Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Chicago Blackhawks
Posted on: February 4, 2012 1:03 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 1:29 pm
 

A Big Mac helped Olli Jokinen end his slump

By: Adam Gretz

Before he scored on Friday night during the Calgary Flames 3-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, Olli Jokinen had gone 14 consecutive games without a goal. That's a pretty lengthy drought (though, it's not the longest one we've seen in the NHL recently), and one that he was looking forward to ending.

So what did he do before the game to help snap out of his funk? He took some advice his former coach, Wayne Gretzky, gave him four years earlier and ate perhaps the worst possible thing an athlete can put into his or her body before competition -- a Big Mac. Even if he didn't really enjoy it, telling Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun, “You can’t eat a Big Mac meal before every game. It wasn’t that good, but whatever it takes. You’ve got to suck it up. We got two points and can move on I did it for the team. It’s all about the team. A little upset stomach (Friday), but it’s all good.”

It's probably a safe bet that Jokinen isn't one of the NHL players that sticks to the Gary Roberts all-natural, non-processed food diet, but whatever works.

Following his goal on Friday, Jokinen talked about his pre-game meal:



Hey, maybe somebody in Montreal should go pick up a Big Mac for Scott Gomez.

Also at Eye On Hockey

The Scott Gomez goal slump: by the Numbers

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 3:51 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Winter Classic redux at MSG

Before Thursday, Giroux's last goal was against the Blueshirts in the Classic. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Let's go back just over a month on the NHL schedule, shall we? The Philadelphia Flyers had just finished losing to the New York Rangers in one hell of a finish in the Winter Classic hosted by the City of Brotherly Love.

The first half of the game was pretty dull, no scoring. But the game made up for it with a great second half, including a penalty shot in the final minute.

Among the two goals that the Flyers potted that cold January day was a beauty from Claude Giroux. It was his 18th of the season. It was a great start to the season that led me to pick him as my midseason Hart Trophy winner.

Would you believe that Giroux went the entire rest of the month without a goal? In the remaining 12 games in January, Giroux had nine assists.

You could look at it as a classic case of regressing to the mean. Giroux can score, but in his previous four seasons with the Flyers he never scored more than 25 (the mark he hit last season). Interestingly, he has exactly twice as many assists in his career as goals at this point. So his 18 goals and 29 assists were a bit out of whack. He's still a play-making center.

The only thing I wasn't sure about if it was a regression to the mean or not is if we were going to see a new way of playing for Giroux. There was obviously a lot more pressure put on him to carry the load after the offseason the Flyers had, jettisoning Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Well, a Flyer can't change his wings. Or something like that.

Now of course Giroux scored on Thursday night in the Flyers' win over the Nashville Predators and ruined the nice little tie in I was going for here. That being the Flyers visiting Madison Square Garden on Sunday and the Rangers for their first encounter since that day outside in South Philly.

It should be a nice appetizer for the Rangers/New York Giants fans before the Super Bowl.

Little will be all that different from that Jan. 2 meeting either. The teams are still two of the best in the NHL, fighting each other in the Atlantic Division and the Rangers are even expected to be wearing their Winter Classic jerseys. Old-schoolers can rejoice, that would mean the Rangers are wearing white (or at least off-white) at home again. For one day.

Yes, it will be a pretty familiar feel, except for, you know, the game being played indoors on a quality sheet of ice (no disrespect to Dan Craig, the NHL's ice guru). And perhaps a different Giroux from that earlier meeting, but the same Giroux the Flyers have fallen in love with and have come to count on, goals or not.

Central casting

It seems like every weekend there is a massive matchup from the Central Division. I guess that happens when you have four of the eight teams in the league that have reached the 65-point mark.

Between the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, that's 36 games against one another throughout the season. So if the schedule were completely balanced, it would actually be more than once a week.

So it's not a rare occurrence to see one of the games. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be missed or not enjoyed to the fullest.

That's why we suggest you don't miss out on the Blues' visit to the Predators on Saturday night. It might help if you like defensively sound hockey, though.

