Oh Yeah, There Was Hockey On Yesterday Too

Written by Mike Salerno on .

While you were all preparing for Wes Welker to drop Tom Brady's fourth championship ring Super Bowl XLVI with an unenviable amount of pregame coverage, there were four relatively entertaining Eastern Conference matchups going on yesterday afternoon that served as a wonderful appetizer to your wings and beer on Super Sunday evening.

The best part? Madonna was nowhere to be found.

Boston fans, rejoice momentarily. The Bruins navigated their way out of their recent funk and offered up a small bag of ice to help dull the pain of Eli Manning's swift kick in the nuts that last night's main event brought on.

Your defending Stanley Cup champions (see, life isn't so bad for you guys up there) methodically dismantled the strangely woeful Capitals in Washington yesterday, 4-1. Tim Thomas was great again, making 35 saves, and your favorite "Little Ball of Hate" was at his pesky best, creating chances with his physical play and potting a goal and an assist to go along with it.

Having lost three of their last four heading into yesterday's contest, the Bruins got an important road win and righted the ship as they embark on a grueling February schedule that has them playing seven of their next 10 games away from home.

The Bruins are in second place in the Eastern Conference with 58 points. We'll refrain from mentioning which city houses the team that's ahead of them. Kind of a touchy subject for those guys today. We now return you to your regularly scheduled sports-induced depression.

Oh, but seriously guys. Stop blaming Tom Brady. That's utterly ridiculous. So uh, knock it off already. Got it?

New York fans got more than their fill of rivalries yesterday. As if seeing David Tyree's miraculous catch in Super Bowl XLII essentially on loop in the hours leading up to yesterday's Big Game wasn't enough, their beloved Blueshirts hosted the hated Flyers in another afternoon affair at Madison Square Garden.

In easily the most entertaining game of the day, the Rangers dispatched Philadelphia, 5-2. Wayne Simmonds' early third period goal briefly tied the game at two, but Michael Del Zotto beat Ilya Bryzgalov just 36 seconds later to give New York their third lead of the game and one they would not relinquish.

Flyers winger Tom Sestito, who was the subject of Brad Richards' "fantasy camp" comment during a game featured on HBO's 24/7: Road To The Winter Classic, fought three times earning himself a game misconduct. In his last bout with Brandon Prust though, he drew the ire of the Rangers by pulling Prust's hair as the fight was coming to a close:

The league is reportedly looking into the incident and Sestito could face supplemental discipline.

Look out, Eastern Conference: Ilya Kovalchuk is out for blood. The Devils winger has been on fire lately, and isn't letting anyone stand in his way, especially Brayden Schenn. In New Jersey's last four games, all victories, Kovalchuk has 10 points, including a goal and two assists each in wins over the Flyers and Penguins this weekend.

Even more than his point production though, which has finally started to reach the levels Lou Lamioriello was expecting when he signed the Russian sniper to his mega-contract two summers ago, Kovalchuk's play has been elevated in all situations.  In addition to his daunting five-on-five presence, head coach Peter DeBoer is now using him as a defensive winger/explosive weapon on the penalty kill also. And uh, it's working. Pretty well.

The Devils have surged from ninth to sixth in the East and now trail Pittsburgh for fifth by only one point with a game in hand.

Carey Price earned his third shutout of the season in the slightly late-afternoon game in Montreal as the Habs blanked the Jets, 3-0. The win does little to help Winnipeg's playoff chances, as they still sit six points behind Toronto for the final playoff spot.

And no, Scott Gomez officially hasn't scored in a calendar year. Just in case you were wondering, here's your moment of zen.

As the NFL season comes to a close and ESPN the NBA is hockey's main source of competition for the next few months with the playoff races heating up, the Beantown faithful are forced again to swallow a painful loss. This one will certainly sting for the forseeable future, just as all the others in the past surely have. However, all is not lost in New England.

Despite their recent rash of success across all four major sports, Bostonians know how to deal with the agony of defeat better than anyone. They'll bounce back, we're not worried. They just need to focus on the positives. Like for instance, it's been about a week since Tim Thomas last spoke, hasn't it?

With Christensen Dealt, Are More Moves on the Way for New York?

Written by Frank Castaldi on .

The Rangers made their first move of the trading season yesterday, shipping centerman Erik Christensen to Minnesota, along with a conditional 2013 seventh-round pick for Casey Wellman.

Considering the only news Christensen has made all season, was his beating out of Sean Avery for the 13th forward spot out of camp, the deal may seem insignificant for the Blueshirts.

Christensen hasn't played a game for the Rangers since mid-December, and following a conditioning stint to the AHL, it seemed unlikely he would crack the lineup any time soon. Especially with the way that rookie Carl Hagelin and John Mitchell have been playing since being called up from the Conneticut Whale earlier this season. Even if there were an injury to one of the Rangers' forwards, head coach John Tortorella still has Wojtek Wolski just waiting patiently for another chance to crack the lineup, as he has been fully recovered from sports hernia surgery for weeks.

