Tag:Ilya Kovalchuk
Posted on: December 26, 2011 10:23 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 12:50 am
 

'Canes goalie Cam Ward records first career goal

By Brian Stubits

Goalie goals are rare. They are so rare that when Cam Ward scored one on Monday night, he was the first goaltender of the Carolina Hurricanes to do so. He also became the first goalie in almost six years to score in an NHL game, going back to Chris Mason in April of 2006.

That's what makes them great. Well, at least Ron Hextall's were great. Ward’s was only great in the rarity sense.

With the Hurricanes ahead in the game 3-2 in the waning moments, New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer pulled his goalie, leaving the cage unattended at the other end. That's when an errant pass from Ilya Kovalchuk to the point slipped out of the zone and all the way down the ice into the open net.

Originally, the goal was credited to the Hurricanes' Brandon Sutter as he came incredibly close to grazing the puck on its way by. But after the game both Sutter and Kovalchuk said Sutter didn't alter the pass, that meant the last Hurricane to touch the puck gets credit for the goal, and that's Cam Ward.

"It was Wardo's. As soon as it went in, I think we all knew it was his," Sutter said. "And then the ref kind of came up to me and asked what happened. He asked who touched it last, and it was [Ward]."

As we said, not spectacular. It's more likely to end up on the blooper reels than highlight reels. But it's still awesome.

"It would have been a lot cooler if I had shot the puck or did something like that," Ward said

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

Posted on: December 18, 2011 3:11 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Selanne returns, but Jets take off

By Brian Stubits

Saturday night in Winnipeg was just a little bit louder this time. That's because the Jets fans were more than eager to welcome back Teemu Selanne, a one-time favorite son in the 'Peg under the Jets 1.0.

He didn't leave Winnipeg in a bad fashion (he was traded to the Ducks). He didn't burn any bridges or ever say anything negative about Winnipeg and the fans there. Oh, and he was pretty damn good when wore the red, white and blue of the old Jets, too.

As good as Selanne has been throughout his career, he was never better than he was in his first season in the NHL, playing for the Jets. He set career highs that season with 76 goals and 132 points, marks that he really hasn't come even close to seeing since.

So it took an awful long time (try 15 years) for the Jets fans to get their chance to welcome him back, and they took it.

When Selanne's Anaheim Ducks took to the ice, the crowd was already cheering for the hometown team. The cheer was almost doubled when Selanne came out and the ovation continued through Selanne getting a standing ovation. It was a great moment.

That was well and good, a highlight of the weekend to be sure.

But then came the hockey game. And with that came another Jets home win, 5-3 over Selanne's Ducks.

Yes, the Jets are playing some pretty good hockey these days, especially at home. Coming into the season, the assumption was easy to make that the Jets would be a much better home team, but I still don't think many believed that would translate into Winnipeg having the best home record in the Eastern Conference a week before Christmas.

As things stand right now, the Jets are the closest competitor to the Southeast-leading Panthers. They got off to a bad start, but have flipped the script. The Jets have won six of their last eight games and are just one point behind the Sabres and Maple Leafs in the East playoff picture.

It's essentially the same team that was playing in Atlanta as the Thrashers this time last season, so we can still draw comparisons and warnings from that team. So I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everybody that the Thrashers were leading the Southeast Division this week one season ago. How did that turn out for them, exactly?

Still, it's hard not to believe this team is taking strides, as small as they might be. Evander Kane is beginning to break out and become the player the franchise thought he could be. The young sharpshooter has a team-high 15 goals, five behind the league-leading pace from Steven Stamkos. Dustin Byfuglien, for as rough of an offseason as he had, is still playing well ... offensively at least.

More from the weekend
Recaps
Stories

Ondrej Pavelec has been good enough in goal. His numbers are hardly stellar, but that's pretty much the goalie that he is. He won't compete for any Vezina trophies, but he is good enough to hold the Jets in a lot of games.

If the ship continues to take on water in Anaheim -- and really, at this point it seems like the holes won't be patched this season, even with a new coach in there -- they will have decisions to make with the roster. Talks about Bobby Ryan were already a hot topic. But the Ducks might consider doing more.

