Flyers bolster goalie depth by signing Johan Backlund to 2-year extension

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Thumbnail image for Backlund.jpgHe’s not a big name goalie and he contributed little to their unexpected run to the Stanley Cup finals, but Johan “don’t call me Bob” Backlund – not Michael Leighton – is the latest goalie to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers. TSN reports that the Flyers extended the contract of the Swedish goalie (who managed to start one game this season thanks to the team’s goalie apocalypse) for two years.

There is one paragraph from that TSN story that I think is a little bit confounding.

Backlund is expected to serve as the Flyers main backup next season. Who he will be backing up remains to be seen as both Michael Leighton and Ray Emery are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st.

Odd, I was under the impression that the resilient Brian Boucher would be the team’s go-to backup while Philly sorts through Emery (unlikely), Leighton (somewhat unlikely) or Free Agent Goalie X. Unless, of course, the Flyers go even more against public opinion/rational thought and roll with a Boucher-Backlund duo as their goalie tandem …

That actually brings me to another question: is this deal a two-way contract? Perhaps I’m a little rusty on the age limits for this type of contract (at 28, is Backlund too old to be eligible?) but if not, I’d assume the Flyers would prefer some minor league maneuverability with such a “green” goalie.

If it’s a two-way deal, then I’d say it’s an OK move by the Stanley Cup runners-up. They learned last season that they need plenty of depth in net.

My guess is the next couple of weeks will be heavy with contract extensions, rumors about negotiations and – of course – the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Keep checking Pro Hockey Talk for the latest news regarding the always-busy month of June.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?