Buffalo Sabres promote Kevyn Adams to assistant coach

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Generally speaking, the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes weren’t exactly known for their defense-minded play or excelling at “doing the small things.” If you ask me, that team won because it sent wave after wave of dangerous forwards after opponents, pushed the pace from their defense and leaned heavily on then-rookie goalie Cam Ward.

Yet even an oddball team like that post-lockout Canes squad had its fair share of blue collar workers, from Mike Commodore and his giant red afro to the two Adams: Kevyn and Craig. They weren’t siblings, but sometimes it seemed that way considering how willing they were to do the dirty work to help that team win.

While Craig continues to ply his versatile, lime-light-deflecting trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kevyn Adams retired in 2009 and joined the Buffalo Sabres organization as a player development coach. Apparently the Sabres are liking what they’re seeing with him because they announced that Adams will be an assistant coach for Lindy Ruff next season.

Ruff will probably need some good assistants to lean on in 2011-12 because there will be plenty of pressure to succeed after Buffalo spent big (and often) during its first off-season with Terry Pegula as their owner. It sounds like Adams will probably work primarily with forwards, which makes perfect sense considering the fact that he has 10 years of NHL experience to back up his points.

“Kevyn is going to work with the forwards, and be involved in the special teams, and continue the development work with the players. I’ve got some different thoughts on our special teams, and I’d like to utilize all three coaches. I think that’s how you develop,” Ruff explains. “Kevyn may be a voice in one or the other, and I’ve talked to him about it. I don’t think solely do I want either coach just to run either (the power play or penalty kill).

In a strange way, this must be a dream come true (or at least half-true) because Adams grew up as a Sabres fan but never played for Buffalo during his journeyman NHL career.

A native of Clarence, NY, Adams is thrilled about having the opportunity to further his coaching career with his hometown team. Adams even mentioned how his father reminisced with him yesterday about the two of them sitting with in the last row of the orange seats at The Aud while he was growing up. Not having played with the Sabres during his 10-year NHL career, Adams relishes the chance to finally be part of the team’s success.

“The one thing that I have is there was a passion in me from the time I was four or five years old being a Sabres fan. Then you lose that when you playing because all you want to do is win, wherever you are. When Darcy and Lindy called me a couple of years ago and this first opportunity came, I was so eager to get started and so excited about it, and it’s built from there. This next step is something I can’t wait to wrap my arms around and go after.”

(Screen shot via Buffalo Sabres.com.)

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.