Adam Hall - BJ Crombeen
Adam Hall - BJ Crombeen
Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos face off against each other in a star-studded matchup that will also see the return of Evgeni Malkin to the ice Monday night. Cisco NHL Live with EJ Hradek and Dan Rosen, at 5 p.m. ET on the NHL Network, will get you set for the game with the Pittsburgh Tribune's Rob Rossi and our own Barry Melrose.
The Los Angeles Kings look to extend a four-game home winning streak as they begin a homestand against the Nashville Predators, tonight 10:30 on the NHL Network. Kings analyst Jim Fox will tell us what has sparked the defending champ's turnaround. Plus, the Third Star of the week, Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, will stop by the show and talk about his recent success.
Don't forget to submit your #AskEJ questions through Twitter via @NHLNetwork or @EJHradek_NHL, and keep an eye on this Senior Reporter's dance moves in his EJ5: Hradek's Top 5 Calder Trophy candidates.
One of the unfortunate parts of sports is occasionally money becomes a big issue. This was the case over the last six weeks between the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan O'Reilly, one of the best young players on Colorado, but also a restricted free agent. Now that Colorado finally has O'Reilly signed after matching Calgary's two-year offer sheet and O'Reilly was back in the lineup Sunday afternoon, it's time for both parties to move on until his new deal is up at the end of the 2013-14 season.
I know what this situation is like because it happened to the Los Angeles Kings when I was coaching them in the early 1990s. We went to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993 and the next season Marty McSorley, who had been a very valuable part of our club, had to be moved because of his contract. This was before the salary-cap era in the NHL, but the front office believed he was going to make too much money because he got a big raise after we won the conference title and as a result we ended up having to trade him to Pittsburgh. When it became apparent how valuable he was for us, we traded back for him.
This situation was different because it wasn't about matching offer sheets or dealing with free agency, but it is an example of when the economics of the sport have an impact on your team. His new contract just didn't fit in with our salary structure. A lot of the deals in the NHL are made without the coach being involved. A lot of it is about money. A great example of this is the Chicago Blackhawks trading away several valuable pieces like Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg right after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. Those situations are out of a coach's hands. It's always a tough situation when money is more involved in a deal than a player's ability.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After a very wild, sloppy and spirited game Saturday that featured four ties, several tussles, lots of trash talk and a shootout, the Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks will play the second of three straight games against each other tonight at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes prevailed Saturday for a 5-4 shootout win, with Steve Sullivan tying the game with 6:29 left in regulation and securing the extra point with the only goal of the shootout. The Ducks were playing back-to-back nights and for the fifth time in seven days, so the Coyotes are expecting an even bigger push from one of the NHL's elite teams tonight.
The teams meet again Wednesday in Anaheim.
"It's a little like a playoffs series," Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski said. "And you know they will have some rest and come back hard. We have to be ready."
With just a few minutes left in the third period of their game with the Detroit Red Wings yesterday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks were down 1-0 and all I could think was they had played so well in that game they should have been ahead 3-1 or 4-1. I actually didn't think a loss in regulation would have been the worst thing for Chicago. It would have gotten a monkey off their back since they're going to lose in regulation sooner or later. This streak won't last for 48 games and the Blackhawks were going to win a bunch more games this season regardless of what happened yesterday.
But then Patrick Kane tied the game, he eventually won it in the shootout and a day later the streak continues.
What might be most amazing about this is that there's no shame in losing to Detroit, which is a great hockey club, but now that Chicago survived Sunday, its upcoming schedule isn't nearly as daunting. The Blackhawks play a talented, but struggling Minnesota team Tuesday night and their next four after that are a home-and-home with Colorado, a home game against Edmonton and a trip to Columbus. After Wednesday, Chicago won't have a back-to-back for more than a month, just one of the Blackhawks' next five games is against a team currently in the West's top eight and four of those games are against teams that currently occupy the bottom three spots in the Western Conference standings.
Obviously, it would be getting ahead of ourselves to predict that Chicago could run this streak from 22 games to 27 that easily, but the schedule sets up the possibility that if the Blackhawks continue to play as well as they did against Detroit, they could extend this more than just another game or two.
And what evidence is there to convince you that they won't? This team has got everything. The stars are great, the goaltending between Corey Crawford and Ray Emery has been great and their depth is unbelievable. The Blackhawks have had 12 guys score game-winning goals this season, which is just phenomenal, and they're starting to look very, very similar to the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2010. The depth that team had on its third and fourth lines and eventually traded away to fit under the cap seems to finally be back, and they're just as deep on defense, too. Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy might be the top pair on a few teams in the NHL, and they would certainly be third and fourth defenseman on most. On Chicago they're the fifth and sixth defensemen because the team is just that deep.
After the comeback Chicago had Sunday afternoon, the aura of invincibility the Blackhawks have around them is just that much stronger. This is a team that expects to win every game and they expect something will happen to get it done for them. That's a great mindset when you're that confident and you can see it in how Chicago plays. Everybody wants the puck. On teams that are struggling no one wants the puck because they don't want to be the guy that makes a mistake. On this team everyone wants to be the guy that makes a difference. That's how you become a good team and the confidence it instills is just filtering down throughout the roster. Take a look at Rozsival. He's doing things he's never done before. He's cycling and dropping the puck and playing with confidence we haven't seen from him in a long time. Playing for a winning team has that kind of impact.
This stretch isn't a fluke. This team is for real and it has everything. The Blackhawks will lose a game in regulation eventually, but they're too strong to let it overwhelm them. I can't see this team just suddenly losing five or six in a row. One loss isn't going to change the mindset of the Chicago Blackhawks.
TORONTO -- Whether forward Matt Frattin returns to the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup will be a game-time decision according to senior vice-president and general manager Dave Nonis. Frattin has not played since Feb. 11 because of a knee injury, but was on the ice at the morning skate.
"I can't wait, I've been waiting for him to come back since he went down," Kadri said. "He is a good player and obviously we have some chemistry together and hopefully we pick up where we left off."
Butler was the extra forward on the ice with the Devils during the team's morning skate on Monday at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. New Jersey is scheduled to play the Maple Leafs on Monday. He was placed on waivers by the Devils on Sunday.
Butler, who spent three seasons with the Ottawa Senators before being signed to a two-way contract by the Devils on Aug. 9, has one goal, two points and a minus-6 rating in 14 games in New Jersey this season.
The Courier-Post is reporting that Philadelphia Flyers right wing Matt Read, who has been sidelined since late last month with an upper body injury, is on the ice Monday practicing in a white, contact-allowed jersey, at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.
Read suffered torn rib cage muscles on Feb. 20 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and was expected to miss six weeks.
At the time of his injury, Read had seven goals and 13 points in 18 games for the Flyers.
If the Oilers qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, they will give the Maple Leafs their third-round pick in 2014, according to reports.
Brown is known for his toughness and willingness to fight, and has amassed 70 penalty minutes along with one assist in 12 games this season.
The trade is conditional on Brown passing a physical by noon Tuesday.
At 11:03 of the first period in the Canadiens/Bruins game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Montreal forward David Desharnais' centering pass deflected off Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk's stick and into the Boston net. Good Goal Montreal.
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As a player, it's obviously a sad day, but to be on the ice with some of those guys and show our respect as both teams did around center ice, it's definitely a nice touch.