Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier looks to put ugly past behind him

atlanta_thrashers_2000.gifTo call Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier’s last year turbulent would be being nice. The former Devils prospect spent the better part of the last year looking to get past being labeled as a reckless and careless player after a vicious elbow he laid on Mikael Tam during a QMJHL game last season, one that saw him get suspended indefinitely by the league as well as brought up on criminal assault charges.

After being shipped off to Atlanta in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal, Cormier is looking to redeem his image and his career with the Thrashers and so far in rookie camp it appears he’s done just that and is gunning for a spot on the roster with the Thrashers this year as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution finds out.

General manager Rick Dudley called Cormier “one of the most mature kids I’ve seen at his age, physically and mentally.” Team officials went so far as to say that once Cormier was included in trade talks for Ilya Kovalchuk, the deal was promptly struck with New Jersey. The Thrashers sent their franchise player to the Devils for Niclas Bergors, Johnny Oduya, Cormier and a first-round draft pick in February.

“He was as big as any part of that trade,” Dudley said.

Such homage would seemingly place plenty of weight on the 20-year-old center. Following rookie camp, which ends Thursday, Cormier will take part in the Thrashers’ training camp, where he will essentially be trying to jump straight from junior hockey to the NHL.

“I don’t think there is a lot of pressure on me,” Cormier said. “Maybe there is, but I don’t put any pressure on my shoulders. I don’t worry about that. I can’t control what the organization is going to do with me this year. I just control what I can do. That’s work hard on the ice, help my teammates, be a good leader.”

Cormier was a second-round pick of the Devils in 2008 and he’s a player that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello liked quite a bit. Seeing Cormier grow up the way he apparently has and harness his game for good could help make the Kovalchuk trade look even more helpful to Atlanta.

Having Cormier become a major contributor to the Thrashers potential success along with Niclas Bergfors would be just the boost the franchise and GM Rick Dudley could use. The Thrashers struggles since joining the league are certainly not a secret but if Cormier’s reclamation can spur the Thrashers to rise from obscurity and help fans forget former GM Don Waddell’s shortcomings, it’ll turn Atlanta into a reclamation story of their own.

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    Goalie nods: Corey Crawford gets a chance to snap out of slump for Blackhawks

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    With starting goaltender Corey Crawford stuck in his worst slump of the season, and Scott Darling coming off of a 30-save shutout on Friday night, it seemed possible that the Chicago Blackhawks would stick with the same goalie arrangement on Sunday evening against the Vancouver Canucks.

    If nothing else Darling has at least made an argument that he probably deserves a little more playing time than he is getting, and that is still true today.

    He just will not get that opportunity against the Canucks.

    Coach Joel Quenneville is going back to his starter, Crawford, for Sunday’s game.

    After a great start to the season, Crawford has struggled mightily since returning to the lineup following an appendectomy in December and enters Sunday’s game with only a .902 save percentage in his past 10 appearances. He has allowed at least three goals in seven of those games. Before this most recent he was sitting at .927 on the season and looked like one of the top contenders for the Vezina Trophy.

    The Blackhawks are not used to seeing Crawford struggle like this, especially in recent years as he has become one of the league’s top goaltenders, finishing with a save percentage of .924 or better in three of the past four full seasons. He is too good to continue playing the way he has recently. Perhaps Sunday is the day he starts to get back on track against a team that he has a pretty strong track record against.

    The Canucks, entering the game one game out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, have yet to announce their starter.

    Elsewhere…

    — Jared Coureau and Henrik Lundqvist went for the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers in their afternoon tilt on NBC, while Matt Murray and Tuukka Rask faced off in Pittsburgh for the Penguins and Boston Bruins.

    — After starting 12 consecutive games Mike Condon goes again for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets are expected to go with Joonas Korpisalo.

    Thomas Greiss returns to the net for the New York Islanders on Sunday after getting Saturday night off and looks for his third consecutive shutout. He has stopped all 55 shots he has faced in his past two games against the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars. The Philadelphia Flyers will go with Steve Mason after Michal Neuvirth took the loss against New Jersey on Saturday.

    Darcy Kuemper is expected to get the start for the Minnesota Wild when they take on the Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne goes for the Predators.

    Red Wings lose Thomas Vanek against Rangers

    TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 13:  Thomas Vanek #62 of the Detroit Red Wings gets ready for a face-off against Tampa Bay Lightning during a game at the Amalie Arena on October 13, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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    This is not the news the Detroit Red Wings needed on Sunday afternoon.

    Forward Thomas Vanek left their game against the New York Rangers following the first period for undisclosed reasons. The team announced that he will not return to the game.

    Vanek has been a steal for the Red Wings this season after signing him to a one-year, $2.6 million contract in free agency. When healthy he has been arguably their best, most impactful forward this season and entered play on Sunday tied for the team lead in goals (12) and total points (31) even though he had already missed nine games this season.

    He played 6:58 in the first period before exiting the game after being shaken up near the Rangers’ net.

    He already missed time this season due to a hip injury.

    Given his success this season with the team, as well as the Red Wings’ current spot in the Eastern Conference standings that has them several points out of a playoff spot, he has been a popular name mentioned in trade speculation in advance of the trade deadline, something that he seems well aware of.

    WATCH LIVE: New York Rangers at Detroit Red Wings

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings looks to block a shot by Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers during the third period at Madison Square Garden on October 19, 2016 in New York City. The Red Wings defeated the Rangers 2-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Detroit Red Wings are trying to play their way back into playoff contention and have gained points in four consecutive games, including wins in each of their past three home games.

    On Sunday they trying to extend that home winning streak against a New York Rangers team that is one of the highest scoring teams in the league, but has had a heck of a time stopping teams in recent weeks giving up 50 goals in their past 12 games.

    All of the action starts on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET and you can watch all of it there, or online via our live stream.

    It is also a Star Sunday that will focus on Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

    Click here for the live stream

    Preview: Red Wings look to take advantage of Rangers’ struggling defense

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    Wayne Simmonds takes blame for penalty that resulted in game changing goal

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 05:  Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers waits for the face off against the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center on January 5, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    The Philadelphia Flyers had a tough second period on Saturday night on their way to a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

    It all started when Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas was penalized for clipping Devils forward Miles Wood on a play that the Flyers felt was a legal hip check. Following that call, forward Wayne Simmonds had a brief discussion with referee Dan O’Halloran — the referee that made the call — resulting in Simmonds picking up a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. It wasn’t even a particularly heated discussion (watch it here) and seemed to be similar to ones you see happen in most games across the league on any given night without further incident.

    That gave the Devils an extended 5-on-3 power play that resulted in a Kyle Palmieri power play goal to break what had been a 1-1 tie.

    Just three minutes later Wood scored his first of two goals on the night to begin putting the game out of reach.

    This was the entire sequence that led to the Palmieri goal.

    “I’ll take blame for that,” Simmonds said after the game, via CSN Philadelphia when asked about what happened. “I didn’t agree with the penalty, I got an extra two that’s my fault. They score a goal, make it 2-1, that’s a momentum changer, I take all of the blame for that.”

    Simmonds would not say what was said between the two, only adding “The referee was talking to me; I was talking to him. I am not commenting on calls; it is what it is. It happened, it’s over with now. I am not going to say anything about that.”

    Simmonds has been arguably the Flyers’ best player this season with a team-leading 18 goals entering play on Sunday.

    Whether that was what sent the game in the wrong direction for the Flyers or not, the most concerning thing is that was another big loss that continued their recent slump that has seen them win just three of their past 15 games. They remain one point back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference but have already played three more games than them.