Wed Dec 04 06:58pm 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: "Youppi, the mascot of the Montreal Canadiens pokes the zamboni driver with hockey stick during the NHL game"
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Preview: Montreal Canadiens at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at Detroit Red Wings, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Phoenix Coyotes at Calgary Flames, 10 p.m. ET
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Five things to know about tonight's NHL games ...
1. Stingy Habs. As the Canadiens go for the home-and-home sweep of the Devils, they'll do so with one of the league's best defenses. According to the AP, opponents have failed to score more than two goals against Montreal in 10 of their last 11 games.
2. Jakub No-Score-a-cek. Flyers forward Jakub Voracek is in a scoring rut, not having beat a goaltender since a two-goal performance against the Senators on Nov. 12, a span of 10 games.
3. Joe Louis Arena a house of horrors for Flyers. According to CSN Philadelphia, since Nov., 1989, the Flyers are 1-16-0-2 when visiting Detroit. Let's not forget Games 1 and 2 of the 1997 Stanley Cup Final.
4. Monahan's here to stay. First, he got the news that he wouldn't be going back to junior. Now, Sean Monahan knows he'll be spending his Christmas and New Year's with the Flames after the organization told Hockey Canada they will not release him to participate in the World Junior Championships later this month.
5. Giordano boost?. Captain Mark Giordano is a game-time decision for the Flames after missing the last 18 games with a broken ankle.
Bold Prediction: Voracek scores the game winner as the Flyers edge Detroit 2-1.
Wed Dec 04 05:33pm EST
Unsurprisingly, these two guys got blamed for this goal.
Hockey is a beautiful game, played on a crisp sheet of ice by finely-tuned athletes that have perfected their strides, their passes, their shots. At times, watching a game of puck is like watching art unfolds in real-time.
At other times, however, it's pretty flipping ridiculous, and 2013 suffered no shortage of bloopers. It took some doing to get this down to a top 10 list -- we had to lose the official that called a phantom shootout goal, John Carlson's crazy bounce goal versus the Penguins, and a host of other nonsensical occurrences -- but we did it. We give you the 10 worst (or best) bloopers of the year.
Like I said, sometimes hockey is lovely. And it makes sense. And then sometimes stuff like this happens. This is a play you can't draw up, with defenceman Nikita Nikitin knocking himself over attempting a snapshot before Anisimov chops the puck harmless towards the goal. It jumps into the air, is knocked even higher by Daniel Briere, then drops in as goaltender Peter Budaj gets to his feet after being run into by another player. The number of things that had to happen for this to happen still boggle the mind.
Wed Dec 04 04:56pm EST
Sergei Bobrovsky saved all 18 shots he faced against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, but didn’t earn a shutout. That’s because the Vezina winner was injured in the third period, and Curtis McElhinney went the rest of the way for the 1-0 win.
Jackets fans should get used to McElhinney, because The Bob has a groin strain that’s going to keep him out at least a month, and perhaps five weeks. As Aaron Portzline noted, that could mean 15 games without Bobrovsky for the Blue Jackets. Ouch.
Granted, Bobrovsky hasn’t exactly been in Vezina form this year, with a 2.72 GAA and a .909 save percentage. But we’ve seen what he can do when he’s rolling … and we’ve also seen what can happen in the Metro Division when a starting goaltender goes down for a significant period. (Looks down at Islanders …)
"Based on Curtis's play, and what I've seen this season, there's nothing ... to suggest that I'm expecting bad things," Coach Todd Richards told Puck-Rakers. "In the games that he's played, he's played well."
Backing him up is Mike McKenna, who was recalled from the AHL on Wednesday.
Perhaps this is a rallying point for the Blue Jackets. Or perhaps it sinks them in the divisional race.
As Brandon Dubinsky said, "We can't afford to have Bob hurt. We need Bob for this team to be successful. But I can tell you, this team is very comfortable playing in front of Curtis.”
Wed Dec 04 04:08pm EST
We've seen what kind of disastrous results throwing you body out to block a shot can have. Just ask Ian Laperriere or Trent McCleary. On Sunday, Tomas Pitule, a forward for HC Plzen of the Czech Extraliga found out.
During a game against HC Hradec, Pitule slid in front of a René Vydarený shot and was hit in the mouth with the puck, fracturing his jaw. Here's what he looked like after the stitches and after the swelling kicked in:
If you're counting at home, Pitule needed 78 stitches total, 60 inside his mouth and 18 on the outside, according to iSport.
Pitule said he didn't think the jaw was broken after he went off the ice. It was only when he saw the eyes of the doctor examining him that he realized something was wrong. He's expected to miss at least the next six weeks.
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Wed Dec 04 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.
• Who wants to add an autographed Dunkin' Donuts mascot costume to their collection this holiday season?
