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Tag:Brian Stubits
Posted on: March 4, 2012 11:04 am
 

Video: Rangers GM Sather talks Chris Kreider

By Brian Stubits

Amid all the trade talks surrounding Rick Nash and the New York Rangers, there was a pretty lengthy list of untouchables as deemed by New York that the Blue Jackets really wanted/needed in a potential deal. Needless to say, it didn't happen.

One of the names on that list was Chris Kreider, the Rangers' first-round draft pick in 2009 who is currently starring at Boston College.

While Rangers fans might be familiar with him, a lot of the fans around the league probably don't. So consider this your introduction.

With BC hosting Vermont this weekend on CBS Sports Network, New York general manager phoned in and had a conversation about Kreider. It includes some pretty positive praise of not only Kreider, but another BC product with the Rangers, Brian Boyle.

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

Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:42 am
Edited on: March 4, 2012 2:03 pm
 

Pregame Skate: More big ones in Southeast, West

Florida hasn't had much if any luck with Ottawa of late. (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.

Playoff Race

6 ET, Ottawa at Florida

A pretty amazing thing has happened in the Southeast (that is until you remember it's the Southeast we're talking about here) and that is that it has become a four-team race. Through it all, the Panthers have held onto the lead atop the division but that's not really by their own doing.

Coming off a 3-1 loss to the Predators at home on Saturday, they make a quick turnaround and face the Ottawa Senators in Florida this evening. The problem? Florida can't beat Ottawa. The Sens have taken nine consecutive games in the series and five straight at BankAtlantic Center. That's not exactly inspiring when the Tampa Bay Lightning are suddenly breathing down their necks.

The odds still favor the Panthers to make the postseason with a greater than 70 percent chance at this point. Not quite as comforting as the 90 percent odds earlier this week. Realistically, though, the odds are sure starting to feel a lot lower than that.

It's about time they started to win on home ice if they want to return to the playoffs. In the last six home games they have played, they are a very disappointing 1-4-1, including a 6-2 shellacking by these same Senators. That's not going to cut it.

At this point, with the way the Sabres have come charging back to life as well, they might need to consider it Southeast Division or bust. And with it being a four-team race, it would be a good idea for them to start picking up points again.

7 ET, Philadelphia at Washington (NBC Sports Network)

One of those four teams in that Southeast Division race, the Washington Capitals, need some points just as bad if not worse than the Panthers do right now. That's because their target is as much the eighth seed as it is the Southeast lead. In that race they are still one point behind Winnipeg (with two fewer games played) but are just one point up on the Lightning and Sabres.

My, how interesting the East has become. It seemed just a few days ago like it was a nine-team race.

Just when things were starting to feel a little better in the nation's capital after three straight wins, the New Jersey Devils came into town and smacked them down to the tune of a 5-0 beating. They need to be able to rebound from that in a hurry with the Flyers coming to Verizon Center for the Sunday nightcap.

That shouldn't be an easy task. Philadelphia has been one of the league's best teams away from home this season. They are 20-11-2 away from Wells Fargo Center. Somewhat ironically, that's the same exact record as the Devils away from home. That would seem to be a bit ominous for the Caps in holding home ice today.

6 ET, Dallas at Calgary

Turning our eyes back to the race that has been this crazy all along, the West has another pivotal matchup when looking at that playoff push where it seems just about every team is in the hunt.

Somewhat lost across the league of late has been the play of the Stars, who have not only stormed into playoff position but can actually overtake the San Jose Sharks today in the West. Granted, games in hand and all of that, but it still speaks to how far Dallas has come in recent weeks (and how much San Jose has fallen).

The Flames meanwhile are one of those chasers of Dallas. That's why this is such a critical game. It's like any old division battle where it's described as a four-point game. Well, Dallas has the potential to build a somewhat formidable six-point advantage by the end of the night on Calgary or have it cut down to just two points on the Flames (never mind the Kings and Avalanche part of the equation).

What's interesting is that this is the first of three games between these two in the month of March. They will have a home-and-home near the end of the month as well. There is still plenty of chances for each of these teams to take their destiny into their own hands.

Others worth watching

12:30 ET, Boston at Rangers (NBC): Keep in mind, we highlight the games with meaningful impacts on the playoff race, not necessarily the best games of the day. If you want the latter, here you go, a classic matchup among two of the East's best. This comes as highly recommended viewing.

4 ET, Chicago at Detroit (NHL Network): See the above statement on the Rangers and Bruins and here you go. The Blackhawks have been able to regain a little footing and are slightly clear of the pack at the bottom of the West again but not many go into Detroit and pick up points.

