Bottom feeders refuse to tank by playing hard…and badly

Red Wings celebration (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

On the night the Edmonton Oilers were officially eliminated from the playoff race for the ninth straight season, the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes had the potential for an all-out Tank-a-thon. But the more you watch these bottom feeders play, the more you realize they’re not losing on purpose to get a chance at a generational talent.

They’re just really, really bad hockey teams.

Say what you will about the moves the power brokers of the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs have made off the ice, but it’s crystal clear that those who have a say on what happens on the 200-by-85 playing surface will have nothing to do with the stink of losing on purpose. Read more

NHL makes history with first-ever Russian referee

Evgeny Romasko (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It was only fitting that the first Russian to ever referee an NHL game would do it in Detroit, the city that assembled the Russian Five and is home to one of the all-time greatest Russian players in NHL history in Pavel Datsyuk.

Evgeny Romasko made history Monday night by becoming the first-ever Russian-born official to work an NHL game when the Red Wings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. It took Romasko just four minutes and 52 seconds to call the first penalty of his NHL career, a highsticking minor against Marek Zidlicky of the Red Wings, which impressed his boss, NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom. Read more

Boston Bruins’ goalie Niklas Svedberg makes a great save then gets bowled over

Jeff Doner
Boston goalie Niklas Svedberg stops Justin Abdelkader on Sunday. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Earning the start in goal against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon, young Bruins netminder Niklas Svedberg stood tall in net to help the Bruins earn two more points for their playoff race. Up 2-1 midway through the second period, Svedberg stepped out to make a huge pad save on a tip-in attempt from Red Wings’ forward Justin Abdelkader.

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Jimmy Howard makes spinning blocker save after puck bounces off glass

Jared Clinton
Howard

In some instances goaltenders will tell you it’s not about how the save looks, just that the job gets done. That’s the theory Jimmy Howard subscribed to on Wednesday night.

Late in the third period of Detroit’s contest against the New York Rangers and with a Blueshirts power play about to expire, Ryan McDonagh unleashed a rocket of a slapshot towards the Detroit goal. The puck bounced high off the glass and back towards Howard and his net. In a split second reaction, Howard read the bounce of the puck off the glass and used his blocker like he was swinging a tennis backhander to swat the puck away: Read more

Here are your winners and losers of the 2015 NHL trade deadline

Antoine Vermette (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Another NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and whenever it passes, there’s the urge to judge which teams were winners and which ones were at the other end of the competitive spectrum. Of course, any hockey fan paying close attention from year-to-year understands that 99 percent of all trades have to be judged over the long-term to be judged fairly. So bear that in mind as we do our best to break down the teams that came away from this season’s deadline – including the days leading up to it, when many of the biggest deals took place – looking great, and which ones came away looking questionable or worse.

Winners:

Arizona Coyotes: There were two types of winners on Deadline Day 2015 – the winners who are loading up for a long playoff run, and the winners who stripped down their roster as part of a long-term rebuild. The Coyotes are clearly part of the latter group, and GM Don Maloney did a ton of work that will quicken the franchise’s turnaround: he shook down Rangers counterpart Glen Sather for (among other things) a top prospect (Anthony Duclair) and first-round draft pick; he also landed Chicago’s first-rounder and a prospect for Antoine Vermette. Read more

‘Draft, schmaft’ lives again as picks, prospects sacrificed at deadline

Keith Yandle (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Since the calendar turned to 2015, the Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired four players – David Perron, Daniel Winnik, Ben Lovejoy and Ian Cole. And they’ve shipped out Simon Despres, Robert Bortozzo and Rob Klinkhammer and four draft picks – first- and fourth-rounders in 2015 and second- and seventh-rounders in 2016.

And they might lose in the first round of the playoffs.

The team they would play in the first round of the playoffs if the regular season were to end today would be the New York Rangers. They’ve added Keith Yandle, Karl Klingberg, James Sheppard, Chris Summers and a fourth-round pick in 2015. And they’ve surrendered Lee Stempniak, Anthony Duclair, John Moore, a first-round pick in 2016 and a second-rounder in 2015. Read more

Maple Leafs want Brendan Smith in Dion Phaneuf deal with Red Wings

Ken Campbell
Brendan Smith (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings continue to negotiate a deal which would see captain Dion Phaneuf going to Detroit today, but the sticking point now appears to be Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.

The possible deal would see the Leafs get Smith and forward Stephen Weiss in a deal for Phaneuf with the Red Wings assuming the remaining six years on Phaneuf’s deal at $7 million per season. Read more

Red Wings land veteran winger Erik Cole from Stars as insurance for concussed Johan Franzen

Adam Proteau
Erik Cole (Glenn James/NHL)

The Red Wings are en route to their 24th consecutive playoff appearance, but may be without concussed key winger Johan Franzen for its entirety. With that in mind, GM Ken Holland moved Sunday and made a deal with his former assistant GM and current Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill for veteran Erik Cole.

The trade also sends a third-round draft pick in 2015 from Dallas to Detroit, while the Stars receive a second-round pick in 2015 as well as two 22-year-old prospects: centre Mattias Janmark, and defenseman Mattias Backman. But the Wings get the most recognizable asset in the Cole, who at 36 is nearing the end of his 13-season NHL career, yet still is contributing a better-than average amount of offense (he’s got 18 goals and 33 points in 57 games this year after posting 16 goals and 29 points in 75 games last season) and plays a physical game coach Mike Babcock will appreciate. Read more