According to a report by Bob McKenzie of TSN.ca, the Boston Bruins have offered potential restricted free agent winger Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Tomas Kaberle and the seventh overall pick in Friday’s NHL Entry Draft.
Kessel does carry a couple of red flags, most notably the surgery on his shoulder that could sideline him for the start of the 2009-10 season. Another is his aforementioned impending free agency, which means any team can present Kessel with an offer sheet, which the Bruins or Maple Leafs could match or let him go for conditional draft picks.
This trade does not make much sense for the Maple Leafs and GM Brian Burke, unless the Bruins are also sending additional draft picks and/or prospects. Kaberle is a premier puck-moving defenseman who could be a No. 1 on many teams.
It’s unlikely Burke would let Kaberle, along with a top-10 draft pick, go for a player who might not play a full season for his team, or might not play for them at all. Even with this offer, the most likely scenario is that Kessel re-signs with the Bruins with a deal similar to the one David Krejci signed not too long ago.
Kessel, 21, enjoyed a breakout season for the Bruins in 2008-09, scoring 36 goals in just 70 games and compiling a +23 rating. He survived testicular cancer in 2007, which earned him the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, and battled mononucleosis this past season.
Clearly, the kid is no stranger to adversity. Playing under the bright lights and intense scrutiny of Toronto likely wouldn’t faze him much. But considering the package the Bruins are asking for- and that Kessel isn’t exactly Burke’s type of player- it seems unlikely that this exact trade would take place.
But if it does, the Bruins will be in a position to own two top-tier defensemen and add another high draft pick to their deep, young squad.
It’s back! Daily Duel has returned, if only for today, to showcase two of the NHL’s biggest offensive stars going at it with their fists. Evgeni Malkin somehow avoided a stiffer punishment for his instigation of this battle with Henrik Zetterberg of Detroit at the end of game one of the Stanley Cup Finals. Clearly, Malkin’s aggression didn’t pay off for the Penguins in game two, who now trail the series two games to none.
The media has been stirring for the last few days after the NBA’s top seed in the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, fell to the Orlando Magic in game six of the Eastern Conference finals. Orlando quietly played very well against the Cavaliers this season, and likely surprised many people with their victory, LeBron James included.
The league MVP this season and leader of a 66-win team, James obviously had high expectations placed on him, mostly by himself. So it’s no shock that he was overcome with disappointment at the end of game six, which the Cavaliers lost 103-90.
What the series was supposed to show in the end was that James’ supporting cast in Cleveland really isn’t good enough to win an NBA championship, and looked better as a result of the MVP’s superlative play. What it ultimately showed, though, was that the 24-year-old James, the league’s biggest star and most recognizable face has a thing or two to learn about sportsmanship.
After quickly disappearing into the Cleveland locker room and not saying a word to the media or anyone, LeBron broke his silence that, while less than 24 hours, felt like an eternity.
Jalen Rose’s commentary at the end says it all. In the spirit of competition, there is still a level of respect for one’s peers whether or not they like each other. Ali and Frazier still tapped the gloves even though they likely hated each other in real life. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin share an intense budding rivalry in the NHL, but they still embraced after their series showdown was over.
What LeBron did after game six was unacceptable. The problem wasn’t even that he didn’t give the media the juicy nut-graph quotes they were looking for. It was that he didn’t show his opponents the proper respect.
He went further by commenting that he can’t shake anyone’s hands just after they beat him up. What he doesn’t seem to realize is the amount of disrespect he’s showing toward Dwight Howard and the Magic by doing that. In time, he will learn that although he may not want to even look at Howard, let alone shake his hand, he still needs to do it. For the sake of the sport.
I’m not a LeBron James hater by any means. I don’t jump on the kid for any little transgression he might have. But this really bothered me. I always see James as mature beyond his years, a consummate professional who’s always willing to give props to the ones who humble him. He did it to the Celtics last season, so I expected more of the same this time around.
