Zack Kassian 2

Lindy Ruff talks Kassian: “I’ve got a curiosity on where his physical game is going to go”


With just 28 games of NHL experience, Zack Kassian is an unfinished product.

As for what the finished product might look like? That’s what many are wondering — including Kassian’s former coach, Lindy Ruff.

“I liked what he was doing on the offensive side of it for the most part,” Ruff said of Kassian, who was traded at the deadline for Vancouver’s Cody Hodgson. “Good puck protection and hanging onto pucks. I’ve got a curiosity on where his physical game is going to go, and that’s it.”

Kassian’s physicality — or, the promise of said physicality — is a big reason Vancouver acquired him. GM Mike Gillis explained the trade was made to add more size and toughness to the Canucks lineup, with a specific eye on this year’s playoffs. That’s something head coach Alain Vigneault re-iterated yesterday.

“We have got 19 games left here,” Vigneault said. “I am hoping that in these 19 games with the games [Kassian] played in Buffalo, the experience he is going to get with our group, hopefully we can get him to a level where come playoffs he is going to be able to be a contributor with his skill set that he brings.”

Depending on who you talk to, Kassian is either the second coming of Milan Lucic (Kassian’s GM in OHL Peterborough said it’s a pretty fair comparison) or nowhere close to being in Lucic’s league (CBC’s Elliotte Friedman said scouts have wildly divergent opinions on that.)

The Canucks are obviously hoping for the former, but Ruff says it’s too early to project what type of player Kassian will be.

“He’s a young player. You never know with young players,” Ruff explained. “It’s a little bit of hit and miss. There’s a lot of inconsistency usually, so in his case there’s a lot there. It’s whether he’s going to get it to that full potential.”

Kassian made his Canucks debut Tuesday night in a 2-1 shootout loss to Phoenix. He played 20 shifts for 12:27 of ice time, recording five hits and one shot, winning two of three faceoffs.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?