Tag:Minnesota Wild
Posted on: December 26, 2011 9:27 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 9:32 pm
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Avs' McLeod booted for check on Wild's Spurgeon

By Brian Stubits

It didn't take long for somebody to see if Brendan Shanahan is still feeling jolly from his Christmas break.

At the 5:20 of the first period in Minnesota, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cody McLeod was given a five-minute major for checking from behind on the Wild's Jared Spurgeon. After a little deliberation while Spurgeon remained on the ice, McLeod was then assessed a game misconduct, ensuring a review from the league.

So everybody knows the drill by now: Is this worthy of a suspension by Shanahan and his staff?

Admittedly, the play did look bad in live action. The fact that Spurgeon was down on the ice for some time then left the ice with help isn't good news for McLeod hoping to avoid suspension and stay with the Avs, who are suddenly hot once again.

But this is a tough call. You can see McLeod following behind with his hand on Spurgeon's back and it seems like a relatively innocent forecheck on the play. The problem comes when Spurgeon puts on the brakes and McLeod doesn't. I don't see much of a push on the play from McLeod.

It certainly doesn't seem any worse to me than the hit from Zach Bogosian on the Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard, which did not result in a suspension.

It doesn't speak a lot for the consistency of the discipline offices, but if I were to guess I'd say no suspension should result, but no decision will surprise me (outside of a long suspension, that is). Remember, McLeod essentially served a one-game suspension in this one, being ineligible for 54 of the 60 minutes. The only difference is he'll still get a pay check for the game.

More NHL Discipline News Here

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

Posted on: December 25, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Looking ahead to 2012

CrosbyBy: Adam Gretz

The new year is right around the corner, and now that 2011 is almost in our rear view mirror, it's time to look ahead to what might be for the NHL in 2012.

1) What, if anything, will (or can) the NHL do about its concussion problem?

The NHL has a problem, and it's been highlighted throughout this season as some of the league's best and brightest players have been sidelined with head injuries at various times. And in many cases, an extended period of time.

Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Milan Michalek, Mike Richards, David Perron, Marc Staal … the list goes on and on, and it doesn't seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. You can't go a week in the NHL, sometimes even a day, without hearing that another player has been diagnosed with a concussion or has been experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

With the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expiring after this season it's worth asking what the league and the NHLPA can do to help combat this problem. A complete banishment on all head shots will always be talked about it, but it seems unlikely to happen as long as the NHL's old guard remains in charge.

Perhaps my favorite suggestion, and one that would probably please most everybody, including the goaltenders, is to eliminate the ridiculous and nonsensical trapezoid rule and allow goaltenders to play more pucks in the corners. That would potentially reduce the number of times defensemen have to be subjected to violent hits from oncoming forecheckers in the corners.  Reintroducing the red line to slow the pace through the neutral zone has been brought up, as well as possible the addition of no-touch icing.

And speaking of player safety...

2) Will we get any closer to mandatory visors?

As we've talked about before, there are still enough players that view visors as their own personal choice (which it currently is) and something that they shouldn't be forced to wear.

But that was also once true for helmets and goalie masks, and they've now become an accepted (and common sense) piece of equipment. The issue seems to be getting more and more attention than it has in recent seasons, and the first reaction that comes up anytime somebody takes a puck or a stick near the face is to automatically look to see if said player is wearing a protective visor. Like the addition of helmets, it's likely a rule that will be grandfathered in. Perhaps making matters easier is the fact that many of the young players entering the league today are already wearing visors given that they're mandatory at the sports lower levels (the Canadian Junior Leagues, the American Hockey League).

3) Will the 2012 NHL season start on time?

The NFL went through a dreadful lockout that eliminated its offseason and threatened the start of its regular season, which was then followed by the NBA missing a large chunk of its regular season due to its own completely pointless work stoppage. Major League Baseball, suddenly the model of long-term labor peace in professional sports, quietly and quickly went about its business and had everything settled before anybody even realized their agreement was up for discussion.

And now it's the NHL's turn. Panic? Fire and brimstone?

Will the league and the NHLPA be able to come to some sort of an agreement like MLB did, or will it be more along the lines of the NFL and NBA where it's a long, drawn out process with maddening twists and turns that leaves fans pulling out their hair?

The last time we were in this position we lost an entire season and came back to a completely different league.

4) Will the Coyotes remain in Phoenix?

Until the team actually moves to a new home or a long-term, viable ownership situation is in place in Phoenix this question will not be going away. And if the former is what happens, what does that do to the NHL's new conference alignment?

