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Think Justin Abdelkader likes playing with Pavel Datsyuk? Three goals and a helper for the fiesty forward last night against the Ducks. Datsyuk had three points as well.




Without Letang on the back end, Matt Niskanen played almost 24 minutes. He also led all Penguin skaters with five shots on goal.




Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of goals last night – he is really starting to play some great hockey again. To me, you can tell he is back with how involved he is physically.


Ovechkin is starting to thrive on the right side, just like Adam Oates predicted he would. Oates had a similar impact on Kovalchuk in New Jersey.




Columbus put up five goals on Calgary, but no points from Cam Atkinson. Atkinson is still dealing with lingering effects of a high-ankle sprain, and he probably won’t be “right” until next season. Maybe try and buy low on him while you can.


Columbus is winning a lot (points in 12 straight) because they have an identity. Rick Nash wasn’t it. This team is tough as hell, they are tenacious, and they are scrappy. Foligno, Umberger, Dubinsky – these guys are a pain in the butt to play against. Johnson too.




An interesting look at how the 30 NHL clubs have used rookies in 2013.




Tim Gilbert may suit up tonight for the Wild – the two-way defenseman has been out for a few weeks.


More good news out of Minnesota:


There was one more encouraging note. Goaltender Josh Harding was at Xcel Energy Center Friday, and helooked good. “I had a brief conversation with him,” Yeo said. “And he was feeling very good. His word, actually, was great. And even just looking at him, I think he looks great. So we’ll talk some more about what the plan is going forward.”

Harding has not played since Feb. 7 while trying to get a handle on treatment for multiple sclerosis.



David Booth is done for the regular season, and potentially the playoffs, too. He suffered a grade two/three ankle sprain (torn ligaments) and had surgery yesterday. He’s had rotten luck since coming to Vancouver. A huge buy low candidate this summer, regardless of where he is playing.




Mike Babcock, tell us how you really feel about Darren Helm.


"Helmer, to me, is a top-four forward on this team, to me," Babcock said.

That's a hefty statement considering that, given Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are obviously the top two, that means Babcock's third is either Damien Brunner, Valtteri Filppula or Johan Franzen, with two of those guys bumped in favor of Helm.

Helm may not have much fantasy value himself, but he makes things a lot easier for his teammates.




Is it time for the Oilers to trade for a top end defenseman?


How about Dmitri Kulikov or Keith Yandle?


The Coyotes recently extended left-shooter Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a 6 year deal (damnit), and he's not alone on the Coyotes' left defense. Rusty Klesla, David Schlemko, Chris Summers and up-and-comer Brandon Gormley are all lefties; which of course is to say nothing of Yandle. OEL's new deal carries a cap hit that is $250,000 higher than the one that Yandle signed, which could possibly be an indication that the writing is on the wall.

And to me, this is the key:


The price for both Kulikov and Yandle would be very steep, but if the Oilers want to win before Nail Yakupov is on his second contract, it might be worth paying.


Does Mike Smith need to get out of the way?


Alex Edler was given a two-game suspension for running Mike Smith over behind the net on Thursday in Phoenix.


I won’t get into further detail (the link above does a great job of that)… but what are forecheckers supposed to do when they are first on the puck and Smith comes out to play it?




Should the Sabres build around Tyler Myers? They are paying him $5.5 million each year until 2019… so they need to figure out where he fits in with their future plans.


This may sound like bad news to poolies (Myers’ below quote), but for two-way defensemen, the points tend to come when they are playing with confidence and getting lots of ice time – and those come from playing well defensively.


“Ron [Rolston] has told me he doesn’t care if I get another point the rest of the year,” Myers said. “So my main focus has been the D-zone, and that’s been really good for the most part. I’ll find my offensive game again. I’m not worried about that.”


Andrei Markov is really, really good. And this shouldn’t come as a surprise. He makes his defensive partners look great (and earn big pay days, too).


So for Emelin, it will be a while before he’s a UFA, and the key to him getting rich is Markov staying healthy, evidently. Souray and Komisarek both cashed in big paydays, getting over $20-million each by playing relatively competent hockey alongside one of the best defencemen in the world. As for the experiment, if Markov can finish off this season and play another, will the same thing happen to the 26-year-old Emelin?


In addition to having a sweet name, Danny DeKeyser is the top college UFA. The two-way defenseman could step in and play in the NHL right now, according to scouts.


