Wings’ Petr Mrazek makes save of the playoffs – and maybe, the year – against Bolts’ Brian Boyle

Petr Mrazek (Getty Images)

Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek is one of the reasons Detroit is leading Tampa Bay three games to two in their first-round playoff series, and Monday in Game 6, Mrazek made his best stop of the post-season – and maybe the best save any NHL goalie has made all year – by turning aside a Brian Boyle shot with his stick.

The Wings were trailing the Bolts 2-0 early in the second period when Bolts center Vladislav Namestnikov broke in on Mrazek on a 2-on-1, and a great pass by Namestnikov left Boyle with a wide-open net to shoot at. But Mrazek somehow managed to get his stick in front of the shot to keep Tampa’s lead at two: Read more

Marcel Pronovost remembered as Hall of Fame player and person

Ken Campbell
Marcel Pronovost, Terry Sawchuk and Gordie Howe (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

If you ever need a case study in the stark contrasts that sometimes exist between on-ice perception and off-ice personality, you needn’t go much further than Marcel Pronovost. As rambunctious and dramatic as he was on the ice, he was as humble and respectful off it.

The man Ted Lindsay once called, “the most underrated defenseman every to play in the league,” Pronovost died Sunday in Windsor at the age of 84 after a series of illnesses. And the hockey world is a little less for having lost Pronovost, a man who devoted his life to the game and whose tentacles touched almost every aspect of it, from playing to coaching to scouting. And Pronovost enjoyed an enormous amount of success in all three. Read more

Maple Leafs prospect Viktor Loov throws vicious headshot in AHL playoffs

Jared Clinton
Viktor Loov hits Zach Nastasiuk (via @SlapshotG0al/GFYCat)

At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, 22-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Viktor Loov is no small man. And with his sizeable frame, he’s no stranger to throwing around the body. Unfortunately for Loov, he might also become no stranger to watching from the sidelines following a blindside headshot to Detroit Red Wings prospect Zach Nastasiuk in the second game of the first-round AHL tilt between the Toronto Marlies and Grand Rapids Griffins.

Nastasiuk received a pass in the neutral zone and put his head down to collect the puck off of the boards. Before he could even lift his head to take a look, Loov had come across the ice and delivered a massive blow that popped Nastasiuk’s helmet clean off and left the 20-year-old winger laying on the ice: Read more

Decision to go with Mrazek showing Babcock’s brilliance as Detroit takes Game 5

Petr Mrazek (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

There weren’t many teams that had legitimate goaltending questions heading into the post-season. Of those that did, however, were the Red Wings, but before the first-round series between Detroit and Tampa Bay, Mike Babcock named Petr Mrazek his starter. Five games later, the choice couldn’t look much more genius.

Through the first three games of the series, Mrazek allowed six goals and had completely shut down the powerful Lightning offense in Game 3, posting a 22-save shutout in the Red Wings’ first home game of the post-season. In Game 4, for almost the entire outing, it was much of the same. However, following a few defensive breakdowns after Mrazek had shut the door for nearly the entirety of the contest, Tampa Bay found the back of the net three times in quick succession and shockingly stole an overtime win.

In Game 5, though, the 23-year-old Czech netminder posted a 28-save clean sheet, his second in five games, and almost single-handedly pushed the Red Wings to a 3-2 series lead. Read more

Red Wings’ Riley Sheahan tees off on one-timer, scores game-winning goal late in first period

Riley Sheahan (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

There will eventually be a season in Detroit where there isn’t a new, young, fresh-faced forward scoring goals when the Detroit Red Wings need it most. Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2014-15 isn’t going to be that season.

Late in the first period of Game 5, with the first-round series between Detroit and Tampa Bay tied 2-2, 23-year-old Riley Sheahan set up on his off-wing on the power play. And, from the spot where big time snipers like Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos usually set up to uncork one-timers with the man advantage, Sheahan received a perfect pass in his wheelhouse from Niklas Kronwall and blasted it home. Blink and you’ll miss it: Read more

Detroit company finds success with game-used stick phone cases

Original Stix

By Warren Frank

Detroit-based company Original Stix appears to have found an extremely interested market for its game-used composite sticks phone cases.

The idea to turn old sticks into hockey-themed phone cases came from CEO Terry Johnson. He’s always been inspired by creative repurposing, but it was an experience during his time at Michigan State that was particularly influential.