The league went through a franchise relocation in 2011 that resulted in a radical realignment as the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, leading to the NHL overhauling its divisions and playoff format.

But what happens if the Coyotes, after surviving another season in the desert, don't remain in Phoenix and relocate, as has been talked about and expected for years? Do we have to go through another realignment discussion and re-do everything that was just settled?

5) How many more turns for the NHL's coaching Carousel?

Nearly half of the league went through some sort of head coaching change during 2011, and let's face it, with way NHL teams dismiss coaches there is no doubt the coaching carousel will continue to spin out of control. It's already kind of amazing that, with all of the changes that have taken place this season, Columbus' Scott Arniel has made it as long as he has given the worst start in franchise history. Toronto's Ron Wilson is in the final year of his contract and has recently taken to Twitter asking Santa Claus for a certain piece of paper (presumably a contract) for Christmas.

6) Will Nashville be able to keep its prized defensemen?

When Nashville signed goaltender Pekka Rinne to his massive contract extension earlier this season it produced one of two possibilities going forward: A) The team will now be a "cap team" and spend more money than it's ever spent before in an effort to keep its best homegrown players, or B) the signing of Rinne means one (or both) of their two No. 1 defenseman, Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, will eventually be lost to free agency.

Weber still has one more year before he hits the unrestricted market, and will once again be up for restricted free agency after this season. Suter, on the other hand, if he hasn't signed before July 1, will be eligible to sign with the highest bidder.

7) Who will host the next Winter Classic?

Technically this game won't be played until 2013, but the decision will be made long before then and every team wants an opportunity to host what has become the NHL's signature regular season event. Gary Bettman has already all but promised Washington D.C. the game in the very near future, so that's on the table.

I'm a fan of taking the game to Michigan, perhaps the Big House in Ann Arbor, for a Red Wings game, or even to the State of Hockey and allowing the Minnesota Wild to play host to the game for its passionate fan base at perhaps either Target Field (home of the Minnesota Twins) or TCF Bank Stadium (University of Minnesota stadium).

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:45 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 9:54 pm
 

Martin Havlat out after hamstring surgery



By: Adam Gretz

Martin Havlat simply can't catch a break. He's the type of player that has a reputation for being a really good, productive player, but only when he's healthy. Unfortunately for the teams he's played for throughout his 11 year career (Ottawa, Chicago, Minnesota and now San Jose), that hasn't really happened as much as they would like.

He's played more than 70 games in a season just five times, and has topped the 80-game mark just once. That came during the 2008-09 season with the Chicago Blackhawks, a year that saw him set career highs in nearly in every offensive category.

That's not going to happen this season as the Sharks announced on Thursday evening that he is going to miss  an "extended period" of time after undergoing surgery for a partially torn hamstring.

He was acquired by the Sharks over the summer in the trade that sent Danny Heatley to Minnesota, and in his first 26 games with San Jose he scored two goals to go with 13 assists.

He was injured during a game on Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers, a game the Sharks won 3-2, as he attempted to jump over the boards (as seen in the video up top) to start his next shift. He had to crawl off the ice and was not able to return to the game.

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

Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:03 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 12:04 am
 

Patrick Kane's shootout winner (video)

By: Adam Gretz

The game of the night on Wednesday had to be in Minnesota as the Wild, owners of the top spot in the NHL standings, hosted the Chicago Blackhawks.

In the end, it was Chicago that came out on top thanks to a 4-3 win in a shootout, and while the game had plenty of interesting moments (example: this second period goal scored by the Wild after the linesmen curiously called off an icing play), it was Patrick Kane's game-winning goal in the tie-breaking skills competition that is making highlight reels across the league.

Try and keep track of how many times Kane deked goaltender Niklas Backstrom before finally slamming the puck into an empty net, after Backstrom was pretty much faked out of his pads.



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

Posted on: December 14, 2011 9:44 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 9:52 pm
 

Adam McQuaid ejected for kneeing Nick Foligno

By: Adam Gretz

Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was ejected late in the second period of their game in Ottawa on Wednesday night for kneeing Senators forward Nick Foligno with less than five minutes to play in the period. Along with the game misconduct he was also issued a five-minute major for kneeing, and always, there's a good chance it's going to get additional review from the NHL.

Foligno was able to return to the game.



Just last week the NHL issued a four-game suspension to Colorado's Kevin Porter for his knee-on-knee hit against Vancouver's David Booth. Booth is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a sprained MCL. Prior to that incident Edmonton's Ryan Whitney avoided any discipline for his knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck.

