Sidney Crosby

Crosby named NHL’s first star for March


Just two days after suffering a broken jaw that will sideline him indefinitely, Sidney Crosby won the NHL’s first star for the month of March.

Crosby led the league in assists (19) and points (25) as his Penguins set an NHL record for the first perfect month (15 wins) in history.

No. 87 recorded points in 12 of those 15 games and had a whopping eight multi-point contests, including matching a career-high with five assists against the Islanders on Mar. 10.

As mentioned above, Crosby’s month ended on a sour note when he took a puck to the face during Pittsburgh’s 2-0 win over the Islanders on Saturday. The Pens captain will be out for an undetermined length of time after undergoing surgery.

March’s second star went to Montreal defenseman PK Subban.

Subban led all NHL defensemen with 18 points in 14 games and finished first among all players — not just defensemen — with 11 power-play points.

He also put himself in Canadiens lore by becoming the first blueliner to score seven goals in a month in nearly 20 years (the last to do it was Mathieu Schneider in 1994).

Third star went to Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

In what’s shaping up to be a Vezina-worthy (and possibly Hart-worthy) campaign, Bobrovsky led all goalies with three shutouts in March, finishing second in wins (nine), goals-against average (1.49) and save percentage (.950).

His stellar play saw the Jackets post the most successful month in franchise history. Columbus went 10-2-4 in March and now hold sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.