7 ET, Colorado at Minnesota: Not to neglect the Avs here (and Wild to a small extent) as they are still in the playoff hunt here too. If they can get a win and the Flames keep the Stars pointless, Colorado will be just one point back. Minnesota comes in seven points back with three teams in between.

Your promised miscellany

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

Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:45 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 4:08 pm
 

City of Saskatoon joins relocation hopefuls

(Motifake.com)

By Brian Stubits

Since the Phoenix Coyotes situation still hasn't found a resolution, there has been plenty of discussion where the team could potentially relocate to if it doesn't remain in the desert. The most of the focus in that conversation has centered around Seattle and Quebec City with Kansas City and even Las Vegas being mentioned on the periphery.

Well just as long as we're discussing the options, might as well add Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to the list. Really.

The prairie city in the middle of one of Canada's two provinces that shares a border with the United States but don't have a team (New Brunswick the other) would like to change that. Here's the initial report from TSN's Bob McKenzie.

But interested parties in Saskatoon have contacted the league and suggested there are individuals or parties in Saskatoon who would be willing to ante up the required purchase fee while various levels of government in Saskatchewan would make necessary arrangements to expand and make NHL-suitable the 15,800-seat Credit Union Centre.

Now the city of Saskatoon only has a population around 250,000 and doesn't have many cities nearby that could help. Saskatchewan's capital of Regina and its population of nearly 200,000 is three hours away.

Yet I have no doubt that even with a population of just 250,000 the city would likely have no problems filling the arena on a nightly basis. We're talking about a Canadian city in a province that produces a lot of NHL talent. In fact, Saskatchewan is responsible for 9.1 percent of the Canadian talent in the NHL today, a slight ways behind British Columbia with 10.6 percent and ahead of Manitoba.

It's all the other factors that you wonder if they could compete, such as corporate sponsorships, television deals, etc.

But they do have an arena that would work, at least temporarily until renovations could be finished. If Winnipeg's MTS Centre with 15,000 seats was approved, that size shouldn't be a problem.

The mayor of Saskatoon, Don Atchison, told the StarPhoenix on Friday that this is a little more than just idle chat.

“They’re exceedingly serious, make no bones about that,” Atchison said. “But it doesn’t matter how serious the ownership group is. We have seen that once before when Mr. [Bill] Hunter bought the team and was ready to move it here.

“It will be up to the NHL what occurs in the end.”

What he is referring to is Bill Hunter's attempt to buy and move the St. Louis Blues to Saskatoon in 1987, obviously an attempt that was felled by the NHL.

Obviously we're looking at a super long shot here. If the city failed the first time who’s to say the NHL would approve it on the second try? The population has to be a concern from an available money standpoint even though I think it would work, it's taking a leap of faith.

Just a little food for thought. In closing I'll leave you with this.

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

Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:49 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 3:03 pm
 

James van Riemsdyk out 4-6 weeks (foot fracture)

JVR has 11 goals and 13 assists this season in 43 games. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

James van Riemsdyk is having a tough season in Philly. It was made tougher on Friday when the team announced that he is going to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken foot suffered when he blocked shot on Thursday.

"James will have surgery on Mar. 6 to repair a broken bone in his left foot," general manager Paul Holmgren said in a team release. "Dr. Steven Raikin will put a plate in to help with the healing process. James will be out 4-6 weeks."

Last summer after the Flyers traded away franchise pillars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, they had a lot of reshaping to do with the team. Part of that was getting players to fill the void left by those two in the scoring department.

One of the ways they attempted to do that was by showing a big commitment to van Riemsdyk with a new six-year contract calling for $4.25 million annually despite two seasons with numbers that you wouldn't think fit the bill.

The hope though was that he would build on it. It was a deal given out more for potential, for their belief in his growth than what he had achieved in his two seasons. Some of that had to be based on his playoff performance where he had seven goals in the 11 games the Flyers played.

It's just that this season hasn't gone exactly as planned in taking the next step. He's battled injuries a few times this season already -- including a concussion -- as well as plenty of trade rumors. His name was suggested a lot as one that could be sent out of town to help with the Flyers' other needs.

In the 43 games he has played thus far he has 11 goals and 13 assists. If he is out for the six-week time span within that recovery timetable, that could take him all the up to the end of the season. Then it becomes a question of what kind of shape will he be in for playoff hockey.

Now here is video of the play that caused the injury. Ouch.

