San Jose Sharks v Phoenix Coyotes

Under Pressure: Ryane Clowe


“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the New Jersey Devils, we picked … Ryane Clowe.

If fans merely look at Ryane Clowe as a David Clarkson replacement, he’s suddenly off to a remarkably strong head start. Clowe probably won’t get off that easily, though.

Off-year or downward slope?

Maybe it was merely a matter of the Devils solely weighing his resurgence once he was traded to the New York Rangers, but overall, the 30-year-old’s 2013 campaign was a flop. It’s not that rare for a team to pardon an “off year” – especially for a gritty goal scoring forward – yet Devils fans might get antsy if they see a lot of the guy who endured a 28-game goalless streak with the San Jose Sharks.

Things didn’t get off to a great start, either. Clowe already suffered a lower-body injury in the preseason, and while he seems to be recovering, it’s a disturbing omen for some who worried about his recent injury issues (including concussion problems). If the “Devils are too old” narrative builds, he’ll likely slot in there somewhere after Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr.

Tough expectations

No doubt, Clowe fits the “tough guy who can score” bill well; one could make a legitimate argument he has a better chance to do that with regularity than Clarkson. Clowe’s the guy with two 22+ goal seasons and three more close to that 20-tally mark, after all.

The Devils are likely to expect him to drive more offense than the Sharks ever really did, though.

Clowe’s $4.85 million cap hit represents the third-highest annual mark for anyone on the team; only franchise stalwarts Travis Zajac ($5.75 million) and Patrik Elias ($5.5 million) are making more.

New Jersey likely won’t be satisfied unless Clowe affects the scoreboard and the physical side of the game, which could put a lot of pressure on the franchise’s new power forward.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

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?