Watch Cam Ward make the glove save of the year, rob David Perron

Jared Clinton
Wardedit

To all those goaltenders out there who have made outstanding saves this season: we’re sorry. We really are. You did your best, but it’s going to take a miracle save to come close to beating out Cam Ward for the best glove stop of the season.

Ward’s monster glove save has all the elements necessary for a great save. Was it made in desperation? Check. Did he have to cover a lot of ground to make the stop? Check. Were there fans thinking the Penguins were about to score before Ward reached out? Absolutely. And not only did Ward extend to his physical limit to snare David Perron‘s shot, he did it in a one-goal game. Read more

CHL playoffs: The most intriguing first-round matchups

Quebec's Anthony Duclair  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

The CHL playoffs begin tonight and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Connor McDavid has one last chance to win it all with the Erie Otters in the Ontario League, but the powerfully-built Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have designs of their own. Out in the Western League, Kelowna and Brandon seem to be on a collision course for the final, while the Quebec League has the added wrinkle of sending two teams to the Memorial Cup – one being the host Quebec Remparts, who won’t want to crawl in through the back door.

Here’s a look at all the first-round matchups in the CHL, with a bit more info on one series per league that has me riveted from the get-go.

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Mark your calendars – the date has been set for the NHL’s most anticipated draft lottery in years

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announces the Buffalo Sabres as holders of the second pick in the 2014 entry draft. (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

For months now, hockey fans have slowly built their anticipation for one of the most highly-consequential NHL draft lotteries since the process was introduced in 1995. And now it appears the league has settled on a date people can circle on their calendars.

According to a Sportsnet.ca report, the league has decided to hold this year’s draft lottery Apr. 18, as part of a Hockey Night In Canada playoff broadcast. That leaves a little more than three weeks for fans of sad-sack teams to firm up viewing party plans and binge on lottery simulation websites – and when you look at some of the teams with a decent chance of drafting nascent superstars Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel (and the stakes involved if they fail to win the lottery), you’ve got near-perfect conditions to deliver what could very well be hockey’s most drama-packed off-ice night in history.

For one thing, the increasingly-improving chance the Maple Leafs have at McDavid is going to push TV ratings to record levels. Like them or not, the Leafs have millions of fans, and after their brutal free-fall through the NHL standings this season those fans are going to try every superstitious trick in the book in the hope it allows fortune to smile on their beloved Buds. If that does happen, the city of Toronto is going to instantly explode in the biggest hockey-related celebration since a Stanley Cup was won here in 1967.

And for as dramatic as that result would be for the Leafs franchise – it would almost certainly tempt team management to fast-track their rebuild – think of the ripple effect it would have on the rest of the league, and on Toronto rivals in particular: Read more

The 10 most surprising struggles of 2014-15

Joe Pavelski (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

As much as a story like the resurgent New York Islanders or the Andrew Hammond-led Ottawa Senators pleases us, there will always be teams or players that fail to meet expectations.

Be it simply a down year or a minor – or major, when it comes to a team – injury, no NHL season goes by without teams and players facing their fair share of difficulties. If they respond positively, they’re heralded for their efforts. But, if things go sideways in a hurry, we’re left wondering how exactly our predictions could have been so wrong.

And these are the predictions that were the farthest off — the teams and players still making us wonder how prognostications could have been so misguided. These are the 10 most surprising struggles of 2014-15:

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Could the Buffalo Sabres win their way out of the McDavid and Eichel sweepstakes?

Jared Clinton
Jack Eichel by Brian Babineau, Connor McDavid by Adam D’Oliveira

It might be hard to believe, but there’s a chance the Buffalo Sabres won’t finish dead last in the NHL this season. And if they don’t finish at the bottom of the standings, they won’t have a guaranteed shot at Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the upcoming draft.

Granted, yes, no matter where they finish, there’s a shot they land one of the two simply by luck of the draw. However, if Buffalo doesn’t finish 30th in the league, there’s no promise they’re going to be able to get their hands on either of the draft’s top two selections. But where does the concern come from for the Sabres?

Well, if things go right – or wrong, depending on how you want to look at it – and if Edmonton and Arizona fall apart, the Sabres could fall as low as the third overall selection by the time the season is through. And the possibility of that is quite high. Read more

Watch Alexander Semin score insane goal from his stomach

Matt Larkin
Alexander Semin. (Getty Images)

The headline could just as easily read “Alexander Semin reveals he still plays in National Hockey League, then scores goal.”

Calling this season a tough one for Semin, the Carolina Hurricanes’ priciest right winger, would be a gross understatement. Going into Sunday afternoon’s barn-burner against the Edmonton Oilers, Semin had three goals in 39 games. That’s not a misprint. He of the $7-million cap hit and seasons of 40, 38 and 34 goals had found twine three times. Carolina’s Elias Lindholm and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each equalled that total Sunday afternoon alone, when the Canes took down the Oilers 7-4 in a battle between two of the league’s most inept teams.

But then came the goal, which sparked a Carolina rally from a 3-0 deficit. There have been many “goal of the year candidates” described hyperbolically this season. Not Semin’s. Feast your eyes on this beauty after Semin gets tangled up by Rob Klinkhammer and Oscar Klefbom:

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Prep schools battle to be the next big hockey factory

Ryan Kennedy
St. Andrew's alum Warren Foegele (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The first-ever National Independent School Invitational Championship is happening now, just north of Toronto. Hosted by St. Andrew’s College and Upper Canada College, the 10-team challenge brings together a lot of prep programs that are familiar with each other, but organizers hope this shindig will also increase the level of exposure these hockey teams receive.

While New England prep schools have long been known for hockey excellence, programs such as St. Andrew’s and Stanstead College in Quebec are just beginning to rise up. St. Andrew’s boasts Carolina Hurricanes third-rounder Warren Foegele as an alum, while Stanstead produced Calgary Flames first-rounder Mark Jankowski.

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Hurricanes ship Tim Gleason to Capitals for Jack Hillen, pick

Jared Clinton
Tim Gleason (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

Tim Gleason is going to get a shot at the playoffs this season after all.

The Washington Capitals announced this afternoon they have acquired the 32-year-old blueliner for the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Jack Hillen and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft.

Gleason, who has spent nine of his eleven seasons with the Hurricanes, will join his third team in three seasons with the trade to Washington. He was signed by Carolina in the off-season to a one-year, $1.2 million contract after being dealt by the Hurricanes to the Maple Leafs last season. Read more