Author: James O'Brien


Crosby, Ovechkin headline 2015 All-Star Game roster


We already know that Zemgus Girgensons was voted into the 2015 All-Star Game alongside Chicago Blackhawks players Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews. The NHL trotted out the rest of the best today:

36 Additional All-Stars

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Rick Nash, New York Rangers
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
Radim Vrbata, Vancouver Canucks
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

6 Rookies

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Tanner Pearson, Los Angeles Kings
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators
Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning

The “fantasy draft” will take place on Jan. 23, with the captains for each team being announced sometime next week.

What’s wrong with Wild? Yeo says ‘everything’

Mike Yeo

When losses really start to blur together, it probably gets pretty tough to find different ways to spin things.

Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo seemed to have trouble finding a specific explanation following Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, as the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff reports.

“When you’re losing games the way we are, everything is an issue,” Yeo said. “It’s been something different every game … We’re spinning our tires (looking for a solution).”

Even the red-hot Predators seemed to take notice of the Wild’s issues, as they told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo that they noticed how “low energy” Minnesota was after playing well in the first period.

Ryan Suter’s out there as much as any skater in the NHL, yet he doesn’t know what to make of this crisis, noting that he’s never been through anything like this.

If there’s one trend through this wide variety of defeats (Minnesota only has two wins since Dec. 16), it’s been poor goaltending, something that really stood out as Pekka Rinne won his fifth game in a row and stopped 36 out of 37 shots for Nashville. Niklas Backstrom hasn’t really had any more luck than Darcy Kuemper when it comes to winning games for the Wild, as his record dropped to 5-5-3 on the season with a putrid .893 save percentage.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that goaltending can make one coach look like a genius or a dunce, but either way, things are getting awfully uncomfortable for Yeo and the Wild.

Heck, they’re not even looking good during their fights.

Is Toronto’s locker room ‘divided?’

2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings

At first, it was all about singling out Phil Kessel after Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle was fired, but now the entire locker room dynamic seems to be in question.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston wrote about “a dressing room divided” on Thursday.

On one side you have the guys who have been part of winning programs and understand the discipline and sacrifice needed to win on a consistent basis. On the other, with a few exceptions, there are the players who have been through so many ups and downs here that they’re bound to be suffering from blue and white vertigo.

Discipline. Sacrifice. Accountability.

It seems like the same effort-related buzz words get trotted out with frequently frustrating teams, whether it be the Maple Leafs or the Edmonton Oilers.

“Because it’s hard work,” Polak said to Johnston. “It’s always tough to do something you know you don’t like to do. I think we have lots of guys that just want to play offence.”

How much can really change thanks to sheer effort alone, though?

While some wonder how well Peter Horachek’s planned “5-5-5” system might work, the key is for the team to be on the same page. If you believe those murmurs, it sounds like people are reading different books.

Luongo to former Canucks GM: No hard feelings

Roberto Luongo

If there’s one phrase to describe Roberto Luongo’s thoughts on returning to Vancouver as a member of the Florida Panthers tonight, it would seemingly be “well-adjusted.”

That seemed clear here, and carried over to this interview with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, as Luongo admitted that his first trip back to actually start against the Canucks on the road is a pretty big deal.

A few takeaways?

  • It’s more about interacting with Canucks fans again, rather than beating his former team. He said that he looks back at his time in Vancouver as one in which the good heavily outweighed the bad.
  • The 35-year-old really appreciates that, timing wise, he’s been able to spend a good chunk of time in Vancouver (thanks to the way Florida’s schedule worked out).
  • While he hasn’t actually spoken to former Canucks GM Mike Gillis, he doesn’t have hard feelings. It seems like Luongo believes that Gillis did his best.

Could some of this be Luongo softening the message for the media? Perhaps. Maybe it also has something to do with time healing wounds.

Either way, it should be really interesting to see how Luongo performs and reacts to a game in front of that Vancouver crowd (and vice versa).

He’s not giving them many reasons to jeer him, if nothing else.

Report: Wild are gauging goalie trade market

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild

Considering the fact that head coach Mike Yeo called out a particular overtime goal and plenty have pointed out the Minnesota Wild’s problems in net already, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the team is reportedly looking for a netminder.

Just in case you were wondering, that does indeed seem to be the case, as GM Chuck Fletcher is testing the goalie trade market, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

What General Manager Chuck Fletcher is gauging is this: Do you give up significant assets now to get a short-term fix when there’s no guarantee a goalie can save the season or do you stay patient, continue to ride out the instability and wait for the right move to come along that will address the long-term need?

Fletcher didn’t comment on the issue, yet it’s hard to imagine a general manager who wouldn’t ask around at this point.

The Star-Tribune lists the following goalies as possibilities: Cam Ward, Antti Niemi, Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth, Viktor Fasth and Martin Brodeur.

Obviously, those netminders represent a wide array of different considerations, from pricey with term remaining (Ward), expensive but expiring deal (Niemi) and cheap-but-big-name (Brodeur).

With Yeo letting loose on his team during a recent practice and tension seemingly coming to a head in general, the Wild must at least explore avenues to improve. Who would you target if you were in Fletcher’s shoes?