Sun Mar 09 03:26am EDT
No. 1 Star: Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Officer Bobrovsky stopped all 28 shots he faced, as Artem Anisimov’s goal stood up for the 1-0 victory over the Nashville Predators. That included an awesome save on Colin Wilson with 28 seconds remaining.
No. 2 Star: Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lupul cashed in a Dion Phaneuf pass on the doorstep, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3. He earlier assisted on Nazem Kadri’s first-period goal. Kimmo Timonen had two goals for the Flyers.
No. 3 Star: Tuomo Ruutu, New Jersey Devils
The former Carolina Hurricanes forward set up Travis Zajac’s opening goal and scored the game-winner for the Devils, as New Jersey survived a Canes rally for the 5-4 win. Adam Henrique had two goals.
Honorable mention: Tommy Wingels had two goals and Logan Couture had three points in the San Jose Sharks’ 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Antti Niemi made 27 saves for the shutout. … Ryan Miller made 26 saves and Patrik Berglund had the game-winner in the St. Louis Blues’ 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche. … Erik Cole had a goal and an assist and Tyler Seguin had a 3-point night in the Dallas Stars’ 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. … Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza each had three assists in the Ottawa Senators’ 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. … Tuukka Rask was perfect in the shootout while Reilly Smith scored for the Boston Bruins, as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3. … The Washington Capitals scored three third-period goals to rally post the Phoenix Coyotes, 3-2. ... Eddie Lack rebounded from a bad goal to make 22 saves in the Vancouver Canucks; 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
Dishonorable mention: Mark Streit and Tyler Bozak were a minus-3. … Thomas Vanek was scoreless again for Montreal. … Paul Stastny played just 40 seconds before leaving the Avs’ game with an injury. … Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen left the game in the third period following a collision with Minnesota Wild center Erik Haula. … Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty were a minus-3. … Raffi Torres boarded Lars Eller and was jumped by Jarred Tinordi, who was given an instigator. … Ondrej Pavelec was pulled after giving up five goals.
Sun Mar 09 01:14am EST
St. Ignatius and Sylvania Northview battled through regulation in their Ohio High School Athletic Association state championship game on Saturday.
Then they battled in overtime. And another overtime. And another and another and another and another and another, until the teams and OHSAA administrators came to a mutual, controversial decision: The game would end in a 1-1 tie after the seventh extra session and the schools would be crowned co-state champions, due to concerns over player safety.
Why not end it with a shootout? There’s a national high-school hockey rule that mandates that a state championship game not end in a skills competition.
Coach Pat O'Rourke of St. Ignatius said his team was headed back out onto the ice after a 15-minute break following the seventh overtime when an official grabbed him and told him the game had been halted.
This isn't unprecedented. In 2008, Marquette and Orchard Lake St. Mary shared the Michigan state hockey title after eight overtimes.
By mutual agreement of the head coaches, school administrators and OHSAA administrators, today’s ice hockey state championship game at Nationwide Arena was ended after seven overtime periods. The game shall be recorded as a 1-1 tie and Sylvania Northview and Cleveland St. Ignatius shall be declared co-state champions.
After the seventh overtime, the head coaches, school athletic administrators and OHSAA administrators had a lengthy discussion. Many players on both teams were seriously fatigued and neither coach or school administrator objected to ending the game before the eighth overtime began.
By national rule, there is no shootout procedure in high school hockey.
While the decision is being questioned by fans, the OHSAA commends the coaches and school athletic administrators in reaching this decision together without conflict.
This is an opportunity to show that wins and losses, even in a state championship game, are not more important than player safety. Had a player been seriously injured in the eighth overtime due to fatigue, the decision to allow the game to continue would have been seriously questioned more than the decision to end it.
It was a difficult decision for St. Ignatius to swallow, as its players threw down their equipment in frustration before the postgame handshake line commenced. They had out-shot Northview 78-32 through the 10 periods of play, with Northview goalie David Marsh’s record-setting 77 saves the only thing keeping them from the state crown.
But in the end, the decision was made: Player safety over declaring a single state champion.
As O’Rourke said, “adults do this all the time – telling kids what they don’t want to hear, and later on they realize that was the right thing to do.”
Sun Mar 09 12:10am EST
On Friday night, Roberto Luongo recorded a shut out in his return to the crease for the Florida Panthers.
Twenty-four hours later, Eddie Lack, the goalie who inherited the starting gig for the Vancouver Canucks after they traded Luongo, gave up this goal to Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames:
Yowch. A whiff from center ice ...
