Brian Costello

Brian Costello joined The Hockey News in 1990 when the likes of Bruce Boudreau, Randy Carlyle and Joel Quenneville were players, not coaches. Costello covered major junior hockey for five seasons before getting called up to THN. He likes to focus his attention on pre- and post-NHL careers, following closely the progress of the draft, up-and-coming prospects and fancying himself a Hall of Fame expert.

Did Calgary’s Mark Giordano do enough in 61 games to win the Norris?

Brian Costello
Mark Giordano

If Mark Giordano is to win the Norris Trophy this season, he’ll need to channel his best Bobby Orr to make it happen.

Giordano played 61 games this season before sustaining the torn bicep muscle that will keep him out of Calgary’s lineup until next autumn. In those games, he was the frontrunner for the award given to the NHL’s best defenseman. Problem is, those 61 games represent just 74 percent of an NHL season. The only other time that award went to a blueliner who played a smaller chunk of the season was 1967-68, when the great Orr played just 46 of 74 games (62 percent).

But we all know Orr was in a class by himself. That was the first of eight consecutive Norris Trophies for him.

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Year in Review: Goalies steal the show in top 10 NHL debuts of 2014

Brian Costello
San Jose Sharks v Carolina Hurricanes

It only stands to reason that among players making their NHL debuts, goalies have the most opportunity to shine – or flop. While first-game skaters can play sheltered minutes during spot duty in many cases, the goalie is always the last line of defense.

So it’s not surprising that five goalies made our list of the top 10 NHL debuts during the calendar year 2014. In reverse order, here are the best first NHL game performances.

10. Michael Hutchison, Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Barrie native was almost perfect in his April 7 debut against Minnesota. He gave up a second-period goal to Charlie Coyle and that was it, stopping 16 other shots. He didn’t get any offensive help from his teammates though and lost 1-0.

9. Stuart Percy, Toronto. The Maple Leafs first-round pick from 2011 made his NHL debut on home ice against the Montreal Canadiens in front of Oakville, Ont., family and friends Oct. 8. He assisted on Tyler Bozak’s first-period goal and played an impressive 20:21 in a 4-3 loss.

8. Niklas Svedberg, Boston. The year was just a couple of days old when the 24-year-old Swede was called up to play the Nashville Predators. He stopped 33 of 35 shots, including six each from Craig Smith and Mike Fisher, and the Bruins won 3-2 in overtime.

7. Tobias Rieder, Arizona. The German-born winger, acquired earlier in the year from Edmonton, faced Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals in Washington Nov. 2. Rieder and Ovie each scored a goal, but it was Rieder’s marker that was the winner in a 6-5 Coyotes win. Rieder had three shots and was a plus-2 in 11:30 of ice time.

6. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay. Our most recent addition to the list is the Lightning’s goalie of the future. The 20-year-old Russian who was the 19th overall draft pick in 2012 stopped 23 of 24 shots in a 3-1 win over Philadelphia Dec. 16. Filling in for injured Ben Bishop, Vasilevskiy was the game’s third star.

5. Andy Andreoff, Los Angeles. The burly forward from the Oshawa Generals didn’t waste time proving he can tangle in the big league. Twelve seconds into his first shift against the Edmonton Oilers Oct. 14, Andreoff dropped the gloves with Matt Hendricks and skated to the penalty box with a huge smile. Hockeyfights.com called it a draw.

4. Adam Clendening, Chicago. The Niagara Falls, N.Y., native was on his second shift of the game when he used plum power play opportunity to pump home a point shot past Jonas Hiller to open the scoring in a 4-3 victory over Calgary Nov. 20. Clendening was a plus-2 in 10:41 of duty.

3. John Gibson, Anaheim. The Pittsburgh native is the latest in a long line of Ducks goalies who shine in their NHL debut. Playing in Vancouver April 7, Gibson stopped all 18 shots he faced to record the shutout in a 3-0 win over the Canucks. He was named the game’s first star.

2. Kellan Lain, Vancouver. The 6-foot-6 left winger gets a high rating on this list because his NHL debut has hit the highlight reel more than any other rookie in 2014. It was the Jan. 18 line brawl versus the Flames in which Canucks coach John Tortorella had a meltdown. Only two ticks of the clock went by when all 10 skaters on the ice paired up. Lain fought Kevin Westgarth and received a fighting major and 10-minute misconduct. That’s 15 PIMs and two seconds of ice time in your NHL debut.

