‘Hawks rattle Rask with ‘way more traffic’ in Game 4


Chicago’s gameplan to beat Tuukka Rask on Wednesday night was a simple one:

Don’t let him find the puck.

That what ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said following his club’s 6-5 overtime victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, explaining that Chicago did a tremendous job of getting bodies in front of Rask, keeping him from seeing shots.

“I thought we had way more traffic than the last game,” Quenneville said. “If [Rask] sees the puck, he’s going to be almost impossible to beat.

“We wanted to make sure we got there, made it hard on him to find it and try to get in on the second and third opportunities.”

Chicago fired 47 shots on Rask all told, and a number of them came with traffic in front, or within 10 feet.

Jonathan Toews scored on a tip-in of a Michal Rozsival shot, Patrick Kane buried a rebound off a Bryan Bickell chance, Patrick Sharp banged home the team’s first PPG of the series and the longest-distance tally — Brent Seabrook’s OT-winner — came on a shot that went through several bodies before finding the back of the net.

“Nice ending, with the traffic at the net and with Seabs having the nice shot,” Quenneville said. “Kinda like their goal [Boychuk tally] that tied us up.”

Wednesday’s result will be a huge confidence boost for the ‘Hawks, and not just because they evened the series at two.

Hanging six goals on Rask is something no team has accomplished this postseason — he hasn’t allowed more than four in a single game. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Jan. 31 for the last time he got lit up in this fashion, a 7-4 loss to Buffalo in which he surrendered six before the Sabres scored on an empty net.

On a larger scale, Chicago should be pleased it beat the guy that was starting to get into its collective head.

The Boston goalie had a shutout streak of nearly 130 minutes in this series — snapped when Michal Handzus opened the scoring at 6:48 of the opening period — and, through the first three games, boasted a .960 save percentage and 1.22 GAA.

Quenneville had previously lambasted his team for making it “rather easy” on Rask, especially in Game 3, and there were concerns Chicago was going to run into the same fate as Pittsburgh, who could only muster two goals against Rask over the entire Eastern Conference finals.

That wasn’t an issue in Game 4.

In fact, Quenneville seemed pleased that his club found its offense, and confident the ‘Hawks could keep it going for the remainder of the series.

“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Quenneville said.  “We’ll look at the positives and move forward.”

Welcome Ryan Johansen to the trade rumor mill

Ryan Johansen
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Well, this kind of seemed inevitable — there are now trade rumblings involving Columbus center Ryan Johansen.

This evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed that teams have been calling Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen about the talented pivot, adding that one team classified Johansen as being “softly” in play.

More (transcribed from video):

“That doesn’t mean [Kekalainen] is calling teams, saying ‘what are you going to give me?’ However, when teams call, he’s not dismissing the interest. He is saying ‘well, what’s your offer?’

“What that tells you is there’s at least some interest in considering the trade of Ryan Johansen and, as we saw on the weekend, his minutes dropped, he was demoted to the fourth line — so if the right deal comes along, they’ll consider it.”

The incident Dreger referred to occurred during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, in which head coach John Tortorealla limited Johansen to just 13:52 TOI — his lowest total of the season.

It’s the latest incident from what’s already been a tumultuous year; not long after getting hired, Tortorella told the reigning All-Star MVP he was out of shape.

Johnansen was then away from the team for a pair of games dealing with an undisclosed illness. During that absence, the Dispatch reported Johansen had been hospitalized this summer because of an accelerated heart rate.

All this, of course, came one year after an ugly contract dispute at the start of last season, during which the Jackets and Johansen’s representation engaged in a public spat before agreeing to a three-year, $12M deal.

‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO

John Collins
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One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.

John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.

More, from the League:

Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.

“John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”

Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.

“The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”

Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.

During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.

Jackets activate Dubinsky, Wennberg from IR

Andy Andreoff, Brandon Dubinsky
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Columbus will have some reinforcements up front when it takes on the Devils tomorrow in New Jersey.

Brandon Dubinsky, who’s missed the last six games with an elbow injury, and Alexander Wennberg — who’s also missed the last six games, but with a foot ailment — have both been activated from injured reserve, and should be available for selection on Wednesday.

It wasn’t all good news for the Jackets, though. Defenseman Cody Goloubef and right wing Rene Bourque were placed on IR.

The biggest return for Columbus is Dubinsky, who had four goals and 11 points in 16 games prior to getting hurt, while averaging nearly 19 minutes per night.

That said, getting Wennberg back is key as well; the former first-round pick has been plagued by injuries recently but showed well during his rookie campaign in ’14-15, with 20 points in 68 games.

Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

Here are the full rosters:


NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).