This is their fourth meeting this season and if we throw out the Predators' 4-2 win in the second game of the season seeing that it's pre-Hitchcock, each game has played out the same way, a 2-1 shootout win for the Preds. That's not a lot of scoring but it doesn't mean it's not a lot of good hockey.

Don't underestimate the importance of all these games in the Central. They are what people like to call four-point games because of the potential swings they can cause in the standings. Considering the second and third seeds will go to the Pacific and Northwest, the second spot in the Central by season's end will be crucial, it will give that team home-ice advantage against what will surely be another Central foe.

Battle of Ontario resumes

Here Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul thought they got their month's worth of booing last weekend in Ottawa. Nope.

Those two plus the Leafs' third All-Star, Dion Phaneuf and the rest of the guys from Toronto will head for the Quebec border and meet the Senators in the Canadian capital on Saturday night.

This season the stakes have been ramped up in the Battle of Ontario already with the success the teams have enjoyed thus far and their battling at the bottom half of the East's playoff picture. But this one is crucial for the Sens.

This will be their second game back on home ice since Jan. 16 (Friday night they host the Islanders) and for the first time this season, the Sens have lost four straight in regulation. For a team that has played more games than anybody in the NHL, that has made their somewhat comfortable position in the playoff picture much more perilous. Considering the Leafs are one of their competitors for one of the East's eight spots, you can see why this is a massive game for Ottawa.

The captain is back

That would be the Capitals captain, Alex Ovechkin.

On the other side of that provincial border down in Montreal, Ovechkin will play his first game since his three-game suspension before the All-Star break. Because of the time off it feels like Ovi has been out much longer than three games, his last game coming way back on Jan. 22.

"I'm not used to watching the games from upstairs and staying [on the ice] after the morning skates," Ovechkin told Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington. "I'm pretty excited. I miss hockey a lot. It's a situation where you miss the game and you're tired of watching."

The Caps weren't bad in his absence, playing honestly about the same level they were with him, going 1-1-1 in the three games. But there's no doubt he's welcome back in the lineup for his offensive ability on a team that just isn't doing a whole lot when they have the puck these days.

Star showdown

The old North Stars and replacement Stars (see: the Wild) get together for another one of their reunions that's always slightly uncomfortable for the fans back in Minnesota.

But they are clearly much more meaningful this season, more than just some interesting nostalgia coming back up to the fore. This is about the playoffs.

The West has six spots pretty much spoken for already and the Kings are making a good case for the seventh. That means there are a lot of teams fighting for one final spot in the playoff picture, currently held by Minnesota. The Stars are right behind them, three points back with a game in hand. So yea, the games are pretty big.

Of course that includes Saturday night's tilt in Dallas. Both teams could stand to get some wins going again as the Wild are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 while the Stars are 3-6-1 in that same span.

Fight for Florida

Are you noticing a little bit of a rivalry sense this weekend?

While I hesitate to call the Panthers and Lightning rivals, they get the nod based on nothing more than being division and intrastate rivals.

It's hard to quite believe, but this Saturday's game in Tampa Bay will mark the sixth and final meeting between them this season and there are still 30 or so games to go in the season.

Don't let the importance of the game for the Lightning be lost. Their playoff hopes are slim but not non-existent. A chance to take two points from the Southeast-leading Panthers would help them stay within striking distance. It's pretty close to the clichéd must-win game for the Bolts.

We're going streaking!

Here is a look at the streaks, both good and bad, headed into the weekend across the NHL.

San Jose Sharks: Believe it or not, this is the only team in the league right now that has a winning streak (three games in a row or more). And the Sharks barely qualify with three straight. They visit the Coyotes on Saturday night looking for four straight.

Senators: Already covered above, they have lost four in a row in regulation for the first time this season. They have two home games, against the Isles and Leafs.

