Tomas Hertl

Here are five pleasant scoring surprises so far this season


Nobody’s shocked that Sidney Crosby leads the NHL scoring race with 12 points in six games, or that Martin St. Louis is second with 10 points in six games. However, the following five guys have been pleasant surprises early in 2013-14:

Tomas Hertl (7G, 2A): You may have heard about this guy already. No player has more goals this season than the Sharks’ 19-year-old rookie. While his shooting percentage is rather high (33.3%) and unsustainable, it’s not so inordinately high to suggest he can’t keep producing at a decent rate. The challenge will be handling the NHL schedule, which is far longer and with far more travel (especially out of San Jose), than he played in the Czech league.

Mason Raymond (4G, 4A): Quite the bargain for $1 million. The speedy Raymond is a former 25-goal scorer whose production fell off the past couple of seasons in Vancouver. He’s been a timely addition for the Leafs though, especially after David Clarkson was suspended for the first 10 games of the season and Nikolai Kulemin ran into injury problems.

Teddy Purcell (4G, 4A): The Lightning winger did have 65 points in 2011-12, so we can’t be too astounded he’s off to a hot start. But there’s no question he’s easy to overlook on a team that also has Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. In addition to his point totals, another Purcell stat that jumps off the page is his average ice time — just 14:01 per game. Among the top 30 scorers, he and Hertl (14:31) are the only ones below 15 minutes.

Jason Garrison (2G, 5A): Second in scoring among NHL defensemen, behind only Montreal’s PK Subban (2G, 6A). Garrison is seeing considerably more time on the power play under new Canucks coach John Tortorella than he did last season, his first in Vancouver, under Alain Vigneault. But that doesn’t explain his increased production; actually, he’s only got one PP point, with two of them coming shorthanded. No Canuck has played more than Garrison this season. The 28-year-old with the booming shot logged a big 28:29 last night in Philadelphia, picking up a second assist on the game-tying goal by Chris Higgins.

Jiri Hudler (2G, 5A): Coming off a frustrating 27-point campaign in 2013, the 29-year-old former Red Wing leads the surprising Flames in scoring after five games. In fact, he hasn’t been held without a point yet. “The way we play, it’s a lot of fun,” he said Saturday, per the Calgary Sun. “Every game is exciting. Everybody’s buying in, playing hard. Of course, we’re going to make mistakes, it’s going to happen and totally normal, but you can tell the bench, everybody’s in.”

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?