Sean Leahy

  • Capitals worrying about who's ahead of, not behind them in Eastern Conference race

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — At this time last season the Washington Capitals were on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, a photo they wouldn’t get a chance to be in come mid-April. After a summer of change, they sit in a pretty comfortable position as the second half begins.

    The Capitals didn’t head out on their All-Star Weekend vacations on a good note. They lost three in a row, allowing 13 goals in that stretch after winning six of seven. Two of those losses came at the hands of the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers, two teams not in playoff position in the West. The other defeat came against head coach Barry Trotz’s old team, the Nashville Predators. The homecoming ended with a sour taste after Matt Niskanen’s turnover allowed James Neal to pot the winning goal with 1:40 left in the game.

    But the the six-day break did allow for them to rest up, decompress and take their minds off those losses. Washington re-grouped Monday in Columbus ahead of their game against the Blue Jackets, a team desperate for points. 

    "We have to win our hockey games. Lately, we haven’t done that.”

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  • Blue Jackets facing tough hill to climb in second half playoff push

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets face a daunting task in their final 37 games. They sit 14 points out of a playoff spot. They have six players currently on injured reserved. Included on that list is goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who will miss 4-6 weeks after injuring his groin last week. 

    Last season, the Blue Jackets had a reported 169 man-games lost to injury. This year they’re already at 170, as of last week, third-most in the NHL.

    Since before the regular season even began, starting with Nathan Horton, the hits have just kept coming for Columbus. Seemingly every week there’s a player getting dinged and needing to miss time. No team will ever use injuries as an excuse, but what’s happened to the Blue Jackets this year has definitely stalled the momentum built up from last season’s playoff appearance.

    Life Without Bob and The Big Climb begins Tuesday against the Washington Capitals with Curtis McElhinney in net. Richards and Blue Jackets players expressed confidence in the 31-year old netminder, noting his play last season when Bobrovsky was injured.

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  • Blue Jackets, Islanders lose Sergei Bobrovsky, Kyle Okposo to injury

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 2 days ago

    Sergei Bobrovsky was forced to pull out of the NHL All-Star Game last week after he suffered a groin injury during a loss to the Winnipeg Jets. And now that the weekend is over and players are returning to their teams, we’ve learned that this season for the Columbus Blue Jackets is definitely cursed. 

    The team announced on Monday that Bobrovsky will miss the next 4-6 weeksbecause of the injury. Goaltender Anton Forsberg has been recalled from Springfield.

    The Blue Jackets weren’t the only team hit by injury. New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano dropped a bombshell after practice on Monday when he announced forward Kyle Okposo would miss the next 6-8 weeks with an upper body injury.

  • Tavares, Voracek enjoy record-tying All-Star nights despite missing out on MVP

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — We need a recount! Just as Latvians and Chicago Blackhawks fans voted in droves for the NHL All-Star Game starting six, Columbus Blue Jackets fans inside Nationwide Arena on Sunday did the same for Ryan Johansen. 

    Even though Johansen and Team Foligno lost 17-12 to Team Toews, the Blue Jackets forward (four points) won Most Valuable Player honors after an in-arena Twitter vote. He's the first losing player to take home the car since Daniel Briere and his five-point night in 2007. He’s also the first player since Alex Kovalev in 2009 to win the award in front of the home fans.

    But if there are two fanbases who might have some beef with the results it’s those of the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. John Tavares joined Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Vincent Damphousse, Mike Gartner and Dany Heatley as the only players with four goals in an All-Star Game. Voracek, meanwhile, tied Lemieux’s All-Star record of most points with six with a hat trick and three assists.

    “You certainly won’t forget a game like that.”

  • Mark Giordano's journey from Russia to Norris Trophy contender

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mark Giordano understood the risk he was taking. At 23 and still finding his way through professional hockey, the Calgary Flames defenseman wanted a one-way contract, but the team preferred to keep the restricted free agent in the fold on a two-way deal. So off to Moscow he went with an $800,000 (US) contract and more ice time to come.

    Spurning the Flames’ offer, Giordano signed with Dynamo Moscow of the Russian Super League. He played 50 games that season, scoring four times and recording 12 points while helping the team reach the quarterfinals.

    "I think he made a big mistake," said then-Flames general manager Darryl Sutter. "A player that's finishing (a three-year) entry-level contract with limited experience in the National Hockey League is certainly not going to enhance his career by going overseas. If you haven't played 100 games or made a significant impact on an NHL team in Year 3, you're not full-fledged. You've got to make the team again."

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  • Pressure from within driving Roberto Luongo to succeed

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Roberto Luongo is surrounded by some of the biggest names in the NHL during All-Star weekend. Stanley Cup champions. Scoring leaders. Players currently on the top teams in the league at the moment. Whenever he's bumped into one of them, the friendly greeting is followed by compliments.

