Wed Dec 11 01:32am EST
No. 1 Star: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Ovechkin finished just about halfway to an Ovechtrick versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring a whopping four goals in the Capitals 6-5 shootout win. Nicklas Backstrom was in on all 5 Capitals' goals, scoring one himself and adding 4 assists. We already shared Ovi's fourth, so here's the hat trick goal:
No. 2 Star: Martin Jones, Los Angeles Kings
The Kings haven't allowed a first-period goal since November 2nd, but they didn't allow a second or third-period goal either in their 6-0 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Jones made 31 saves for the shutout, his second in a row.
No. 3 Star: Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Dubinsky had a four-point night in the Jackets' 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils, but after Ovechkin's four-goal game, one goal and 3 assists is like yawn.
Honorable mention: It took 10 shootout rounds, but the Buffalo Sabres got past the Ottawa Senators, 2-1… Rich Clune scored his first of the season as the Nashville Predators beat the New York Rangers, 4-1… The Florida Panthers stormed back from down two versus the Detroit Red Wings to win 3-2 in a shootout… Kevin Shattenkirk scored the powerplay winner as the St. Louis Blues edged the Winnipeg Jets, 2-1… Patrick Sharp scored twice in the Chicago Blackhawks' 6-2 drubbing of the Dallas Stars. His first goal came on an incredible pass from Duncan Keith:
… The Boston Bruins scored twice in the final 7 minutes to come from behind and beat the Calgary Flames 2-1, spoiling Jarome Iginla night… After squandering a three-goal lead versus the Carolina Hurricanes, Jordan Eberle's powerplay goal gave the Edmonton Oilers a 5-4 win and saved the night... … Antoine Vermette scored twice as the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Colorado Avalanche, 3-1. Check out Patrick Roy on Vermette's second:
A lot happened Tuesday night, but Roy's Hulk-mad reaction juxtaposed with another classic Mike Haynes no-sell may be my favourite moment of the evening.
Did You Know? The New York Islanders finally ended their 10-game losing streak, coming from behind to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 in a shootout.
Dishonorable mention: Come on, Florida… Carey Price was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 16 shots, but it wasn't really his fault. The Canadiens were bad, bad, bad in this one… The Flames just couldn't hold on to their one-goal lead versus the Bruins. And the night started so well… Fortunately, the Oilers blew an even bigger lead, I think in some sort of show of Albertan solidarity.
Wed Dec 11 12:23am EST
Alex Ovechkin moved to 26 goals on the season in the Washington Capitals' 6-5 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, which is impressive, since it puts him 5 goals ahead of the next-closest guy, St. Louis's Alex Steen.
But it's even more impressive when you consider that Ovechkin began the day just one goal up on Steen. Ovechkin scored four times Tuesday night, becoming the second player this season to do so after Tomas Hertl.
And, like Hertl, the fourth tally is probably something we'll be talking about for awhile:
A clutch goal in the game's dying seconds, followed by a classic, charged Ovechkin celebration. (The only thing more charged than an Ovechkin celebration is the opponent he hits in the corner. Heyo!)
With just 32 seconds remaining in regulation and the Capitals down by one, Ovechkin stepped into a one-timer, and after it found its way into the goal to tie the game, The Great Eight leapt in the air, then dove to the ice like Ryan Kesler, except happier, before popping back to his feet to be mobbed by his teammates.
Good luck criticizing him for that goal celebration, Don Cherry. Ovechkin may have celebrated hard, but we all know that Joe Thornton would have celebrated harder, and he's a good Canadian kid.
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Tue Dec 10 11:21pm EST
Jarome Iginla was in a familiar place on Tuesday night: Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome, the building he called home in the city he called home for almost two decades. But, for the first time ever, he was there as a member of the visiting team, wearing the spoked "B" instead of the Flaming "C". The fans saw right through it, however; under the black and yellow sweater beat the heart of a forever Flame, and prior to puck drop, the adoring crowd welcomed Iginla home: Wow. For a laugh, watch this version of the clip above, uploaded to Youtube by a guy that couldn't get more than 30 seconds into it before dropping a breathy, overwhelmed eff bomb at the emotional scene. It's tough to blame him. This is some moving stuff. The eager fans chanting "Iggy! Iggy!" the moment the lights go out; the shots of Iginla's proud parents in the crowd; Iginla taking the ceremonial face-off for the Bruins opposite Mark Giordano, who replaced him as captain. But the moment that really drives this all home is the standing ovation that follows that that tribute video. Just a fantastic moment in Calgary. Iginla may have left a little awkwardly, but the homecoming was perfect.