The 24-year-old Wellman, who has skated in 14 games with the Wild this season, will most likely be an addition to the Whale.

Like we said, in all likelihood this deal was probably more of a roster-builder for the Whale, as well as a depth move for the Wild, who have been struggling mightly down the middle of late.

However, this could also be the first domino nudged over by Rangers GM Glen Sather, in a ripple effect of trades to come before the trade deadline on Feb. 27.

Gagner's Eight-Point Effort Ties Oiler Record

Written by Brian McCormack on .


For all the exciting talent on a young Oiler roster growing up before our eyes, it is fair to say that thus far the career of 22 year-old Sam Gagner, the sixth overall pick in 2007, has been underwhelming.

Gagner's 49 points in 2007-08 mark his career high for any season. And yet on Thursday night Gagner tied Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey for the franchise record for points in a single game with eight.

Gagner netted four goals and four assists in Edmonton's 8-4 win over the fifth-place Chicago Blackhawks, the first contest of an eight-game roadtrip for the Blackhawks. The win was Edmonton's second in a row since the All-Star break, moving them to 20-26-5 on the season.

Gagner scored at the 7:26 mark of the second period to tie the game at two, before adding three goals in the third period, giving him nine for the season. Gagner also assisted on goals from Taylor Hall, Ryan Whitney, Cam Barker, and Jordan Eberle.

Gretzky managed eight points in a game twice with Edmonton, on November 19, 1983, and on January 4, 1984. Paul Coffey did it for the Oilers on March 14, 1986.

Gagner entered the game with only three assists in his last ten games, and only three multi-point games on the season. In fact, Gagner had only scored four points in a game once in his entire career, March 19, 2009 against Colorado.

But for a night, Gagner was mentioned with the likes of Gretzky and Coffey, truly a three-star performance.

UPDATED: Lombardi, Howson Speak Out About Kings Clock Issue

Written by Mike Salerno on .

Want more evidence that the NHL is just enamored with seeing Columbus continue their freefall into irrelevance this season? It's bad enough that the Blue Jackets are dead last in the league, trailing the Edmonton Oilers by 11 points in the league's cellar, but now it appears arena technology may have actually become self-aware and is against the Jackets as well.

In last night's game against the Los Angeles Kings, a team who has also vastly underachieved this season, Drew Doughty's buzzer-beater with .4 seconds left in regulation left Columbus with a familiar empty feeling. The goal clearly crossed the goal line before time had run out and interim head coach Todd Richards' bunch was forced to swallow another devastating loss.

Buzzer beaters make Sportscenter, right? Hey ESPN! Look at us! Check out what we did! Over here! Hurry up! Ah damn, they missed it again.

But wait, video review of the goal, which was allowed to stand by on-ice officials, reveals that something may have gone awry with the arena clock. Have a look for yourself:

It appears the clock is held up briefly at 1.8 seconds, for nearly a full second, or just enough time for Doughty to beat Curtis Sanford and saunter over to the corner in celebration. Sanford immediately pleaded his case that time had in fact run out. And he was right. Well, sorta.

This is the third time we've seen the Blue Jackets allow a game-winning goal with under a minute to go in regulation this season. That's unreal. But perhaps for the first time, there may have been more at play here than their pourous defense and lack of rebound control.

It comes as no surprise that the worst team in the NHL by a country mile is also among the league's worst in the final frame. According to Harrison Mooney of Puck Daddy, and editor of The Vancouver Sun, the Blue Jackets are 3-26-4 in which they enter the third period tied or trailing. Last night they got an unlikely equalizer from Colton Gillies, his first of the year, off a great feed from Antoine Vermette roughly five minutes into the third, but just couldn't hold on for one more second.

Okay, less than one more second. You get the point.

Later this morning, general managers of both teams spoke publicly about last night's events.

Samuelsson With Another Head-Scratcher From Center Ice

Written by Frank Castaldi on .

It's rare that a goal is scored from center ice, well, at least it's rare when there's a GOALIE in the net, that is. Earlier tonight, Florida's Mikael Samuelsson broke a scoreless game with a wrister from the red line; giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead, and Washington's Michal Neuvirth shame. This comes on the heels of Dennis Seidenberg's blast that ripped by Craig Anderson just last night.

Samuelsson added another tally on the night, which actually came while in the offensive zone.

Maybe the NHL just found its newest competition to add to the Skills Competition on All-Star weekend...

Which blooper do you think was less embarrassing more impressive? Seidenberg or Samuelsson's? Let Us know in the comments!

