• Can Kari Lehtonen earn a new reputation with the Dallas Stars?

    Rory Boylen
    Kari Lehtonen

    The Atlanta Thrashers had high expectations for Kari Lehtonen when they drafted him second overall in 2002. But by the time the dysfunctional franchise gave up on him seven years later, all they had to show for it were Ivan Vishnevskiy, a brief playoff nightmare and a whole lot of man-games lost to injury.

    That injury-prone, unreliable starter label has been a tough reputation to escape post-Atlanta, especially playing in another dormant southern market like Dallas has been. With little exposure and no playoff appearances with the Stars Lehtonen is an afterthought. All the while he’s been posting better numbers and playing in more games than he ever did with the Thrashers and became a rock for Dallas, earning a five-year extension on a $5.9 million cap hit.

    Lehtonen hasn’t been special, but if all you can ask of your goalie is for him to be consistent from year to year and to not surprise you with meltdowns or significant periods of missed time, then Lehtonen has given the Stars all they can ask for. He won’t ever be a 70-start netminder or a Vezina winner, but he has been a good support player for GM Jim Nill’s build up. Read more

  • Ron MacLean was close in his referee criticism, but not correct

    Francois-Charron-ref

    Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean apologized for his careening remarks about Quebec-raised referee Francis Charron in the wake of Montreal’s Game 3 victory over Tampa, one in which the officiating certainly was on the dicey side. In bringing up Charron’s ethnicity, MacLean stepped into a hornet’s nest involving one of Canada’s distinct cultures – not to mention the only NHL team left in French-Canadian territory.

    Was Charron’s goalie interference call, the one that nullified a Tampa Bay goal in a 1-1 contest, a poor one? Sure looked like it:

    But this was not a matter of malice on the ref’s part. If anything, it was one of indecision – and that speaks to Charron’s inexperience, not his home province.

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  • Patrick Marleau scores overtime winner on first Sharks shot, denies Kings of hope

    Jonathan Quick

    The Los Angeles Kings played their best game of the first round, had the lead midway through the third period and were clearly the better team in overtime, but none of that mattered. The San Jose Sharks won anyway and now hold a 3-0 series advantage on their division rivals.

    Patrick Marleau continued his amazing run of overtime winners with this fortunate redirect, San Jose’s very first shot on goal in OT. The Sharks have won 10 of their past 11 playoff overtime games and Marleau has ended four of them.

    Who says the Sharks vets don’t get it done in the clutch? Read more

  • Dan Carcillo scores and has hilarious stare down with Philadelphia fans

    Dan Carcillo

    Professional antagonist Dan Carcillo didn’t play in either of the first two games for New York against Philadelphia, but we’re sure glad Rangers coach Alain Vigneault dressed him for Game 3 in Philadelphia.

    Carcillo, who’s played 33 of his 38 career playoff games in a Flyers uniform, had taken a hooking penalty midway through the third period when his Rangers led 3-1. It set the table for the Flyers to get back into it, but after they failed to convert on the man advantage, Carcillo increased the lead to three – and rubbed the city of Philadelphia’s face in it.

    There is just so much hate to love in this clip: Read more

  • Montreal sweeps Tampa Bay, Lightning struck by bad goaltending

    Montreal Canadiens

    Although the Tampa Bay Lightning turned a Game 4 stinker into a thriller, they were unable to overcome poor defense and even poorer goaltending that nagged them throughout Montreal’s sweep.

    As was popularly predicted, the loss of goalie Ben Bishop to injury was too much for the Lightning. He had emerged as the backbone behind a work-in-progress defense and had a significant hand in Tampa’s evolution and growth this season. He entered the Vezina conversation as a top 10 goalie in GAA and SP, but without Bishop, the Lightning more closely resembled the team that missed the playoffs the past two years. Read more

  • This guy was the cleanest player in NHL history. But he never won the Lady Byng

    Jason Kay
    Rangers vs Detroit

    In today’s NHL, it’s almost unfathomable that a player would compete for an entire season and not take at least one minor penalty.

    Ryan O’Reilly, one of the finalists announced for the Lady Byng Award on Tuesday, came with a broken stick/delay-of-game-penalty of accomplishing the feat. He joins Butch Goring as the only skaters to ever play 80 games and be assessed two or few PIM.

    So imagine a regular minute-muncher doing it four times in a career?

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  • Clarkson, Weiss among NHL’s biggest free-agent flops

    David Clarkson (Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

    The NHL’s unrestricted free agency period is a crapshoot and sometimes the emphasis is on the crap. For every savvy signing – say, Tampa Bay’s five-year contract with Valtteri Filppula, or Boston’s one-year deal with Jarome Iginla – there is at least one free agent deal that sends fans screaming for the weeping tissues. Here are the worst free agent deals signed last summer:

    10. Damian Brunner, Devils, two years, $5 million. Some devout Red Wings fans were sad to see Brunner depart the organization after a rookie NHL campaign that included 12 goals and 26 points in 44 games last season. They were less sad after watching him score just 11 times in 60 games this year while averaging only 13:32 of ice time.

    9. Derek Roy, Blues, one year, $4 million. Yes, Roy only signed a one-year contract with St. Louis, but it hardly could’ve gone worse for him. The onetime 32-goal-scorer had only nine goals in 75 games as a Blue and was a regular-season and playoff healthy scratch. There’s no chance the 30-year-old returns to the team or makes nearly as much money next season.

    8. Daniel Briere, Canadiens, two years, $8 million. Briere is renowned as one of the league’s good guys and seeing the Montreal native head home to play for the Canadiens made for a nice off-season story. It didn’t translate on the ice, though: he had only 13 goals and 25 points in 69 games – nearly one-third of the totals he posted for Philadelphia in 2010-11 (34 goals and 68 points in 77 games). Read more

  • NHL Prospect Hot List: Washington’s Andre Burakovsky

    Andre-Burakovsky

    Playoffs in the junior leagues are in full stride, while developments at the world under-18s have been intriguing to say the least. Team USA lost its first game to the Swiss before rebounding, while the Czechs are flying high and Canada is doing just enough to stay up top. Here’s a look at some of the top NHL prospects playing around the world right now.

    Andre Burakovsky, LW – Erie Otters (OHL)

    With 10 goals and 13 points through 12 playoff games, it goes without saying that Burakovsky is doing well for Erie, but you really have to see him live to appreciate the magic of the winger. Burakovsky loves to control the puck and uses his slick hands to weave through traffic, where a lethal wrister can then be employed to finish off the play. Considering he played against men last year in Sweden, it’s probably no wonder he is flourishing against players his own age now.

    “Of course it was a little harder back home,” he said. “It’s older guys that know what they’re doing so you have to be really smart. Here it’s more physical; you have to keep your head up all the time and go a bit faster. And the hockey over here fits me better; I like the smaller ice.”

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