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Tue Dec 10 10:25pm EST
The Florida Panthers struggle to fill their building, and it's not difficult to understand why. The team isn't very good. One assumes a better team would make for a better fan experience.
And here's another thing that would make for a better fan experience: less opaque glass.
Rough. Not even the plexiglass shows up for Panthers games.
For much of the third period, this thing stood between the fans in the BB&T Center's lower bowl and their view of visiting netminder Jimmy Howard. I'm with the FSN announcer -- I've never seen this before.
Now, in the arena crew's defence, that actually is a pane of glass, not plywood or cardboard. It's not as though they ran out of glass in Sunrise. The issue is that, after a wrist shot broke the first piece, the crew couldn't get the protective cover off the second piece. So what the Hell, they just left it on, because Florida's gonna Florida.
Embarrassing, especially for a team that has trouble filling its building. Turning the best seat in the house into the worst seat in the house by replacing the window with a door doesn't really seem like a good fan outreach strategy.
This fan was upset:
Tue Dec 10 06:47pm EST
Here is the Puck Daddy Viewing Guide: Spotlighting five things to watch for during tonight's slate of games. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.
Create-a-Caption: "Matt Carkner #7 of the New York Islanders reacts against the Anaheim Ducks on December 9, 2013 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California."
• • •
Preview: Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Nashville Predators at New York Rangers, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Detroit Red Wings at Florida Panthers, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: St. Louis Blues at Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Phoenix Coyotes at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET
Preview: Boston Bruins at Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Carolina Hurricanes at Edmonton Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET
Preview: New York Islanders at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET
• • •
Five things to know about tonight's NHL games ...
1. Iggy comes home. Jarome Iginla returns to Calgary for the first time since he was traded at last year's deadline. He doesn't plan to get emotional, but that's easier said than done when you're an old dad: "As you get older, and maybe it's the kids, but maybe get a little more emotional."
2. Stephen Weiss also comes home, but no one really cares. It's his first game back in Florida since he… yeah, no one cares.
3. Raanta the treetops, Raanta the sky. Corey Crawford is out for 3 weeks. All hail Antti Raanta! Raanta won his last start, helping to end the Blackhawks' three-game losing streak. Can he continue to keep the team afloat until Crawford returns?
4. Do closed-door meetings work? Because the struggling Rangers, who have lost three straight at home, just had one. I love closed-door meetings. Whenever a team is struggling, they go into a room and shut the door, and… what? Purpose to try harder to win regularly? If these meetings really worked, the players should just close the door more often. If they win, expect the meeting to get a lot of love, although it might have something to do with the Predators' current struggles. They've dropped five in a row.
5. Islanders would like to win, please and thank you. The New York Islanders' losing streaks -- both road and overall -- hit double digits Monday night with their 10th straight loss versus the Anaheim Ducks. Now, with their morale at an all-time low, they face the San Jose Sharks, in San Jose, on the second night of a back-to-back. They picked a bad time to lose 10 in a row, is what I'm saying.
Bold Prediction: Islanders lose in a rout.
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Tue Dec 10 05:46pm EST
Pavel Datsyuk is scheduled to return to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers, having missed the last seven games with a concussion. Being that he was a nearly point per game player before that injury, it's a welcomed return.
In the meantime, Datsyuk sat down with Pavel Lysenkov of SovSport a few weeks ago for a wide-ranging Q&A. As usual, it's Datsyuk being as insightful and funny as we've come to expect.
Here's a translated version of that Russian interview:
Q. New Jersey Devils’ defenseman Anton Volchenkov told me one ‘Hockey in the NHL is like a war – you never know if you come back from a game in one piece.’
