This has been quite a year so far for one of my new certified hockey man crushes, Ryan Kesler. His fantastic Olympic performance was given a highlight reel exclamation point when he scored quite possibly the most exciting empty net goal I’ve ever seen against Team Canada (in the teams’ first game). His “coward” remark toward Andrew Ladd brought him into the headlines again.
Now he can add another interesting accomplishment: Kesler will be the cover star of the next (and now Wii-exclusive) NHL 2K game, NHL 2K11.
I have to say I’m a little surprised by this. Don’t get me wrong, Kesler is my hero, but there’s no denying that this marks a big star power drop-off from last year’s cover star (goal scoring machine Alex Ovechkin). One could be snide and say that the struggling series is trying to save money, but there are a few reasons – aside from Kesler being super cool – that the company made such a non-traditional choice. (Also, they’ve had role players on their cover before. See: Chris Drury. Zing!)
Perhaps part of the strategy is that avid hockey fans from Canada like him since he’s a member of the Vancouver Canucks while he can appeal to American fans as a gritty player who represented the U.S. in the Olympics. The 2K brand has done something similar with its NBA2K series, putting a defensive-minded player named Ben Wallace on a cover of one of their editions. (That being said, Wallace had an awesome afro and you know what they say, “Fros sell.”)
The most likely reasoning, though, is that he developed a relationship with the company already. Last year, he helped the company motion capture hockey moves for the sake of authenticity and also appeared in their commercials (I’m still not sure if I’m amused or annoyed by those spots, by the way). Anyway, regardless of all the small details, congratulations are in order. Well done, Mr. Kesler.
(H/T to Nucks Misconduct.)
Through six games of the NHL season, Travis Konecny enjoyed a nice start to his rookie campaign with five assists. Just one thing was missing, though.
On Tuesday, he took care of that against the Buffalo Sabres.
Konecny, taken 24th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, deflected an Ivan Provorov point shot early in the third period, beating goalie Anders Nilsson on the glove side for his first NHL goal. That goal also got the Flyers on the board.
Konecny and Provorov make Flyers, expected ‘to be here all year’
California rivals clash tonight, as the Anaheim Ducks visit the San Jose Sharks. This marks the first meeting of the season between the two Pacific Division teams.
The Sharks have lost two games in a row, while the Ducks have won two straight.
You can catch tonight’s game on NBCSN or with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (10 p.m. ET).
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Brent Burns is on a beastly pace
Report: Ducks put Despres on long-term injured reserve
NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks
Difficult night for some goalies across the NHL.
Frederik Andersen has had his struggles against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning, although the players in front of him haven’t given their puck stopper much help, either.
And then there is Bolts goalie Ben Bishop, who took a Peter Holland wrist shot off the mask and appeared to lose some teeth as a result.
But this is hockey. Bishop, who even appeared to crack a smile while being examined on the ice, remained in the game.
Claude Giroux was called for boarding after plastering Zemgus Girgensons from behind into the boards in the second period. But the Buffalo Sabres made the Philadelphia Flyers and their captain pay.
Giroux was assessed only a minor penalty on the play. He promptly exited the penalty box, though, after Matt Moulson scored six seconds into the Sabres power play, giving Buffalo a two-goal lead.
Girgensons and Moulson scored less than two minutes apart to give Buffalo the lead.