Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Dallas Stars
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:31 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 1:50 pm
 

NHL announces realignment to four conferences

By Brian Stubits

Look what the Winnipeg Jets started.

Realignment is coming to the NHL, and as was predicted, it's of the "total" variety.

Easy but incomplete ideas were floated (swapping either Detroit, Nashville or Columbus with Winnipeg in the Southeast and calling it a day), but in the end it was the big idea that won out. With Gary Bettman pushing it, you knew it would.

Gone are the days of divisions in hockey. The NHL will return to four conferences starting next season (names undetermined as of yet, but you can bet they will likely be historic). Two of the four divisions will have eight teams, two will have seven. The first two rounds of the playoffs will be played entirely within the conference before re-seeding in the third round, or Final Four, if you will. The NHL hasn't said yet how it plans to re-seed at that point, a decision will come later regarding that part.

It will also bring a schedule where every team will play a home and away with every other team.

Here is the proposal that was passed in a little less than an hour and with a 26-4 vote.

I can hear everybody now. Why didn't they just go the easy route? The short answer: politics. Well that and time zones.

"We had a number of clubs that were unhappy with the current state of affairs," commissioner Bettman said at the news conference to announce the realignment.

The Detroit Red Wings have a lot of clout. As an Original Six team who has done a lot of winning, that comes with the territory. They have long wanted to move to the East and have been very vocal about Bettman promising as such. That's complication No. 1 and it's alleviated. The Red Wings now will only play one game at each Western Canada and California arena.

More on realignment
Ray Ratto Ray Ratto
Realignment in NHL creates chaos beyond tumult in other leagues Read
Stories

The same goes for the Blue Jackets, who don't carry the same clout but had the same concerns.

"This is a fantastic night for the Blue Jackets," Blue Jackets president Mike Priest said.

Complication No. 2 was the existence of teams like the Dallas Stars playing their road games two time zones away or in the case of the Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets, playing a lot of road games three time zones away. By this grouping, teams are grouped with much more consideration to time zones. So while the idea of an Eastern Conference and Western Conference are gone, the Red Wings and Jackets get their end goal and will play with teams in the Eastern time zone and Central time zone a lot more.

Complication No. 3? Detroit isn't in the Southeast. But you knew that.

So we end up with this layout. There are honestly a lot more positives than negatives in this. The biggest consideration, time zones, was taken care of. Now the teams out West won't feel as big of a disadvantage as they do now. Despite having more teams in their new conferences, it was an easy sell for for the 15 teams that currently call the Western Conference home.

This really does seem like the best solution to please the most teams. The biggest problems I see? First is for the teams in the two eight-team conferences. They face longer odds than the other half of the league to make the postseason.

The second? The only teams that really seemed to get jobbed by the arrangement are the two teams in Florida, the Panthers and Lightning. Not counting each other, their closest division foes are in Buffalo and Boston.

Of course, one benefit to this new design is that it allows for flexibility in the case of the Phoenix Coyotes moving East. It would be as simple as putting them in a seven-team conference with the other Canadian teams if they were to, say, move to Quebec City.

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

Posted on: December 4, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Broadway boys continue to be a hit

By Brian Stubits

It's about time we start taking the New York Rangers seriously, wouldn't you say?

The view in the Eastern Conference is that it's the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins followed by every other team. While that's still the case -- I mean, they have combined to win two of the last three Stanley Cups -- there has to be a setting at the table for the Blueshirts, no? (Yes, Flyers fans, Philadelphia too.)

It's amazing to think about a team from New York being overshadowed. Teams all across Major League Baseball wish that were possible in their sport. But this Rangers team is rather quietly just chugging along. The latest steamrolling effort came in Tampa, where Brad Richards returned to one of his favorite places and helped the Rangers take down his and coach John Tortorella's former team, the Lightning, 4-2.

Since losing to the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in a shootout on October 29, the Rangers have gone 12-2-0. They won seven straight games before dropping two on the road and then have since reeled off five wins in a row since being shutout by the Panthers on Nov. 23.

And how about Richards, the big acquisition in the offseason? In the most recent five-game winning streak he has four goals and five assists. Looking at the team's last nine games, Richards has points in seven of them. The only two he didn't get on the score sheet? The two losses.

Don't think he didn't savor a win in his old stomping grounds. From the New York Daily News.