What do you say, hockey fans? Is the major and a game misconduct enough of a punishment, or does McQuaid sit for a couple of games?

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

Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:34 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 4:57 pm
 

Jets' Bogosian ejected for boarding P-M Bouchard

By Brian Stubits

It didn't take the Winnipeg Jets long to find themselves a true rival in their new home.

The Jets and Minnesota Wild made acquaintance on Tuesday in Winnipeg and in addition to the Jets ending the Wild's seven-game win streak, but Zach Bogosian introduced the bad blood into the soon-to-be rivalry. Literally.

With just over a minute to go and the Jets clinging to a 2-1 lead, Pierre-Marc Bouchard was handling the puck behind the Jets net when Bogosian came in to make a play. Bouchard did an about face and then his face met the glass. The result was a bloodied Bouchard, a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct for Bogosian.

This hit will obviously be scrutinized by Brendan Shanahan and the NHL, but this one will be debatable. This is a situation that I think many people will question whether or not Bouchard put himself into position for the bad hit, turning his back to the defender just before contact. It was a rough spot for Bogosian.

But still, the impetus is on him in that situation not to shove Bouchard into the boards while in a vulnerable position.

It's important to note that Bouchard has suffered from a concussion before, so that will be something worth watching for after this hit.

In the end, I think there might be a little extra pressure on Shanahan to lay down some extra punishment on Bogosian because of the result, a bloodied and obviously injured Bouchard, especially if he was concussed again.

The two teams already have geography working in their favor for a natural rivalry, but games like this add some real ferocity as well. Next season when they become conference/division foes, it will only be more intense.

More NHL Discipline News Here

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



Posted on: December 12, 2011 6:39 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Devils acquire Kurtis Foster from Ducks

By: Adam Gretz

With only one game on the NHL schedule on Monday night it appeared as if we were going to be in for a rather slow night. And then all hell broke loose. Fines, a coaching change, and now, a trade.

Less than two hours before the start of their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New Jersey Devils announced that they have acquired defenseman Kurtis Foster and goaltender Timo Pielmeier from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Mark Fraser, forward Rod Pelley and a 2012 seventh-round draft pick.

Foster is the name that will make the biggest immediate impact with a booming slap shot and some offensive ability from the point, two things the Devils could desperately use right now, currently owning the 26th ranked power play in the NHL entering play on Monday. In nine games this season Foster has scored one goal to go with one assist.

The Devils leading scorer among defensemen is currently rookie Adam Larsson with two goals and eight assists. The only other defenseman on the team to score a goal is Mark Fayne.

This will be Foster's fifth team in the past five years, as he has also spent time with the Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Ducks. In 74 games last season, all with Edmonton, he scored eight goals to go with 14 assists, which came one year after he tallied a career-high 42 points in 71 games with Tampa Bay. Eight of his 16 goals over the past two years have come on the power play.

He is currently in the last year of a two-year contract that averages $1.8 million per season.

Fraser has appeared in four games for the Devils this season and recorded no points and 14 penalty minutes. In seven games, Pelley also has no points and seven penalty minutes.

Along with Foster, the Devils are also getting Pielmeier, a former third-round pick by the Sharks in 2007, that has been playing with the Elmira Jackals of the East Coast Hockey League. He's appeared in one NHL game.

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

Posted on: December 9, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Flyers, Lightning meet again

By Brian Stubits

This could be interesting. For people who like boring hockey, this Saturday's game in Philadelphia could be just for you.

Now that we've really sold the game, let me clarify. This weekend the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers will meet for the second time this season. And for some reason, the first game was a bit memorable -- or forgettable, depending on your viewpoint.

Who can forget when the Flyers refused to play into the Lightning's 1-3-1 trap and the Lightning refused to forecheck? What resulted was the biggest stalemate heard 'round the hockey world. Since then there have been discussions about the validity of Tampa Bay's defensive system. Should it even be allowed?

Here's a refresher on what that looked like.

Of course that's all silly talk. It obviously isn't hurting teams from scoring against the Lightning. The Bolts enter the weekend have surrendered the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference.

I highly doubt we'll see a replay of that ugly display in Tampa Bay from earlier this season, especially if Peter Laviolette wises up and remembers he has arguably the most explosive offense in the game. It's not the time to over-coach when you have Claude Giroux on your team.

There were a lot of questions about the Flyers entering this season. Would Ilya Bryzgalov be the missing piece? Can Jaromir Jagr still perform at a high level? (The answers are still undetermined and unequivocally yes).

