Dallas GM: Benn ‘won coaching staff over’ at Olympics

7 Comments

Jim Nill is excited about what the Olympics could do for Jamie Benn’s career.

“Benn went out there as kind of the extra guy and he won the coaching staff over,” the Stars GM told the Dallas Morning-News. “His line has been one of the top lines for Canada the last couple games.

“I think this is going to help his game grow on the ice and off the ice, too.”

Benn, the Stars’ captain, came into Sochi as one of Canada’s bottom-six forwards, but quickly emerged as one of its most important. He scored a pair of goals — including the game-winner over the U.S. in the semifinals — and was just one of two Canadian forwards to post a multi-goal effort in the tournament (Jeff Carter was the other.)

Benn finished averaging over 13 minutes per game and, perhaps most importantly, raised his profile as one of the best young forwards in the NHL. At the age of 24, Benn is the leader of a Stars team fighting for a playoff spot and could use this Olympic momentum to carry his team to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

It’s also worth noting that his coach in Dallas, Lindy Ruff, was on the Canadian bench as one of Mike Babcock’s assistants in Sochi. Ruff got to witness Benn’s ascension first-hand, and it’s something Ruff knew could happen prior to the Games getting underway.

“It can be a turning point for a player, I really believe that,” Ruff said. “You get the chance to play in high-pressure games, and you also get to see the best players in our game up close as they prepare for those games.

“It’s a classroom, really, on how to handle yourself at the highest level.”

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

Leave a comment

Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

1 Comment

The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

1 Comment

Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

Getty
1 Comment

It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.