When Toronto traded for Phil Kessel, they did so to provide themselves with the kind of first-line caliber scorer they were sorely lacking. You could argue that the price was too high, but at least Kessel has largely lived up to his end of the bargain.
In 2011-12, Joffrey Lupul developed some on-ice chemistry with Kessel and the two emerged as one of the league’s top combinations. However, the Leafs still lack a true first-line center to play between them.
Their was some optimism that Tim Connolly might be able to fill that role when he inked a two-year, $9.5 million contract last summer, but he got injured early on and never got his season back on track. Instead, Tyler Bozak often ended up playing with Lupul and Kessel for lack of a better option.
Now the Leafs are talking about turning freshly acquired winger James van Riemsdyk into a center. If he can adapt to that role then the Leafs would have a very appealing top line, but van Riemsdyk’s time as a pivot might not even last through training camp.
On the plus side, Kessel and Lupul both maintained a roughly point-per-game pace last season despite the exist of this problem, so maybe this isn’t such a dire need for Toronto from an offensive prospective. Still, it is one of their bigger question marks going into the 2012-13 campaign.
Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms
With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.
Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut
“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”
Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.
Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.
DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.
Blashill says DeKeyser has a bruise, not a break. Will know more tomorrow, but probably day-to-day
The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.
But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.
“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.
“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”
7 hours of back and forth legal speak…otherwise known as the Wideman appeal has concluded in NYC.