“It was the first win I had back here, and I really wanted it,” said Richards, who had lost both previous visits to Tampa Bay after being dealt to the Dallas Stars. “Torts wanted this one, too. I don’t know if he wanted it more or not, but the way it ended here was a little frustrating, so I was really happy to get that one.”

Tortorella said he and Richards meant no disrespect to Tampa Bay’s current front office, including general manager Steve Yzerman, but recalled watching in February 2008 as then-Tampa GM Jay Feaster traded away the man who won the Conn Smythe trophy during the Lightning’s Stanley Cup run.

“Not this organization, not the owners here or the people here, but the people that moved him had no clue,” Tortorella said. “I was in the meetings. I watched it happen, and I thought they jammed it to him. How he was handled, I don’t think he’s too unhappy about getting a win here.”

I don't think anybody that's in the organization or is a Rangers fan is too unhappy these days.

The problem in recent seasons in New York certainly hasn't been the goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding in recent seasons and could have been a Vezina Trophy winner at some point if he had a little more offensive help. Let's be honest, team success is helpful in winning individual awards and the lack of offense wasn't helping the team achieve a whole lot of success.

More from the weekend
Recaps
Stories

But things are finally clicking. It's no wonder the Rangers have won 12 of their last 14 games. In six of their last seven wins, the Rangers have scored at least four goals.

Marian Gaborik is back to scoring like he did before coming to New York. He has a team-high 12 goals. It would appear he's beginning to thrive again now that there is somebody else -- Richards -- to take a good chunk of the spotlight and expectations off of him, somebody to share those heavy burdens with.

Start spreading the news, the Rangers aren't leaving any time soon.

Moulson nice

The other team in New York, the Islanders, have been anemic when it comes to scoring goals. The offense has been horrible all season long. So of course they became the first team this season to have one of its players score four goals in a game.

The Isles needed all four scores from Matt Moulson on Saturday in Dallas, his final tally of the night being the game-winner.

"They [John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau] really gave me some good chances, all I had to do was sweep it into an open net," Moulson said. "The win's the biggest part. Score as many goals as you want, but the win's the most important thing."

The win in over the Stars caps off a very successful four-game road trip for the Isles. They picked up seven of the eight possible points, the only point missing came in Friday's shootout loss to the Blackhawks.

Yes, there is actually a hint of optimism on the Island again after another brutal start.

Good to have Gabby back

Bruce Boudreau's debut as the Anaheim Ducks coach was eerily reminiscent of his debut with the Capitals for years ago. His team was playing the Flyers, built a three-goal lead before losing it and going to overtime. The only difference was the Capitals won that game four years ago while a double minor in overtime cost his Ducks dearly as they lost in overtime.

But Boudreau had plenty of positives to take from the game, most notably the team's effort.

However it's what he said after the game that really caught my eyes and made me grateful Boudreau is already back in coaching. Having familiarity with the Flyers from his time in Washington, Boudreau said he was anticipating what Philly would do.

“I knew exactly what Philly was going to do,” he said. ”I knew the guys that were going to dive and they did. They got away with it. The only one that didn’t get away with it was [Wayne] Simmonds. It looked like he got shot. And he went down until he start peeking and no one was calling it and then he had to get back up.

“[Scott] Hartnell looked like he’d gotten shot by a bazooka. He didn’t miss a shift and then he comes in and scores the tying goal.”

Props for dropping a bazooka reference on us, Bruce. The implication is that the Ducks didn't really deserve all of the penalty minutes they accrued to contribute to the loss.

I'm sure Philly fans will love Boudreau as much as Rangers fans after this.

Rude welcome

While the first leg of the Flyers' back-to-back was all about the opposing team and its new coach, the second leg was about one of the Flyers players.

For the first time this season, Ilya Bryzgalov started both ends of a back-to-back, and it's probably no coincidence that it involved playing in his former city, Phoenix (or Glendale, if you'd prefer). They saw the Bryzgalov they came to know and love, too.

The Flyers goalie was sharp enough to allow just two goals and lead his new team over his old team with a 4-2 victory.

"I was walking in the building, and I can't explain what I felt, but it's something," Bryzgalov said about his return. "I played here three-and-a-half years. Winning lots of games, losing lots of games. Part of my soul is left here.

"I was surprised if they were going to boo me because I don't think I deserved it. I think I did lots of good things for this city and for this team and same thing. They did lots of good things for me. I really appreciate everything they've done for me."

He shows his appreciation by beating his old team. Nice (we kid).

Rat pack

This is how you make people believe you're for real.

The Florida Panthers just made a quick cross-country trip for games in Los Angeles and San Jose. While they lost 2-1 to the Kings on Thursday, they outshot and pretty much outplayed the Kings.

On Saturday they went into San Jose and fell down early to the Sharks. The Panthers stormed back in the second period and eventually won the game 5-3. It was the first time this season the Sharks lost a game when scoring the first goal.

As is becoming common again, there were even a few plastic rats on the ice, even in California.

Of course, it was the top line of Kris Versteeg-Stephen Weiss-Tomas Fleischmann doing the damage again after Versteeg missed the Kings game with a bad neck.

Now the Panthers begin their third consecutive week (!) as the Southeast Division leaders by welcoming Tomas Vokoun and the Washington Capitals to Florida on Monday. Still quite stunning.

Unbeatable Bruins

This is as great of a run as we've seen in hockey in a long time. The Bruins just finished reminding the Toronto Maple Leafs who the boss of the Northeast is. After beating the Leafs earlier in the week in Toronto, the B's took care of the Leafs a second time, this time back in Boston, 4-1.

With the win, the Bruins haven't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. That's an entire month (14 games) of earning points in every game. The only non-two-point game was the shootout loss to the equally hot Detroit Red Wings on Black Friday.

There are a lot of heralded players on the team. One of them, David Krejci, just received a big extension from the club. Another guy that could soon be getting a nice new contract is Chris Kelly, and he'd be on the unheralded side.

But his goal on Saturday, the game-winner, was already his 10th on the season. He came in to Boston as more of what people love to call a "role player." (Resisting urge to rant ...) Now he is only five goals from matching his career high of 15, which he set twice with the Senators, most recently in 2009-10.

We'll have more on the Bruins later this week from Adam Gretz, but this is one helluva run

Quote of the weekend

There were a few candidates this week. We shared them already, lines from Richards, Bryzgalov and Boudreau.

But none were more interesting than what Ilya Kovalchuk had to say after the Devils lost their fourth straight, 4-2 in Winnipeg to the Jets.

Like a lot of other players this season, Kovalchuk was booed in his visit to the 'Peg. What were his thoughts on the matter?

"They should support me, maybe I'm one of the reasons they moved here." Ouch. Sorry, Atlanta.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: December 4, 2011 12:11 pm
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

By Brian Stubits

In the next few days, we might actually have some serious progression in the realignment talks. The Board of Governors are going to discuss that (among other things) in the next few days in Pebble Beach, Calif. ... assuming they can stay off the links.

Entering the meetings, there appeared to be two principle ideas at play in the realignment talks. The first was the simplest, moving Winnipeg to the West and putting Detroit in the Southeast, a one-way swap and that's it. Simple, clean-cut, but a bit messy when it's done. Teams in the West don't want to lose the Red Wings and they don't exactly seem to fit with the Southeast Division.

That led to a lot of people favoring a more "total realignment" in which the six-division format would be blown up in favor of a four-division look and balanced schedule. Heading into the meetings, this was considered to be the proposal for the four-division look. But the Penguins and Flyers weren'texactly on board with that one.

Now we have another idea floating, according to Elliote Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada. This one is the same concept as the previous four-conference (notice the change in language) look, it just moves the teams separately. Notice how the Flyers and Penguins stay together along with the New York-area, Atlantic Division teams while Washington and Carolina join them. That leaves the five Northeast Division teams to join the two remaining Southeast Division teams in Florida, the Panthers and Lightning.

What's interesting to notice is that, in continuing to view it as an East and a West, the West becomes the bigger "conference." The two divisions with eight teams would be made up by the teams already in the West and Winnipeg, the reason for the card shuffling.

There is only so much you can do with the teams in the East while trying to keep the ones smack dab in the middle, geographically speaking, together. It does seem a bit inconvenient to put the two teams from Florida with the Canadian and Northeast teams. They already travel a lot, this would probably only increase that.

But they might fit a little better than you would originally think. There are large snowbird populations in Florida during the hockey season, and having lived in South Florida for nine years, I can tell you a lot of them hail from Quebec. Try and get tickets the day before a Canadiens-Panthers game at the BankAtlantic Center. You can't (at least through traditional means), the game will be sold out.

So this now begins to look like a slam dunk, right? The Red Wings at least get their home-and-home series with every team in the league, the Stars get into a more time-zone friendly "conference" and the playoffs return to their old divisional format and there is flexibility for a possible move of the Coyotes. All is good, right?

