Why Atlanta makes the playoffs, while Boston and NY won't…

Thrash.jpgBoston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 21, 2010
Live on NBC

Let’s face it. The Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers are
flailing. While they tread water and fail to actually grasp hold and
take charge of the situation they’ve each been given the Atlanta
Thrashers have snuck up behind them. The Thrashers are now in prime
position to overtake both the Rangers and Bruins for the 8th spot in the
East, while the two teams seem intent on throwing lame, half-hearted
efforts at the opposition at the most crucial part of the season.

The
Bruins and Rangers are both facing a loss of leadership but for two
completely different reasons.

The Bruins have had all the life
sucked out of them ever since the Marc Savard incident, and the fact
that they couldn’t even muster a single ounce of motivation, at home,
against the Pittsburgh Penguins speaks volumes about how out of it their
locker room is. This isn’t a team ready to make the playoffs; this
isn’t even a team that deserves to make the playoffs.

I understand
it’s not fair that the Bruins have to deal with such an ugly injury to
one of their top players, but use that as motivation; not as a tool that
forces the team to just spiral out of control and flush the season down
the toilet. Of course, the Bruins had the worst offense in the NHL and
no matter how well Tuukka Rask might play, he can’t score goals.

The
New York Rangers are dealing with a similar lack of leadership, but
what gets me is that it seems that John Tortorella is intent on actually
squashing any form of leadership that comes from his locker room.
Although I would guess that he’d rather the leaders on his team start
scoring goals and put the effort on the ice, not just spouting off to
the media.

The Rangers are a team with a lot of money tied up in
mediocre players, and just don’t have the skill necessary to make sudden
push into the playoffs. The Rangers have had numerous opportunities the
past week to make up ground on the Bruins as they’ve faltered and have
mustered just the same lame duck efforts as the team in front of them.

All
the while the Atlanta Thrashers have started to build momentum and
creep up on the two floundering teams. It seemed as though Atlanta was
out of the playoff picture with a devastating losing streak coming out
of the break, yet the struggles by the Bruins and Rangers have given
them a shot. So while those two teams struggle, the Thrashers are
building momentum.

If a Thashers team without Ilya Kovalchuk can
overtake the Rangers and Bruins, and it certainly looks like a
possibility at this point, then both teams from the Northeast should
hang their heads and shame and expect change to be on the way. This is
the time of year when the best teams show what they’re made of; Boston
and New York appear to be made of nothing but fluff.

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    ‘A good start’ — Stamkos stands out in preseason debut

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning and National Hockey League unveiled the 2018 All-Star Game logo Friday.

    Far more importantly for the Bolts this evening was the return of their all-star center Steven Stamkos, as he made his preseason debut in what was his first game in 10 months.

    His 2016-17 season was abruptly ended in the middle of November because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, making it the second time in four years his regular season had been disrupted by a major injury.

    It may still take a while before Stamkos feels truly comfortable coming back from this injury.But his performance on Friday proved to be a very promising start for No. 91, the Bolts and their fans in Tampa Bay.

    He didn’t score, but he assisted on two first period goals, including a nice set-up to linemate Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1. Stamkos also received a healthy dose of ice time, playing more than 19 minutes, including 5:32 on the power play.

    His pass to Kucherov resulted in a power play goal.

    “It was exciting to get out there, I was pretty anxious about it… It was a good start, something to build on,” said Stamkos afterward, per the Lightning. “It was nice to just go through a game day, I haven’t done it in a long time… I was glad with how the first one went.”

    Golden Knights assign 2017 first-round picks Glass, Suzuki to junior

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    The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make roster moves during their inaugural training camp.

    On Friday, the expansion club assigned four players to junior. That includes 2017 first-round picks Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.

    The Golden Knights made franchise history by taking Glass with the sixth overall pick and then selected Suzuki at 13th overall. Both players appeared in two preseason games for Vegas, each recording two points in the exhibition opener versus the Vancouver Canucks.

    “Nobody is going to rush (the rookies), that’s for sure,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Sun following the club’s 9-4 win over Vancouver on Sunday.

    “We are in a position where we want to make sure they are ready to play. They are going to be good players when they’re healthy and strong enough to play in the league.”

    Vegas has all three 2017 first-round picks — Glass, Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — signed to three-year entry-level contracts.

    Mitchell signed PTO with Blue Jackets — shortly after getting cut by Blackhawks

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    When the Chicago Blackhawks announced their roster moves yesterday, John Mitchell was among the cuts.

    His professional tryout with the Blackhawks had come to an end, as it did for veterans Mark Stuart and Drew Miller.

    It can be an uphill battle to make an NHL roster for veterans on professional tryouts. But for Mitchell, he quickly received another opportunity to attend a camp and try to land a spot, signing a PTO with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Mitchell, 32, has appeared in 548 NHL regular season games with 70 goals and 177 points.

    Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are still without forward and restricted free agent Josh Anderson, as the two sides are stuck in a contract impasse right now. It was reported on Thursday that his representatives have been in contact with Hockey Canada about the 2018 Olympics.

    Calgary mayor: ‘Errors of omission’ in Flames arena proposal

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    On Thursday, the Calgary Flames released a report claiming they were prepared to contribute $275 million for a new arena, with additional funding — in the ball park of $225 million — from a Community Revitalization Levy.

    On Friday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi responded to the proposal and the events of yesterday.

    “I wouldn’t say dishonesty. I would, however, say that there are perhaps some errors of omission,” Nenshi told reporters, according to Global Calgary, when asked if there had been a level of dishonesty from the Flames with their proposal.

    The Flames not only released a report with financial details to their website, but they also took out ads in local newspapers. Nenshi took issue with the details the Flames released yesterday.

    “What was in that ad was not actually what the last deal on the table with the city was,” he said.

    “For example, yesterday you saw that the Flames’ owners are claiming that they’re putting $275 million up front. Makes it sound like a (check) is being put on the table. Certainly that has not been discussed. That would’ve really changed things had that been the discussion.

    “The discussion, the last I saw, was the Flames were putting $100 million in and the rest would be a ticket tax, which they wanted the city to take out, to get for and to front. I’m not quite sure how that equals the Flames putting in money up front.”

    Yesterday, the Flames added in their report that, after two years of discussions with the city about a new arena, they will no longer pursue a new arena in Calgary.

    The Flames currently play at the Saddledome, which is now 34 years old.