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

Rumor Roundup: Stars eyeing pair of Maple Leafs defensemen

Cody Franson (Abelimages/Getty Images)

In recent days there’s been some buzz claiming the Dallas Stars could be interested in Toronto Maple Leafs defensemen Dion Phaneuf or Cody Franson. The basis for this was a report on the Stars needs by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

Heika, however, didn’t say the Stars were actively interested in the pair, only that the club’s focus “seems to be on minute-munching defenders with size.” He merely listed Phaneuf and Franson among several blueline options (Arizona’s Zbynek Michalek and Ottawa’s Marc Methot being the others) who might be available leading up to the March trade deadline. Read more

Here are 10 storylines to watch the rest of the way

Slava Voynov  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – Well, that was some “showcase of skill” wasn’t it? Unless of course, you consider bodychecking, backchecking, stopping pucks and skating hard for pucks to be valuable skills.

There’s a good chance that you’ve forgotten whether Team Toews or Team Foligno won as you read this. But it was a good weekend and good on the city of Columbus for being so hospitable and welcoming. And good on the players for letting their hair down a little and letting the fans in on the fun.

Now to more important matters, specifically the second half and stretch run leading up to the playoffs. Here are 10 storylines that should provide some compelling moments as we hit the most crucial part of the season: Read more

Which skills are the hardest? The all-stars weigh in

Bobby Ryan skates in on Corey Crawford (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – The moves that NHLers can pull off are incredibly impressive, especially since they perform them in front of thousands of people live and many more on TV. The All-Star Game’s skills competition puts many of those tricks on display, but which are actually the hardest? The players themselves have weighed in.

Read more

Jets’ Hutchinson refuses to be beat, makes incredible pad save

Jared Clinton
(Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)

Michael Hutchinson is having the type of season that is making those who thought he might not be ready for the big leagues eat their words and then some.

His shutout last night of the Columbus Blue Jackets is just further evidence that he’s more than ready for the NHL, and the Winnipeg Jets netminder made sure to show a little bit of flash in the process. With less than nine minutes left in the third period, Hutchinson made a left pad save on Brandon Dubinsky that will leave you shaking your head. Read more

Carcillo gets six-game ban for crosscheck on Jets’ Perreault

Jared Clinton
Dan Carcillo

Chicago Blackhawks winger Daniel Carcillo has been suspended for six games following his crosscheck to the arm of Jets’ center Mathieu Perreault in Friday night’s contest between Chicago and Winnipeg.

The crosscheck, which came in the dying seconds of the second period, forced Perreault out of the Friday night tilt and sidelined him for Winnipeg’s Sunday meeting with the Arizona Coyotes. The Department of Player Safety’s decision to suspend Carcillo for six games is due in large part to his suspension history. Read more

Paul Maurice becomes second-youngest coach to 500 wins

Jared Clinton
Paul Maurice (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Paul Maurice has found himself in some very elite company.

With the Winnipeg Jets’ 8-2 dismantling of the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, the Winnipeg bench boss became the second youngest coach (47 years, 348 days) in the history of the NHL to reach 500 wins. The only coach faster? Legendary Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman (45 years, 94 days). Read more

Mathieu Perreault’s four goals nearly $1 million dream for fan

Jared Clinton
(Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)

Gail McDonald is going to remember Mathieu Perreault for a long, long time. That’s because Perreault was inches away from netting her $1 million.

On Tuesday night, in Winnipeg’s 8-2 romping of the Florida Panthers, Perreault accomplished a feat that only two other players in Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history had achieved: he scored four times, just one shy of the magic number and a possible million dollar night for one lucky fan. The goals were his 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th of the season, and they came early and often. Read more