Tag:Pekka Rinne
Posted on: September 30, 2011 10:12 am
 

Daily Skate: Panthers' Theodore cause for concern

By Brian Stubits

TROUBLE IN PARADISE: Jose Theodore, the Panthers' new starting goaltender, played the entirety of the team's final preseason game, a 7-1 shellacking in Dallas. Kevin Dineen expressed some concern over a bad camp but says there's lot of time. (Miami Herald). If he struggles, it will be Jacob Markstrom to come in as he beat out Tyler Plante for the backup job. (Miami Herald)

TRAVEL Kings: Ever wonder who does the most traveling in the NHL every season? Well this year it will be the Los Angeles Kings, who will rack up more than 55,000 miles with 15 back-to-back games and 13 one-game road trips. The Florida Panthers come in second. Surprisingly, the Winnipeg Jets are just 10th on the list. (Shark Page)

WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER?: There will be a change to the helmets in the NHL this season, but we aren't talking about player safety here. Instead, this season players will have their numbers plastered on the front of their domes in addition to the back, their jersey and shoulders. Just in case, you know, you missed it everywhere else. (Icethetics)

SECOND, BEST?: Most think if Phil Kessel when talking about the Toronto Maple Leafs and their best players. While he did lead the team in scoring last season, it just might be the second line of Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur in Toronto that really does the damage and dictates the Leafs' success. (Globe and Mail)

MIKA MAKING IT?: The Senators figure to get a lot of time to look at their prospects this season as the prospects for a good season aren't high. So on that note, the team's first pick in the draft this summer, big Swede Mika Zibanejad, has pretty much nailed down a roster spot with the Sens. (Senators Extra)

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE: Brett Connolly is the top prospect for the Tampa Bay Lightning, a ballyhooed player the fans can't wait to see skating in Tampa. The 2010 sixth-overall draft pick is having a great camp and showing he's worthy of at least a longer look, the first nine games of the season. (St. Petersburg Times)

PICK MIGHT STICK: The Pittsburgh Penguins might have found themselves a real gem in the back end of the first orund. Their top pick Joe Morrow is still hanging around camp and keeps a chance to earn a roster spot alive, especially as long as Brooks Orpik is out with an abdominal injury. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

LOOKING GOOD: Nashville, music city, has plenty of good-looking people. A few minutes watching Country Music Television will tell you that. Nashville Lifestyles put together a list of the 25 most beautiful and wouldn't you know it, Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne cracked the list. (Nashville Lifestyles)

SUSPENSIONS STICK: Tom Sestito of the Flyers and Jean-Francois Jacques were each suspended by Brendhan Shanahan for action in preseason games and have both been subsequently sent down to AHL affiliates. Well the AHL announced on Thursday that it will enforce the suspensions as well. (TheAHL.com)

STILL GOT IT: Don't think Martin Broudeur has llost much yet. Check out this rob job in last night's Devils game in Philadephia, somehow keeping the puck out of a wide-open net.

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

Posted on: September 28, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 4:15 pm
 

Central Division Preview: 'Hawks, Wings battle on

By Brian Stubits

Enjoy this while you can, there's no telling what the Central will look like next season.

One of the premier rivalries in the sport is the Blackhawks vs. the Red Wings. The only two Original Six teams in the West, they have long been fierce combatants. In recent years the Blackhawks have awoken from the doldrums, making this a great series once again.

But this could be it, especially if Detroit has its way. Realignment is coming to the NHL, that much is guaranteed after Atlanta moved to Winnipeg. The Red Wings organization has made it no secret it wants to move East, rivalry with Chicago be damned. Columbus and Nashville would both welcome a move East as well. Something's gotta give, and it will be the Central Division.

It's too bad. Because this year the division is set up to be about more than just these two powers.

Nashville is always sneaky good. People seem to sleep on the Predators every season, but you know they will be there. They are looking to build off the first postseason series win in franchise history with their three Stars in contract seasons. St. Louis seems to think its Blues are ready to make a leap, so long as they can stay healthy. That was a challenge last season. And Columbus? Well there is at least optimism for the first time in a while and some buzz around the team after the addition of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski to join Rick Nash.

But as many strides as those teams have and are taking, in the end it will likely still be about the two powerhouses. That's because the Blackhawks are back. They suffered a little last year after winning the Stanley Cup as they had to shed a lot of salary. That meant jettisoning a good chunk of the team that won the Cup. But the core remained together and the team found its groove in the end, pushing the Canucks to the brink in the first round. But after an offseason of reinforcing the roster, Chicago figures to be in the thick until the end.

