Memorable night for young guns as three rookies register first point

Jonathan Drouin (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

In 50 years, there will be three separate sets of grandkids hearing tell of Tuesday night’s NHL action. The reason being for rookies Jonathan Drouin, Adam Lowry, and Seth Griffith, it was the night they registered their first NHL point.

The Bruins’ Griffith and Jets’ Lowry both registered their first of what will hopefully be many NHL goals, while the shifty Drouin notched an assist on the game-tying goal in Tampa Bay’s overtime victory over the Calgary Flames.

Drouin, who has been lauded for his playmaking ability, showed it off in fantastic fashion. The 19-year-old Quebec native won a puck battle below the Flames goal line, worked the puck up the boards, and made a seeing-eye backhand saucer pass that landed right on the tape of defenseman Jason Garrison:

Valtteri Filppula pushed the blast by Garrison home. In overtime, Drouin would get an excellent opportunity on a 2-on-1 with Steven Stamkos – with whom Drouin lined up with throughout the game – but was stopped on an incredible save by Karri Ramo.

For Griffith, he’ll be able to tell his children and grand children about an absolute laser of a shot:

A product of Wallaceburg, Ont., Griffith was a rookie sensation at the American League level last season, putting home 20 goals and 50 points. The goal couldn’t have come at a bigger time, either.

With the Bruins down 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks, Griffith’s big-league snap shot found the back of the net and brought the Bruins even. The Bruins would go on to win the game 5-3, thanks in large part to Griffith’s timely tally.

Finally, Adam Lowry, the son of former NHLer Dave Lowry, did what his father managed to 164 times at the big league level:

With the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps last season, Lowry stood out for his gritty play and nose for the net and was a large part of what made Winnipeg’s farm club so successful. As an AHL rookie, Lowry amassed 17 goals and 16 assists, good for 12th on the team in scoring.

His big body and powerful forechecking ability are what got him into the lineup with the Jets, but they certainly won’t shake a stick at him contributing in other ways on the score sheet. Lowry’s marker would stand as the game-winning goal.

T.J. Brodie more than doubles his salary, but it’s a bargain for the Flames

Brian Costello
Calgary Flames v Chicago Blackhawks

The Calgary Flames locked up the game’s top-scoring defenseman for another five seasons, and by the time the deal kicks in next season, it might look like a huge bargain.

T.J. Brodie, who is tied with Victor Hedman and Brent Burns atop the NHL defensemen scoring parade with seven points, signed a five-year contract with the Flames worth $4.65 million annually ($23.25 million total). Brodie, 24, is in the second-year of a two-year bridge-deal that pays him $2.125 million. He would have been a restricted free agent next July.

For those who don’t watch the Flames on a regular basis, Brodie and defense partner Mark Giordano have been the team’s best players the past couple of seasons. ‘Brodano’, as they’re referred to, match up against the opponent’s top line, are on the first power play unit, play upwards of 25 minutes per game and boast strong possession and zone entry numbers.

Read more

Calgary Flames star Mark Giordano gets a boost from the youth

Ryan Kennedy
Mark Giordano (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames have a funny way of rebuilding. First off, they’ve been a tough team to play against for the past calendar year. And unlike a certain provincial rival, they’re far from sad – in fact, they’ve gotten out of the gate pretty strong this season.

In nearly every sense of the word, defenseman Mark Giordano is leading the way. Not only is the veteran captain of the Flames, but he also happens to top the team charts in ice time (nearly 25 minutes per game) and offense, where he sits in a three-way tie with defense partner T.J. Brodie and center Joe Colborne at five points apiece through five games. This summer was big for the 31-year-old, who switched up his training emphasis.

Read more

Killer AHL mascot goes down in flames. RIP, “Scorch”

Ken Campbell
Scorch, the Adirondack Flames short-lived mascot (Photo via Twitter – @AHLFlames)

More than anything, I want to meet the guy (or woman) who stood up in the planning meetings for the Adirondack Flames this summer and said the following: “Hey everyone, I have a great idea. Let’s give our new mascot a name that conjures up recollections of a fire that almost destroyed our whole town once.” (Slow clap follows.)