He eventually gave the Magic the credit they deserved, but he had already done the damage to his credibility, however small it may be in the big picture. He said he e-mailed Howard after the game to congratulate him, which is fine & dandy. But Howard had to have at least been thinking “Gee, why couldn’t he say this to me on the court?”
The scrutiny that’s coming over James might make him realize what he did was a lapse in judgment that came in the spirit of competition. There’s nothing wrong with having an intense desire to win; James wouldn’t have a chance at an NBA title without it. But when he does not reach the goal he sets out to attain, he needs to recognize the ones that stopped him. For that one night after his season ended, he failed to do so.
This is apparently the son of NHL legend Mario Lemieux who is lucky enough to be on the ice playing with Sidney Crosby during what looks like a morning skate for the Pittsburgh Penguins. As they prepare for the Stanley Cup Finals- which drops the first puck tomorrow night in Detroit- the Penguins likely didn’t let this kind of horsing around go on for long. But a camera is nonetheless able to capture Crosby showing his incredible puck-handling skills to the youngster.
He uses his skates with particular panache when handling the puck; that’s my favorite part of this video. It’s unbelievable to think that this kid is still only 21 years old and he’s already tearing up the league- and could very well win his first Stanley Cup (and likely playoff MVP award) by the end of next week.
There’s no sugar-coating this incident from game one of the Western Conference Finals between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. In a disturbing moment, Adam Burish is an innocent by-stander to his teammate falling to the ice, but the teammate’s skate ends up cutting directly across the neck area of Burish, causing him to bleed profusely. Thankfully, the blade did not pierce any vital organs or arteries in Burish’s neck. It only reminded us of Richard Zednik, among others, who suffered a similarly frightening injury. With players stepping back onto the ice after incidents like this, how can the supreme toughness of hockey players ever be questioned?
Five years ago, before the NHL lockout, Claude Julien led his now-former team into Boston, where the the Montreal Canadiens took the decisive game seven to complete the comeback from down three games to one. Now the Boston Bruins head coach and a Jack Adams award nominee, Julien would like nothing better than to do the same with his current team, except on their home ice.
“I’d love to be able to return that favor,” Julien told the Associated Press Wednesday.
Julien will have a chance to do so Thursday night in Boston where the Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes will clash in game seven to decide who will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference finals.
Last Friday, Boston Bruins fans drowned their sorrows at the many landmarks and bars around the city after watching the Bruins’ season go down in flames- well, almost. Carolina had outplayed the Bruins in just about all aspects in game five of their conference semifinal series, out-shooting and out-working the black & gold and beating them to every loose puck.
Despite that, it was still a tight battle for two periods until Jussi Jokinen added to his recent playoff magic with the go-ahead powerplay goal. That’s where the Bruins totally unraveled, losing focus on defense and allowing two more late goals to ice the game and put the Bruins on the edge of elimination. The way the Bruins were outplayed in games two through four, it looked like the Hurricanes were an unstoppable force on an improbable run.
But now, the series has taken on a whole different look after the Bruins’ back-to-back victories in games five and six. The B’s took care of business on their home ice, thoroughly dominating game five on both ends. Boston took 40 shots while Carolina could only muster 19 on Tim Thomas, who recorded his first career postseason shutout.
Game six wasn’t so easy, but Thomas was even better than in game five, turning away 31 Carolina shots as the Bruins scored four while shooting only 19. Carolina did what they could to try to close out the series, out-shooting and out-hitting the Bruins, but looked helpless despite all their effort. Boston went up 4-1 by the end of the second period, making a very competitive game look like it was out of reach.
Now the Bruins are exactly where they aimed to be as soon as game four ended. Knowing they could not lose another game, the sense of urgency engulfed the Bruins and lit a fire under them. The important thing is that they did not just win game five, but won it very convincingly. They absolutely needed that kind of a momentum-changing win to have a chance to beat the Hurricanes in Raleigh, and it turns out that they had just enough to force the series back to Boston.