“One of my friends built a table out of old sticks,” Johnson said. “I always thought it was interesting to repurpose something designed for an entirely different reason, and it got me thinking about other products built with authentic materials.”

 

Original Stix case

After graduating, Johnson teamed up with two friends and fellow Michigan State alumni, Mario DiMercurio and Andrew Mestdagh, to found the company. The company’s first product, an iPhone 5 case, was launched in August, and its positive reception has led to the addition of Galaxy s5 cases, iPhone 6 cases and an apparel line. All Original Stix products are made in the U.S. – a point of pride for the business.

“The rubber cases are made using local injection molding facilities,” Johnson said. “The sticks are cut by hand, and then the inside is coated with a rubberized coating for added protection. When an order comes through, customers can request specific sticks so we match the sticks with the rubber frame and build to order.

“Everything is done right here in Detroit. The area has been going through some tough times in recent years, so creating jobs and bringing manufacturing back to the area is something that our fans have really gotten behind, regardless of what team they follow.”

And it’s not just fans interested in Original Stix products: the company recently completed a custom order for the New York Rangers, with cases featuring game-used sticks now sold at Madison Square Garden. Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who went to high school with Johnson and DiMercurio, has been to the Original Stix headquarters a number of times.

While Original Stix is looking to add additional teams, customers can currently choose stick pieces from more than 50 squads from the NHL, AHL, NCAA and OHL. The sticks can be swapped out without having to buy a new case.

“We’ve had a lot of customers who have sticks autographed by NHL players,” Johnson said. “We love seeing stuff like that. It’s like a portable piece of memorabilia as opposed to an autographed photo that just hangs on the wall.”

Original Stix display

Don’t count out Lightning yet: despite blunders, Bolts pressure and collapse Red Wings to even up their series

Lightning players Brian Boyle (left) and Tyler Johnson celebrate Johnson's game-winning overtime goal in Game 4 of Tampa Bay's first-round series against Detroit. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Heading into the playoffs, the one area of concern about the Tampa Bay Lightning was that starting goalie Ben Bishop may not be experienced enough in the post-season to thrive, and the rest of the team would pay the price if he struggled. And it wasn’t an ill-founded concern: although he deserves all kinds of credit for posting a 40-13-5 regular-season mark this year, the reality is the 28-year-old Bishop had just a single game’s worth of experience at the professional hockey level – and it came in the American League in 2011. So when Bishop batted a puck into his own net late in the second period of Game 4 of the Bolts’ first-round series against Detroit (a series the Lightning trailed the Red Wings in two games to one) a massive upset not only was continuing to materialize, but enter its late stages.

However, in a span of one minute and 17 seconds in the third period, Tampa Bay – specifically, blossoming star center Tyler Johnson, who scored his third goal of the playoffs at 14:34, then assisted on Ondrej Palat’s game-tying goal at 15:51 – erased all the trouble signs with a pair of goals to send a shocked Wings squad into overtime. And only 2:25 into the extra frame, Johnson scored his second of the night to win it and even up the series at two games apiece.

Don’t count out the Lightning just yet. In fact, with the series shifting back to Tampa Bay for Game 5 Saturday and again for a potential Game 7 Wednesday, it’s probably safer if you count them in. The rapid emergence of the 24-year-old Johnson as a game-changer nearing the level of teammate Steven Stamkos (who, incredibly, is still looking for his first goal of the series) is an incredibly positive harbinger of what could be to come for the Bolts the rest of this post-season and the playoffs to come. Read more

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop tries to bat the puck away, but it winds up in his own net

Detroit's Joakim Andersson celebrates after scoring on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in Game 4 of Tampa Bay's first-round playoff series against the Red Wings. (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ben Bishop hasn’t been having the best post-season for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and his troubles continued Thursday in Game 4 of the Bolts’ first-round series against Detroit when he batted a shot from Red Wings winger Joakim Andersson into his own net.

Leading the Lightning 2-1 in their series heading into Game 4, the Wings were already up 1-0 Thursday in Detroit when Bishop deflected Andersson’s snap shot with his glove late in the second period and tried to bat the puck away with his stick. Unfortunately for Bishop, the puck went off his crossbar, and when he stretched back to try and stop it from crossing the goal line – you guessed it – he pushed it just enough to cross the goal line: Read more