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Red Wings Fan

Red Wings have exceeded expectations at the break, challenging for top spot in Eastern Conference posted by Red Wings Fan

Many expected the Detroit Red Wings to be battling just to extend their playoff streak this season.

It turns out they have loftier goals. At the All-Star break, they're competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Who could have seen that coming after an off-season with no free-agent or trade acquisitions?

"When I thought about around July 5 when not much happened this summer, I was disappointed, like a few of my veteran players who called me were disappointed, too," coach Mike Babcock said. "I don't think any of us would have believed we'd be at this spot, the general manager and myself included."

The Red Wings (27-11-9) have won five in a row and are tied with the New York Islanders for second in the conference, one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Red Wings have accumulated 13 more points than they had after 47 games in 2013-14 (20-17-10). Credit this to better health, continued growth of younger players and more consistent goaltending. This is a faster-skating team than it was a year ago.

"The contributions of players that were out a lot last year due to injuries has been a real positive, and then the continued development of younger players," general manager Ken Holland said. "When you're in the playoffs 23 straight years it means a lot of picking late, and we're trying to accomplish two goals at the same time -- make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup. And we're also trying to rebuild the team on the fly."

Jimmy Howard regained his All-Star from following an inconsistent season and, after he suffered a groin injury on Jan. 10, Petr Mrazek has stepped in without much drop-off.Injuries enabled young players to step into key roles and most are playing just as well or better. Tomas Tatar (21) Gustav Nyquist (19) lead the way in goals, Riley Sheahan has developed into a dependable two-way second-line center and Danny DeKeyser has been one of their steadiest defensemen.

Continue reading "Red Wings have exceeded expectations ..."

Caps Fan

After eight months together, Trotz and MacLellan ‘on the same page’ posted by Caps Fan

Last weekend, as the Washington Capitals arrived in Dallas long after midnight General Manager Brian MacLellan marveled at the mental fortitude of his employees.

After all those years spent scouting and overseeing player personnel inside the Capitals’ front office, MacLellan was learning the day to day operations. When serving as George McPhee’s assistant general manager, he popped in and out of town, spending most nights tracking teams coming through Minneapolis. But now, he was on the road, flying on the plane, watching the games, just being around.

“I don’t know how the coaches, for one thing, because they were there, and I don’t know how the players did it,” he said. “It was tough for me. You get to Dallas at 1, 2 in the morning, then you get up and you’re still thinking about the Nashville game.”

The old job also created an adjustment to the “managing” aspect of “general manager,” and for this, MacLellan could lean on his most experienced hire, once the longest-tenured coach in the NHL.

“Yeah, I mean, I think he’s awesome,” MacLellan said of Barry Trotz. “He’s great … If I had a rookie coach, it would be a lot different.”

 “He recognizes the areas of need and areas of concern down the road, not only this year but for maybe a couple years,” Trotz said. “We’re trying to think long-term and we’re not thinking about, you know, certain things that are immediate sometimes. You have to put it in perspective. Obviously everything from how our team’s going and what are we thinking in terms of where our lineup will finish to the trade deadline to needs, what’s out there, keeping us informed of stuff that may be out there in terms of for the trade deadline. He’s been really good that way. I enjoy working with Mac.”

Continue reading "After eight months together, Trotz ..."

Canucks Fan

Miller makes 29 saves in Canucks' 4-0 win over Flyers posted by Canucks Fan

By keeping things simple, Ryan Miler has had success while playing sick. Miller returned from a two-game illness absence and made 29 saves, and Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

"If you're thinking too much out there, you're overcommitting, you're overplaying," Miller said. "When you're not feeling great, you settle it down.

"I think my dad has seen me play really good hockey when I'm sick ever since I was a kid."

It was Miller's fourth shutout this season and 33rd of his NHL career. He returned to the net after missing two games due to illness. Miller improved to 5-2-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average in his last eight games.

"I kept everything really simple, and when they did get loose I was able to get a good read on the shots," Miller said.

The Canucks scored two goals within 24 seconds of the second period.

Miller made several outstanding saves in the period, snaring Luke Schenn's wrist shot from point-blank range with 13 1/2 minutes left and reaching out to rob Pierre-Edouard Bellemare 1 1/2 minutes later with another strong glove save. He extended a pad to deny Nick Schultz's slap shot with 10:35 left.

"He made a couple of unbelievable saves," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "If those go in, it's a different hockey game."

Miller had been winless in his last five trips to Philadelphia, but he improved to 4-7 in 12 games at the Wells Fargo Center since the 2010-11 season.

Continue reading "Miller makes 29 saves in Canucks' ..."

Leafs Fan

Maple Leafs fans charged with public mischief for jersey tossing protests posted by Leafs Fan

Have you ever seen a beer thrown on the ice during an NHL game?

It’s tragic, really, considering the price-per-ounce of arena suds. But it’s also something usually done in protest of an injustice against the home team, such as a bad call or a heinous act by the visiting team.

Does it lead to an ejection of that fan from the arena? Sometimes. Does it lead to an arrest? Well, no, because that’s draconian and stupid. 

