Normally, I only get to do Ranger recaps. Especially with my blogging limited to the New York Public Library. Rather than relive another frustrating Ranger loss in which they saw their shadow, I figured it's time to chime in on what's happening around the league. Without further notice, in no particular order:
1.The Devils' 10-1-2 run has got them within 15 points of eighth. Amazing considering at one point they were like 10-29. Ilya Kovalchuk has turned his year around and Jacques Lemaire is once again proving why he's such a good coach- squeezing whatever he can out of Brian Rolston, Dainius Zubrus and kids Nick Palmeiri and Mattias Tedenby. Can they make the playoffs? Well, considering how weak the competition is, they have a slight chance. But one slip up could prove costly. Simply put, just keep winning and anything's possible.
2.The Sabres are only a few points off eighth themselves. Boosted by Drew Stafford's latest hat trick that hiked his total to 20 goals in a stunning 7-4 come from behind win over second seeded Tampa, Buffalo has a more realistic shot at making it. It all depends on Ryan Miller and whether Tyler Myers can turn it on. In the mean time, they're getting inspired play from Stafford, Thomas Vanek, Jordan Leopold (actual Regier steal) and rookie Tyler Ennis. If they're to be taken seriously, then tonight's a must win at Florida who are two points behind.
3.Speaking of the Panthers, I know Dale Tallon used to be the Blackhawks' GM but that doesn't mean he gets to hook up his former team. What on earth was he thinking dealing away Michael Frolik and goalie prospect Alexander Salak to Chitown for Jack Skille, Hugh Jessiman and David Pacan. Yes! That Jessiman. Skille could evolve into a solid player but Frolik has higher end skill and Salak is tearing up the Swedish Elite League. It says here that this could be one of those deals that's a steal for the Blackhawks.
4.Does anyone have worse luck than the Islanders? Rick DiPietro goes down again after foolishly engaging Matt Cooke, leading to a one punch knockdown by Brent Johnson. Then, Kevin Poulin trips over a rut in the ice during warmups the other night finishing the poor rookie for the season and forcing Mikko Koskinen into his first start a half hour prior- an Islander 5-3 loss. Now, GM Garth Snow is banking on former Rangers' first round bust Al Montoya, who he acquired last night for a pick. It just amazes. Does Montoya debut for the Islanders tonight in Montreal fresh off a beatdown literally from nemesis Boston? Could the timing be any worse?
5.Speaking of the beatdown the Bruins put on the Canadiens last night in one of the all-time greatest regular season games, what can you say about their revenge following Max Pacioretty's antics last time out when he celebrated an OT winner by shoving Boston captain Zdeno Chara? It was a hockey civil war at TD Garden with one of the most heated rivalries going back and forth literally in a game that featured 14 combined goals, 182 penalty minutes including at least eight fights and a rivalry record eight goals in the second period with seven coming in just over a six-minute span! This was armageddon or as we love to reference from hockey classic Slap Shot, "Old-Time Hockey!!!!!" Indeed, Eddie Shore and Paul Newman's Reggie Dunlop character along with The Hanson Brothers would've been proud. Even All-Star goalies Carey Price and Tim Thomas got involved in a wrestling match with Price wisely not hitting Thomas while he was down for risk of injury. That along with Benoit Pouliot letting up on a fallen David Krejci were the only signs of respect. When you have a line brawl that features 11 different players in the penalty boxes with the Boston crew entertaining the crowd by alternating Habs and Bruins to boos and cheers, you got something special. Even if the Bruins went out of their way to exact revenge with Nathan Horton getting right in PK Subban's face, igniting it. There was also Johnny Boychuk pounding Jaroslav Spacek and poor Tom Pyatt bloodied by Greg Campbell. The level of insanity was absurd. Underrated B's rookie Brad Marchand ran James Wisniewski after an icing that had NHL Network's panel labeling him dirty. This was classic throwdown hockey at its best. The rematch is March 7 with the other meeting on my Dad's birthday, March 24 next month. Get your popcorn ready!
