Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, November 27th

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New Jersey 2 – Philadelphia 1 (F/SO)

Johan Hedberg stopped 40 shots in the shootout win for New Jersey. Adam Mair had the Devils lone regulation goal while Travis Zajac got the shootout winner. Brian Boucher played well in defeat for Philly. For the Devils, it makes for a strong bounce back game after losing to the Islanders on Friday.

Pittsburgh 4 – Calgary 1

The Flames’ horrible road trip of terror came to a crashing end in Pittsburgh as Sidney Crosby netted a hat trick to give the Pens the win. Crosby’s trick gives him 18 goals on the season and the NHL point scoring lead, leap frogging Steve Stamkos for the time being. This just in, Sidney Crosby is still pretty good. Meanwhile, the Flames close out their five-game road trip going 1-2-2, managing to get four points out of a road trip where they only won one game. There’s your silver lining I suppose.

Montreal 3 – Buffalo 1

Brian Gionta’s two goals helped pace the Canadiens past the Sabres. While Ryan Miller did play well for Buffalo, Carey Price was the man once again. Price stopped 35 shots and barely missed out on earning another shutout when Jordan Leopold scored with 1:13 left in the game.

Ottawa 3 – Toronto 0

Brian Elliott was once again standing tall for the Senators earning his second shutout of the season. Mike Fisher finished with two goals for the Sens. Meanwhile, the Leafs offense continues to be miserable. Tonight marked the fifth time this year the Leafs were shutout.

Florida 4 – Tampa Bay 3 (F/SO)

The Panthers snapped a three game losing streak and did so thanks to getting a beauty of a penalty shot goal by Radek Dvorak during the game and an equally sweet shootout winner from Stephen Weiss. Tomas Vokoun was solid saving 34 shots in the win. As for Steve Stamkos, he finished the game with an assist.

Dallas 2 – St. Louis 1

In a game where you’d expect Jaroslav Halak to be the scene-stealing goalie, Kari Lehtonen stops 35 shots for Dallas and gets the headlines himself. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson had the goals for Dallas and for Eriksson it was his 10th of the year. B.J. Crombeen had the lone goal for St. Louis while Halak saved just 21 shots in the loss.

NY Rangers 2 – Nashville 1 (F/SO)

The Preds tried to coast on Colin Wilson’s first period goal all game, but Ryan Callahan’s tying goal late in the third sent it to overtime. Erik Christensen had the lone goal in the shootout to give the Rangers the win. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots for the Rangers while Pekka Rinne saved 23 for Nashville. Highlight of the night came when agitators Jordin Tootoo and Sean Avery squared off in a fight that saw Tootoo win handily.

Anaheim 6 – Phoenix 4

Bobby Ryan’s hat trick paced the Ducks to the win in the high-scoring affair in the desert. Jonas Hiller had 30 saves for Anaheim, meanwhile Ilya Bryzgalov was underwhelming stopping just 19 in the loss. Ryan Getzlaf finished the game with four assists.

Colorado 7 – Minnesota 4

A goaltending exhibition this was not. Niklas Backstrom was awful yet again, this time yielding six goals, two of which were to Greg Mauldin. It wasn’t all good news for the Avs though as they lost Chris Stewart to a broken hand suffered in a fight with Kyle Brodziak. Brodziak had two goals for the suddenly defensively incapable Wild.

San Jose 4 – Edmonton 3

Dany Heatley was booed throughout the game in Edmonton thanks to him turning down a trade to Edmonton last off-season which lead to him being sent to San Jose from Ottawa. Heatley gave Oilers fans a real reason to boo him after scoring twice in leading the Sharks to the victory. The Oilers tried to storm back in the third after being down 4-1 and got to within 4-3 thanks to quick goals from Shawn Horcoff and Jim Vandermeer but couldn’t get the equalizer. For the Sharks, holding off a team in the third could be the boost they were looking for.

Chicago 2 – Los Angeles 1

The name “Patrick” isn’t likely to be popular in L.A. tonight as Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane had the goals for the Blackhawks tonight in their win over the Kings. Corey Crawford got the nod once again in goal and got the win stopping 21 shots. Anze Kopitar had L.A.’s only goal and Jon Quick was the hard luck loser saving 21 shots. Chicago closes out their west coast swing strongly and gets to head back home feeling pretty good about things.

Game highlight for the squeamish and blood thirsty: Chicago’s John Scott beating the living daylights out of Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth. For those keeping track at home, that’s Michigan Tech alum Scott beating Princeton alum Westgarth. Who says higher education doesn’t serve a purpose?

Kraft Hockeyville: For Schneider, road to NHL began in Massachusetts

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New Jersey Devils netminder Cory Schneider‘s professional career is littered with highlights.

A first-round pick by Vancouver at the 2004 draft, Schneider has appeared in a Stanley Cup Final, captured the Jennings Award, signed a lucrative seven-year, $42 million contract (with the Devils) and has represented the U.S. on a number of international platforms.

Schneider backstopped Team USA at a pair of World Junior Championships, and was one of three goalies selected to last year’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey. It marked a significant stop on a road that began in his hometown of Marblehead, Massachusetts.

“I owe a lot to the youth hockey program, and where it’s gotten me,” he explained. “It got me started playing goalie, because we would rotate the equipment. So every game, someone new would play goal and every chance I got when someone didn’t show up or didn’t want to do it, I’d say ‘I’ll play goal.'”