At this point in his career, Selanne made it very clear that he was going to only play in Anaheim if he were to play this season. He likely wouldn't waive his no-movement clause if asked. But maybe, if there were one place he would consider it, perhaps it would be Winnipeg. At his age, the Ducks obviously don't have Selanne in the long-term plans, so if they were able to get a player/players or picks for Selanne, they probably would love it at this moment.

That's all pure speculation and the chances of a Selanne trade are awful at best. But wouldn't it be great if Selanne had another return to Winnipeg later this season?

Wish finally granted

For months, Kyle Turris made it clear that he didn't want to play for the Phoenix Coyotes any more. His contract negotiation was long and contentious. During that time, Coyotes GM Dan Maloney was insistent he wasn't trading Turris, no matter what teams offered for the 22-year-old former first-round draft pick. He held firm and eventually got Turris under contract or two years and $2.8 million.

But the calls didn't stop and Turris certainly didn't seem to be secure in his position with the Coyotes. He had to be under contract or risk sitting out the entire season. So this weekend Maloney found a deal to his liking for Turris from Senators GM Bryan Murray. In exchange for Turris, the Coyotes received young and promising defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round draft pick.

I had long held the notion that any return in the trade that netted the Coyotes even a decent return would be a good deal. This would qualify as at least a decent return.

I have just never understood the drooling over Turris from a lot of teams. There was reportedly a lot of interest on Turris from numerous teams, both before he signed the contract and after. And just as he should have, Maloney was playing hard to get and making it obvious that it was going to take a lot for him to trade Turris.

Who knows, maybe Turris will find the environment suitable enough to become the player that everybody seems to think he can be. Maybe getting more of a chance to play and being in a less-regimented system will allow him to put up the best numbers of his career. If he does, I'll eat my crow.

But at this point in his career, he has been underwhelming, for sure. Heck, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett had made Turris a healthy scratch in his final two games as a member of the Coyotes. The interest in him still surrounds that potential tag, and I don't know how many seasons a player gets to play while still holding onto that tag.

Rundblad, meanwhile, has that potential tag, too. But he's a rookie in the NHL, so the sample size is much, much smaller. And with the way Erik Karlsson has developed this season for Ottawa, it made Rundblad a bit more expendable. However it is never an exciting prospect when you give up a young defenseman with loads of potential, those are pretty solid commodities.

My immediate reaction is that I don't like the deal for Ottawa. But like any trade, you can't truly judge it for another five years or so.

Give the Devil his due

The New Jersey Devils are starting to play some pretty good hockey. With their 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens and interim coach Randy Cunneyworth, New Jersey has run off four wins in a row and has two points in six of their last seven games. They have moved into sixth place in the East, joining Atlantic foes the Penguins, Flyers and Rangers in the top six.

The line of Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and rookie Adam Henrique has been spectacular. Henrique is the name that sticks out like a sore thumb in that trio with two perennial All-Stars, but he has been just as terrific. Any time this line is in the game right now, you get the sense that the Devils are on the verge of scoring.

But there is still some secondary scoring coming right now, including two goals from Patrik Elias in Saturday's win. Why is that noteworthy? Because the two goals allowed Elias to tie then surpass John MacLean as the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer.

Also on the minds of the Devils is the status of this year's top draft pick, defenseman Adam Larsson. He took an elbow to the head from the Canadiens' Erik Cole behind the net, a hit that Brendan Shanahan didn't deem worthy of a suspension.

Outside of that, things are going pretty well for the Devils these days.

Tip of the hat

Without Sidney Crosby on the ice, it's a lot easier for Evgeni Malkin to get the spotlight and attention that he deserves. That's easy when you have a game like he did on Saturday, with or without Crosby playing.

Malkin had a hat trick and two assists (of course I'm going against him in Fantasy this week) as the Penguins drilled Ryan Miller and the Sabres, 8-3. That brings Pittsburgh's goal total to 107 this season, behind only the Flyers and Bruins for the most in the league.

What makes it even all the more amazing is this gem of a stat from @PensInsideScoop.

"#Pens salary of their 20-man roster Sat was $38.9 million. That's 25 mill under cap (64.3) and 9 bellow cap bottom (38.9) missing $25 million in salary w injuries 2 Crosby, Staal, Letang, Martin, Michalek. That doesn't include 5 other hurt guys"

Speaking of injuries ...

