Jaroslav Halak draws a massive crowd to say good-bye to Montreal, benefit children's hospital

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Halak4.jpgWhile you could argue all day about who the biggest star in the 2010 NHL Playoffs was, it’s clear that one guy’s legacy is well recognized by the fans in the city he used to play in. Current Blues goalie and former Habs playoff hero, Jaroslav Halak, got a chance to say his official good-bye to the fans in Montreal today as he signed autographs for charity, the Ste. Justine Children’s Hospital in Montreal. The response was stunning.

A line-up of fans estimated at 5,000 stretched the length of the Fairview mall in Pointe-Claire, Que., and a long way outside the building.

“It feels weird, but I have good memories in Montreal and that’s why I wanted to say thank you to the fans,” Halak said.

While Halak wasn’t exactly a long-time storied member of the Habs franchise (he spent four years with the team), the mark he left on the team leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals is one that the fans in Montreal clearly appreciate. It’s also a legacy that will make Carey Price’s job a lot tougher this season as a Twilight-like debate over whether the Habs should keep Price or Halak developed immediately after the Habs were eliminated by the Flyers.

While some Montreal fans may have stayed away or even gotten critical with Halak’s agent Allan Walsh via Twitter, there’s no doubt that doing something like to this to help benefit a children’s hospital and to thank the fans is one of the nicest things any player could do in such a situation to help quiet critics either of Halak or of Habs management for trading him. After all, if you can’t put that aside to do something nice to help the kids, perhaps some soul searching is in order.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.