Obviously, Lack was no match for the prolific goal scoring of Big Ern, who scored his second of the season and his fifth NHL goal since 2011.
Here’s the actual reaction from John Tortorella on the goal:
To Lack's credit, that was the only goal he would surrender in Vancouver's 2-1 victory, making 22 saves.
Sat Mar 08 11:35pm EST
There are some jersey retirement ceremonies that transcend the tradition, that become celebrations not of a man but of an era.
We’ve been blessed with one already this week when Nicklas Lidstrom’s No. 5 was raised to the rafters at the Joe, celebrating the greatest defenseman of his generation but also the dynasty for which he was the backbone. On Saturday night, we got another: Mike Modano getting his No. 9 retired by the Dallas Stars, in a moment that honored the franchise’s greatest player and that player that introduced the franchise to Texas.
Here’s the full retirement ceremony, which stretched 62 minutes (!).
A few thoughts:
1. Modano’s speech was rather perfect for this sort of thing: a trip down memory lane with a few heartfelt moments and enough off-script lines to make it feel natural.
2. Speaking of which: The crowd awkwardly cheered when Detroit was mentioned during a teary-eyed moment for Modano recalling his humble beginnings. “It was only for one year. Give me a break,” he deadpanned, in reference to his inglorious swan song with the Red Wings.
3. How cool was it that a Dallas sports legend was honored by Dallas sports legends? Dirk Nowitzki, Rolando Blackmon, Michael Young, Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, all on hand for Modano night.
4. Finally, kudos to the Stars for one of the most overly dramatic banner raising soundtracks in the history of banners and/or raising.
Sat Mar 08 05:10pm EST
Established in 1981, the Canberra Knights were the oldest team in the eight-team Australian Ice Hockey League, and one of the league's last two original teams alongside the Sydney Bears. But on Wednesday, February 26, just six weeks before the start of the AIHL season on April 12, Knights owner John Raut announced the team was finished, effectively immediately.
He cited losses in the tens of thousands, as well as pessimistic concerns that they'd get "smashed again like we did last year" -- they lost many games by double digits, and he expressed -- as the reasons for the fold.
It was sudden and unexpected. Despite practicing the night before, many of the Knights players learned their fate at the same time as the public, via a Facebook posting.
But the players refused to accept their fate. And neither did the fans in the Australian capital, a loyal group that sold out the Phillip Ice Skating Centre where the Knights played on most nights during the season, despite the team's poor record. Maybe a cynical Raut was willing to let the Knights go gently (and suspiciously, as many felt his numbers didn't add up), but he was the only one.
The next morning, a group of players, led by Knights captain Mark Rummukainen and assistant captain Jordie Gavin, alongside Knights fans, launched a bid to save the team by running it themselves.
Sat Mar 08 03:57pm EST
"For God so loved the world, He sent his only son ..." John 3:16.
Ok, that might be a bit over dramatic.
Yet, it does seem like Capitals fans are really, really, REALLY excited - and possibly relieved - with Evgeny Kuznetsov finally signing his entry-level deal with Washington.
Why is this such a big deal, you ask? A few reasons.
Kuznetsov, a center, was drafted at No. 26 by the Capitals in 2010. Considered to be a talented player with a bright future, his drop in draft stock was surprising. There were concerns over Kuznetsov possibly not coming to the NHL after all; therefore, teams didn't want to gamble on the pick.
Fears were somewhat justified when Kuznetsov did not report to the Caps right away. Instead he decided to re-up on a two-year deal with his KHL club, Chelyabinsk Traktor. As that deal came to a close in 2012, and depending on what/who you choose to believe, Kuznetsov was still iffy on coming on over to the NHL.
Kuznetsov decided to re-sign with Traktor for another two-years, keeping him in Russia until 2014. It's assumed this move was made to improve the likelihood of his making the Russian Olympic team. (If the Olympic games are still on your DVR, SPOILER ALERT: he didn't make the team.)
What was bad news for Traktor ends up being good news for the Capitals. The KHL season has ended and Traktor did not make the playoffs. Kuznetsov's KHL contract was terminated early, allowing him to sign his entry-level deal with Washington. The annual value is rumored to be around $900K.
It remains to be seen if the 6'3", 200-lbs. Kuznetsov will make an impact in the NHL. Caps fans - and GM George McPhee - sure hope it was was worth the wait.
Sat Mar 08 11:01am EST
It was the second story mentioned on “The Today Show.”
This was back when Katie Couric and Matt Lauer were setting the conversation for Americans every morning, when the first 10 minutes of “Today” encapsulated the two or three most important things happening in the world at the moment.