Blackhawks: Punctuated by that beatdown by Sam Gagner -- I mean the Edmonton Oilers -- the 'Hawks have actually lost four in a row. Their only game of the weekend comes Friday night in Calgary.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Still smarting from that loss that shouldn't have been a regulation loss against the Kings, the Jackets ride their six-game skid into Anaheim to face the Ducks on Friday.

Colorado Avalanche: The up-and-down boys from the Rocky Mountain State are going downhill again. Four consecutive losses follow them into a Saturday matinee with the Canucks.

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

Posted on: February 3, 2012 12:18 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:55 am
 

Sam Gagner records 8 points in win



By: Adam Gretz

Oilers forward Sam Gagner had the game of his life on Thursday night during Edmonton's 8-4 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, having a hand in every single goal his team scored.

Gagner scored four of the goals himself, assisted on the other four, and became the first player in the NHL this season to record eight points in a game (and only the 14th of all time, including playoffs) and the first since Mario Lemieux did it all the way back in the 1989 playoffs (that was also infamous Ron Hextall-Rob Brown game).

The last regular season eight-point performance came on December 31, 1988, also by Lemieux, which was the night he scored five goals, five different ways.

The NHL record still belongs to Darryl Sittler with 10 points on February 7, 1976.

Prior to Thursday, the most points scored in an NHL game this season was five, which had been done by five other players: Evgeni Malkin (twice), Lars Eller, Jonathan Toews, Brad Marchand and Gagner's Edmonton teammate, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

 Throughout his five-year career the 22-year-old forward tallied more than three points in a single game just once, finishing with a four-point night back in March of 2009 in a game against the Colorado Avalanche.

A few more quick notes to add to the absurdity of his performance:

-- Entering their game on Thursday, there were 10 players on the Oilers roster that had appeared in at least 15 games this season and did not have eight points ... for the entire season.

-- Of the 834 skaters that have appeared in an NHL game this season, only 428 have at least eight points for the year.

-- His eight points tied a franchise record that is also held by Wayne Gretzky (twice) and Paul Coffey.

Pretty amazing performance, and it's also the second time this season the Oilers have blown out the Blackhawks, beating them 9-2 on Nov. 19, the night that Nugent-Hopkins had his five-point (all assists) performance.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:28 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 4:30 pm
 

Pucks & Numbers: Blackhawks' D and goaltending

Does Chicago need a backup goalie upgrade? (Getty Images)

Pucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at how the NHL's have top scorers have been used this season.

By: Adam Gretz

As the Chicago Blackhawks prepare to enter the second half of the regular season they find themselves in the bottom-third of the league when it comes to preventing goals.

Entering Tuesday's game in Vancouver, a rematch of last year's Western Conference Quarterfinal series, which the Canucks won in seven games, the Blackhawks are giving up just a little over 2.8 goals per game, which puts them 20th in the NHL. The only teams that are currently occupying a playoff spot that are surrendering more goals on a nightly basis are the Philadelphia Flyers (2.90) and Ottawa Senators (3.04).

So what is the biggest problem at this point? The goaltending of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, or the defense in front of them?

Actually, it's probably a little bit of both.

When the the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup two years ago it was easy to point to what their biggest weakness was -- goaltending.

It was supposed to be the position that held them back on their playoff run, and there was even a bit of concern (a lot, actually) when the trade deadline passed and the team was prepared to go into the postseason with a duo of then-rookie Antti Niemi and veteran Cristobal Huet. It raised a few eyebrows, resulted in a lot of questions, and then they went on and won the ultimate prize, ending a lengthy championship drought for the franchise.

Niemi was definitely solid in net, and he made some big saves for them in the playoffs, but he wasn't exactly Tim Thomas or Dominik Hasek back there, either.

Statistically, the Blackhawks finished the regular season, as a team, near the bottom of the NHL in most of the key goaltending areas. Their overall save percentage of .901 was 23rd in the league. Their 5-on-5 save percentage of .902 was 29th, ahead of only the Ottawa Senators.

Through their first 50 games this season the Blackhawks new goaltending duo is playing at a slightly higher level, especially when it comes to even strength play. At 5-on-5 the pairing of Crawford and emery is 22nd in the NHL with a .911 mark, and at a comparable .901 mark (23rd) overall. But they're giving up nearly a half-goal more per game.

