Bolts coach Boucher: Salo, Carle have made “huge impact” on team


The Tampa Bay Lightning have won four straight and are off to one of the best starts in franchise history.

Most will point to the play of the “Big Three” — Steve Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, recently named the NHL’s third star of the week — as the reason for said success.

But according to head coach Guy Boucher, it’s a pair of free agent defensemen: Matt Carle and Sami Salo.

“A huge impact,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in describing the additions of Salo and Carle. “What they do is solidify pairings, not what they do individually.

The two were acquired by GM Steve Yzerman in July, and cost a pretty penny.

Carle, 28, inked a six-year, $33 million deal while Salo, 38, signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal — one that comes with additional risk of being a guaranteed cap hit, because of his over-35 designation.

Salo currently leads the NHL in plus-minus (+10) and all Tampa blueliners with five points through six games.

Carle leads the team in time on ice (23:01) and has 1G-2A-3PTS through six games.

Yet individual statistics don’t tell the whole story. By bringing the two aboard, other defensemen have been put in positions to succeed — most notably Victor Hedman.

Salo is Hedman’s new defense partner, providing the young Swede with a veteran presence on the back end. As a result, Hedman is now second to Salo in d-man scoring.

“When you look at Heddy,” Boucher said, “he needed an older guy to give him a chance to go on offense without having to worry what’s going to happen back [on defense.]”

Tampa can now confidently go eight deep on defense — Keith Aulie, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Brendan Mikkelson and Brian Lee have all played this season — and primed to replicate its success of two years ago, when the Bolts were one win away from the Stanley Cup final.

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?