Separation between East’s have & have-not teams will make NHL trade deadline unique

Cody Franson (Abelimages/Getty Images)

If you don’t know by now the NHL’s points system is essentially a competitive funhouse mirror designed to give more teams the appearance they’ve got a shot at a playoff spot, you should. The league has, to the credit of its business acumen, recognized more teams can sell tickets to fans deeper into their regular-seasons if those fans see the teams are only four or five points out of a post-season berth; now, there’s very likely a very slim chance that team can leapfrog a bunch rivals playing each other down the stretch for one of the last playoff positions, but that’s not the point. It’s a mirage of sorts, and it works.

But the way things are shaping up in the Eastern Conference this year, not even the “loser point” looks like it’s going to create the illusion of competitiveness between the teams that make the post-season and the ones that don’t. Of course, most teams still have approximately 35 games to play, so you can’t be sure about anything just yet, but with the trade deadline set for March 2, it’s starting to look like the East’s eight non-playoff teams are going to serve as a feeder system for the much tighter West. Read more

Suspend him or not: Emelin boards Spezza, Kesler clips Dorsett

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After a weekend of fun and festivities, the NHL’s back and it’s already time to talk about potential suspensions. Two separate incidents on Tuesday could find Montreal’s Alexei Emelin and Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler in hot water.

Early in the second period of the Canadiens’ tilt against the visiting Dallas Stars, Emelin gave chase to Jason Spezza behind the net and, with the puck coming towards the Stars center, Emelin gave him a shove from behind which resulted in a bloodied Spezza. Read more

Rumor Roundup: What to watch as trade deadline draws near

Fleischmann Kopecky featured

With the 2015 NHL All-Star Game now history and teams returning to action on Tuesday, the focus shifts toward the approaching NHL trade deadline on March 2. It’s expected trade activity will increase over the next five weeks as more clubs fall out of playoff contention.

As the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch observes, only four teams – Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers – can be considered non-contenders and therefore sellers in the trade market. Between now and the trade deadline, Garrioch believes they will be joined by the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. Read more

Dan Hamhuis IS the shifty-eyed dog from The Simpsons

Matt Larkin

We live in a world of jersey throwing and Dan Carcillo cheap shots. Sometimes, it helps to take a mental break. Reddit user sjgoglin to the rescue with the post, “Dan Hamhuis is up to something.”

An immediate connection leaps off the screen. Shifty-eyed dog from The Simpsons, meet your long-lost twin, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis.

Read more

Fighting in the NHL: Should it stay or go?

Ryan Kennedy
(Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Depending on which team you ask, the opening-whistle line brawl between Calgary and Vancouver last season was either a stupid distraction or just what the doctor ordered. When Flames coach Bob Hartley started noted heavyweights such as Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth, Canucks bench boss John Tortorella countered with enforcers Tom Sestito and Kellan Lain, who happened to be making his NHL debut. Westgarth lined up at center and was eventually greeted by rugged defenseman Kevin Bieksa – who, for posterity’s sake, won the draw – and the fists went a-flying.

The final score was 3-2 Vancouver, but that may have been the least important number that night in a game that featured a combined 204 penalty minutes. Due to ejections, Dan Hamhuis played 36 minutes for Vancouver, while Dennis Wideman led Calgary with 38. And then there was Tortorella, who ended up charging the Calgary dressing room between periods. It was not a normal night at the office. Read more

Canucks’ Nick Bonino puts on one-man show in scoring spin-o-rama goal against Flyers

Nick Bonino (Elsa/Getty Images)

The production of center Nick Bonino has been one of the bright spots in the Canucks’ current season – and the superb goal Bonino scored Thursday against the Flyers might have been his prettiest play since Vancouver acquired him from Anaheim in the blockbuster deal for Ryan Kesler.

Bonino took a pass at his own blueline early in the first period in Philadelphia and proceeded to turn Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto inside-out with a spin move before snapping a shot past goalie Ray Emery: Read more

Roberto Luongo’s thanks-for-the-memories video a fitting tribute from Canucks

Adam Proteau
Roberto Luongo (Getty Images)

Roberto Luongo’s return to Vancouver Thursday included a brief but touching tribute video that underscored the star goalie’s impact in eight seasons with the Canucks before being traded to the Panthers late last season.

In Luongo’s first appearance in Vancouver since the March trade that sent him to Florida in exchange for Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias, Luongo was showered with cheers and chants of “Lou” showing the appreciation of Canucks fans. And during a break in the first period, the organization tipped its hat to him with a thoughtful video package highlighting his time with the team: Read more

The Hot List: Pavel Zacha and other prospects from the world juniors

Pavel Zacha (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

Another world junior tournament is in the books and it was a dandy, with Canada holding off the Russians 5-4 in the gold medal game. Next year, the holiday classic shifts over to Finland, where the host nation will hope to rebound from a sub-par outing in 2014. There was a ton of talent in Montreal and Toronto, so here’s a wrap of some players that caught my eye. As always, only prospects who have yet to play an NHL game were eligible.

Read more