And Detroit? The Red Wings are ... well they're just the Wings. It's hard to imagine them not being good. Although this year they don't seem to be as loaded as usual, those are some pretty lofty standards. They will still be a threat not only for the division title but in the Western Conference, they can flat out score. That much we know.

So if this is it as division rivals, it should be fun.

Central Division (in predicted order of finish)

PenguinsChicago Blackhawks: Ah, it's nice to be out of salary cap hell, isn't it Chicago? After having to do major salary shedding, the Blackhawks still come out with a cast of characters that includes the names Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and newcomer Andrew Brunette. Throw in Dan Carcillo and Jamal Mayers to give the team some nastiness power and the forwards are well-rounded.

On defense they will miss Brian Campbell, just not his salary. Sure, he is overpaid, but that doesn't mean he didn't bring anything to the table for the 'Hawks. But the defensive corps is still solid, led by Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Expectations are very high in Chicago once again.

Strenghts: It's tough to find a better pair of linemates than Toews and Kane. They are both still stepping into their primes, so they have a lot more to show. Those two are also part of the reason why the power play should once again be successful. Last season the unit ranked fourth in the NHL with the man up, led by Sharp's 12 goals on the power play.

They figure to be better at killing penalties thanks to the additions of Mayers, Steve Montador and Sean O'Donnell, an area where Chicago struggled last season.

Weaknesses: Depth at center is a major concern at this point. The team has been experimenting during camp with Patrick Kane, of all players, manning the center position. Maybe it's an indictment on the centers on the roster. Perhaps it's an indication of Patrick Sharp's health (or lack thereof). Whatever the reason, it's slightly concerning.

I would also be a little worried about the backup goaltender situation behind Corey Crawford. Alexander Salak is going to have the job and he might be more than adequate in the role, we just don't know much about him at the NHL level where he has little experience.

PenguinsDetroit Red Wings: The Wings are remarkably consistent as they have made the playoffs in each of the past 20 seasons. They also stay consistent in their roster, retaining a lot of their players over time. Case in point, this year's forward group. The Wings will trot out mostly all the same forwards as a year ago for when they finished second in the NHL in scoring.

But the defensive corps received quite a shakeup after last season's 2.89 goals against average, the retirement of Brian Rafalski and loss of Ruslan Salei.

In net they have Jimmy Howard with Ty Conklin backing him up. You have to wonder how much confidence Ken Holland and Mike Babcock have in their starter Howard, though, after the team had a failed pursuit of Tomas Vokoun.

Strengths: As mentioned, the Red Wings can score, almost all of them. Last season there were 13 players that recorded double digits in goals scored, led by Johan Franzen's 28. There is certainly loads of experience in Detroit, too. These guys aren't in their first rodeos. That especially includes defensive stalwart Nicklas Lidstrom, who put of retirement for another year on the ice.

Having the leadership that players like Lidstrom can provide certainly doesn't hurt. Also, you might have heard this Babcock fellow on their bench isn't so bad.

Weaknesses: Defense, defense, defense. That is the major concern/question mark here. They revamped the D, bringing in Mike Commodore and Ian White through free agency. Young defenseman Jonathan Ericsson received a pretty lucrative new deal, so he will be expected to improve.

In the defensive vein, the goaltending will also need to get better. Of course, that goes hand in hand with the defense, but Howard has room to improve. Playing for the Wings, his record was solid -- a nice 37-17-5 mark -- but the goals against average of 2.79 (36th out of 47 eligible goalies) and save percentage of .908 (33rd best) aren't worth writing home about.

PenguinsNashville Predators: Hope is high in Smashville coming off the best showing in franchise history, making it to conference semifinals. The Predators have more or less become the NHL's version of a Moneyball team, continuing to cultivate home-grown talent and win on the cheap.

The team is led by the high-profile trio of goalie Pekka Rinne (Vezina finalist) and defensemen Shea Weber (Norris finalist) and Ryan Suter, who are all going into contract seasons. It will be interesting to see how that plays out for each of them. For some players, it's a major distraction, for others it brings out the best playing for a new deal.

If there's anything we've learned about the Predators in recent years it's not to count them out, at least as long as Barry Trotz is on the bench. Maybe this will be the year he finally wins the Jack Adams as the best coach?

Strengths: The Preds have one of the best defenses in all of hockey. That's due to a multitude of reasons stretching from Trotz's system and philosophy to the outstanding personnel on the blue line -- which might get stronger with the addition of heralded prospect Ryan Ellis -- and the elite goaltending of Rinne. All in all, it led to the team posting the third-lowest GAA a season ago.

