Teddy Purcell

Teddy Purcell and Lauri Korpikoski avoid arbitration, both sign two-year deals

Today was supposed to be the kick-off of the dreaded salary arbitration process, but only one of the cases actually made it. The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided arbitration by signing Teddy Purcell to a two-year contract while the Phoenix Coyotes reached a settlement with Lauri Korpikoski that resulted in a two-year deal.

Nick Kypreos reports that Purcell’s two-year deal will register a $4.725 million total while Korpikoski will cost $3.6 million overall. That amounts to a $1.8 million annual cap hit for Korpikoski and a cap hit of more than than $2.36 million* for Purcell. It’s unclear if Korpikosi’s “settlement” was actually an agreement that happened before the hearing or if that’s the ruling itself.

Purcell gets the biggest upgrade, but it’s pretty difficult to argue with that raise. The Lightning winger had a breakthrough 2010-11 season with 51 points, but he really made a name for himself during the playoffs. Purcell scored 17 points in 18 games, earning himself the 12th highest total of the 2011 postseason and ranking him third overall among Lightning players.

As I discussed in this post, the heartening thing about Purcell is that while he put up much better numbers that his previous years, he didn’t have a wildly improved shooting percentage. He scored at an 8.7 percent rate for 17 goals in the regular season and connected on 13 percent of his shots for six goals in the playoffs. The postseason rate my be a little high, but the general takeaway is that he has a great chance to maintain his momentum. That’s especially true because he’ll probably get some chances in the top six with Simon Gagne and Sean Bergenheim gone via free agency.

source: Getty ImagesKorpikoski hasn’t really broken out on a mainstream level like Purcell, but he also had a breakthrough contract year. He earned career-highs across the board with 19 goals, 21 assists and 40 points, a +17 rating and 15:31 of ice time per game. Those numbers made him the fifth-highest scoring Coyotes player.

One could argue that he didn’t get the same amount of cash as Purcell because his playoff success has been lacking, though. He scored one assist and had a lousy -6 rating in four games against Detroit in 2011 and scored one goal with a -4 rating during the Coyotes’ seven game series against the Red Wings in 2010. Korpikoski will probably need to put more than 103 shots on net to score around 19 goals again in 2011-12; his 18.4 percent shooting percentage probably isn’t sustainable during another season.

Both Purcell and Korpikoski carry the worry that they were one-hit wonders during the 2010-11 season, but each look like they might play a solid role with their respective teams. Their cap hits are reasonable and the two-year terms represent nice compromises for each side. Consider these two deals “wins” for everyone, especially the Lightning and Coyotes.

*$2.3625 million, if you want to be exact.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.