Sami Salo, Brad Marchand

Columnist gives detailed analysis of NHL rats

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Toronto Star columnist Joseph Hall has compiled an interesting list of hockey rodents.

Yes, rodents. They’re all the rage right now thanks to two incidents — one, Toronto GM Brian Burke’s “the rats will take this game over” rant from last week and two, noted Boston Bruins rat Brad Marchand getting suspended five games for low-bridging Vancouver’s Sami Salo.

Bottom line: It’s a rat’s world out there. Everybody else is just living in it, trying to get by, scraping cheese off the tops of discarded pizza boxes.

In his piece, Hall identified eight top rats — or “agitators,” a label they’d probably prefer — as well as a host of honorable (dishonorable?) mentions. See what you think.

Vancouver: Alex Burrows, Maxim Lapierre

Quotable: “Burrows, an effective scorer, has been accused of performing penalty drawing dives — a signature rat stunt — while Lapierre has a trash-talking reputation and has dished out his share of questionable hits.”

Pittsburgh: Matt Cooke

Quotable: “Cooke has cleaned up his act considerably this year after Penguins management told him the routine would end his career.”

Dallas: Steve Ott

Quotable: “Unlike many in this category, Ott will throw down this gloves. But he’ll take it to the gutter.”

Tampa Bay: Steve Downie

Quotable: “His coup de grace came in 2007 as a Flyer when he launched himself off the ice to take the Senators’ Dean McAmmond into the boards.”

Chicago: Dan Carcillo, Dave Bolland

Quotable: “With his maniacal, gap-toothed grin, Dan Carcillo resembles a young Bobby Clarke, the prototype in this category. Teammate Bolland is know for both his lively stick and mouth.”

Buffalo: Patrick Kaleta

Quotable: “[He] was suspended three games in November for head butting Jakub Voracek — the third time in two years he’s been caught using that technique.”

Hall also tagged Columbus’ Derek Dorsett, Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo, New Jersey’s David Clarkson, Ottawa’s Nick Foligno, Phoenix’s Raffi Torres and Toronto’s Colby Armstrong as “Agitators All”. Even if you disagree with the classification, you have to admit there’s a large number of ratlike agitators in the league right now and, compellingly, a number of quality teams employing them.

Of the current top 10 teams in the league, Vancouver, Boston, Chicago, Ottawa and Nashville have players on this list (also: the first-place Rangers only recently parted ways with Sean Avery; fourth-place St. Louis has Scott Nichol.)

It’s interesting to see more and more teams go this route, and it begs the question: Like they once did with enforcers, will every team soon employ a full-time rat?

Video: Henrik Sedin records 1,000th career point

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Henrik Sedin has become the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.

Sedin, the Canucks captain, hit the milestone Friday against the Florida Panthers and his former teammate Roberto Luongo. As you might imagine, twin brother Daniel Sedin also factored into the goal.

Daniel fed Henrik with a perfect pass off the rush, and Henrik finished the play off, sliding the puck through the legs of Luongo to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It was another beauty, another example of what has made those two players so special for many years in Vancouver.

Henrik Sedin is the first player in Canucks history to reach 1,000 points. Daniel should also reach that number, although he may have to wait until next season. He entered Friday’s game with 967 career points.

Great touch of class, too, from Luongo, who quickly embraced his former teammate as Sedin skated back to the bench following the on-ice celebration.

Video: Tempers flare between Oilers and Predators, as Lucic and McLeod drop the gloves

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Things got feisty between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators on Friday.

It started in the second period after P.K. Subban took an elbow from Matt Hendricks along the end boards. Hendricks was immediately grabbed by Anthony Bitetto. Nothing really materialized from that, however the main event broke out between Milan Lucic and Nashville newcomer Cody McLeod.

Lucic landed some pretty heavy punches before the two players fell to the ice.

Video: Cam Ward loses it on Hornqvist, Hurricanes suffer ’embarrassing’ loss to Penguins

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Cam Ward had enough.

The Carolina Hurricanes goalie seemed particularly ticked off with Patric Hornqvist on Friday, twice taking out his frustrations in front of the net on the Pittsburgh Penguins forward.

Earlier in the game, Ward delivered a slash to the back of Hornqvist’s leg. In the third period, with the Hurricanes down five goals — that should give you an indication of what kind of night this was for Carolina — Ward snapped, delivering a punch with the blocker to Hornqvist after he slid into the Hurricanes puck stopper a split second after Evgeni Malkin jammed the puck in for a goal.

The final score? A 7-1 disaster of a loss to the Penguins, highlighted by Pittsburgh’s second-period offensive outburst. Ward played the entire game, allowing seven goals on 41 shots.

Carolina’s night also included star forward Jeff Skinner getting benched for the third period, after he took a pair of minor penalties — embellishment and unsportsmanlike conduct — in the second period.

“That’s pretty embarrassing. You don’t want to suffer a loss like that, especially in your home building,” Skinner told reporters.

The Hurricanes entered this game with a chance to jump into a wild card spot in the East.

Last week, the Hurricanes won four in a row, including a victory over Columbus, and continued their steady rise into the playoff hunt in the East. This week? It’s included losses to the Blue Jackets and Penguins.

The Hurricanes won’t have much time to think about this one. They travel to Columbus for a game Saturday evening.

With Claude Julien on the hot seat, Bruins lose late heartbreaker to Blackhawks

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The Boston Bruins have now lost three in a row, a losing streak that coincides with reports circulating that head coach Claude Julien’s job security is in jeopardy.

The bad news just keeps piling up for the Bruins: They’ve been shut out twice this week, as scoring continues to be an issue in Boston. They’re 22nd in the league in that category.

On Friday, the Bruins had their chances and once again held the edge in puck possession against the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing the game with 19 more shot attempts then the visitors, per hockeystats.ca.

But they couldn’t beat Scott Darling, who made 30 saves, and the real dagger came late in the third period when Marian Hossa scored off the rush with just over one minute remaining in regulation. Boston couldn’t even salvage a point out of this contest, losing 1-0.

The Bruins were all over the Blackhawks in the first period. They held a wide edge in shots on goal, but the Blackhawks were able to escape on the strength of some solid goaltending. They just hung around, and were able to break through in the third period.

The Bruins are still in a playoff position in the Atlantic Division. They are the top puck possession team in the league (although they have the second lowest shooting percentage at five-on-five) and Julien has had plenty of success behind that bench, helping guide the organization to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and a run to the Final in the lockout shortened campaign.

It would seem unfair to pin this roster’s shortcomings on the coach, especially given the offseason plans initially set out by Bruins management.

Though this loss likely puts Claude Julien Watch on high alert.