Canucks Green Men

Vancouver’s Green Men draw Brad Marchand’s ire, sponsored trip to Boston for Games 3 and 4

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While the origin of their idea wasn’t very original (it came from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), Vancouver’s Green Men provide plenty of off-the-wall antics. Hockey isn’t always a serious game in the first place, but the body suit-wearing oddballs have a way of adding absurd humor to almost any trip to the penalty box.

Naturally, the 2011 Stanley Cup finals will likely provide the largest platform for the two wacky fans yet, something that’s evident after just one game. (For one thing, they continued their tradition of referencing their opponents’ local celebrities, holding up a cardboard cutout of Beantown’s Ben Affleck in a Canucks jersey in Game 1.)

To the surprise of almost no one, the Green Men’s various antics drew the attention (and ire?) of Boston Bruins pest Brad Marchand, according to Joe Haggerty. Marchand reportedly gave the two fans a squirt from his water bottle during a trip to the box and didn’t deny that they caught his gaze (although he claimed that they didn’t affect him or his teammates).

“I tried to squirt some water in my mouth and might have missed a bit – and it got on [the Green Men],” said Marchand.

That quick exchange was enough for the 23-year-old Bruins winger to drop a few bombs on The Green Men during his meeting with the media on Friday afternoon following a full day of practice.

“They probably paid about ten grand for those seats, so they can do whatever they want,” said Marchand. “They’re not a factor. They’re just trying to seek a little piece of fame. For the most part you just ignore them. You can’t hear what they’re saying. They look like fools anyway.

“I think it’s all dumb. What are they even doing? I’m not really paying any attention to them. I’m not gonna be wearing that suit in public. People have done that forever. I don’t know why they’re anything special. They like to yell through the box. I think they’re a little embarrassed about the way they look, so they’ve got to wear those masks.”

Marchand was reportedly glad to hear the news that the Green Men will make a rather courageous trip to Boston when the series shifts to Massachusetts for Games 3 and 4. The Green Men have traveled to other playoff locales before – most notably to the guffaws of Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman in Nashville – but this time around, they’ll receive sponsorship for their journey.

The pair, also known as Sully (Ryan Sullivan) and Force (Adam Forsythe), announced Friday at the UBC Robson Square skating rink — in what may have been the first press conference ever held by sports fans — that Travelzoo will foot the roughly $3,700 bill for the games in addition to airfare and hotels.

“Travelzoo was the first company that was really cool about it,” said Force of their first official sponsorship deal. “They wanted to make sure we got to Boston.”

The Green Men want fans who think they are selling out to realize up until this point the two have paid for everything on their own, with a few $200 or $300 appearance fees thrown in.

“There’s very little money out of this, all of it’s gone toward tickets so far,” Force said. “We paid $700 for the tickets for round one, so we did a bar mitzvah.”

The Green Men said that they might retire their act if the Canucks win the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup, although Force owned up to the possibility that they might “Peter Forsberg and completely flop back on that answer.”

It’s easy to wonder how many tricks the two diehards have left up their sleeves, so “retirement” might be wise after this year. Then again, it just won’t be as thrilling to watch away teams enter the penalty box without their distracting, hysterical presences if they do retire their skin-tight outfits, hand-stands and other routines.

Burmistrov expecting ‘weird, awkward’ return to Winnipeg

Alexander Burmistrov
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It’s been two weeks since the Coyotes claimed Alexander Burmistrov off waivers from the Jets but, because of visa issues, tonight will be just Burmistrov’s second game in an Arizona uniform.

And it’ll be in Winnipeg, against his former team.

“It’s going to be a special night,” Burmistrov said, per NHL.com. “I’m sure it’s going to be weird, awkward, seeing your ex-teammates skating on the other side in the warmup.”

It’s been a weird, awkward season for the 25-year-old Russian. After appearing in 81 games last year — racking up a career-high 21 points — he became an afterthought in Winnipeg, often sitting as a (frustrated) healthy scratch.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice acknowledged the role Burmistrov wanted — something in the top-9 — probably wasn’t going to happen in Winnipeg, so the club set about letting him get a fresh start elsewhere.

Arizona was happy to grab him.

“[Burmistrov’s] a guy our scouts for a long time have identified as someone they think has got more potential than what he’s shown,” GM John Chayka said shortly after the waiver claim, per the Coyotes website. “(Claiming him) was unanimous across the board with our scouts, which is actually fairly rare.”

Burmistrov played a fairly significant role in his first game with the Coyotes. He received just under 18 minutes of ice time and finished with an assist in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Oilers, getting the primary helper on Radim Vrbata‘s power-play goal.

Talbot embracing busy workload with the Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6:  Connor McDavid #97 and goaltender Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate their victory against the Vancouver Canucks on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game is the final game the Oilers will play at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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At some point, Cam Talbot will get the night off to sit on the bench and watch somebody else tend goal for the Edmonton Oilers.