After playing for Marblehead High School and Phillips Academy, Schneider spent some time with the U.S. National Team Development Program before embarking on an impressive career at Boston College.

He has since become one of the NHL’s busiest netminders. In ’14-15, he started a career-high 68 games and has continued to rank among the league leaders in appearances.

For more on Kraft Hockeyville, check out the two finalists for this year’s title: The Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon, PA, and the Bloomington Ice Garden in Bloomington, MN.

 

 

Canucks announce Travis Green as new head coach

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The Vancouver Canucks made it official today, announcing Travis Green as their new head coach.

Green replaces Willie Desjardins, who was fired after three seasons on the job.

The past four years, Green has been the head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica.

“Travis is a talented head coach who’s played a key role in the development of our young players through four seasons with the Comets,” said GM Jim Benning in a statement. “He has an intense desire to win and build a team identity that is hardworking, responsible on both ends of the ice and competitive. He has an excellent understanding of where we are as an organization and we’re confident in his ability to help build our team and develop a winning culture.”

Green, a former forward who played over 1,000 NHL games including the playoffs, will take over a transitioning Vancouver roster. He was hired in large part to develop the club’s young players.

“You need young players, and you need them to play,” Green said in an interview with the Canucks’ website.

Of course, the need for youth in the lineup doesn’t mean Green will be gifting anything to anyone.

“I expect a lot out of my players,” he said. “I’m demanding. Expectations will be high. But players want that. They want to be held accountable. There’s going to be a lot of communication between myself and the players. I believe in it. I want them to trust me. I want the best for my players.”

It’s going to be a tough job for Green, who’s never coached in the NHL. While the Canucks do have some promising youngsters, they still need to accumulate more as they move on from the Sedin era.

“I want to start to develop a culture that breeds winning,” said Green. “You know, that’s a process. That takes some time. But that starts today.”

No names, but Sabres have ‘put a lot of work’ into GM and coach searches

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There have been plenty of candidates floated for the vacant head coach and general manager gigs in Buffalo. Ownership won’t say who they are, but it definitely sounds like some have already been contacted.

“We’re keeping it under wraps,” Kim Pegula said on Wednesday, per WGR 550 radio. “But we definitely have put a lot of work in this week.”

It’s been six days since the Sabres made sweeping changes by firing head coach Dan Bylsma and GM Tim Murray, capping off a tumultuous period which began with reports of Jack Eichel not wanting to sign a contract extension this summer if Bylsma remained the bench boss.

Since then, a number of replacement names have surfaced. We’ll focus here on the GM position given. By all logic the Sabres will first hire a GM, who will then have a say in hiring the head coach.

By all logic, of course.

Dean Lombardi, who won a pair of Stanley Cups in Los Angeles before being dismissed in an equally massive housecleaning, has been rumored as a candidate. But Lombardi’s replacement in L.A., Rob Blake, said he’s yet to be contacted by any clubs requesting an interview.

Some have suggested Buffalo could dive into its history, and bring back a former player in an executive role. This is why former Sabres captain Chris Drury has come up so often. Drury, 40, has risen up the management ranks quickly in recent years, and currently serves as Rangers GM Jeff Gorton’s assistant (Drury is also putting together the Team USA entry for the upcoming World Hockey Championships).

In that vein, former Buffalo coach and GM Rick Dudley has also been floated, as has Jason Botterill. Botterill, who played three years with the Sabres organization, is the associate GM in Pittsburgh and widely regarded as one of the brightest up-and-coming execs in the league.

If the Sabres opt to take a different tact, and look for “new blood,” Sportsnet’s John Shannon ran down a list of candidates:

Other names worth adding? Bill Zito, the assistant GM in Columbus, and Norm Maciver, the assistant GM in Chicago.

Given the number of candidates listed here, it’s not surprising that the Pegulas have put in a ton of work looking for their new GM.

There’s a ton of work to be done.

Kesler will have his hands full with McDavid, and vice-versa

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“It’s not me against McDavid,” says Ryan Kesler. “It’s the Anaheim Ducks against the Edmonton Oilers.”

OK, fine. But when one team has the NHL’s leading scorer, and the other a five-time Selke Trophy finalist, that’s a matchup that people are going to talk about.

Especially when the Ducks have last change, like they will tonight in Game 1 at Honda Center. Expect to see plenty of Kesler whenever Connor McDavid hits the ice.

“Kes takes it personally when he plays against the top players,” said Ducks teammate Kevin Bieksa, per the O.C. Register. “He’s just very competitive. He has the will. I keep hearing he gets inside people’s heads but I just think you do that by outplaying them.”

Kesler and Bieksa were also teammates in Vancouver, where Kesler became the Canucks’ first-ever Selke winner in 2011.

McDavid, meanwhile, will receive his first Art Ross Trophy in June. He’ll probably get his first Hart, too. Yet he knows it won’t be easy against Kesler, whose combination of speed and tenacity makes him such a great checker.

“He’s been up for the Selke for how many years in a row,” said McDavid. “That obviously speaks for itself. He obviously understands his defensive role.”

In case you’re wondering, McDavid played five games against the Ducks this season. He had two goals and five assists, and the Oilers went 3-2-0.

Kesler played all five of those games, too. He had two goals and no assists, and the Ducks went 2-1-2.