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Clutterbuck fined for diving; Preds on cruise control; Islanders dominance over Rangers (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:02:55 PST)
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.

Gaudreau scores twice to lead Flames in 4-1 win over Sabres (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 27 Jan 2015 23:09:47 PST)
Only 48 hours after playing in his first All-Star game, Johnny Gaudreau was back in Calgary making the type of impact that earned the Flames' rookie an invite to the NHL's gala weekend. Gaudreau scored twice in a 4-1 victory Tuesday night that extended the Buffalo Sabres' team-record losing streak to 12 games. ''Just being around the guys that were in that locker room this weekend, it's exciting for me to be a part of that,'' the 21-year-old Gaudreau said. ''Now I'm excited for the second half of the season.'' Gaudreau tied sophomore Sean Monahan for the team lead in goals with 15.

Mike Richards and the downward spiral (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:24:27 PST)
Remember Mike Richards? Not the fourth-liner that cleared waivers for the Los Angeles Kings and was demoted to AHL Manchester on Tuesday. That’s not the guy we’re talking about here. The Mike Richards we remember was a Selke-worthy defensive center with offensive upside, a player that could be mentioned in the same breath as Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron for that duality and not have many scoff at it. A player who drove possession for his teams, even when pressed into situations that weren’t exactly corsi-friendly as a defensive forward. A player with an edge to his game that allowed him to piss off players like Sidney Crosby as he was shuttering them offensively. We miss that guy. Figuring out where he went … well, novels could be written. Justin Bourne has a nice take on it last year, a year that earned Richards his second Stanley Cup ring: He’s moved out of his scoring prime, which for offensive players is roughly the 22-27 range, and he’s played a ton of hockey compared to most 29-year-olds. He’s laced up the skates for 758 NHL games including 101 brutally physical post-season battles (over only eight NHL seasons), most of which have come towards the latter half of his career. And, that style he’s played isn’t exactly one that’s allowed him to float around and get through many games without contact. He’s never been the most fleet-of-foot guy in the league, so losing a half-step is bound to affect his game more than most. And that’s the thing: For whatever reason, at a certain age and mileage, guys lose something off their game. We look at Richards’ age (30 on Feb. 11) and his games played (just 704) and wonder why there’s been this downgrade in his career. We see him hit the waiver wire as a capable center – ideally a No. 2 for a good team – and wonder why no one will take him at $5.75 million through 2020; or through a trade with the Kings in which they’d pick up some of the salary. We can’t believe that his game has fallen off that steeply. Neither can the people employing him. A talent evaluator like Kings GM Dean Lombardi puts it this way: “The way I look at this, Mike’s, in his career, he’s shown he can be a .330 hitter and get you 80 RBIs as an All-Star player. So, maybe at this stage, maybe it’s not there. But I still assume he’s capable of being a .280 hitter and doing a lot of those things for you that only he can do. Let’s face it – right now he’s batting .200, but I don’t see any reason why he can’t get back to that. He’s got to do what he’s got to do. “ And then Lombardi really makes you think when he says: “The only analogy too, you can come up [with] – there’s a lot things that I saw that reminded of where Teemu Selanne was at this stage. I remember when he had fallen off the map, it looked like, in Colorado. It looked like he was done, and then he started changing some things and then went on to two great 10 years, for crying out loud. It’s up to Mike. There’s no [doubt] in my mind, I believe that if he wants to, that he can get back to that. But it’s going to be up to him.” Will we have a Mike Richards lovefest in 10 years like we did with Teemu? Eh, probably not. But the idea that a veteran player can suffer a dip around this time in his career and then morph into something else? That’s intriguing. But Lombardi has to say this because, essentially, he blew it. He had a chance to buy out Richards last summer without any cap repercussions, and opted for loyalty and the hope that he’d put in the work to elevate himself about the fourth line and healthy scratch-dom. And Richards couldn’t get it together, and now he’s being Wade Redden’d to the AHL at a time when the Kings need a kick in the rear. Let’s be honest: That’s a huge facet of this. “It’s just not very often that you see a player of Rick’s stature go on waivers,” said captain Dustin Brown, and that’s an understatement. The Kings are in a muddle for the last wild card with the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, trailing the Vancouver Canucks by three points for third in the Pacific. They entered the All-Star Break limping with a 2-3-5 record in their last 10. They get back to work and BOOM, Lombardi lowers the hammer on Richards. He would have traded him if there was a taker. In any case, he's gone from King to Monarch.  It’s frustrating for all involved because, again, there’s been this inexplicable decline in Richards’ game. Was it one concussion too many?  The concussion he suffered in June 2013 is looking more and more like a career-altering event. Simply a matter of being in statistic decline at his age? Losing a step, getting down about it, and not giving the effort in and out of the season to make up for it? That other Mike Richards was a special player. The kind you’d expect to have two Stanley Cup rings by 30. But not the kind you’d expect to see demoted to the AHL, unclaimed on waivers and with an uncertain future in the NHL. Which is where this Mike Richards resides. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY :

