• The Avalanche aren’t bound for the basement even after slow start

    Jared Clinton
    Nathan-MacKinnon-COL3

    As the saying goes in statistics, there’s an exception to prove the rule. The Colorado Avalanche and their incredible success in 2013-14 were just that – the exception – for statistically inclined hockey fans.

    From the top down, it was the kind of year that baffles the mind. It seemed like each and every night the Avalanche would be outshot, pinned, and scrambling in their own end. Each night, it also seemed like the games would have the same result: an Avalanche victory. Read more

  • Celebrity overtime: Six questions with Quantum Leap/NCIS star Scott Bakula

    Amber Dowling
    Scott Bakula (Skip Bolen/CBS)

    Stars like hockey too, and everyone once in a while they’re more interested in chatting up last night’s game than they are in pontificating about their latest TV or film projects. In our weekly “Celebrity Overtime” feature, we take five minutes with various celebrities to discuss their love of the good old-fashioned game.

    Scott Bakula has been around the TV circuit for years thanks to roles in shows like Quantum Leap and this season’s new hit NCIS: New Orleans, but he’s also spent his share of time on the ice. Don’t call him a Kings fan though — he bleeds St. Louis Blues through and through, even when it’s tough going.

    Q: You’ve spent so much time in L.A., has a small part of your inner fandom converted?

    A: Nope. I’m from St. Louis so I’m a Blues fan, a big, huge, frustrated Blues fan. But I’m still loyal. You’re from Toronto? A couple of years ago I was shooting there…you guys weren’t in the playoffs, and I was like, ‘This is completely wrong.’ It made no sense at all, because Toronto wasn’t in the playoffs but the cars were still in the stadium for hours after the game. I thought, ‘This is insane. And, amazing.’
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  • Rumor Roundup: Myers, Staal could be moved for the right price

    Tyler Myers

    The respective trade statuses of Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers remain hot topics in the NHL rumor mill. In today’s salary cap era, it’s unusual to see two such notable players mentioned this early in the season as possible trade candidates.

    On Wednesday, TSN analyst Bob McKenzie appeared on NBC to report on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ off-season interest in Staal, as well as the Detroit Red Wings apparent pursuit of Myers. His colleague Darren Dreger turned up the same night on NHL Network and commented on the Staal rumors, noting there’s a lot of “ifs” to this situation, the most notable being if Staal could agree to waive his no-trade clause. Read more

  • Top 5 early season surprises

    Gustav Nyqvist (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    The year has just begun, but already we’ve seen more than our fair share of surprises. Here’s your top-five before we enter the second Saturday of the season:

    5. Gustav Nyquist continues to shoot out the lights

    After the summer of Advanced Statistics, it would have been fitting if Red Wings’ sophomore forward Gustav Nyquist’s shooting percentage fell off.

    In 2013-14, Nyquist shot an outrageous 18.3 percent and proprietors of so-called fancy stats said he was due for regression. You wouldn’t have gotten much disagreement from anyone about that, either. Extrapolated over an entire year, that would have been nearly 40 goals for the Swede.

    So far – and yes, it has only been four games – Nyquist has already potted four goals on 11 shots, good for a 36.4 shooting percentage. Certainly, he’s due to regress to somewhere near the league average of somewhere between 8.5 to 9 per cent, but when? If he keeps this up, he might be throwing his name into the ring for the Rocket Richard. Read more

  • Henrik Zetterberg’s four-assist night highlighted by dazzling no look pass

    Jared Clinton
    Henrik Zetterberg

    Johan Franzen is going to owe Henrik Zetterberg a couple gifts.

    The two Swedes connected for a pair of goals before the Red Wings game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was even half through. The first of what would be four assists for Zetterberg on the night was an absolute laser of a pass that found Franzen sneaking in backdoor for a tap in. The second, somehow, put that one to shame.

    With just over five minutes gone in the second period, Zetterberg corralled an arcing puck that landed right in front of his feet. The Wings’ captain broke around Leafs’ Jake Gardiner, drove to the net, and, with no angle to shoot, fed a behind the back, no look pass to Franzen for his second of the night.