Home-ice advantage is something rarely discussed when projecting the outcomes of series, but Boston’s is one that has a chance to be the real momentum-swinger. The typically intense Bruins fans will be going all-out all night in hopes that their energy will transfer to their team. Boston’s Patrice Bergeron believes they will need them to diffuse the magical run that Carolina is on.
“Yes, we’re home, but they’re a good team on the road as well,” Bergeron said of the Hurricanes. “So we have to feed off the crowd.”
Like game six, the outcome of this game will likely rest on the shoulders of Thomas. It will be difficult for either team to gain an advantage in the energy and effort department. It can be expected that, for the most part, each team’s skaters will be ready to play. The most likely difference is which goalie is more ready to play, Thomas or Cam Ward.
The last two games have gone way in favor of Thomas, but Ward has played exceptionally well and the 2006 Conn Smythe trophy winner is the No.1 reason the Hurricanes are where they are right now. If he brings his A-game, Thomas will need to bring his A+ game.
What matters right now is that the Bruins were able to bring this series to a decisive game. Tomorrow, the story of the Bruins will either be of a captivating rally to send them rolling into the conference finals, or a catastrophic disappointment of a season. As the conference’s top seed, the Bruins’ expectations were limited to a Stanley Cup championship.
Can they continue their march toward recapturing the spirit of a city that hasn’t seen them win for almost four decades? Or will they succumb to another compelling playoff run by an unexpected contender?
The Pittsburgh Penguins are officially in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season, awaiting the winner of the Boston-Carolina series (game seven is tonight at 8:00). After an intense, back-and-forth series that saw four road wins, the Penguins made game seven an entirely different game from the rest of the series in game seven, scoring quickly and early and never letting up. And that win, and most of Pittsburgh’s success, came on the shoulders of captain Sidney Crosby.
The rivalry between The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and Crosby had almost already reached the boiling point even before they met each other in the postseason for the first time. Unlike the quiet, reserved Crosby, Ovechkin had his face plastered all over the national media, interviewed for ESPN and talked brashly of how he enjoys getting under Crosby’s skin. It almost became a pure media creation that Ovechkin held the advantage in the series over Crosby, although there was no clear favorite.
Ovechkin’s prodigious goal-scoring and all-around skills were certainly on display in the series, as well as his extravagant antics. But Crosby let his play on the ice do all the talking as the Penguins won 6-2, at one point scoring two goals in an eight-second span. The game was never close.
Washington had the higher seed, but that appeared to be the only real advantage they had. Even after winning the first two games of the series, Crosby had established his dominance while Evgeni Malkin lay dormant. Once Malkin woke up from the doldrums with his outstanding game three performance, the Penguins took off, winning four of the final five games in the series. But make no mistake, their surge is due overwhelmingly to the performance of Crosby.
The 21-year-old Penguins captain has scored 21 points in 13 postseason games with a +6 rating, and is leaving his peers in awe of his acumen as a player and presence at such a young age.
“He’s unbelievable,” Craig Adams told Adam Kimelman of NHL.com. “I’ve had the opportunity to play with some pretty good players, and the one thing they all share in common is they’re ultra, ultra competitive. Sid’s a pretty soft-spoken guy and he’s not going to come out and make this series about him and Ovechkin, but he’s a competitive guy. You know he wants to win. I thought he was just unbelievable every game.”
Primarily known for his elite play-making ability, Crosby took scoring matters into his own hands, scoring eight goals in the seven-game series. He had a hat trick in the game two defeat and four goals on the powerplay. He shot an incredible 25 percent, and seemed to always be in the right place at the right time when the puck was around the net.
In four games at Washington, Crosby scored the game’s first goal. He opened the scoring in game seven with a rebound of a Sergei Gonchar shot which he kicked to his stick and fired point-blank past Simeon Varlamov, who was pulled in the second period after allowing his fourth goal.