What We Learned: Our 30-team second half preview; who wins the East? (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:45:57 PST)
  (Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) As we begin the second half (and really it's more like the second two-fifths, but don't worry about it), there are a lot of questions facing a lot of teams in the league. The biggest one is, “What does the future hold?” Most teams in the league have about 35 games or so remaining on their schedules and some serious decisions to make as the trade deadline approaches over the next six weeks, we're almost certainly going to learn a lot about the quality of various teams around the league. The weird thing is both the East and West are kind of boring already; a lot of what we're going to see in the season's remaining games is a lot of jockeying for position. There aren't too many teams that are really going to be able to pry a playoff spot out of anyone's hands at this point, because already 13 of the league's playoff spots are all but assured (that is, that many teams have at least a 92 percent chance of making it according to Sports Club Stats and its invaluable projections). But even after that, there are really only teams in the West that have a lot to figure out, as Boston has a 70.8 percent chance of making it in the East, and the next-closest team is Ottawa with 16.7 percent. The jockeying out West is mainly between Calgary, San Jose and Los Angeles, three teams fighting for two spots, and while LA's the underdog in that race (46.8 percent) you still have to believe a lot more in their chances to pull things together than Calgary's, especially because the reigning champions trail the possession-deficient challengers by a single point in the standings (due entirely to their having gone 1-7 in shootouts this year). So neither of the races at the bottom are all that interesting, and it sure looks like Anaheim's going to run away with the top spot in the West as Nashville goes through its perhaps inevitable Rinne-less stretch. In the East, though, it's an entirely different story. Here we have three teams within a point of each other for the top spot, and two more within four. Five teams separated by a mere four points, and with the caveat that the leader has at least one game in hand on everyone behind it. Tampa's 64 points from 48 games is the third-best total in the league, but in terms of points taken per game, but it's seventh in the league . No one is saying the Lightning aren't a very good team, because they are. They're the second-best possession team in the league ( 54.8 percent fenwick for , even after adjusting for score effects) and they're dramatically outscoring their opponents at evens despite the fact that Ben Bishop hasn't really been that good this year. The effect of the team's shooting percentage — a second-in-the-league 9.3 percent — helps a lot. Mediocre special teams have been a problem, too, but not so much of one that it really matters all that much. They're the best team in the East. For now. Right behind them are the Islanders and Red Wings, and these are teams that also seem poised to overtake them. This is for two reasons. First, the Islanders and Red Wings have generally had more success in the games they've played, and have a better foundation for it than do the Bolts. Both are right around where they should be in terms of PDO (100.1 for the Wings, 99.5 for the Isles), as opposed to Tampa having been a little lucky. And likewise both are elite possession teams in the league (a No. 1 score-adjusted 55.3 percent for the Isles, and a No. 5 53.5 percent for the Wings). They're not simply getting the bounces, as Tampa kinda-sorta has, and they have the puck far more often than their opponents, which tells you a lot about how sustainable their success is. The other teams that are theoretically in the hunt for the East are, of course, Montreal and Pittsburgh, but I kind of reject the idea that they could make a push out of hand. While Pittsburgh has the possession numbers (ninth-ranked in score-adjusted fenwick), Montreal certainly doesn't (they're No. 21 in the NHL right now). That doesn't do a lot to guarantee the Habs' ongoing success, even in a relatively soft conference. And while Montreal at least gets by with the sustainably excellent goaltending of Carey Price, a proven elite netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury has kind of spent the last month regressing to what we know he is: a little better than average in the regular season. The Penguins have built their case of being one of the better teams in their conference mostly on the basis of Fleury being a .928 goalie for the first three months of the season, a full 17 points above his .911 over the first 514 games of his career. That he's gone .891 in the month of January, a tough stretch we can probably expect to continue as he regresses to his career average, should come as no surprise. With him go the Penguins' chances of realistically seizing the East by the scruff of its neck. (It should also be noted here that the Rangers are charging hard of late, and certainly putting in a credible performance, but their deficit is probably a little too big to overcome; six points is actually a lot, unless they keep up this recent run for another two months.) So the question here is whether it's the Wings or Islanders who sit in the catbird seat to overtake the Lightning and win the East. I think the answer is obvious. Even aside from Jimmy Howard's injury potentially putting a damper on the Wings' chances — which it unquestionably does — Detroit's underlying numbers haven't been good lately. In fact, like Tampa's, they've dropped of considerably while the Islanders remain more or less where they've been all year.

Dose: Snow Business (Rotoworld)
(Tue, 27 Jan 2015 06:08:00 PST)
We'll find out how the Islanders cope without Kyle Okposo ... but a blizzard might delay that process. Tuesday's preview-heavy Dose.

Sabres-Flames Preview (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:22:07 PST)
The Calgary Flames find themselves in the midst of a heated Western Conference playoff race coming out of the All-Star break. They'll look to start the season's second half in strong fashion Tuesday night when they host the struggling Buffalo Sabres. Goaltender Joni Ortio, who had limited opponents to five goals while starting the previous four games after being called up, gave up four goals on 11 shots. Jonas Hiller, who hadn't started since facing 35 shots in a 6-5 loss to Florida on Jan. 9, stopped 14 of 15 shots in relief and will start Tuesday after Ortio was reassigned to Adirondack.

Have a Hart: Time for NHL defenseman or goalie to win MVP? (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:22:11 PST)
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith can understand why the NHL's Hart Trophy is traditionally awarded to offensive-minded forwards. They see the red light go on,'' Keith said during the NHL All-Star festivities in Columbus, Ohio, over the weekend. ''How did Lidstrom not win a Hart Trophy?'' Keith asked, referring to Niklas Lidstrom. The former Detroit Red Wings blue-liner won seven Norris Trophies from 2001-11, and was the 2002 MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ducks-Canucks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:33:21 PST)
The Anaheim Ducks visit the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night looking to extend their overall winning streak to six and make it 10 straight games at Rogers Arena without a regulation loss. The Ducks (31-10-6) have won five straight in Vancouver and haven't lost there in regulation since March 24, 2010 - a 7-0-2 stretch with an average of 4.11 goals per game. They're 2-0-1 in the season series to extend their overall dominance against the Canucks (26-16-3) to an 8-0-1 run with just 1.33 goals per game allowed. Corey Perry has only appeared in one of the meetings this season, though he has 11 points on a six-game streak against Vancouver - all Anaheim wins.

Thomas Vanek on the PP! (Rotoworld)
(Mon, 26 Jan 2015 07:10:00 PST)
The Flyers and Red Wings are dominating the power play in the last month but Thomas Vanek has a surprising eight points since Christmas on the pp.