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

Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:49 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 2:09 pm
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Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:49 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 12:01 pm
 

Maple Leafs falling back to earth ... hard

Toronto hasn't been very good lately to put it mildly. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

At one point this season, things were good in Toronto. Really good. General manager Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson were having some fun with the media it seemed by announcing a new contract extension for Wilson on Christmas Eve.

Now? Not so much. The fans that have actually been patient for years in Toronto began serenading Wilson with "Fire Wilson!" chants at the Air Canada Centre in their most recent home loss, a 5-3 defeat to the Panthers.

"It’s frustrating, but understandable," Wilson said. "Everybody’s frustrated right now."

As good as the month of February was to the Phoenix Coyotes, it was almost as bad to the Maple Leafs. They went 4-9-1 in the month but 1-9-1 in their final 11 games including the current six-game losing streak.

Maybe this better illustrates how tough it has been for them recently. After their Feb. 4 win against the Oilers, the Leafs had a 90.05 percent chance of making the playoffs per Sports Club Stats. As the month of March began? The odds were down to 11.07 percent. 

At the heart of the struggles of course has been goaltending, something they hoped was fixed in Toronto with James Reimer's emergence a season ago. Well, he has fallen on rough times too, including being thrown under the bus more or less by Wilson after Toronto's recent 4-2 loss to the Capitals in what was a huge game in the playoff hunt.

“The two goals early in the game were stoppable chances,” said Wilson. “They [the Capitals] got saves at one end, we didn’t. We dug a hole because of that. And we’re kind of always waiting now for something bad to happen. We’ve got to find a way to get over that.

“You can pull a goalie. I thought tonight I’ll call a time out, tell everybody to relax, that we can get out of this hole. Then you start playing tentative hockey. That’s what happens. With all the other stuff that bubbles around at the outside like trade deadlines, those little things that affect players.

“You worry you’ll be the one moved. It affects a young team.”

It sure would seem Reimer is affected by a lot right now. He has just one win in his last seven starts. He has surrendered a whopping 26 goals in those seven starts, two of which he didn't even finish. And it's not like Jonas Gustavsson has been the knight in shining armor behind him. Let me put it this way: There is a reason why Burke was open before the trade deadline in saying his team was seeking a goaltender via trades. Obviously it didn't happen.

Nothing like a vote of confidence for your goaltenders, eh?

"Yeah, you do get exasperated, and you get frustrated," Wilson said. "But tomorrow’s a new day. The sun will probably come up. We’ve got to pull up our bootstraps and get going."

If they don't, the playoff drought is going to extend into a seventh straight season, pretty remarkable for a market like Toronto with the assets they have at their disposal.

They have already been leaped in the standings by the once-buried Buffalo Sabres and are just one point ahead of the similarly previously dismissed Tampa Bay Lightning. They're currently five points back of that eighth spot they had been holding for some time.

Now they are as close to the East's basement as they are the playoffs. If that isn't saying something, nothing is.

But hey, there is good news, Toronto. The Leafs do actually have their first-round draft pick this summer.

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

Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:05 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 3:56 pm
 

Pregame Skate: Caps have to take care of home ice

The Caps' next four games are at Verizon Center. (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.

Playoff Race

7 ET, New Jersey at Washington

You might think the Washington Capitals are in a good position to make the playoffs this season either as the eighth seed in the East or the Southeast Division championship. They are, they still have as good of a shot as any team in the hunt.

But it is pretty amazing how slim the margin of error is for this team at home. Considering they have been below .400 on the road and have nine more games away from home to go that include some very tough stops, winning at home is almost a must. They come into Friday night with 69 points on the season and have 10 home games left against the nine on the road. To get to a conservative estimate of reaching the playoffs of 90 points, you'd realistically think they need 15 or so points at home. Six more from the road gets them to 90, and that's no guarantee of getting in either.

So you can see that winning on home ice is imperative. And here in the second game of a crucial five-game homestand come the New Jersey Devils who, good news for the Caps, haven't been having a world of success lately. They have lost four in a row while the Caps have run off three consecutive wins.

The question coming into this game specifically is how much if any carryover Washington's win over the Islanders this week will have. Trailing 2-0 with less than four minutes left, the Caps came roaring back before Alex Ovechkin scored a classic Ovi snipe in overtime. It really might prove to be a season-saving comeback. But not if they don't keep the good things going from that.

It's worth noting that the Caps should be well-rested having not played since Tuesday while the Devils are on the back end of a back-to-back, losing to Boston in overtime on Thursday.

9:30 ET, Dallas at Edmonton

The Stars maintained their leg up on the rest of the playoff-chasing pack through Thursday's game and continue to hold eighth place by themselves. In fact, if they can get the win tonight against the Oilers, they will tie the Sharks for seventh in the West (but will remain eighth by virtue of games played).