    The kind words vary from opponents impressed with the Florida Panthers’ success this season to noting just how tough it is to play against the Cats.

    The last four games, however, have put the Panthers in a hole. They sit seven points behind the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins for a wild card spot. But the fact that they’re even in a position to chase a playoff berth is a testament to the team built by general manager Dale Tallon and coaching job by Gerard Gallant. But it also wouldn’t be possible without Luongo’s presence in goal. 

    “We still have a long ways to go,” Luongo said during NHL All-Star Media Day on Friday. “We know we want to get to the playoffs and we have the toughest part of our season coming up for us.”

    So has that happiness been the driving force behind Luongo’s All-Star calibre play?

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  • Tyler Johnson out of All-Star Game with injury; won't face suspension

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    Tyler Johnson made it to All-Star Weekend, but he was banged up. A lower-body injury lingered from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s last game before the break on against Vancouver. Initially, he was ruled out for the Skills Competition, with hopes he could suit up for the game on Sunday.

    But Johnson won’t be repping Team Toews as he was ruled out of the All-Star Game. But if healthy by Tuesday the Lightning forward won’t have to miss the team’s first game after the break, a rule put in place to stop players from pulling out.

    Tyler Johnson is out for Sunday's game. Lower body. But eligible to play for Tampa (if healthy) first game back because he came here.

    The rule is if you physically show up for all star weekend and pull out there's no suspension

    This is like the Sidney Crosby situation from the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain had a knee injury and was ruled out of the game that year. He showed up at Bell Centre and walked out during introductions to wave to the crowd and avoided a suspension by the league.

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  • Patrick Kane wins NHL Accuracy Shooting competition (Video)

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have developed a friendly rivalry since they joined the Chicago Blackhawks, and on Saturday it continued in the NHL Accuracy Shooting competition.

    Kane got the best of the Blackhawks captain, winning the event after hitting four targets in a time of 13.529, while Toews completed it in 16.307. 

    There was hope that Nick Foligno would take the honors in front of Blue Jackerts fans after he briefly took over the lead, but Kane was just a hair quicker than his All-Star teammate. 

    The victory for Team Foligno increased their lead in the competition to 10-1 over Team Toews.

    FINAL RESULTS: 

    Patrick Kane: 13.529

    Nick Foligno: 13:674

    Ryan Getzlaf: 14:105

    Jonathan Toews: 16.307

    Patrice Bergeron: 17.038

    Radim Vrbata: 22.141

    Bobby Ryan: 30.914

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    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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  • Jonathan Drouin wins NHL Fastest Skater competition (Video)

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    Jonathan Drouin won’t be playing in Sunday’s All-Star Game, so he did all of his work during the Skills Competition. The Tampa Bay Lightning rookie won the Fastest Skater competition with a time of 13.103 helping Team Foligno grab an early 5-0 lead on Team Toews.

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    What was Drouin's strategy?  "Just balls out pretty much, and make sure you don't fall."

    The event began in humorous fashion with a heat between Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin, because why not. Kessel ended up beating Seguin in a close race.

    Drouin’s time is the second fastest ever behind Carl Hagelin’s 13.218 since they revised the event in 2008.

    FINAL RESULTS:

    Jonathan Drouin 13.103

    Mike Hoffman 13.163

    Phil Kessel 13.596

    Tyler Seguin 13.631

    Jiri Sekac 13.683

    Aaron Ekblad 14.048

    Zemgus Girgensons 14.101

    Vladimir Tarasenko 14.386

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    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

  • Filip Forsberg, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins win cars as All-Star Fantasy Draft's final two picks

    Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy 5 days ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Filip Forsberg’s driveway has become crowded in the past two weeks. Earlier this month, the Nashville Predators rookie bought a brand new Jaguar. On Friday, he and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers were the final two picks of the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft and awarded 2015 Honda Accords.

    So does Forsberg plan on keeping his new, less expensive ride?

    “I don't know,” he said. “I've got to talk to my family if they want a new car. You never have too many cars, I guess. We'll see what happens.”

    The NHL added a twist to the end of the All-Star Fantasy Draft this year, allowing for a fan vote to decide who would end up being the final pick. Nugent-Hopkins won, giving Forsberg the honor, but the new ending saw both earn cars.

    The night played out like Nugent-Hopkins had feared, but worked out in the end. 

    “The pick that I didn’t want to go was second-to-last because then you wait the whole time and then you don’t get the car,” he said, “so that was a nice little surprise there.”

    Nugent-Hopkins said his brother had already laid claim to the car prior to the draft. “He had no faith in me either."

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