Category:NHL
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:58 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 2:58 pm
 

Lightning G Garon out 3-4 weeks with torn groin

Garon is 23-16-3 with a 2.85 GAA, .901 save percentage. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Wednesday that goaltender Mathieu Garon will miss the next 3-4 weeks after tearing a groin muscle in Tuesday's home loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Just when you thought the Lightning might have it in them to come roaring back (see what I did there?) this happens.

It's no secret the Lightning have been struggling with their goaltending this season. That would probably be an understatement, in fact. But Garon has given them a little more stability and good enough goaltending since taking over the reins from Dwayne Roloson. As a result -- and Steven Stamkos' 28 goals in the last 32 games, of course -- the Bolts re-entered the playoff conversation not only in the East but the Southeast Division.

That could all come to an end with this news.

The 42-year-old Roloson came to Tampa last season at the trade deadline and was a catalyst in the Lightning making it to the Eastern Conference finals. He hasn't been anywhere near as good this season. His vital stats? A 3.82 goals against average and .878 save percentage. I have one word for that: Yikes!

In relief of Garon on Tuesday, Roloson played 55 minutes and gave up five goals on 30 shots (the Senators had two more in the empty net).

As a result the Lightning have called up Dustin Tokarski from the AHL, who recently ran off eight consecutive wins for the Norfolk Admirals.

Now, why not put a claim in on Marty Turco before he can join the Bruins? Well it turns out that Turco wouldn't be able to play this season by a team that claims him since it's past the trade/acquisition deadline. So it's Boston or bust for Turco.

What the Lightning could do is sign a goalie from Europe like the Bruins did and then wait for him to clear waivers. The only question is if there's anybody they'd want.

Now I'm not going to say the Lightning are done with this news, I pretty much said that after they started selling at the trade deadline, but it certainly doesn't seem to help matters.

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

Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:00 am
 

Orlov, Tootoo given misconducts for pushing refs

By Brian Stubits

Players know that one of the cardinal sins in hockey -- and sports -- is touching officials in an aggressive manner. You just don't do it, it spells trouble every time.

As a result, we don't see it happen often. But it happened on Tuesday night. Twice.

One incident involved Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov after he and his teammates felt like he was slew-footed by Jeff Skinner of the Hurricanes. Tensions were high when the whistle blew and the scrum ensued, eventually Orlov shoves linesman Jean Morin who was trying to restrain Orlov.

Have a look.

Is it a lot? No, not really. But it still isn't tolerated by the league. It's a line that the NHL has to keep 100 percent clear and you would think this fits the bill. You'd think.

Then again, Bob McKenzie notes that Orlov was not written up for abuse by the linesmen, so that helps Orlov. That doesn't mean he is out of the woods, however. The league could still punish him in some way.

While the league looks at the Orlov incident you know that the Skinner slew foot will also be looked at. The NHL has been punishing players for that this season.

“We were going into the corner, I think he tried to sort of back up and I felt like he tried to come and hit me,” Skinner said after the game. “I think he may have slipped. I don't know. I looked at the replay when I was in the box and it sort of looked like I finished with my hands forward, but that was my momentum. I don't know. I think he just slipped.”

I can buy that, it doesn't seem completely malicious to me (everybody is bound to see that one differently). Apparently the league bought it too.

The other player-official push last night came from renowned Predators pest Jordin Tootoo for a small cross check to the back of a linesman stepping between Tootoo and Matt Greene. Like Orlov, Tootoo was given a 10-minute misconduct but was not written up for abuse of the officials after the game.

Here's an animated .gif of the Tootoo incident so you can watch for the contact over and over and over ...

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

Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:39 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:09 am
 

Pregame Skate: Sabres, Leafs continue push

Lindy Ruff and Buffalo return home. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

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.

7 ET, Carolina at Buffalo

The first of only two games on an even quieter than usual Wednesday, all eyes will be on the Sabres after a good road trip. They went 3-1-1 on a trip that included stops in Madison Square Garden, Vancouver and Winnipeg. It resurrected their previously dead season.

However the question remains if it was more of an anomaly or the Sabres have turned the corner and shown flashes of the team many thought they would be. They can start to find that out with Wednesday's game against the Hurricanes.

