Vincent Lecavalier

Video: Vincent Lecavalier enjoys Tampa Bay’s return to playoff relevance

A lot of people want to see Vincent Lecavalier return to the form that made him a 108-point player in 2006-07 and a 92-point guy in 07-08. The Tampa Bay Lightning might rank on top of that list considering the staggering amount of money* they’ll pay him through 2019-20 (barring a trade or retirement).

It seems like the true Lecavalier is the one we’ve seen during the last few years, though. Injuries shortened his 2010-11 regular season, but his 54 points in 65 games followed the pace he achieved during healthier seasons in 09-10 (70 points) and 08-09 (67 points).

Such productivity might be unsatisfying considering his enormous pay checks – especially after Steven Stamkos gets a huge raise this summer as a restricted free agent – but the team’s patience with Lecavalier is paying off in the 2011 playoffs. The large, talented captain of the Bolts is tied with his teammate Martin St. Louis and two other players for second place in playoff points with 17 in 15 games played.

That’s the kind of output you hope to see from your highly paid captain in the games that matter the most. Honestly, these impressive results are reminiscent of the kind of run Lecavalier, St. Louis and the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning Lightning produced seven years ago. Tampa Bay’s franchise has gone through some serious lows since then, with Lecavalier feeling some serious heat in that span.

Those bitter moments probably make the triumphant times that much sweeter, though. Lecavalier discusses his journey in the video below.

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* – Lecavalier’s contract calls for a $10 million annual salary through 2015-16, followed by $8.5 million in 16-17, $4 million in 17-18, $1.5 million in 18-19 and $1 million in 19-20. Yikes.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)