The Atlantic division leads East's influx in enforcers

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for boogaard.jpgWhen the New York Rangers spent a ton on Derek “The Boogeyman” Boogaard and the Philadelphia Flyers gave Jody Shelley more than a million per year, I remarked that the Atlantic division might be the “heavyweight” division. The Goon Blog did it one better, wondering if the division should be renamed the “Bob Probert division” considering all the enforcers/bruisers were added to an already stout group this summer. Here is what they wrote.

In a nod to recently passed Bob Probert, I think it fitting the Atlantic Division be renamed the Bob Probert Division. Here is the breakdown by team. New additions are bold.

NJ-PL3, David Clarkson
PITT-Eric Godard, Mike Rupp
PHI- Jody Shelley
NYR- Derek Boogaard, Brandon Prust
NYI- Trevor Gillies, Zenon Konopka

(“PL3” stands for the difficult-to-spell fighter Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. You can understand the use of an acronym, though. Want to see him fight someone for three minutes? Click here.)

Let’s not forget that the Flyers have a time-honored tradition of goonery, either, although they might not see PIM-leader Dan Carcillo return thanks to restricted free agency and cap concerns. Either way, the division could very well be the NHL’s leaders in knuckle chucking.

To round things out, though, The Goon Blog also pointed out the other fighters in the East’s other two divisions. Here is a snippet about each.

First, a tidbit about the Northeast.

One of Bob Probert’s biggest rivals, or at least a guy he fought a lot, was Craig Berube. I have renamed the Northeast Division the Craig Berube Division. Some good tough guys here and a message to Buffalo, and Montreal. Add some toughness. Quick.

OTT- Matt Carkner, Chris Neil
BOS- Shawn Thornton, Jeremy Reich
TOR- Colton Orr, Jay Rosehill

That’s a substantial bunch right there, although the Atlantic might be tougher top-to-bottom. (Granted, I’m not expert on puck-based pugilism.)

Finally, here’s their take on the Southeast.

The Southeast Division will be renamed the Andre Nazarov Division. They need to get tougher if they want to hang with the true heavies, but have enough experience to win some every now and then.

ATL- Eric Boulton, Ben Eager
CAR- Tim Gleason
TBL- Mitch Fritz

Atlanta should dominate the division physically, as they have been reaping the rewards of the Chicago Blackhawks fire sale and have gotten better, and tougher. Carolina never really has a tough guy on the roster, but Tim Gleason can do the heavy lifting if needed. Mitch Fritz may be the worst skating NHLer ever.

Mitch Fritz? Really? He should fight with Byron Bitz, just for the sake of the pun-based headlines that would result.

Anyway, as you can see, the Eastern Conference added a lot of beef this summer. I wouldn’t say that enforcers really make much of a difference in today’s NHL, but clearly NHL GMs think differently.

(H/T to Puck Daddy)

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.