THN Trade Deadline preview: Metropolitan Division

(Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

With the Eastern Conference about as wide open as it gets in the parity-laden NHL, the trade deadline could be huge in the Metropolitan Division. Who knows if, come deadline day, a GM from one of the three main contenders swings a deal that changes their team’s fate.

The New York Islanders made their biggest splash in the off-season, trading for blueliners Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, the latter of whom was signed to a seven-year extension on Tuesday. The New York Rangers are right at the top of the standings thanks to a red hot Rich Nash. And the Pittsburgh Penguins… well, the Penguins have two guys by the name of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who can be game breakers at any time. But don’t count out the Capitals.

Even the lowly Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets are making some noise heading into the deadline, which could make the Metropolitan extremely active come deadline day. Read more

Quick-thinking doctor-in-training swings into action in LNAH

Ken Campbell
Stephane Boileau (Terry Charland, Flageol Photo)

The Quebec-based North American League (known as the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey or LNAH) has gained a well-deserved reputation over the years as a place where goons go to ply their trade. The league’s fighting leader is a guy by the name of David Lacroix, who has 33 fights in 27 games. That’s more fighting majors than any NHL team has this season. Members of the Laval Predateurs have fought 136 times so far this season, which is almost as many times as the top five teams in the NHL combined. A total of 262 players have played at least one game and almost half of them (126) have been in at least one fight.

Stephane Boileau is not one of those players. The captain of the (get ready for this) Bilizzard Cloutier Nord-Sud Trois-Rivieres is not only the sixth in scoring this season, but he hasn’t been in a single fight in four years of playing in the league. Boileau is completing his fourth year of medicine at the University of Sherbrooke and is preparing for two years of residency before becoming a family and emergency doctor. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Penguins looking to reacquire Jordan Staal

Lyle Richardson
Jordan Staal. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nearly three years after the Pittsburgh Penguins traded center Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes, reports out of Pittsburgh claim the Penguins want him back. More precisely, the man who brought Staal to the Hurricanes wants to bring him back to Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe reports sources claim Penguins GM Jim Rutherford contacted the Hurricanes about the cost of reacquiring the 26-year-old Staal before the March 2 trade deadline. Yohe points out such a move means the Penguins, who have approximately $1 million in cap space, must shed considerable salary to take on the center’s $6-million annual cap hit. Read more

Curtis McElhinney’s great glove save leaves Sidney Crosby shaking his head

Jared Clinton
Curtis McElhinney (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney has won just 39 NHL games in his seven-year NHL career. But even without a ton of wins in his back pocket, at least he’ll be able to tell his kids about the time he made a nearly unthinkable save on the best player of his generation.

During Thursday’s contest against Pittsburgh, there was a scramble in front of McElhinney’s crease that left the puck on the stick of Sidney Crosby with almost an entire cage to shoot at. Nine times out of ten, the result is Crosby raising his arms in celebration, but McElhinney flashed the leather and robbed Crosby of a sure goal. Read more

Sidney Crosby has seventh career NHL fight – this time, against Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky

Adam Proteau
Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is playing his tenth NHL season. And thanks to his actions in Thursday’s game against Columbus – a game in which Crosby got into a showdown with Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky – the superstar center is edging closer to averaging one fight per year after recording the seventh fight of his career.

Crosby’s first fight of this season occurred late in the second period of the game at Consol Energy Center when he and Dubinsky became tangled up in the corner. The nastiness quickly spiked, but what ensued was mostly just thrown gloves and a whole bunch of clutching: (video via SomeHockeyVideos) Read more

Jamie Benn scores first career hat trick – here are five players waiting for their own

Patric Hornqvist and James Neal

Multi-goal games happen on a near nightly basis, but it takes a special night for a player to complete a hat trick. There have been strange hat tricks in NHL history – heck, Mason Raymond has three in his career – but even most gifted offensive talents have struggled to net their own.

Take Jamie Benn, for instance. Tuesday night marked his first career hat trick and it was his 401st NHL game. Shane Doan was drafted in 1995 and scored his first trio in 2012. Brad Richards was nearly 33 before he scored his first.

Two players on this list have had playoff hat tricks, but the regular season feat remains out of their grasp. The names will shock you, too. These are five players waiting for their first career hat trick: Read more

Blatant slash, or innocent swing at the puck: what has Alex Ovechkin done now?

Adam Proteau
Alex Ovechkin (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Capitals superstar winger Alex Ovechkin had already made a mark on Tuesday’s Penguins/Capitals game by scoring a tremendous breakaway goal late in the first period. But early in the third period, he found another way to add to the rivalry between the two Metropolitan Division teams: by taking a two-handed swing – either at Pens star defenseman Kris Letang’s ankle, or at the puck, depending on your perspective – that has led to strong feelings among both fan bases.

Letang had to leave the game for a brief stretch, when, during a chase for a loose puck, Ovechkin’s slash crumpled him and sent him smashing into the end boards: (GIF via @PeteBlackburn)

From the perspective of many Capitals fans, Ovechkin was merely swinging his stick in desperation at the puck, and there was no penalty called on the play. From the point of view of irate Pens fans, the slash made direct contact with Letang’s ankle, and that’s all that counts.

All things considered, this is the type of play that perfectly illustrates the inherent subjectivity of sport. Ask yourself this: if the roles were reversed – if it were Sidney Crosby swinging for the fences and connecting with the ankle of, say, Caps defenseman John Carlson – would Washington fans currently conducting a passionate defense of Ovechkin do the same thing for Crosby?

To ask it is to answer it. Fans are going to see what they want to see. Read more

Alex Ovechkin’s pretty breakaway goal extends his lead in the NHL’s scoring race

Adam Proteau
Alex Ovechkin (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin entered Tuesday night’s game against the Penguins with a one-goal lead over Rangers winger Rick Nash. But he extended that lead after taking advantage of a Penguins defensive collapse and converted a beautiful breakaway goal on Marc-Andre Fleury.

The play took place late in the first period with Washington on the power play and both teams still looking for their first goal: the penalty was on the verge of expiring, and a bad line change by the Pens allowed Ovechkin to skate unmolested through the middle of the ice, directly at Fleury. The 29-year-old made the rest look easy, going to his backhand and flipping the puck up into the net: Read more