“He goes into the dirty areas to score goals; he scores big goals,” Penguins play-by-play commentator Bob Errey told NHL.com. We didn’t know what he’d do in a Game 7, but we’re not surprised by what he’s doing here. I’m not surprised.”
The Bruins and Hurricanes both now know who they will have to worry about the most if and when the winner of their series moves on. Guys like Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are no one to ignore, but for either team there will be a definite Plan A: contain Crosby. I say “contain,” because it looks like Sid the Kid can’t be stopped. Though he has yet to win a Cup and has two more rounds to get through this season, he is quickly establishing himself as the league’s most dominant player.
“He’s the leader of the hockey club,” Errey said. “If there’s one player I want, if you give me that vote today, I’ll take Sidney Crosby.”
“I remember once I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out!”
This video reminded of that classic Rodney Dangerfield one-liner. A full-blown royal rumble erupted at the end of game six of the conference semifinal series between Anaheim and Detroit, in which even the least likely of players were dropping the gloves. It starts with Ryan Getzlaf throwing some serious fists at Marian Hossa, and Corey Perry also wails on an unidentified Red Wing. Pretty soon, Scott Niedermayer and perennial Lady Byng candidate Pavel Datsyuk are going at it. No, that’s not a typo, and this video is not the work of Steven Spielberg. This might be the only time you’ll ever see Pavel Datsyuk actually bear-hugging someone.
This line brawl sets up what could be a riveting game 7…But could also be a blowout. What is inevitable is a Red Wings victory. Sorry, Ducks fans, but I think they’re out of magic.
The Bruins dominated game five of their series against the Carolina Hurricanes, but still trail three games to two and have a steep mountain back. They need to win tonight’s game six on the Hurricanes’ home ice and in front of their fans in order to stave off elimination once more and take the series back to Boston. Thankfully for them, they will have one of their top defensemen and leadership presences on the ice for it. Aaron Ward had a scary moment at the end of game five, where he was punched in the face by Carolina’s Scott Walker:
Ward was getting into a bit of a post-whistle tussle with Matt Cullen, but nothing major. Before Ward even knows what’s going on amidst the chaos, Walker comes flying over elbow-first then immediately drops the gloves and delivers the haymaker to Ward’s left eye. Ward has a nice shiner on his face now and will need to wear a visor for the first time in his career for game six. But the important thing for the Bruins is that he’s able to play. A bruise is certainly not enough to keep any hockey player, let alone Ward, out of the lineup.
Walker was fined $2,500 by the league for his actions, and according to a statement by the Hurricanes said that “Based on what was said on the ice as I was dropping my gloves, it was my understanding that I was engaged in an altercation.” But upon reviewing the video, one has to wonder what Ward could have said to trigger such a quick reaction from Walker. The whole incident happens in about one second, long enough for Ward to get out maybe three words, if any at all. And from the close-ups, it looks like he’s not saying anything.
It was a definite cheap shot by Walker and definitely deserved the fine. It wasn’t quite extreme enough to suspend Walker for a game, but I’m glad it wasn’t. Now he can roam the ice and try his best to avoid Milan Lucic, who was furious at the punch and wanted a piece of Walker as soon as it happened. Bruins fans can rest assured that Walker will be destroyed with a body check as soon as someone gets the chance.
It took a hat trick from Patrick Kane, three more points from Jonathan Toews, four third-period goals and seven total allowed by the great Roberto Luongo for us to realize it, but it is the truth: the Chicago Blackhawks are not a great young team, just a great team. Period.
“As hockey fans, we are witnessing a special era right now,” Hawks GM Dale Tallon told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. “You look at Crosby and Ovechkin and [Nicklas] Backstrom and all these guys over in that series, and obviously we get to watch the great young players on our team. We are fortunate to be witnessing this right now. There’s some great young players in our game.”