On Monday night, during the Toronto Maple Leafs’ latest “can it get ANY worse?” low-point of their season, fans threw a few items at the ice: Their Leafs jerseys, four of them, during different parts of the game.

The difference between those beers and those jerseys, outside of taste: The latter were tossed to express frustration over the home team’s performance, to embarrass management and send a message to the players.

One more difference: Two of the fans who tossed jerseys were charged with a crime,

This police action was telegraphed by MLSE earlier this season, when other Leafs fans were throwing their jerseys on the ice as the team let the Randy Carlyle fungus grow in their garden.

True to their word, the police apparently decided to drop the hammer on protesting fans.

As we’ve said before, throwing a jersey on the ice is the ultimate form of protest, and especially in a Canadian city where the whole “just stop going to the games!” revolution is about as likely as telling a Catholic to stay home from Christmas mass.

Is removing a fan from the ACC for throwing a jersey on the ice justified? Sure. You obviously don’t want to create an environment where fans feel like they can throw anything over the glass to delay the game, unless it’s a hat or a waffle or something that criticizes the opponent rather than the home team.

Continue reading "Maple Leafs fans charged with public ..."

Lightning Fan

Callahan leads Lightning past Avalanche in shootout posted by Lightning Fan

The Tampa Bay Lightning didn't have much time to dwell on giving up the tying goal late in the third period.

Ryan Callahan scored in regulation and got the decisive goal in the shootout to lift Tampa Bay to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night, moving the Lightning back into first place in the Eastern Conference.

Ben Bishop made two big stops in the shootout and finished with 40 saves as Tampa Bay moved one point ahead of the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders atop the East.

"You've got to turn the page real quick," Bishop said. "I thought we did a good job in overtime."

Nikita Kucherov put the Lightning ahead in the first round of the shootout and Matt Duchene tied it for Colorado in the second round. Callahan then got the winner in the third round.

"It's tough, you know, because we killed some late penalties," Callahan said. "You know, they end up getting one in with 6 seconds left, and we had to regroup and ready for overtime right away. Then we had another huge kill at the end of overtime and end up winning the shootout, so we did a good job to regroup after that late goal."

The Lightning took the early lead on Callahan's 15th goal of the season on a power play just 1:58 into the game.

"That's the way it goes (losing in a shootout)," Varlamov said. "They scored goals and we didn't score enough until very late. . It was a pretty good move (by Callahan), and they scored in the shootout."

The Avalanche, outshot 15-5 in the opening period, turned the tables on the Lightning in the second with 20-9 edge.

Continue reading "Callahan leads Lightning past Avalanche ..."

Blues Fan

Blues are hot but still running in place posted by Blues Fan

The Blues have been red hot. They’ve won five straight games, scoring 29 goals in the process. Only one of the games has seen an opponent be closer than two goals in the third period. The penalty-killing unit at one point stopped 18 straight man-advantage situations for the opponent. In two of the wins, the Blues allowed just 20 shots or fewer. They’ve gone from scoring 14 more goals than they’ve allowed to 33, the third-best mark in the whole league.

And heading into Thursday night’s game against Detriot, the Blues are in third place in the Central Division, five points out of first.

Life is not easy in the Central, and the Blues are finding that out in the early days of 2015. They have walloped opponents up and down, figuratively at least, are playing some of the best hockey in the league and all they have to show for it is being in the exact same place they were before. The Blues are treading water beautifully, going nowhere fast.

“We won five in a row and made up no ground,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That’s the shock for me. You win five in a row and you just keep pace with what’s above you. It’s a tough league. … Man, you’ve got to really play well to get in the playoffs in this conference. You’re sitting at 57 points and you have a team breathing right down your neck.”

Goalie Brian Elliott has advice that may work well for players, but not for the coaches or the fan base: Stop looking at the standings.

“Since I’ve been here, it’s always been one of the toughest divisions to gain points in,” Elliott said. “Nashville’s pretty much winning every game. It’s tough to make up ground even if you’re winning. You worry about your own things. You don’t look up and down the standings. Just focus on the next game, get two points and then at the end of the year see where she goes.”

Continue reading "Blues are hot but still running in place"

Sharks Fan

Sharks GM Wilson denies mishandling Burish situation posted by Sharks Fan

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson took issue with a report that Adam Burish was not properly informed of the team’s decision to place him on waivers, and that Wilson was telling coach Todd McLellan to scratch Burish from the active lineup in favor of younger players.

According to the report:

…Adam Burish was a healthy scratch a few games after not playing particularly well. He was told it was management’s decision, as they wanted to see young players like Barclay Goodrow and Chris Tierney play more.

That happens. In fact, it’s been an ongoing battle in San Jose with other players at various times. But in this case Burish wanted out. And GM Doug Wilson said he would oblige by finding a better situation for him.

The next day, Burish walked into the dressing room and his gear had been removed from the dressing room. Teammate Joe Pavelski, an old friend from their college days, told Burish he had been waived.

That’s not typical. Usually a coach or someone in management informs the player. But what happened was a disagreement between Wilson and coach Todd McLellan. The coach wanted to play Burish. The GM had other ideas and put him on waivers.