DATSYUK: “It is a rough comparison. But games here are like battles. Injuries happen every day. So Anton is somewhat right.”
Who were you thankful for during Thanksgiving?
“I am thankful to a lot of people for their support – to family, to friends. And of course to fans, who never leave you in a difficult moment. They are with you not only when you’re at the peak of fame, but during injuries as well. A lot of people write a lot of warm words on Twitter. They post interesting pictures. One lady sent me a picture of a baby in a Detroit knitted sweater.”
I also remember once fans were sitting behind a table and had a Datsyuk mask on their faces: men, women, children… Just like "Being John Malkovich."
“Those were not fans, but my Birthday! And it was in the summer.” Datsyuk laughed.
In November a lot of NHL players grew mustaches. Did you want to support the Movember movement?
“I wanted to, but mustache wouldn’t grow. And unfortunately I didn’t see others’ mustaches growing, as I don’t watch NHL games. There is so much hockey during the season that you need to take a break from it, otherwise you would get too full.”
Did you consider placing a bet with your Swedish friend Henrik Zetterberg from Detroit as to who will win in Sochi?
“I don’t want to make any funny bets. I take the Olympics seriously.”
I suspect you are tired of the topic of the Olympics…
“Every day I am asked about it, they want to find out something. A lot of TV programs come over to record your opinion. And in November it was like a flood. But how can I know what happens in February?
But you also have to participate in the filming of HBO’s 24/7.
“I am very doubtful that a person with a camera will follow me around for 24 hours. But of course HBO will take a peek into the Detroit locker room. I watched some episodes when other guys were filmed… It is always interesting how other teams live.”
Ilya Bryzgalov was the main star [last series]. Who will be Detroit’s showman?
“Everyone on our team can realize himself on TV. The team is very open, friendly… I bet Dan Cleary will show himself better than others.”
Cutting laces, nailing shoes to the floor – are these jokes still there in the NHL?
“Times change. The latest fashionable thing is to jump on the glass after scoring a goal.”
I even know who started it – say hello to Alex Ovechkin. When was the last time you played outdoors?
“December 31, last New Year’s Eve. There was the lockout in the NHL, and I was allowed to play for CSKA. I came to Ekaterinburg. I was running around on open ice wearing valenki. That was also the name of our team ‘Valenki.’ After that there was banya, plunging into holes in the ice, New Year’s table. This was my Winter Classic and nostalgia.”
The stadium in Michigan is for 115,000 people…
“Oh yes, American football is played there. A couple of years ago there was the announcement [of the game]. I walked to the middle of the field and was in awe. What a venue! And that’s where we will play hockey.”
Any of your friends from Russia will come?
“I said ‘This is a lifetime memory!’ You know how I can tell a story. There were a lot of takers. But we will see… People celebrate New Year’s a little different in Russia.”
Last summer you signed an endorsement deal with Megafon. What are your plans?
“I became the face of the company this Olympic season. I am sure that our collaboration will bring results. I like how Megafon supports a lot of different sports in Russia, develops a lot of projects for children. For example, I together with Ilya Bryzgalov have been hosting a goaltender school the last few years. I hope that it gets worked out and we will combine this school with the training camp I host in Ekaterinburg. I don’t know how we will organize it all, but our school is sometimes short on goaltenders.”
Your summer school is six years old. During this time has any boy grown up to be an interesting player?
“The summer camp helps them a lot. But you can’t teach everything in a few days. The main lesson is to enjoy what you do.”
What book are you reading now?
“A friend of mine visited and brought three books. Treasures of the Valkyries by Sergei Alekseyev about Ivan the Terrible, The Great Outcast about Alexander the Great. And also Mikhail Zadornov’s Knyaz Rurik. Reading about history is very interesting.”
What historical figure would you like to have dinner with?
“It would be great to talk to Jesus and Sigmund Freud.”
Understood about Jesus Christ. But why Freud?
“A smart, deep person. It would be interesting to talk to him about psychology.”
What books do you like – e-books or paper?
“Classical reading is when you can shuffle pages sitting by the fireplace. But in America you cannot always find the book you need, so sometimes I download it. It is convenient, but you don’t feel it with your fingers.”
