Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.
When the NHL announced it would be adopting a dry scrape of the ice before the overtime period, it flew in the face of all the gains it had made since the 2004-05 lockout. Ever since then, the league had been obsessed with the flow of the game and keeping things moving along. Then to try to reduce the number of shootouts, it ground everything to a complete halt with the dry scrape.
Well, the scrape was scrapped yesterday when the GMs voted unanimously to get rid of it. The new rule, which will see two Zambonis replaced by good, old man and woman power behind shovels, will come into effect for Saturday’s game, meaning the dry scrape was an experiment that will have lasted a total of 294 games. Read more
People are beginning to compare Vladimir Tarasenko to Alex Ovechkin (in a good way), the STL Line is producing at a mind-boggling rate, T.J. Oshie is back in the lineup and the St. Louis Blues are starting to sell out their games. Things are truly looking up in the Show Me State.
Whether or not the Blues can parlay that success into the franchise’s first Stanley Cup remains to be seen, but if the playoffs started today, they’d be a consensus choice to win it all. That’s why they’re at the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings for this week. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses).
1. ST. LOUIS (6): The Blues start a four-game road trip Tuesday night coming off a stretch in which they’ve won 10 of their past 11. They’ve scored 49 goals this season and the line of Jori Lehtera between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko has accounted for 24 of them.
2. PITTSBURGH (1): Penguins coach Mike Johnston told me last Friday night that the Penguins are far more comfortable in tight-scoring games than they were early in the season. That was after they defeated Toronto 2-1 and the night before they vanquished the Rangers 3-2 in a shootout. Power play, good.
Like a lot of people who turn their lives around, Scott Darling experienced a dramatic epiphany. To be sure, his decision the morning of July 1, 2011, came much more quickly than the process it took to get him where he was – which was in a bed in his uncle’s home in Boca Raton with a pounding head and a guilty conscience. Out of options and out of hockey, he was helping out at his uncle’s memorabilia company and, aside from doing arm curls with a beer bottle, hadn’t worked out in months. Read more
A popular notion is the impact of Quebec on goaltending has diminished significantly. That’s not true, not at all. After all, almost a third of NHL teams – eight to be exact – employ Quebec-born goaltending coaches. The shocking, and blasphemous if you’re from La Belle Province, fact is that total represents double the number of goalies from Quebec who are actually playing in the NHL.
Not including Martin Brodeur, who may or may not find NHL employment, the NHL’s Quebec goaltending fraternity could easily hold its meetings in a Mini Cooper. There was a time, when Patrick Roy made goaltending cool and the position attracted the province’s best athletes, when half the league had a starter or backup goalie from Quebec on its roster. Of the 60 possible goaltenders in the NHL in 2014-15, that number will have likely dwindled to four: Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier and Florida’s Roberto Luongo.
After a brief glimmer of hope following a stroke last month, hockey legend Gordie Howe has taken a turn for the worse over the past 10 days and, “is having a really difficult time here,” according to Howe’s son, Mark.
“Things are definitely headed in the wrong direction,” Mark said.
The younger Howe, in fact, sent an email out to family and friends last week telling them that Gordie Howe’s condition has been in rapid decline and that it might be time to consider hospice care for him. “Father Time and all Dad’s illnesses are pains are catching up with him rapidly,” he wrote. Read more
As has been the case for the better part of the past decade, the proof will be in the playoffs for these Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re the No. 1 team in the NHL at this moment in terms of winning percentage, but we’ve seen this act before. Nobody will believe this team is for real until the players and their goalie prove they can excel in the post-season.
But there is a different feel around this team. With guys like Nick Spaling, Patric Hornqvist and Steve Downie in the lineup, they’re certainly a little more difficult to play against. Heck, even Evgeni Malkin got into a fight in the Penguins 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday night after he responded to a perfectly clean hit by Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf. There is a sense that not only do these Penguins have more of an edge, they also have more of a team concept in their own end of the ice. Read more
On the same weekend Peter Forsberg is being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, fellow Swede Borje Salming was welcomed into Legends Row with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nice symmetry there. Salming was asked a softball question about his first memory of Forsberg and we all expected a heartwarming tale.
Instead, we got this. Salming recalled playing against a teenaged Forsberg in the Swedish Elite League in the early 1990s. One night Salming’s AIK squad was playing Forsberg’s MoDo team. “(Forsberg) was going crazy on the ice and screaming at the refs and everything,” Salming said. “I skated up to him and I tried to calm him down. I said, ‘Peter, relax, you’re going to get a match penalty.’ And he just said to me, ‘F— off.’ “ (Salming later confirmed that Forsberg said it in Swedish, which somehow makes it even more hilarious.) Read more
Take a close look at the four men who will be inducted in the players’ category of the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night. You’ll see something you’ve never seen before, and may never see again.
Four players, four different countries represented. A Hall of Fame cohort that includes Rob Blake, Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg and Dominik Hasek belongs in the debate of the best of all-time. We’re not going to get into that debate, but hey, the 1972 class included Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Hap Holmes and Hooley Smith. But there is no Hall of Fame induction group that represents the global reach of the game more prominently than this one. Read more