Posted on: March 25, 2011 3:09 am
Edited on: March 25, 2011 11:53 am
 

Morning Skate: Fireworks lacking in Beantown

The sequel is never as good as the original. In the case of the Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens, the last one wasn't that good either.

Thursday's “rematch” between the Canadiens and Bruins again wasn’t competitive, not that many remember Montreal eased to a three-goal win on March 8. No, that game was all about Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara's check that sent Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty off a padded divider between the benches. The collision left Pacioretty with a broken bone in his neck, a concussion and a good portion of Quebec in an uproar.

It was payback time Thursday, right? Not quite. Chara, who was not suspended for the collision with Pacioretty, was the games No. 1 star with three assists as the Bruins extended their Northeast Division lead with a 7-0 victory. On a night that featured three shootouts in games that will help determine the postseason order, what transpired at TD Garden wasn't nearly as compelling. 

There were a couple roughing penalties and Montreal’s Paul Mara and Boston’s Gregory Campbell were sent to the box for fighting, but those things happen in just about any blowout.

"We just went out there, we were focused on doing it right," Bruins coach Claude Julien told CSN New England. "And for us, it's a win that we needed, for all the right reasons, standings and everything else. I think our guys felt good about our performance tonight, and rightfully so."
Line Changes

Even as police in Montreal investigate whether Chara violated any laws with his check a couple weeks ago, Boston authorities won’t be involved this time --- unless somebody wants to file a missing team report. The Bruins dominated in every facet, including nearly doubling up the Habs with 41 shots on net. Boston goalie Tim Thomas, one of the leading candidates for the Vezina Trophy, made 24 saves for his eighth shutout of the season. 

There was a confession after the game, but nobody was Mirandized. 

Veteran Bruins forward Mark Recchi told The Boston Globe he intentionally tried to take the heat off Chara when he told  a sports talk station that Montreal embellished the severity of Pacioretty’s injuries, comments that drew strong rebuke from the Habs’ locker room earlier Thursday. 

"Well, I have to be honest with you guys, I wanted to take the heat off Zee for a day,'' Recchi told reporters afterward. "I'm a big boy. And I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization. I played five years there. I have great respect for Doctor [David] Mulder, the medical staff there.

"I had five great years there,'' Recchi said of his time in Montreal. "I took the pressure off Zee. In 22 years, I've respected all my teammates, all the players I play against. My record has shown that. For 22 years. I just took the pressure off Zee for one day, I'm a big boy, I can handle that.''


Chara told The Globe he appreciated the gesture: 

"I obviously don't know exactly all the comments,'' Chara said of the remarks Recchi made on 98.5 The Sports Hub. ``But he's such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader. It's a thrill to have him. We all learned so much from him. He's obviously the next Hall-of-Famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I can't thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.''


HILLER PULLED IN RETURN: Jonas Hiller, who hadn’t played a game since Feb. 13 as he was sidelined with vertigo, lasted only 11 minutes, 39 seconds into Thursday’s game in Nashville. He allowed three goals on nine shots before Dan Ellis was tapped to enter the game. Ellis actually took the loss in the Preds’ 5-4 victory. 

"I didn't think he saw the puck," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told Eric Stephens of The Orange County Register. "I understand his first game back, it's not easy to pull him. In my mind, you don't do that against him. You do it for the rest of the team. That's what I always say."


THURSDAY’S RESULTS
Pittsburgh 2, Philadelphia 1 (SO)
Ottawa 2, NY Rangers 1 (SO)
Atlanta 2, NY Islanders 1
Boston 7, Montreal 0
Nashville 5, Anaheim 4
St. Louis 4, Edmonton 0
Toronto 4, Colorado 3   Phoenix 3, Columbus 0 
Los Angeles 4, San Jose 3 (SO)

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:35 am
 

Nashville's Ryan Suter punts puck into own net

The Anaheim Ducks don't need any extra help late in games these days, not with 40-year-old forward Teemu Selanne becoming the first NHL player in history to score four game-tying goals in the final three minutes of play in a season. The Ducks won each of those game, which have all occurred since Feb. 11

Regardless, Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter lent a hand -- or rather a foot.

He booted a loose puck past Preds goalie Pekka Rinne with 26.5 seconds left in regualation. The goal, credited to Corey Perry, made it a one-goal game, although the Predators held on for a 5-4 win. 

