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: 

Posted on: March 1, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2012 10:10 am

Game of the night 3-1-11: Dallas at Phoenix

Under the RadarDark Horses
Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards won’t play a role in tonight’s game as he’s expected to miss his seventh consecutive contest with concussion-like symptoms. But the fact that the Stars will be able to lean on the veteran center -- possibly as early as Friday -- should be reassuring for Dallas fans and maybe even the players who will skate against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Arena. This 9 p.m. ET tilt is yet another game that will sway the bottom half of the Western Conference standings. (The Blackhawks did just that by moving from ninth to fifth with a victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday.) Both teams enter with 33 wins. Dallas is in eighth place with a game in hand on the Wild and the Nashville Predators, who all have 72 points. Phoenix, who has been atop of the Pacific Division a good portion of the season, is in fourth in the conference with 76 points and two points behind the division-leading San Jose Sharks.At the end of the day, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk apparently wasn’t offered enough in return for Richards, who is set to become a free agent this offseason. Richards told reporters he was willing to waive his no-trade clause, but added that he’s curious to see how the Stars' ownership situation shakes out this summer. That took a little bit of a twist on Tuesday when The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell reported Dallas oil tycoon Douglas Miller offered about $110 million to purchase the franchise. Campbell reported that the purchase price would be announced closer to $225 million since debt and losses written into the deal for the first four seasons would be included in the larger figure. (Forbes ranked the Starsas the 10th most valuable NHL franchise at $227 million in December.) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, however, is seen by many as the frontrunner to acquire Stars, who also play at American Airlines Center. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla will make his Coyotes debut tonight  -- in the team's alternate black jerseys no less. He was acquired before the deadline along with minor league winger Dane Byers from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto. Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who the Stars acquired Feb. 21 from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for winger James Neal defenseman Matt Niskanen, has a goal and two assists and is plus-2 in his first three games on the Stars. The Coyotes have won the last three meetings and are 3-1 overall against the Stars this season.
Posted on: March 1, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 3:17 pm

Antti Niemi Inks Four-year Extension in San Jose

Goalie Antti Niemi agreed to a four-year extension with the San Jose Sharks, the club announced on Tuesday. 

Niemi, who has won has six games in a row and was tapped as the No. 1 star of the NHL for the final week in February, picked a fortuitous time to negotiate a new contract, which was set to expire at the end of the season. Finincial terms were not released by the Sharks, but The Mercury News reported the deal is worth $15.2 million throughout the life of the contract. 
"We wanted Antti to remain a San Jose Shark and he wanted to be here," Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a news release. "Once he got through his expected integration period with our club, Antti’s play has been outstanding and, just as important, he has consistently been a great teammate.  And like many of his teammates over this past year, he worked with us on a contract that fits within our team structure and enables us to keep our group intact."

Niemi, 27, led the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup title last season, but the team was forced to release him due to salary cap restraints  when he won an $2.75 million arbitration judgment last summer -- about triple of what he made during the 2009-10 season. The Sharks singed Niemi as a free agent days afterward. He's 23-15-3 this season with a 2.44 goals-against average.

 Maybe with all the cash, he can afford some new gear.
Posted on: March 1, 2011 3:23 am
Edited on: March 1, 2011 3:38 am

Morning faceoff 3-1-11: Deadline afterglow

The unbridled fervor that was the 2011 trading deadline -- maybe we’re overstating that a bit -- is over. There were 35 players moved via 16 trades on Monday, sort of a letdown that some of us saw coming since so much movement occurred several days earlier. As our hockey writer Wes Goldstein points out, there were 21 deals involving 43 players and 17 draft picks in the first 27 days of February -- the most active month since the lockout.

