Nicklas Backstrom drawing Peter Forsberg comparisons


Over the last few years, Nicklas Backstrom’s received the kind of accolades most Swedish players can only dream of.

He’s been tagged as the best young Tre Kronor in the NHL and, in 2009, won the prestigious Viking Award, given annually to the best Swedish player in North America.

But now that he’s in the midst of Washington’s compelling playoff run, he’s receiving arguably the highest honor a Swedish hockey player can get:

Comparisons to Peter Forsberg.

“I know that Nicky likes playing like Forsberg and he likes that style,” Troy Brouwer told CSN Washington. “He’s a big boy and a strong kid so he can create a lot of space for himself.”

It was this play in particular — during Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers — that Backstrom’s teammates making Foppa remarks:

The art of hitting the opponent before the opponent hits you is classically Forsbergian, something Caps forward Jason Chimera noted.

“I think [Backstrom] took a page out of Forsberg’s book,” Chimera said. “Usually, guys don’t expect to get hit when they’re trying to hit a guy with the puck.

“He’s done that a lot. That’s why we don’t go after him at practice.”

If there’s one guy that knows first-hand what it’s like to face Forsberg, it’s Caps head coach Dale Hunter. The pair played against each other and were teammates in Hunter’s final season (he was traded to Colorado at the 1999 trade deadline and helped the Avs get to the Western Conference final.)

Hunter says he sees the similarities between Backstrom and Forsberg.

“He’s strong on his feet and he’s got great balance,” Hunter said. “Forsberg did it a few times to me, so I’d go in very slowly against him.”

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?