NHL All-Star Game scoring record set in Columbus with 29 goals (Puck Daddy)
(Sun, 25 Jan 2015 17:12:24 PST)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 60th NHL All-Star Game was an offensive affair.  Take that any way you’d like. The teams captained by Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets set a new League record for most combined goals in an All-Star Game, in a 17-12 victory for Team Toews on Sunday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Patrick Kane’s (Foligno) goal at 13:09 of the third period was No. 27 for the night, breaking the 26-goal record set in 2001 during the North America vs. The World format. We don’t want to say the 29-goal night was overwhelming, but at one point the Civil War-dressed workers that fire a cannon after every home-team goal seemed to simply forget to do so. Maybe they ran out of ammo; the teams certainly didn't.  John Tavares of Team Toews became the sixth player in history to score four goals in the NHL All-Star Game. Tavares scored once in the first period, twice in the second and another in the third period. He joins some elite goal-scoring company: Wayne Gretzky, Campbell, 1983; Mario Lemieux, Wales, 1990; Vincent Damphousse, Campbell, 1991; Mike Gartner, Wales, 1993, and Dany Heatley, East, 2003. After two days of goofy fun at the NHL Fantasy Draft and the skills competition, the Sunday was a bit of a snoozer. The goals were plentiful, the skating was casual and the crowd only popped for the hometown heroes. So basically it was the NHL All-Star Game. The first period saw a combined eight goals, four by each team. Ryan Johansen (Foligno) had two of them, while Roberto Luongo (Toews) made a few quality glove saves. Radim Vrbata (Foligno) opened the scoring at 3:09 of the first period with his first all-star goal. The second period featured 11 goals, an All-Star Game record and a metric ton of sarcasm. Team Foligno goalie Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins tied an ignominious record in giving up seven goals in a period. That tied Mike Vernon’s 1990 record for the Campbell Conference. The partisan Columbus crowd, which considers the Penguins arch rivals, began mockingly cheering his routine saves. Team Toews received goals from Ryan Suter, Tyler Seguin, Rick Nash, Filip Forsberg, two from Tavares and one from Jakub Voracek. The third period was just as porous, as the goals kept piling up at a record pace. Here’s the full scoring sheet for the game. Try not to strain your eyes:

Mark Giordano's journey from Russia to Norris Trophy contender (Puck Daddy)
(Sun, 25 Jan 2015 08:07:13 PST)
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." But in Russia, Giordano got what he wanted. He was a bubble player in Calgary, whereas in Moscow, he got the minutes he was seeking and made more than what the Flames were offering. The time away from North America helped his growth. A year later Giordano returned to Calgary with the Flames still holding his rights, but there were no hard feelings on either side and they agreed to a three-year deal. “It was business and that’s the way it goes,” Giordano said during All-Star Weekend in Columbus. “At the time no one was convinced, not even myself, that maybe I was an everyday NHL player, so I went and tried something else.” Almost eight years later, Giordano is now captain of the Flames and finds himself in the Norris Trophy conversation while playing with T.J. Brodie, forming one the league's top defensive pairings. It's been a long road for Giordano, and his being passed over during the 2001 NHL Draft  he finally heard his name called Friday night when he was selected to play for Team Toews. When Giordano was 18, he didn’t feel like he deserved to be drafted. He hadn't even played in major junior yet and felt his game needed to be better. “I wasn’t as good of a player when I was 18,” he said. “I think I had a lot of room for improvement. Some guys are really good when they’re 18 and they’re already at that level where they can play in the NHL, but I definitely wasn’t one of them.” Giordano then spent two years with Owen Sound in the OHL scoring 32 goals and recording 97 points. But his phone stayed silent, and he was ready to attend classes at York University in Toronto when the Flames came calling. At a summer camp, Giordano left an impression on Sutter and the wheels began to turn in his favor. “It might be a little bit different path, but I think for myself I got a great opportunity with the Flames,” he said. “Darryl Sutter was the GM at the time and said if you play well we’ll give you a chance. It doesn’t matter if you’re drafted or not.”  Giordano spent the next two seasons playing mostly in the AHL and finally became an NHL regular in 2006-07.  Most NHL defensemen need time to grow into the position. It often takes years for players to finally understand the nuances and have the ability to read a developing play. It’s why Giordano looks around the league now and marvels at players like fellow All-Stars Drew Doughty and Aaron Ekblad, who’ve succeeded since breaking into the league. “For young guys to come in and be really effective defensemen, like Doughty and Ekblad,” he said, “they’re pretty special players to be able to read the game the way that they do at such a young age.” Now 31, Giordano has come a long way since that year in Russia. He currently leads the Flames and all NHL defenseman in scoring with 40 points. He's going to get considerable Norris love if he keeps his offensive numbers up and continues posting strong possession numbers  against top competition. Russian turned out to be a risk worth taking and put Giordano on the path to where he is today. He’s established himself as one of the NHL's best defensemen and a leader on and off the ice; and his influence, from his experience, has already made an impression on some of the Flames’ younger players. “Just the way he leads our team, he’s just a great captain,” said Flames rookie and fellow All-Star Johnny Gaudreau. “As a young guy, he’s a great person to look up to and follow in your rookie season. He’s a great leader.  “I’m surprised it’s only his first game with how he plays and how hard he plays. I’m really fortunate to be on the same team as him and it’s pretty exciting to be here with him.” - - - - - - - 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 MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY :

Johnny Gaudreau’s fire stick idea nixed, but living All-Star dream (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:56:31 PST)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The NHL All-Star Game Skills Competition has an event called the Breakaway Challenge that affords players the chance to act like prop comedians.  On Saturday night in Columbus, Johnny Gaudreau was that aforementioned prop. Ryan Johansen, the Columbus Blue Jackets star, did was fan favorites do and invited a child to participate in his shootout routine. He skated the puck near the crease, stopped, retrieved the son of his team trainer, and then had him shoot the puck home. It was all quite adorable.  Jakub Voracek, the NHL’s leading scorer from the Philadelphia Flyers, needed some way to trump that attempt. So he decided to borrow that idea by using the smallest skater he could find to take the shot. That would be the diminutive Calgary Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau. “He came up and asked me first if it was all right. I thought it would be pretty funny to do something like that,” said Gaudreau. “To be honest, it was actually Ryan Suter’s idea. He came up to me and he said I should do it,” said Voracek. “I think that little kid was bigger than [Gaudreau]. Let’s be honest." Voracek said that had Gaudreau nixed the idea, his next plan was to potentially use Dustin Byfuglien. Or, failing that, asking Columbus public enemy Rick Nash if he could borrow his jersey. So that was fun. But it could have been even more fun had the NHL allowed Gaudreau to follow through with his initial plan: Lighting his own stick on fire. “Me and Mark Giordano were talking about it on the bus a little bit earlier and thought it would be a good idea since we play for Flames,” said Gaudreau of his Calgary teammate. “I asked one of the player safety guys here and they said no,” he said. This is correct: The most interesting part of my day by far was @johngaudreau03 asking me if he could light his stick on fire. #PlayerSafety — Patrick Burke (@BurkieYCP) January 25, 2015 Unfortunately I had to be Director of Funland Security on that one after every attorney in our offices had simultaneous heart attacks. — Patrick Burke (@BurkieYCP) January 25, 2015 “I should've just did it,” said Gaudreau. Giordano said he would have supervised the fire. "I was all for it. I was going to help him do it. Didn't get the OK at the end of the day,” said Giordano. “Maybe next year." He couldn’t use a fire stick, but Gaudreau was given another chance to make an impression in Columbus: He was added to Jonathan Toews’ team in Sunday’s All-Star Game as a result of late injuries. “I'm really excited. It's going to be a great experience for me,” said the 21-year-old. “This whole weekend has been a blast so far. I'm excited to get a chance to play in the game.”

