Joe Thornton must continue to put up numbers to kill all the choking jokes, but Sharks fans must feel good about his first two games against Detroit. In Game 1, Thornton supplied a sweet assist. In tonight’s game, Jumbo Joe scored the game winner off of a Dany Heatley rebound. It was a rare moment of sublime luck for the Sharks, as the 3-on-1 happened because Nicklas Lidstrom broke his stick and therefore turned over the puck.
If you told a hockey fan that some right-hander with a number 8 on his jersey would evoke Mario Lemieux’s name during the playoffs, that person would have logically named Alex Ovechkin. Instead, that player is Joe Pavelski. The American forward is the first player to produce three consecutive multi-goal playoff games since Super Mario did it in 1992. Last week, I shared my disapproval of the nickname “Joe Pa” because it’s obviously meant for the legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Now I think we’ll have a better nickname: Joe Paid. After all, his amazing playoff performance is coming up right in time for restricted free agency.
As much as the Detroit Red Wings stuck with the Sharks, they’re down 2-0 going back to Joe Louis Arena. You really cannot blame the deficit on Jimmy Howard, who made some big saves to keep Detroit in tonight’s game. His glove save on Pavelski was particularly splendid, keeping Joe Paid from netting a hat trick.
One area the Red Wings need to work on is avoiding penalties. The Sharks had 10 opportunities overall and scored twice, including Pavelski’s game-tying goal. Perhaps the Red Wings’ last minute gaffe was symbolic, as the team took a Too Many Men on the Ice penalty while trying to get Howard off the ice.
This series has been great so far and skeptics will quickly point out the fact that the Sharks have squandered 2-0 leads before. After all, a home team hasn’t lost yet, so this battle is far from over. For hockey fans, that might be a good thing, as these two squads are playing some amazing hockey.
Bolts avoid arbitration with Namestnikov — two years, $3.875M
Tampa Bay has avoided Friday’s scheduled arbitration hearing with forward Vladislav Namestnikov, agreeing to a two-year, $3.875M deal on Tuesday evening, per ESPN.
Namestnikov, 23, had a breakout campaign last year, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games — all career highs. The former first-round pick also appeared in 17 playoff games for the Bolts, scoring a goal and three points while helping the club to the Eastern Conference Final.
Coming off a one-year deal in which he made $874,125, the diminutive Russian gets a nice pay bump with this latest contract, and a bit of security with the two-year term. He should play a fairly integral role next season, coming off a year in which he finished tied for fourth on the team in goals, with Tyler Johnson.
But while tonight may be about Namestnikov, it’s another Russian forward in Tampa Bay that everybody now has their eyes on — Nikita Kucherov, the playoff scoring sensation that declined to file for arbitration, but still requires a new deal.
Given some of the big-money contracts GM Steve Yzerman has handed out this summer — namely those to Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn — the Kucherov negotiations are definitely ones to keep an eye on.
Talks ongoing between Wild and Dumba, meeting expected soon
A good puck mover with offensive skills — and a right-handed shot — Dumba is definitely a commodity. What’s more, logic suggests the Wild could opt to move him, given the long-term financial commitments to fellow defensemen Ryan Suter (signed through 2025 at $7.53 million), Jonas Brodin (2021 at $4.16M), Jared Spurgeon (2020, $5.18M) and Marco Scandella (2020, $4M).
Minnesota has some other young defensive prospects in the system, too.
There’s former Gophers standout Mike Reilly, Miami of Ohio product Louis Belpedio and Gustav Olofsson, the 46th overall pick in ’13 that’s been honing his game in AHL Iowa (and made his NHL debut last season).
Though he’s slowed down in recent years, Rosehill has long been known as an extremely active fighter. At no time was this more evident than during the ’08-09 campaign, when he fought a staggering 33 times (yeah, thirty-three) while playing for AHL Norfolk.
Rosehill last played in the NHL during the ’13-14 campaign, scoring two goals in 34 games for the Flyers — while racking up 90 PIM.
Here’s an example of some of his most famous handiwork:
As mentioned above, the EIHL has landed a few notable ex-NHL fighters. Cam Janssen, Kevin Westgarth, Paul Bissonnette and Tom Sestito have all played there.
Kurtis Foster, who appeared in over 400 games during a 10-year NHL career, is hanging up his skates to enter the next phase of his hockey life — coaching.
Foster, 34, has rejoined his former junior team in OHL Peterborough as an assistant coach, per the Examiner. The decision comes after Foster spent the last three years playing overseas in the KHL and, most recently, in the German League.
The 40th overall pick in 2000, Foster is often remembered for a horrific leg break while playing for Minnesota during the 2007-08 campaign, in which his femur was shattered by Torrey Mitchell after Mitchell tried to prevent an icing call.