Brad May is having fun in the AHL

I have to admit I was a bit amused when I heard the Red Wings had
sent Brad May down to the AHL. How would a player like May, who hasn’t
played in the minors ever, react to going from the glam lifestyle of
professional sports to the much less comforting life an AHL player
lives?

More importantly, would he ever find his way back to
Detroit?

Brad May represents a dying breed in the NHL, players
who’s sole purpose was to be an instigator, bodyguard and gladiator
while getting 5-10 minutes per game. They would make some big hits,
fight a couple of times and generally be used to send a message to the
other team.

Yet the NHL is turning into a much more offensive
league and the ‘goons’ are on their way out. Teams need players that can
score and do more than just chuck fists. The fact that the need for
‘protection’ of the top players has dwindled has played a role as well,
as even some of the top scorers in the NHL can lay the wood along the
boards themselves.

In the meantime, while May waits for what he
hopes is an eventual callup, he’s
having fun just playing hockey.

“I definitely
want to keep playing and obviously contribute, but with
the ultimate goal of getting back to Detroit, no question,” May said.
“But, yeah, I’m definitely enjoying myself with these guys. Honestly,
it’s fun.”

“You have to have a different mindset, a different
role. The whole
thing, it’s different,” May said. “However, you can’t forget who you are
and what makes you the player you can be.

“But I’ve got to keep
working on my legs. Hadn’t played that much, got a little tired in the
legs. I’ve got to get in better condition.”

It’s
certainly a situation where a player can just focus on the hockey and
nothing else. There’s a good reason that teams send players down to the
AHL level to get their heads back on straight, as it affords them an
opportunity to have fun with the game again.

Sort of like what
happens in nearly every sports movie Hollywood as ever made: the team is
bad, they learn to have fun again and instantly they’re winning.

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    Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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    The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

    “Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

    “That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

    More on the statue from the Devils:

    The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

    Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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    The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

    Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

    The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

    Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

    “It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

    “You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

    “We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

    The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

    Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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    In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

    After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

    The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

    — He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

    — From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

    — Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

    He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

    Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

    The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

    The Islanders also have a game in hand.

    Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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    The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

    As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

    Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

    In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.