Johansen gets help in winning NHL breakaway skills challenge (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 24 Jan 2015 18:46:37 PST)
Ryan Johansen of the hometown Columbus Blue Jackets pulled a kid out of the stands and guided him to a goal to win the breakaway challenge, and Nashville's Shea Weber fired the hardest shot with a 108.5-mph blast at the NHL All-Stars skills competition on Saturday night. Weber missed the net on his first attempt but made up for that with a shot second only to five-time winner Zdeno Chara's 108.8-mph drive in 2012. The team captained by Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno defeated one led by Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, 25-19. Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks had the fastest time in the accuracy shooting, and Tampa Bay's Jonathan Drouin was the fastest skater.

Johnny Gaudreau: Cult hero, 'shy, humble, little guy' (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 24 Jan 2015 13:32:24 PST)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Johnny Gaudreau is a cult hero. Johnny Gaudreau is a brand . Johnny Gaudreau is a 5-foot-9 150-pound 21-year-old kid from Salem, New Jersey just trying to make his way in the hockey world. All such descriptions fit the Flames wunderkind in his first full season in the NHL. He is loved and adored by hockey fans in Calgary and Boston College, where he played for three seasons. The Flames also have a few other portrayals of Gaudreau, who is one of the rookies here at the NHL All-Star Game, set to partake in the Saturday night skills competition. “He has a lot of different nicknames, not just ‘Johnny Hockey’ (but) we’ll keep that in the room, “ Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. It’s easy to make the comparison from Gaudreau to another famous collegiate ‘Johnny’ who became worshiped in Texas, before he turned into a dud in Cleveland. But in all honesty, all they share is a first name. While Johnny Manziel seems to constantly find himself in trouble, Gaudreau has spent All-Star weekend showing a modest nature. When asked at the NHL’s fantasy draft about his trademarking ‘Johnny Hockey’ he sort of smirked and deflected that to his agent. “I like it. It’s all right. It’s a pretty cool name to have,” he shrugged at Friday’s All-Star media day But what about being a super big deal in Calgary? “The fans are great there,” he said. “I’m really fortunate to get to play there. They love hockey out there and it’s really, really great to be a part of something pretty special like that.” So if you’re expecting anything crazy from Gaudreau this All-Star weekend, beyond the show he’s going to put on Saturday night, you’re going to be disappointed. But his ability to develop in a major Canadian market and perform in spite of a large crush of fans and continuing expectations bodes in his favor as do his 35 points in 46 games this season. “He has been great. He’s a real shy, humble, little guy,” Giordano said, making Gaudreau sound more like a baby brother or something. “He’s quiet and reserved but a great person to talk to one on and he’s definitely a fan favorite in Calgary and the crowd loves it. He has handled everything amazing.” The second half of the season is going to be a test for Gaudreau. Last season he played 40 games for BC. He has already played 46 this season for the Flames. He said he’s going to try to get some rest during the All-Star break and “ make sure I get back to Calgary ready to roll for the second half of the season.” Now as for that whole ‘Johnny Hockey’ trademark thing? It doesn’t seem to bother another young ‘Jon’ who is in Columbus. “I actually like it,” said Tampa’s Jonathan Drouin. - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY  

World Cup of Hockey tournament set for 2016 (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 24 Jan 2015 13:26:16 PST)
The World Cup of Hockey is making a long-awaited return in 2016. ''We decided that bringing back the World Cup was vitally important,'' NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Saturday during the league's All-Star game weekend festivities. We believe after giving the event such a good start that we're going to build off it.'' To begin with, the 2016 tournament will feature eight teams with all games played in Toronto. The tournament will start Sept. 17 and end with a best-of-three final series, with the last possible date set for Oct. 1.

NHL All-Star Skills Competition players announced; who wins? (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 24 Jan 2015 10:08:22 PST)
Team Foligno and Team Toews have selected their competitors for the Saturday night Skills Competition, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Who wins? Check out the field. Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater Event description: Four players from each team will test their speed,  facing off against an opponent in a two-skater race. The race track is the  entire outside border of the ice. Timing devices will record each skater to  determine who is the fastest. If a race ends in a tie, each of the teams  will be awarded one point. If, at the completion of the event, the skaters  who tied have the fastest overall time, the skaters will race again to  determine which team receives the bonus point. Five team points are  available. The winner of each match-up scores one point; the team with the  fastest skater scores one bonus point. Team Foligno Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning Jiri Sekac, Montreal Canadiens Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres Team Toews Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers Vladamir Taresenko, St. Louis Blues Favorite: Seguin can flat-out fly. Darkhorse: This event favors young legs; it wouldn’t be a shock to see Drouin skate away with it. *** Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge Event description: A test of creativity a player can insert into a  breakaway, three shooters and one goaltender from each team will  participate. Columbus' Ryan Johansen was selected by fans to participate in  this event in an online vote. Each skater will attempt three shots. NHL  penalty shot rules do not apply. Fans in-arena and watching on television  will be able to vote for their favorite player on Twitter by casting their  vote using the hashtag that corresponds to the player of their choice. The  shooter with the highest fan vote will score one point for his team. Team Foligno Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues (goalie) Team Toews Vladimir Taresenko, St. Louis Blues Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (goalie) Favorite: The fan vote favors local boy Johansen, Ovechkin and Taresenko. Darkhorse: NHL leading scorer Voracek will still get lots of local love. *** DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting Event description: Four players from each team will compete, with two  additional players serving as passers. This event will consist of four  head-to-head match-ups, one shooter from each team per round. The goal is  to hit four 15-inch diameter targets located in each corner of the net. The  teams will be situated at opposite ends of the rink, and will alternate  shot attempts. The first shooter to hit all four targets wins. Five team  points are available. The winner of each match-up scores one point; the  player who hits all four targets in the fastest time scores the bonus  point. Team Foligno Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets Radim Vrbata, Vancouver Canucks Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers (passer) Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings (passer) Team Toews   Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins John Tavares, New York Islanders Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks Rick Nash, New York Rangers (passer) Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils (passer) Favorite: Team Toews has some great snipers, including the captain, who is still seeking to win the even for the first time. *** Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay Event description: This timed relay event – involving 14 skaters and one  goalie from each team – will consist of five challenges: One-Timers, with  three shooters and one passer per team; Passing, with one passer per team;  Puck Control, with one skater per team; Stick-Handling, with one skater per  team; and Goalie Goals, with one goalie per team. Each challenge must be  completed before moving on to the next one. The goal is to finish all five  challenges faster than the opponent. Three team points are available. The  team with the fastest time in each heat scores one point; the team with the  fastest overall time scores one bonus point.

