Stempniak: Trade was a welcome change

Stempniak1.jpgLee Stempniak has been set loose, like a man escaping prison after
years of purgatory. After every goal he scores for the Coyotes, I
picture Andy Dufresne
raising his arms to the sky
in the pouring rain after slogging 300
yards through filth to freedom.

Since being traded to the Coyotes,
Stempniak has 13 goals and 16 points in 14 games, with an outlandish
30% shooting percentage. He’s been named the NHL’s player of the month
for March, and has become an integral part of the Coyotes’ improbable
push for the top seed in the West. His plus-7 rating is what is most
impressive, by far the best of his career.

It’s the perfect
example of a new environment and a new team
freeing a frustrated player.

“I think (being
traded) was a welcome change,” Stempniak said Friday
after a Coyotes practice. “I certainly wasn’t ready to give up on being
in Toronto or quit on that team. … To come to a team like this was
really, really exciting. It’s a good team and a fresh start, and I’ve
been fortunate to have some success and find chemistry.”

At
27 goals, Stempniak has tied his career high for a season and has five
games to add to that total. It’s not just scoring goals though, coach
Dave Tippett says.

“He’s been tremendous. … He’s meshed very well with our guys. He’s
kind of a quiet personality, which is not bad having a quiet personality
and carrying a big stick.”

I’m sure being a quiet guy, an underwhelming personality of sorts,
fits much better in Tippett’s locker room in Phoenix. The pressure in
Toronto is tremendous, and making a move to a team like Phoenix can
really free a player up to just focus on what he does best: play hockey.
Ask Mike Ribeiro how that’s worked out for him.

Stempniak’s story — along with the Coyotes — is certainly one of
the highlights of the season. Who would have even contemplated a
sentence like that six months ago?

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    ‘Hawks send towering d-man Svedberg back to AHL

    Justin Abdelkader, Corey Crawford, Viktor Svedberg
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    Chicago sent blueliner Viktor Svedberg back to AHL Rockford on Sunday, the club announced.

    Svedberg — who goes 6-foot-8, 234 pounds — was recalled from the IceHogs a few days ago with veteran d-man Michal Roszival dealing with an injury. The 24-year-old Swede has made an impact with the ‘Hawks this year, scoring three points in 16 games, but has struggled to stick consistently at the NHL level.

    That said, he did make one appearance during this most recent recall. Svedberg played just under 14 minutes in a 2-1 win over Colorado last Tuesday, registering an assist.

    Svedberg has appeared in 30 games for Rockford this season.

    WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Caps (Also: No hearing for Simmonds, who will play)

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 22:  Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his game winning goal in the shootout against the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center on March 22, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Capitals 2-1 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Today, the Philadelphia Flyers invade Verizon for a Super Bowl matinee against the Capitals. You can catch the game on NBC (12 p.m. ET), or you can watch live online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE ONLINE

    Some notes to pass your way:

    — Per an NHL spokesman, there will be no disciplinary hearing for Wayne Simmonds after getting ejected from yesterday’s game against the Rangers for punching Ryan McDonagh.

    Per the AP, the NHL has not rescinded Simmonds’ match penalty.

    Steve Mason starts in goal for Philly, while the Caps counter with Braden Holtby.

    Some relevant linkage for today’s affair:

    ‘A big loss’ — Couturier out four weeks with lower-body injury

    Ovechkin beats Devils in shootout

    Forsberg’s three points push Predators past Sharks, 6-2

    at SAP Center on October 28, 2015 in San Jose, California.
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    NASVHILLE, Tenn. (AP) Recent call-up Viktor Arvidsson scored twice, Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists and the Nashville Predators beat the San Jose Sharks 6-2 on Saturday night.

    Pekka Rinne made 28 saves and James Neal, Calle Jarnkrok and Shea Weber also scored to help Nashville end a three-game home losing streak.

    Joe Thornton and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks. Their 17-8-2 road record is the best in the Western Conference, and the Sharks fell to 9-2-2 in their last 13 games.

    Rinne, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, regained his form after allowing six goals in a loss Thursday night to Philadelphia.

    Arvidsson was recalled from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Monday.

    San Jose goalie Martin Jones allowed five goals on 29 shots. He was 8-1-1 in his previous 10 starts and has an NHL-best 15-5-2 road record.

    The Sharks dominated early and took eight of the game’s first nine shots, but Rinne stopped them all.

    Nashville scored on its third shot when Neal fired a slap shot from the low slot past Jones 13:12 in. Neal leads the Predators with 19 goals.

    Jarnkrok’s wrist shot from the mid-slot bounced over Jones’ glove and in for a 2-0 lead at 6:26 of the second period.

    Johansen assisted on the play, giving him 14 points in 13 games since arriving in a trade with Columbus on Jan. 6.

    Jarnkrok also scored in a 6-3 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, giving him nine goals on the season.

    Thornton cut Nashville’s lead in half when he swatted a loose puck in the crease into the net at 15:41 of the second period.

    Nashville responded quickly when Arvidsson roofed a wrist shot that beat Jones glove side at 17:01 of the second period.

    Forsberg’s short-handed goal built Nashville’s lead to 4-1 at 6:51 of the third period. He beat Jones with a wrist shot to the far post. Forsberg now has 101 career points.

    Arvidsson scored his second goal on a 2-on-1 breakaway, deking Jones before sliding a backhander past him to give the Predators a 5-1 lead at 8:44 of the third period.

    Couture’s slap shot narrowed the deficit to 5-2 at 13:37 of the third period.

    Weber got an empty-net goal with 4:37 left.

    Notes: Predators center Mike Ribeiro played in his 1,000th career game, becoming the 22nd active NHL player and 300th ever to reach the milestone. He was Montreal’s second-round pick in the 1998 draft. … Nine of the Sharks’ first 11 games after the All-Star break are on the road. … San Jose RW Joel Ward, 35, played three seasons for Nashville from 2008-11 early in his career. … Sharks right wing Joe Pavelski entered with eight game-winning goals, tied with Chicago’s Jonathan Toews for the most in the NHL.

    Hockey tough: Mark Stone shakes off skate to face, scores

    Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.  The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”

    Nope, not in the NHL, at least.

    In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.

    Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.

    What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.