Alexander Radulov

KHL copes without Alexander Radulov, “face” of the league

For most of us, the primary (or even only) question regarding Alexander Radulov’s return is how it affects the competitive balance of the NHL. Does it make the Nashville Predators a Stanley Cup contender? Are the Detroit Red Wings/whoever faces them in the first round really in trouble?

Yet there’s a question that’s often getting overlooked in all this: what happens to the KHL?

The New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein examines the fallout, pondering Russian writer’s Vladimir Mozgovoi question that losing Radulov might mean losing the “face” of the league.

Certainly the K.H.L. has put Russian domestic hockey on firmer ground than it has been in quite a long time. The league is slicker and more fan-friendly than any of its predecessors in Russian or Soviet domestic hockey. The rinks are bigger and newer. It has ended the mass exodus of young Russian prospects to the N.H.L.; no longer can an N.H.L. club hope to get an Evgeni Malkin or an Alex Ovechkin for a mere $200,000.

But the K.H.L.’s bigger dreams of four years ago have gone the way of Russia’s bigger dreams, tempered now by economic realities. Gone are the days when a veteran star like Jagr, or a young star like Radulov, would go to Russia and not look back.


Even with that mostly grim outlook, the league has had its moments. Running a scenic outdoor All-Star Game at Red Square in 2009? That’s ambitious stuff.

Obviously those dreams need to be reined in a bit, but if the KHL can learn some lessons and maintain patience, they might be onto something as the second biggest professional hockey league in the world. The 2011-12 season certainly provided some harsh lessons, though.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
Leave a comment

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
1 Comment

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?