The victory extended Nashville's winning streak to five games – the longest current streak in the league – and moved up to fifth place in the West. Here's a look at the goal:

Posted on: March 24, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Bruins, Habs set for rematch



WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can clinch tonight. 

ALREADY IN: The Vancouver Canuck, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Montreal Canadiens (40-27-7) at Boston Bruins (40-22-10), 7 pm ET

This game would certainly have importance even if Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara’s check didn’t leave Montreal Canadeins forward Max Pacioretty with a broken bone in his neck and a severe concussion the last time these two teams met. The Bruins lead the Northeast by three points over the Habs, who are 4-1-0 against Boston this season. 

The reaction (overreaction?) by Montreal fans after Chara was ejected -- but not suspended -- over the incident on March 8 has quieted some since it became known that Pacioretty could make it back for the playoffs. Then Boston forward Mark Recchi goes on a sports talk radio station this week and says the Canadiens “embellished it a little bit.”

Still, there’s not likely to be the revenge-filled fracas that was the Pittsburgh Penguins-New York Islanders game on Feb. 11, which resulted in 23 games worth of suspensions. NHL commissioners Gary Bettman already warned Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier against such an incident happening tonight, TSN.ca reports. 

“Everybody talks about revenge and what’s going to happen – and the build-up,” said Milan Lucic told CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty. “I’m sure they’re saying the most important thing for them is getting the two points, and I’m sure for them the most important is getting the two points because they’re right behind us in the standings.”

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Anaheim Ducks (41-27-5) at Nashville Predators (39-25-10), 8 p.m. ET

This game could mark the return of Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who missed 15 consecutive games and 17 games total with vertigo. He was activated Wednesday and backed up Ray Emery in the Ducks’ 4-3 OT victory over Dallas. Hiller was a contender for the Vezina Trophy before his bout with dizziness forced him onto the IR. The Preds will counter with Pekka Rinne, whose goals-against average (2.07) is second only to Boston’s Tim Thomas this season. 

GOLF WATCH: The Ottawa Senators will need a victory to avoid elimination. The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers are already mathematically eliminated. 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 24, 2011 3:07 am
Edited on: March 24, 2011 3:46 am
 

Morning Skate: Desjardins sports rare number



Andrew Desjardins' goal was just another tally in a 6-3 San Jose Sharks victory Wednesday that further dimmed the Calgary Flames’ chances of the making the postseason -- at least until the 24-year-old center skated away from the net after his first career goal.

That’s when one of the rarest jersey numbers in hockey history came into full view: No. 69. 

Desjardins is thought to be one of only two players in NHL history to don the number. The other, according to azhockey.com, was enforcer Mel Angelstad, whose hockey career spanned all of two games with the Washington Capitals during the 2003-04 season. 

Desjardins told CBSSports.com after last night’s game that it wasn’t by design -- or at least his design. 

“I came into camp last summer and that’s what I got,” said Desjardins, minutes after his first career point of any kind in the NHL. “As numbers go, that wouldn’t have been my choice.”
Line Changes

Desjardins, however, wasn’t about to complain about the unusual digits. 

His route to the NHL was hardly direct. Desjardins went undrafted out of juniors and played a season in the Central Hockey League for the Laredo Bucks. He caught on with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the Worcester Sharks, in 2008-09 and has played there ever since --  minus a five-game stint in the ECHL -- and he usually wears No. 22.

Desjardins made his NHL debut Jan. 3 with the Sharks and was called back up on March 7 -- the same day his former linemate in Worcester, John McCarthy, was sent down. The two players, along with Dan DaSilva, made up Worcester’s “Crazed Rats” line. 

“I’m not exactly sure how that started,” said Desjardins, who grew up in Lively, Ontario. “A coach or somebody said our line was tenacious and chased the puck down like crazy rats. It just kind of stuck. Fans started to call us that and they even made signs and brought them to the games.”

Now, Desjardins just has an odd number, one that he hints he may attempt to change if he sticks with the club.

“You just have to laugh about it,” Desjardins said. “It’s not something I looked at and said, ‘Oh, awesome!’ You just have to take a step back and think that you’re playing in the NHL and not worry what’s on your back. My friends and family haven’t been too bad about it. It’s just something you don’t see every day.”

Wednesday’s was Desjardins' 10th NHL game and it came against a Flames team that entered tied with two others -- the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars -- for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. He may be new to the NHL, but it didn’t take him long to sense the Flames’ urgency. 