• Almost a month after he broke his leg, Steven Stamkos is reportedly eyeing a Feb. 6 return, just before the Olympic break. [TSN]
• Ilya Bryzgalov is out with what the Oilers are calling "concussion-like" symptoms or whiplash. "We always treat those immediately as a concussion, even though we’re not quite sure if that’s what it is or not," said head coach Dallas Eakins. [Edmonton Sun]
• Full-time filming for HBO 24/7 begins Wednesday for both the Maple Leafs and Red Wings. Said Randy Carlyle: “It is a little different when you have a camera and a guy sitting on the floor in your team meeting. I gotta hold my profanity to a minimum.” [Globe and Mail]
• USA Hockey released its 26-man preliminary roster for the upcoming World Junior Championships. Looking at some of the last names might make you feel a bit old. Samuelsson, Matteau, Fitzgerald... [United States of Hockey]
• Flames head coach Bob Hartley responded to comments by former NHLer Scott Parker that he was a "bully" when they were together with the Avalanche: “All coaches, but I’ll speak for myself because my name is there, we set expectations. We create standards. There’s not a player I’ve coached that I didn’t try to make better. I’ve never bullied anyone. I can be a demanding coach. But I want the best for my players. For me, that’s the end of the story.” [Calgary Herald]
Wed Dec 04 02:38pm EST
In case you didn't know, since the promotional campaign has been very, very understated, Will Ferrell recently made a second "Anchorman" movie. Again, this is all flying very much under the radar, but I've been told by sources that it hits theaters later this month.
Full disclosure: my source was Ron Burgundy himself, who's so omnipresent these days that he came to my house last night and begged me -- literally begged me -- to see his movie.
All this in mind, especially that last part about Burgundy's willingness to show up basically anywhere, including but not limited to a Canadian curling event, Emerson College, and a North Dakota news station, the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints are optimistic that they'll be able to lure him to the great state of Iowa for their aptly named "Ron Burgundy Night".
Even if he doesn't show up -- and it's entirely likely he will, since saying his name just twice into a mirror makes him appear -- the night promises to be a grand old time, according to a press release is cleverly laden with Anchorman references:
Fan's knowledge of the movie will be tested with trivia, and the evening will feature an intermission contest relay race focusing on the movie's key moments. While some of details are classified information, we can tell you that milk will be chugged, burritos will be tossed, and bears will be fought. Fans will also emulate Ron Burgundy's jazz flute skills during Friday's game with an air jazz flute contest. While there are thousands of other things to do in Dubuque, we are "72 percent sure" fans will love coming to Ron Burgundy Night Friday.
If that is not enough excitement for you yet, we guarantee these ideas will provoke you to buy tickets, because "60 percent of the time they work every time." When a player takes a penalty, rather than sit in the penalty box, he'll feel shame in the "glass case of emotion." The Fighting Saints will hope to make visits to "Pleasure Town," a place reserved for that feeling you get when you score. The Fighting Saints, much like the movie's weatherman Brick Tamland, "love lamp," so they hope to be scoring goal after goal to light the goal lamp all night long.
Renaming the penalty box the glass case of emotion is a nice touch.
In addition, top quotes from the movie will be played all night long, so the evening will be like spending time any place where twenty-something men congregate. And the Saints promise plenty of LOUD NOISES.
But, of course, the real goal here is drawing Ferrell as Burgundy to the event, and the Fighting Saints have extended an invite to the character. "Seeing the famous news anchor in Bismarck, North Dakota last week gave the Fighting Saints the idea that despite his move to a national network, Mr. Burgundy might have enough room in his heart make a quick stop in Dubuque, Iowa for a night honoring his greatness."
In other words, "if you can visit North Dakota, you can visit Iowa", which is, as I understand it, Iowa Tourism's official promotional slogan.
Here's hoping Burgundy rewards the Fighting Saints for their creativity and opportunism by making a visit. Lord knows it's not beneath him.
Wed Dec 04 02:02pm EST
Jaromir Jagr is incredible, with 22 points in 28 games for the New Jersey Devils. Jaromir Jagr is also incredibly old at 41, which means he probably shouldn't have to carry as much of the offensive load as he has this season for the post-Kovalchuk Devils.
He’s averaging 18:43 in ice time per game, his highest since coming back from the KHL, and has played over 20 minutes in three of his last four contests.
The problem is that outside of Patrik Elias, Jagr is the only Devils player that makes opposing defenses wake up from their slumber and worry about a New Jersey scorer. Jagr has 11 goals; no Devil has more than six.
They’re relying too much on him. They’re going to burn him out.
At the very least, Coach Peter DeBoer knows this, via the Star-Ledger:
“I didn’t expect he’d be able to take the kind of work load we’ve given him so far. Frankly, in my mind, we’re playing him too much,”DeBoer said. “We’re overplaying him and a few other forwards, partly because of depth and injuries. We need some secondary guys to step up and help some of those guys out.”
Ah yes, there’s the issue: Jagr plays because the rest of the lineup can’t muster the offense he can. From DeBoer:
“The minutes have just been a little high. He’s earned them. He’s been key getting some of the wins in some games. For me, the bigger issue I shouldn’t have to play him that much. We have to find other guys to take some of those minutes and right now we’re looking for people to seize some of those opportunities.”