The farm system is also a strength, it usually is for Nashville. In addition to Ellis, they have forward Craig Smith, who drew rave reviews by scoring six goals in two games in the team's rookie tournament games.

Weaknesses: You would love to have somebody who is the clear-cut scorer on the team. Unfortunately, the Preds just don't score a lot, period, forget about one player. Only two players (Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist) topped the 20-goal mark with Kostitsyn pacing the team with 23. Perhaps a healthy Mike Fisher can help with that, at least that's the hope.

As you'd expect with low offensive numbers, the power play placed in the bottom five of the entire league a season ago. The leading power-play scorer was Martin Erat last season with seven.

PenguinsSt. Louis Blues: After coming out of the gate firing 9-1-2 last season, the Blues slowed down as the season wore along, eventually missing the playoffs by 10 points partly because the team dealt with a rash of injuries. Despite that finish, there is positive momentum going in St. Louis and the ownership sees it. That's why they left the young core of the team pretty much untouched this offseason, just electing to bring in a couple of savvy veterans in Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott to make an impact.

You can see the potential here, especially with another year under their belts. It will be interesting to see how they fare over a full season with Chris Stewert, who they acquired midseason from Colorado last year. After getting the forward, the Blues' offense saw a big uptick in scoring, eventually finishing 10th in the league.

Defensively they came in just below the median at 18th in the league. The Blues should be in the playoff picture all season long.

Strengths: There is a good amount of individual talent here, starting with Stewart and new captain David Backes. In all, they had six players last season score 20 goals or more and one of them, Andy McDonald, reached that plateau in just 58 games. With the abundance of talented and skilled skaters this is a team with plenty of speed up and down the lineup.

You also have to like the young defensive corps that has two stars in the making with Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, who each had 43 points from the back end a season ago.

Weaknesses: We weren't entirely sure where to put goaltending in this equation since Jaroslav Halak had some struggles in his first season as a No. 1 goaltender. However he showed what he's capable of when he was with the Canadiens. But based on his just average numbers of a season ago and the unsure situation behind him (Ben Bishop vs. Brian Elliott), we'll put this as our best guess.

Another area where the Blues are lacking is in the physicality department. You wonder where exactly the toughness will come from.

PenguinsColumbus Blue Jackets: What is that coming from Columbus? Is that hope? Why yes, I think it is. GM Scott Howson was active this summer by bringing in Wisniewski and Carter along with Vinny Prospal and Radek Martinek on the blue line. In addition to signing new players, Howson was also busy in signing his current players to long-term deals, specifically R.J. Umberger and Fedor Tyutin.

Yes, the Jackets are spending money, that's not the problem. What is is the matter of how bang for the buck they are getting. To put it in perspective, the Jackets currently have a higher payroll than the Boston Bruins. The hope is that it translates into success, and a few more fans at the turnstiles as Columbus was 27th in the league in attendance last season.

Strenghts: They have struggled to score recently, but that should be done with, or at least minimized. They have a true No. 1 center now in Carter, which should only further help Nash show he is one of the best players people don't talk about in the NHL. The power play, perhaps Columbus' biggest bug-a-boo in recent seasons, should be significantly better now that they have a quarterback for the unit in Wisniewski (when he's back from suspension) and two very capable scorers up front. It had to get better from last year's 29th-ranked unit.

Weaknesses: Did somebody say goaltending? This is one area where the Blue Jackets didn't do a whole lot of upgrading. Instead, they elected to give the starting reins back to Steve Mason and signing the inexperienced Mark Dekanich to be his backup. Since winning the Calder as the league's top rookie, Mason has struggled. Last season he had a 3.01 goals against average and .901 save percentage. That's a big reason why the Jackets were 26th in scoring in the league.

And while Wisniewski helps, there still isn't much scoring threat from the blue line. Tyutin led Columbus in scoring among defensemen with just 27 points.

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: September 26, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Daily Skate: Avalanche's Yip out 4-6 weeks

By Brian Stubits

LOSING THE YIPS: The Colorado Avalanche will be opening up the regular season with Brandon Yip on the sidelines after breaking a forearm this weekend against the Blues. He will miss 4-6 weeks. Avs defenseman Jan Hejda is also dealing with a setback, 2-4 works after suffering a knee injury in the same game. (Denver Post)

WHAT'S HIS NAME: Tomas Fleischmann is new to the Florida Panthers, and it showed over the weekend. Check out the jersey that he was sporting in the team's home game against the Lightning. (For those who can't see, it spells F-L-E-S-I-C-H-M-A-N-N) I guess the people in charge of putting names on jerseys didn't brush up on their offseason acquisition list. (Getty Images via Litter Box Cats)