NHL Stars Still Shining

Written by Frank Castaldi on .

In the first night of action post-All-Star Weekend, it seemed as if a few guys still were in the spirits of the past few days. On a night which featured 13 games, there were plenty of All-Star worthy moments across the league.

Here's a few noteworthy ones:

On most nights, if you heard a defensemen on the Boston Bruins blasted a rocket from center-ice that found the back of the net, Zdeno Chara would be the No.1 suspect. That wasn't the case last night against Ottawa, however. With the score knotted at three, midway through the third period, Bruins defensemen Dennis Seidenberg made Ottawa's Craig Anderson wish that he was still in Scotiabank Place helping the clean-up crew tidy up the joint after this weekend's festivities.

Seidenberg's blast capped off the Bruins' comeback from a two-goal deficit, as they trailed 3-1 with under a minute remaining in the second period.

Injuries Dampen CHL's Top Prospects Game

Written by Brian McCormack on .


The world will get its first comprehensive look at some of the premiere talents of the 2012 Draft class since the release of NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings, when the CHL Top Prospects Game takes place at Prospera Place in Kelowna, BC on Wednesday night.

Draft-eligible participants include Mikhail Grigorenko (CSS ranked second amongst North American skaters), Ryan Murray (ranked third), Matt Dumba (seventh), and Martin Frk (25th), among others.

But as intriguing as the event can be for team-builders and mock draft enthusiasts, this year's CHL game will fall short, with several of its greatest rising stars sidelined. Most prominently absent will be Sarnia Sting winger, Nail Yakupov.

Islanders, Devils To Play Preseason Game in Brooklyn

Written by Frank Castaldi on .

The faces of the players on both the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils probably lit up when they heard they would be playing a preseason game at a neutral venue next year.

Could it be in Sweden or Prague, where their rival New York Rangers have played in recent years? Or perhaps Finland or Russia, which were hosts of preseason games last season?

Well, when the teams made the announcement earlier today, the players were delighted to find out that on October 2, 2012, they will be traveling to... Brooklyn. 

That's right, the Islanders and Devils will play in the first ever hockey game at the brand-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Barclays Center, which will be the new home of the NBA's New Jersey Nets, opens its doors on September 28, hosting a concert starring part-owner of the Nets, Jay-Z.

Is this just another preseason game at a neutral site? Or, could this be a possible field test for the Islanders as a possibility for a future home. With the never-ending/never-moving effort by Islanders owner, Charles Wang, for a new arena in Nassau County, the move to the Barclays Center could open up a new opportunity for the Islanders.

Sure, Long Islanders might be irked at the new inconvenience of traveling to Brooklyn, but, it's a lot closer than Kansas City or Quebec, isn't it?

Here's what Isles GM Garth Snow had to say about the game next October:

“We’re extremely excited to play the first NHL game in the new, state-of-the-art Barclays Center. We already have some of the most passionate fans in the league supporting our young team, and we are looking forward to expanding our base into Brooklyn.”

So will this be a showcase for one of the Islanders potential landing spots after their lease at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is up in 2014?

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who previously worked hard alongside Charles Wang to keep the Islanders in Uniondale, is beginning to see the writing on the wall.

“I hope their experience in Brooklyn reaffirms why they should be playing hockey in Nassau County," Mangano said earlier today.

This comes a few weeks after B.D. Gallof of CBS New York was told by a source in Mangano's administration told him “It will be a small miracle if they can even get it off the ground and keep the team here. I really believe the Isles are going to Brooklyn, barring divine intervention.”

Both sides seem extremely exhausted by the process of trying to come to an agreement on a new arena at the current location, something they finally looked like they may have done before their August 1 referendum was shot down by Nassau County residents. Unless something changes, it seems as though the Islanders will be trying out new locations in the hopes that one will soon become their new permanent home.

Sharks Make Early Move; Acquire Gritty RF Morgan

Written by Frank Castaldi on .

The San Jose Sharks made the first big splash leading up to the trade deadline today. It was announced that the Sharks acquired 31-year old right fielder, Nyjer Morgan, from the Milwaukee Brewers earlier tonight for beloved mascot, S.J. Sharkie, who the Brewers are believed to use as their new first basemen.  Morgan, who will likely go by the name of "T-Plush," will make his debut for the Sharks tomorrow, suiting up for his first practice with his new squad.

All jokes aside, T-Plush will in fact be lacing up the skates and joining the Sharks at practice tomorrow morning. Morgan, who is a Bay Area native and die-hard Sharks fan, had a brief stint in the Western Hockey League, playing for the Regina Pats, where he compared his style of play to one of Sean Avery. Who knows? Maybe Morgan will bring a new element to the Sharks game that might push them into the Stanley Cup finals this year.


