Brian Elliott looking forward to facing the Penguins

Elliott.jpgLast night we wrote about how the Ottawa Senators are confident in
their ability to handle the Pittsburgh Penguins
in the first round, even
hinting at our thoughts that the Senators actually do have a decent
shot. The main reason why, beside their defense?

Brian Elliott.

saved the Senators from the laugh-fest that is Pascal Leclaire, seizing
the starting goaltending spot and carrying the team at a time when it
seemed as if they might never win a game again. Ottawa stumbled out of
the Olympic break and it looked like they might actually fall out of the
playoffs; Elliott was there to help steady the ship.

Now, his
numbers are exactly great (2.57 GAA, 0.909 save %) but more importantly
he won many more games than he lost. At one point, down the stretch, he
won six straight games, including two straight shutouts. Now he’s
carrying the Senators into the playoffs, taking on one of the most
offensively gifted teams in the NHL. Per Bruce Garrioch of the Calgary
Sun, who chronicles Elliott’s journey to this point:

“I don’t see how you can’t be excited about it,” said Elliott. “The
guys say the real season starts now. Having the first practice of the
post-season (on Monday) was a little more serious and I like it when
it’s a little more competition and guys are bearing down on every shot.”

“I’m looking forward to it. All our guys — shot-blockers as well —
it’s a challenge to shut those guys down,” said Elliott. “If you do
(stop them) you give yourself a good chance.”

After being such a stumbling mess just one month ago, the Senators
have suddenly become of the more dangerous teams in the playoffs. They
are confident, and they’ve had success against Crosby and the Penguins

Should I make my prediction now?

Naw, I’ll wait.

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    Welcome Ryan Johansen to the trade rumor mill

    Ryan Johansen
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    Well, this kind of seemed inevitable — there are now trade rumblings involving Columbus center Ryan Johansen.

    This evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed that teams have been calling Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen about the talented pivot, adding that one team classified Johansen as being “softly” in play.

    More (transcribed from video):

    “That doesn’t mean [Kekalainen] is calling teams, saying ‘what are you going to give me?’ However, when teams call, he’s not dismissing the interest. He is saying ‘well, what’s your offer?’

    “What that tells you is there’s at least some interest in considering the trade of Ryan Johansen and, as we saw on the weekend, his minutes dropped, he was demoted to the fourth line — so if the right deal comes along, they’ll consider it.”

    The incident Dreger referred to occurred during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, in which head coach John Tortorealla limited Johansen to just 13:52 TOI — his lowest total of the season.

    It’s the latest incident from what’s already been a tumultuous year; not long after getting hired, Tortorella told the reigning All-Star MVP he was out of shape.

    Johnansen was then away from the team for a pair of games dealing with an undisclosed illness. During that absence, the Dispatch reported Johansen had been hospitalized this summer because of an accelerated heart rate.

    All this, of course, came one year after an ugly contract dispute at the start of last season, during which the Jackets and Johansen’s representation engaged in a public spat before agreeing to a three-year, $12M deal.

    ‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO

    John Collins
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    One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.

    John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.

    More, from the League:

    Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.

    “John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”

    Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.

    “The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”

    Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.

    During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.

    Jackets activate Dubinsky, Wennberg from IR

    Andy Andreoff, Brandon Dubinsky
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    Columbus will have some reinforcements up front when it takes on the Devils tomorrow in New Jersey.

    Brandon Dubinsky, who’s missed the last six games with an elbow injury, and Alexander Wennberg — who’s also missed the last six games, but with a foot ailment — have both been activated from injured reserve, and should be available for selection on Wednesday.

    It wasn’t all good news for the Jackets, though. Defenseman Cody Goloubef and right wing Rene Bourque were placed on IR.

    The biggest return for Columbus is Dubinsky, who had four goals and 11 points in 16 games prior to getting hurt, while averaging nearly 19 minutes per night.

    That said, getting Wennberg back is key as well; the former first-round pick has been plagued by injuries recently but showed well during his rookie campaign in ’14-15, with 20 points in 68 games.

    Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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    The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

    Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

    Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

    The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

    Here are the full rosters:


    NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

    The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).