals, scored his 25th of the season -- and quietly his league-leading ninth game-winning goal -- in overtime to send the Caps to a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders. (He also had a secondary assist on Brooks Laich’s goal in the final minute of regulation.) Nathan Lawson, playing his ninth NHL game, made a game-high 40 saves before Ovechkin made a stellar deke 1:55 into the extra period. Here’s the video: 



    DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE DESERT: The Phoenix Coyotes’ rally from two goals down late in the third period against the division rival Dallas Stars sputtered not long after Ray Whitney tied the game with 38 seconds left. Radim Vrbata took a hooking penalty – an infraction Stars forward Mike Ribeiro made sure the refs didn’t miss -- with 13 seconds left in regulation. Jamie Benn then scored with five seconds left in regulation (video below) as the Stars moved up two slots in the standings with those vital two points via the 3-2 victory. 



    Bruins’ PERFECT FINISH: The Boston Bruins wrapped up their first 6-0 trip since Bobby Orr roamed the blue line with a 1-0 victory in Ottawa. (That 1972 season was also the last time Boston hoisted the Stanley Cup.) Nathan Horton banged in the game’s lone goal early in the third period for the Bruins, who were called “spaghetti-legged” by CSN Boston’s Joe Haggerty. Tuukka Rask, who won his fourth consecutive game, made 33 saves in the shutout. 

    LINE CHANGES: Buffalo Sabers goalie Ryan Miller has appeared more locked than at any point this season, which doesn’t bode well for teams vying for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Miller stopped 29 shots in the Sabres’ 3-2 victory over the host New York Rangers --- the seventh consecutive game he’s given up two or fewer goals. Entering play Wednesday, the Sabres are a point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East and Buffalo has two games in hand. . . . In a night that featured eight one-goal games and one two-goal game that included an empty-netter, no contest went as long as Columbus Blue Jackets-Vancouver Canucks. Roberto Luongo, who has been knocked previously for his play in the shootouts, earned a 2-1 decision after an eight-round shootout. . . . The San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers also won in shootouts. The nod for the snazziest goal in the post-overtime portion goes Edmonton’s Linus Omark. Here's a look: 


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