This won't surprise too many fans out there, but San Jose Sharks forward Martin Havlat appeared to injure himself pretty badly in San Jose's 3-2 win on Saturday night.

When he was hopping onto the ice in a line change, Havlat seemed to get stuck for a second on the boards and immediately came right back off the ice in pain, seemingly in his leg.

It comes just when the Sharks appear to be finally piecing things together a little bit. For the first time this season, San Jose has won three games in a row at the shark Tank and is now in first place in the Pacific, tied at the moment in points with the Stars while having a game in hand.

For Havlat, though, maybe a break could give him a chance to revitalize himself. It's been a big struggle for him since being traded to San Jose this summer. He has just two goals and 13 assists through 26 games, well off his 22-goal, 40-assist season he had with the Wild last year.

Quote of the weekend

"The Leafs have always been a team I hated as a kid. For some reason it feels good to play here -- it's a great building, the fans are great, it's nice to play. I know a lot of fans in Vancouver don't like this team. ... It just makes it extra special." -- Alex Burrows, Vancouver Canucks.

Burrows, who hails from Quebec and grew up a Canadiens fan, finds it awfully easy to hate the Maple Leafs for that reason alone.

So for him, scoring the game-winning goal in Toronto is always special, particularly when it's on Hockey Night in Canada.

And with the 5-3 win, the Canucks keep climbing back to where people expected them to be this season. They are now 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and have climbed to within five points of the Wild in the Northwest Division.

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

Posted on: December 4, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Broadway boys continue to be a hit

By Brian Stubits

It's about time we start taking the New York Rangers seriously, wouldn't you say?

The view in the Eastern Conference is that it's the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins followed by every other team. While that's still the case -- I mean, they have combined to win two of the last three Stanley Cups -- there has to be a setting at the table for the Blueshirts, no? (Yes, Flyers fans, Philadelphia too.)

It's amazing to think about a team from New York being overshadowed. Teams all across Major League Baseball wish that were possible in their sport. But this Rangers team is rather quietly just chugging along. The latest steamrolling effort came in Tampa, where Brad Richards returned to one of his favorite places and helped the Rangers take down his and coach John Tortorella's former team, the Lightning, 4-2.

Since losing to the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in a shootout on October 29, the Rangers have gone 12-2-0. They won seven straight games before dropping two on the road and then have since reeled off five wins in a row since being shutout by the Panthers on Nov. 23.

And how about Richards, the big acquisition in the offseason? In the most recent five-game winning streak he has four goals and five assists. Looking at the team's last nine games, Richards has points in seven of them. The only two he didn't get on the score sheet? The two losses.

Don't think he didn't savor a win in his old stomping grounds. From the New York Daily News.

“It was the first win I had back here, and I really wanted it,” said Richards, who had lost both previous visits to Tampa Bay after being dealt to the Dallas Stars. “Torts wanted this one, too. I don’t know if he wanted it more or not, but the way it ended here was a little frustrating, so I was really happy to get that one.”

Tortorella said he and Richards meant no disrespect to Tampa Bay’s current front office, including general manager Steve Yzerman, but recalled watching in February 2008 as then-Tampa GM Jay Feaster traded away the man who won the Conn Smythe trophy during the Lightning’s Stanley Cup run.

“Not this organization, not the owners here or the people here, but the people that moved him had no clue,” Tortorella said. “I was in the meetings. I watched it happen, and I thought they jammed it to him. How he was handled, I don’t think he’s too unhappy about getting a win here.”

I don't think anybody that's in the organization or is a Rangers fan is too unhappy these days.

The problem in recent seasons in New York certainly hasn't been the goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding in recent seasons and could have been a Vezina Trophy winner at some point if he had a little more offensive help. Let's be honest, team success is helpful in winning individual awards and the lack of offense wasn't helping the team achieve a whole lot of success.

More from the weekend
Recaps
Stories

But things are finally clicking. It's no wonder the Rangers have won 12 of their last 14 games. In six of their last seven wins, the Rangers have scored at least four goals.

Marian Gaborik is back to scoring like he did before coming to New York. He has a team-high 12 goals. It would appear he's beginning to thrive again now that there is somebody else -- Richards -- to take a good chunk of the spotlight and expectations off of him, somebody to share those heavy burdens with.

Start spreading the news, the Rangers aren't leaving any time soon.

