• Injury to blossoming star Victor Hedman won’t derail Lightning’s momentum

    Adam Proteau
    Victor Hedman (Getty Images)

    For most NHL teams, losing a burgeoning star on defense like Victor Hedman to injury would be a major, if not catastrophic blow. But if a team (at least, an Eastern Conference team) is equipped to weather the absence of a key cog on the blueline, it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite the fact they’ll now be without Hedman for at least a handful of games, if not longer thanks to a suspected broken hand he suffered Saturday against Vancouver, the Bolts are still looking as dangerous as many expected they would after their off-season additions.

    When Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman signed free agent blueliner Anton Stralman away from the New York Rangers and traded for former Vancouver Canucks d-man Jason Garrison, he turned a group that included Hedman (who demolished career bests in goals and assists last year), veterans Matt Carle and Eric Brewer, and rugged 24-year-old Radko Gudas into arguably the Eastern Conference’s deepest defense corps. And that argument got much stronger after the Bruins dealt Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders. They’re so deep on defense, they made Brewer a healthy scratch for the first two games of the season. (Gudas is a little banged-up himself, but hoped to return to the lineup as soon as Monday.) There’s more than enough talent and balance there to hold the fort until Hedman returns. (And nobody quite knows when that will be just yet. If their worst fears come true and Hedman’s hand is broken, he’s likely looking at a 4-to-6-week recovery period.)

    But even if that defense corps weren’t so sturdy even in Hedman’s absence, the Lightning would still be favored to win more games than not because of two main reasons: Read more

  • Ottawa Senators rookie Curtis Lazar brings a full toolbox

    Ryan Kennedy
    Ottawa's Curtis Lazar  (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

    When the Ottawa Senators traded Jason Spezza to Dallas over the summer, it was a definite signal that the franchise was moving in a new, younger direction. Their captain and second-leading scorer was gone, with top scorer and offensive defenseman extraordinaire Erik Karlsson eventually earning the ‘C’ for his own jersey.

    But so far, the Senators aren’t wilting without Spezza. In fact, at 4-1-0, Ottawa is off to a grand start and the Sens are doing it as one big unit: No player has more than four points, but 14 skaters have already counted on the scoresheet. One such player is rookie Curtis Lazar.

    Read more

  • Wild’s Jason Zucker narrowly avoids having his throat cut by skate blade

    Adam Proteau
    Jason Zucker (Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The NHL has finally put to rest its debate about visors, but as we all know, there are still potentially life-threatening risks associated with playing hockey. Minnesota Wild left winger Jason Zucker got a scare in that regard Sunday when he narrowly avoided serious injury after L.A. Kings left winger Kyle Clifford accidentally kicked him in the face and had his skate blade graze Zucker’s throat.

    Zucker tripped Clifford during L.A.’s 2-1 win over the Wild, but as Clifford fell, his right leg kicked behind him and struck Zucker around the head and neck with his skate blade: Read more

  • Blink and you’ll miss it: Rangers score twice in four seconds

    (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Scoring goals is hard enough these days for NHL teams, but the New York Rangers got two in a hurry Sunday against San Jose. In fact, when Rick Nash scored on Sharks goalie Alex Stalock just four seconds after teammate Martin St-Louis did, they set a franchise record for consecutive goals not including an empty-net goal.

    In what would eventually end in a 4-0 win for the Blueshirts, St-Louis made it 2-0 for the Rangers late in the second period when he whacked away at the puck from close range and pushed it past Stalock:

    Then, off the ensuing faceoff, Nash fires the puck in at Stalock, who comes far out of his crease, misplays the puck and allows the Rangers winger to swat at it and somehow bat it into the Sharks net: Read more

  • The chase is on for Stamkos in search of next 60-goal season

    Jared Clinton
    Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

    If you can think back to 2011-12, you may remember the excitement surrounding Steven Stamkos’ chase for the 60-goal plateau. As he inched closer and closer, the feeling turned from not if, but when. Who would be the opponent? In what style would he score his 60th?

    In Tampa Bay’s last game of the regular season, it finally happened. The answers to Lightning trivia for years to come took the form of a wrist shot blown past Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. The ovation from the sell-out crowd at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre was sincere and a testament to what the young superstar had accomplished.

    Stamkos’ next real shot at 60 came not in 2012-13 – the lockout-shortened season robbed him of going back-to-back – but in 2013-14. Paired up with his partner-in-crime, Martin St-Louis, Stamkos fired out of the gates, racking up 14 goals in 17 games. What happened next was the derailment of what could have been the first 70-goal NHL season since Teemu Selanne potted 76 in 1992-93. Read more

  • Five fresh faces making an impact with their new teams

    Boychuk, Okposo and Tavares

    It’s still early in the season, but fans are starting to get a feel for which free agent pick-ups and off-season trades have worked in their favor. For some, it was a blockbuster deal that could change the future of the franchise. For others, it was a smart, below-the-radar deal that has given them the piece they need to build one block at a time.

    Below you can find the top five off-season moves that are making waves in the early season. What is your top five?

    5. Daniel Winnik (Toronto Maple Leafs)

    While he certainly wasn’t the sexiest of signings in the off-season, Daniel Winnik has been just what the Toronto Maple Leafs needed. There has been no shortage of talk about the Leafs defensive woes. After a summer dedicated to shifting the focus of the front office, headlined by bringing in assistant GM Kyle Dubas, the Leafs went out and got the 29-year-old Winnik.

    Though he’s unlikely to make any highlight reels, Winnik is the kind of player that helps teams win. Already this season he has shown just how defensively sound he is. Coming off a career-high 30 points in 2013-14 as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Plus, he’s from Toronto. That’s sure to make one notable Leafs’ fan happy. Read more

  • Getting To Know: Jim Thomson

    Jim Thomson (http://www.jimthomsonsdreams.com/)

    Status: NHL right wing from 1986-1993 with Hartford, Washington, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Ottawa.

    DOB: December 30, 1965 In: Edmonton, Alberta

    First Hockey Memory: “I borrowed a pair of skates. I grew up in a mobile house park, Westview Village in Winterburn, Alberta. I was six years old and one of my friends lent me his dad’s skates. They were too big but I skated around and couldn’t stop. I fell in love with it.” Read more

  • Huberdeau dazzles in shootout with homage to Swedish legend

    Jared Clinton
    Jonathan Huberdeau (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    In a game that involves the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals going to a shootout, you’d expect the highlight of the night to be something off the stick of Alex Ovechkin. Not tonight.

    The former Southeast Division rivals battled to a tightly contested 1-1 draw through regulation and overtime. Both teams saved their scoring touches for the shootout.

    After Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead in the shootout with a quick flick of the wrists, Jonathan Huberdeau evened the score by paying homage to one of the most iconic goals of all-time: Peter Forsberg’s one-handed goal from the 1994 Olympics. It was an absolutely beautiful goal from the 2012-13 Calder Trophy recipient.

    Originally used by Kent Nilsson, Forsberg made the goal famous when he slipped it past Canadian goaltender Corey Hirsch in the ’94 Olympics Gold Medal game in Lillehammer. It would prove to be the winning tally in the shootout.

    Unfortunately for Huberdeau and the Panthers, his marker couldn’t do the same. Ovechkin got the last laugh for the Capitals as he outwaited Florida goaltender Al Montoya for the shootout winner.

    All may not be lost for Huberdeau, though. If he waits long enough, he might get on a stamp. Read more