The stars are already shining very, very brightly in Chicago, and now their young superstars have taken them to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1995 and winning a series without home-ice advantage for the first time since 1992, when they made the Stanley Cup Finals. They beat Detroit that year to advance, and it’s looking more and more like they will have to do the same this year.
Yes, things have certainly come full circle for this franchise, and it has happened very quickly. Just a few short years ago, before Kane and Toews arrived in town, the situation for the Blackhawks was looking as bleak and morbid as any franchise in the league. But once former owner Bill Wirtz- who by then had earned a much-deserved reputation for perpetuating Chicago’s decade-plus of mediocrity- passed away, the new ownership overhauled the roster and improved upon the strong foundation they had already acquired through the draft.
They signed star defenseman Brian Campbell, adding him to an already-solid young corps consisting of Duncan Keith, Cam Barker and Brent Seabrook. That defensive core has certainly worked out thus far; those four have totaled 30 points in 48 games, and Keith and Seabrook are averaging 25:16 and 26:21 of ice time, respectively, in the postseason.
The signing of goaltender Cristobal Huet has also worked out great for the team, but not quite in the way they expected. Instead of Huet taking the reins as the No.1 goalie, he instead motivated Nikolai Khabibulin to play the best hockey of his career. And he came very close to doing just that. While mostly splitting time with Huet, “The Bulin Wall” won 25 games and posted his lowest goals-against average (2.33) since 2004. And that success translated into him taking the role of No.1 starter in the postseason. Khabibulin’s numbers leave much to be desired thus far, but all that really matters is the eight wins.
And of course, how could we forget the two young studs the Blackhawks employ up front? Former No.1-overall pick Patrick Kane joined fellow top picks Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as the third player to score a hat trick with Monday night’s three goals, two of them in the third period. The first third-period goal tied the game at five, and Toews’ second goal of the game gave the Blackhawks the lead with 6:11 remaining. The young superstars in Chicago were believed to be able to deliver this kind of success for the city some day in the future, but in actuality nobody had to wait. The future is now.
Check out the highlights of the game, including the wild third period, here:
After being shut down by Cam Ward, beaten to almost every loose puck and simply being out-worked and out-played by the Carolina Hurricanes, the Boston Bruins entered Sunday at the brink of elimination. But they did exactly what they needed to do in game 5, deliver an all-around performance and give Carolina no chance to win.
But what to make of this team now? They looked lost and confused in games 2-4, including a shutout at home in game 2. Ward has looked like the Conn Smythe winner he was in 2006, and the Hurricanes have played much better than a No.6-seed. So in a sense, it’s no surprise that they put the Bruins in this position.
But the No.1-seeded Bruins let it be known Sunday that they would not go down without putting up a fight, and in game 5 they made the Hurricanes look like the inferior squad they were perceived to be entering the series. The 4-0 victory was about as good an all-around performance we’ve seen from the Bruins this year, but it pains New England that the Eastern Conference’s top seed had to do just that to stave off elimination.
Boston fans would obviously be more satisfied to have seen that game give the Bruins the series lead, rather than take them one step toward a comeback from a 3-1 deficit.
Still, there were plenty of things to like about the game from the Bruins. Tim Thomas earned his first career postseason shutout, although he only faced 19 shots. At the same time, the Bruins peppered Ward with 40 shots, ten of which came from Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman. Phil Kessel scored twice after not scoring a single goal all series. They also out-hit the Hurricanes 25-15 and edged them out in the faceoff battle, 29-27.
That the Bruins have made it this far in the series with minimal production from Kessel is a testament to their depth and ability to get scoring from all four lines. Michael Ryder has stepped up huge for them, with 11 points in nine postseason games. Marc Savard is picking up right where he left off at the end of the regular season. Milan Lucic has played as expected with his hard-nosed style, but has surprised many with being an unexpected offensive force (four points in the series).
As a team, they held Eric Staal to three shots on goal and a -3 rating. The huge shots-on-goal differential is indicative of how efficient the Bruins were at both ends of the ice.