Moulson nice

The other team in New York, the Islanders, have been anemic when it comes to scoring goals. The offense has been horrible all season long. So of course they became the first team this season to have one of its players score four goals in a game.

The Isles needed all four scores from Matt Moulson on Saturday in Dallas, his final tally of the night being the game-winner.

"They [John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau] really gave me some good chances, all I had to do was sweep it into an open net," Moulson said. "The win's the biggest part. Score as many goals as you want, but the win's the most important thing."

The win in over the Stars caps off a very successful four-game road trip for the Isles. They picked up seven of the eight possible points, the only point missing came in Friday's shootout loss to the Blackhawks.

Yes, there is actually a hint of optimism on the Island again after another brutal start.

Good to have Gabby back

Bruce Boudreau's debut as the Anaheim Ducks coach was eerily reminiscent of his debut with the Capitals for years ago. His team was playing the Flyers, built a three-goal lead before losing it and going to overtime. The only difference was the Capitals won that game four years ago while a double minor in overtime cost his Ducks dearly as they lost in overtime.

But Boudreau had plenty of positives to take from the game, most notably the team's effort.

However it's what he said after the game that really caught my eyes and made me grateful Boudreau is already back in coaching. Having familiarity with the Flyers from his time in Washington, Boudreau said he was anticipating what Philly would do.

“I knew exactly what Philly was going to do,” he said. ”I knew the guys that were going to dive and they did. They got away with it. The only one that didn’t get away with it was [Wayne] Simmonds. It looked like he got shot. And he went down until he start peeking and no one was calling it and then he had to get back up.

“[Scott] Hartnell looked like he’d gotten shot by a bazooka. He didn’t miss a shift and then he comes in and scores the tying goal.”

Props for dropping a bazooka reference on us, Bruce. The implication is that the Ducks didn't really deserve all of the penalty minutes they accrued to contribute to the loss.

I'm sure Philly fans will love Boudreau as much as Rangers fans after this.

Rude welcome

While the first leg of the Flyers' back-to-back was all about the opposing team and its new coach, the second leg was about one of the Flyers players.

For the first time this season, Ilya Bryzgalov started both ends of a back-to-back, and it's probably no coincidence that it involved playing in his former city, Phoenix (or Glendale, if you'd prefer). They saw the Bryzgalov they came to know and love, too.

The Flyers goalie was sharp enough to allow just two goals and lead his new team over his old team with a 4-2 victory.

"I was walking in the building, and I can't explain what I felt, but it's something," Bryzgalov said about his return. "I played here three-and-a-half years. Winning lots of games, losing lots of games. Part of my soul is left here.

"I was surprised if they were going to boo me because I don't think I deserved it. I think I did lots of good things for this city and for this team and same thing. They did lots of good things for me. I really appreciate everything they've done for me."

He shows his appreciation by beating his old team. Nice (we kid).

Rat pack

This is how you make people believe you're for real.

The Florida Panthers just made a quick cross-country trip for games in Los Angeles and San Jose. While they lost 2-1 to the Kings on Thursday, they outshot and pretty much outplayed the Kings.

On Saturday they went into San Jose and fell down early to the Sharks. The Panthers stormed back in the second period and eventually won the game 5-3. It was the first time this season the Sharks lost a game when scoring the first goal.

As is becoming common again, there were even a few plastic rats on the ice, even in California.

Of course, it was the top line of Kris Versteeg-Stephen Weiss-Tomas Fleischmann doing the damage again after Versteeg missed the Kings game with a bad neck.

Now the Panthers begin their third consecutive week (!) as the Southeast Division leaders by welcoming Tomas Vokoun and the Washington Capitals to Florida on Monday. Still quite stunning.

Unbeatable Bruins

This is as great of a run as we've seen in hockey in a long time. The Bruins just finished reminding the Toronto Maple Leafs who the boss of the Northeast is. After beating the Leafs earlier in the week in Toronto, the B's took care of the Leafs a second time, this time back in Boston, 4-1.

With the win, the Bruins haven't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. That's an entire month (14 games) of earning points in every game. The only non-two-point game was the shootout loss to the equally hot Detroit Red Wings on Black Friday.

There are a lot of heralded players on the team. One of them, David Krejci, just received a big extension from the club. Another guy that could soon be getting a nice new contract is Chris Kelly, and he'd be on the unheralded side.