One NHL scout thought DeKeyser could transition into an NHL team's lineup right away, whether that team is in the playoff hunt or not. At the risk of over-hyping DeKeyser, wherever he signs, it's highly likely he's in the NHL lineup perhaps even before the ink dries.

The 6-foot-3, 198-pound blueliner is a gifted two-way defender who excels in his own zone. He plays a simple, mature game, can play the body and makes a good first pass out of the zone. DeKeyser had two goals and 13 assists after two previous seasons of 17 points at the college level. He might have a little more offensive upside than his numbers suggest, but his defensive game is high end already.


Some love for Sergei Gonchar, who has been a rock on the Ottawa back end. Gonchar has a goal and 14 points in his last nine games, and he has recorded at least an assist in each of those contests.



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Captain Krunch said:

Captain Krunch
... Don't look now, but I beleive (in certain formats) that Seto just slid into the top-100!! THAT is amazing. Whatever the circumstances, impressive stuff. There are some guys playing some really good hockey right now, so he is more than holding his own. Saw some ridiculous odds for picking the perfect NCAA bracket, this HAS to be up there....well, this & maybe Gomez competing for the Richard! The Wild are really starting to round into form. If they can continue the strong development of their youth, the will rise the fastest through the rankings. Not to mention them as a possible destination for one stud netminder that is apparently "expendable" outta VAN....oops!
March 24, 2013
Votes: +0

sanstanya said:

@ridinryan44 I mostly agree with your assessment but I actually don't think Edler had room to slide by, which is why I think he hit him. This is a deliberate strategy goalies employ to force the forechecker to stop pursuit of the puck. It's either run the goalie for a penalty or stop dead and be buried behind the play. What I would like to see is if the goalie does not allow an alley for the forechecker to pass, he is fair game if contacted, or gets an interference penalty if the skater is forced to stop. It's bullshit they use their immunity to interrupt the flow of the game then bitch when hit. You shouldn't be able to plant yourself in the play and be a no-go zone if you're fully impeding opposing players.
March 23, 2013
Votes: +0

mrmojorisin said:

Frk 3 goals and 5 assists in the first game of the OHL playoffs likely deserves a mention?
March 23, 2013
Votes: +0

hawkdog said:

edler was likely sticking up for sedin after smith punched him the head and gave him a bloody nose.

i am all for goalies being fair game if they leave the net. if they don't like getting hit stay in the net -

I totally agree with Lupul - zero consistency. More players need to speak up.

Bob Mackenzie is just a media peon.
March 23, 2013
Votes: +0

ridinryan44 said:

GOalieas I totally agree that goalies should be fair game IF each team had another 4 or 5 options ready to play - they don't. They aren't like forwards or defenseman whose role is "easier" to fill.

Now, if a goalie come skating way out of his net towards the blueline to play a puck, different story as it changes the dynamics of the game if an opposing player simply has to give up on the play and allow the goalie to win that race.

In Edler's case, he had a wide open lane (enough to at least attempt to avoid contact) along the boards to avoid hitting Smith and he chose not to try. In this situation there was absolutely no need for Edler to hit him. He didn't hit him and try to recover the puck, he simply hit him. Smith was within his area within which he is allowed to play the puck and I'm a firm believer that goalies do need more protection than players. It's like playing beer league hockey where there are no hits and someone surprises you with a hit. You aren't ready for it and even if the hit isn't terrible, not being prepared and aware of the potential hit can be just as dangerous as a monstrous, full-speed hit.

In order for that kind of thing to be allowed there needs to be major rule changes and a change of mindset for goaltenders. Edler should have been suspended, as should have Lucic when he hit Miller.
March 23, 2013
Votes: -2

Axeman33 said:

... I am still a firm believer that if a goalie skates out of his crease to play the puck, he should be fair game. Make the blue paint bigger if you want to keep them from getting hit, thats what the blue paint is for. When you pull the goalie and put on an extra skater, he is fair game. Whats the difference? For the record, I am a goalie in ice hockey.
March 23, 2013
Votes: -1

Dakkster said:

... I told you Edler would get suspended. Look at Bob MacKenzie's tweets about the issue. The GMs told Shanny that Lucic should have been suspended for running over Miller and from then on we should expect every goalie run to warrant a suspension.
March 23, 2013
Votes: +0

hockeymanG23 said:

... Smith can go play that puck if he feels the need. Aside from that E. Kane clip it's not as if those forecheckers were on the puck at the moment he leaves the crease, both Shaw and Edler had plenty of time to change their course to avoid those collisions.
March 23, 2013
Votes: +0
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