How is that possible? The team in front of the goalies isn't anywhere near as good at limiting the goaltendes workload.

The Stanley Cup team in '09-10 had ridiculous depth at forward and defense and consistently steamrolled over their opponents, controlling the puck better than any team in the league. They limited their opponents to just 25 shots per game and out-shot them by an average of nine shots per game, the third-best mark of any team over the past 10 years. A team that controls the puck like that is capable of overcoming what might be a weakness in goal.

While they're still a really strong possession team this year, they're simply not an all-time great one like the Cup team was, due in large part to the decreased depth, especially on the blue line. (Just as a quick example: Even though he has a contract that was the butt of many jokes, Brian Campbell, now a member of the Florida Panthers, was a really, really good player for the Blackhawks. And while they needed to find a taker for his contract, they do miss his play on the blue line). That decreased depth puts the below-average goaltending (and let's face it, that's what it's been for a couple of years now in Chicago) under an even larger microscope.

I'm not sure Chicago can find an upgrade over Crawford on the trade market leading up to the deadline, and even though his play has regressed a bit from last season, he can probably play a little better over the second half of the season. Their best bet leading up to the deadline would be to focus on adding some depth to their blue line, or at the very least, looking to find an upgrade over Emery to help take some of the pressure off of their second-year starter.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 12:30 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 1:06 pm
 

Tuomo Ruutu could soon be on the move

By: Adam Gretz

Less than a month away from the NHL trade deadline and rumors are quickly starting to fly.

One of the busiest teams this year is expected be the Carolina Hurricanes, as they're currently near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and have a number of players eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. One of those players is forward Tuomo Ruutu, and he could be on the move as early as this week according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun and TSN's Darren Dreger.

Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford has always been aggressive when it comes to making moves, and has already made a couple this season.  A couple of weeks he sent upcoming free agent Alexei Ponikarovsky to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Joe Sova and a fourth-round draft pick, which came just weeks after he shipped disappointing defenseman Tomas Kaberle and the remainder of his contract to the Montreal Canadiens for Jaroslav Spacek. And there could soon be more where that came from.

Ruutu should be able to bring the Hurricanes a better return. In 51 games this season he has 15 goals and 11 assists, and over the past four years has scored at a rate that would average out to nearly 20 goals per 82 games. Any team that trades for him will be on the hook for the remainder of his salary cap hit, which for this week would come out to about $1.3 million for the rest of the season.

There is no shortage of contenders that could be interested, but keep an eye on Pittsburgh, Nashville or Boston, all teams that would Ruutu seem to be an excellent fit for given his aggressive forechecking and the fact at least two of those teams, Pittsburgh and Nashville, could use some an upgrade when it comes to secondary scoring on the wings.

Still, at this point it just seems to be a matter of when and where rather than if. Once that shoe falls the focus will then surely shift to Carolina's other upcoming free agents.

Also at Eye On Hockey

Gleason signs four-year deal with the Hurricanes
More Carolina Hurricanes news

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 28, 2012 8:25 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2012 8:33 pm
 

Patrick Kane's Superman wins breakaway challenge

By: Adam Gretz

The breakaway challenge, which was introduced during the 2008 All-Star festivities, is supposed to be the NHL's answer to the slam dunk contest where players have an opportunity to show off their skill and creativity. With props. Lots, and lots of props.

At times, as was the case in the first round on Saturday, it can seem to be more of a gong show as sometimes the shooters manage to fake themselves out.

Chicago's Patrick Kane managed to steal the show this year by busting out some Clark Kent glasses and a Superman cape, soaring across the ice on his stomach and beating Blues goaltender Brian Elliott.



Kane ended up winning the contest, getting 47 percent of the fan vote, beating out Anaheim's Corey Perry who made a convincing argument by pulling a mini-stick out from under his jersey (the type of stick you used when you played knee hockey in your basement) and scored with it.



