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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    Blues reportedly avoid arbitration with Parayko by inking him to five-year, $27.5 million contract

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    The St. Louis Blues and Colton Parayko were scheduled to have an arbitration hearing this morning, but it sounds like that will no longer be necessary.

    According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the two sides have agreed to terms on a five-year contract extension worth a total of $27.5 million ($5.5 million AAV).

    Heading into arbitration, Parayko was reportedly looking for a one-year deal worth$4.85 million, while St. Louis was offering two years at $7 million total.

    Obviously, the Blues paid a little more on this contract, but that’s because they were able to “buy” some of Parayko’s free-agent years.

    The 24-year-old just completed his second season with the Blues. He managed to four goals, 35 points and 32 penalty minutes in 81 games.

    Parayko also saw his average ice-time increase from his first year to his second year, as he played just over 21 minutes per game in 2016-17.

    On top of his two solid seasons in St. Louis, he also opened some eyes at this year’s World Hockey Championship, where he had three goals and seven points in six games for Team Canada. He averaged 24 minutes of ice-time during the tournament, and Canada went on to win silver.

    Nolan Patrick is dealing with ‘an infection in his face’

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    Nolan Patrick just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to staying healthy.

    Patrick was scheduled to skate at the Flyers’ practice facility on Thursday morning, but the team announced that he would be unable to do so because of an infection in his face.

    Patrick missed a good chunk of games during the 2016-17 WHL season because of sports hernia surgery, but that didn’t stop the Philadelphia from making him the second overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

    The Flyers recently announced that he had undergone a second similar procedure right before the draft, which kept him out of their development camp earlier this month.

    Earlier this week, the 18-year-old signed his three-year, entry-level contract with his new team.

    Of course, GM Ron Hextall would love for his prized rookie to crack the opening night roster, but he needs to show he can stay healthy before that happens.

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    PHT Morning Skate: On how Jacques Plante ‘revolutionized’ hockey

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    Brian Campbell may have spoken to teams about continuing his career, but he didn’t start negotiating with any of them because he knew he wasn’t willing to continue playing. “I’ve been thinking about [retirement] for a while. At the end of the season, I didn’t know if I was ready to do it anymore. So that was only fair. But I will say July 1 was tough, a tough day. There’ve been some tough days. But I think we’re happy with our decision.” (CSN Chicago)

    –The Hockey Writers ranked each team’s farm system from 1 to 31. Interestingly enough, the Vegas Golden Knights don’t have the worst system in the league. That honor belongs to the San Jose Sharks. The number one team on the list is the Philadelphia Flyers. (The Hockey Writers)

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been with the Oilers for six years now, but he still hasn’t established himself as one of the dominant forces on the team. Per the Edmonton Journal, he could be skating on thin ice. “With Draisaitl likely to be paid next season and McDavid already signed to big money the following campaign, the cap budget at centre is tight. Whether Nugent-Hopkins stays or goes in the longer term, he needs a major bounceback next season to prove his worth.” (Edmonton Journal)

    –On Nov. 1, 1959, Jacques Plante revolutionized the game of hockey by putting on a goalie mask for the first time. NHL.com contributor Stan Fischler wrote: “The legacy of Plante’s decision is evident in today’s game. Not only are all goaltenders required to wear a mask, but teams must dress two goalies for every game. And when a goalie’s mask comes off during a game, the whistle is blown and play is stopped.” It’s a remarkable story. (NHL.com)

    –It’s always fun to think about how teams over in Europe would do against an NHL team. With the help of a couple of Russian hockey journalists, The Score put together a KHL all-star team, and asked fans to vote on where they think that team would finish in the NHL. Most people feel like the KHL all-stars would finish somewhere between 17th and 29th in the NHL. (The Score)

    Justin Williams signed a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes this summer, which means he had to move out of Washington. Some of his valuables got a little more attention than others:

    Teammates, friends were glad to see Okposo back on the ice

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    From the sound of things, Kyle Okposo‘s presence at “Da Beauty League” was a beautiful sight for Buffalo Sabres teammates, former teammates on the New York Islanders, and friends around the NHL.

    NHL.com’s Jessi Pierce was at that informal game, which apparently didn’t go well for Okposo’s team.

    That’s not the important part, certainly not in July. While Pierce noted that Okposo wasn’t comfortable answering questions during his first on-ice action in almost four months, it sounds like the talented winger was looking good on Wednesday night.

    Onlookers agreed with that sentiment, and also seconded the notion that he’s been doing well this summer, overall.

    “Obviously seeing a teammate go through something like that and struggle to get healthy is tough,” Sabres teammate Hudson Fasching said, via Pierce’s piece for NHL.com. “He’s such a good guy and going through a lot with that whole deal, trying to figure out what was wrong.

    “I’m just happy he’s healthy and happy for him to get back.”

    It was already noted that Okposo is expected to be ready for Sabres training camp, yet nights like these make it clearer that he’s likely on course. That’s a fantastic turnaround from his health scare in April.

    Pierce also has more here.