Czech stunner: Hudler, Vrbata snubbed from Olympic roster

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According to news outlet Sport.cz, the Czech Republic has announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics — and there are a few very notable omissions.

Calgary’s Jiri Hudler and Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata — the third- and fourth-leading Czech scorers in the NHL this season — have been left off, along with Florida forward Tomas Fleischmann.

Instead, the Czechs have gone with a number of veteran players, including 42-year-old ex-NHLer Peter Nedved and 30-year-old Jiri Novotny, both of whom play in the Czech Extraliga.

Hudler, 30, has 11 goals and 33 points in 41 games this year. The former Red Wing is averaging a career-high 19:01 TOI per game this season and has been highly praised by Flames head coach Bob Hartley.

Vrbata, 32, has 11 goals and 29 points in 39 games this year. The Phoenix sniper scored a career-high 35 goals during the 2011-12 campaign and is second on the team in power play goals this year, with five.

The Czech surprises didn’t end up front.

On defense, there were more curious snubs as well. St. Louis’ Roman Polak, Colorado’s Jan Hejda and Detroit’s Jakub Kindl were all passed over and in their place, a trio of Extraliga blueliners have been selected — Michal Barinka, Lukas Krajicek and former NHLer Tomas Kaberle.

In goal, only one NHL netminder — Pavelec — got the call. The likes of Michal Neuvirth (who said he didn’t expect to make the team), Nashville’s Marek Mazanec and Detroit’s Petr Mrazek were passed over.

Here’s the full roster, as per Sport.cz:

Goalies: Ondrej Pavelec, Alexander Salak, Jakub Kovar

Defense: Michal Barinka, Michal Rozsival, Radko Gudas, Tomas Kaberle, Lukas Krajicek, Zbynek Michalek, Ladislav Smid, Marek Zidlicky

Forward: Roman Cervenka, Patrik Elias, Michael Frolik, Martin Hanzal, Ales Hemsky, Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Milan Michalek, Petr Nedved, Jiri Novotny, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Plekanec, Vladimir Sobotka, Jakub Voracek.

UPDATE: Vladimir Sobotka will not be available due to a leg injury. The Czech national team announced that Martin Erat will replace him.

Some other noteworthy omissions include San Jose’s Martin Havlat (currently injured), Washington’s Martin Erat and Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.