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 Calder Trophy candidates: Can anyone catch Filip Forsberg?

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There’s been no shortage of great stories this season, but one of the most surprising things is the cast of rookies who have quickly made names for themselves in the league.

The thing with rookies is they’re one of the most difficult groups of players to accurately forecast. With little known about how well adjusted they’ll be to the NHL, they can either boom or bust, and in some cases an injury or unfavorable situation can send the early Calder Trophy favorite to the bottom of the ballot.

Take Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, for instance, who some people thought would run away with the award but doesn’t even appear on our list. Or John Gibson, the THN consensus pick for the Calder, who had a shot at leading the Ducks this season before injury derailed his season.

These are the top 10 Calder Candidates at this point in the season: Read more

Dallas Stars poke fun at Jagr, want their practice facility key back

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Jaromir Jagr was a Dallas Star for all of 34 games, but when Jagr and the New Jersey Devils visited the Lone Star State, the Stars made sure remind fans of Jagr’s time in Dallas.

With yet another list, the Stars scoreboard operators ran down some of Jagr’s greatest achievements while a member of the team, and again, just like when pointing to things to do in Winnipeg, the list got a bit thin near the bottom. We kind of want to know about this missing key, though: Read more

Another NHLer with the mumps: Rangers’ Derick Brassard the latest to come down with a case

Derick Brassard (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just a few hours after Penguins star Sidney Crosby was confirmed to have come down with a case of the mumps, the NHL had another player linked to the virus when Rangers center Derick Brassard was sent from a road trip in Edmonton back to New York City with a suspected case.

Brassard, who was the Blueshirts’ second-leading point-getter (24 in 27 games), is the 14th player of the season to show symptoms of the mumps, which was contracted by teammate Tanner Glass in November. Other players affected include New Jersey’s Travis Zajac and Adam Larsson; Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin, Clayton Stoner and Emerson Etem; and Minnesota’s Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Keith Ballard, Marco Scandella and Christian Folin. Read more

Damon Severson’s fantastic rookie season overshadowed by Aaron Ekblad

Jared Clinton
Damon Severson (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

If you haven’t been following the New Jersey Devils, you may not have heard his name, but defenseman Damon Severson is having one of the best campaigns of any rookie this season.

Severson, selected by the Devils in the second round of 2012, wasn’t expected to be the next big thing in New Jersey. On a roster that includes Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky, and Adam Larsson, Severson is the blueline’s quiet breakout star. Much of it is due to the tutelage he’s receiving from fellow rearguard Andy Greene.

The pairing of Greene and Severson has been one of the Devils most effective this season, with the 32-year-old veteran helping show the 20-year-old rookie how to handle tough competition. Severson isn’t only learning quickly, he’s excelling. Praise, however, has been hard to come by, especially with Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad performing at an unheard of level. Read more

As Thornton passes Beliveau, five milestones to watch for this season

Roberto Luongo (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

On Thursday night, with two assists, Joe Thornton passed Jean Beliveau on the all-time scoring list. His 1220 points are one more than the legendary Beliveau, and bump ‘Jumbo’ inside the top-40.

While passing an all-time great is an incredible feat, there are several other NHLers who are well on their way to reaching some outstanding milestones this season. Below you can find the top-5 milestones that can be hit by season’s end.

Honorable mention goes to Scott Gomez, who is seven games from 1000 played in his career, Carey Price, who sits six wins from 200, and Henrik Sedin, who is a mere 32 points from reaching the 900-point plateau. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Arizona could make Yandle available, Devils might be dealing

Lyle Richardson
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As the Arizona Coyotes continue to struggle (2-6-2 in their last 10 games) amid ongoing questions over the state of their ownership, there’s growing speculation trades could be in the offing soon.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has once again popped up in the rumor mill. While Yandle has frequently appeared in trade chatter in recent years, McKenzie claims there’s a feeling among the GMs he’s spoken with that the blueliner could be dealt this season. Read more