David E. Holt, Dunedin, Fla.
David E. Holt, Dunedin, Fla.
The Blue Jackets have been the most pleasant surprise in the NHL this season, but it's still going to take convincing for the hockey world to believe they're for real.
We’ll totally understand if you’re having just a little trouble getting on board with the 2016-17 version of the Columbus Blue Jackets. After all, you’ve probably been burned before.
Their fan base certainly seems to be wary. Despite the fact the Blue Jackets are the surprise of the NHL and have emerged as one of the most dynamic and exciting teams in the league, they drawn fewer than 12,000 in three of their past four home games. Even their coach thinks the team has work to do to earn their fans’ trust. “I want our team to have a chip on their shoulder,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella told Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch recently. “I think they should. We’re trying to get respect in the league. Quite honestly, we should be disrespected because of where we’ve been.”
That won’t last long if the Blue Jackets keep this up. The league’s best power play continues to fuel one of the league’s hottest teams and has landed them at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings for the second time this season. Last week’s rankings in parentheses:
CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Columbus Blue Jackets (8)
2. Philadelphia Flyers (15)
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (6)
4. St. Louis Blues (2)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (5)
6. Montreal Canadiens (7)
7. New York Rangers (4)
8. San Jose Sharks (11)
9. Boston Bruins (20)
10. Calgary Flames (27)
Is there a bigger bargain or a shrewder off-season signing than Sam Gagner?...Steve Mason went from one of the worst goalies in the NHL early in the season to one of the best of late. His save percentage in his first 16 games was .892, but has improved to .947 in his past five… If Marc-Andre Fleury wants to get traded, he’s not doing himself any favor with his play lately…The Blues completed a 4-0-1 home stand with the game going into overtime…With Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford already out, the Blackhawks lost defenseman Brent Seabrook in their 4-0 win over Arizona Tuesday night…How will the Canadiens and the surprising Alexander Radulov respond to the injury to Alex Galchenyuk?...The injury-ravaged Rangers saw Rick Nash go down with a groin injury and Matt Puempel to a concussion in their 4-2 loss to the Islanders Tuesday night…Joe Thornton passed Brendan Shanahan for 25th all-time on the NHL’s scoring list with an assist in a 2-1 win over Montreal last week…Anyone who predicted David Pastrnak would be in Rocket Richard Trophy contention a third of the way into the season is looking very bright at the moment…The Flames were already one of the hottest teams in the NHL without Johnny Gaudreau, then won their first two with him back in the lineup.
THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Washington Capitals (11)
12. Edmonton Oilers (14)
13. Ottawa Senators (12)
14. Los Angeles Kings (1)
15. New Jersey Devils (23)
16. Detroit Red Wings (16)
17. Nashville Predators (3)
18. Minnesota Wild (19)
19. Anaheim Ducks (10)
20. Winnipeg Jets (17)
Capitals coach Barry Trotz had some pointed words to Alex Ovechkin about his penchant for taking minor penalties of late. No cracks in the foundation, though. Just a frank discussion…The Oilers game Tuesday night against Buffalo was touted as Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel, the kind of narrative the Oilers have learned to accept. “Every night it’s Connor vs. Somebody,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan…Goalie Craig Anderson started in the Senators’ 8-5 loss to Pittsburgh Monday night, but did not travel with the team for a three-game California trip to be with his wife as she undergoes treatment for throat cancer…The usually stingy Kings have given up 11 goals in their past three games. “That’s too many goals,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter…Devils winger Taylor Hall on the aftermath of his clean, but devastating, hit on Philip Larsen Tuesday night: “I feel terrible.” Not to be trite, but Hall should not be feeling terrible about the way he has played since returning from a knee injury. He has five points in his past two games…Goalie Jimmy Howard will be back in uniform for the Red Wings when they host Columbus Friday night, but will have a difficult time pushing Petr Mrazek out of the crease…After missing four games with an upper-body injury, James Neal scored a goal in a 4-3 Predators’ win over Colorado Tuesday night…Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, whose career was revived when he came to Minnesota, will make his 300th career start tonight in Toronto…Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle could not pull Jonathan Bernier during his team’s 8-3 loss to Calgary because backup John Gibson was battling a stomach virus…Over the past 30 years, only Teemu Selanne and Alex Ovechkin have scored goals at a better pace than Patrik Laine of the Jets is scoring them now.
VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. New York Islanders (26)
22. Tampa Bay Lightning (22)
23. Carolina Hurricanes (25)
24. Buffalo Sabres (29)
25. Florida Panthers (24)
26. Vancouver Canucks (18)
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (13)
28. Dallas Stars (28)
29. Arizona Coyotes (21)
30. Colorado Avalanche (30)
With points in each of their past five games, four of them wins, the Islanders are easily on their most successful string of the season…The Lightning could get Ryan Callahan, Jason Garrison and Jonathan Drouin back for their home game against Vancouver Thursday night…Jordan Staal, sidelined for the past four games with a concussion, likely won’t be available to the Hurricanes for a three-game road trip through California that begins tonight…After playing almost 500 games in the minors, defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer made his NHL debut in the Sabres’ 3-2 overtime win over Washington Tuesday night… Panthers have gone to overtime in four of their five games GM Tom Rowe has been behind the bench. They’ve won one in overtime, lost two in OT and one in a shootout…Philip Larsen, who was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a hit from Taylor Hall Tuesday night, was released from hospital in New Jersey Wednesday morning and was cleared to return to Vancouver while the Canucks continue on a five-game road trip…After waiving Jhonas Enroth, the Maple Leafs search for a backup goalie continues. They signed Karri Ramo to a professional tryout contract and assigned him to their farm team. That should cure everything…The Coyotes have been outscored 14-6 and have averaged 41 shots against per game in an 0-3-1 month of December…All nine of Matt Duchene’s goals this season have come on the road. The Avs could use that kind of production at the Pepsi Center, where they’re 4-8-1 this season and recently went 0-4-1 on a five-game homestand.
Peter Holland the Toronto Maple Leafs prepares for a face-off at Air Canada Centre.
The move gives Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello the flexibility to sign goaltender Karri Ramo and activate Josh Leivo off non-roster injury reserve.
The Toronto Maple Leafs finally unloaded Peter Holland on Friday sending the center to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a conditional 2018 draft pick.
Holland had been left in Toronto as the Maple Leafs opened a three-game western road trip in late November and has not suited up for the Leafs since Nov. 26. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound forward was a healthy scratch in 17 of the Leafs first 25 games this season.
In eight games, Holland has one assist and a minus-2 rating while averaging 10:43 in ice time a night. Holland is on a one-year, $1.3 million contract this season, and according to CapFriendly, is owed $881,111 for the remainder of the season.
"Peter is a big, solid centerman with good NHL experience," Coyotes general manager John Chayka said in a statement. "We look forward to having him join our team."
Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in November 2013, the Caledon, Ontario native appeared in 174 games with the Leafs, over parts of four seasons, scoring 25 goals and 63 points.
The 25-year-old also played a role in the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies reaching a seventh game of the conference finals during the 2014 Calder Cup playoffs.
For the Leafs, the move gives general manager Lou Lamoriello another contract spot to work with. Prior to the deal, Toronto had 48 contracts – two shy of the maximum of 50.
Friday’s move gives the Leafs the flexibility to sign goaltender Karri Ramo to a contract for the remainder of the season. The 30-year-old signed a professional tryout with the Marlies on Tuesday and made 33 saves in 3-2 loss to the Utica Comets on Wednesday night.
Despite only signing a PTO, Ramo was quick to get a new mask in Leafs colors.
Since waiving goaltender Jhonas Enroth on Tuesday, and assigning him to the Marlies, the Leafs are looking for a suitable veteran presence behind Frederik Andersen and Ramo could fill the void.