Yes, there is plenty to like about how the Bruins played game 5. But they are still down 3-2 in the series, and despite their game 5 effort being about as good as one can hope for, they still need to take the next game in Carolina to stay alive. The Hurricanes ought to be expected to come out with the same type of urgency and intensity with which the Bruins came out at the start of game 5. Surely, the Hurricanes do not want this series to come down to a game 7 in Boston.
But all the pressure will still be on the Bruins. They are the ones in a must-win situation. They showed what they can do at home in a win-or-go-home scenario, and they will need to repeat that performance in game 6, if not player better. I said before game 5 that the Bruins will need to dominate game 5 to have a chance in the series. They did just that, and now they have a chance. But it’s still only a fighting chance.
The Hurricanes took a beating in game 5, but we can all be rest assured that won’t happen again in game 6 on their home ice. This time, they will be the ones who come out swinging. It will be up to the Bruins to be the first team to swing back.
The one player the Pittsburgh Penguins absolutely could not advance to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs without is Evgeni Malkin, the 2009 Art Ross trophy winner. “Geno” dished out a couple of assists in the first two games of the season, both of which the Penguins lost and got four of their five goals from Sidney Crosby. But Malkin woke up in game 3, playing just under 24 minutes and scoring his first goal of the series, a beauty from high in the offensive zone. Malkin’s best game yet came in Saturday’s game 5, which the Penguins won 4-3 in overtime off of Malkin’s gme-winner. It looks from the video like he’s trying to make a pass to Sidney Crosby, but the puck deflects off the stick of Capitals defenseman Tom Poti and past Simeon Varlamov for the goal. The Penguins are proving to be the better team now that they have both of their superstar centers playing at a very high level.
The Washington Capitals, especially Alex Ovechkin, were mostly shut down for game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series, which the Penguins won 3-2 on the strength of the rejuvenated Evgeni Malkin’s suddenly inspired play. But if Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury makes more mistakes like the one in this video, the Penguins may not make it back to Pittsburgh for a game 6, which they would need in order to win the series. Fleury has earned a reputation for poised play thanks to his great run with the Penguins last season, but this whole season has been an inconsistent one for the 24-year-old franchise goalie. He has made some great saves, but also some head-scratchers. Watch this cakewalk goal he allows to Ovechkin, likely the easiest playoff goal Ovechkin will ever score that isn’t a true empty-netter.
Bush-league play like this ought to have no place in hockey, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But alas, it does happen. Goalies are attacked in ways that should always be stiffly punished, whether it’s thorough a crushing body-check or suspension. But the Penguins’ Chris Kunitz has yet to receive either for this hit to the clavicle-area of Capitals goalie Simeon Varlamov, which looks to be for pretty much no reason other than to either distract or injure him.
It’s hard to notice in real time, so the replays zoom in and slow it down for us. Watch as Kunitz takes his stick right to the point where Varlamov’s neck and left shoulder meet. There’s nothing in the video to suggest Kunitz’s actions were accidental. It’s a deliberate act that clearly warrants at least a fine, if not a suspension for one game or more. Someone at DayWalk3r Productions noticed this, so hopefully the league will too.
The best part about the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year is that the hits get harder and more frequent. But I’d be fine with just one hit per game if they were all like the punishment Ducks defenseman Mike Brown handed to Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler in game 1 of the opening round series between Detroit and Anaheim. This hit is totally clean, as Brown leads with all shoulder. And it is very, VERY hard, as it causes Hudler to bleed profusely from above his eye. No other serious injury took place, though; Brown will rightfully avoid suspension for this hit.
The only possible argument against the hit was that it was late, but Hudler had just dumped the puck back and had his head down at the time of the impact. He didn’t see Brown coming at all. One thing all NHL forwards need to have is a head on a swivel so crushing blind-side hits like Brown’s never happen.
For those of you who doubt what I say: just ask Eric Lindros how well he did keeping his eye on the puck.