But his goal on Saturday, the game-winner, was already his 10th on the season. He came in to Boston as more of what people love to call a "role player." (Resisting urge to rant ...) Now he is only five goals from matching his career high of 15, which he set twice with the Senators, most recently in 2009-10.

We'll have more on the Bruins later this week from Adam Gretz, but this is one helluva run

Quote of the weekend

There were a few candidates this week. We shared them already, lines from Richards, Bryzgalov and Boudreau.

But none were more interesting than what Ilya Kovalchuk had to say after the Devils lost their fourth straight, 4-2 in Winnipeg to the Jets.

Like a lot of other players this season, Kovalchuk was booed in his visit to the 'Peg. What were his thoughts on the matter?

"They should support me, maybe I'm one of the reasons they moved here." Ouch. Sorry, Atlanta.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Ilya Kovalchuk's role as a penalty killer

Kovy1

By: Adam Gretz

New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk is logging more minutes than any other forward in the NHL this season. At over 26 minutes per game, he's fourth among all players in the league, and the only forward to crack the top-40 (the other 39, of course, are defensemen). This is not a new development.

Kovalchuk has always been one of the top players in the league when it comes to the number of minutes he's on the ice, and he's finished no lower than 12th among forwards in average ice-time per game going back to the 2005-06 season, leading the league in each of the past two seasons. What is a somewhat new development for Kovalchuk, currently in the second-year of a 15-year, $100 million contract he signed last summer following a lengthy contract saga that involved Tuesday's opponent, the Los Angeles Kings, is one of the ways in which he's piling up that ice time.

On the penalty kill.

Throughout his career Kovalchuk has never been regarded as a great, or even good, defensive player. Seeing him on the PK isn't something one might expect. At least not that often. Especially when coming into this season he typically averaged less than 10 seconds of shorthanded ice-time per game over the past five seasons.

This year, for what has been one of the top penalty killing teams in the league (entering Tuesday's game the Devils are clicking at 89 percent, good enough for seventh best in the league) he's been playing nearly a minute-and-a-half per game on the PK.

"I think he's getting better and better," said Devils coach Pete DeBoer regarding Kovalchuk's penalty killing efforts following a 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"He's obviously a guy we want to be able to get out on the ice in situations in games where there's a lot of speciality teams. You don't want him sitting him for long stretches because of the penalty kill, so we're using him in both situations."

Basically, they want their best player on the ice as much as possible.

Sitting for long stretches hasn't been something he's had to worry about lately, as he's played over 29 minutes in three of the past four games. Using a player like Kovalchuk on the penalty kill certainly carries some risks and rewards. The risk, of course, is that -- and let's be honest -- he's not always the most responsible player defensively. His game is about scoring goals and creating offense, and it always has been. He's not going to suddenly turn into John Madden or Jere Lehtinen overnight.

The reward, as we witnessed on Saturday, is he can still create offense and put pressure on the opposition, even when his team is down a man. Early in the third period, with the Devils attempting to kill a double-minor for high-sticking, Kovalchuk won possession of the puck in the corner (as you can see in the video to the right), taking it from Chris Kunitz and immediately took off up the ice, not only getting the puck out of danger, but also setting up a shorthanded goal for Patrik Elias.

The Devils, in what is admittedly a very small sample size at this point, haven't allowed a power play goal when Kovalchuk has been on the ice this season.

Going back to last January, when Jacques Lemaire was still coaching in New Jersey, the idea of Kovalchuk killing penalties was kicked around when he asked Lemaire what he could do to become a better player. He told him to start killing penalties.

It should be interesting to see how his role continues to evolve throughout the season.

Eventually his overall minutes are going to have to start coming down, because he's not going to keep playing 29 or 30 minutes every night over the course of an 82-game season (plus potential playoff games). During New Jersey's last game, for example, he took only two shifts over the final eight minutes of regulation when the game was all but out of reach. It's possible the penalty kill is the area that he starts seeing fewer minutes. But until then, it's interesting to watch what has been regarded as one-dimensional, all-offense player take on, on at least a very limited basis, more of a defensive role.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: October 24, 2011 8:15 pm
 

Injuries prompt Devils to try Parise at center

By Brian Stubits

With an injury-riddled roster at the moment, the New Jersey Devils are going to try captain Zach Parise in the middle. Or maybe the Devils were impressed by the Blackhawks' similar move of their star winger Patrick Kane to center. Either way, Parise will be taking a lot more faceoffs soon.

