Stempniak comes out of nowhere … again


Stempniak.jpgAll the way back in the 06-07 season, the popular blog Battle of Alberta morphed Lee Stempniak’s last name into a verb.

“Term: Stempniaked
Definition: To be unexpectedly defeated by the singular efforts of a player on a sub-standard team.”

At the time, Stempniak was an obscure forward for the St. Louis Blues. He since bounced to Toronto and then was shipped to the Phoenix Coyotes during this year’s trade deadline. The change of scenery has been so profound for Stempniak that he played well enough to earn the league’s second star for last week.

Perhaps now we should just go with this SAT-style analogy: Lee Stempniak; Guillaume Latendresse.

Think of it this way, both funny-named forwards showed flashes of brilliance but never really “got it” in their former homes. Both made it to their new teams in moves that barely elicited a yawn from the general hockey public. Most importantly, both have been on fire after a change of atmosphere.

Stempniak’s career high is 52 points, but he already has 7 in only 5 games in Phoenix. Could this be a sign that the forward has found his rhythm, or could it be that – like Scott Walker “doubling” his career total of 2 goals in 3 games right after a trade to Washington – Stempniak simply is taking advantage of some fortunate bounces and the boost of changing uniforms?

Who knows. It might be time to change the definition of “Stempniaked,” though.

(Thanks to Kent Wilson for the correction.)

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
1 Comment

Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
Leave a comment

Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?