Record day high on quantity, low on quality

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I’m counting on no more trades coming across, as it seems that things have finally quieted down. But the 2010 NHL Trade Deadline was about as anticlimactic as you could get after two weeks of build up of all the talk that’s supposedly been going down between the GM’s across the NHL. That’s not to say there haven’t been a number of trades, because the at last count 52 players and 25 draft picks were exchanged throughout 31 trades. By our estimation that’s a record for total trades at the deadline.

Yet the biggest trade of them all, the biggest name involved was Lubomir Visnovsky, when Edmonton exchanged him with Anaheim for Ryan Whitney. That was it. Some would say (me included) that best trade at the deadline actually happened yesterday, when Alexei Ponikarovsky was traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh.

So why the letdown of a day? Where were the big trades for starting goaltenders or big-name defensemen (besides Visnovsky), or the insane multi-player trades that changes the complexion of a playoff race or the direction of a team? What led to the dearth of big trades?


For one, you’d have to point to the fact that in reality there were two trade deadlines; the one today on March 3rd and the one right before the Olympic break and the NHL roster freeze. You could say that the biggest trade of the year already happened, when the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes was won by the New Jersey Devils. The Dallas Stars made a surprising trade when they acquired Kari Lehtonen from the Thrashers. But since the deadline was essentially spread out three weeks with a break in between the buildup to today was a bit rushed as we all struggled to recover from the Olympics.

But could this also be a sign of free agency and the salary cap truly causing havoc with the major deadline deals we’ve seen in the past? Sure, there was an absurdly high amount of trades but 90% of those involved draft picks or prospects. The assets just were not there across the NHL to justify teams parting with their big name pieces.

Philadelphia was reportedly hungry for Dan Hamhuis, Dwayne Roloson and Tomas Vokoun, yet failed to acquire anyone because they just couldn’t match the prices teams were asking for. The Flyers were handcuffed by the number of valuable players on the team with no trade clauses, who most likely weren’t willing to waive their clause to go from Philly to Florida or Long Island. Broad Street Hockey breaks it down:

With Tomas Vokoun, it came out that Panthers
general manager Randy Sexton wasn’t shopping the goaltender but that
they were listening to offers that came in. The Flyers reportedly made
one of those offers, but Sexton apparently asked for Jeff Carter. Holmgren stuck to his guns on
Carter by not trading him away, but subsequent offers of Scott Hartnell or Simon Gagne were tough because each player has
a no-trade clause.

Vokoun would have waived his NTC to come to Philadelphia, but it’s
hard to believe Hartnell or Gagne would do the same to go to Florida.
Again, no-trade clauses bit the Flyers in the rear. Vokoun wasn’t moved
before the deadline.

There is an increasingly high number of NTC’s being handed out across the NHL and you could really see that hamper team’s actions today. Ray Whitney was willing to be traded but only if he was able to sign a contract extension with his new team. Tomas Kaberle will be traded this summer, but wanted to stick it out this season and the Leafs kept him.

Judging by the assets that the Leafs got back for their other trades, I can guarantee you there were a number of teams calling about Kaberle. “We’ll give you two hot dog vendors, new light bulbs for the jumbotron and a 2nd round draft pick”.

So instead of trades involving multiple players, we saw an abnormally high amount of players traded for high draft picks. In fact, you’d think that a second-round pick is the most valuable form of currency in the NHL after today.

So whether it was the split deadline, a disappointing lack of big name players made available or the fact that the salary cap is holding teams back, March 3rd, 2010 was just as boring as it could be.

Lonnie Cameron, hockey-tough linesman, shakes off puck to head (Video)

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Talking about hockey toughness is pretty much a trope at this point, yet there are still moments that impress even the cynical among us.

Linesman Lonnie Cameron accomplished that for many on Tuesday, as he returned to the Nashville Predators – Vancouver Canucks game despite taking a puck to the head in a scary moment.

Judging by the Twitter feed of Brooks Bratten from the Predators’ website, Cameron missed mere minutes of time.

So, yeah, it seems like Cameron qualifies as “hockey tough.”

As far as the game itself went, the Canucks beat the Predators 1-0 thanks to Henrik Sedin‘s goal (his 999th point) and Ryan Miller‘s 30-save shutout.

Is this more than just a slump for Henrik Lundqvist?

