Kostitsyn brothers struggle; Hockey's funniest sibling combos


Kostitsyn brothers.jpgIn the 2007-08 season, the Kostitsyn brothers burst onto the NHL scene and looked like they might be the non-twin answer to the Sedins before long. Since that nice introduction into the league, the two have struggled with inconsistency, scandal and bad vibes all around. The Canadian Press sets the scene around the most mercurial of the two, Sergei.

When backup goalie Carey Price, dripping with sweat, got to the Montreal dressing room after staying on late at the team’s game-day skate with others who won’t start Game 3 of their playoff series against Pittsburgh, fresh-looking Sergei Kostitsyn was walking by.

“Why weren’t you on the ice?” an angry Price asked Kostitsyn, who also won’t play.

Kostitsyn mumbled something and kept walking, and Price called after him “too good?”

The little incident underlined the tough times the Kostitsyn brothers, Sergei and Andrei, are going through.

Sergei has not played since Game 5 of the first round against Washington. Andrei has played, but was dropped down to the fourth line in Game 2 of the East Conference semifinal against the Penguins on Sunday. After being on the ice for Pittsburgh’s only goal, he got only 1:43 of ice time and didn’t play at all in the final two periods.

For every great sibling puck experiment, there’s often a semi-disaster. After all, not every hockey family can match the Sutters, Millers or Staals of the world. 

My personal favorite moments come when there’s a wild gap in talent between siblings, though. The Kostitsyns give me an excuse to talk about the most giggle-worthy ones. I’m sure to miss a few of them, but here’s a handful off the top of my head.

  • Sergei and Fedor Fedorov: One player is one of the greatest players of all time. The other is named Fedor Fedorov, which is akin to me naming a future child Brian O’Brien.
  • Paul and Steve Kariya: For some reason that one always made me laugh.
  • Eric and Brett Lindros: Hey, at least concussions run in the family, right?
  • Wayne and Brent Gretzky: Even Frank Stallone deals with a smaller shadow.
  • Pavel and Valeri Bure: As much as I want to mock Valeri, his wife starred on “Full House” and is extremely attractive. She’s no Anna Kournikova, but perhaps that’s just how their sibling non-rivalry goes?
  • Marian and Marcel Hossa: Watching them in the Olympics, their resemblance is striking. Almost twin-like.
  • Mario and Alain Lemieux: Obviously, Claude and Mario couldn’t have come from the same womb.
  • Scott and Rob Niedermayer: Rob’s not a total waste, especially since his presence in Anaheim helped the Ducks land his brother Scott.
  • Mark and Paul Messier: I must admit I wasn’t even aware Mark had a brother. Ouch.

Maurice (“The Rocket”) Richard and Henri (“The Pocket Rocket”) might be the best wombmates in NHL history, but they don’t make the list because they were both awesome. What are some of your favorite examples of sibling disparity in sports and beyond? Feel free to discuss them in the comments.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.