The Hockey News

Top five sophomore slumps of 2013-14

Conacher

By Jared Clinton

1. Cory Conacher
C, Buffalo Sabres
Early last season, Conacher was a sneaky favorite for the Calder Trophy. The diminutive forward was turning in an eye-opening offensive campaign in Tampa Bay when, out of the blue, he was dealt to Ottawa in exchange for Ben Bishop. History will not be kind to that trade. The Senators waived Conacher after he failed to show even moments of the brilliance that put him in the conversation for rookie of the year. In 79 games this season, Conacher failed to match the 11 goals he tallied in his lockout-shortened rookie campaign. Read more

Backchecking: Blake Geoffrion

The Hockey News
Blake Geoffrion (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

BY ARI YANOVER

After sustaining a career-ending injury Nov. 9, 2012 while playing for Montreal’s
farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs in the American League, Blake Geoffrion was left with an uncertain future. He spent seven months doing nothing but recovering from a depressed skull fracture, and he couldn’t find a doctor who would give him the green light to resume playing.

But even though he’d hung up the skates, there was still interest. Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen called, offering Geoffrion a scouting position.

It was a way to stay in hockey, a natural instinct for someone who has spent his entire life in the sport. So Geoffrion accepted Kekalainen’s proposal, deciding to try it for a year and see if it was a fit. “I want to be a general manager in the NHL one day,” he’d said upon taking the job. “After doing some research and figuring out how to become a general manager, this is where you started, in scouting.”

Geoffrion spent the year scouting for Columbus, but after seeing how things were run, he felt he didn’t have enough experience. He knew plenty about the hockey side, but the business side was new to him, and he wanted to explore that. Read more

Top 5 ‘under the radar’ NHL players from 2013-14

alexandersteen

By Andrew Heliotis

1. Wayne Simmonds
RW, Philadelphia Flyers

This past season Simmonds hit career highs in all three scoring categories and his 60 points were good enough for a top 50 scoring finish. Simmonds really excelled on the power play, however. Scroll down the special teams list of top goal scorers and it won’t take long to hit his name. Only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and San Jose’s Joe Pavelski finished with more than Simmonds’ 15 power play goals. With 209 shots all season he scored at the same rate as Sidney Crosby and finished with a better shooting percentage than six of the top 10 point-getters of the season.

2. Alexander Steen
LW, St. Louis Blues

Early in 2005-06, two rookies for the Maple Leafs made their team’s scouts look like geniuses. Steen and Kyle Wellwood combined for 90 points and the Toronto faithful began salivating. But 20 games into 2008-09 Steen would forever be an afterthought in Hogtown when he was sent to the St. Louis Blues for Lee Stempniak.  Oh, how things have changed. This season Steen, who built a reputation as a consistently underrated, solid two-way forward, led the Blues in goals (33) and points (62), recorded in just 68 games. Steen’s 0.49 goals per game was seventh in the NHL. Read more

Brandon Prust suspended two games for breaking Derek Stepan’s jaw

The Hockey News
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images Sport)

Well, there it is, fans. In the NHL, a fourth-line nobody gets all of two games for blindsiding a first-line somebody and sending him into surgery for his face. If this were the NFL, Brandon Prust would be serving his teammates Gatorade for the rest of the playoffs after sideswiping Derek Stepan early in the first period of Game 3 at Madison Square Garden.

But it isn’t. Instead, Prust will park himself in the press box for a couple games, while the Montreal Canadiens move on without him, with ease, since he’s, well, easily replaced with another fourth-liner, most likely Michael Bournival. Prust has two assists in 12 games.

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What it will take to break these NHL records

The Hockey News
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Bruce Bennett)

By Jason Wryghte

Although Wayne Gretzky has repeatedly said he believes his career scoring records will be broken, he’s got to be the only one. To consistently score at the rate Gretzky did is almost incomprehensible when juxtaposing his totals with today’s NHL. In order for The Great One’s goal total of 894 to be surpassed, it would have taken the league leaders in goals from the past 18 seasons combined. This year’s top sniper, Alex Ovechkin, scored the “record breaking” tally Nov. 5 against the Islanders when the Caps forward blew a shot past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. How many seasons of league leaders in other categories would it take for some of the NHL’s other all-time marks to fall? Read more

The road warrior New York Rangers win Game 5 for ‘Marty’

The Hockey News
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

As has been the case almost all season long, the New York Rangers were at their best in unfriendly confines.

With their season in the balance, the Rangers played their most complete game of the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning convincingly 5-1 at the Consol Energy Center Friday night to cut the Penguins’ series lead to 3-2.

The scene at the end of the game said it all.

As the clock wound down, Dominic Moore patted Martin St-Louis on the back as the two sat side-by-side on the Rangers bench. And Moore was the first to embrace St-Louis as they celebrated the win with their teammates on the ice.

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