His goal midway through the first period -- where he took a pass at his own blue line, skated up the boards, spit two defenders and beat  Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff over the blocker -- put the Sharks up 2-1.  A goal by Cory Sarich tied the game about four minutes later before the Sharks pulled away. 

“To be able to play in these types have games has been exciting and challenging,” Desjardins said. “(The Flames) didn’t give up and every game has been like that. That’s the way hockey is this time of year. There are a lot of desperate teams.”

The Ducks, who have been one the league’s most exciting teams to watch over the last several days, reached overtime with a tally by Teemu Selanne with seven seconds left before rookie Cam Fowler clinched a 5-4 victory over the Stars in OT. That leaves the Ducks alone in eighth with 87 points, one point ahead of the Stars and two in front of the Flames. 

WEDNESDAY’S RESULTS 
Vancouver 2, Detroit 1
Chicago 4, Florida 0
Anaheim 4, Dallas 3 (OT)
San Jose 6, Calgary 3

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 23, 2011 4:26 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Battle for 8th in West on display



WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can clinch tonight. 

ALREADY IN: The Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Anaheim Ducks (40-27-5) at Dallas Stars (38-25-9), 8:30 p.m. ET

The Ducks and Stars are part of a three-way tie with the Calgary Flames for eighth place in the Western Conference. (With more wins, Anaheim officially holds that final playoff spot at the moment.) The Ducks have won three in a row and have taken three of the first four meetings between these two clubs. 

The Stars could get Loui Eriksson, out the last two games with a concussion, back tonight, The Dallas Morning News reports. Eriksson will need to be cleared by the team physician under the league’s new concussion guidelines. This is the final game of a seven-game homestand for the Stars, their longest of the season. Ray Emery, who is 2-0 with a .972 save percentage, will likely get the not in net for the Ducks. The Stars will counter with Kari Lehtonen.

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Calgary Flames (37-27-11) at San Jose Sharks (42-23-8), 10 p.m. ET

The Flames have played more games than any other club in the NHL (75), so points are even more crucial down the stretch. Calgary left points on the table in both games against California’s other two teams in an OT loss to the Ducks on Sunday and a shootout loss to the Kings on Monday. The Sharks have won two of the first three meetings between these two clubs. Calder Trophy candidate Logan Couture will be in the lineup a game after he took a scary spill into the boards, The Mercury News reports. 

GOLF WATCH: The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers won't get any new company tonight.   

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 23, 2011 1:36 am
Edited on: March 23, 2011 1:54 am
 

Morning Skate: Rookie Reimer keeps Leafs going



Toronto Maples Leafs rookie goalie James Reimer must be doing something right if he's getting compared to a Transformer.

A couple “Optimus Reim” posters were spotted Xcel Energy Center Tuesday night where Reimer turned in a 29-save performance in a 3-0 Leafs victory over the Minnesota Wild, the Toronto Star reports.

The 23-year-old from Arborg, Manitoba, is the chief reason Toronto still has a shot at its first postseason berth since before the lockout. He had fair amount of admirers as friends and family members made the 540-mile trek from his hometown.

“You always want to win and always want to put on a good show for family, especially when they drive a long way,” Reimer told the newspaper. “They’re the ones who put in the time and effort into my life and into my hockey career.”
Line Changes

Reimer is 11-3-4 over his last 18 decisions and his three shutouts have come since Feb. 3. Not bad for a guy who was sent down to the AHL three times this season.

The Leafs finished the night in 10th place in the East, five points behind the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs have eight games remaining and it’s a safe bet Reimer will get a chance to start in each of those -- especially when you factor in the outrage when coach Ron Wilson started J.S. Giguere in a loss to Florida last Thursday.

Beyond the playoff push, Reimer has also emerged as a candidate for the Calder Trophy. The discussion for the league's top rookie has been dominated by Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture, New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner and Sabres forward Tyler Ennis.

Unlike those skaters who are on lines with talented teammates, Reimer is often on his own --- like when he turned away two shorthanded breakaway chances on Tuesday. But what'll hurt his Calder hopes is his short resume.

He'll play at most 37 games, fewer than Chicago's Corey Crawford, Philly's Sergei Bobrovsky and Washington's Michal Neuvirth --- all rookie goalies with solid stats on playoff-bound teams.

But if he gets the Leafs into the playoffs, that'll cover up his short job history and transfrorm him into Calder contender. 

COOKE AFTERMATH: It appears New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh feels for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke, who was suspended Monday for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs for an elbow he delivered last weekend to McDonagh’s head. 