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People have been wondering for years if Henrik Lundqvist would finally fall off track and, you know, look human. After the New York Rangers’ zany 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars, those rumblings are probably getting a little louder.

Don’t expect the Rangers to throw their star goalie under the bus, though, especially after a wide-open game like Tuesday’s goal-filled game at Madison Square Garden.

In fact, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is already penciling Lundqvist in for Thursday’s game against the rising Toronto Maple Leafs.

“He’s going to play, he’s going to try real hard, and we’re going to try to play better in front of him,” Vigneault said, according to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. “This is a team.”

Lundqvist, meanwhile, said about what you’d expect:

Naturally, Lundqvist and plenty of other Rangers threw the word embarrassing around quite a bit to describe this game, or at least the first 40 minutes. It’s just that no one’s really raking Lundqvist over the coals.

Is this time different?

Again, Lundqvist is no stranger to struggles, even if he struggles less often than just about any franchise goalie in recent memory.

Still, the sample size is getting large enough for this stretch to be a concern for the 34-year-old netminder.

While goal support and stretches of good play open the door for a respectable 18-12-1 record, Lundqvist’s allowing almost three goals per game (2.89 GAA) and has a backup-level .902 save percentage this season. And that’s over 32 games.

Things get even uglier if you focus on more recent events.

He’s allowed 20 goals in his past four starts, including allowing 12 tallies over four periods during the past two games. Lundqvist has a putrid .841 save percentage in January after producing great work in November (.925 save percentage in 11 games) and nice numbers in December (.915 in eight games).

Lundqvist has given up four goals or more on nine different occasions since Nov. 23.

In other words, there are a lot of different ways in which he’s struggling:

Is this a matter of Lundqvist regaining his focus or is “The King” finally abdicating his throne?

The Rangers are going to let him try to work through this. Otherwise, they might just need to hope that this is an off-year and *gulp* at least consider how far (an eventually healthy?) Antti Raanta could take them.

Supporting cast rallies Blackhawks in win against Avalanche

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For much of the season, the Colorado Avalanche’s biggest names have let them down while many believe that the Chicago Blackhawks are getting it done despite a mediocre supporting cast.

On Tuesday, the script was essentially flipped. The Avs’ stars were productive, yet so were lesser-known Chicago forwards like Tanner Kero and Vinne Hinostroza.

The most important narrative stayed the same, however, as the Blackhawks found a way to get by the Avalanche in a 6-4 decision.

The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but the Avs put together one of their best stretches of this lousy season. Blake Comeau tied it up, Matt Nieto scored his first goal with Colorado and then Matt Duchene answered Chicago’s only goal of the second period (by Kero) to give the Avalanche a 4-3 edge.

The Avalanche doubled Chicago’s shots on goal in the second period, generating an 8-4 edge. It felt like a rare moment where Colorado’s talent actually flexed its collective muscles.

Then the Blackhawks turned it on in the third, generating a 12-5 shot edge of their own and finding a way to win.

Hinostroza ended up making the biggest difference, scoring the tying and game-winning goals before Kero iced it with an empty-netter thanks to an unselfish pass by Jonathan Toews.

(It’s not to say that Chicago’s big names outright slept through this game, either. Toews got that assist and Marian Hossa made a bunch of plays to help make life easier for Hinostroza and Kero.)

This wasn’t always pretty, but the Blackhawks are doing enough to get points night after night. On some nights, that’s the real difference between a contender like Chicago and a languishing squad like Colorado.

Blue Jackets move back to first in Metro, NHL after beating Hurricanes

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 7:  Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the New York Rangers on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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After stumbling for a bit, Tuesday was a reassuring night for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus moved back to the top of the Metropolitan Division (and thus, the NHL) because they now match the Washington Capitals’ 64 points but have more wins (30 to 29) and hold a game in hand.

Also comforting for Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the Blue Jackets net, allowing one goal on 25 shots.

They were probably also happy to see Brandon Dubinsky enjoy a strong night (two goals) and Boone Jenner collect an assist and this absolute beauty of a goal:

The Hurricanes actually did hold a 1-0 lead in this game, but it lasted all of 11 seconds, as that Jenner goal erased that advantage.

The Blue Jackets face the Senators in Columbus on Thursday and then host the Hurricanes once again on Saturday. They follow that up with five straight road games and six of seven away from home beginning on Jan. 22. Columbus will pass another big test if they can stick with the Capitals and the rest of the NHL’s best through that stretch.