Vote for Bertuzzday V

James has been kind enough to hand over his baby boy project to me. No, not his affinity for Sidney Crosby, some powerful folks might get angry about that turf being encroached upon. Instead it’s time to Vote for Bertuzzday.  First things first, the previous four winners:

1. Matt Cooke

2. Alex Ovechkin

3. Rocky Wirtz

4. Jim Playfair

This week, the folks gunning for the big prize involve a couple of team captains, an apparently bitter former Flyer, and a player/coach tandem entry. Add “tandem entry” to your list of phrases you never thought you’d read here.  The nominees are…

1.  Jarome Iginla. Now poor Jarome didn’t deliver a violent head shot to anyone, nor did he deliver any questionable hits otherwise but instead he’s been the source of gut-punching his own team. When you’re a captain these sorts of things are kind of a bummer, especially when it means being mired in a soul-sucking scoring drought that’s essentially costing the team a playoff spot. Ouch, babe.

2.  Rob Blake.  Another captain and another nomination, this time he did do something questionable as he knocked Avalanche forward Peter Mueller out of the game, and the remainder of the regular season, with a dubious hit from behind that went unpunished. For exhibit B and immediate reaction purposes, here’s a selective photo of the hit.


3. R.J. Umberger.  Yes, he plays for the Blue Jackets and they’ve been out of the playoff hunt for a bit longer than most teams this season, but that didn’t stop him from commenting on what he thought about the Washington Capitals this year

“They play the wrong way. They want to be moving all the time. They float around in their zone, looking for breakaways and odd-man rushes. “A good defensive team is going to beat them (in the playoffs).”

Perhaps R.J. is just jockeying for a TV analyst job once the Blue Jackets’ season mercifully ends on Friday against the Red Wings. Either that or the mind-control device Ken Hitchcock implanted in Umberger’s brain has gone live. Skynet is self-aware!

4.  Nathan Horton/Mike Kitchen.  So you’re not totally sure who these two are and that’s fair, they’re part of the Panthers organization. Nathan Horton is one of the team’s better forwards and Mike Kitchen is the Panthers assistant coach who got in an altercation with Horton at practice. Listen guys, we know it’s been frustrating in Miami this year but let’s not fight at practice. 

5. Other.  Did we miss something? Feel free to let us know about it.

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    Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

    Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
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    DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

    Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

    Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

    Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

    Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

    Fleury had 21 saves.

    The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

    Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

    The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

    Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

    The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

    Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

    NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

    Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

    Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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    ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

    Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

    McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

    Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

    Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

    Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

    Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

    NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.