6.Don't you just love how Brian Burke keeps reacquiring his own players from the Ducks. This time, he unloaded Francois Beauchemin back to Anaheim where the defenseman won a Cup under Burke for oft-injured Joffrey Lupul and Burke '07 first round pick Jake Gardiner. It looks like a good deal for both sides with Anaheim boosting their blueline while the Leafs get a prospect for the future. We're not sure what to expect from Lupul, whose salary is over four million. Staying healthy would be advisable.
7.Jonas Gustavsson isn't going anywhere. Especially after being removed from a Marlies blowout of the Whale yesterday after a heart issue. Even if minor, who is going to take a chance on the Swede who's lost his confidence? At least rookie James Reimer looks legit thus far. With breakout seasons for Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin along with Clarke MacArthur, things are looking up for the Leafs as they take on the Devils tonight. What it all means for much rumored Tomas Kaberle who gets Beauchemin's 'A' remains to be seen. You just never know what Burke's thinking. You have to figure close buddy Ron Wilson's gone after the season with his relationship with Phil Kessel sour. Who knows what Toronto will look like next Fall?
8.Is it a tad ironic how well Calgary's played since Jay Feaster replaced Christmas grinch Darryl Suter upstairs? The Flames aren't the most talented but everyone's chipping in and they suddenly find themselves in if the season ended today while defending champion Chicago would be out. We can't see that continuing.
9.Whatever happened to Marian Hossa, superstar?
10.So, Peter Forsberg's coming back again for the struggling Avs? Does he got anything left? Foppa looked good at last year's Olympics but competing in the NHL everyday is stressful. Forsberg's one of the all-time great talents having won Olympic gold twice, Lord Stanley, Art Ross and Hart Trophy. His legacy remains intact regardless if this comeback succeeds. But when you look at all the injuries, isn't it a little sad/ironic that his career has taken a similar path to link Eric Lindros? You know Lindros probably will never make the Hockey Hall Of Fame despite excellent numbers along with an MVP. But Forsberg probably will due to having more hardware and not being pampered his whole life. The Quebec controversy and the way his Flyers' career ended which we still blame on Bobby Clarke along with all the concussions overshadow Lindros' contributions. One of the most dominant big men to ever play the game. Why else does Patrick Kane wear No.88? It just makes you wonder.
11.I'm a former top finisher. I scored 42 goals last season and a career high 86 points in my first season on Broadway. Have You Seen Me?
12.With Sid The Kid still uncertain when he'll return from a concussion, here's our top Hart candidates:
A.Steven Stamkos, TB: 40-43-73
B.Daniel Sedin, Van: 29-43-72
C.Tim Thomas, Bos: 26 Wins, 1.91 GAA, .942 Save Pct, 7 SHO
D.Ryan Kesler, Van: 32-22-54, 10 PPG, 6 GW
13.Finally, Matt Cooke got suspended four games for boarding Fedor Tyutin from behind in the Pens' 4-1 home loss to the Blue Jackets. What is there left to say about a man who once was a good hockey player minus the cheap tactics he's performed since donning a Pens' jersey? I recall a time when Cooke was a pretty clean player for the Canucks. One I respected. He then was dealt to the Caps. Is it ironic that he stuck his leg out at Alex Ovechkin in similar fashion to Ovi's trip that injured Olympic Russian teammate Sergei Gonchar two Springs prior? We doubt it. Cooke always lived dangerously injuring players and usually getting away with it. This time, the league finally took action. We all know the history with Marc Savard, who is shutdown again following another concussion. This isn't about one severe head shot but about a player who goes out of his way to injure opponents. What happened to him? Did he sell his soul to the Devil? One day, someone's going to get Cooke. Then, we'll see how he likes it and what the same foolish fans who defend him have to say.
14.A shame about Evgeni Malkin, who's been plagued with knee problems all year. The gifted Russian who won the Conn Smythe in the Pens' third Stanley Cup two years ago will have season ending ACL/MCL surgery. He's expected to be back in time for training camp. We'll see. Wishing one of the game's special talents a speedy recovery.