Fantasy top 30 goalies: Hutchinson evolves into gem (NHL)
(Thu, 22 Jan 2015 09:25:00 PST)
Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

Dose: Limping into the Break (Rotoworld)
(Thu, 22 Jan 2015 00:36:00 PST)
The last night of NHL games only added to the list of All-Star invitees who won't be going to Columbus this weekend in Thursday's Hockey Dose.

NHL Three Stars: 'Hawks, Avs win in shoot-out, Jets blank 'Lumbus (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 21 Jan 2015 23:28:11 PST)
No. 1 Star: Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks Just another 2-point night for the one they call 'Hoss'. He does score a goal, but his most impressive move of the night was an assist on David Rundblad's goal where Hossa deftly keeps the puck onside to set up the score: No. 2 Star: Michael Hutchinson, Winnipeg Jets What a revelation the young goaltender for the Jets has been. He pitched a 4-0 shut-out for Winnipeg against Columbus, stopping all 29 shots sent his way. With Sergei Bobrovsky likely out of the All-Star Game , he'd be a great choice to take his place. Hutchinson is second in save-percentage at .935 and third with 1.90 GAA. No. 3 Star: Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado Avalanche Still think the Avs are serious about moving O'Reilly at the deadline? A lot of teams wouldn't mind having his services. With 1:35 left in the third and the goaltender pulled, O'Reilly scored the game-tying goal against Tuukka Rask. Honorable Mention: Pittsburgh made it interesting against Chicago by overcoming a 2 goal deficit to tie the game in the second period. The bout went all the way to the shoot-out where Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane netted the only goals. Congrats to Pittsburgh's Zach Sill for scoring his first NHL goal in the loss ... Dustin Byfuglien and Ben Chiarot were plus-3 against the Blue Jackets ... Colorado and Boston went to the shoot-out with Nate MacKinnon scoring the only goal ... The woes of the Leafs continue as they lose 4-3 to Ottawa. Jake Gardiner recorded the only multi-point night for Toronto. Erik Karlsson had 2 goals in 25:03 TOI; one of his goals came on this beauty of an exchange with Mike Hoffman: ... Playing with the flu, Frederik Andersen backstopped the Ducks to a 6-3 victory over Calgary. Ben Lovejoy, Corey Perry, and Nate Thompson each recorded multi-point nights ... It was Metallica night in San Jose ! Logan Couture had 2 goals and an assist in the Sharks 4-2 win against Los Angeles. The best goal of the game came on the power play: Did You Know: The Flames have lost in Anaheim for 20 consecutive games. Dishonorable Mention: Pittsburgh was without the services of Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin. Letang has experienced 'concussion like symptoms' in the wake of the hit he received from Zac Rinaldo the previous game . Malkin was a late scratch for unknown reasons. He will not attend the All-Star Game ... Sergei Bobrovski had to leave the game against Winnipeg due to injury ; he'll be re-evaluated on Thursday ... After giving up 4 goals on 11 shots, Flames goalie Joni Ortio was replaced by Jonas Hiller in net. Mason Raymond was a minus-4 ... Somehow Dion Phaneuf and Milan Michalek ended up with the same amount of penalty minutes from this exchange:

Lovejoy propels streaking Ducks past Flames 6-3 (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 21 Jan 2015 22:40:32 PST)
Although nobody on either team can explain it, the Anaheim Ducks haven't lost at home to the Calgary Flames in 11 years. After the latest win in that bewildering streak, the Ducks are rolling into the NHL All-Star break on a run that is even more impressive than their weird mastery over the Flames. Ben Lovejoy had a goal and an assist, Frederik Andersen made 30 saves, and the Ducks beat Calgary in Anaheim for the 20th consecutive time, 6-3 on Wednesday night. Kyle Palmieri and Patrick Maroon scored in a three-goal first period for the NHL-leading Ducks, who have won five straight and 17 of 22 since Dec. 1.

Oshawa Generals, despite power-play woes, lead Buzzing The Net Dynamic Dozen (Buzzing The Net)
(Wed, 21 Jan 2015 10:30:59 PST)


Fantasy top 60 'D': Klingberg starring for Dallas (NHL)
(Wed, 21 Jan 2015 10:04:00 PST)
Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

Flames-Ducks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:16:48 PST)
A five-game winning streak wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary for the Anaheim Ducks. For the Calgary Flames, it'd mark a season best and complete a perfect road trip. A win in Anaheim on Wednesday night, however, would be even more noteworthy. One of these Pacific Division teams will head into the All-Star break on a high note, and an Anaheim victory would extend its league-best point total entering the five-day break.

Kings-Sharks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:44:15 PST)
San Jose coach Todd McLellan can't understand why the Sharks have seemed so lethargic lately, and he's even more disappointed in the lack of motivation to protect home ice. The Sharks look to avoid a third straight defeat - all at home - in both clubs' final game before the All-Star break. San Jose (24-17-6) suffered seven regulation home losses last season, but fell to 11-8-3 at the SAP Center with Monday's 5-2 loss to New Jersey. It's disappointing to see the lack of drive right now." Joe Pavelski and Matthew Nieto scored Monday for the Sharks, who are in the midst of playing seven straight at home around the All-Star break.