SCOTT'S SCARE: Scott Hartnell played only nine minutes of the Flyers' game against the Red Wings over the weekend because of a heart scare. During the intermission it was discovered he had an elevated heart rate that didn't slow down during the break. A checkup on Saturday showed things were normal, but he will still be evaluated by a cardiologist. (flyers.nhl.com)

SUTERWATCH STARTS: It's almost another full year before free agency begins again, but fans in Nashville are already holding their collective breath. In addition to Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber, Ryan Suter doesn't have a deal for 2012-13 and LeBron James-like quotes aren't helping soothe the anxious Predators fans. (Pred Gold)

HEIDI STRIKES AGAIN: While it wasn't exactly the movie interrupting a regular-season NHL game, but it's close enough. In Montreal the television feed pulled away from the game just moments before Scott Gomez scored the winning goal. It is the latest positive step in a good preseason for the much-maligned Gomez. (Montreal Gazette)

MORE, PLEASE: The biggest concern for this season in Columbus has to be the situation in net for the Blue Jackets. Chris Mason hasn't exactly kept up his rookie form that saw him win the Calder Trophy in 2008-09. But optimism is rising in camp that a return to form might be coming for Mason. (Columbus Dispatch)

MEET MIKA: Branding is the big thing for athletes these days, you have to find a way to sell your "brand." Well Senators rookie Mika Zibanejad is already getting started. Take a look at his personal web site. Not too bad for a guy who hasn't played a game in the NHL yet. (Senators Extra)

OH BOY O'BERTO: Red Wings veteran Todd Bertuzzi is becoming a shootout star. Just check out his latest move on a hapless goaltender, going between his legs to pass it back up to himself and back-handing the puck into the net.

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

Posted on: August 26, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: August 27, 2011 10:17 am
 

Daily Skate: Islanders getting closer to playoffs

By Brian Stubits

CLOSING IN: The New York Islanders continue to rebuild, seemingly getting closer to the playoffs with each passing season. Now they are at a point of at least being competitive for the playoffs. That's what four different NHL pro scouts told Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank. "They'll be in the playoff race in the East until the end." It isn't exactly a large sample size, but four scouts all recognizing the growth of the franchise is a sign that things are getting better for fans on the island.

THINKING LONG TERM: Just because the Predators and Shea Weber couldn't work out a deal before arbitration and the player won the biggest award ever in a hearing, doesn't mean the two sides are ready to sever ties after next year. Nashville will have the daunting task of re-signing all three of Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne with conventional wisdom being they can't bring all three of them back. The assumption was that it could be Weber because of the cost of keeping him this offseason, but that's not necessarily the case (The Sports Xchange). Weber recognizes the negotiations for what they were when asked if things are OK with the club: "Yeah, for sure. I think that was just part of the business.

OUT OF TOUCH: The troubles of staying on the cutting edge of modern communication is brought to light by Adrian Dater of sportsillustrated.com. He points out that as players are never seen without their headphones or iPod when they travel any more, the classic team bonding of yesteryear isn't happening as often. It's a very interesting and salient point made that coaches and team executives are more than vexed by.

A-MAZE-ING: When Tim Thomas took the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Davison, Mich., he was met with many a dedication, one of which being a corn maze of him lifting up the Stanley Cup (from Puck Daddy). Well, not to be outdone are the non-Thomas fans in Michigan, mostly the Red Wings fans. Check out this corn maze of a Winged Wheel and a "Go Wings" scribbled in it in the Casco Township. Time for a battle of the corn! (Photo courtesy of Twitpic.)

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


Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:25 am
 

Daily Skate: Next Islanders plan; Erat improving

By Brian Stubits

TAKING THE Islanders TASK: Since the arena vote was shot down, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has asked for privately funded proposals for the land to be submitted by Labor Day. Thanks to Randi F. Marshall at Newsday we know of at least one group that is putting together a plan to submit that will include an idea for the coliseum and the Islanders. Interestingly, former Isles star Bob Nystrom is on the task force with the plan, although Nystrom says he doesn't speak with the team. "My goal here is to figure out a way that we keep the Islanders here and to improve that building if we possibly can, but I agree we need development there, too," Nystrom said.

GETTING BACK TO IT: Martin Erat finished tied with Sergei Kostitsyn as the Predators' leading scorer last season despite missing 18 games with a nagging back problem. But now Erat is feeling better (The Tennesseean) after taking it easy over the summer and is expecting to be 100 percent when the season begins in October. The Preds certainly hope so as Erat's presence is key as Nashville would love to convince the trio of Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to stick around beyond next year.

