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

‘It’s absolutely not true’ — Lemieux denies report of ‘big falling out’ with Crosby

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 5:  Sidney Crosby #87 and Mario Lemieux #66 of the Pittsburgh Penguins share a few words during a break in action against the New Jersey Devils in their NHL opening night game at the Continental Airlines Arena on October 5, 2005 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Devils won 5-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Well, that didn’t take long.

Just hours after Matthew Barnaby went on the radio and said he’d heard that Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux had had a “big falling out,” Lemieux came out and denied it.

“It’s absolutely not true,” said Lemieux, per the club’s Twitter account. “It’s silly.”

Today marked the second time in less than two weeks that the Penguins have been forced do some damage control.

Last week, the Penguins insisted that they weren’t actually “mad at each other,” as Evgeni Malkin had put it after a bad loss to New Jersey.

“He did not mean we are mad at each other,” said Crosby. “He meant we are frustrated.”

Matthew Barnaby has heard that Crosby and Lemieux had a ‘big falling out’

Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel

Every day there seems to be another “thing” about the Pittsburgh Penguins.

We say “thing,” because we’re not really sure how to categorize it. It’s never anything concrete. It’s smoke, without definitive proof of a fire.

But whether it’s Evgeni Malkin saying the Penguins are “mad at each other”…or Guy Lafleur wondering if Sidney Crosby should try and find a new team…or a prominent NHL reporter like Elliotte Friedman talking about the “very tense environment” in the organization…

The clear insinuation is that all is not well in Pittsburgh.

The latest “thing”?

Ex-Penguin Matthew Barnaby has “looked into it” and what’s he’s heard is that Crosby and co-owner Mario Lemieux have had a “big falling out.”

“Now whether that pushes them to move him at some point? Whether he wants to move? That I don’t know,” Barnaby said today on SiriusXM, via Puck Daddy.

Again, it’s all just scuttlebutt at this point. After Malkin’s “mad at each other” remark, the players insisted that that wasn’t true. Malkin said he didn’t mean it that way.

So choose for yourself what to believe.

But despite the winning record, unless this team starts playing the way it was designed to play — i.e. scoring a lot of goals, not the 26th-most in the NHL — don’t be surprised if you hear more “things.”

The Penguins host St. Louis tonight.

Goalie nods: Marquee matchup as Price faces Lundqvist at MSG

Henrik Lundqvist
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Two of the NHL’s premier netminders will do battle tonight in New York, when Carey Price and the Canadiens visit Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers.

Price, who’s played a pair of games since missing extended time with a lower-body injury, has won both of his starts and is now 9-2-0 on the year with a 2.10 GAA and .933 save percentage.

Great numbers, but nothing compared to the King.

Lundqvist — probably this year’s Vezina front-runner, after Price won last season — is a sparking 12-3-2 with a 1.74 GAA and .946 save percentage, posting shutouts in two of his last six starts.

One of those shutouts came in his last outing, a 31-save blanking of the Preds on Monday.

Now… with all that hype, we should tap the brakes. The last time PHT previewed a “goalie duel” was when Lundqvist and St. Louis’ Jake Allen engaged in a battle of the NHL’s two highest save percentages.

The Blues and Rangers then combined for nine goals, with Allen getting the hook 15 minutes into the contest.


Carter Hutton appears ready to give Pekka Rinne a night off in Buffalo, while the Sabres are going with Linus Ullmark once again.

Ryan Miller takes on Devan Dubnyk as the Canucks play in Minnesota.

Anders Nilsson will keep Cam Talbot bolted to the pine when Edmonton faces the ‘Canes. Cam Ward looks likely to go for Carolina.

Michael Hutchinson, not Connor Hellebuyck, for the Jets in Washington. The Caps will start Braden Holtby.

— Another good matchup in Pittsburgh, as Jake Allen and the Blues take on Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins.

Sergei Bobrovsky goes for the Jackets tonight, while the Devils counter with Cory Schneider.

— In Brooklyn, Jaroslav Halak starts for the Islanders. The visiting Flyers will go with their No. 1, Steve Mason.

— Sounds like Jonas Gustavsson will go up against his former team when the Bruins take on the Red Wings in Detroit. He’ll square off against Petr Mrazek.

Mike Smith returns from a lower-body injury to get the nod for Arizona. Hard to say what the Ducks are going to do: Frederik Andersen has the flu, Anton Khudobin got yanked last night against Calgary, and John Gibson came on in relief for the win.

Craig Anderson for Ottawa tonight, Semyon Varlamov for Colorado.

Martin Jones, the NHL’s reigning first star of the week, is in for the Sharks against the visiting Blackhawks. Corey Crawford counters for Chicago.

Stars’ Lehtonen (upper body) day-to-day

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The collision that forced Kari Lehtonen from his relief appearance in last night’s loss to Ottawa could keep him off ice four a couple of days, Stars head coach Lindy Ruff confirmed.

Lehtonen, who entered the contest after Antti Niemi allowed three goals on nine shots, was injured just over a minute into the third period when d-man John Klingberg crashed into the Dallas net.

Ruff suggested a goalie would be recalled from AHL Texas in time for the Stars’ next game, which is on Friday against the Canucks.

While losing Lehtonen would hurt the Stars — he’s 9-1-0 this year with a .921 save percentage and 2.41 GAA — the club can fall back on Niemi who, despite the rough outing against the Sens, has been OK this year.

Niemi has a 8-4-1 record, though his GAA (.264) and save percentage (.907) leave something to be desired.