The Hockey News

CWHL All-Star Game roundtable: History, rivalry, and the growing women’s game

The Hockey News
CWHL Roundtable Featured

By Namish Modi

All-Star Games may not be the most exciting event on the calendar anymore, but for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), this one will be one to remember.

On Saturday at the Air Canada Centre, the first All-Star Game in the league’s short five-year history was played. The exhibition game, which had several Olympians playing in it, was played in front of a crowd of 6,850 people.

The two teams, Team White and Team Red, were selected by captains Jessica Campbell and Charline Labonte on Friday night, fantasy draft style. Each captain picked five players to their team while the rest of the squads were filled up by the “throwing the sticks” format. Team Red’s Rebecca Johnston scored the winning goal in a 3-2 come back victory, while Team White’s Natalie Spooner scored the first goal in CWHL All-Star Game history. Following the game, the 42 all-stars took part in a light-hearted skills showcase, which consisted of a breakaway challenge and fastest skater competition. Read more

Oilers took step forward in process, but Eakins a victim of results-oriented business

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Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Dom Luszczyszyn

With due process, the results will come. For the Edmonton Oilers, the results have been long overdue and Dallas Eakins lost his job on Monday because of it.

The NHL is a results-oriented business – it always has been – so when a team wins three of its last 22 games, someone’s getting fired. But if the goal is long-term success, then the process should be the number one priority. Improve the little things that lead to wins and eventually they will come. Read more

Jakub Voracek becoming the star scouts thought he could be

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Jakub Voracek's amazing start means fantasy players could get a king's ransom for him in a trade. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Dom Luszczyszyn

Jakub Voracek’s ascent to the top of the scoring race has been one of this season’s biggest surprises, but even without the gaudy totals, he’s quietly emerged as one of the league’s most dominant forwards over the past three seasons.

With 34 points, Voracek sits third in the league behind Tyler Seguin and Sidney Crosby and has 84 points in his last 82 games. A point-per-game season and career highs across the board is obviously not out of the question for Voracek, especially considering the chemistry he’s shown with one of the game’s best point producers, Claude Giroux. He’s got great hockey IQ and vision to go along with great playmaking ability, but the rate he’s scoring at now, a 102 point pace, likely won’t continue. Read more

Dallas rookie John Klingberg making it all look so easy

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John Klingberg (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

By Namish Modi

P.K. Subban, Erik Karlsson and Ryan Suter all have something in common. Several things, actually. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, they are all Norris Trophy finalists or winners and very rich star defensemen in the NHL.

But none of them had the start to their career John Klingberg has had. After being recalled from the Texas Stars Nov.10, the Dallas rookie blueliner has been nothing short of brilliant with nine points in his first 14 games including eight in his first eight. Read more

If Los Angeles doesn’t right the ship it could spell an early off-season

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St. Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings

By Dom Luszczyszyn

There’s something unusually wrong with the Los Angeles Kings this season. That they’ve won only 13 of their first 25 games (three less than last season) should tip you off and watching them play only confirms it.

Since swapping Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson in 2012, no team has had the puck on their collective sticks more than the Kings. Puck possession has been their calling card and they’ve played more games than any other team as a result, collecting two Stanley Cups in the process.

This season, that’s all changed. The Kings have been downright average generating only 50.9 percent of the shot attempts during 5-on-5 play. It gets worse when the game is close as the Kings drop to 47.5 percent of shot attempts, good for 23rd in the league. That’s a far cry from last year’s league leading mark of 57.2 and it’s the biggest drop for any team this season. Read more

How Habs legend Jean Béliveau played Cupid for one lucky Montreal couple

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Jean Beliveau (image courtesy of Stuart Guttman)

By Ryan Cooke
Sports editor, Truro Daily News
Special To THN

MONTREAL – Stuart Guttman sat up in bed, his newlywed wife lying fast asleep next to him as his eyes fixated on the screen in front of him.

His panicked instinct was to wake her up, but he thought better of it moments later. He reached to his other side, picked up his phone and immediately sent an email to his father-in-law.

Jean Beliveau is dead.

For Guttman and his wife, Amanda, Jean Beliveau will always be a major part of their relationship. Montreal natives and hockey fans, but both a little too young to remember the days of No. 4, they grew up on stories of his excellence. They heard all about his 17 Stanley Cups, his 500 career goals and all his triumphs wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge.

