Brandon Sutter, James Reimer, Dion Phaneuf

Leafs, Habs cough up leads; Tavares taunts Flames


Thursday, Dec. 29 won’t go down as a great night for a trio of Canadian NHL teams. Let’s take a look at the follies of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames.

Habs can’t hold onto 3-1 lead

It’s easy to feel bad for Randy Cunneyworth, but that compassion extends beyond linguistic and cultural concerns. Jacques Martin’s system wasn’t sexy, but it squeezed every drop of quality out of a mediocre roster with stingy defense.

With that in mind, Montreal fans probably haven’t seen their team cough up too many 3-1 leads, as they did tonight. The Tampa Bay Lightning weren’t even polite enough to give the Habs a charity point:

Maple Leafs botch a 3-1 lead of their own

The Toronto Maple Leafs had to feel pretty good about their chances when Joffrey Lupul staked his team to a 3-1 lead 9:08 into the third period. That seemed to awaken Eric Staal from his near-full season slumber, however, as he scored a goal 40 seconds later, assisted on the tying goal and then hammered home the OT-winner.

So, what’s worse: giving up a 3-1 lead in the second period and getting zero points or failing to hold onto a two-goal lead during the last 11 minutes of a game and settling for a charity point? (I’d go for the latter, even if it might be a little more embarrassing, but feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.)

Tavares torments the Flames

The Calgary Flames probably don’t feel anywhere near the same amount of shame as Montreal or Toronto for their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Still, it was another blown lead (this time just 1-0) and is worth mentioning merely to show this John Tavares highlight:

(Miikka Kiprusoff must feel really alone sometimes, right?)


It wasn’t all-bad for Canada on Thursday, though. The Canadian WJC team humiliated Denmark 10-1, the Vancouver Canucks are currently pounding the Anaheim Ducks 4-0 and the Winnipeg Jets gutted out a 1-0 OT win against the Los Angeles Kings. Still, the Flames, Leafs and Canadiens might look back at nights like tonight if they fall short of the playoffs this season.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby

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Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).

Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16


Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

You can watch all three goals in the video above.

It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.

Hey, Tortorella called the Penguins whiners again

John Tortorella

Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.

Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.

You can see from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”

(He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)

As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.

Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.

In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.


Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’


Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).