Not entirely.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that while they don't actually have a say in the matter, the NHL Players Association isn't fond of the plan. The reason? This will increase travelling for just about every team. That's one argument.

The other is the unfair nature of two divisions of eight and two divisions of seven. The teams in the seven-division format have greater odds to make the postseason. That's one reason why baseball recently flipped the Houston Astros to the American League West, to even out the odds of postseason play.

But something has to get done. No plan will sit well with every team involved, that's obvious. Remember, they just need to get a 2/3 majority among the BOG to push through a plan.

This one here seems as good as any. You could be looking at the future alignment of the NHL.

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

Posted on: December 3, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 2:45 pm
 

Niederreiter injured after hit from Fistric



By: Adam Gretz


New York Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter had to leave Saturday's game against the Dallas Stars early in the first period with what the team is calling "concussion-like symptoms" after he was hit by defenseman Mark Fistric along the boards.

It's sure to fire up another debate as to whether or not Brendan Shanahan will (or should) get involved, as it seems to be a hit to the head (that Niederreiter is suffering from concussion-like symptoms makes it pretty easy to reach that conclussion) and it appears that Fistric left his feet.

He was not penalized for the hit, but did receive a two-minute minor for roughing in the brief skirmish that followed. Islanders forward Matt Martin received a double-minor for roughing, meaning the Stars actually came out of the situation with a power play.

Niederreiter, the Islanders first-round pick in 2010, has been a healthy scratch for much of the season and Saturday night was just his sixth game of the year. He scored one goal over the previous five games.

During Saturday's game he skated just one shift and logged just 11 seconds of ice-time before exiting the game following the hit from Fistric.

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

Posted on: December 2, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Flames GM adamant Iginla trade rumors are false

By Brian Stubits

On Thursday, one bit of trade speculation was squashed when Ducks GM Bob Murray said he thinks the talk of Bobby Ryan being traded is going to die down now that the team hired a new coach in Bruce Boudreau. It worked pretty well, the dreams have, for the most part, stopped.

Now Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster is taking his shot at stopping the rumors surrounding one of his Stars. That would be captain Jarome Iginla. The speculation has been circling around him wildly for some time. What team would love to have a veteran leader and scorer like Iginla?

While the Flames are struggling, Feaster told Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun. Rather emphatically, too.

“It is not true,” Feaster emphatically stated Friday morning at the Saddledome. ” Jarome Iginla has not been asked to waive his no-trade and Jarome Iginla has not demanded a trade or asked for a trade. There is no list. There is no smoking gun. There is nobody on the grassy knoll.

“What else do you need?”

Deals have reportedly been so close to done, all they needed were for Iginla to waive his no-trade clause and accept to be moved. The Montreal Canadiens were one team rumored to be close. Others have suggested the Dallas Stars, Iginla's original team, would be interested.

All the talk seems to have Feaster at his wit's end.

“Here’s the trouble. When it’s a non-story, and we have to stand here and rebutt it, the rebuttal becomes the story. It puts us in a position that I don’t know is fair to the organization and I know is not fair to Jarome,” Feaster said.

“One of the questions I have is where do these things start? Are they legitimate sources or is it a blogger in the basement in his underwear that says, ‘This is the rumour du jour’ and you guys feel the need to track it down.”

Ah yes, the old blogger stereotype. Well for the record I would like to state that I work in my pajamas, thank you very much.

But seriously, I see where Feaster is coming from, assuming he's telling the truth. It's a Catch-22, he can't let the rumors just fester and become a distraction for his team, so he has to address them. By doing that, he in a way legitimizes the rumors.

The best thing he could do is exactly what he's doing right here: Don't mix any words and flat-out deny. There will be plenty of people who still won't believe him, but it's his best option if he wants to quiet the crowds.

Now maybe he'll be singing a different tune when the trade deadline draws closer.

One player who could be on his way out of Calgary is Cory Sarich. According to Roger Millions (what a last name) of Sportsnet, Sarich has asked for a trade. Yes, that's correct, Sarich with a trade request.

With the news that Mark Giordano is going to be out indefinitely after partially tearing tendons in his leg, the Flames might not be interested in getting rid of a defenseman at the moment. But we'll see. The trades could pick up for the Flames.

Just know that right now they don't include Iginla.

Here is Feaster addressing the media on the matters at hand.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 27, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Stars place Kari Lehtonen on injured reserve

By Brian Stubits

It seemed like it was just a matter of time before Kari Lehtonen went down with an injury. Turns out, it was.