But here’s a rundown of Monday’s transactions

PENNER BACK TO SOCAL:  The major deal of the day saw Dustin Penner, who came up the ranks with the Anaheim Ducks and helped lead them to a title in 2007, move from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers, in turn, received minor league defenseman Colten Teubert, a first-round pick this summer and a conditional third-round pick in 2012, which could become a second-round selection if the Kings break through and win their first Stanley Cup in team history. As Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reports, the deal came to pass after the Kings were told Dallas Stars center Brad Richards was not available. The upside on Penner is that he has a year left on his deal, meaning he’s not your average rental.

CAPS MAKES MOVES, BUT NOT IN NET: The Washington Capitals made two separate trades before the deadline, dealing for defenseman Dennis Wideman (Florida Panthers) and center Jason Arnott (New Jeresey Devils.) But GM George McPhee didn’t add a veteran goalie. It was another indication that the club is happy to go with their oft-injured young duo Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth. This stance didn’t sit too well with columnist/author John Feinstein in December and while Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are each plodding through a horrid season in the scoring column, goaltending tends to be the Achilles for so many teams come playoff time. (Including controversies in net for the Caps the last two postseasons.) McPhee also told reporters that defenseman Mike Green would be out “a couple of weeks and maybe a little longer.”

FOX, TURNER IN FRAY:  FOX and Turner are apparently checking out the possibility of bidding for the NHL television rights package, The Sports Business Journal reports this week. (Second item here.) That would make four networks -- including current rightsholder Comcast (NBC/Versus) and ESPN -- in the hunt for the league’s domestic TV rights, which are set to expire at season’s end. FOX could potentially put the NHL on its FX cable channel, while Turner may bring games to truTV, the channel formerly known as Court TV. 

OH YEAH, THERE WERE GAMES: The Chicago Blackhawks, looking to avoid becoming only the second team over the last 70 years to win the Stanley Cup only to miss the playoff the following season, won their fifth consecutive game with a 4-2 decision over the Minnesota Wild on Monday. The win moves the ‘Hawks up to fifth place in the tight Western Conference standings, where fourth-place (Phoenix Coyotes) and 11th-place (Anaheim Ducks) are separated by just five points entering play Tuesday. Monday’s action also featured goalie Jimmy Howard, who signed a two-year extension with Detroit Red Wings on Monday. The first four goals scored in the game went into his net, but Drew Miller scored twice as the Wings tallied seven unanswered goals for a 7-4 win. Penner didn't make it in time for the game, but is expected to join the team in L.A. on Tuesday. 

Posted on: February 28, 2011 10:23 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2012 10:11 am

The puck has been dropped

Yes, the NHL is now invited to the “Eye on” party.

This is your new landing place for expanded hockey coverage at, including the sorts of news, rumors and analysis you have come to enjoy from the other blogs launched throughout the site over the last several months. 

Let me introduce myself. My name is A.J. Perez and I arrive via AOL FanHouse, where I served as a senior NHL writer. I also covered plenty of puck at USA TODAY and the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, including my first Stanley Cup Final in 2003. I have only missed out on two finals since: 2004 (my wedding) and 2005 (lockout). I guess we all skipped that second one, but I did watch Game 7 between the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 from a tiny TV beachside in Honolulu.

I’m based near Washington D.C., but I promise to pay plenty attention to the West Coast. I grew up in Northern California (Jeff Friesen, then a rookie with the San Jose Sharks, was my first interview with a pro athlete) plus I want make full use of the Center Ice package. 

We’re going to ramp things up on Tuesday and every weekday morning you can expect a rundown of the important storylines from the night before and what might lie ahead that day. We hope stick around throughout the day and night.

I can be found on Twitter (@ajpsports) and don’t hesitate to get some two-way dialogue going.

The Pregame 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.

9 ET, San Jose at Calgary

One of these teams is guaranteed to hold a playoff spot by night's end. If that happens to be the Sharks, they will jump all the way to seventh in the West. If it's the Flames then they pull even with the Avalanche and have the tie-breaker at the moment.

