Logan Couture, Niklas Cackstrom

Riding the Zamboni – January 22nd; Kings get back at Coyotes, Sharks continue streaking

San Jose 4 – Minnesota 3

Don’t look now but the Sharks have won four straight. Devin Setoguchi scored twice while rookie Logan Couture continues to get it done adding a goal of his own. Antti Niemi played strong in goal saving 23 shots. The hard-luck guy of the night was Wild starter Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom made 38 saves in a losing effort as the Sharks outskated and outhustled the Wild all night long. The win keeps the Sharks in line with the Blackhawks and Ducks in the race for the final two playoff spots in the West and also puts some space between themselves and Minnesota in that race. Things are a bit tight in the West.

Los Angeles 4 – Phoenix 3

After the mayhem that erupted after these two met earlier this week with Kings GM Dean Lombardi losing his cool, the Kings got out to a 3-0 lead early and ended the first period up 3-1. In the second period they’d give it back when Martin Hanzal scored and Lee Stempniak added his second goal of the game. Jarret Stoll would get the eventual game-winner in the third on an acrobatic goal, one that he needed about as bad as the Kings did. The win snaps a three game slide for the Kings and gets them caught up a little bit with the rest of the division as they finally crack the 50 point barrier.

Calgary 4 – Vancouver 3 (F/SO)

For what turned out to be a really exciting game will only be known for how it was decided in the shootout. Alex Tanguay appeared to be stopped by Roberto Luongo on his attempt but Luongo slid almost fully across the goal line while making the save. The official ruled it no-goal on the ice, but the call went to replay. On the video, there was no way to see the puck underneath the pads nor where it was located and it was assumed that the puck had crossed the line. The call was changed to a goal and the Flames skated away as winners. While the call was correct and logical, it’s stunning to see logic factor into a replay decision. Alex Edler potted two goals for the Canucks while Tim Jackman had a goal and an assist for Calgary.

NY Rangers 3 – Atlanta 2 (F/SO)

A gutsy comeback victory for the Rangers in Atlanta as Mats Zuccarello continued his shootout mastery scoring the winner in the skills competition. Zuccarello is now 3-for-3 in shootout attempts this year and has become a valuable weapon there with guys like Alex Frolov and Erik Christensen out with injuries. Brian Boyle scored his 17th goal of the year for New York and it was a clutch one tying the game at two with just over five minutes to play. Ondrej Pavelec played strong for Atlanta in the loss stopping 29 shots. Henrik Lundqvist was a bit less busy stopping 20 shots and all three he saw in the shootout.

Pittsburgh 3 – Carolina 2

Pittsburgh held on to get an important win over the Canes despite Carolina coming on strong in the third period. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots in the win while Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu, and Pascal Dupuis all had goals. Carolina got back into the game with under five minutes to play after getting goals from Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal but couldn’t punch home the equalizer. The Pens have had a bad habit of letting teams back into the game in the third period this season but they were able to bend and not break in this one.

Columbus 5 – St. Louis 2

In a battle between teams having a hard time of late in the Central Division, the Jackets were able to roll to victory in St. Louis thanks to virtually everyone. 13 different Columbus skaters registered a point in the victory including six different goal scorers. Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard each had two assists while Steve Mason had a quiet night stopping 19 shots in the win. The win tied Columbus with St. Louis in the Central with 51 points and was their second straight victory. Baby steps for the Blue Jackets as they look to regain the winning form they had earlier this season.

Anaheim 3 – Montreal 2 (F/SO)

Washington 4 – Toronto 1

Boston 6 – Colorado 2

It was Brad Marchand’s coming out party for the Bruins. The rookie forward had four points with two goals and two assists to help lead Boston to the blowout victory. Somehow, those four points weren’t enough to get Marchand the number one star of the game. Tough crowd. Those honors went to the ageless Mark Recchi who had a goal and two assists. Tim Thomas was strong once again in goal stopping 32 shots while Avs starter Craig Anderson was miserable getting pulled after giving up four goals through two periods and stopping 24. The story of the game might end up being the loss of Marc Savard as he was knocked out of the game in the second period after taking a hit from Matt Hunwick and hitting his head against the glass.

Recaps from this afternoon: New Jersey beats Philly while Chicago takes out Detroit

Oilers’ Yakimov going back to KHL — this time, on loan

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Bogdan Yakimov #39 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on prior to the start of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
12 Comments

Bogdan Yakimov is on his way back to Russia.

On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they’ve loaned Yakimov to KHL club Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, the same team he joined after leaving AHL Bakersfield last season.

The 83rd overall pick in 2013, Yakimov has appeared in one game for the Oilers since getting drafted. He’s spent almost all of his time in North America in the AHL, and didn’t impress the club last year when he bolted the farm team to return to his native land.

“He made a career decision to return to Russia and I’m not sure how he played or how many games he played,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said at the time, per the Edmonton Sun (McLellan was then informed Yakimov was away for 11 games).

“Well, that’s 11 games he didn’t spend with us. During his time away, there were a number of players recalled. I would have preferred to see him in an Oilers uniform and he was real close. Now he has to reset his Oiler clock and get playing again.”

All told, Yakimov played in 36 games with the Condors last season, scoring five goals and 15 points.

At 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, Yakimov has impressive size and is still only 21 years old, so he’s got some value. But it remains to be seen whether he wants to try and push for an NHL career, or opt to stay in the KHL.