Wideman scores in OT, Flames rally past Kings 2-1 (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 19 Jan 2015 23:12:35 PST)
At first glance, Dennis Wideman thought his overtime shot beat Jonathan Quick. By the time he got to the Flames' bench, the defenseman decided he was mistaken. Wideman was thrilled to learn his first instinct had been correct and Calgary had just roared past the defending Stanley Cup champions in the standings. Wideman scored 4:08 into overtime, and the Flames rallied past Los Angeles for their fourth straight victory, 2-1 Monday night.

NHL Three Stars: Kulemin leads first place Isles; Staal fights, scores vs. Maple Leafs (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:33:28 PST)
No. 1 Star: Nikolay Kulemin, New York Islanders In a high-scoring matinee, Kulemin netted a pair and assisted on another as the Islanders took down the Philadelphia Flyers 7-4. Johnny Boychuk, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Michael Grabner and Nick Leddy each recorded two points. The win moves New York into the top spot in the Eastern Conference. No. 2 Star: Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes The Hurricanes captain had a very eventful night during their 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored twice and spent the third period in a personal battle with Dion Phaneuf. After the Leafs captain laid a clean hit on Jordan Staal, brother Eric came over and dropped the gloves with Phaneuf: It didn’t end there. Staal’s second of the night came via an empty net, and was slapped in past Phaneuf, who was playing goaltender: No. 3 Star: James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets The Wiz scored the go-ahead power play goal early in the third period, set up Columbus’ other two goals and even played a little net in the waning moments as the Blue Jackets upended the Minnesota Wild 3-1. Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 stops.  Honorable Mention : Radim Vrbata and Bo Horvat scored 4:38 apart in the first period to help the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Ryan Miller made 23 saves as the Canucks won their third in a row … Five different New Jersey Devils scored and Cory Schneider made 34 saves en route to a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Adam Henrique, Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson each recorded two points … Dennis Wideman's goal with 52.1 seconds left in overtime stood after a review and gave the Calgary Flames a 2-1 win over the LA Kings. Joni Ortio made 33 saves for his fourth straight win. Jaden Schwartz had a goal and an assist and Brian Elliott needed only 17 saves as the St. Louis Blues downed the Colorado Avalanche 3-1. Alex Steen recorded a pair of assists to extend his points streak to 10 games. He has 18 points over that stretch. Did You Know? “Ken Hitchcock won his 153rd game with St. Louis, tied with Brian Sutter for second on the franchise list.” (AP) Dishonorable Mention : Flyers goalie Rob Zepp was pulled after allowing four goals on 20 shots … Philadelphia has lost seven of eight on the road … Florida has dropped four in a row, their longest losing streak of the season. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY :

Fantasy All-Access: Second-half stars to watch (NHL)
(Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:00:00 PST)
Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

Dallas Stars 'pay a big price' to get back into contention (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 19 Jan 2015 12:40:08 PST)
Is there a better breakout candidate in the second half of the season than the Dallas Stars? OK, we know that we’ve been waiting for the Stars to take the NHL by storm – pretty much since the summer. They made ‘all the right moves’ in the offseason. Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky were brought in. Captain Jamie Benn was going to be amazing and so was Tyler Seguin. Here comes the Dallas Stars juggernaut! Instead the most productive element of the Stars operation this year has been the team’s jumbotron. Benn and Seguin have indeed been prolific – but the Stars have been up-and-down all year. And down for a long part – especially when they were 6-9-4 on Nov. 18. But as of Monday, Dallas is back in the playoff race just two points behind Calgary for the last Wild Card spot. How in the world did that happen? It has occurred by ensuring all parts of their game have clicked at the same time, which wasn’t the case earlier in the season. “Really, we’ve played some great games and maybe our goaltending hasn’t been the best. Then maybe we’ve had some good goaltending and we’ve had defensive breakdowns that have left our goaltender by himself. It really has been a combination of everything,” head coach Lindy Ruff said. “I think there are a lot of ways to lose and I think we’ve found every way.” When Dallas made all its upgrades over the summer, the Stars put them in one position. Forward. Spezza made them better down the middle. Hemsky added depth. But the Stars never really dealt with an area of weakness. Defense. It was basically ‘score enough goals and hope Kari Lehtonen stops everything that comes his way.’ As talented as Lehtonen is, that’s not a recipe for success, unless Ruff thought he was back in Buffalo in the late '90s with Dominik Hasek. In Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski the Stars had two solid No. 2 or 3 defensemen, but no clear-cut No. 1. And once they started to realize this, Dallas began to slowly, methodically turn its season around. They needed better team defense. Ruff thinks they made that shift. “I think it all started with defending better, probably a month ago when we left for our trip out West, we started to keep the goals against down,” Ruff said. “It started there, though we had a couple of games here where the goals against have gotten up. The ability to score is one of our stronger suits, but one of the things that will allow us back in the hunt and remain consistent is to defend on a consistent basis.” And as the Stars have slowly moved their way up the NHL standings they sit in a nice spot, just behind Calgary in the Wild Card and two points back of Los Angeles, a team that’s only behind Calgary because of its lack of wins. Though the Flames have hung on for a while, and are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, there’s always the wonder that an eventual letdown is a foregone conclusion. They’re young and success has come early and fast in their rebuilding process. The Kings have been doing their usual rope-a-dope regular season type thing, but has all the playoff hockey over the last three years finally caught up to them? Enter Dallas, who has basically been playing playoff hockey since December and has a veteran enough group to make a run. “I think the one thing that will be evident by the end when this all shakes out and the smoke clears – if we get there, we’re going to have to pay a big price to get there,” Ruff said. “We should be playoff-ready.” There are still problems with the Stars. In their last game, Dallas blew a two-goal lead to Chicago, but eventually pulled away for a 6-3 victory. In their previous game against the Capitals, Dallas blew a 3-0 lead, but eventually won 5-4. It’s these defensive problems that still worry Ruff and could hamper the Stars moving forward. Dallas’ 3.27 goals allowed per-game is third-worst in the NHL. Earlier in the year, the Stars essentially tried to load their offense on Benn and Seguin. Now everyone is joining in per Blackout Dallas: Against Washington, the Stars saw two goals from the first line (Seguin, Benn), two goals from the second line (Erik Cole, Jason Spezza), and a goal from the third line (Antoine Roussel). The love was shared and so was the plunder, which eventually led to the win. The Dallas Stars played the sharing game again versus Chicago Sunday night. They received one goal from the first line (Seguin), one goal from the second line (Cole), two goals from the third line (Eakin x2), and two goals from the fourth line (Vernon Fiddler, Shawn Horcoff). This sharing is producing wins, and the Dallas Stars need to learn how to harness this power and use it to their advantage in the upcoming games. But it still leads back to defense. If they can tighten that up even more and GM Jim Nill can add a defenseman, maybe the Stars can go from bust to burst and fulfill our offseason prophecies! At very least they still have the jumbotron. - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY      

Streit on a Streak (Rotoworld)
(Mon, 19 Jan 2015 09:05:00 PST)
Mark Streit has been hot on the power play in the last two weeks. Read more in the Power Play Report.