Natural centers Travis Zajac (achilles) and Jacob Josefson (broken clavicle) are both going on the shelf, so the Devils have to do something and moving Parise to the middle is the logical choice. Parise and coach Peter DeBoer discussed it back in training camp.

"I didn't think it was going to happen this fast," Parise said of the move. "It’s fine. We’ll try it out and see what happens.

"I don’t know if I was the only one in here who has ever played center before, so they didn’t have much to choose from."

DeBoer confirmed Parise's assumptions and the fact that he has a little experience at center, albeit a couple of games a few seasons ago and with a little more regularity in before coming to the NHL.

"With Jo and Zajac both out," DeBoer said, "it’s something that was sitting in the back of our minds that he’s played center before.

"He’s a versatile guy and he seemed like the best candidate considering the circumstances."

When the Devils took to the ice to practice on Monday, Parise found himself on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Nick Palmieri. It was about that time he realized somebody had to be the center, and it was probably him.

"We almost flipped a coin. I didn’t know who was playing center,” Kovalchuk joked. "He's one of the best players in the league. When he's that good, you just have to play your game."

The connection to Kane is a natural one. The Blackhawks moved him to start the season as they didn't feel comfortable with all the options at the position. Kane has done well, scoring two goals and four assists as well as winning 55.7 percent of his faceoffs. I'm sure the Devils would take those numbers in a heartbeat from Parise at center.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 10:05 am
 

Daily Skate: Deal or no deal to buy the Blues?

By Brian Stubits

There are 12 teams getting their season under way tonight in the NHL. Two of them will come early in Europe as the Kings-Rangers and Sabres-Ducks battle at 1 ET. Then tonight there are four more games back in North America, including the Rick Nash/Jeff Carter era beginning in Columbus. Scoreboard

DEAL OR NO DEAL? It recently came out from Jeremy Rutherford at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Matthew Hulsizer, the Chicago man who nearly bought the Coyotes, has reached a verbal agreement to purchase the Blues. But Andy Strickland at True Hockey says not so fast, there is a lot of work that needs to be done, but at least things are promising.

EARLY RETURN: Nothing like a small sample size. Yes, the Flyers played solid defense on Thursday in beating the defending champion Bruins in Boston, but Ryan Bright says the plan of GM Paul Holmgren that saw sweeping changes this offseason already looks good. It very well could be, but remember; Matt Cooke is on pace for 164 goals, too. Time will truly tell. (Philadelphia Sports Daily)

HIS WAY OF HELPING: Ilya Kovalchuk is doing his part to raise money for the Yaroslavle Victims Families Fund. He is going to give away signed 8x10 photographs of himself to anybody who donates $17 dollars or more. To make a donation, contact PuckAgency, LLC at info@puckagency.com to say you want to donate. A response e-mail will be sent to you with instructions on what to do. (Fire and Ice Blog)

TWITTER TRASHTALKING: Speaking of good causes, the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are encouraging fans to engage in a Twitter battle for Friday's game in Sweden. The Kings have announced that for ever #GoLAKings hashtag, that follower will be entered in a contest for a free round-trip flight and the Kings will donate to the Children's Hospital in L.A. for 5,000. Safe to assume the Rangers have a similar plan. (Pro Hockey Talk)

HERE TO STAY: Last season, ballyhooed Hurricanes prospect Zac Dalpe got just a taste of the NHL, playing in just 15 games a season ago, scoring three goals and an assists. But this year he hopes to stay from beginning to end in Carolina and the 'Canes would love it if he could bring home a second straight Calder Trophy to Carolina. (News and Observer)

QUICK STARTS: The Colorado Avalanche will have No. 2 overall draft pick Gabriel Landeskog on the roster, getting meaningful minutes this season. So that begs the question: who are the best rookies in Avalance/Nordiques history? Here is a list of the Top 10. (Denver Post)

NEW AND IMPROVED: Things are finally feeling they are headed in the right direction in Columbus. The team has some Stars, the financial future seems fixed and there's real excitement for the team. Aaron Portzline previews the season that lies ahead, including one interesting cereal box. (Columbus Dispatch)

HE CAN BE YOUR HERO: Meant to include this in yesterday's Skate, but here is Kris Versteeg of the Florida Panthers being put on the spot at a preseason fundraiser after a bidding war (jacked up by GM Dale Tallon) buys a song from the crooner. Credit to Versteeg, who doesn't hesitate or shy away from a, um, rendition of Enrique Iglesias's Hero. The song starts right around the 2-minute mark.

