Jones-Diaby

Preds hoping for Weber, Suter-like haul after drafting Jones, Diaby

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Over at the Nashville City Paper, David Boclair has a really interesting look at two of Nashville’s first three picks at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft — defensemen Seth Jones and Jonathan-Ismael Diaby.

In the piece, the Preds talk not just about their selections, but how the organization hopes to replicate what it did at the draft 10 years ago — when it selected Ryan Suter with its first pick, and Shea Weber with its fourth.

“If you think about the characteristics that [Jones and Diaby] have — the way that they both control the entire ice surface, the way they can change games both offensively and defensively,” Preds assistant GM Paul Fenton explained. “To have two guys with that stature and to be able to take that that early in the draft, we were just thrilled to take it.”

Jones, obviously, is the far more recognizable prospect and would be the “Suter” of this analogy (Suter went No. 7 overall in 2003 and was the first blueliner taken in the draft.)

Jones came into the ’13 draft as Central Scouting’s No. 1-ranked North American skater. His fall to No. 4 overall surprised some — including the Predators, who were thrilled to get him.

“Seth is a franchise-type player,” Preds GM David Poile told The Tennessean. “I really feel good about the direction our defense is headed.”

Diaby is more of a wildcard.

Physically, he’s already got NHL size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) but his game lacks offensive refinement. That said, Fenton is convinced the Preds got a steal with Diaby at No. 64 overall — not unlike Weber, who went 49th overall in 2003.

From the City Paper:

They got Diaby to potentially play alongside [Jones] one day.

A 6-foot-4, 220-pounder (he’s a little bigger and heavier than Jones), out of the Quebec Hockey League, he calls to mind Weber, whose most celebrated traits when he was drafted were his size and power.

Diaby is the kind of player who takes care of things in his own end, which seems to be a good fit for the smooth-skating and offensively gifted Jones.

“Diaby is a gigantic specimen in himself,” Fenton said. “When we interviewed him back in May he informed us that he was already 250 pounds.

“This kid is an absolute skyscraper that plays with a mean sense to his game.”

All told, the future of Nashville’s defense looks very bright. Jones and Diaby are now set to join a young group that features Ryan Ellis (22 years old), Roman Josi (23) and Mattias Ekholm (23).

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand celebrates after scoring on a penalty shot during the overtime period of the Boston Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.

Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.