Suffice it to say, it has been an inauspicious debut for Calgary’s American League farm team in Glens Falls, New York. At its first news conference, the dais was adorned with a banner that had Calgary’s flaming ‘C’, then Adirondack’s flaming ‘A’, followed by the ‘C’ then the ‘A’. Which seems innocuous enough until you realize that it spells, C-A-C-A. Flaming C-A-C-A, no less.

On the ice, the Flames are 0-2-0 and have been outscored 11-2, so they’ve got that going for them. And in their first game of the season, resident meathead Trevor Gillies got himself suspended for 12 games with an act as senseless as you’re going to see on the ice this season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will Bruins seek an upgrade over Eriksson?

Loui Eriksson hasn't provided the first-line offense Boston sought in return for Tyler Seguin. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins resolved their cap issues and blueline logjam with their recent trade of defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders, but there’s another roster problem to be addressed.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty believes Loui Eriksson is a third-line winger with the Bruins, doubting he’ll ever become the offensive force they believed he would become when they acquired him in last year’s Tyler Seguin trade with the Dallas Stars.

Two concussions and a heel injury sidelined Eriksson for 21 games last season, limiting him to 10 goals and 37 points in 61 games. The 29-year-old went scoreless in the Bruins’ opening three games this season before tallying his first goal in the their 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Monday.

Haggerty believes the Bruins need another top-six forward at right wing to replace the offense of Jarome Iginla, who departed this summer via free agency. Finding such a forward this early in the season, however, won’t be easy.

Read more

Why Mikael Backlund is a secret star at center for Calgary

The Hockey News
The advanced statistics show Mikael Backlund's value extends way beyond his point totals. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Dom Luszczyszyn

To compete in the West, the most important thing a team needs is depth and star power at center ice. The best of the West, including last year’s Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings, have it in spades, and it’s a huge part of their success. So it should come as no surprise the Flames were pretty much a unanimous choice as the West’s tribute to the Connor McDavid Hunger Games.

On paper they look like they have one of the worst groups of centers in the league (we ranked their centers 29th in our season preview, ahead of only Buffalo), but on the ice that’s not entirely true. That’s because the Flames have a top center in their lineup who could be the West’s best-kept secret: Mikael Backlund.

Up until last season, the 24th overall pick in 2007 had been flying way under the radar, spending most of his time toiling on the Flames’ third line. But he made a huge jump last year and, by the end of the season, he became a fixture at the top of the depth chart. He even spent some time on the top power play and penalty-killing units.

“I’ve seen him over the years and I really thought last year his game took a significant step forward,” said Flames GM Brad Treliving. “He was a really impactful player here, especially down the stretch. He was a consistent guy last year, but I look at his games after Christmas — and I’ve gone back and watched all the games when I got here — he really just jumps off the map at you.”

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will tanking be a problem in 2014-15?

Jordan & Eric Staal (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks is no fan of the current NHL draft lottery system, believing it rewards teams that perform poorly. He suggests some teams could attempt to tank the season in order to better their odds of landing the first overall pick.

Brooks wonders if the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames or Carolina Hurricanes decide at the NHL trade deadline to trade their best player for a seventh-round pick if the league would reject such a deal. Given how lopsided that trade would be, one suspects the league would reject it based on proportionality. Read more

Mike Milbury says fighting should go, so we should keep it

Boston's Bobby Robins (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike Milbury has made a career out of being controversial, from beating a fan with his own shoe during his playing days, to lamenting about the “pansification” of hockey as a broadcaster. And in between, he traded some of the best players in the NHL away from his New York Islanders as GM of the franchise. (cough)

Last night, Milbury remarked on NBC’s broadcast of the Bruins-Flyers game that it was time for fighting to go. “It’s over” was a particularly clear remark on the matter, as he and fellow analyst Keith Jones cited the style of play these days and concussions.

And look, that’s a great corporate line to spew. But I like my hockey with a touch of mayhem and if a man with Milbury’s track record is coming down on one side of an issue, I have no problem going the other way.

No doubt there is evidence that the straight-up enforcer is going through an identity crisis right now; Paul Bissonnette couldn’t find work, nor could Kevin Westgarth or George Parros. But to say fighting should go altogether? We’re not there yet (and I hope we never will be).

Read more