CAPITAL VOICE: The Washington Capitals are welcoming a new play-by-play voice for their radio coverage, saying goodbye to former announcer Steve Kolbe and, just like they would on the ice, bringing up a replacement from the Hershey Bears, the team's AHL affiliate. Capcentre.net has a fond farewell to Kolbe.

DRINK UP: The Bruins' Patrice Bergeron recently had his turn with the Stanley Cup, and he took it to breakfast with him. Naturally, you can see where this is going. Bergeron and his guests were thirsty, so they found the biggest cup they could find ... Lord Stanley. I'm not a germophobe by any stretch of the imagination and I know it's common practice to drink out of the Cup, but I'd have to say I'd rather just have a glass.

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


Posted on: August 3, 2011 9:57 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 11:23 pm
 

Should the Predators consider trading Weber?

ShouldThePredatorsConsiderTradingWeber

By: Adam Gretz

Now that the Nashville Predators know the salary Shea Weber will be making during the 2011-12 season the question of where they go from here has been the hot topic of the day. They can't officially sign him to a long-term extension until after Jan. 1, and he still has one more year of restricted free agency (and potentially arbitration) before he would be free to test the open market.

Dirk Hoag at On The Forecheck thinks the Predators and their captain need to have a frank discussion about whether or not he wants to stay in Nashville for the long haul, and if the answer to that question is no, general manager David Poile should spread the word that he's available in order to maximize the return.

Josh Cooper, beat writer for the Tennessean, brings up the potential issues for next offseason when Weber, barring a contract extension after Jan. 1, will be up for arbitration again, while fellow defenseman Ryan Suter and No. 1 goaltender Pekka Rinne will be unrestricted free agents. He also asks if the Predators can invest similar long-term deals into Suter and Weber and have such a large portion of their payroll going to just two players.

Now, for teams that have the ability to spend close to the salary cap (or all the way to the cap) that shouldn't be much of a concern (actually, I'd encourage teams to do it). But Nashville doesn't appear to be that type of team with the funds to play with, currently sitting closer to the cap floor than the ceiling.

That definitely changes the game, and could bring up an interesting (if not frustrating) dilemma for the Predators front office. After all, these three guys are home-grown Stars, drafted and developed by the Nashville organization. Those are the type of players you want to keep.

You win with impact players, and the more of them you have, the better chance you have to win. That's obvious. Also because it's almost impossible to get fair value back in a trade for a player like Weber, especially when you're talking about a 25-year-old franchise defenseman that can score. (Or in the case of Suter, a steadier hand in the defensive end of the ice with a little less offense.)

If it should get to that point and the Predators decide to move in that direction, they would be better off being proactive and do it sooner rather than later in order to maximize the value coming back. Weber still has another year after this season before he's eligible for unrestricted free agency and he'll bring a larger return now than he will, say, at the trade deadline in March of 2013.

If it were me, (and it's most certainly not), I would make every effort to keep Weber and Suter as my foundation and, if needed, part ways with Rinne for this reason: it's easier to find a solid goaltender at an affordable price than it is to find a No. 1 defenseman at an affordable price.

That plan, of course, assumes Weber is committed to staying in Nashville, which may not be the case. And if it's not, you're pretty much out of options and are forced to make a difficult decision: part ways with a homegrown star in the prime of his career.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: March 20, 2011 2:36 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Eighth-place teams faceoff

WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can secure a playoff berth today. 

ALREADY IN: Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Nashville Predators (37-25-10) at Buffalo Sabres (35-28-8), 5 p.m. ET

The two eighth-place teams in each conference converge for their one and only meeting of the season. Buffalo won't be dislodged from the top 8, but Nashville could be shuffled out with a loss.

The Sabres are 9-5-2 against the West teams this season and are coming off an 8-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers Saturday. The victory was goalie Ryan Miller's 30th of the season, making him the eight goalie in league history to win 30 or more games in six consecutive seasons. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, a candidate for the Vezina Trophy, made 39 saves in 3-1 victory over Detroit on Saturday. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Flames (37-27-9) at Ducks (39-27-5), 8 p.m. ET

The first two meetings between the Flames and Ducks couldn't have been much closer. The Ducks won both, the first in OT and the second in a shootout. Depending on how the Nashville-Buffalo game turns out, the winner could move into the top 8. Regardless, these are some crucial points. 

GOLF WATCH: A victory or overtime/shootout loss by the Predators eliminates the Colorado Avalanche. Edmonton already eliminated. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com