What We Learned: Did Marc Staal deserve his new NY Rangers deal? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 19 Jan 2015 06:58:00 PST)
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) Hockey continues to have a weird fetish for defensive defensemen, and it's a market inefficiency that's difficult to understand. Remember this summer when Brooks Orpik signed that five-year deal with Washington that would inexplicably pay him $5.5 million per? And how everyone laughed? Those contracts are handed out more frequently than you think. Such is the case with Marc Staal, who signed a 6-year, $34.2-million deal with the New York Rangers on Sunday. Now, Staal isn't exactly Brooks Orpik-level ineffective at driving play — and Washington fans are learning to their chagrin just how much tread has come off the tire for this man who will turn 35 in September and still have four years left of hefty paychecks coming his way — but he's not as far off the pace as you might expect, either. The Rangers as a whole seem to overvalue grit and toughness, which explains why Tanner Glass has played rather a healthy portion of their games this season despite the fact that he's one of the worst players in the NHL and his only value comes in the form of his waning pugilistic prowess. Staal does more than that, obviously, but his actual on-ice value is not, unfortunately, what it's perceived to be. But why the rush on this deal? Why now? Well, apart from concerns that he might bolt elsewhere — say, Carolina — Larry Brooks says it might have something to do with the quality of his play over the last six weeks or so, during which time he has posted positive possession and goals-for numbers (though negative when compared to what his team has done while he's off the ice) and hasn't given up a ton of scoring chances despite eating the most minutes of any Blueshirt blue liner. And as those who watch the NHL regularly well know, teams love buying as high as possible on guys whose contributions are primarily judged using the eye test. Consequently, the thing is that this stands in stark contrast with what he's done for the entirety of the season, and most of the last several years in New York. Not including any of this the weekend's games (to better explain the Rangers' mindset here), there were 59 defensemen in the league that had played at least 700 minutes at even strength, which we can therefore safely categorize as “top-pairing defensemen” — i.e. 30 teams play two defensemen on their top pairing, thus, 60 guys in the league are top-pairing defensemen. Of that group, Staal ranks 18th from the bottom in terms of the corsi quality of competition he faces, which is to say that the 50.5 percent corsi rating opponents have against him is, as far as top-pairing D are concerned, rather poor and comfortably in the bottom third. So why, by that metric or any other metric, would you make him the 15th highest-paid defenseman in the league. Well, some of the names below him in terms of CF% are of note: Shea Weber, Andy Greene, Roman Josi, Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Ryan Suter take up six of the bottom seven spots, with Dion Phaneuf the lone outlier as a guy who probably doesn't deserve that role. Certainly, all these defensemen are well-paid and play what anyone would call very tough competition as far as the eye test goes. Some of them are considered among the best in the league at what they do, despite the fact that — at least in the case of Weber and Josi — viewings of how well they play don't always line up with the numbers. (Sam Page recently broke down why he thinks this is the case with Nashville's top pairing pre- and post-Suter.) A lot of times, these guys' issues can be excused pretty easily. Weber and Josi have trouble turning the puck over and taking it out of the defensive zone with carries, but don't really give up quality chances very often. Giordano and Brodie play on a garbage team and while their CF% is poor, their ratings relative to the rest of the team remain exemplary and have them in very serious contention for the Norris. Suter plays roughly a billion minutes a night. Greene has an awful team in front of him and is basically trying to bail out the Titanic's hull with a candy dish. Phaneuf played for Randy Carlyle. You can do this for most of the guys on the list who aren't pushing the puck in the right direction. But speaking of the eye test, is there any universe in which you'd as an impartial observer would put Staal and Dan Girardi in the same conversation as Weber and Josi or Giordano and Brodie? The answer is no, right? I often wonder how much of a team's deployment of its defense especially is based on capability versus perceived capability. In this case, we'd have to acknowledge that Girardi and Staal are, at best, the second- and third-best defensemen on the Rangers behind legit star defenseman Ryan McDonagh. And yet it's these two who get the toughest assignments by far. Then McDonagh is roughly in the same area (and indeed, suffering a bit of a tough season with worse possession numbers than Staal) if a little back in terms of stringent usage, and the rest of the Rangers' defensemen are being pretty heavily shielded. Why does McDonagh, who we'd all agree is better, get the protection? “Because of his offensive utility,” is likely the answer — you put him on the ice when the puck is in the attacking end because in theory he's more capable of both keeping it there and doing something with it — and because his reputation is not built largely upon his willingness to block shots and “play tough.” But what one has to understand about McDonagh is that in the last four seasons, only this one could be considered an abject failure to this point, in terms of personal on-ice success. And the Rangers still outscore their opponents when he's on the ice this year, albeit barely. Girardi and Staal never outscore their opponents in full seasons. Staal's plus-6 over 21 games in 2013 is the only time either he or his partner has had their heads above water in terms of relative goals-for in that time. And over that entire period, neither drives possession or goalscoring relative to the team (in 250 and 180 games for Girardi and Staal, respectively). This despite the fact that, prior to this year, Staal's most common pairing partner was possession-driving force Anton Stralman; in fact, for many of his most frequent collaborators, Staal serves as a bit of a possession and scoring anchor , which probably shouldn't come as a surprise. The Rangers have invested $11.2 million against the cap to these two defensive defensemen for the next five years — Girardi's will expire the year before Staal's would — whose numbers don't back up the cost. (The Maple Leafs made a similar mistake in extending Dion Phaneuf for big money.) Which is a long time to invest in guys who are going to spend the majority of those contracts on the wrong side of 30. Which brings us back to this six-week window in which Staal has been so effective and, apparently, earned six years of relative contract certainty and a much bigger paycheck. What's gone differently to launch his play to