The Dallas Stars goaltender who was a huge reason why the Stars jumped out to the best start in the NHL, had seen a bit of a regression to the mean in recent weeks, along with his team's return to earth. Unfortunately, he's also seen a return to old times ... going down to injury.

The Stars placed Lehtonen on injured reserve on Sunday, a day after he left the Stars' 3-0 loss to the Coyotes. The Associated Press reported it as a knee injury for Lehtonen, but Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News says it's Lehtonen's troublesome groin that's the problem. The team would only call it a lower-body injury.

Lehtonen's bug-a-boo with the injury bug has been his groin. In two different seasons (05-06 and 07-08) he missed at least 16 games with different groin issues. And probably the last thing that the Stars fans want to hear, Heika fears it could be a long-term injury. Ouch.

Lehtonen has been leaned on more heavily than most goaltenders across the league. When Andrew Raycroft is your backup, you sort of see why. So for the time being, Raycroft is going to get his shot and Dallas recalled Richard Bachman to be the backup.

The Stars were already slipping. They recently suffered through a five-game losing streak and have gone 3-6-1 in their last 10. Even with that, they are still in a three-way tie atop the Pacific Division. So the time without Lehtonen will be crucial to them.

The Finnish Lehtonen has been spectacular this season for the Stars, posting a 13-4-2 record with a 2.34 goals against average and .926 save percentage.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 26, 2011 1:17 am
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:17 am
 

Will Luke Schenn hear from Shanahan for this hit?

By Brian Stubits

In the latest episode of How Many Games? our host Brendan Shanahan will have contestant Luke Schenn from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The only way he wins on this game show is if he comes away without any supplemental discipline.

That's the question Shanahan will have to determine about Schenn's hit on Friday night on Tomas Vincour of the Dallas Stars.

In the third period of the Leafs' 4-3 shootout win in Dallas, Schenn flattened Vincour, who just finished putting the puck in the offensive zone. Here is a look at the play for yourself.

To help determine the point of contact, here's a still shot of the hit. It's pretty clear that the hit is being delivered first on the head of Vincour.

For his part, Schenn said after the game that he felt the hit was clean. While it certainly was not a clean hit, I can certainly buy there was zero intent to make a bad hit. It's a situation where Vincour put himself in the position for the hit to the head.

But still, it was a bad hit regardless of intent and it did leave Vincour bloody.

What does the jury think?

More NHL Discipline News Here

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

Posted on: November 22, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: November 22, 2011 10:27 am
 

Report: Wendy's owner looking into buying Devils

By Brian Stubits

The Dallas Stars just had all of their debt bought out and the team take over by Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi. Could the New Jersey Devils be the next franchise to be saved from a knight in expensive armor?

The financial situation of the Devils has been well chronicaled of late. Majority owner Jff Vanderbeek has himself a mountain of money that he owes and co-owner Tom Chamgers wants out of his 47 percent stake of the team. Vanderbeek has been working on restructuring the loans and if he can get $80 million from a television rights deal, it could clear the way for Vanderbeek to keep the team.

If not, there is a pretty good backup plan ready to catch the team if they should fall. According to the New York Post, local bilionaire Nelson Peltz -- the owner of Wendy's -- would love to buy the team out of debt and take over the show. From the Post:

Billionaire investor and hockey enthusiast Nelson Peltz is weighing a plan to buy the $250 million in debt of the troubled New Jersey Devils, a source close to the situation told The Post.

The plan being discussed by Peltz, whose Triarc Companies owns Wendy’s, includes lining up an equity investor to buy the money-losing NHL team should the current team owners fail in their talks with lenders to restructure the debt, according to one person who has spoken with Peltz about the plan in recent weeks.

Peltz, who was said to be interested in buying the New York Islanders last December, is seeking a partner to provide perhaps $50 million in equity in a purchase of the team in a prepackaged bankruptcy.

The report goes on to say that while the NHL is not working with Peltz in this situation, he has already been given approval by the NHL. Of course, that's all dependent on what Vanderbeek does. If he is able to restructure the loans and satisfy the investors, then Peltz will be left out.

Talk about a hockey enthusiast. Peltz's son was drafted by the Senators in 2009. What's more, Peltz actually has an enclosed ice rink in his estate -- zamboni included, of course . I'd have to imagine a lot of Devils fans would be hoping for a purchase by Peltz in this case, I know I would be.

H/t to Kukla's Korner

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