Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:16 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:08 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The video posted above shows former NHL player Richard Zednik innocently skating in Slovakia with a group of youth hockey players on Sunday.
That is, until the roof started to collapse under the weight of heavy snow and ice, and came crashing down to the playing surface just minutes after everybody had safely exited.
The most amazing part of it all? Nobody was injured. Thankfully.
Starting at the 1:10 mark the camera takes a walk around the boards, giving you an idea as to just how serious the damage is and how fortunate everyone is to have been able to safely walk away.
Zednik spent 13 seasons in the NHL with the Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers, scoring 200 goals in 745 career games. He last played in the NHL during the 2008-09 season as a member of the Panthers.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 11:32 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 11:35 am
The Florida Panthers injury bug has moved on to the defensemen.
First the Panthers were down as many as seven forwards at one point this season. Also, all three goalies who have played for them this season have each been out for a duration of time (currently it's Jacob Markstrom).
Now Dmitry Kulikov will join fellow dman Ed Jovanovski on the bench for the next month and a half to two months after coach Kevin Dineen announced on Tuesday that the Panthers' young defenseman had surgery on his knee on Monday.
In his third season in the NHL since the Panthers selected him with their first selection the draft in 2009, Kulikov has begun to develop into the defenseman the Panthers were hoping for. Like any defenseman playing in the league right away, he struggled but has progressed significantly to the point that his four goals and 20 assists thus far leave him only two behind his career-high point total.
The Panthers had been carrying seven defensemen all season so they were able to withstand the loss of Jovanovski to a broken hand without making any moves. But this obviously necessitated a callup, so the Panthers recalled Tyson Strachan from the AHL.
Strachan has played 67 career games in the NHL spread across three seasons with the Blues. The Panthers signed him over the summer as a free agent.
With all of the injuries, it's a wonder the Panthers have been able to maintain their spot atop the Southeast. That will be even tougher to do now that the defense starts feeling the injury bug.
More from Eye on Hocke
Posted on: January 21, 2012 2:23 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 2:56 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The NHL's concussion list continued to grow on Saturday with the news that Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane will be sidelined with a concussion, according to head coach Claude Noel.
The injury supposedly happened at some point during the Jets' 4-1 win over the Sabres on Thursday, but it's not known at what point in the game it occurred. Obviously, he's not going to play on Saturday night when the Jets host the Florida Panthers.
If he misses an extended period of time it's going to be a big blow to a Winnipeg team that is not only still fighting for a playoff spot, entering the weekend in the No. 10 spot, but also, surprisingly, still has an outside shot at winning the Southeast Division at the present time, trailing the Panthers and Washington Capitals by just three points. If the Jets are able to beat the Panthers on Saturday, they will move to within one point of the top spot in the division.
In 46 games this season Kane leads the Jets with 18 goals, and his 31 points are second on the team trailing only Blake Wheeler's 33.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:57 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 3:50 pm
Thanks to the scheduling quirks of the NHL, it has taken us until the end of January to get a dose of some real New York-Boston feuding in hockey. No offense to the Devils and the Islanders, but the city-to-city rivalry is reserved for pretty much only the Rangers against the Bruins.
This season, though, the wait has seemed even longer than it really has been. That's because of the little fact that for the first team in a long, long time, the Bruins and Rangers are the best two teams in the Eastern Conference.
There has been some bemoaning lately of the lack of rivalries in hockey. Well this isn't on par with Yankees-Red Sox in baseball, but there's always a little extra flair when it's New York vs. Boston. This one should have a lot of extra flair.
Nobody at this point will dispute the Rangers are one of the best teams in the league this season. You'd be foolish to try. But there are people, myself included, who are still wondering exactly how good are the Rangers? Well what better way to find out than to send them to the hornets’ nest that is TD Garden in Boston to face the defending champs?
Although it’s too bad we could have had this game a week or so ago. By their standards this season, each of these teams has lost some steam going into the game. The Bruins are only 6-4-0 in their last 10 (gasp!) while the Rangers just slightly better at 7-3-0. I laugh about it a little but it was just in the last two weeks that each of these teams had won nine of 10 games.
One of the tricks for each of the coaches is to find ways to keep pushing their guys in the middle of the season, particularly when you've had as much success as these two Original Six squads have. Sometimes that can be as simple as finding a bear to poke (pun clearly intended).
"Horton has got to pick up his game. No ifs or buts about it," Julien said after the shootout win at Florida. "A guy his size needs to get more physically involved. He needs to compete a lot harder. He's skating hard, you can see it on the backcheck ... but we need more from him. When he's emotionally engaged, he scores goals and he's a difference-maker. He's got to find his game. We're at the point where we're a little shorthanded and we need him to step up."