But the one that everybody wondered about the most was who, exactly, was going to replace the scoring load that was carried by Jeff Carter and Mike Richards? Some assumed it would be James van Riemsdyk, others thought Danny Briere. I think the most popular answer, though, would have been Claude Giroux.

Well those folks were right, but I'm not sure they knew how right they would be.

Not only is Giroux leading the Flyers in points (by 14, no less), he leads the entire NHL in that category, passing early leader Phil Kessel.

It's a bit insulting to call this a breakout season for Giroux, after all, he did have 76 points last season, but it is just that. His 16 goals through just 27 games already brings him within 10 his career-best 25 one season ago. He's on pace for close to 100 points.

Oh, and he's only 23 (he turns 24 in January).

So here's a bit of a plea to Laviolette: let your offense go. Teams aren't having trouble scoring against the Lightning (the goalies share a good chunk of that blame, too). That's a particularly good idea with Giroux around.

Then again ...

"We might sit there for four or five minutes at a time," Laviolette was quoted as saying.

Be prepared for another night of non-action.

Oh my Michalek

Phil Kessel has received a lot of the early season headlines for his goal scoring. Jonathan Toews and Steven Stamkos haven't been getting the same amount of pub, but people know about their scoring prowess too.

Alex Ovechkin has received a lot of talk too, but for his lack of goal scoring.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to take this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, this time on the NHL's goal-scoring leader, Milan Michalek of the Ottawa Senators.

Maybe it's because he plays all the way up in Ottawa. Perhaps it's because the Senators had such low expectations this season. Whatever the reason, the player the Senators acquired in the Dany Heatley trade is blossoming into a major player and there's little attention being paid to him.

Michalek gets a bigger stage to make an impression on Saturday when the Sens will host the Vancouver Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada.

How Wild is this?

The Minnesota Wild are the best team in the NHL based on the standings. It's impossible to give them enough credit right now.

Especially when they head to Phoenix having won six games in a row and completing the California sweep for the first time in franchise history.

Before the season began, how many people really, truly believed that when these teams met on Dec. 9, they would both be in first place in their respective divisions? That's simply ... wild.

Is there any doubt who the front-runner is for the Jack Adams Award in the NHL right now? Sure, Kevin Dineen of the Panthers has to be in the conversation, but as of this moment it's clearly Mike Yeo on the Minnesota bench.

Not even injuries have been slowing his team down. Lose two goaltenders? No problem. Just call up Matt Hackett from the AHL to make his NHL debut and watch him go more than five periods before allowing a goal. Have a defense few people outside of Minnesota can't recognize? No worries. The Wild are still incredibly stingy when it comes to giving up goals.

Pretty soon, people won't be able to ignore the Wild, no matter how much they might try.

Return of the matinee (and Kaberle)

Now that the college football season is done -- seems as convenient a reason as any -- Saturday matinees are returning to the NHL schedule. Last week it was the Canadiens visiting the Kings. This week it's again the Canadiens, this time visiting the Devils.

The game will also be the debut of Tomas Kaberle with the Canadiens. After being traded to Montreal on Friday for Jaroslav Spacek, this will be Kaberle's first opportunity to change the minds of fans of his new team: that he doesn't stink.

That's going to be a hard task, considering the view of Kaberle league-wide is so low. You know it's bad when a GM who signed you a few months ago essentially admits to it being a mistake.

It's also big for Jacques Martin, the Habs coach. The talk surrounding his job security had died down after the Habs had appeared to right the ship, but it's starting to leak again. And with that, people are wondering about Martin's status once anew. Beating the Devils, a team they are battling with at the bottom of the playoff picture right now, would be a helpful start.

We're going streaking!

These are your streaks at play going into the weekend.

Flyers: The Flyers enter Saturday's game with the Bolts having won four straight.

Florida Panthers: People are still stunned by them, and they take a three-game run into Buffalo and then, if it survives, Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

Winnipeg Jets: Yes, another Southeast Division team. The Jets are starting to make a push to stay relevant all season and have won three in a row. Their weekend consists of a game vs. the Hurricanes and at the Red Wings.

Wild: No team is playing better than Minnesota in the NHL. None. As mentioned, they head to Phoenix with a six-game win streak in hand.

Vancouver Canucks: Don't look now, but the defending Western Conference champs are starting to roll. Their streak is three games going into Ottawa.

Los Angeles Kings: They are the only team who come into the weekend with a losing streak in the works. They'll have a chance to snap that against the Stars on Saturday.

Photo: Getty Images

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