On March 9, 2004, the second most important thing happening in the world at the moment was Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi’s sucker-punch on Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore from the previous evening, which sent Moore off on a stretcher after an excruciating 10 minutes on the ice.
Couric, setting up the clip, said: “We've talked a few times before about how unneccessarily violent the sport of hockey can be …”
You have to remember where hockey was in 2004. This was before the resurgence, before outdoor games and Crosby/Ovechkin and Rule 48 and Sheriff Shanahan. It was a season in which over 41 percent of the games featured a fight; this season, that number is projected at 31 percent, via HockeyFights.com.
So it was seen as a league of “unnecessary violence,” and Todd Bertuzzi provided critics of hockey with an atomic bomb.
Witness Christine Brennan’s still-stupefying call for the NHL’s end in USA Today, from March 10, 2004:
“Who among us would notice if, this autumn, we found ourselves surveying a sports landscape without major league hockey? And how many of us would complain?”
So it went for Bertuzzi/Moore reactions. Those that loathed the violence in the game had a war chest of fodder for its demonization. Fighting was conflated with an assault by Bertuzzi; but then again, the assault was born out of violation of fightin’s “Code.”
After Moore's hit knocked [Marcus] Naslund out of the game Feb. 16 at Denver, the teams had played an incident-free 5-5 tie on March 3 at Denver. But in the next game, no doubt frustrated by his team's imminent loss, Bertuzzi erupted. "It would have been eliminated if they had just fought in the second game," said Kings forward Sean Avery, who is second in the NHL with 240 penalty minutes. "Have a five-on-five fight and get it over with. That's how you should deal with it. Put your five toughest guys on the ice and let them fight. Eventually, the anger is going to burn off. It didn't happen and just kept building and building. Then you have a 9-2 blowout game."
And that’s when this happened:
Moore refused multiple invitations to fight on that shift, including Bertuzzi’s. And then he was assaulted.
"When it's portrayed on CNN or by Katie Couric it looks like some ugly beast that's crawled out from under the stairs and you say, 'This doesn't belong in society,’” Stu Grimson told the LA Times at the time.
"I don't condone what Todd Bertuzzi did, but you have to appreciate the context that kind of act comes from. If you don't know the sport and you throw the 15-second clip on CNN all day, it sounds simplistic to say it's presented out of context. But that's really what happens."
Bertuzzi was given a lockout-assisted suspension that cost him 17 months of hockey but only 20 actual games. The aftermath continues 10 years later: The Bertuzzi/Moore trial is set to begin on Sept. 8, with Moore seeing $38 million dollars in damages from Bertuzzi and the then-Canucks ownership group.
Here’s Moore revisiting it all on TSN this week (and my look back at the incident on its seven-year anniversary).
He doesn’t think about Bertuzzi, he says. He’s seeking a chance to get what he believes was taken from him. He’s seeking closure.
Ten years after the incident, he wants people to reconsider Steve Moore.
Ten years after the incident, has the hockey community done any consideration of what happened to him?
Three things that have changed for me, perception wise, over the last 10 years.
1. We’ve seen worse.
I used to hold up the Bertuzzi attack as the nadir of hockey violence. But it came three years before Chris Simon swung his stick at Ryan Hollweg’s head and Steve Downie’s flying shoulder-block at Dean McAmmond’s head. We’ve seen countless “Bertuzzi-like plays” that didn’t rise to that level of malevolence because of a lack of catastrophic injury. This doesn’t excuse it, nor does it reduce its impact on the game culturally. But if it happened today, how much would we hear from some Bertuzzi defenders about “the ice causing the injury?” We’re that jaded.
2. Todd Bertuzzi Was a Patsy?
One thing missing from Brennan’s demonization of hockey: The name “Marc Crawford.”
This is, perhaps, the greatest reframing of the incident in the last decade. That Crawford allegedly ordered the “code red” on Moore, telling his players to make him “pay the price.”
Did that mean hit him? Did that mean doing what Bertuzzi did?
The player and coach filed opposing views on the matter in court, with Bertuzzi claiming that Crawford “failed to exercise control over and caution his players against physical aggression toward Moore” and Crawford claiming he "gave no direction to the players in general and to Bertuzzi in particular, to retaliate for the injury to Naslund, or to engage in any conduct outside the rules against Moore."
Whatever the truth is, Crawford’s role in this has been the one that’s deepened over the years.
3. The Code
The Code has always been a hypocritical, ever-shifting set of morals that serve everything from an excuse for fighting’s existence to a justification for retribution. So it’s only appropriate that the Bertuzzi incident’s 10-year bookend is the Shawn Thornton attack on Brooks Orpik, in which a seemingly honorable player felt he was doing his team a solid by assailing an unsuspecting opponent.