Horton responded by scoring twice in the loss to the Lightning and then one more in the win on Thursday night against the Devils. That might be mission: accomplished.
It looks like Rangers coach John Tortorella has his own target to try and prod.
Brad Richards was the star they brought to New York this summer to give Marian Gaborik that other scoring threat and finally give Henrik Lundqvist some much-deserved support. In that regard, Richards has been alright. But that's it.
In 45 games he has 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points while carrying a minus-3. That stat still means very little, plus/minus, but on a team like the Rangers, it's tough to be negative. He and Ruslan Fedotenko are the only players on the team with more than 10 games played that are in the red.
Going into the game against the Bruins, Richards hasn't tallied a single point in the last six games. Obviously that's not very good, particularly for a guy making $6.7 million per season.
While Tortorella didn't go anywhere close to the level of criticism that Julien did with Horton, he at least made it known that Richards needs to step up some. From Ranger Rants:
Coach John Tortorella said he didn’t want to analyze individual performances after the game when asked specifically about Staal and Brad Richards. But he acknowledged that Richards’ game wasn’t spot on right now (he was a minus-1 in 16:46 though he won 12 of 16 faceoffs).
If the Rangers can get a point-per-game pace out of Richards like he has been doing for most of the past few seasons, then watch out.
This will be the first of four matchups between the foes this season and each will very likely go a long way in determining who gets home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
If that leaves you wanting more ...
... Then you'll get it. There is no better way to spend Saturday if you're a hockey fan than to tune in to the NHL Network. Once that Rangers-Bruins tilt is done it's on to the next, but it takes no backseat to the first game.
The Vancouver Canucks seem to have a lot of rivalries these days. We all know about their ongoing feud with the Bruins, they have a fierce battle with the Chicago Blackhawks and pretty much any team from Canada.
But don't forget about their rivals to the south in San Jose, too. They've had some damn good playoff battles as well, including that Western Conference final matchup a season ago where Kevin Bieksa was the only person on the ice who knew what the heck was going on.
The Sharks are an interesting team to me. Perhaps it's a situation of just getting used to it, being desensitized to them, but once again they are right there in the race for the Presidents' Trophy this season. Remember, they have games in hand on every single Western Conference team.
Yet they are just quietly trudging along on the West Coast. It's expected from them now to be honest. That's a great compliment to give to the ownership and front office in San Jose.
Unlike the Eastern powers mentioned above, these Western heavies have already met three times this season, so when they dance on Saturday night in Vancouver, it's the last time they'll see each other until next season. Unless ...
Hot, hot, hot!
When they looked at the itinerary for the road trip, they had to look at the Saturday visit to Anaheim as a little bit of a reprieve on the tough trip. Not anymore.
It took a while, but Bruce Boudreau is seeing the Ducks play the way we all thought they would this season. All of a sudden, these are the two hottest teams in the NHL (what?!?). The Ducks are 6-0-1 in their last seven games in their own right.
It's likely well past the time for them to get back into the playoff picture. Even with these 13 points in seven games, they are still 13 points behind Colorado for the eighth spot in the West. What a really strong finish can do, though, is affect the way general manager Bob Murray views his team and thus how much of a seller the Ducks will be at the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
In the meantime, each of the Sens and Ducks gets a heat check in one of the few places in either the USA or Canada that it's actually warm right now, Southern California.
Friday night will feature some old friends facing off as the Florida Blackhawks visit the Chicago Panthers. Wait ...
Since Dale Tallon took over in Florida as general manager, the Panthers have taken on quite a strong feeling of the Blackhawks. They currently carry five former players from Chicago: John Madden, Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky and Jack Skille. Of them, only Skille wasn't a contributor to the Stanley Cup a couple of seasons ago.
To make that happen obviously Tallon had to send some of his Panthers players to GM Stan Bowman in Chicago. It's not as strong the other way but the Blackhawks currently employ former Panthers Michal Frolik, Steve Montador and have Rostislav Olesz and Alexander Salak in the system.
But the player to watch in this battle? How about Andrew Shaw, who is quickly making a big name for himself in Chicago. The 20-year-old forward who was a fifth-round pick by the 'Hawks has five points in the last four games on the strength of a goal in each game. That's led to the Twitter hashtag of #ShawFacts where fans have taken their best Chuck Norris jokes and tailored them for Shaw.