But to Stuart and Amanda, Jean Beliveau wasn’t just a hockey player. He was a Cupid. Read more

Powerful special teams a bright spot for the Toronto Maple Leafs

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Maple Leafs featured

By Namish Modi

Toronto’s domination in special teams played a big role in their 6-2 win over the Washington Capitals Saturday night.

The Maple Leafs, now 12-8-3 on the season, converted on three of four opportunities with the man advantage to break a dry spell dating back to their thumping of Boston on Nov. 12. Cody Franson, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul provided the power play goals, reviving a Leafs’ unit which had only one marker in their past 23 opportunities.

“It was nice to see our power play finally came to life and created some offense in the hockey game for us,“ said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle.

The Leafs lack of recent production with the man advantage prompted forward Nazem Kadri to be tried as a defenseman on the power play Saturday night. While the 24-year-old didn’t make a huge impact directly from the point, it was obvious there was change needed just to kick start the Leafs’ play in the situation.

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you change things up, you just look for different looks, try to create some energy towards the power play,” said Kadri. “I thought we were controlling the puck pretty well, sometimes simplifying is the best way to do it.”

Toronto, who tied for fifth place in power play percentage last season, has struggled out of the gate this season with a 18.5% success rate coming into Saturday’s game; 18th in the NHL.

“I think we did good things on our power play tonight, we were moving the puck, we were getting through to the net, “ said forward David Clarkson, who added an even strength marker. “Not every night you’re going to score on the power play, that’s today’s game. But I think tonight we did a good job on it and we’ve got to build from there and keep moving forward.”

Toronto’s puck control 5-on-4 was much improved over the past few games as was evident by Bozak’s goal on Capitals netminder Braden Holtby late in the second period, making the game 5-1 and putting it out of reach for Washington. The goal came off a slick feed from Phil Kessel.

“I think we spread them out and we moved the puck around and it wasn’t really one-dimensional,” said Carlyle. “We worked from both sides of the ice and we’ve become predictable as of late, always wanted to work one side. If you noticed, the puck was changing sides and we were able to spread people out with it, and found an open guy back in front of the net”

Toronto’s potent power play wasn’t the only special team on display this night, as their penalty kill was also stellar keeping the league’s second best power play unit in check.

Troy Brouwer did score on the Caps’ first power-play of the night midway through the second cutting the lead to 3-1, but the Leafs did the job on two other two kills shutting down Washington. Star forward Alex Ovechkin was kept in check all night long, especially on the power play where he has six goals this season.

The Leafs’ penalty kill came into the game with an 84.2 percent rating, ninth in the NHL, a vast improvement over their 28th place finish last season, where the Leafs’ kill was 78.3 percent. Their performance last season came off the heels of a showing in 2012-13 where Toronto had an excellent penalty kill, second in the league, operating at 87.9 percent. Toronto made the playoffs that season.

“Goaltending is the main thing, our goalies have been great on it. Look at guys like Leo Komarov and Daniel Winnik, who do the bulk work on the penalty kill,” said Bozak. “They’re guys that work hard, they block shots, they’re guys that will out work the opponent whenever they get the chance, so, obviously its not fun to play against guys like that, and they’re doing a great job”

Recent American League call up Korbinian Holzer also contributed in penalty kill situations and appears to be gaining the trust of Carlyle only two games into his recent stint with the big club. The 26-year-old has been stellar in all situations thus far.

“Just for me, blocking a shot is like scoring a goal. So, doesn’t matter who blocks the shot, if you sacrifice the body it’s as huge as scoring a goal or setting up a big goal, “ said Holzer. “We got a lot of good penalty killers in here, it’s just a great unit all around, and obviously great goaltending, you need that.”

There will be bumps in the road, but Holtby an emerging star for Washington

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Braden Holtby (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

By Craig Hagerman

Braden Holtby wasn’t simply handed the role as the Washington Capitals starting netminder. No, he had to earn it.

Though he may have had a less than impressive outing against the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night, allowing three goals on 12 shots after coming in for relief for Justin Peters in the second period and then being replaced to begin the third, the Lloydminster, Sask. native is still unquestionably Washington’s go to guy between the pipes. Read more