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Atlantic: Hartnell not feeling the (g)love

by Adam Kimelman /
One of the odder sights of the season came last Tuesday, when Flyers forward Scott Hartnell threw his glove at the Lightning's Ryan Malone on a breakaway.

Only because Martin Biron stopped Malone on the ensuing penalty shot and the Flyers won the game in overtime can the gaffe be seen as an entertaining sidebar rather than a terrible way to lose two points.

"I think 'Hartsy' owes Marty a couple drinks," said Mike Richards, who scored the overtime winner.

With the score tied 3-3 in the final minute of regulation, Malone took off on a breakaway. Hartnell, at the end of his shift and without a stick, tried to chase Malone. With no chance of catching him and nothing else really to do, Hartnell flipped his right glove at Malone.

The distraction worked as Malone missed his shot, but by rule he was awarded a penalty shot. And with 16.3 seconds left on the clock, the gaffe could have cost the Flyers the game. But Biron deflected Malone's shot, allowing the Flyers to smile at Hartnell's bizarre defensive technique.

"It was just a desperation play, and I threw the glove," Hartnell told reporters after the game. "Looking back, it was kind of stupid. … I'm sure the boys will be giving it to me for a while."

How right he was. While Hartnell was skating in on a breakaway drill the next day at practice, Joffrey Lupul threw his glove at Hartnell.

"I'm sure he doesn't expect it to all just go away," Lupul told reporters. "It's going to be a year-long thing. I think that's the first time in history, so you got to let him know."

"Scotty's going to have to put up with a little bit of that," said coach John Stevens. "I'm sure he's going to hear it from the opposing teams for a while as well. Scotty's got thick skin, and he'll be fine."

Someone actually found a way to put Hartnell's glove throwing ability to good use. The Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers' American Hockey League team, have named their Dec. 14 game Scott Hartnell Glove And Mitten Toss night. During the first intermission, fans will be invited to throw new gloves and mittens, as well as hats and scarves, onto the ice for donation to Operation Warm, which collects cold-weather clothing for the needy.

Taking on the world -- The Atlantic Division will be well-represented at the 2009 World Junior Championships, to be held Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Ottawa.

Recently released rosters for the United States and Sweden, as well as a final evaluation camp for Canada, show the elite under-20 tournament will be a good place to see future Islanders, Devils and Flyers.

The Isles could have as many as four players headed to the tournament, as defenseman Blake Kessel, a 2007 sixth-round pick, was named to the U.S. team, and forward David Ullstrom, a 2008 fourth-round pick, will be on Sweden's squad.

A pair of defensemen taken in the 2008 Entry Draft, Travis Hamonic (second round) and Jared Spurgeon (sixth round), were part of the 38-player Canadian camp roster, from which the team that goes for a fifth straight WJC gold medal will be selected.

The Devils will have three players in Ottawa, including Sweden's Mattias Tedenby, their 2008 first-round pick. Tedenby is just 18, but he plays for HV71 in the Swedish Elite League, where he has 1 goal and 2 points in 14 games.

Patrice Cormier, a 2008 second-round pick, was invited to Team Canada's camp. Mike Hoeffel, a forward taken with a 2007 second-round pick, was named to the U.S. team.

The Devils have one other link to the U.S. team -- forward Brian Rolston is the younger brother of U.S. coach Ron Rolston.

James van Riemsdyk, the second pick of the 2007 draft by the Flyers, was named to his third U.S. World Junior team. He led last year's WJC with 11 points and was named to the tournament all-star team. Currently a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, van Riemsdyk leads his team with 8 goals, 13 assists and 21 points in 16 games.

Also from the Flyers, defenseman Kevin Marshall, taken in second round in 2007, was invited to Canada's camp.

New look, same result -- When the Flyers and Devils met in Philadelphia last Thursday, there was an odd sight in the visiting goal crease -- Scott Clemmensen. To be honest, anyone other than Martin Brodeur would have been a bit strange.

It was the first time in 38 games that someone other than Brodeur had been in the New Jersey goal for a game against the Flyers, dating to Feb. 27, 2002. On that night, John Vanbiesbrouck started for Brodeur, and the Flyers won 1-0 on a Simon Gagne goal.