According to Wilson, however, Burish was informed of the Sharks’ decision by his agent Markus Lehto, who was kept in the loop during the process.

Lehto confirmed that Wilson told him of the team’s decision to put his client on waivers the day before doing so, and Lehto subsequently told Burish.

Continue reading "Sharks GM Wilson denies mishandling ..."

Penguins Fan

Penguins recall enforcer Bobby Farnham ahead of Flyers game posted by Penguins Fan


Pittsburgh Penguins farmhand Bobby Farnham might be arriving a little late to the party. The age of the designated fighter in the NHL is drawing to its close. Unfortunately for Farnham, he just got here.

Though he won't play a regular role with the Penguins anytime soon, the team can bring him up in a pinch to do what he does: punch people. As the team prepares to take on rival Philadelphia Flyers, Farnham has been recalled. It hasn't been confirmed that he'll play, but the timing suggests the team felt his services were required.

This is just the second meeting between the Penguins and Flyers this season, but Philadelphia has enjoyed some success against their fellow Pennsylvanians over the last few years. The Flyers have six straight wins over the Penguins heading into Tuesday night's tilt on national TV. Anyone that's watched these two teams square off knows how these games can go.

The Penguins are reeling a bit with six losses in their last 10 games. The New York Islanders are putting some distance between themselves and the rest of the Metropolitan Division field. Squaring off against a team near the bottom of the division means that the Penguins should be viewing this game as one it can't let slip away.

They're obviously not bringing Farnham in for his scoring ability, though, so if he does in fact get inserted into the lineup, his role will be pretty well defined. He knows it well, too.

Farnham has three fighting majors in his 10 games with the big club this season. He has already racked up 117 penalty minutes in 27 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL this year as well.

Continue reading "Penguins recall enforcer Bobby Farnham ..."

Coyotes Fan

Arizona Coyotes defeated by former goalie in Minnesota. posted by Coyotes Fan

For better or worse, there was no way Saturday's game between the Arizona Coyotes and Minnesota Wild could be anything but a goaltenders duel.

Just days after the Coyotes shipped off back-up netminder Devan Dubnyk to the Wild for a third-round draft pick, they were victims of a 25-save performance by Dubnyk en route to a 3-1 loss in Minnesota.

Mike Smith performed quite admirably in his crease as well, stopping all but two of the 32 shots he faced. However, he was unable to get a win, dropping his season record to 7-19-2.

Minnesota scored the first two goals, controlling play for much of the game's first two periods. Then the Coyotes went on their second power play of the game.

Antoine Vermette cut Minnesota's lead in half at the 13:47 mark of the second period with his 11th goal of the season. It was all the offense Arizona would muster.

Zach Parise potted the empty-net goal for the Wild in the final minute, dropping the Coyotes to 16-24-4 on the season after a fourth consecutive loss.

Devan Dubnyk recorded his second career assist on Minnesota's second goal. Dubnyk's last point came on Feb. 27, 2012 as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

Despite Arizona's rough season, their power play has been a bright spot for the team. The Coyotes went 1-for-2 on Saturday night, bettering their unit to 21.7 percent for the season. That ranks seventh in the NHL and second in the Western Conference.

Saturday's game was the first game of Arizona's franchise-record eight-game road trip. The Coyotes do not play on home ice again until February, leaving the Valley while the NFL's Pro Bowl and Super Bowl come to town.

Continue reading "Arizona Coyotes defeated by former ..."

Flyers Fan

Flyers outlast Penguins; Letang injured posted by Flyers Fan

The Philadelphia Flyers never have had a problem ramping up their effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's finding that same level against the rest of the NHL that has been an issue.

"I think we need to find some motivation to play like that every game, every night," Giroux said. "It's not an easy thing to do but we need to find a way to do that."

The Flyers skated most of overtime on the power play after a cross-checking penalty on Zach Still at the buzzer to end the third period and a bench minor on the Penguins for too many men on the ice at 2:04 of OT.

Philadelphia, which has the best home power play in the NHL, finally scored on its sixth man-advantage of the game.

It was a level the Flyers have lacked for most of the season, and one reason they're 11 points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's hard to play this way for every game for 82 games," Voracek said. "It was a very emotional game. It was a battle for 60, 64 minutes. Obviously. if that's the way we're going to win the games, we have to play like that every game. ... Sometimes you have teams where they don't fight or don't hit as much as [the Penguins]. Sometimes you have to find a different way to win the games. I don't know why it's like that against the Penguins every time."

After a rough start to the season, the Flyers were happy to head into the All-Star break with some good feelings.

"Everyone is excited to go on a high note into the break," Schenn said. "After a game like that you need a couple days off to regroup. Obviously a lot of frustration and anger had built up over the way we've been paying. Good to see that we've gone through a lot lately and the guys have stuck together."

Continue reading "Flyers outlast Penguins; Letang injured"

NHL Hockey News

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Oilers get G Anders Nilsson in trade with Blackhawks (Yahoo Sports)

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Maple Leafs sign Nazem Kadri to 1-year extension (Yahoo Sports)

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