the “next level?” Wouldn't you know it, they've gotten him away from tougher assignments , essentially using and sheltering him like a second-pairing defenseman even if the minutes don't reflect that. Which, yeah, that's going to make you look a lot better. So good you might appear to deserve, say, a 40 percent raise. The problem for the Rangers too is that they clearly didn't feel they have a viable replacement on hand if they let Staal test the market, which is fair enough. You sometimes overpay to insulate yourself from the risk of going without — a lesson Glen Sather learned the hard way this summer when reliable “glue” guys like Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, and Brian Boyle bolted for more money elsewhere because the Rangers couldn't afford to pay them — but part of the issue is that this, in turn, means that you can't spend the money on the players who actually deserve to be paid it. Most of the Rangers' core is locked up, but there will be some hard decisions to make in the next few years, and the Staal and Girardi contracts will probably start to look and feel more and more like particularly cumbersome albatrosses as time goes on. You don't always get what you pay for in the NHL, but it's often because you're buying something you haven't really valued or evaluated properly. What We Learned Anaheim Ducks : Frederik Andersen is being hailed as something of a savior in Anaheim, largely because he has a .925 save percentage and has yet to lose in January. Which will make anyone look good. Arizona Coyotes : Shouldn't of traded Dubnyk . Boston Bruins : This dude obviously didn't get the memo that the Bruins are winning now because of how good David Pastrnak is. Turns out Tuukka Rask is good. Hmmmm. Buffalo Sabres : The Sabres have now lost 11 in a row in regulation and hey wouldn't you know it they're back in 30th in the league. Congratulations, guys. Mission accomplished. Calgary Flames : Joni Ortio has been excellent since his call-up from the AHL and the Flames are riding him for all he's worth. We're talking .953 even after giving up three on 22 to San Jose Saturday night. Much more of this and Karri Ramo's probably going to be on the trading block. Carolina Hurricanes : Speaking of which, it would be nice if Anton Khudobin could continue his strong run of late . He's stopped 105 of the last 111 shots he faced (.946) after starting the year winless in his first 10 starts (when he stopped just .900). Chicago Blackhawks : Good one, Danny. Good one . Hope he's suspended for a good long time here. No reason for a player like him to even be in the league at this point. Colorado Avalanche : Ryan O'Reilly to the Leafs would be quite the coup, for not-the Avs. Especially if Toronto gets Sakic and Roy to take Tyler Bozak off their hands . Columbus Blue Jackets : The state and local government in Columbus are rather wisely using All-Star Weekend as a means of getting NHL owners to think about putting some more of their other businesses in the Columbus area. Yeah but no it totally matters who makes the All-Star Team. Dallas Stars : The Stars scored goals 16 seconds apart early in the third period to make this one academic, even after the Caps cut it to 3-3. Dallas is 10-4-2 in their last 16. Detroit Red Wings : Decent goal from Tomas Tatar for his 20th(!?) of the year. Edmonton Oilers : Man what a great place to play Edmonton must be. Florida Panthers : If one guy is good at playing defense as an 18-year-old, why do we even think most 18-year-old D aren't NHL ready ? Good argument here. Los Angeles Kings : The Kings of this year are the Devils of the last two: They haven't scored on any of their last 22 shootout attempts . Minnesota Wild : Devan Dubnyk isn't a great goalie but he's both playing well right now and better than Niklas Backstrom. And hey what do you know he's helping the Wild beat (bad) teams for once. Montreal Canadiens : Congratulations to the Canadiens on being “ unheralded .” By whom? Tough to say. But they're unheralded despite being one of the best teams in hockey from the start of the season to right now and also being the most mythologized team in league history and also not being very good apart from getting a season and a half's worth of bounces to go the right way. Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team : If the first period on Saturday was any indication, it could be a long couple of weeks until Pekka Rinne's back. New Jersey Devils : You thought things in New Jersey were bad before? Cory Schneider's hurt now, and it might be a concussion or something . Any amount of time he's out is going to be one in which the Devils are even more likely to lose. New York Islanders : The Islanders finally lost on Saturday , 6-4 to the unheralded Canadiens, snapping  a four-game winning streak despite Carey Price being out for the night with an injury. They're still fourth in the league. New York Rangers : Kevin Hayes has been pretty damn good for the Rangers so far this season, 15 points in 39 games in a third-line center role with basically no power play time all season (okay, 5:34). But still, Ottawa Senators : Basically Mika Zibanejad wants to be like Jason Spezza . And by that I assume he means “get the hell out of Ottawa.” Philadelphia Flyers : Facing one of the longest scoring droughts in franchise history? All you gotta do is play the Buffalo Sabres . Club record was 199:43, but the Flyers eked in under the wire when RJ Umberger scored in the second period just 168:50 into the latest streak. Pittsburgh Penguins : The Pens just bought as high as possible in signing Marc-Andre Fleury to a four-year extension . He's playing some of the best hockey of his career right now. Let's get a contingency plan in place, I guess. San Jose Sharks : The Sharks put up just 22 shots on goal — only four in the first, 10 in the second, eight in the third, and none in less than half a minute of overtime — at home against Calgary , so the fact that they even got a point out of the game was probably charitable on the Flames' part. St. Louis Blues : Shout out to Ken Hitchcock, now No. 5 all-time in coaching wins . Dick Irvin is up next and only seven wins away. Tampa Bay Lightning : The stretch pass from Anton Stralman on this Ryan Callahan goal is out of control. Toronto Maple Leafs : Sounds like the Leafs are giving up on the season after this 0-for-4 West Coast trip. They should never have fired Carlyle!!!!!! Vancouver Canucks : Ryan Miller is on two straight shutouts and all he had to do was play Philadelphia and Carolina. What a life goalies in the Metro lead that they get so many games against those teams all the time! Washington Capitals : Hope this bum goes to the KHL soon he never plays defense and he can never learn !!!! Winnipeg Jets : I guess I didn't realize how imperative getting on top of things was going to be for the Jets in the coming offseason. Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and Michael Frolik will become UFAs after 2015-16. How much do you have to spend to keep them ? Play of the Weekend Yo shout out to Reto Berra. Gold Star Award

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