Gagne said it was pretty strange seeing a different target in the Devils' goal.

"It feels weird," he told prior to Thursday's game. "We were watching tapes today. You're used to seeing Brodeur in net, with his pads and same equipment. Now you see a goalie with black helmet, black pads, black gloves, and it feels weird. Feels like you're watching something different."

In the end, Clemmensen made 29 saves, and the Devils won 3-2 in overtime.

Avery is no Lemieux -- In his prime, Claude Lemieux was the ultimate pest, driving opposing players to distraction through word and deed. Trying to work his way back to the NHL at age 43, there's been a lot of talk recently about Lemieux.

The same can be said for Sean Avery, who plays a similar agitating style as Lemieux did in his prime, and also has received a great deal of attention recently. Bobby Holik, who played with Lemieux and against Avery, said the similarities between the two stop there.

"First and foremost, Claude Lemieux is a completely different player," Holik told reporters. "I think Claude Lemieux and Sean Avery should not be mentioned in the same sentence. And Sean Avery shouldn't be mentioned period."

Happy return -- After being a healthy scratch for 10 straight games, the Rangers wanted to send Petr Prucha to the minor leagues to get his game-legs back. Prucha said no thanks, I'm fine here. And then he went out and proved he was right.

Prucha scored the tying goal last Wednesday in what became a 3-2 shootout win against the Penguins.

"I felt like this was my last chance to show I can still play, so I'm really happy I scored and we won the game," Prucha told reporters. "Finally the puck went through. You can start believing you can score."

Prucha, who had 30 goals as a rookie in 2005-06, has exactly 30 goals in the last three seasons, totaling 152 games. The goal snapped a 20-game goal drought, which dated to Jan. 31.

Prucha's teammates were happy to see him get back on the score sheet.

"I think if you look at the reaction on the bench, we probably all cried," said Scott Gomez, who shot the puck that Prucha banged in. "For what the guy has gone through, that's a true professional. Not once has he ever complained. He skates every day after (practice). He's a great teammate. He doesn't say a word. If there are parents out there that want their kids to be a hockey player and a great guy, you've got to look at Petr Prucha."

News and notes -- Mike Sillinger, who hadn't played since Feb. 2 due to hip surgery, made his season debut last Thursday, playing 14:20 against the Capitals. … Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek, who missed a month earlier this season with a shoulder injury, now will miss another 2-4 weeks after re-injuring his shoulder in a practice collision with Andy Sutton last Wednesday. And in another injury woe for the Islanders, they will be without rookie forward Kyle Okposo for at least a month with a sprained wrist. He had been out since Nov. 17 with what was thought to be a sore hand; it had been hoped he would return this week. … The Penguins have been changing assistant captains every month, and for December forwards Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke will have the "A" stitched to their sweaters. … The Devils' two biggest summer signings, Brian Rolston (sprained ankle) and Bobby Holik (broken finger) were injured in the same game Oct. 18, and returned a game apart last week. Rolston came back against the Flyers last Thursday after missing 18 games, and Holik came back last Saturday against the Canadiens. … The Kontinental Hockey League's all-star game, to be played outdoors at Moscow's Red Square on Jan. 11, will feature Team Jaromir Jagr (non-Russian players) facing Team Alexei Yashin (Russian/former Soviet republic players). … Only 32 times in NHL history have teammates finished first and second in the League scoring race, but there's a chance Penguins teammates Evgeni Malkin (43 points) and Sidney Crosby (40) could add to that group. It would give the Pens a hat trick of sorts, as the previous two times teammates have finished 1-2, they've played for the Pens -- Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens in 1991-92, and Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96. … Flyers forward Simon Gagne wants everyone to know the reason he left Thursday's game against the Devils with 17 minutes left was due to dehydration from a stomach bug and the grind of eight games in 14 nights -- not a concussion. "It might be a stomach flu or dehydration," he told reporters last Friday. "I just haven't felt like myself the last two days. At the end (of Thursday's game) there was no energy left in the tank and I didn't want to risk something." Concussion issues limited Gagne to just 25 games last season, and when he left the lineup for the first time, the initial diagnosis from the team was dehydration.

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