James O'Brien

Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby

Kessel isn’t what the Penguins expected


What you see from an athlete during an interview isn’t always an accurate representation of who that person really is.

Sometimes that squeaky clean corporate-friendly athlete has a dark side. Alternatively, someone others believed to be a “cancer” might be anything but.

As Pittsburgh Penguins players told TSN, Phil Kessel has defied expectations about his attitude – in a good way.

“Just that he tells guys that he’ll beat ‘em at whatever sport they pick,” Chris Kunitz said with a laugh. “I think the confidence is obviously high. He’s a guy that likes to compete and be competitive at anything he does so that’s probably why he’s so good at so many things.”

It’s not just a more-fiery-than-expected demeanor, either.

Kunitz is surprised by Kessel’s “good-hearted manner to every part of his day.”

One could see some of his sense of humor when cameras picked up on his interplay with former teammate and roommate Tyler Bozak. Kessel rolled his eyes at Bozak’s video game playing and generally seemed to have a snarky sense of humor.

The rest of article is good stuff, full of more-expected revelations like “hey, Kessel can pass really well, too.”

Considering all the rumors that floated around in Toronto, the great attitude part might be even more important than the creative playmaking.

No, teams aren’t asking about John Tortorella (not even Columbus)

John Tortorella

It’s something that’s faded just a touch, but one might notice that more than a few New York Rangers made their way to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

At this time, it doesn’t appear that one of their most blustery faces in recent memory – former head coach John Tortorella – will be taking up residence in Ohio.

That goes for the rest of the NHL’s struggling teams, too.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline floated a rather interesting nugget on Saturday: teams aren’t calling the Vancouver Canucks to receive permission to inquire about Tortorella:

Torts made quite the show about focusing on helping the U.S. on the international level, and here’s one clear reason (*cough* money *cough*) to see why he may be inclined to wait for the absolute perfect offer:

So, there you go. At the moment, no one’s asking about Torts.

Let’s admit that it would be fun to return his fiery spectacle to the headlines, and Columbus would rank as maybe the most bizarre locale (imagine him hugging it out with Brandon Dubinsky?).

The above at the moment is there for a reason: it’s dangerous to rule out much of anything, especially with a team in an increasingly desperate situation like Columbus.

Just look at how happy Todd Richards is to sleep:


The other bit of Blue Jackets news today is a bit off the beaten track, but still not very promising:

Royal relief: Kopitar’s OT-winner breaks Kings’ slump


We were this close to pulling out a headline like “Baffle of California.”

Despite generating a heavy shot advantage – in some ways like their neighbors, the Anaheim Ducks – the Los Angeles Kings were still stuck in a tie game with the Minnesota Wild.

There were some tense moments in the third period, as the Wild seemed to be getting a bit of an edge after a pretty steady stream of chances from the Kings.

It remained 1-1 as the two teams entered their first-ever experiences with 3-on-3 OT, and as usual, there was some drama.

While the Kings were close to being offside, Anze Kopitar‘s pretty overtime goal counted, and the Kings got a rather obnoxious monkey off their backs. In the process, that 2-1 OT defeat ends the Wild’s undefeated start, although they do get a standings point for their troubles.

One must note that, to some extent, the Kings did make life tougher for themselves. They got that crucial win tonight, but they’ve nonetheless generated two points in four home games. Their five-game homestand ends against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

On the other hand, Los Angeles has never really made it easy for themselves.

It says a lot that Darryl Sutter’s bunch boasts two Stanley Cup rings and zero division titles.

It also says a lot that the rest of the NHL is probably still afraid of a Kings team playing at its peak.

Blues impress Hitch with win, but Stastny gets hurt

Ken Hitchcock, David Backes, Dmitrij Jaskin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund

It’s becoming a bittersweet theme of the first week-and-change of the St. Louis Blues’ season: win a game, show some resiliency and lose a player to injury.

In this case, the Blues gutted out a 4-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks, which is obviously the good news.

Cue the ominous music, though: Paul Stastny suffered some sort of lower-body injury by blocking a shot. He tried to return to the contest, but it didn’t work out. At best, more information will be available on Saturday, as there was no update tonight.

That’s no good, especially with the bumps and bruises really piling up so early in the season. Still, the Blues are finding ways to win, even with a road-heavy schedule (their last four games were on the road, with three straight wins).

St. Louis wraps up with two more road games before getting a chance to lap up standings points at home.

For a team seemingly at a crossroads – they’re clearly deep into “put up or shut up” mode – they at least impressed their demanding head coach tonight.

The challenges might not dry up for a while.

Lame Ducks: Colorado blanks winless Anaheim


No matter what, one of Patrick Roy or Bruce Boudreau would get a win in response to their biting criticisms.

As it turns out, only one probably feels like he received a response at all.

The Colorado Avalanche blanked the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 on Friday, and while an empty-netter inflated the score, the silence of Anaheim’s offense is still deafening.

OK, maybe that’s a little unfair. On paper, the Ducks at least showed some effort tonight, generating a 35-25 shot differential.

Some of that came from getting five (obviously unsuccessful) power play opportunities to just two for Colorado, but most people won’t be that interested in those numbers. Even if quite a few of them paint a prettier picture for the Ducks.

Nope, they’ll instead focus on Anaheim’s lack of wins.

They’ll probably also show concern over a number so bad it almost feels imaginary.

In four games to start this season, the Ducks have scored a single goal.

Much like another struggling team out in Columbus, you have to wonder: what can you really say in times like these (beyond something like “it’s still early”).

Boudreau’s more positive tonight, at least:

Fans might already be getting antsy, however.

Also: The Ducks lost defenseman Simon Despres to an upper-body injury.