Hockey is a rough game, no doubt about it, and even the officials have to be athletic and tough to get through an intense yearly schedule that normally sees them participate in over 80 games a season.
As evidence showed from the Mike Leggo illness incident last week, referees are humans and things can happen.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and GM Jarmo Kekalainen announced Friday that the club have signed starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a four-year, $29.7 million contract extension that lasts through the 2018-19 season. This means the netminder will earn an annual salary of $7.425 million.
The 26-year-old Russian goaltender won the Vezina Trophy in 2013 and has gone 68-41-13 with a 2.34 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 123 games with Columbus since the 2012-13 season.
For his career he is 110-64-23 with a 2.50 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 206 games with the Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers.
The way Semyon Varlamov played on Tuesday night, you’d have to think the puck looked like a beach ball to the Colorado Avalanche netminder.
With 54 saves in a shutout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, Varlamov not only posted one of the best performances of this season, he posted one of the best in Avalanche history. He became only the fourth Avs goalie to ever make 50 stops in a game, and one of only four netminders with 54-plus saves in a shutout victory since 1995.
The incredible feat of puck stopping isn’t enough to take top spot on this list of the 10 greatest mid-season goaltending performances, however. That spot goes to a very special game that a certain San Jose Sharks netminder will never forget. Read more
The stereotypical Canadian hockey player is humble, sometimes to a fault. But this year’s edition of the world junior team wanted to be different, going way back to the summer: They wanted to bring some swagger back to a program that had not won gold since 2009 and now, they have done it.
One early season storyline that was almost impossible to believe was the sheer number of players the Columbus Blue Jackets lost to injury at the beginning of the year. There was a point when the team was barely recognizable.
But now, as the team begins to get healthy, the Blue Jackets are rolling. Through Decemeber, the team went 10-1-1. At one point too far out of the playoff race to even be considered a threat to make it, could Columbus actually make a push to play into April? Read more
MONTREAL – A few random thoughts as your correspondent packs up and heads back to Toronto for the medal round of the World Junior Championship:
* The next time our friends at Hockey Canada and TSN remind us how important this tournament is to Canada’s hockey identity and cultural fabric – and that should happen in say, the next 30 seconds or so – it might be relevant to point out that only one in 10 Canadians actually watched Canada’s preliminary-round games on television and, in Montreal at least, that patriotism has definitive limit. Read more
MONTREAL – The New Year’s Eve game between Canada and USA has been billed as the Connor McDavid-Jack Eichel showdown, but a couple of other Americans who have already been drafted have served notice that this World Junior Championship might just belong to them.
While Eichel has been good at times in this tournament, one of those times was not Monday’s 3-0 victory over Slovakia, when the American jewel of the 2015 draft took two penalties and failed to hit the scoresheet. Instead, USA was carried to victory on the shoulders of the line of Dylan Larkin between Sonny Milano and Hudson Fasching, which was creative as it was dominant. Read more
It was a play that transcended a single game.
Winless Denmark found itself deadlocked with the winless Czech Republic in a crucial Group B affair Monday afternoon, and Winnipeg Jets prospect Nikolaj Ehlers found the puck on his stick with his Danes on a power play early in the third period. Using his eye-popping speed, Ehlers zoomed into the high slot, charging up a wrister before surprising everyone on the ice with a gorgeous backdoor pass onto Mathias Asperup’s stick. Easy goal, 3-2 lead for the Danes.
In the end, the go-ahead marker didn’t stop the Czechs from tying the game and winning in overtime on a beautiful goal from Bruins 2014 first-rounder David Pastrnak. And the Czechs largely deserved the victory, having outshot Denmark 47-14. Still, seeing Ehlers make a play that exotic, that skilled, said something more significant. It wasn’t a good goal “for Denmark.” It was an elite play by an elite young player for an emerging nation. It reminded us to take these Danes more seriously than we ever have.