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The Breakaway: Vinny shows his tough side

by Shawn P. Roarke

-- Tampa Bay’s Vinny Lecavalier is such a pretty player on the ice that we sometimes forget how tough he can be. Calgary’s Jarome Iginla knows it after their famous fight in the Stanley Cup Final a few years ago. Now, Washington’s Shaone Morrisonn can testify, after Wednesday night’s set-to.

-- It’s a little sad to see Scott Mellanby’s name wiped from the Florida record books because Mellanby was such a big part of giving the Panthers an early identity. But the pain is eased a good deal by the fact that Olli Jokinen is doing the record-book rewriting down in Sunrise, Fla.

-- Yes, it’s early. But not too early to note that rookie Patrick Kane, the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NHL Entry Draft, has more points than either Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, two other touted No. 1 picks. Kane has 13 points in nine games, Crosby has 10 in eight games and AO has nine in eight. Not too bad a start by the rookie, eh?

-- Mike Cammalleri is turning into something special out in Los Angeles, isn’t he? Ten games, 10 goals; can’t do much better than that. Can Bernie Nicholls’ team record of 70 goals in a season be in jeopardy? What about Luc Robitaille’s team record for a left wing, which stands at 63? Stay tuned.

-- Speaking of red hot, is anybody hotter right now than the Boston Red Sox hitters? In the last four games, they are scoring as easily as the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers, who scored a League-record 446 goals in 80 games.

-- Is it just CTN, or does Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon look uncannily like a young Keith Tkachuk?

-- CTN wonders what Mike Keenan said during the first intermission of Wednesday’s game against Minnesota. Whatever it was, it certainly worked as Calgary scored five unanswered goals to knock the Wild from the ranks of the unbeaten.

-- Jersey Jim Dowd had to have enjoyed his first goal of the season, in a Philadelphia win against New Jersey, the team he would have liked to have been playing for this season.

-- CTN is a big fan of cooking and eating. CTN also is a big fan of author William Buford, who wrote one of the best books ever in “Among the Thugs.” So it’s not surprising that Buford’s latest book, “Heat,” has been a compelling read from the moment CTN cracked the spine.

-- Carolina showed just how dangerous it can be this year when it blitzed Buffalo, and all-star goalie, Ryan Miller for four goals in the third period of Wednesday’s 6-2 victory. It is the first time Carolina defeated Buffalo since the 2006 Eastern Conference Final.

-- How is it exactly that the New York Rangers can’t score goals? Heck, CTN, 25 pounds past his playing weight and a virtual stranger to skates these days, likely could score the odd goal with Chris Drury and Scott Gomez feeding the passes. So why can’t Brendan Shanahan (one goal in 50 shots) and Jaromir Jagr (one goal in 27 shots)?


-- Paul Ranger certainly is making the most out of the absence of Dan Boyle in Tampa Bay. The third-year defenseman is averaging 26:23 per game, the sixth-heaviest workload in the League. He has one goal and seven assists this season.

-- The QMJHL certainly has picked a pretty strong team to take on the Russians in its portion of the annual ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. The squad is highlighted by three first-round picks - David Perron (St. Louis), Claude Giroux (Philadelphia) and Angelo Esposito (Pittsburgh).

-- Bruce Cassidy is out of work again, dismissed by the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) this week. CTN says he won’t be on the dole for too long. Talented coaches always are in demand.

-- Milan Michalek is having a nice start to the season with a team-high four goals. He’s a player that is just scratching the surface of his abilities, in CTN’s humble opinion.

-- Congrats to Bryan Smolinski and Owen Nolan on recently playing in their 1,000th games. Smolinski, now with the Habs, and Nolan, now with the Flames, each reached the milestone Monday night.

-- Boston’s Milan Lucic might be the most surprising junior-eligible player to stay with his NHL club past the 10-game cutoff. He clearly earned that opportunity and has fit in great with coach Claude Julien’s hard-charging style.

-- Don’t look now, but the London Knights are finding their way in the OHL, despite losing Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner to the NHL. The return of goalie Steve Mason, from Columbus, certainly has helped that revival, as he has won his first five starts since re-joining the Knights.

-- The most amazing thing isn’t that Henrik Zetterberg already has 18 points for the Detroit Red Wings this year; it’s that 11 of those points have been recorded away from “The Joe.”

-- Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf, who has a League-high 37 hits in 10 games, is on pace for 300 hits this season. Chris Neil led the League last year with 288.

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