But they can't just waltz into Edmonton thinking that two points are theirs for the taking. When you look at the potential spoiler teams across the league in the stretch run, the Oilers might be the scariest of the admittedly limited number of teams.

They have supreme young offensive talent and the problem with young talent is that it is so often inconsistent. You never know when the Oilers are going to score four or more on you. The point is, the Stars aren't guaranteed anything tonight.

If the Stars do come away with two points they will create a little buffer between themselves and the pursuers, potentially taking a three-point lead.

10 ET, Calgary at Anaheim

In what might have been a make-or-break game for the Flames on Thursday night in Phoenix, they became the first team in literally a month to beat the Coyotes outright. On the road no less. Consider the hope alive for the Flames.

But they get no rest in trying to keep it going by visiting the Ducks tonight. I still do have a tough time with the fact that the Flames are right here, but they are. A win and a Stars loss would actually put the Flames into a tie with Dallas (albeit with one more game played).

Their opponent, meanwhile, is losing its grip fast on their hopes. There is no room for error for the Ducks right now if they hope to overcome longs that seem longer than Toronto's Stanley Cup drought. The night begins with them seven points back of the Stars, who we already detailed are in action. So at best they are five points back of a playoff spot at the end of the night, at worst they're nine back and you can pretty much officially write them off at that point.

That's what makes this time of season so fun to watch. You have some serious desperation in most of the games being played and this one will be no different. Makes for some exiting hockey.

Others worth watching

7:30 ET, Rangers at Tampa Bay: This has little to do with the Rangers (except the Presidents' Trophy race). They pretty much already have the East's No. 1 seed wrapped up already. The question is if the Lightning can do what Buffalo has done and crawl back into the conversation.

7:30 ET, Minnesota at Detroit: Detroit is not only fighting for the Presidents' Trophy but the Central Division crown. The Wild though are one of those desperate teams trying so hard to right now hang on to hope.

7:30 ET, Chicago at Ottawa: A tricky important game. But teams are in the playoffs slightly comfortably at the moment but at the low side in each conference and a failure to pick up points starts to make things a little more interesting. And there is the little subplot of Ray Emery's return to Ottawa.

Your promised miscellany

  • Thursday's Winners & Losers
  • Great news: Jean Beliveau's wife says the Habs legend is progressing well in his stroke recovery. (NHL.com)
  • The Wings are going to be without Nicklas Lidstrom in their two games this weekend. (NHL.com)
  • It's been rough for James van Riemsdyk since he got that extension last summer. Now he has a broken foot after blocking a shot. (@NHLFlyers)
  • There wasn't much Florida could take out of a 7-0 trouncing by the Jets last night. But at least Erik Gudbranson delivered one heck of a check.

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

Posted on: March 1, 2012 4:05 pm
 

Caps GM says Ovechkin's weight jumped to 242 lbs.

Ovechkin was the last player to score 60 goals in one season. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

In searching for answers to why Alex Ovechkin's scoring totals have gone down one year to the next recently, a lot of different theories have been floated. Some just point to the statistics and say a regression was in order. Some like myself have pointed more to the league figuring him out. Even others have gone to some other outlandish conclusions.

Since 2007-08 when he had 65 goals, Ovechkin's totals have gone to 56 to 50 to 32 last season. His 26 this year has him a little ahead of last season's pace.

In an interview with ESPN 980, Caps general manager offered something else up that could possibly bear an explanation, or at least a factor (from the Washington Post).

“I think the progression in his weights, he came in 218, 224, 232, 237, 242,” McPhee said, which doesn’t exactly reflect the team’s prior reports. “He played at 242 once, and he got suspended for hitting a few people. And he was crushing guys, and he loved crushing guys, and we said you know what, Bruce always thought he was a better player at about 227. And you can see it when he’s moving out there, he’s flying.”

Putting on 24 pounds isn't the best way to maintain your game when it relies a lot on speed and agility.

For the record, McPhee said Ovechkin is weighing in at 224 right now.

McPhee was also asked about Ovechkin's commitment to the game, something that was put in question by former Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig.

“Um, well, it’s a lot better than it was,” McPhee said, hinting that there was indeed some issues about his commitment level.

How much might this have to do with his numbers decreasing in recent seasons? I don't know. It would only be speculation on anybody's part so attempt to say what affect it had, if any. But the GM more or less admitting in a round-about way that Ovechkin wasn't as committed as much as he should have been is definitely an interesting sign.

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