Impressive, but not enough to win over the fans.

Washington's Alex Ovechkin won this contest in each of the first three years it's been featured.

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Players we would like to see in the skills challenge
More 2012 All-Star Game coverage

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 9:07 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 9:35 pm
 

Brendan Morrison traded to Blackhawks

BlackhawksBy: Adam Gretz

The Chicago Blackhawks added some center depth to their lineup on Friday evening by acquiring Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames in exchange for Brian Connelly.

Morrison, 36, has four goals and seven assists this season in 28 games with the Flames, and is playing on a one-year contract worth $1.25 million. The Blackhawks will be on the hook for a salary cap hit of about $354,000 for the remainder of the season, so it's a relatively cheap pick up, not only financially, but also in the sense that they didn't have to give up much in return.

Connelly, a 25-year-old defenseman that signed with the Blackhawks organization back in 2009 after playing his college hockey Colorado College, has spent his entire professional career playing for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League scoring 21 goals to go with 105 assists. In 44 games this season he has five goals and 31 assists.

Morrison isn't going to provide much offense for the Blackhawks, but with players like Jonathan Toews and Dave Bolland logging the big minutes down the middle they only need some depth at the position. If nothing else, he gives Chicago another solid option in the faceoff dot as he's currently winning over 50 percent of his draws this season.

It is kind of interesting to see the Flames deal a veteran for a prospect that's already in his mid-20's when they're still in the playoff race, and just recently added Mike Cammalleri from Montreal. General manager Jay Feaster said it was mainly due to their projected lineup going forward, as well as Morrison's status as a free agent after this season.

“As we projected our line-up going forward we felt it was going to be difficult for us to find a spot for Brendan or get him significant ice-time,” said Feaster. "Given his pending UFA status and the fact that we were not going to re-sign him, we felt it important to try to move him for another asset. In Brian Connelly we obtain a 25 year old highly skilled AHL All-Star defenceman who is still a legitimate prospect. We are excited to have Brian in the organization.”

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 3:39 pm
 

All-Star Game preview: Finding lines to entertain

By Brian Stubits

When it comes to All-Star Games, the NHL is probably in the middle. It's certainly a notch below the holy grail of games, baseball's Midsummer Classic, but it's undoubtedly ahead of football's Pro Bowl. Like the NBA's version, defense isn't even optional, it's pretty much discouraged.

So truth be told, people don't watch the All-Star Game for the hockey. Really, mid-week games featuring the Blue Jackets and Oilers will provide a better game (not necessarily entertainment, however). Instead, fans watch it for the Stars , the chance to see their favorite players.

Or to see things we never get the chance to see.

Thanks to the Fantasy Draft, the possibilities exist for some squeamish line combinations that wouldn't otherwise have been feasible. Such as Bruins playing with Canucks. However seeing as one of the two captains was a Bruin, we missed out on some golden opportunity to have Zdeno Chara paired with Alex Edler while playing with Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Tyler Seguin in front of them with Tim Thomas in net. Oh, if Chara could have only seen the potential.

What Chara did end up doing was drafting a host of right wingers, making this pre-draft incredibly awkward exchange all the more apropos.

With all that said, thanks to our Line Mixmaster 3000 (patent pending) we were able to come up with some interesting lines with the teams that were selected -- and some lines that make you go "meh." Hey, you can't win them all.

(Do note we had to execute some position changes to get four even lines. But to Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Alfredsson: I see what you did. Lupul only helped Chara draft one left winger and Alfredsson only picked one right winger. Sorry fellas, you can't triple shift.)

Let's start with Team Alfredsson, considering he's the host and all.

As Seen in Ottawa line: Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson. Intrigue? Nah, there's not a whole lot on this one, frankly. Senators fans can see these guys together most every night. But you have an entire line of guys not out of position in their hometown ... it's a lock. But hopefully they keep the mic on Spezza during the game like he had it on in the draft and this time we can hear a full-out laugh. That's interesting enough.

