Jonathan Toews, Jay Bouwmeester

Jay Bouwmeester, Olli Jokinen go up against Florida to cap a night of awkward reunions

Perhaps you should keep an eye out for ex-girlfriends and friends-turned-enemies tonight, as there are plenty of awkward reunions this Thursday.

Two of the biggest stories of the day center on teams seeing their old heroes, as Mike Modano is playing against the Dallas Stars after suiting up for them for more than 20 years while Simon Gagne faces the Philadelphia Flyers after 10 high-scoring seasons in Cream Cheese Land.

But the uncomfortable glances won’t just be shared in Dallas and Philadelphia, though. While they’ve been away from Sunrise, Florida for at a season or more, there might be some strange feelings for Panthers fans as they watch former stars Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester in Calgary uniforms. Even if Florida fans fail to truly “miss” those ex-Panthers and the game is taking place in Calgary.

George Richards of On Frozen Pond discussed Bouwmeester’s struggles under the Calgary hockey spotlight while Jokinen expressed his hopes that the Panthers “have it figured out.” Donny Rivette of Litter Box Cats captures the mixed feelings in Florida the best, though.

The “novelty” of facing former players tends to last longer among Florida fans; given that many ex-Cats left the club on less than amicable terms – and little on-ice success with which to fill the void – getting fired up for an evening featuring a Bouwmeester appearance is understandably easy.

Seeing Jokinen flop and Bouwmeester struggle to live up to big expectations (and a giant contract) made me wonder if there’s a “Panthers Effect”: a player looks like a diamond in that low-success rough in Florida only to flounder when expectations rise and their paths face more resistance. Nathan Horton is dispelling that notion a bit so far in Boston, but there’s little doubt that things haven’t been ideal for the Panthers (or those former players) since they left.

Sometimes breaking up can be a healthy thing. Sometimes one party excels while the other person regresses. Yet, in the case of Bouwmeester, Jokinen and the Panthers, it seems like things have been worse for everyone after they split.

Well, everyone but Bouwmeester’s accountant, I guess.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

2816marty4
New Jersey Devils
Leave a comment

The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

18 Comments

The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Three
Getty Images
Leave a comment

In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils
Getty Images
2 Comments

The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.