Canucks Naslund Hockey

Markus Naslund to have his number retired in Vancouver tonight

It’s a special night in Vancouver for former team captain Markus Naslund. Naslund will have his number 19 lifted to the rafters at Rogers Arena as the team retires his number in recognition of his outstanding career with the Canucks.

Naslund joined Vancouver during the 1995-1996 season in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canucks traded Alek Stojanov to the Penguins for Naslund straight up. As a Penguin, Naslund was, for lack of a better word, a pedestrian hockey player. In Vancouver, Naslund blossomed into a scoring machine. Seven seasons in a row, Naslund scored 65 or more points from the 98-99 season through 05-06.

In 2002-2003 he won the, now named, Ted Lindsay Award as the MVP of the NHL as voted on by the players. That year he scored 48 goals and had 56 assists for 104 points. Naslund finished his career with three 40+ goal seasons, three other 30+ goal seasons and as a consistent 20+ goal scorer in every other season. Even in his final year with the New York Rangers, Naslund scored 25 goals. We’re pretty sure the Penguins would like a do-over on that trade, but as it is, Naslund’s role in Vancouver is similar to what Sidney Crosby has done in Pittsburgh: He single-handedly reinvigorated a struggling franchise.

Naslund joins former captains Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl (pictured above) as Canucks captains honored with retired numbers. With Naslund now being honored, many Canucks fans are hoping that another franchise legend in Pavel Bure will be honored similarly. As for tonight, Naslund will be remembered well as a captain that did all he could to set the example for his teammates, and for a guy that does that, receiving this honor is truly special.

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).

Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16


Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

You can watch all three goals in the video above.

It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.

Hey, Tortorella called the Penguins whiners again

John Tortorella

Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.

Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.

You can see from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”

(He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)

As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.

Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.

In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.