Something else worth watching: With weather conditions as bad as they are in Chicago this weekend, will the Panthers have any problems getting out of town and into Winnipeg in time for their game Saturday against the Jets?
Speak of old friends ...
The Bolts will get the chance to see firsthand what has happened to Smith since he moved to the desert this offseason. For those not in the know, what has happened is that he has become a quality starting goaltender for the Coyotes.
The Lightning are giving up more goals than any team in the league. Don't you think Smith and his 2.41 goals against average would be handy in Tampa Bay this season?
Then again, it probably wouldn't be too much different if the defenders in front of Smith were playing the same/as injured as they are in front of Roloson and Mathieu Garon.
Fun doesn't stop Saturday
On Sunday there is a nice pair of battles for matinee games in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins will take on another one of the I-95 corridor powers in the Philadelphia Flyers while the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Washington Capitals for their final bout this season. It might be a bit watered down without Sidney Crosby playing, but it's still worth watching.
Both games are worth it, so get ready to wear out the "last" button on your remote.
We're going streaking!
A look at the winning and losing streaks heading into the weekend.
Penguins: Remember how they just lost six in a row? This is how you rebound from that. The Pens take a four-game winning streak into Friday night's game against the Canadiens before the game against the Caps.
Detroit Red Wings: For the moment, they have taken the lead in the Central Division, which is an unbelievable race this season. Their five straight wins will be put on the line Saturday vs. the Blue Jackets.
St. Louis Blues: They are doing what they can to keep pace with the Red Wings and Blackhawks, and they're doing it just fine. They ride a three-game run into a home game against the Sabres, losers of 10 straight on the road.
Buffalo Sabres: As just mentioned, 10 straight road losses, four in a row overall. Only the one chance in St. Louis to snap it this weekend.
Panthers: They haven't won a game in their last three chances but they have picked up points in two of those three. The double dip this weekend is at Chicago and at Winnipeg.
Minnesota Wild: The ship keeps on sinking. Remember when they were first in the NHL? I hardly do either. Four straight losses and Dallas on tap this weekend.
Dallas Stars: Misery loves company, I suppose. Dallas brings its own losing streak of three games into the weekend, but they get Tampa Bay before facing the Wild.For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.
Tags: Alexander Salak, Anaheim Ducks, Andrew Shaw, Bob Murray, Boston Bruins, Brad Richards, Brian Campbell, Brian Stubits, Bruce Boudreau, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Claude Julien, Dale Tallon, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Dwayne Roloson, Florida Panthers, John Madden, John Tortorella, Kevin Bieksa, Kris Versteeg, Kyle Turris, Mathieu Garon, Michal Frolik, Mike Smith, Minnesota Wild, Nathan Horton, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Rostislav Olesz, San Jose Sharks, Skille, St. Louis Blues, Stan Bowman, Steve Montador, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tomas Kopecky, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Weekend Preview
Posted on: January 18, 2012 3:50 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 4:13 pm
The Florida Panthers are so close to being healthy again. They have seen their Southeast Division lead slip all the way down to one point over the Washington Capitals while they have dealt with a rash of injuries, including one to starting goaltender Jose Theodore and at one time seven forwards.
One place they have been lucky in that regard, though, has been on defense. The Panthers have been carrying seven defensemen all season long, rotating the healthy scratch between Erik Gudbranson and Keaton Ellerby, both former first-round draft picks by the organization.
Now they are going to have to rely on both Ellerby and Gudbranson to play together, for their defensive corps finally took a hit. Literally.
How did he break his hand, you ask? By engaging in a fight with the Bruins' Daniel Paille this week in Florida. In an interesting note of skewed stats, it was Jovanovski's first fight in a Florida uniform since 1999.
So that means that Ellerby will be pressed into action. As mentioned, he has been splitting scratches with Gudbranson this season, but Ellerby has been the one in the press box more often than not, including the last eight games. So now he'll have a chance to prove he belongs.
"[Dineen] just said he knows it's been a tough little stretch and he respects the way that I've handled myself," Ellerby told the Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday. "It's a tough spot, but he said you're going to get that chance. Lucky or unlucky, it happened [Monday night]. I know he's going to expect a lot from me and I expect a lot from myself. I need to go in and prove to them that I can play in this league and just help the team."
Dineen expressed his own confidence in Ellerby to fill the shoes of one of the Panthers' alternate captains (incidentally, Dineen still hasn't named a full-time captain).
"I'll give him credit that he's put in the work, and now the opportunity has presented itself," Dineen said. "He's had days where you could see he had some real jump and he was trying to go out there and improve. And then there were days that he maybe was not as sharp as he should have been.