In actual NHL news, the Carolina Hurricanes signed defensemen Tim Gleason to a contract extension earlier today. Gleason was awarded a four-year, $16 million deal, thus killing the trade rumors that have been circulating for the past few weeks; and killing any chance of a reasonable contract to be offered to a defensemen for the remainder of hockey as we know it.

With arguably two of the game's top defensemen set to hit the open market this summer in Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, all we have to say to Predators GM David Poile is: Guuuue Luck!

What You Missed: Top Links From the NHL's All-Star Weekend

Written by Mike Salerno on .

The 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend is officially in the rear view mirror. Ottawa's ScotiaBank Place, by all accounts, was a terrific host for another successful NHL event.

Team Chara defeated Team Alfredsson, 12-9, in today's All-Star Game. Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik took home MVP honors after scoring a hat trick and adding some flair to his first of two markers on teammate Henrik Lundqvist:

All-Star Weekend or not, there was no shortage of news coming both out of Ottawa and around the league. Here's some quick links to get you caught up on all the news you may have missed if you, like most of the league, took some time away from the game the past few days:

  • Crosby Watch alarms went off all over Pittsburgh on Saturday night as a spinal cord specialist in Utah discovered that the game's brightest star has "an abnormality in his C1 and C2 vertebrae." Speculation on when Crosby will attempt another comeback continues, but the prognosis suggests he may return as soon as this year's playoffs. But your guess might as well be as good as anyone's at this point. (Sportsnet)
  • It seemed as though all of All-Star Weekend revolved around the hometown Senators humble captain, Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson, who has worn the 'C' Ottawa for the past 12 seasons, had two goals in today's All-Star Game and narrowly missed getting a third with only a few minutes remaining. If you didn't see any of the numerous interviews with Alfredsson over the past few days, here's an insight into how his all-world skill is surpassed only by his modest personality. (The Hockey News)
  • The real star of this weekend's festivites was NHL Network's newest correspondent, six-year old Joey the Junior Reporter. Over the course of the weekend, he mingled with fans, interviewed players, and even offered to take his new colleague Heidi Androl out on a date. Yes, we found this cute and hilarious, but also depressing that he's accomplished more in his journalism career at the age of six than The Scratches probably ever will. (CSN Chicago)
  • The All-Star Skills Competition provided a bunch of memorable highlights in the trick-shot event as Corey Perry and his ministick and Patrick Kane's best Clark Kent impression gave fans plenty to cheer about. Patrick Kane took home 47 percent of the fan vote thanks to his Superman dive and "exploding puck" tricks. Puck Daddy compiled all the best trick shot moments. (Yahoo!)
  • The NHL hit an absolute home run with Drake's performance during the second period intermission. Drake, who many were surprised to find, is a native Canadian and played hockey growing up. He performed his hit song "They Know" as the players made their way back out onto the ice to watch. Boston's Tyler Seguin was caught singing along. Luckily, there was no audio of Seguin:
    Before the game, Drake went into both locker rooms and met the All-Stars, stopping to take photos. Interestingly enough, he was as excited to meet the players as they were to grab a picture with him. He even sought out Jarome Iginla for a photo. (NHL.com)
  • In Thursday's NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, while Alfredsson made an effort to select all of his Senators teammates early on, Zdeno Chara let second-year budding star Tyler Seguin sit in the back room for a while. However, in the 18th round, Chara made Seguin his second-to-last pick. The two shared a bromantic moment, hugging out all their problems. Bloguin's own Days of Y'Orr had a fun take on the manly embrace, complete with hilarious .GIFs and Photoshops. If you don't already, make this one of your daily internet stops. (Days of Y'Orr)
  • There was one trade over the All-Star Break as the Chicago Blackhawks acquired Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames for two-time AHL All-Star defenseman Brian Connelly. Hawks GM Stan Bowman has made it known he is ready and willing to make a deal, primarily for a no. 2 center. Has he got one in Morrison? Probably not, but that doesn't mean he hasn't improved his team. (Committed Indians)
  • This space has done it's fair share of criticizing Scott Hartnell's selection to the All-Star Game over players like Patrice Bergeron or Patrik Elias. While we may or may not have a case for on-ice performance, few embraced the spirit of All-Star Weekend like Hartnell, who was a first-time selection. Hartnell captured as much video as he could on his tablet during the Skills Competition and today's warmups, but also found a way to contribute to charity by poking fun at himself.
    As part of his "Hartnell Down" campaign to raise money for charity, the hairy Flyers winger pledged to donate $1,000 every time he fell to the ice in Sunday's All-Star Game. He was dropped four times throughout the contest and in the third period teammate Claude Giroux went out of his way a few times trying to knock Hartnell down instead of pursuing a loose puck. Great job, Scott. Congratulations on being an NHL All-Star. (NHL.com)

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