Leafs’ luck runs out as Grossmann scores fluke off the back boards

Josh Elliott
Toronto Maple Leafs Jonathan Bernier

The once high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs came crashing back to earth with another embarrassing defeat on Saturday, this time in a 7-4 loss to Philadelphia that hinged on a crazy ricochet goal.

The Leafs and Flyers played to a wild 3-3 tie after one period, but it was Nicklas Grossmann who broke the game open with one of the most bizarre goals of the year.

With his team pressuring, Grossmann took a pass at the left point and dumped the puck hard into the corner. The puck hit the back wall, then hit Jonathan Bernier‘s leg, then went in.

The slow-motion replay is like watching a game of Plinko.
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Giroux at it again, bites Gudbranson’s jersey. Has he snapped?

Jared Clinton
Claude Giroux (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Claude Giroux has had a strange year, to say the least. There was the incident over the summer in Ottawa involving a cop, he wiped some snot on a linesman, and now he’s gone and bitten Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

That’s right. During Thursday’s game against the Panthers, Giroux was skating alongside the massive blueliner, turned to face him, bit his jersey, then tugged at it with his teeth. The whole thing is very strange to see: Read more

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

Rumor Roundup: Kings must free up space for Williams, Jets search for blueline help

Justin Williams

ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Los Angeles Kings last week opened contract talks with right wing Justin Williams, winner of the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy during the Kings’ march to the Stanley Cup last spring.

LeBrun reports the Kings really want to retain the 33-year-old Williams, who loves playing and living in Los Angeles. Williams’ agent, however, has informed management his client prefers not to negotiate during the season. If a deal isn’t reached soon, talks could be shelved until season’s end. Read more

Claude Giroux pulls elementary school gag, wipes snot on referee before faceoff

Jared Clinton
Giroux

We’ve all been there: you’ve got to blow your nose or wipe it and you’re scrambling around looking for something to use. On Tuesday night, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux came up with his own solution.

In the dying minutes of the first period, as a faceoff was about to happen in the Tampa Bay zone, Giroux saw the referee turn to face the Lightning center Brian Boyle. Giroux quickly wiped his nose and patted the linesman on the back, the old elementary school gag: Read more

Jakub Voracek becoming the star scouts thought he could be

The Hockey News
Jakub Voracek's amazing start means fantasy players could get a king's ransom for him in a trade. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Dom Luszczyszyn

Jakub Voracek’s ascent to the top of the scoring race has been one of this season’s biggest surprises, but even without the gaudy totals, he’s quietly emerged as one of the league’s most dominant forwards over the past three seasons.

With 34 points, Voracek sits third in the league behind Tyler Seguin and Sidney Crosby and has 84 points in his last 82 games. A point-per-game season and career highs across the board is obviously not out of the question for Voracek, especially considering the chemistry he’s shown with one of the game’s best point producers, Claude Giroux. He’s got great hockey IQ and vision to go along with great playmaking ability, but the rate he’s scoring at now, a 102 point pace, likely won’t continue. Read more

Calgary Hitmen fans threw more than 25,000 teddy bears on the ice Sunday

Ryan Kennedy
Calgary's Radel Fazleev (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

It’s an annual tradition that brings out the best in hockey fans and they’re particularly good at it in Calgary. The Western League’s Hitmen held their 20th teddy bear toss on Sunday and the result was 25,214 stuffed animals being launched onto the ice, all of which were to be donated to charity. Philadelphia Flyers prospect Radel Fazleev scored 98 seconds into the game to begin the barrage; here’s the aftermath:

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Rumor Roundup: Ottawa has options in goal, Lecavalier’s future uncertain

Lyle Richardson
Craig Anderson (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

After finishing October with a 5-2-2 record, the Ottawa Senators find themselves struggling to remain in playoff contention. They enter their Dec. 4 matchup against the New York Islanders with only five wins in their last 15 games. The Senators are among the NHL’s worst defensive teams and among the bottom third in scoring. However, of the Senators losses since Nov. 1, all but one was by one or two goals. They can thank their goalie tandem of Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner for giving them a chance to win in those games. Read more