"I like his size and his skating and his willingness to be a physical player, and to engage and be a guy that is hard to play against."
Jovanovski, who the Panthers brought back to the franchise this summer in free agency, has two goals and six assists this season for Florida. The injury will ensure a third straight season where he played less than 70 games.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:23 pm
Florida Panthers goaltender had a very nice first half, especially compared to the expectations. But it didn't come to a great close as the Panthers slowed their pace and he was injured (video here), putting him on the sideline for a couple of weeks.
So maybe it's about time Theodore got a new mask, perhaps trying to find that vibe from early in the season he had going with his Sexy Cat mask. Or maybe that one was a bit too racy.
Whatever the reason, Theodore will be donning a new mask when he returns to the ice for the Panthers. He is currently day to day.
The mask seen above is the latest from goalie mask artist David Gunnarson (Teaser: look for a story soon on Gunnarson's work), called the Burning TikiGargoyles. Here is the description of it from Gunnarson.
It also includes the base of red (the Panthers' big focus from a marketing standpoint this season) and the palm trees that have long been found in the Panthers' variety of logos.
It's not the most eye-catching mask we've seen this season, but the combination of tikis and gargoyles is a pretty cool idea and was executed well. But this gives the perfect chance for comparison: Which of Theodore's masks this season do you like best?
Posted on: January 15, 2012 4:06 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 5:24 pm
As the Monkees once sang, I'm a believer.
It has taken more than half a season, but I'm ready to buy stock in the Ottawa Senators. Now I don't think I'd like them to do much beyond make the playoffs at this point, but considering preseason expectations, that's a minor miracle in and of itself.
Before the season began, I remember seeing Senators GM Bryan Murray saying he thought his team could make the playoffs this season contrary to about everybody's prediction of the team's outlook. I also remember my reaction to it was to laugh.
My laughing has stopped.
The Senators pretty much dispelled any notion that this has been a fluke. Their 46 games played are enough to convince you otherwise.
Something else I personally was laughing at was their trade for Kyle Turris. Based on a few seasons of minimal production in Phoenix, I was of the mind that Kyle Turris wasn't as good as his draft position a few years ago indicated, that he was still living off a "potential" tag that wasn't going to materialize the way everybody hoped. In short, I saw Turris as being overrated.
So here's an "oops" on a couple of accounts.
The match of Turris and the Senators has been one forged in heaven. Or something like that. Since Murray shipped defenseman David Rundblad to the Coyotes (who has since been sent down to the AHL) in exchange for Turris, it's been a win for the Senators. A lot of wins.
With Turris in their lineup, the Senators are a sensational 12-2-2, including four consecutive wins after the prevailed over the Canadiens in a shootout on Saturday. Turris has contributed two goals and seven assists in that time.
They have come a long way since that 1-5-0 start to the season.
On the sobering side, they still give up way too much. Their 3.13 goals against per game clocks in at 27th in the league, ahead of only the Hurricanes, Blue Jackets and Lightning. Just check the standings to see how those teams are faring by giving up so much.
But the Sens can score. You can nit-pick their four All-Star selections, but none of them is completely undeserving. In a game that values offense, the Sens have that covered. Between Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza and the venerable Daniel Alfredsson (as well as Erik Karlsson on the blue line) you see how Ottawa is where it is.
Now you have to account for some inflation here. The Senators have played more games than any of the other contenders in the East, so everybody has games in hand on them. But fact of the matter is they have put themselves in a good position to withstand the tide turning back toward other teams in the games-played department.
This is a big stretch for the Senators, playing nine games out of 10 on the road and so far they are three for three.
Feel free to believe.
Home sweet home
The game of the weekend got Saturday started off right with an early faceoff in Detroit. The Red Wings and Blackhawks met for the third time this season, and for the third time it was a 3-2 final. Talk about great hockey.
Considering the game was at the Joe in Detroit, you should have no problem correctly guessing who prevailed. It was an OT tally from Todd Bertuzzi that gave the Wings the second point on the day, an overtime that was completely controlled by Detroit.
The Red Wings have a great history. You all know that. They have become the definition of a playoff staple. So it's saying something about this year's team when you consider they just captured their 14th consecutive win on home ice to tie a team record. That goes all the way back to 1965.
"Even though we're in the thick of a tight race, it is something we can be proud of as a team," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "This franchise hasn't done this since the 1960s, so it says a lot that we've been able to do it."
