Blackhawks finalize signings of five depth players

The Blackhawks have made it possible for a host of players who, more than likely, would not get any press time to get noticed for a day signing five players to one-year, two-way deals. Forwards Evan Brophey, Nathan Davis, and Hugh Jessiman, defenseman Jassen Cullimore and goaltender Hannu Toivonen have all been brought into the Blackhawks fold for depth purposes.

Of the names on this you may have heard of, we’ve talked about Jessiman here before when it was reported that the Blackhawks would be signing him. He’s the former New York Rangers first round pick and the only player from the first round of the 2003 NHL draft to not play a game in the NHL yet.

Brophey and Davis are the other two forwards of the bunch and will help the Blackhawks with their depth issues as anyone that goes down to injury next season will cause major headaches for the Blackhawks on the roster. Both guys had solid but unspectacular seasons in AHL Rockford last year.

Toivonen is an interesting character to re-sign as it’s possible that if Corey Crawford doesn’t provide solid backup support for Marty Turco this season, Toivonen will be in Chicago to do the job. Toivonen has the experience and he’s been around a bit already in his short career. He was a first round draft pick of the Bruins in 2002 and has also played for the Blues. He spent last year in both Peoria and Rockford in the AHL.

Jassen Cullimore is the definition of a cagey veteran. Cullimore, 38, has had quite the long NHL career as a fifth or sixth defenseman and he’s been hanging out in the Blackhawks system the last couple of years with Rockford. With how the Hawks defensive depth has taken blows this off-season, Cullimore getting to make one more go of it in Chicago isn’t out of the question.

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    Same story, different location? Isles foil flat Flyers

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    NEW YORK (AP) The New York Islanders distaste for the Philadelphia Flyers clearly came with them during their move to Brooklyn. Seeing their nemesis Wednesday night brought out some needed emotion.

    “We needed a good, hard, physical game like that,” Casey Cizikas said after the Islanders beat the Flyers 3-1 in a rough-and-tumble affair.

    “Those games are fun. When they get testy like that, when they get physical like that, that’s what makes the game of hockey so much fun. I think we thrived off of that.”

    Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves and Kyle Okposo put the Islanders ahead early in the second period. Cizikas and Frans Nielsen also scored and the Islanders improved to 11-8-3 by snapping a two-game losing streak.

    Steve Mason made 33 saves and Claude Giroux scored the Flyers’ lone goal.

    Philadelphia has lost four of five and fell to 7-10-5.

    “We’re just inconsistent. It’s the same story every game. We need to find a way to be consistent the whole game,” Giroux said. “I’m not too sure what to say. It’s the same story every game.”

    The first of five meetings this season between Philadelphia and New York was a chippy one. There were post-whistle scrums seemingly after every whistle, and tempers boiled over in the second period when Nick Leddy fought Giroux.

    Leddy had earned the Flyers’ ire in the first period after boarding Michael Raffl face first into the boards, but Giroux said his rationale for fighting was only partially inspired by wanting to get even for his teammate.

    “The second period we were flat,” Giroux said. “Anytime you have a chance to change the momentum, you do it.”

    Seven minutes after the Leddy-Giroux fight, Matt Martin squared off with Wayne Simmonds.

    According to, New York had three fights this season prior to Wednesday night, and the Flyers had eight.

    “It was two teams battling hard,” John Tavares said. “We’re going to have a lot of those games coming up.”

    New York took a 2-1 lead 5:14 into the second period on Okposo’s fifth of the season. Tavares won an offensive-zone faceoff to begin the sequence, and Okposo gained possession of the puck along the wall, then curled toward the net before flipping a harmless-looking shot that appeared to ricochet off Nick Schultz and over Mason.

    “There’s no room for error,” said Mason, adding that the puck “bounced off the side of the net” for the game-winning goal.

    The teams traded goals in the first period and the long-time rivals went into the first intermission tied 1-1. Giroux opened the scoring with a power-play goal from the left circle 3:59 into the game, but Cizikas tied it with a short-handed goal with 58 seconds left in the period. It New York’s third short-handed tally this season.

    New York’s penalty kill came into the game ranked 11th in the NHL, while Philadelphia’s power play was 24th.

    “We have to look at everything,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said when asked if his team’s scheme needed to be modified in order to generate more offense. “(We) try to do that every day. So we have to look at everything.”

    The Islanders outshot Philadelphia 36-18. New York had a 65-48 advantage in total shots.

    “It was one of our better games defensively,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We didn’t give them too much.”

    NOTES: This game marked Colin McDonald’s season debut. The Flyers called up the ex-Islander from AHL Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. He had played in four games this season with the Phantoms, where he had two assists. … Philadelphia scratched Vincent Lecavalier, Evgeny Medvedev and Sam Gagner. Lecavalier has been scratched the last six games. The 35-year-old is in the third year of a five-year, $22.5 million contract. He has one assist in seven games this season. … New York scratched Adam Pelech and Taylor Beck. … The teams came into the match having split the last 16 matches. The Islanders were 8-8-0 while the Flyers were 8-3-5. … The announced attendance was 13,027.

    Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

    Frank Vatrano David Krejci

    The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

    In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

    Here’s his first goal of the night:

    While this is his overtime game-winner:

    It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

    The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

    October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

    November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

    Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

    More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

    Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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    Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

    Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

    … While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

    (You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

    Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

    You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

    Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy


    Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

    Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

    You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

    It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

    Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

    Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.