Third Wheel line: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Logan Couture. OK, I'll relent and keep the Sedins together. The best third wheel for them is Couture. You have the whole Predators of the sea thing (Canucks' killer whale vs. the Sharks), the little rivalry between their teams and, well, just another way to pick on Couture a little bit after he was Mr. Irrelevant. Sorry Henrik, I don't think you're going to get those better players to play with this year (It's OK, Daniel, you can smile!).

I Believe I Can Fly line: Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, John Tavares. I had a harder time naming this line than any of the others (no doubt it shows). But the Flyers connection is pretty clear and they get an Atlantic Division friend in the mix in Tavares, somebody who has wheels that just might inspire Hartnell to try and skate faster and contribute to the Hartnell Down-O-Meter. Tavares converts to the wing to make it happen, a pretty easy transition from center.

The Forgotten line: James Neal, Steven Stamkos, Jason Pominville. Neal was the guy who the NHL just didn't seem to want to invite. It took the last replacement spot for Neal to get the call despite being second in the league in goals scored. Stamkos is the only guy with more goals than Neal and yet he's such a quiet superstar that some might not even be aware of that fact. As for Pominville? Well it's been a forgettable season in Buffalo so far, so he fits in here.

Defensive pairings: This is really a hodgepodge of names when put together, there's not a whole lot that screams out for obvious potential pairings. So I've got Shea Weber with Alex Edler (Western Conference the tie that binds), Erik Karlsson with Kris Letang (excessive use of the letter K) and Dan Girardi with Keith Yandle (ummm, they were each in that game that was won with 0.1 seconds left this season).

Now on to Team Chara. Here are the lines that we can put together, seeking maximum intrigue.

Cyborg line: Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla. The cyborg obviously references the man in the middle, but it also includes one of the league's ageless wonders in Iginla plus a guy with a connection to Disney. Hey, we have to make some stretches. The only person out of position here is Perry, being forced to the left wing because of Chara's right-side glut.

Miss-match line: Jamie Benn, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik. Yea, there isn't a whole lot of connections with this line except Malkin and Gaborik are both from Eastern Europe. But hey, good for Benn to play his first game in weeks alongside the best player in the NHL the last couple of weeks in Malkin. He'll take it, I'm sure.

Two Blackhawks and a Kid line: Jordan Eberle, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa. So this line has a couple of players "out of position" but Kane is no stranger to center. We had to convert somebody to the middle and he's the easy pick seeing that he's played there this season. He gets to be alongside his Chicago buddy Hossa. Poor Eberle, he might not get to see the puck with these two guys. That won't make his fan club president (on the right) too happy.

Blackhawks and ladies? No doubt this will be Joey the Junior Reporter's favorite line to follow.

The Awkward line: Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Seguin, Phil Kessel. We saved the best for last. Yes, consider this the coup-de-grace of interesting lines. The two players -- Seguin and Kessel -- who will forever be tied to each other thanks to the trade between the Maple Leafs and Bruins, alongside another Leaf in Lupul.

“I said ‘Kess, I think we’re linemates,'" Seguin said to Kessel on Thursday (from the Boston Herald). "He said ‘That be cool. I think the media would like it.’”

Yes, Phil, yes we would.

Defensive pairings: Well we have to put Chara with Dion Phaneuf. Again, it's the Leafs-Bruins angle but also two of the more fearsome defensemen in the league. Good pairing. Ryan Suter gets paired with Kimmo Timmonen so they can find out if there is any chemistry there in case Philly is Suter's landing spot if he's traded. That leaves Brian Campbell to pair with Dennis Wideman. All I got here is Campbell is a current Panthers defenseman and Wideman used to be one.

As for a goalie to be mic'd up like Cam Ward was last year? I'm going to vote for Carey Price. Hey, any guy that does a campaign video like this and nearly spits his drink out when he's picked in the draft is probably entertaining enough to help carry the event for a period.

Enjoy the game. It will be a lot easier with some of the above intrigue. But please, leave your gripes about the lack of defense at home, we all know it's sorely lacking.

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