It’s a well-worn adage in sports that if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.
As we sit back and watch the NFL’s Deflategate with a certain amount of schadenfreude, we should be careful not to let our smug meter edge too high. Hockey isn’t as lily white as the surface it plays on.
We needn’t look beyond the NHL’s decision this season to punish divers, by outing them, for Exhibit A. If pretending to be fouled, or embellishing an act to draw an advantage isn’t unethical, it’s certainly uncool.
The New York Islanders continue to be one of the most fun teams to watch in the entire NHL, and this exquisite passing play leading to a Mikhail Grabovski goal is the most recent example.
If you can follow the moving puck, it goes from John Tavares, across the ice to Josh Bailey, over to Johnny Boychuk, back to Bailey, and then to the goalmouth where Grabovski is waiting to tap it home. It’s a thing of beauty, and each pass is perfect. The play is made better by Grabovski’s stationary celebration. Read more
Veteran right winger Radek Dvorak, who played 1,260 career regular-season NHL games with eight teams over 18 years, retired Tuesday.
The 37-year-old Dvorak was drafted by the Florida Panthers 10th overall in 1995, and developed into a solid, if unspectacular forward who could play defense (he still holds Florida’s team record for most shorthanded goals, with 16). He had a 31-goal campaign for the Rangers in 2000-01, but never scored more than 20 in a single season after that. Having had two separate stints with the team, he’s second in Panthers franchise history in games played (613), but also spent time with the Blueshirts, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks and the Carolina Hurricanes. And he represented his homeland at the 2002 Olympics, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and numerous IIHF World Championships. Read more
COLUMBUS – Your trusty correspondent has a new favorite player and his name is John Tavares. Any player who can make a contribution to the kids’ education funds, or to the post All-Star Game beer fund, is worthy of my admiration.
My keen eye for talent conspired with Tavares’ brilliant scoring skill to win me a cool $360 (in inflated U.S. funds, no less!) in the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association All-Star Game pool. Ryan Johansen may have left with a new car, but yours truly probably has enough money to buy a couple of tires. Read more
The NHL’s newest playoff format puts the spotlight on divisional play, and if the New York Rangers and red hot Rick Nash start the postseason against a Metropolitan Division opponent, there’s reason to believe they might be able to pull off an upset.
When the new playoff system was introduced last season, it put focus on rivalries and highlighted the importance of winning games within your division. There may be no player in 2014-15 that has more of an impact in against the most familiar foes than Rick Nash. Read more
Editor’s note: This piece was written before the Staal extension was announced on Sunday. The new contract is reportedly worth $34.2 million ($5.7 million per season) over six years.
The New York Rangers and defenseman Marc Staal are nearing a new deal that would see the 6-foot-4 defenseman sign on for six more seasons in the Big Apple.
According to a report from Larry Brooks of the New York Post, a “well-placed source” has told Brooks there has been positive talks between the two sides and that the Rangers and unrestricted free agent-to-be Staal are inching ever closer to signing on the dotted line. Read more
Brad Marchand is no stranger to the NHL’s supplemental discipline process. The Bruins winger also isn’t unfamiliar with being accused of slew-footing one of his opponents. So when Marchand did exactly that Thursday – this time, to Rangers star Derick Brassard – there’s no doubt he deserves to be hauled before the NHL department of player safety and hit with a significant suspension for undeniably reckless play.
Marchand and Brassard were chasing the puck into the corner in Boston, and Marchand clearly kicks out Brassard’s right foot just before he crashed into the boards in a sequence that easily could’ve resulted in a broken leg for the Blueshirts center: Read more
Denis Potvin, we can only presume, still sucks. But that’s about the only thing that has remained constant in the rivalry between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders over the past couple of decades.
Until tonight, that is. When the Islanders visit the Rangers for the second time this season, it will represent the first time in, well, forever that the two franchises have been relevant and contending teams. The Rangers are only the hottest team in the NHL right now, coming off their first-ever California sweep and having won 13 of their past 14 games. The Islanders, by contrast, have been consistently strong this season and sit on top of the Metropolitan Division standings – albeit with the Rangers being five points behind and having three games in hand. Read more