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

Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 2:28 pm
 

NHL prop bets: Sidney Crosby's games played, more

By Brian Stubits

I'm not a betting man. Seriously, I've never made anything more than a friendly wager in my life. But I still enjoy looking at the odds, especially Vegas prop odds.

I think the most interesting of all the ones released by bodog.com this week are the ones pertaining to Sidney Crosby. The over/under on the amount of games he plays has been set at 60.5. That is starting to seem very attainable, too, as it seems Crosby is close to being cleared for contact. Interestingly enough, Crosby is also third down the list of Hart Trophy candidates at 13/2, trailing only Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.

Speaking of Stamkos and Ovechkin, t's also interesting to note that according to the oddsmakers, nobody is a lock to score 50 goals this season. Stamkos has the highest over/under followed by Ovechkin. Here are the top 5.

Steven Stamkos -- 47.5
Alexander Ovechkin -- 43.5
Corey Perry -- 41.5
Ilya Kovalchuk -- 38.5
Daniel Sedin -- 36.5

A couple other names of note are Zach Parise at 35.5, trendy Hart Trophy pick Evgeni Malkin at 31.5 and Jeff Carter at 34.5.

Here are some of the oddball prop bets for this season. If the preseason is any indication I'm taking the over, WAY OVER on 40 1/2 suspensions.

How many NHL head coaches will be fired during the 2011-2012 regular season?
Over/Under: 1 ½

Total Player suspensions during the 2011-12 NHL season?
Over/Under: 40 ½

Total fines during the 2011-12 NHL season?
Over/Under: 16 ½

Lastly, here are the over/under point totals for the top four or five scorers for every team in the league. There are a few enticing numbers on there, but again, interesting nobody has an over/under in the triple digits.