Buffalo starts the night four points back of the Jets for eighth place in the East and tonight will play its one game in hand on Winnipeg. So not only would a win bring them to within just two points of the Jets, it would also pull the Sabres even in points with the Capitals in ninth.

The small bit of irony there is they would have to thank the Hurricanes for helping them achieve that as the 'Canes head to Buffalo just 24 hours after taking down the Caps in Washington with a bonus-hockey goal.

Obviously Carolina isn't going to roll over and the idea of an easy win in the NHL is almost non-existent, but this is a game the Sabres should and almost need to win. They can't make that road trip feel like it was for naught by laying an egg in their return home if they want to keep belief in a playoff berth.

7:30 ET, Toronto at Pittsburgh

The Maple Leafs are still trying to regain any semblance of their season. One way they were hoping to do that was with the hiring of Randy Carlyle. The good news? In the two games he has coached, the Leafs are outscoring their opponents by a goal. There's a plus.

The bad news is that they have still lost 12 of their last 13 games and only one of those losses came beyond 60 minutes. That's five out of the last 26 points up for grabs that they have taken. Is it any wonder then that they are almost as close to the bottom of the East as they are to Winnipeg in the playoff push?

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Now the good news is that it isn't too late to salvage their hopes even if the prospect is dire. But going into Pittsburgh and taking two points from the Penguins could potentially move them back over a pair of teams and just three points out. That's life at the bottom of the East this season, you have to fail really hard to make the playoffs out of reach.

It's pretty tough to go through a stretch of Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in five days but that's where the Leafs are. Then it's on the road for five straight. It's safe to say you'll see a very desperate team playing the Penguins tonight, but the Pens have been handling that a lot lately and are doing just fine.

Don't forget, the Penguins will be unveiling the much-anticipated Mario Lemieux statue outside of the arena.

Others were watching

There's nothing else. That's all we've got.

Your promised miscellany

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

Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 12:54 am
 

Winners & Losers: Big night for Kings offense

KingsAdam Gretz

There's always a winner and a loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.

Winners

Los Angeles Kings: Entering Tuesday's game in Nashville it had been nearly three full months since the Los Angeles Kings scored five goals in a single game, and they managed to do it for the first time since January 9 in a 5-4 win against the Predators thanks in part to a pair of first period goals from Justin Williams.

The Kings offense, which has been the worst in the league for much of the season, is finally starting to show some signs of life in recent weeks and they have now scored 16 goals over their past five games.

Regression to the mean works both ways, and perhaps it was only a matter of time until things started to improve. A team with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty never should be one of the worst offensive teams in recent NHL history, as the Kings have been this season.

[Related Kings 5, Predators 4]

Boston Bruins: It wasn't necessarily pretty, but after losing back-to-back games over the weekend the Bruins were able to get back in the win column on Tuesday night with a 5-4 win in Toronto. The Bruins were led offensively by Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron, each scoring a pair of goals, and the win allows them to maintain their three-point lead over the Ottawa Senators, 7-3 winners in Tampa Bay, in the Northeast Division race.

The next step for the Bruins is trying to figure out how to do something they haven't done in almost two months … win consecutive games.

They have another chance on Thursday night against Buffalo.

[Related: Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 4]

Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers: For the second straight game Ilya Bryzgalov came up big for the Flyers, stopping 37 of the 39 shots he faced in a 3-2 win over the Red Wings. Max Talbot continued his career year for the Flyers scoring his 18th goal of the season. The only downside of the night for the Flyers was the hit forward Jakub Voracek received from Niklas Kronwall.

[Related: Flyers 3, Red Wings 2 -- Voracek crushed by Kronwall -- Grossmann's name change]

Dallas Stars: The Stars took over sole possession of first place on Tuesday night with an impressive 5-2 win in Vancouver, and in the process completed a perfect three-game road trip through western Canada, a road trip that saw them outscore the Flames, Oilers and Canucks by a 10-5 margin. Thanks to the Coyotes loss in Columbus (more on that below) the Stars now have a two-point lead over Phoenix in the Pacific Division race.

Mike Ribeiro had a three-point night (two goals, assist) in the win and also won over 50 percent of his faceoffs, while Richard Bachman 29 of 31 shots.