 

Max is back: Lapierre to attend Rangers camp on PTO

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 01: Maxim Lapierre #40 talks with Craig Adams #27 of the Pittsburgh Penguins before a face-off during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Consol Energy Center on April 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty
4 Comments

After a year abroad, Maxim Lapierre is getting a shot to rejoin the NHL.

Per TVA, Lapierre has agreed to join the Rangers in training camp on a professional tryout. The news comes after he split last season between Swiss League outfit Lugano and Swedish League side Modo, with midseason rumblings there were NHL teams interested in bringing him back.

In New York, Lapierre will be reunited with Alain Vigneault, his former head coach in Vancouver. Vigneault has brought in a few former Canucks during his time with the Rangers, including Tanner Glass, Nicklas Jensen and Michael Grabner.

Lapierre, 31, last played in the NHL during the ’14-15 campaign, splitting time between Pittsburgh and St. Louis. A known agitator, he finished the year with 11 points in 80 games, and appeared in all five games of the Pens’ opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers.

Prior to his time in Pittsburgh and St. Louis, “Yappy Lappy” played in Montreal, Anaheim and Vancouver. His best season came in 2008-09, when he scored a career-high 15 goals and 28 points, earning a handful of Selke votes.

Ready for No. 1 duties, Elliott wants to be ‘backbone’ for Flames

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty
2 Comments

At 31, Brian Elliott will be one of most experienced guys on the Calgary roster next season.

But he’s also ready to embark on something unique.

Elliott will have the chance to be a clear-cut, unquestioned, No. 1 starting netminder for the first time in his career when the Flames open play in October — an opportunity he’s ready to embrace.

“As a goalie you want to be wanted. You want to have that opportunity,” Elliott said on Wednesday during his introduction to the Calgary media. “I’m going to do my best to be the backbone of the team and try to be a leader and just do whatever I can to be the rock for the guys on the back end and let the guys do the rest of the work.”

There’s little doubt about Elliott’s role in Calgary for next season. He was stellar in ’15-16, posting a .930 save percentage and 2.07 GAA, helping the Blues advance to the Western Conference Final. And the Flames further anointed Elliott as the No. 1 by signing career backup Chad Johnson to fill the No. 2 role.

So, next year is sorted.

But what about after that?

Elliott is a UFA after this season, and so is Johnson. Flames GM Brad Treliving did say at the draft that Elliott’s contractual status and cap hit played a role in the acquisition, adding that discussions about a new deal could be in the works.

“As part of this deal, Doug [Armstrong, Blues GM] allowed me to talk to [Elliot’s] representative, so there may be the opportunity to look at an extension,” Treliving said at the time. “We’ll look at that. There’s no need to rush, but maybe there is a need to look at something.”

It’s been long rumored that Calgary wasn’t looking for a long-term solution in goal, but rather a “transitional guy.” That’s why Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, currently under contract for two more years, had been tied to the Flames.

Looking down the road, it’s clear Calgary is anticipating one of their draftees pans out in goal. The club took Providence standout Jon Gillies 75th overall in 2012, Mason McDonald 34th overall in ’14, and Tyler Parsons 54th overall this  year — but none of them are close to being NHL ready.

Which brings us back to Elliott.

Given how erratic things were in Calgary’s net last year both performance- and contractual-wise, one would assume Treliving would like to keep “Moose” around for more than just this season.

With ‘no expectations’ for Franzen or Vitale to play, Wings aren’t worried about cap situation

Detroit Red Wings v Edmonton Oilers
Getty
4 Comments

At first glance, Detroit’s current financial situation isn’t good. Petr Mrazek’s recent two-year, $8 million extension pushed the payroll to nearly $78 million, well over the $73M ceiling for next season.

But there is a catch.

“Certainly we have no expectations that [Johan] Franzen and [Joe] Vitale are playing hockey this year,” GM Ken Holland said Wednesday, per MLive. “I talked to Vitale after we traded (for) him. He’s having on-going issues with concussion.

“He certainly not expecting to be in camp. I’m not expecting to see Johan Franzen on the ice.”

Vitale, acquired from Arizona as part of the Pavel Datsyuk deal at the draft, carries at $1.16 million cap hit. Franzen, who played in just two games last year while dealing with concussion issues of his own, carries a $3.95M hit.

Putting those two on long-term injured reserve would almost get Detroit right back into cap compliance. Holland can also exercise a similar option with Teemu Pulkkinen, who underwent shoulder surgery this offseason (and makes $812,500).

Thing is, cap compliance isn’t all Holland wants to accomplish.

Though he re-signed Danny DeKeyser to a big six-year, $30 million contract earlier this week, Holland still wants to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

A top-three defenseman will undoubtedly cost a fair bit of money. Which means a fair bit of money would need to go the other way in return.

Detroit has reportedly spoken to Anaheim about acquiring Cam Fowler. Fowler, 24, would be a good fit — he’s got a very reasonable contract ($4 million annually through 2018), the type of money the Wings could bring aboard if they were to part with the likes of, say, Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million through 2019).

The catch, of course, is that the asking price for defensemen is sky high. It cost the Oilers Taylor Hall to get Adam Larsson out of New Jersey, and there are teams like Boston — still desperately searching for a “transitional” defenseman — that have publicly stated the acquisition cost is steep.

So while Detroit might not be worried about its cap situation for next season, it has to be concerned about having what it takes to upgrade the defense.

Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk