Which save was better: Gibson’s Hasek impression or Holtby’s miraculous reach?

Jared Clinton
John Gibson (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s not often two goaltenders are forced to make incredible paddle saves, but Anaheim’s John Gibson and Washington’s Braden Holtby both made stick saves Sunday that will find their way onto end of year countdowns.

Holtby’s save, which came earlier in the day during a matinee between the Capitals and New York Rangers, was made off the stick of Rangers rookie Jimmy Hayes.

With Washington up by one on their division rivals midway through the first period, and with New York on the power play, Hayes received a beautiful cross-ice feed and had just about the entire net to shoot at. After quickly settling the puck, Hayes fired and Holtby, extending as much as humanly possible, robbed a sure goal with the shaft of his stick: Read more

Why the Penguins should trade Sidney Crosby for the No. 1 pick

Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Before any Pittsburgh fans go and get their jerseys in a jumble, just pause for a second, take a deep breath and think about it: if the Penguins fail to get back to the Stanley Cup final for the sixth straight season, what else is left for the franchise to do but blow up the core?

After an off-season of upheaval in which Pittsburgh brought in a new coach, a new GM and a new supporting cast for Sidney Crosby, there would be few options left but to raze the roster to the ground and begin anew. Sure, the Penguins could use Marc-Andre Fleury as a scapegoat and try using the same roster again next season with a different goalie, but that would only be putting off the inevitable. (Just ask the San Jose Sharks, who are years behind on the rebuilding schedule after sticking with their core despite perennial playoff failures, including their first-round faceplant last year.)

The best thing for the Penguins to do would be to try to trade Crosby for the next Crosby.

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CHL playoffs: The most intriguing first-round matchups

Quebec's Anthony Duclair  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

The CHL playoffs begin tonight and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Connor McDavid has one last chance to win it all with the Erie Otters in the Ontario League, but the powerfully-built Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have designs of their own. Out in the Western League, Kelowna and Brandon seem to be on a collision course for the final, while the Quebec League has the added wrinkle of sending two teams to the Memorial Cup – one being the host Quebec Remparts, who won’t want to crawl in through the back door.

Here’s a look at all the first-round matchups in the CHL, with a bit more info on one series per league that has me riveted from the get-go.

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Mark your calendars – the date has been set for the NHL’s most anticipated draft lottery in years

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announces the Buffalo Sabres as holders of the second pick in the 2014 entry draft. (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

For months now, hockey fans have slowly built their anticipation for one of the most highly-consequential NHL draft lotteries since the process was introduced in 1995. And now it appears the league has settled on a date people can circle on their calendars.

According to a Sportsnet.ca report, the league has decided to hold this year’s draft lottery Apr. 18, as part of a Hockey Night In Canada playoff broadcast. That leaves a little more than three weeks for fans of sad-sack teams to firm up viewing party plans and binge on lottery simulation websites – and when you look at some of the teams with a decent chance of drafting nascent superstars Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel (and the stakes involved if they fail to win the lottery), you’ve got near-perfect conditions to deliver what could very well be hockey’s most drama-packed off-ice night in history.

For one thing, the increasingly-improving chance the Maple Leafs have at McDavid is going to push TV ratings to record levels. Like them or not, the Leafs have millions of fans, and after their brutal free-fall through the NHL standings this season those fans are going to try every superstitious trick in the book in the hope it allows fortune to smile on their beloved Buds. If that does happen, the city of Toronto is going to instantly explode in the biggest hockey-related celebration since a Stanley Cup was won here in 1967.

And for as dramatic as that result would be for the Leafs franchise – it would almost certainly tempt team management to fast-track their rebuild – think of the ripple effect it would have on the rest of the league, and on Toronto rivals in particular: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Niemi among options for Oilers in off-season

Lyle Richardson
Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks. (Photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

With Viktor Fasth seemingly assured of departing via free agency in July, the Edmonton Oilers will be in the market for someone to share the goaltending duties with Ben Scrivens.

In recent weeks, there’s been speculation over Cam Talbot‘s future with the New York Rangers. Talbot, 27, has a one-year contract beyond this season and is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2016. Despite his stellar play filling in for the sidelined Henrik Lundqvist, there’s no way Talbot will supplant “King Henrik” as the Rangers’ starting goalie. Read more

Report says Ilya Kovalchuk could be back in NHL by 2016-17

Jared Clinton
Ilya Kovalchuk

According to Finnish news site Iltalehti.fi, trusted sources have informed the news outlet that Ilya Kovalchuk could be back in the NHL by 2016-17. Kovalchuk has reportedly informed his KHL club, SKA St. Petersburg, of his wish to return to North America following next season.

However, in order to come back to the NHL in two seasons time, Kovalchuk would need to receive the green light from all 30 NHL teams because he voluntarily retired. If he wishes to come back to the league without needing league-wide approval, Kovalchuk would have to wait until 2018-19, when he would be 35. Read more

NCAA Frozen Four: Players to watch from every team in the tournament

Minnesota State goalie Stephon Williams (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

College hockey’s Frozen Four kicks off this week with 16 teams gunning for a spot in Boston, where the semifinal and final will be held in April. Regionals spread the squads across four cities and there is a lot of firepower at this year’s installment. But who are the players to watch for? Here’s a primer for every school, with an admitted bias towards NHL prospects.

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