The trade with the Coyotes also gives Lamoriello roster flexibility to activate forward Josh Leivo off non-roster injury reserve. Leivo has yet to play this season due to a lower body injury. The 23-year-old played five games with the Marlies earlier in the season as part of a conditioning assignment, but was deemed not ready to return to NHL action with the Leafs.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights have hit another hurdle with their name, this time with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A trademark request has been rejected, but it doesn’t sound like the team expects a name change.
The Vegas Golden Knights are really having a tough time catching a break in the naming department.
On Wednesday, a trademark request by the Golden Knights was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in large part because the name and logo were deemed too similar to that of the NCAA’s College of St. Rose Golden Knights.
Yes, that’s right, yet another roadblock between the NHL’s newest franchise and the name Golden Knights.
The first hurdle for the team, and the first real hubbub about the name, came shortly after the naming ceremony in late November. The team had only had the Golden Knights moniker in place for a week when it was reported by The Fayetteville Observer’s Steve DeVane that the U.S. Army was set to review Vegas’ use of the name because it is shared by the Army’s highly decorated parachute team.
And all that came after Vegas owner Bill Foley purposely strayed from his first choice for the team name, Black Knights, in order to avoid any conflict with the U.S. Army’s NCAA athletics programs and after the singular name, Knights, was reportedly avoided in order to forego any conflict with the OHL’s London Knights.
Suffice to say, the naming process has been a headache thus far. However, before those who despise the name and/or logo go celebrating in the streets, it should be noted that the latest naming hurdle likely means nothing in the long run.
Shortly after the news of the rejection started to pick up steam online, Vegas released a statement to Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt saying that the team plans to respond to the rejection and adding that this isn’t an uncommon obstacle when filing for a trademark.
“Office actions like this are not at all unusual, and we will proceed with the help of outside counsel in preparing a response to this one,” the statement reads.
In their statement, Vegas also pointed to the shared names of UCLA and Boston, both named the Bruins, Miami and Carolina, both named the Hurricanes, and even pointed out that Vegas and Clarkson share the Golden Knights name. None of this is to mention the MLB’s Texas Rangers and the NHL’s New York Rangers share a name.
ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell said the worst-case scenario would likely see Vegas strike a deal with St. Rose College.
While Foley hasn’t yet commented on the situation outside of a brief comment to NBC Las Vegas’ Amber Dixon, saying that the trademark had not been denied, the team’s senior vice president, Murray Craven, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ben Gotz that organization believes “this will be fine.”
“We believe, at the end of the day, all parties will embrace the fact that we are the Vegas Golden Knights and this absolutely will work out,” Craven told Gotz. “I hope people don’t overreact to this at all. We believe everyone will be satisfied. We are only going to enhance the name Golden Knights for everyone. That’s our goal.”
UPDATE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has released the following statement:
“We are currently reviewing the Trademark Office's letter and will prepare a detailed response demonstrating why we continue strongly to believe the Vegas Golden Knights mark should be registered in co-existence with the college registration, just as a number of other nicknames currently co-exist in professional and college sports (particularly where there is no overlap as to the sport for which the nickname is being used). That response is not due until June 7, 2017.
“We consider this a routine matter and it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise. We fully intend to proceed as originally planned, relying on our common law trademark rights as well as our state trademark registrations while we work through the process of addressing the question raised in the federal applications.”
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The New York Islanders captain undressed Jay Bouwmeester in the most unusual of ways, but the important thing is he kept the puck. Then he buried it
John Tavares: good at hockey.
The New York Islanders captain pulled off an absolutely stunning series of moves last night, culminating in a laser-shot goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen. But let's get back to his humbling of Olympic gold medallist Jay Bouwmeester, because that's where the real magic happened.
Witness, as Tavares puts his stick behind his back and grabs it with his other hand while still skating and fending off Bouwmeester. Then, since he is a patient boy, Tavares waits and waits and waits before firing one top corner on Allen:
As the soccer folks would say, lovely. New York would go on to beat the Blues 3-2, with Anders Lee scoring the other two goals for the Isles. After struggling to begin the season, New York is now 6-2-2 in its past 10 games. Tavares leads the squad with 21 points through 26 contests.