1. Troy Grosenick, San Jose. The Sharks were in Carolina Nov. 16 and put the undrafted 22-year-old between the pipes while Antti Niemi got the night off. He stole the show. The Hurricanes outshot San Jose 45-19 and Grosenick celebrated by throwing his water bottle towards the bench. He stopped seven shots by Nathan Gerbe and five apiece from Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Andrej Sekera, while being named the game’s first star for the 45-save shutout. San Jose scored an empty-net goal to win 2-0.

 

Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blogFor more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazineFollow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN

Are the Calgary Flames doing it with mirrors? It’s more like heart and Hartley

Brian Costello
Calgary Flames v Florida Panthers

For a team that was supposed to be one of the frontrunners in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes when the season began, the Calgary Flames have hit it out of the park so far in 2014-15.

A lot of credit has to go to the defense tandem of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie, the Nos. 1 and 2 blueline scorers in the NHL this season. But it goes way beyond that.

It starts with the coaching staff, led by third-year Flames coach Bob Hartley. Once described as a bench boss who relied heavily on veterans while being tough on rookies, Hartley has evolved since his time with the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.

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Jean Beliveau’s first appearance in THN was as otherworldly Jean Marc Beliveau

Brian Costello
Beliveau 1

The hockey world lost a great this week when Jean Beliveau passed away at age 83. His first appearance in The Hockey News was as a 19-year-old junior sensation for the Quebec Citadels, when he went by the name Jean Marc Beliveau. The roar back then was Jean Marc was better than half the centers in the NHL.

Here’s a re-print of that story from Vol. 4, No. 25 of The Hockey News, March 24, 1951.

Beliveau Most Fabulous Junior in Ice History

Better Than Half NHL Centers, Some say 

Detroit Scribe rates Him as Popular in Quebec City as Richard in Montreal; He’ll play for Habs

By Marshall Dann

Quebec City, Que. – Jean Marc Beliveau may be the greatest junior in hockey history and the finest prospect ever to loom for pro hockey. Or, he may not.

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Vladimir Tarasenko’s magnificent goal frame-by-frame in flipbook a must-see

Brian Costello
Vladimir Tarasenko (Getty Images)

Vladimir Tarasenko’s highlight-reel goal Monday against Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers inspired an artist to draw a frame-by-frame account of the play. The hand-drawn animated flipbook was created by an artist who admittedly doesn’t watch much hockey. “This goal hypnotized me into making a flipbook,” the artist wrote. “It’s just beautiful.”

Check it out.

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30 NHL teams, 30 I-never-saw-this-coming starts for players

Brian Costello
JeffCarterTylerToffoli

We’re officially through the first month of the season, which is as good a time as any to look at the players who have surprised me in 2014-15. Some in a good way, others in a bad way. The common denominator is I never would have predicted these starts from a statistics perspective.

Anaheim – Emerson Etem. Doughnuts across the board in 11 games. I thought the winger had 20-goal potential. Also, to a lesser degree, Frederik Andersen. John Gibson was supposed to steal the No. 1 job, but Andersen is 6-1 with a 1.69 GAA and .940 SP.

Arizona – Sam Gagner. Just two assists in nine games for the skilled center. Also, Mike Smith. His numbers have bloated to 2-5, 3.96 GAA and .866 SP.

Boston – Tuukka Rask. My projected Vezina winner has struggled to a 4-4 start with a 2.81 GAA and .899 SP.

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NHL’s new draft lottery rules will encourage tanking. Here’s why

Brian Costello
Connor McDavid (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The NHL’s revamping to the draft lottery format will probably backfire this year when the league’s bottom feeders make a concerted effort to sink to 30th place. There’s just too much to gain from finishing last overall.

First, some background.

In August, the league announced changes to the draft lottery to be phased in over two years. The changes for 2015 are small adjustments to the odds of winning – they’re more evenly balanced now and the last-place team has a 20 percent chance of winning rather than 25 percent under the old format.

The real change doesn’t happen until 2016 when the lottery will be used to determine the top three selections in the draft.

By not making these sweeping changes right away for 2015, the NHL inadvertently will encourage the league’s worst teams to tank it in an effort to secure 30th place. That’s because for the 2015 draft, there are two generational prospects available. Connor McDavid has been called the stud of the 2015 draft for close to three years now. He’s been incredible this season. And in the past year, Jack Eichel has emerged as a close second option to McDavid. They’re head and shoulders better than the rest of a deep draft class.

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