Point Total Over/Unders
Anaheim
Corey Perry 87.5
Ryan Getzlaf 78.5
Bobby Ryan 71.5
Teemu Selanne 52.5
Boston
David Krejci 67.5
Milan Lucic 58.5
Nathan Horton 58.5
Patrice Bergeron 56.5
Buffalo
Derek Roy 69.5
Thomas Vanek 64.5
Brad Boyes 57.5
Drew Stafford 52.5
Calgary
Jarome Iginla 80.5
Alex Tanguay 62.5
Olli Jokinen 52.5
Rene Bourque 47.5
Carolina
Eric Staal 74.5
Jeff Skinner 66.5
Jussi Jokinen 51.5
Tomas Kaberle 44.5
Chicago
Patrick Kane 75.5
Jonathan Toews 74.5
Patrick Sharp 65.5
Marian Hossa 60.5
Colorado
Matt Duchene 70.5
Paul Stastny 66.5
Peter Mueller 50.5
Milan Hejduk 48.5
Columbus
Rick Nash 71.5
Jeff Carter 66.5
A. Vermette 54.5
R.J. Umberger 52.5
Dallas
Loui Eriksson 65.5
Mike Ribeiro 65.5
Jamie Benn 64.5
Brenden Morrow 48.5
Detroit
Pavel Datsyuk 83.5
Henrik Zetterberg 76.5
Johan Franzen 54.5
Nicklas Lidstrom 53.5
Edmonton
Taylor Hall 55.5
Jordan Eberle 53.5
Ales Hemsky 46.5
Linus Omark 45.5
Ryan Whitney 44.5
Florida
Stephen Weiss 56.5
Kris Versteeg 45.5
T. Fleischmann 45.5
David Booth 44.5
Los Angeles
Anze Kopitar 76.5
Mike Richards 66.5
Dustin Brown 55.5
Justin Williams 47.5
Minnesota
Dany Heatley 69.5
Mikko Koivu 68.5
Devin Setoguchi 40.5
G. Latendresse 37.5
Montreal
Tomas Plekanec 57.5
Mike Cammalleri 51.5
Brian Gionta 47.5
Max Pacioretty 45.5
Scott Gomez 45.5
Nashville
Patric Hornqvist 50.5
Martin Erat 50.5
Shea Weber 47.5
Ryan Suter 40.5
New Jersey
Zach Parise 77.5
Ilya Kovalchuk 74.5
Patrik Elias 59.5
Mattias Tedenby 37.5
New York Islanders
John Tavares 71.5
Michael Grabner 52.5
Matt Moulson 49.5
Frans Nielsen 46.5
New York Rangers
Brad Richards 77.5
Marian Gaborik 61.5
B. Dubinsky 56.5
Ryan Callahan 52.5
Ottawa
Jason Spezza 64.5
D. Alfredsson 54.5
Erik Karlsson 43.5
Bobby Butler 39.5
Milan Michalek 36.5
Philadelphia
Claude Giroux 75.5
Jaromir Jagr 63.5
Danny Briere 62.5
J. van Riemsdyk 50.5
Phoenix
Shane Doan 56.5
Keith Yandle 55.5
Radim Vrbata 49.5
Daymond Langkow 34.5
Pittsburgh
Evgeni Malkin 82.5
Sidney Crosby 79.5
Jordan Staal 48.5
Kris Letang 46.5
San Jose
Joe Thornton 75.5
Joe Pavelski 68.5
Patrick Marleau 66.5
Martin Havlat 63.5
St. Louis
David Backes 55.5
Chris Stewart 53.5
Andy McDonald 52.5
Patrik Berglund 50.5
Tampa Bay
Steven Stamkos 95.5
Martin St. Louis 93.5
Vincent Lecavalier 64.5
Teddy Purcell 52.5
Toronto
Phil Kessel 67.5
C. MacArthur 54.5
Nikolai Kulemin 51.5
M. Grabovski 49.5
Tim Connolly 47.5
Vancouver
Daniel Sedin 93.5
Henrik Sedin 92.5
Ryan Kesler 57.5
Alex Burrows 52.5
M. Samuelsson 47.5
Washington
Alex Ovechkin 98.5
Nicklas Backstrom 78.5
Alexander Semin 63.5
Mike Green 49.5
Winnipeg
Andrew Ladd 56.5
Evander Kane 52.5
Blake Wheeler 51.5
Tobias Enstrom 50.5
Bryan Little 47.5
   

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: October 5, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Devils name young star Parise new captain

By Brian Stubits

The Devils took their time, but they finally named their captains for this season. Getting the big C on the sweater is young star Zach Parise with the alternate designations going to Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias.

Parise was the odds-on favorite to wear the C despite both Kovalchuk and Elias having prior experience as captains at the NHL level, Elias with the Devils from in 2006-07.. For Parise, an assisant the past couple seasos, it has been a long time since he was captain. A really long time.

"The last time I was captain was in Squirts when I was eight," Parise said on Wednesday. "I think I was in high school, too. A little bit of experience in high school but I guess this is a little different than that."

One of the intriguing parts of this selection is the fact that Parise is set to become a free agent next summer unless things change. The Devils deny his contract status had any effect at all in the decision -- which isn't something I doubt, Parise has plenty of merit for the job -- but it could be a nice side effect. The pressure to stay as well as the franchise's commitment to him is a nice little safety blanket of the situation.

"He's got to stay here. That's the bottom line," Martin Brodeur said of Parise. "That's how we'll know how good he is as a captain."

Parise just signed a one-year contract with the Devils this summer worth $6 million, a strong commitment to a player coming off a meniscus tear that limited him to just 13 games last season. But remember that was the first time since his rookie campaign he didn't score at least 30. Not too much of a risk.

It was one of the first big decisions Peter DeBoer has made since taking over as Devils coach. Although he did have a little help.

"It wasn't a solo decision. This was something as a group we talked about from Lou [Lamoriello] to the coaching staff," DeBoer said. "I got an opportunity to spend the last 2-3 weeks around the group and we had the luxury here of a lot of leadership candidates. The group is much bigger than just the guys who are going to be wearing letters, starting with our goaltenders. There were a lot of good options."

Parise steps into the skates held by Jamie Langenbrunner, now a member of the St. Louis Blues. He becomes just tne ninth captain in Devils franchise history.

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