What are your favorite apps on iPad? Maybe you have finished all levels of Angry Birds?
“I don’t play games, and almost never use my tablet. I can watch movies on the plane, read a book. But sometimes you don’t have time even for that.”
What news shocked you the most recently?
“Of course the plane crash in Kazan and the collapse of the shopping center in Riga. These types of news get your attention, you feel terrible. As for something good, it was interesting to watch the Olympic flame traveling through Russia. People are happy, and it is a celebration for every city… And also it bothered that Ekaterinburg lost the vote to host the Expo2020 to Dubai. It’s too bad… It would be great for the development of our city. Now we’ll wait for Ekaterinburg to host the World Cup (of soccer).”
About the Olympic flame – if you were invited to be the flag bearer in Sochi?
“It is a very important mission to carry the Russian flag with the entire world watching. I would treat it with utmost respect. But you need to earn this. Team Russia has a lot of great athletes, who have already won the Olympics. The most deserving needs to be picked.”
Did you like the Datsyuk bobblehead that was handed out at the Joe Louis Arena?
“I only saw a picture of it. I look a bit prettier in real life. But it will do…”
What present did you get for your 800th NHL game?
“Nothing. It wasn’t the 1000tthgame. But it is nice to be congratulated by your teammates and the media.”
What type of music can you compare your game to?
“Hmm… It’s classic. A smooth waltz. We got old, and no one is in a hurry to be anywhere.”
Would you like to travel to the Soviet past for one day and go back to school?
“With great pleasure, and not for one day. I have a great nostalgia for the 80s… Sometimes I want to go back to my childhood. It was a great time. When we get together with neighborhood friends, we always remember how we played on a pond, cleaned it from the snow, how we played soccer and hockey. We spent entire days there without lunch… And then you come home in the evening, and your legs are numb, and you realize that they are about to thaw… I still remember that feeling from my childhood to this day.”
If you are told that Datsyuk will score the most points in the NHL, what will you say?
“One to ten.”
What one to ten?
“That’s how I see my chances of scoring the most points in the NHL. It is a great motivation, but the competition for the Art Ross Trophy is really tough.”
And if you are offered to know your life one year ahead?
You won’t need to think what will happen in February in Sochi.
“I don’t want that.”
“If you know everything, then you can’t change anything. What the point of living this year? But now everything is in our hands. There is a good toast: ‘If you want to know the value of a minute, ask someone who missed the train. If you want to know the value of an hour, ask someone in love who is waiting for his girlfriend…’ Just think how much time we spend doing nothing. And then this time is exactly what you don’t have to finish something. So I don’t want to have a feeling after Sochi that I wasted my time for nothing.”
At the end of the interview Datsyuk was asked what his dream is.
“Saint Nikolai Velimirovich once said: ‘Only the strong decides to do good.’ I dream that the world has more strong people, who decide to do good.”
Tue Dec 10 05:04pm EST
There’s no ranking. No list. No line. No formal order of National Hockey League expansion destinations.
That’s according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday, speaking after the Board of Governors meeting in Pebble Beach.
Has there been expansion discussion? He won’t say. Will the NHL listen to pitches from potential expansion cities?
“We listen when somebody wants us to listen. That's all [I’m saying],” said Bettman.
Tue Dec 10 03:39pm EST
The Winter Classic Alumni Game at Comerica Park was going to feature a number of Detroit Red Wings greats. But it felt incomplete without one of the greatest: Steve Yzerman, the team’s captain from 1986-2006.
Yzerman original said he wouldn’t play in the game, telling the Detroit News on Feb. 9, 2012:
"At this time I don't plan on participating in the alumni game but hope to watch the Classic on TV."
One year later, he had been non-committal about appearing in the Dec. 31 game, telling DetroitRedWings.com in November:
“I haven’t given it really much thought,” said, Steve Yzerman, the general manager of both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Team Canada. “I’ve been pretty busy with our team and watching a lot of hockey games for the Olympics so I haven’t really looked that far ahead.”
… It’s been more than seven years since the former captain last skated in any kind of organized game.