As I wrote after the Thornton attack:
I’m pro-fighting. I’m all-in for the honor thing, the warrior thing. But if “The Code” actually reads “you fight because I want to fight you and if you chose not to fight I’ll assault you anyway,” then it might be time for me to sip tea with Steve Yzerman as we mutually cherish the virtue of Olympic play.
Both incidents raise unfortunate questions about the victim’s role – if only he had fought! – but, in the end, point to the same reoccurring problem for the NHL: What might seem honorable within the context of its secluded set of morals can ultimately bring dishonor to the game.
Sat Mar 08 09:02am EST
Following the grand tradition of Bo Jackson, two Philadelphia Flyers will be become two-sport stars on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center.
On the encouragement of Chris “Handles” Franklin of the Harlem Globetrotters, Wayne “Meadowlark” Simmonds and Claude “Balls” Giroux will take on the clown princes of basketball in an exhibition game. One assumes the invitation was based on experience, as the Flyers played like the Washington Generals for the first quarter of the season.
Both Giroux and Simmonds have some game, as basketball is a part of the Flyers’ warmup routine before home games. Giroux’s a shooter; Simmonds says he’s going to attempt a dunk in the game.
Does he think Giroux might dunk on the ‘Trotters?
“He might be able to touch the mesh, but not the rim,” Simmonds told CSN Philly. “I’m a disher and power play. G is the shooter. He’s got the touch.”
“I don’t know if I got the skill, but I am gonna try,” Simmonds said. “Be nice to get out there with them. ... I just got to get the ball and go strong to the hoop. Dunk on somebody. That’s my goal. Yeah, I can dunk. Gonna put my Jordan’s on.”
Giroux said he would dish the ball to Simmonds in the paint. “Hopefully, I can do a little alley-oop for him,” Giroux said. “We’re better at basketball. Wayne is pretty good. He played a lot as a kid. He can jump pretty high.”
Coach Craig Berube had no idea his leading scorer was going to partake in an exhibition basketball game on Sunday, and said “they better tape their ankles up good.”
How does Franklin think the hockey players will fare in against the Globetrotters?
“We plan on having a great time,” Franklin told CSN Philly. “One thing is for certain. It’s hard to embarrass Philadelphia stars in Philadelphia.”
(“IT IS?!?!?” said every member of the Philadelphia sports media in unison.)
Thus continues the relationship between the Flyers and basketball. Why it seems like just yesterday that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were challenging Wilt Chamberlain’s records. No, the other ones…
Sat Mar 08 12:54am EST
The Rangers celebrate the slaying of Anton Khudobin.
No. 1 Star: Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
What a debut for Funny Bob, who stopped all 25 saves he faced to give the Florida crowd something they hadn't seen in two years: a shutout. The Panthers skated to a 2-0 win on goals from Jesse Winchester and Dmitry Kulikov.
No. 2 Star: Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings
Franzen led the way for the Wings in a 7-4 rout of the New Jersey Devils, with 2 goals and 2 assists. The Wings had to like what they saw out of their new-look line of Franzen, Gustav Nyquist, and David Legwand. Nyquist had a goal and three assist, and Legwand had 1 and 2. Here's Legwand's first as a Wing:
Sat Mar 08 12:21am EST
It's hardly much of a punishment, being banned from playing for the Vancouver Canucks right now, but it's all the Department of Player Safety's really got, and it's definitely what Zack Kassian deserved for his boarding of Brendan Dillon in the second period of Thursday's content between the Canucks and the Stars.
For this act of boneheaded malfeasance from a repeat bonehead Kassian has been banned three games.
Shanahan, explaining the obvious:
"It's important to note that what raises this minor penalty to a suspension is that, not only does Kassian see Dilon's number for quite some time, but he boards Dillon with significant force."
"And while it's true that Dillon both stops and turns his back during this play, he does both of these actions well before this forceful check from behind. Kassian has enough time to avoid this check entirely, or at the very least minimize this force."
Honestly, Kassian got off light, probably because Dillon came back to the game. As a repeat offender -- the dude broke a guy's jaw earlier this season in what the league effectively deemed to be an intentional stick swing -- the league could very well have thrown the book at him. Heck, they didn't even mention that he appears to leave his feet, or that this was clearly an act borne out of frustration at the team's on-ice performance that night.
Unless, of course, Shanahan knows what everyone else in Vancouver knows: the real punishment is that Kassian has to come back at some point.