He spoke with Rangers broadcast outlet MSG before Tuesday’s game (Here’s the quote transcribed by TSN.ca): 

“You're trying to get good momentum going into the playoffs or keep your playoff spot and that was a close game at the time and momentum could go the other way. I think he's trying to make a big hit and he just caught me wrong. I don't think it was his intent.

"The suspension … it is what it is. The league is really pushing to get these hits out of the game. If that's a statement, it's a pretty big statement, for sure."


Earlier in the day, Pittsburgh's two newspapers (The Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review) reported Cooke expressed regret for the collision: 

"I realize and understand, more so now than ever, that I need to change," Mr. Cooke said. "That's what I wanted my message to be."

"I'm fortunate that Ryan McDonagh wasn't hurt," he said. "I don't want to hurt anybody. That's not my intention. I know that I can be better. ... I made a mistake, and I'm the one who's accountable for that. And I take full responsibility for it."


WEST END: Four points separate the fourth-place Phoenix Coyotes and 10th-place Calgary Flames entering play Wednesday. At the same point last season, that margin between the same two places in the Western Conference was 19 points.


TUESDAY'S RESULTS
NY Rangers 1, Florida 0
Boston 4, New Jersey 1
Carolina 4, Ottawa 3
Washington 5, Philadelphia 4 (SO)
Buffalo 2, Montreal 0
NY Islanders 5, Tampa Bay 2
Nashville 3, Edmonton 1
Toronto 3, Minnesota 0
Colorado 5, Columbus 4 (SO)
Phoenix 2, St. Louis 1

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 22, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 5:23 pm
 

Kings' Justin Williams could be done for season



The Los Angeles Kings will be without the services of Justin Williams for the rest of the regular season, although some reports claim that the 29-year-old forward won't be back for the playoffs either. 

Kings coach Terry Murray told reporters Tuesday that Williams could return in three to four weeks if his recovery from a shoulder separation goes well, according to Rich Hammond of lakingsinsider.com. He suffered the injury via a check from Calgary's Robyn Regehr during Monday's game. Williams will attempt to rehab the shoulder before he opts for surgery. 

TSN.ca and ESPNLosAngeles.com report, citing unnamed sources, that Williams is through for the season. 

Williams, who won the Stanley Cup as a member of Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, is second the Kings in goals (22) and has 35 assists. He recently signed a four-year contract extension worth $14.6 million. 

The Kings recalled Oscar Moller from the club’s AHL affiliate to take Williams’ spot on the roster. 

-- A.J .Perez

Photo Getty Images
Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Caps are in with win over Flyers




WHO CAN CLINCH: The Washington Capitals can clinch their fourth consecutive trip to the postseason a few different ways tonight. The Caps are in if they beat the Flyers, get an overtime or shootout loss combined with a Carolina Hurricanes loss (in regulation or otherwise) or if Carolina loses in regulation to the Ottawa Senators

ALREADY IN: The Vancouver Canuck and Philadelphia Flyers. 

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Washington Capitals (42-21-10) at Philadelphia Flyers (44-19-8), 7:30 p.m. ET (Versus)

If memories haven’t already faded about that eight-game slide the Capitals had in December, a victory tonight might just do it. A win by Washington would pull them even in the points department with the Flyers atop the Eastern Conference. The Flyer will remain in first no matter what happens, however, since they have two games in hand on the Caps, which results in a better winning percentage. Here's a look at our playoff tracker.

The Caps will be without Alex Ovechkin, who the team announced Monday would be out seven to 10 days with an undisclosed injury. Arguably the Flyers most recognizable player, defenseman Chris Pronger, will also be out of the lineup as he recovers from an injury to his right hand that required surgery. The Flyers announced Tuesday that enforcer Jody Shelley would be out four weeks due to a fractured orbital bone suffered in practice. He will undergo surgery on Thursday. 

There’s still plenty of players left to make one of the East’s better rivalries interesting to watch. The Flyers won two of the first three meetings this season and all went to at least overtime. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: New Jersey Devils (34-34-4) at Boston Bruins (39-22-10), 7 p.m. ET 

The Devils are getting close to the point where they need to run the table to make the playoffs. Two teams and seven points stand between New Jersey and eighth-place Buffalo entering Tuesday night’s action. The Bruins won the first two meetings this season. 

GOLF WATCH: The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers won't get any new company tonight.  

-- A.J. Perez

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