The Devils are still missing one guy that could share those minutes in Ryane Clowe, who is out with a concussion until he returns and gets another concussion. And then it'll be back to Jagr playing Ryan Suter minutes.
Wed Dec 04 01:48pm EST
It's a Wednesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more: unappealing
Special Guest Star: It could be Bill Ranford; or, barring that, it could be Katie Strang!
• Henrik Lundqvist gets a massive contract; is that a good thing or a bad thing?
• The Roussel show in Chicago last night.
• Ducks vs. Kings.
• NHL news and notes.
Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above! Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.
Wed Dec 04 11:56am EST
None of the Russian NHL stars will become a flag bearer for their country in Sochi in a few months, the first time Russia will host the Winter Olympics in history.
(Come to think of it, there will be no NHL flag bearers for any country in Sochi.)
The speculation was that all – Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk - had great chances of becoming flag bearers.
“The opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Games will take place on February 7 at 20:14 Moscow time,” Team Russia 2014 media project manager Andrei Mitkov told Sovetsky Sport.
“By that time only KHL players will be in Sochi. The Russian Olympic team has a scheduled friendly game against Team Latvia on February 8, and one against Team Switzerland on February 9. The charter flight with NHL players will arrive in the Olympic capital only on February 10.
"Therefore, Russian NHL stars Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and others will not be able to participate in the opening ceremony and to become Russia’s flag bearers (just like any NHL player of other countries). However, players deserving to be flag bearers play in the KHL, such as Ilya Kovalchuk, Ilya Nikulin, Alexander Radulov.”
The NHL will break from the 2013-14 regular season on February 9, two days after the opening ceremony.
And as Mitkov mentioned, unless some teams allow their players to leave early for the Olympics, if they are chosen to be flag bearers, we will not see an NHL star carrying his country’s flag in Sochi.
Wed Dec 04 10:51am EST
Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers have decided to end the wait, end the speculation and end the questions about whether or not a looming contract extension was weighing too heavily on the franchise goalie.
Lundqvist has agreed to a 7-year, $59.5-million contract with the Rangers that will run through his 38th birthday. He previously had a 6-year, $41.25-million deal that ran through this season.
That’s an average salary cap hit of $8.5 million, putting Lundqvist fifth overall in terms of cap hits for the 2014-15 season, when the contract kicks in. Only Alex Ovechkin ($9.54 million), Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million), Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million) and Corey Perry ($8.625 million) carry a higher hit.
Lundqvist has the richest contract, from a cap perspective, in NHL history for a goaltender. Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators previously shared that distinction at $7 million.
A few thoughts/concerns/reactions to the deal …
I can’t believe the Rangers wanted to go seven years with Lundqvist or any goaltender north of 30 years old. But this was what his camp was asking for – reports were that they actually wanted a max contract of eight years – and the Rangers had to relent. There was no alternative. Lundqvist was only going to sign a long-term deal.
The cap hit is going to be ridiculed. It’s going to be mocked. It’s going to be seen as dramatic overpayment.
That’s all misguided. You can argue against Lundqvist’s lack of postseason achievement, or that some other goalie playing in Claude Julien’s system and behind Zdeno Chara is the better netminder, but the fact is that Lundqvist has proven he belongs in the conversation with Crosby and Malkin and Ovechkin for being the best at what he does.
And look at how those guys get paid.
(Save the “but he’s never won anything!” stuff. No, he’s not a perfect playoff goalie, but he’s also someone that had John Tortorella’s offense for goal support during many of those years.)
If Lundqvist went UFA, he gets $9 million against the cap. And he probably gets it from the New York Islanders.
Part of the financial lamenting about this contract is the fact that Lundqvist will be 38 in its final season, and the Rangers will be paying a 38-year-old goalie $8.5 million.
(Never mind the obvious counterpoint, which is that we have no idea if that salary will be seen as a bargain or not, considering where the cap is headed.)
Patrick Roy was still posting a .925 save percentage at 36 years old. Martin Brodeur went on a Cup run over 40. Miikka Kiprusoff, Dominik Hasek, Tim Thomas … it’s not out of the question that Lundqvist is going to join those guys as a goalie that still posts freakishly strong numbers past 35 years old.
Of course, the real answer here is that Lundqvist is going to be elite for at least the next four years. But to get those years, the Rangers had to buy his potential decline as well. And it's not like MSG doesn't have the money to buy him out if he falls apart at 37.
Again: The contract term is the difference between having Henrik Lundqvist as your starting goaltender for the foreseeable future or having a position that’s a given today become a question mark tomorrow.
Bitching about the term or what his contract will look like in 2021 is pointless – the Rangers want to win the Cup in the next five years (Nash goes UFA in 2018) and Lundqvist is the key to that effort. It's a deal that had to get done, and hopefully for Lundqvist his season stabilizes now that it is.