Zack Kassian

Kassian hoping to justify much-maligned Hodgson trade


“What the hell did you trade Cody Hodgson for? He had 19 goals and 22 assists last year. He’s got a rocket for a shot. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU’RE DOING!”– Frank Costanza, if he were a Canucks fan, to Mike Gillis

In response, Vancouver’s GM would list a couple of reasons, including Hodgson’s desire to be moved and the fact the player that came over from Buffalo in the deadline deal, Zack Kassian, was exactly the kind the Canucks had been looking for. Specifically, a big, young power forward that could develop into a top-six winger, a la Milan Lucic.

At least, that what was the hope.

But when Vancouver was eliminated by the Kings in the fifth game of the first round, Kassian was in the press box as a healthy scratch.

That the Canucks managed just eight goals in those five games made Gillis’s position even tougher to defend. Surely they could have used Hodgson’s play-making ability.

Kassian, 21, knows what people have been saying.

“I still have a sour taste left in my mouth not playing in the last game,” he said Thursday, as per The Province. “I remember those things and I want to prove myself. You’re mad and upset, but at the same time you know if you’re not playing good someone else is going to come in. It’s in the back of my mind and makes me hungry.”

According to The Province, Kassian – the 13th overall pick by the Sabres in 2009 – has been put through an “offseason regimen that focused on nutrition, speed and quickness.”

Based on the timidity he displayed last spring, they might also want to put him through an offseason regimen that focuses on punching stuff.

“This is a great spot for me and it’s time for me to prove it,” said Kassian. “It’s an opportunity. Last year was my first pro season and there are a lot of ups and downs. It’s unbelievable here. Any time you play in a Canadian city — and especially Vancouver — it’s crazy. In Buffalo, there is good hockey and good fans but this is a whole different level. That’s fun to be around but you’ve got to do your job and do it every night or you’re going to get criticized.

“I’ve got to be consistent. That separates the good players from the average.”

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

James Reimer
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James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.

War of words continues between Rangers and Bruins on Saturday


The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.

After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.

On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.

“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”

The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby


Brandon Dubinsky and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will have a chat about his cross-check on Sidney Crosby.

The hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, per beat reporter Aaron Portzline.

As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.

“There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”

Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.

Anyone who follows the NHL knows that Dubinsky and Crosby aren’t fans of each other.

The two have engaged in some serious battles, including this fight last February:

Report: Habs will be Price-less for the next month

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It looks like the Canadiens will be without star goaltender Carey Price for the next month, per RDS.

“We still don’t know what the nature of the injury is, but we’re convinced it’s his right knee,” hockey analyst François Gagnon said on a french television show on Friday. “The Canadiens are preparing for him to be out for more than a week. They’re preparing for him to be out for a month.”

Price missed nine games with a lower-body injury between Oct. 30 and Nov. 19.

The 28-year-old won all three of his starts since returning, but he was forced from Wednesday’s game against the Rangers leading some to believe he came back too soon.

After Friday’s win over the Devils, Michel Therrien denied the validity of the report.

The Canadiens will have to provide an update on Price’s injury at some point, but their camp doesn’t typically give many details when it comes to this sort of thing.