One of the most hated players in hockey is learning to fight his own battles. Vancouver’s Max Lapierre has dropped the gloves twice already this season, plus one more time in the preseason.
He’s still got a few things to work on once the gloves hit the ice, but his teammates have taken notice of his willingness to step into the ring.
“He had a great playoffs for us last year but he took a little bit of heat over the summer for some of his actions,” Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa told the Vancouver Province. “He comes back this year, and now he’s standing up to people. He’s already got three fights under his belt.”
The “heat” Bieksa is referring to is likely related to Lapierre’s “I’m going to put my fingers in your face because Alex Burrows bit you” taunting of Patrice Bergeron in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final.
It was a move that ended up backfiring for the Canucks when the Bruins changed the momentum of the series in Game 3 and punctuated it with some finger taunts of their own.
Lapierre was also criticized for embellishing on this play.
All that stuff distracted from the fact Lapierre played above and beyond expectations in the playoffs, filling in admirably at center for the injured Manny Malhotra on Vancouver’s third line.
Lapierre has also been one of the Canucks’ most noticeable forwards in 2011-12, and for all the right reasons.
“The knock on him before was that he’d skate away and now, he’s going to stand up for himself and his teammates,” said Bieksa. “On top of that, this guy is a great hockey player. He can make plays, he can protect the puck. He had five breakaways the other night and I joked around I could have been back to even on the plus-minus if he scored on them all.”
Lapierre has three goals and two assists in Vancouver’s first 12 games while centering a much-improved fourth line.
Corey Perry will spearhead the leadership group looking to guide Canada to its second straight gold medal at the World Hockey Championships.
On Thursday, the Canadian contingent announced that Perry would captain the squad at this year’s tournament, to be held in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Joining him in the leadership group will be Colorado’s Matt Duchene, and Buffalo’s Ryan O'Reilly.
“This is an energetic young team, and these three players bring a mixture of youth and experience in their leadership role on the ice and in the dressing room,” Canadian head coach Bill Peters said, per the Toronto Sun. “Their resumes speak for themselves — they know what it takes to compete at the highest level, and have all been part of pulling together Team Canada successes during these short-term events.”
Unlike Duchene and O’Reilly, Perry wasn’t a part of last year’s championship team, but does have extensive international experience. He was part of the Canadian teams that captured gold at the ’10 Olympics in Vancouver at the ’14 games in Sochi.
He’s also played in a pair of World Championships, but failed to medal both times.
“It’s funny how this game works,” Daley said, per the Penguins’ website. “You stick with it and good things happen. I’m just grateful for the opportunity. I’m in a good place here. I’m enjoying it with a great group of guys. We just play. That’s been our motto since I got here, since (Mike Sullivan) got here – just play.”
“Over the years my game has been getting in the play, moving the puck,” Daley said after he was traded. “I’m not the biggest guy so I won’t push guys over. I get into areas quickly and try to be a good team guy.”
It was simply a good match. And for that, GM Jim Rutherford should be applauded. The Penguins are one game away from the Eastern Conference Final, and Daley is a big reason why.
After not playing anywhere this year, longtime NHL blueliner Anton Volchenkov is back in action, having signed a deal with KHL club Admiral Vladivostok.
The deal, announced by Admiral on Thursday, puts Volchenkov back on a team for the first time since suiting up with Nashville during the ’14-15 campaign. He appeared in 46 games for the Preds, recording seven assists.
Prior to his time in Nashville, Volchenkov in over 600 games with the Senators and Devils. He’d established a reputation as a physical, hard-hitting d-man, but struggled with injury and mobility in the later stages of his time in New Jersey, and was ultimately bought out of his contract.
Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight