Kimmo Timonen #44 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks for the opening in the third period against the New York Rangers on January 29, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1.
(January 28, 2013 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)

Hextall on loss of Timonen: ‘There’s no question it’s a setback’

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“There’s no question it’s a setback, there’s no other way to explain it. … You can’t take not only the player but I think the experience and the calm and the poise and the respect that Kimmo has in the locker room and say you didn’t take a step back.”

That was Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall, via NHL.com, speaking about the loss of veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who’s been diagnosed with blood clots and may be forced to retire.

Timonen was already pondering retirement following the 2013-14 season; however, he ultimately signed a one-year extension with the Flyers in June, with Hextall calling the offensive defenseman “still a very effective player.”

If Hextall had known then what everyone knows now, he may have been more aggressive in free agency or in the trade department to add a dependable defenseman.

Yesterday, the Flyers signed 24-year-old Michael Del Zotto, a once-promising d-man who’s coming off a tough 2013-14. At this point, he’s a wild card. He could bounce back. He could end up on waivers.

“If I had an answer for it [my downfall], I’d be able to figure it out just as easy,” said Del Zotto, per CSN Philly. “I had a great rookie season, second season didn’t go as well, and my third was my best season. I was playing to my capabilities …

“Last year I lost my confidence early on, and it’s a confidence game. If you don’t believe in yourself or your abilities to make the plays you need to as an offensive player, it’s tough to go from there.”

Timonen, on the other hand, was a known, dependable commodity. He was also a player who had excellent possession numbers relative to his teammates in 2013-14, while playing against tough competition for a Flyers team that finished the season with the 20th-ranked goals-against average (2.77).

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.