Alex Ovechkin tops Sidney Crosby in players' poll


ovechkinespn.jpgAdmittedly, I “slept” on the results from ESPN’s Confidential Players poll for a bit, but after hearing some complaints about the answers being restricted by “Insider” status on Twitter I thought I’d share some of the more interesting results. (Yes, I am an Insider. Yes, I paid for it myself.)

Now, naturally, all the results can be found here (although I must warn you that there will be laborious clicking since every answer is within its own link).

Anyway, here are some of the highlights of the poll. First, I’ll start with the more “typical” questions.

Best Player

  1. Alex Ovechkin (64 percent)
  2. Sidney Crosby (24 percent)

Ovechkin nearly tripled Crosby’s results. Interestingly enough, Roberto Luongo was named the league’s most overrated player (although he only received 6 percent of the votes).

Best franchise

  1. Detroit (60 percent)
  2. Pittsburgh (14 percent)

Jeez, the Penguins are getting second place often enough that I have to check and see if Marian Hossa is back on their roster. (Phoenix was named the worst franchise, for the record.)

Should the NHL contract teams? If so, which one?

  • No: 48 percent
  • Yes: 38 percent (and if yes: Atlanta received 41.3 percent while Phoenix received 31 percent.)
  • No comment: 14 percent (Boo that isn’t a fun answer.)

OK, now for a few fun ones.

  • John Tortorella won the “last coach you’d want to play for” award in front of former coaches Mike Keenan and Ken Hitchcock. Somewhere in Russia, Nikita Filatov smiles.
  • Edmonton and Montreal apparently have the best ice. Want bad ice? Just go to the state of Florida.
  • The Minnesota Wild have the best visitor’s locker room, while the relatively ancient Mellon Arena is found to be the worst. Do hockey teams really want to be that accommodating, anyway?
  • Montreal’s groupies are apparently the best. Vancouver comes in second. Have some pride, American groupies!
  • Derek Boogaard was named the best fighter while Chris Pronger was named the dirtiest player.

(Again, for more results, click here. You will need an “Insider” subscription, though.)

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?