But it won’t be tonight when his Oilers host Florida. Talbot will make his fifth start in the last nine days. No NHL goalie has played more minutes (2,459) than he has this season. No goalie has made more saves (1,115), either.

“This is what you work your whole career towards,” Talbot told reporters today. “I was working my butt off day in, day out, in New York, hoping to get this opportunity at some point behind (Henrik Lundqvist). And Edmonton, I was lucky enough (they gave) me an opportunity last year. You’ve just got to be ready for it when you get it. … I feel great doing it.”

He’s been playing pretty great, too. The 29-year-old is 23-12-6 with a .918 save percentage. He’s won his last three starts while allowing just four goals combined.

And that’s partly why Todd McLellan keeps running Talbot out there — the head coach is riding the hot hand.

The other part relates to the Oilers’ backup. It’s currently Laurent Brossoit, a 23-year-old with just six games of NHL experience. Brossoit was called up from the AHL to replace Jonas Gustavsson, who simply wasn’t getting the job done as Edmonton’s No. 2.

The Oilers, you may have heard, haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade. They desperately want to break that drought, and Talbot has helped put them on pace to do it.

Still, this situation will be worth monitoring. Talbot has never started more than 53 games in an NHL season, and he’s already started 41 in 2016-17. As great as he feels today, there’s absolutely a risk that fatigue sets in down the stretch.

At least the Oilers have the All-Star break and their bye week (Feb. 6-10) on the horizon. Talbot wasn’t selected to participate in Los Angeles later this month; Mike Smith and Martin Jones will represent the Pacific Division instead.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Brossoit is 0-4-1 with an .873 save percentage in those six games with the big club. It’s possible the youngster could start Friday at home to Nashville, as the Oilers also play Saturday in Calgary on Hockey Night in Canada.

Talbot has been busy, but he’s yet to play on consecutive days this season.

The 10 busiest goalies this season

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Wild’s Brodin out ‘weeks’ with hand injury

Minnesota Wild v Anaheim Ducks
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Minnesota’s been very fortunate in the health department this season — a whopping 11 players have appeared in all 43 games — but that changed on Wednesday, as GM Chuck Fletcher announced d-man Jonas Brodin would be out “weeks” with a hand injury.

Brodin was hurt in Tuesday’s loss to the Devils, finishing with just 9:23 TOI. It’s a significant loss — the Swedish rearguard was one of the guys that had appeared in every contest, averaging 19:47 per night.

Per Russo, Nate Prosser is expected to fill the Brodin void. Prosser has been in and out of the lineup this year — though mostly out — appearing in 17 contests while getting just over 13 minutes per.

Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau insisted the club would take the Brodin injury in stride.

“Good teams persevere,” he said, per the Wild’s Twitter account. “We don’t fold like an accordion.”

Jeff Skinner has some advice for Grayson Allen

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 01:  Jeff Skinner #53 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 1, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Hurricanes defeated the Devils 3-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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There was a time that Carolina forward Jeff Skinner — now at the ripe ol’ age of 24 — was an emotional, hyper-competitive young buck earning himself a reputation across the NHL.

OK, not really.

But Skinner was suspended once, back in 2012, for kicking then-Blues forward Scott Nichol.

Given the nature of the suspension — look, you just don’t see a lot of kicking infractions — and the fact Skinner had been warned the day prior for slew-footing Dmitry Orlov, there was a bit of history.

And in Carolina, if you’ve got a history with tripping-related offenses, you’re probably going to be asked about Grayson Allen.

From the News & Observer:

Allen, after twice tripping players in ACC games last season and receiving a reprimand from the league, said before this season that he had learned a hard lesson. He said the incidents were embarrassing for him, his family and the school.

Then, it happened again. In a Dec. 22 game in Greensboro, Allen tripped Elon’s Steven Santa Ana as Santa Ana attempted to drive the baseline, kicking out his right leg. [Duke University head coach Mike] Krzyzewski suspended Allen for one game.

Skinner’s suspension in 2012 is his only one. He’s now 24, a veteran player.

“Experience helps because you’ve seen situations and you put yourself in better spots and you’re able to react to situations better,” Skinner said.

Skinner realizes the scrutiny is intense, especially for star players. There’s always that spotlight, especially in the ACC.

“I know one thing, UNC, Duke and N.C. State basketball gets a lot of media attention,” Skinner said. “There’s a lot of pressure on those guys at a young age.”

The genesis of Skinner’s advice was “learn from your mistakes,” and “the more you experience, the better you’ll react to things.” And in that regard, he’s probably a guy worth listening to — he broke into the NHL at 18 and now, even though he’s only 24, is veteran of seven seasons and nearly 500 games played. Discipline hasn’t been much of a problem since the aforementioned Nichol and Orlov incidents.

He has, however, been whistled for two tripping penalties this season. Guess some habits die hard.

Biggest takeaway from all this, though, could be that Skinner’s in the midst of a career campaign. With 35 points through 43 games he’s on pace for a personal high of 65, which would be the most he’s scored since his rookie year.