• Why are the Penguins struggling? It’s not Fleury; Crosby & Co. are to blame

    Marc-Andre Fleury (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The big question mark coming into this series (other than, perhaps, how many games would it take for the Penguins to dispose of the Blue Jackets) was whether Marc-Andre Fleury could shake his recent playoff demons and take his team on a deep playoff run. And surely, after misplaying the puck to allow a late tying maker and letting in the OT-softy that has this series knotted at two, most will say he’s still haunted.

     

     

    But if you’re looking to place blame, look at the big-name forwards in front of him first.

    Coming off a sweep at the hands of the Bruins last year, where the Pens managed a total of two goals, the stars have once again gone AWOL: Sidney Crosby, zero goals. Evgeni Malkin, zero goals. James Neal, one goal. Read more

  • No Getzlaf, no Selanne, no funny tweet, no dice for Ducks

    Brian Costello
    Dallas Stars v Anaheim Ducks - Game Two

    The headlines came fast and furious in the Anaheim-Dallas series Wednesday and that was even before the opening faceoff.

    First, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau decided earlier in the day he was going to make future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne a healthy scratch. Can you imagine? Actually, it made a lot of sense. Selanne’s production has waned this season with just nine goals and none through three playoff games. Boudreau explained, very diplomatically, that it was a very difficult decision, but in a physical series and without last line change in Dallas, his lineup was better without Selanne in it.

    That’s when Teemu’s teenaged son Eemil stepped into the fray on Twitter. Using humor to express disappointment over his father’s healthy scratch, Eemil tweeted Boudreau was getting assigned to the American League.

    eemil tweet

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  • Matt Cooke gets seven games. Let the outrage begin…

    Edward Fraser
    Matt Cooke

    The judgement has come down and the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Cooke (a.k.a. The Most Hated Man In Hockey) has been given a seven-game ban for kneeing Tyson Barrie in Game 3, which put the Colorado D-man out 4-to-6 weeks with an MCL injury.

    Stephane Quintal, the NHL’s new sheriff, explained the decision as such:

     

     

    Not surprisingly, the consensus among pundits and non-Wild fans is the suspension was too short, far too short. But the league got this one about right. Read more

  • Rare footage shows pre-Mad Men Jon Hamm talking Blues – and talking smack about Blackhawks

    Adam Proteau
    Jon Hamm (Vera Anderson/WireImage)

    Film and TV star Jon Hamm – best known for his iconic role as Don Draper in the AMC series “Mad Men” – is also famous for being a fan of his hometown St. Louis Blues. And in newly-unveiled footage of a little-seen movie made long before he became known worldwide, Hamm got the chance to talk some smack about the rival Chicago Blackhawks while pumping the tires of his favorite NHL team.

    In the movie “Cheese And Crackers”, a black-and-white film shot in St. Louis in 1997, the characters played by Hamm and fellow actor Jason Newman have a spirited debate about the merits of the Blues and Hawks. The language isn’t safe for work or children, but if you can get past that, it’s a neat look into the past – and the absence of color footage makes Hamm look like a star from the golden age of Hollywood. Read more

  • Jimmy Fallon’s NHL Awards: Zdeno Chara most likely to be two humans sewn together

    Zdeno Chara (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    On The Tonight Show Tuesday, Jimmy Fallon dipped his toe into the NHL’s frozen pond with his humorous NHL Playoff Awards. He’s done this before in 2013 and even focused on the Bruins before, though he’s destroyed the pronunciation of so many of these names.

    Last night, the Bruins and Penguins were in the crosshairs and it was a pretty good segment which, naturally, compared Zdeno Chara to Frankenstein-type monster. There is no other comparison for the towering Bruins defender.

    But Matt Niskanan and Simon Despres got the worst of it, especially the former, who is in the middle of a heated Stanley Cup playoff series. If Niskanen doesn’t receive trash talk related to this joke in Game 4 – and onwards – it would be the most surprising development of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And now anytime he dumps it in, we have to wonder if Niskanen was actually trying to shoot it on net. Read more

  • How Michael Jordan can help the Tampa Bay Lightning

    Ronnie Shuker
    (Photo by Scott Audette/NHL)

    What did Michael Jordan once say? “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.”

    There’s not much basketball and hockey have in common, other than the fact they both have nets. But that statement from basketball’s greatest player ever is just the right balm for the battered and bruised pride of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who would do well to memorize that advice verbatim, because their future has success written all over it.

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  • San Jose Sharks rookie Matt Nieto has a story that tugs at the heart strings

    Brian Costello
    San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers

    Matt Nieto scored his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal for the San Jose Sharks last night and there was his longshoreman dad, looking very much like a Long Beach longshoreman, watching from the stands in Los Angeles.

    The story of Nieto and his ascension from Long Beach street blading brat to NHL regular is one worth hearing. It’s a story mainly about Nieto and his mother and the circle of hockey that eveloped their lives. It is told well by The Hockey News correspondent David Pollak in the April 7 edition of the San Jose Mercury News.

    Nieto asked for rollerblades at the age of 2 and his mother Mary said she could later always hear where he was in the neighborhood by the clicking sound of his wheels. He rarely took them off. Nieto’s love for hockey kept him out of trouble, growing up in a dangerous district where drive-by shooting were not uncommon.

    “Probably everybody he hung out with is either in a gang or on drugs or something,” Mary Nieto told Pollak. “I think hockey saved his life, absolutely. Hockey became a way out for a Mexican-American kid in Southern California.”

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  • Kings need a goaltending change for Game 4

    Quick picture

    In the wee hours of Wednesday morning – Center of the Universe™ time, of course – your trusty correspondent was crucified in Twitter for suggesting that the Los Angeles Kings should seriously consider starting Martin Jones for Game 4 of their first-round series against the San Jose Sharks.

    The critics were pretty evenly split between one camp that insisted that none of the Kings troubles in the first three games could be dropped at Jonathan Quick’s doorstep and a group that worried about what kind of message that would send and whether it would damage his relationship with the Kings moving forward. All in all, the general sentiment could be summed up in the following Tweet: “You’re (expletive) kidding, right?”

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