Inside the Evgeni Malkin-Rick Nash fight

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malkinvsnash.jpg(Image via Nicole Shuster, originally found at The Pensblog.)

During the Calgary Flames magical playoff run that brought them within one win of a Stanley Cup, Jarome Iginla made a name for himself by scoring a ton of the team’s goals but also made waves by fighting just about anyone. It was a rare moment in which a star player acquitted himself nicely in the field of fisticuffs.

While this bout is far from Cam Janssen’s two and a half minute long fight, Evgeni Makin and Rick Nash dropped the gloves in last night’s 3-1 Penguins win. (Watch the video here.)

Almost 91 percent of Hockey Fights.com’s readers gave Malkin the “win” while 4.5 percent chose “draw” and the remaining 4.5 percent somehow thought Nash won the battle.

The Pensblog put up some interesting stills of the fight as they were waiting for video footage. Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy provided a little write-up of the fight while the Columbus Dispatch’s Puck-Rakers Blog provided some interesting context that might explain why it happened in the first place.

Nash showed leadership throughout the game including a big open-ice hit on Malkin in the second period. The line of Nash, Derick Brassard and Voracek held its own against the Makin, Crosby and Brett Sterling. The Jackets’ trio combined for six shots and was on the ice for a goal for each team. Malkin got the best of Nash in the fight as he managed to pull the captain’s jersey over his head. “I don’t know if that was left over from the Olympics, but you don’t see that often,” Arniel said of two star fighting.

Nash said Malkin slashed him repeatedly during faceoffs. Malkin is a competitor, and you’ve got to believe open-ice hit didn’t sit well with the big Russian.

Said Nash: That’s part of the game. You battle with one player all night and sometimes it ends up in a fight.”

Interesting stuff there. Too bad the Penguins and Blue Jackets play in different conferences, because it sounds like the two teams could develop an interesting mini-rivalry. Again, if you want to see the video, click here.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”