Losers

Phoenix Coyotes: After putting together an 11-0-1 run in February some regression had to be expected for the Coyotes at some point. They weren't going to keep winning forever, and even though they entered Tuesday's game riding a three-game losing streak, they showed some signs of busting out of their mini-slump on Monday night.

But that was all erased on Tuesday in Columbus where they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Blue Jackets, losing to the 30th ranked team in the NHL for the second time in less than a week. Those are points you can not let slip away, and the last thing the Coyotes can afford right now is to have this turn into a five or six game losing streak.

[Related: Blue Jackets 3, Coyotes 2 -- For Coyotes, playoffs have already started]

Toronto Maple Leafs: What started as a positive day with the re-signing of forward Mikhail Grabovski ended with not only a loss on the scoreboard to the Bruins, their fifth in a row this season, but also included injuries to forwards Joffrey Lupul and Colby Armstrong, neither of which is expected to play Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Not good.

[Related: Leafs re-sign Grabovski]

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: March 6, 2012 10:46 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:00 pm
 

Milan Michalek's bizarre hat trick

SenatorsBy: Adam Gretz

Milan Michalek recorded his second career hat trick on Tuesday night during the Senators 7-3 win in Tampa Bay, and it was pretty much a gift from Lightning coach Guy Boucher.

All three goals were scored in succession during the third period, making it a natural hat trick, and it was also one of the more, let's say ... interesting, hat tricks that you will see, scoring his first goal on the power play, giving the Senators a 5-3 lead, and then completing the trick by adding not one, but two empty net goals as Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher kept pulling his goalie in a desperate attempt to get his team back into the game.



You don't always see coaches pulling their goalie with a minute to play in a game their team is down by three goals, as the Lightning were when Boucher lifted Dwayne Roloson allowing Michalek to score his third goal, but Tampa Bay is in desperate need of points as it attempts to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race (and, amazingly, the Southeast Division race) and it was a last ditch effort to spark a late rally.

And let's face it, whether they lose by three goals or 20 goals it's still two points they didn't get in the end.

The night really seemed to go off the rails for Tampa Bay in the first period when starting goalie Mathieu Garon had to leave the game due to injury. Roloson came in and almost instantly surrendered three straight goals, putting the Lightning in a hole they were never able to climb out of.

Given the overall mediocrity of the Southeast Division (and the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race) which has the Lightning still very much in the race, combined with their less than stellar goaltending situation, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea for the Lightning to put a waiver claim in on Marty Turco.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:11 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 9:15 pm
 

Jakub Voracek gets crushed by Niklas Kronwall

By: Adam Gretz

Midway through the second period of Tuesday's game between Detroit and Philadelphia, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was on the receiving end of this crushing hit from Niklas Kronwall, one of the biggest hitters in the NHL (his resume is all over the Internet).



It's pretty clear right away that Voracek was in some trouble, and that's Flyers analyst -- and former Flyers player -- Bill Clement asking where the freakin' whistle was as Voracek was on the ice trying to figure out what just happened to him.

There was no penalty called on the play, but it's pretty obvious that the head is the principal point of contact, which means it's definitely going to get a look from the NHL, especially since Voracek appeared to be injured as a result of the hit.

Voracek scored his 12th goal of the season earlier in the game.

Given the issues the Flyers have had this season with concussions (Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Brayden Schenn, James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Matt Read have all missed games due to one this year) there has to be some concern in Philadelphia after watching that hit.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: March 6, 2012 8:16 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 8:27 pm
 

Nicklas Grossman is now Nicklas ... Grossmann

By: Adam Gretz

Our bizarre NHL story of the day comes out of Philadelphia and involves new Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann. The second "N" at the end being the key, as it never existed on any of his official NHL gear or paperwork throughout his career, even though it was the actual way to spell his name.

Grossmann just never said anything. Until now.

According to Tim Pannaccio of CSN Philadelphia, the mistake was finally noticed by Flyers director of team services Bryan Hardenberg when he saw Grossmann's passport and spotted that the spelling did not match up with what is on the back of the defenseman's jersey, which has been spelled incorrectly since his NHL career began with the Dallas Stars.

"When I was younger coming up, I didn’t want to say anything," said Grossmann on Tuesday. "I was just happy to have a jersey with my name on it.”

Even if it wasn't the proper spelling.