Where it could get really fun -- and I hope it happens honestly, it would just be too fitting -- is for the Flames to win beyond regulation. Then there is a three-way tie in eighth. Add two points later in the night from the Kings and we could have a four-way deadlock for one playoff spot by night's end.

I can't speak for you obviously, but when I looked at the standings on Monday morning and realized that the Flames were the holders of the eighth position, I was a little surprised. They are a team that everybody seems to quickly dismiss but just lingers around like that unwanted friend on your couch after you offer a beer one time.

As for the Sharks? Well they finally got the much-needed win to snap their skid on Monday night in Edmonton so this is a chance to maybe get a little momentum, a pretty foreign concept to them recently. With the way the teams around them have been playing, the time to turn it around is now and what better way to do that than against one of the teams they are in the heat of battle with?

7 ET, Washington at Islanders

The Capitals take their three-game winning streak to Long Island to open up a five-game road trip that might make or break not only their push for the Southeast Division, but a playoff spot in general.

And while most teams would have little problem opening up a road trip against the Islanders, they are one team the Caps have struggled with this season. The Islanders lead the season series with a 2-0-1 record with that one OT loss coming when the Isles lost a two-goal lead in the closing minutes in Washington.

However with how rough and tumultuous this season has been in Washington, they still have the chance to be in the cat bird's seat in the Southeast after tonight. Read that as an indictment on whatever/whoever you will.

Now it would behoove the Caps to pick up two points tonight for many reasons obviously, but one of them is the fact that points are going to be tough to come by on this trip. After the Isles they go to Winnipeg, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. That's an incredibly difficult road trip for any team, let alone of the worst road teams in the league.

10:30 ET, Detroit at Los Angeles

One team is in the playoffs securely the other fighting desperately to join them. Yet there are two compelling playoff storylines at play in L.A. tonight.

For the Kings it's obvious: they are one of the teams chasing the seventh and eighth positions in the West. As mentioned above, if the Kings can get two points, we could very well have a four-way tie for eighth when the night is done.

For the Red Wings it's a little more subtle. Since Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Jimmy Howard have been battling injuries, the Red wings have fallen behind in the Presidents' Trophy battle too. Now they are just two points ahead of the Predators and each has played 69 games to this point.

At stake there is home-ice advantage in what seems to be their inevitable first-round playoff series. With the way each team is at home, you better believe that's significant.

The good news for Detroit? Howard is expected back in net for the game.

7 ET, Carolina at Rangers: The Blueshirts looked like a lock for the top seed in the East only a week or so ago. Now they are just four points up on the red-hot Penguins with Pittsburgh coming to town this week. I think the Rangers would like to bump that lead back up against one of the East's worst in the Hurricanes.

7:30 ET, Toronto at Florida: We're getting to the point that wins by the Florida Panthers put them in excellent position to make the postseason. If they were to win tonight they would be five points up on ninth-place Buffalo (and would keep their Southeast lead no matter what) with a game in hand. The Leafs should be ripe for their picking.

8:30 ET, St. Louis at Chicago: The scary part for the league is that the Blues have finally started winning on the road too. That's why they have a four-point lead now in the Presidents' Trophy race. They'll test their new road luck in the league's biggest arena. From Chicago's end, they aren't far enough ahead of the playoff chase to feel totally comfortable, so a win would be nice.

Your promised miscellany

  • Monday's Winners & Losers
  • Buffalo's Tyler Myers has a disciplinary hearing with the NHL for a hit on Scott Gomez on Monday. (NHL)
  • The Leafs haven't scored a goal the last two games and that has Phil Kessel "steaming." (TSN)
  • Krys Barch doesn't know why you're so worried about hockey players' well-being when soldiers are making far less than hockey players. (Sun-Sentinel)
  • Oilers coach Tom Renney has seen about enough of Edmonton not really progressing and vented a bit after Monday's 3-2 loss. (NSFW warning: One s-bomb dropped)

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

Category: NHL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or