That's why the Central Division race is going to be so critical this season. If the Red Wings can get the division title, they are guaranteed to have home ice for at least one series come playoff time. In a division as tight as the Central.
The devil inside
One question I've heard a few times in the press box this season is if the New Jersey Devils are for real. My answer: no doubt.
They aren't without their concerns, for sure. Their goalie situation isn't ideal these days with Martin Brodeur and as good as their power play can be with the skill they have, they have a little problem allowing short-handed goals.
But the thing with the Devils that people forget is that last season was the anomaly. The expectations weren't high because of the miserable first half they endured last season, partly due to salary cap constraints, partly due the absence of Zach Parise.
Bring back a healthy Parise and the rookie Adam Henrique and you have the Devils playing good hockey this season. They were able to do what very few teams have been able to on Saturday night and that was to go into Winnipeg and come away with a victory over the Jets at the MTS Centre thanks to two third-period goals. The winner came from Patrik Elias, his 16th.
Therein lies one of the things I like about any staying power for the Devils, they are more than Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Henrique. They have some second-level scoring to fill in.
Plus, they don't lose in shootouts or overtime much at all. That doesn't help when the postseason comes around but it can help them get there.
They needed that
It sounds like hyperbole, but this really might have been the biggest weekend of the season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They were struggling bad, having lost six games in a row for the first time in years. Then there was the drama about some possibly internal strife and the idea that the Penguins might name a captain in Sidney Crosby's absence.
The team debunked any of that talk on Friday when they took to the ice in Sunrise, Fla. for their morning skate with everybody wearing a C on their sweater (except for Evgeni Malkin who wore a K). The media scrutiny of them and their captain was apparently getting to them so they fought back.
And then they fought back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, too. They came out against the Panthers on Friday night and assaulted the Southeast Division leaders (not for much longer) on their way to a slump-busting 4-1 win. Making sure not to follow it up with a thud, they jumped on the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Sunday and held on to give the Bolts a seventh straight loss.
To put in perspective how dominating they were, the Pens outshot the Panthers and Lightning by a combined 85-46 and won each game by three.
That was a weekend that was sorely needed. The team appears to be galvanized by the whole episode, playing some great hockey in Florida. Either that or the feel of a vacation in the Sunshine State did the trick.
Quote of the weekend
"That should suggest to this whole locker room that we're not far off." -- Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jay Harrison.
That came after the Hurricanes pulled off the "say what?" moment of the weekend by doubling up the Bruins in Carolina 4-2 on Saturday night.
They might believe they're not far off as far as putting it all together, but they're still very far off when it comes to the standings. However three wins in a row has done something for them in the standings, take them out of the Southeast cellar thanks to the Lightning's skid.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Adam Henrique, Boston Bruins, Brian Stubits, Bryan Murray, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Daniel Alfredsson, David Rundblad, Detroit Red Wings, Erik Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin, Florida Panthers, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Spezza, Jay Harrison, Kyle Turris, Milan Michalek, New Jersey Devils, Nicklas Lidstrom, Ottawa Senators, Patrik Elias, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning, Weekend Wrap, Winnipeg Jets, Zach Parise
Posted on: January 13, 2012 5:55 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 6:11 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Rick DiPietro is going to have yet another season cut short due to injury.
The Islanders goaltender will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a sports hernia, a procedure that is likely to end his season. He appeared in just eight games for New York this year.
Dating back to the start of the 2008-09 he's appeared in just 48 games for the Islanders. Obviously, this is nothing new for DiPietro in what has been a promising career that has been absolutely dismantled by injuries.
New York made an enourmous financial commitment to DiPietro prior to the 2006-07 season, giving him a 15-year contract worth $67.5 million. Since then it's been nothing but one set back after another, and as of now still he still has nine years and over $40 million remaining on his contract.
At this point the only way the Islanders would ever be able to get out of that commitment would be if DiPietro would at some point retire, and according to Arthur Staple of Newsday, that's something that DiPietro hasn't even thought about at this point.
The Islanders made DiPietro the top pick in the 2000 draft, the same day they shipped another former first-round goalie, Roberto Luongo, off to the Florida Panthers (along with Olli Jokinen) in exchange for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish, a sequence of events that, obviously, had a rather large impact on the franchise.
In 315 games DiPietro has a 130-133-36 record to go with a .903 save percentage.
Along with DiPietro, the Islanders have had a pretty incredible run of bad luck at the goalie position over the past two years. Due to injuries and an in-season trade they had to use six different goalies a year ago, and so far this season have already used five: DiPietro, Evgeni Nabokov, Al Montoya, Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.