“I’ve had skates on like three times to do something minor,” Yzerman said. “I’ve just kind of moved on a little bit. I don’t have time to skate and don’t really have a real desire to.”
Well, there was some desire there. If not to skate, then skate with some of his old teammates one more time. Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Lightning that he’ll be lacing up for the Alumni Game for the Red Wings.
So congratulations to Sergei Fedorov, whose participation in the game probably dragged Yzerman out of his general manager’s office and back on the ice to ensure he would eclipse him at the alumni game. (Just a theory …)
Adjust your goosebumps accordingly:
Can't wait to see Yzerman back on the ice in the Winged Wheel, even if he's limited physically.
Tue Dec 10 03:33pm EST
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• How Pavel Datsyuk spent his concussion vacation. [Pavel Datsyuk]
• Shawn Thornton's in-person hearing goes Friday, unless he grows impatient and pulls Shanahan out of a meeting by his collar before then. [NHL]
• James Neal finally fesses up on going knee to nose with Brad Marchand. “It’s not the smartest decision I ever made, looking back on it. I’m glad he’s OK, but going forward, I need to learn from it." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
• Unsurprisingly, Chris Neil and Jay Rosehill, other members of hockey's Fighting Tough Guy Club Presented by The Code, feel more strongly about what James Neal did than what Shawn Thornton did. Company men, all these guys. [Ottawa Citizen]
• Speaking of enforcers, the New York Rangers simply aren't the same since they lost Brandon Prust, says Larry Brooks. [NY Post]
• Next year's salary cap is projected to fall somewhere around $71 million. [Canadian Press]
• Patrick Kane, asked who drank more alcohol out of the Cup -- him or Toews: "Well, as the captain, [Toews] had two days with the Cup." [ESPN]
• Adorable alert: Martin Erat teaching his toddler son to play hockey. It's only a matter of time before the kid starts demanding trades. [DC Sports Blog]
• Nick Cotsonika on Tim Thomas's comeback and Olympic hopes. [Yahoo]
• Marc Staal has a concussion. [Blueshirt United]
Tue Dec 10 02:14pm EST
He may be the interim coach, but Ted Nolan has reached a rite of passage for any bench boss for the Buffalo Sabres: Like the two men who came before him, he has made Ville Leino a healthy scratch.
The Sabres have probably been off your radar since the end of Pat LaFontaine’s press conference, so here’s what Leino’s done this season: Not much. Five assists in 18 games with nary a goal, good for a 0.28 points per game average. And he’s a minus-3 in his last two games.
So he’s a healthy scratch.
“I don’t know about losing patience. Certain players with a certain skills set, they have to bring it,” Nolan said. “Sometimes it’s better to sit and look and observe for a while and hopefully when he gets back he’ll play the way he’s capable of playing.”
Nolan said Saturday’s loss to Montreal and a bad practice led to the scratch. “It’s how you lose games. It’s not giving them away. We want to see guys with effort on a consistent basis.”
"I don't know what to tell you," Leino said. "Just like you said, Back and forth. I'm not exactly sure what he wants out of me."
Asked if Nolan finally told him score-or-sit, Leino responded, "He didn't exactly say that but I guess everybody knows that has to happen. Saying that, not a lot of other guys have scored either."
Wait … what is that I’m feeling for Ville Leino. Is it … now, it can’t be … is it sympathy?
Sure, he doesn’t have a goal in 18 games. But Drew Stafford has two in 30 games. Steve Ott has three in 30 games, playing to a minus-14. Riddle me this: Of these three players, which one getting a healthy scratch makes the most impact: The eight-year veteran of the Sabres, their captain or the guy who has been Ville-fied since his signed his mega deal?
Healthy scratching Leino seems like putting another bullet in the corpse, doesn’t it?
Look, I know sympathy for Leino isn’t easy to muster. Dude made $12 million in the last two seasons and produced 10 goals. His contract is a punchline. But the metrics show the Sabres can be a better offensive team with him on the ice, even if the stats aren’t there. He’s actually been a good possession player lately, even if Saturday’s effort wasn’t there.
But we’re sure that sympathy will vanish when he eventually gets his buyout. Cha-ching.