The Flyers acquired Grossmann prior to the NHL trade deadline in exchange for a pair of draft picks, and had the trade not happened, it's likely that he would continued on with the wrong spelling on the back of his sweater.

So, if you're one of the fans out there that owns a Nicklas Grossman jersey, well, it's now officially a Jersey Foul.



For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:49 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 2:57 pm
 

The Playoffs have already started for Coyotes

CoyotesBy: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- After cruising through the month of February without a loss in regulation or overtime, the Phoenix Coyotes have hit a rut at the beginning of March, losing three consecutive games, including Monday's 2-1 decision in Pittsburgh.

For a team that's already in what it considers to be playoff mode, needing every win it can get along the way in what is a completely unpredictable and constantly changing playoff race, that's a tough, and potentially costly, stretch of games.

The Western Conference race is so close right now that the Coyotes dropped from the No. 3 seed, and the top spot in the Pacific Division, all the way down to the No. 7 seed, losing the top spot in the division due to a tiebreaker to the Dallas Stars -- a team that didn't even play on Monday night. Entering Tuesday's game in Columbus the Coyotes are just three points ahead of the ninth seeded Avalanche, and one of four teams, along with Dallas, San Jose and Los Angeles, fighting for the Pacific Division crown.

Needless to say, it's a tight race.

After winning 11 of 12 games in February (the only loss came during a shootout in Vancouver), the Coyotes skyrocketed up the standings and had an opportunity late last week and over the weekend to continue their impressive run, only to drop home games to Calgary, and even worse, the Blue Jackets, the worst team in hockey for much of the season. It's turned into a small three-game losing streak that continued on Monday night, and slow starts have doomed them in each of the past three games.

They were out-chanced and outplayed for much of the game against the Flames on Thursday, and didn't start to generate any substantial or sustained offensive pressure against Columbus until mid-way through the third period on Saturday, at which point the game was already well in hand in favor of the Blue Jackets.

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There are no such thing as moral victories in professional sports, and there can't be, especially when it's this late in the season and playoff spots are on the line (as forward Radim Vrbata put it on Monday night game, "Points are what count and tonight we didn't get any") but Monday's game at least felt like it was a step back in the right direction, and even though they came up short, the vibe in the Coyotes room after the game was that they probably deserved a better fate. Facing one of the top teams in the NHL, on the road, the Coyotes at least seemed to get back to the style of hockey that resulted in their near-perfect month of February.

"I thought our compete level was very good," said head coach Dave Tippett. "We did a lot of things hard in the hockey game, it's unfortunate we didn't get rewarded around the net a little more. We created some opportunities there we didn't capitalize on, but we gave them a couple outnumbered breaks and they capitalized, and it ended up being the difference in the game."

Added captain Shane Doan, "We felt we controlled the game for most of the night, and then we had some moments where they kind of found some momentum, but we played the game the way we wanted to."

It was one of those nights where they outplayed their opponent for much of the game, only to lose because the other goaltender simply stole one in what turned out to be a pretty impressive goaltender duel between Marc-Andre Fleury and Mike Smith.

Smith, Phoenix's surprisingly strong and steady replacemen for Ilya Bryzgalov, seemed to be disappointed with his performance on Monday after giving up two early goals, including one to former Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek, and talked about his need to be better. But it would be difficult, if not impossible for him to be much better than he's been this season, seeing as how he's already been one of the best goalies in the NHL. The Coyotes don't need him to record a shutout every single game (which is what it would have required to win on Monday), they simply need more consistent offensive pressure and efforts like the one they received in Pittsburgh, even if it came in defeat.

If they play like that over their remaining 16 games, they're going to win a lot more than they lose.

So what's facing the Coyotes the rest of the way? Their remaining schedule is split evenly, with eight home games and eight road games, and eight games against teams that are currently in playoff spots and eight games against teams that are not currently in playoff spots. The biggest issue they have within the division, as of Tuesday, is that San Jose and Los Angeles still have games in hand, and while they have no remaining games with the Kings, they still have to play the Sharks three more times, including two in Phoenix, a series of matchups that could determine whether or not the Coyotes win the division, or perhaps miss the playoffs entirely.

Whether they make it or not, every game the rest of the way is essentially a playoff game anyway.

Said Smith, "They started a month ago for us."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com