Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Two

Chew on this: All 30 NHL teams passed on drafting Game 2 hero Alex Burrows

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As much as any other NHL team, Vancouver Canucks boast a roster brimming with high-end draft picks. More than half of their roster was drafted in either the first or second round. Just glance at this list to see how heavy this club really is in premier prospects.

First rounders

Drafted by Vancouver:
Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin (2nd and 3rd overall, 1999)
Ryan Kesler (23rd, 2003)
Cory Schneider (26th, 2004)

Drafted by other teams:
Roberto Luongo (4th overall, by New York Islanders in 1997)
Dan Hamhuis (12th, by Nashville Predators in 2002)
Keith Ballard (11th, by Buffalo Sabres in 2002)
Manny Malhotra (7th, by New York Rangers in 1998)
Chris Higgins (14th, by Montreal Canadines in 2002)
Raffi Torres (5th, by New York Islanders in 2000)
Jeff Tambellini (27th, by Los Angeles Kings in 2003)

Second rounders

Drafted by Vancouver:
Mason Raymond (51st, 2005)

Drafted by other teams:
Maxim Lapierre (61st by Montreal Canadiens in 2003)
Victor Oreskovich (55th by Colorado Avalanche in 2004)

Yet amid all those premium picks, the one guy on their NHL-level roster who didn’t get drafted at all ended up being the hero of Game 2. Alex Burrows scratched, clawed – and yes – nibbled his way to the NHL after bouncing around the ECHL and AHL from 2002-03 to 2005-06, when he solidified his place with the Canucks.

Now, at 30 years old, Burrows is a fantastic compliment to the Sedin twins on what might be the best first line in the NHL. To the dismay of many Boston Bruins fans, Burrows scored two goals (including that stunning OT game-winner) and one assist in Vancouver’s Game 2 win.

It’s not as if he just enjoyed one signature performance, either. Burrows has 17 points in 20 playoff games, including that series-winning overtime goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of their first round series. He scored 26 goals in 2010-11, 35 in 09-10 and 28 in 08-09. He combines that goal-scoring acumen with plenty of grit and an agitating presence, making him one of the better power forwards in the league.

Scouts aren’t the only people who overlooked his talents, either. Whoever negotiated on Burrows’ behalf in 2009 didn’t do a great job of foreseeing his value considering his bargain four-year, $8 million contract. With Zach Parise’s $3.1 million annual salary cap hit ready to expire in July, it’s quite possible that Burrows’ contract ranks as the league’s best value (not counting entry-level deals).

His contract expires after the 2012-13 season, which means that the Canucks will receive two more seasons of Burrows’ great play at that enviable $2 million per year rate. General managers and scouts from around the NHL must feel foolish for overlooking Burrows all those years ago, yet now their strongest feeling is probably jealousy.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.