    Zetterberg followed it up with the primary assist on the Gustav Nyquist’s goal and a secondary helper on Justin Abdelkader’s marker early in the third. The Wings held on for a 4-1 victory. Read more

  • A fond farewell to Joe Louis Arena

    Mike Brophy
    Joe Louis Arena has hosted countless Stanley Cup final games since opening in 1979. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Say it ain’t so, Joe.

    Like many, I was saddened to learn the city of Detroit will raze Joe Louis Arena and give the land to a creditor as part of a settlement in the city’s bankruptcy case.

    Not that the old Joe wasn’t getting long in the tooth.

    In one of those isn’t-it-amazing-how-time-flies scenarios, it seems like only yesterday I made my first trip to JLA to watch the Detroit Red Wings play a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. I was actually covering junior hockey for the Peterborough Examiner and the Petes had a game in Windsor on a Sunday afternoon. The team went down a day early and attended the Red Wings-Flyers game as special guests of Steve Yzerman.

    Yzerman, of course, played two seasons in Peterborough before departing for the NHL at the tender age 18 and promptly became the Red Wings’ leading scorer in his rookie season. He was soon to become the youngest captain in NHL history and would wind up having a Hall of Fame career, during which he won the Stanley Cup three times. Joe Louis Arena is located at 19 Steve Yzerman Drive.

    What I remember most that day is being positioned in the penalty box to take photos for the feature I was writing about Yzerman and how fast the action was at ice level. I also recall my old pal, radio announcer Bill Bennett, tripping up the stairs while carrying a beer in each hand yet not spilling a drop.

    Over the years JLA has been a significant arena for me in that I attended 15 of the 16 Stanley Cup final games played in Detroit since it opened Dec. 12, 1979. More than that, it has special meaning because my sons, Chase and Darryl, were lucky enough to attend Cup final games there, too.

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  • Gustav Nyquist ready to pick up the Red Wings torch

    Ken Campbell
    Gustav Nyquist (Getty Images)

    If Gustav Nyquist hadn’t known that he arrived as an NHLer last year, he certainly does now. After all, it takes Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and awful lot to admit he screwed up and Nyquist made him do that.

    Babcock has been giving himself a public flogging since Wednesday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins. The Red Wings got a 4-on-3 power play with 41 seconds remaining in overtime and Babcock went with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Riley Sheahan up front and Nicklas Kronwall on defense. In doing so, he left Nyquist on the bench cooling his heels, despite the fact he tied the game with a power-play goal in the third period.

    “I don’t need good analytics to know that Nyquist has three goals,” Babcock said. “We had a 4-on-3 power play at the end of the game and I didn’t have him on the ice. This is my own analytics. After the game, we went through it and we went with the 4-on-3 we always have, but the hottest guy was sitting on the bench. You don’t need analytics to figure out that wasn’t very smart.”

    For the most part, though, Nyquist has made the Red Wings look like geniuses. Brought through the organization in typically methodical fashion after being taken in the fourth round, Nyquist didn’t play an NHL game until more than three years after he was drafted in 2008 and didn’t become an NHL regular until five years later. In between were productive careers with the University of Maine and the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American League, where he won a Calder Cup championship two seasons ago.

    So by the time the Red Wings turned to Nyquist and a host of other minor leaguers to save their season, he was ready to face the challenge. He was, without a doubt, the most valuable player the Red Wings had last season, scoring 23 of his 28 goals last season in a 28-game stretch from mid-January to early April. This season, he’s picked up where he left off, with three goals in the Red Wings first three games.

    So is Nyquist a better NHL player because he was brought along so slowly? Read more

  • Calgary Flames star Mark Giordano gets a boost from the youth

    Ryan Kennedy
    Mark Giordano (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

    The Calgary Flames have a funny way of rebuilding. First off, they’ve been a tough team to play against for the past calendar year. And unlike a certain provincial rival, they’re far from sad – in fact, they’ve gotten out of the gate pretty strong this season.

    In nearly every sense of the word, defenseman Mark Giordano is leading the way. Not only is the veteran captain of the Flames, but he also happens to top the team charts in ice time (nearly 25 minutes per game) and offense, where he sits in a three-way tie with defense partner T.J. Brodie and center Joe Colborne at five points apiece through five games. This summer was big for the 31-year-old, who switched up his training emphasis.

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