Inspired by Zepp, the top five players who have debuted after age 30

Igor Larionov, Slava Fetisov, Slava Kozlov (Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport)

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Rob Zepp’s incredible journey to the NHL was capped off yesterday with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets, but he isn’t the first player to make their NHL debut after the age of 30.

Goaltender Viktor Fasth is one such player, as he made his debut with the Ducks at 31 and 171 days. Nearly a year later, he’s signed himself a big money deal, been shipped from Anaheim to Edmonton, and has 50 NHL starts under his belt. Though he doesn’t make the top five, he’s part of the new generation of first-year players that could be considered elder statesmen.

Here are the top five players to make their NHL debuts after their 30th birthday: Read more

Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon dazzles with beautiful shootout goal

Jared Clinton
Nathan-MacKinnon-COL2

Whether you’re a fan of the shootout or not, no one can deny it lends itself to some good highlight material. On Sunday night, Nathan MacKinnon scored a shootout beauty that’s going to be on reels all season.

The 19-year-old Colorado Avalanche winger scored on the shootout’s first attempt, using a slow, methodical approach before going upstairs past Detroit Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek: Read more

Top 10 Norris candidates: Letang the leader?

Kris Letang (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Year in and year out, one of the most heavily debated awards is the Norris Trophy.

The award given to the NHL’s most outstanding defenseman has, in recent years, had a tendency not to go simply to the best defenseman, but rather the one with the most points. At times, it feels as though the trophy should be split in two, with one award going to the defenseman with the most points and another to the best overall defenseman.

However, in our ranking of the top 10 Norris candidates, we did our best to take into account all facets of defense in hopes it gave us a true picture of the Norris race. By using the standard statistics like points, average ice time and shorthanded time on ice – a key defensive situation – mixed with advanced statistics like Corsi for, quality of competition, and defensive zone starts, the things that can help tell us which players are driving play and not just benefitting from sheltered minutes.

There are a few surprises, but for the most part, it’s the usual suspects. Read more

Red Wings’ Mrazek, Howard don incredible Christmas masks to support charity

Jared Clinton
Howard Mrazek Red Wings featured

Days after unveiling special masks for the holiday season, Detroit Red Wings goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are set to auction them off for charity.

Fans of the Red Wings, or fans who simply want the chance to take home either mask, can start bidding on them now as they’re live on the NHL Auctions website. All proceeds will go to benefit Volunteers of America Michigan’s Adopt-A-Family program, and will go towards purchasing big-ticket items for the families, such as a washer and dryer for one family who lost their appliances due to flooding in August.

Both goaltenders donned the masks for the Red Wings’ Dec. 16 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and will continue to wear them throughout Detroit’s current homestand. The final appearance for the masks will be on Dec. 23 when the Red Wings host the Sabres. You can see both below. Read more

Gordie Howe improving: ‘We will never give up on Gordie,’ his son says

Ken Campbell
Wayne Gretzky Gordie Howe

The son of Hall of Famer Gordie Howe confirms that his father’s recent recovery is going so well that there are plans for him make a public appearance with Wayne Gretzky in February.

Marty Howe confirmed his father is due to appear at the Kinsmen Celebrity Sports Dinner Saskatoon alongside Gretzky Feb. 6. Howe, who had strokes in October and November and has severe dementia, has been at his daughter’s home in Lubbock, Texas, but could be ready to leave soon.

“As long as he keeps improving and doesn’t have another setback, we feel he should be well enough to travel,” Marty said in an email to thn.com. “We will never give up on Gordie and giving up is something Gordie has never done.” Read more

The NHL shootout: the part of the game practice and coaching can’t solve

Leafs goalie James Reimer and Sabres center Cody Hodgson (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Flyers’ 2-1 shootout loss to Florida Thursday marked their fifth loss in as many shootouts this season. With even one or two wins in those five games, Philly would be within sniffing distance of a wild card berth and not, as they currently are, closer in the standings to the last-place Carolina Hurricanes. And when veteran center Vincent Lecavalier was asked after the game whether the Flyers practiced the shootout enough, his answer likely didn’t make beleaguered head coach Craig Berube very happy.

“Well, obviously not,” said Lecavalier, who was one of the Flyers’ shooters. “I mean, maybe we could do more. They’re obviously very important points that you’re kind of leaving on the table. We have been practicing, but we probably could do more.”

Berube maintained the Flyers do practice enough, but the truth is, since it was first implemented in 2005, the shootout has been a Bermuda Triangle of expectations and logic. And the more you think about the so-called solution for a team’s shootout woes, the sillier it is. I mean, players have to practice scoring more? These men are almost universally dominant scorers at lower levels of the game and who think of different ways to score constantly, so what exactly would another 20 minutes or a half-hour after practice do for them, when it’s all but impossible to replicate the game conditions (including thousands of screaming fans potentially attempting to intimidate them) of an actual shootout? Read more

Top 10 Vezina candidates of 2014-15: Rinne rules

Pekka Rinne (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Goaltending can make or break a team’s season. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers, who for years have looked promising but have been unable to secure a goaltender to give them the big save they need.

You won’t find either Oilers goaltender, Ben Scrivens or Viktor Fasth, on this list of the top 10 Vezina candidates. Nor will you find Michael Hutchinson, who currently leads the league in save percentage and is second in goals-against average. The reason being Hutchinson just hasn’t had the workload, and including his numbers also put goaltenders like Colorado’s Calvin Pickard and injured St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott into the conversation.

Instead, many familiar faces are among the contenders, though not a single one has won the Vezina in their career. Read more

Meet Joe Hicketts, everyone’s favorite Team Canada dark horse

Victoria's Joe Hicketts (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

At 5-foot-8, the deck was always going to be stacked against defenseman Joe Hicketts. But the standout for the Western League’s Victoria Royals is quickly showing the rest of the country what he can do at Team Canada’s world junior camp and the Detroit Red Wings free agent signing is already making the NHL look silly for passing on him at the 2014 draft.

Read more