Author: Matt Reitz

Artem Anisimov, Tyler Kennedy

Must see TV: Artem Anisimov channels his inner sniper


Anyone remember when Teemu Selanne broke Mike Bossy’s rookie goal scoring record? The goal was just like the other 75 he scored that season—but the celebration is what most people remember. After tonight, we can probably say that Rangers forward Artem Anisimov is a fan.

After scoring a sweet shorthanded goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning to give his team the 2-1 lead in the second period, he took aim at the Lightning net. Predictably, all hell broke loose after Anisimov’s celebration leading to 38 minutes worth of penalties—including 10 minute misconducts for Anisimov and Steve Downie (for leaving the bench to join the festivities).

Here’s the question: are you alright with Anisimov’s celebration or did he deserve the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he earned for the move? More importantly, are you alright with Vinny Lecavalier (and the rest of the Lightning players) response? The comment section awaits.

Bernie Parent has Bryzgalov’s back

Ilya Bryzgalov

Since the first day of the season, all eyes in Philadelphia have been on newly acquired netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. The organization that has been missing one thing over the last decade had finally ponied up some serious cash to address their annual problem between the pipes. The nine-year contract was supposed to mean that the Flyers weren’t going to have to worry about their goaltending situation until 2021.

Fans in Philly came up a little short. Instead of waiting nine years, they waited about two weeks to worry about Bryzgalov. Just a bit short.

Today, legendary Flyers goaltender Bernie Parent came to the aid of the $51 million man. As most people in hockey, he preached patience as the team is only a third of the way through their season. “The more you believe in them, the more they believe in you and then you grow as a team, very, very important.” Parent said. “The Stanley Cup is not won in the first 20 games. You win the Stanley Cup after 82 games and then the playoffs. It’s a gradual improvement.”

Telling fans in Philadelphia to be patient—let us know how that one goes.

Parent went on to say that it takes time for a goaltender to get used to his defensemen, the big contract has nothing to do with his inconsistency, and people shouldn’t focus on his good play instead of looking at any bad goals he allows. Most importantly, the former goaltender talked about the mental challenges that Bryzgalov could be dealing with as he tries to find his way: “It’s like a pitcher, psychologically… You have to be very careful of your players, especially, a goalie. I think [Laviolette] handles him real well. It’s a matter of confidence. The more games you play, you understand your team.”

Just a bit of advice: if Bryzgalov wants to earn a little patience from fans, he might want to start improving on his numbers this season. The 11-5-2 record looks good enough, but the 2.89 goals against average and sub-.900 save percentage aren’t going to buy him any time from the fans.

Ducks finally finish against rival Kings for Boudreau’s first win

Bobby Ryan
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Hot starts aren’t anything new for the Ducks under Bruce Boudreau. In their first game under the new head coach, the Ducks jumped out to a 3-0 lead before blowing it and eventually losing in overtime to the Flyers. The next game, they jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before falling 5-3 to surging Minnesota Wild.

So when they jumped out to an early lead against the rival Los Angeles Kings, the script seemed eerily familiar to anyone that has been following the Ducks. When the Kings came back to tie the score at 2-2 and dominated the 3rd period, it seemed like it was just more of the same from the team that has been able to find cruel ways of losing this season. But something happened on the way to Boudreaus’s third straight loss as the Ducks head coach…

They won.

“It’s not the Cup, but it felt pretty good.” Boudreau said about his first win as a member of the Ducks. “There is no doubt. I felt really good for the players because they were smiling. They worked so hard. Had it gone the other way after another lead like that, I was a little worried about it.”

A little worried about it? Who knows what Jonas Hiller would have said if the Ducks lost this one.

Instead, they were smiling because they got the bounce they finally got the bounce at the end of a game that they’ve needed for weeks. Instead of something going wrong at the moment of truth, they got a fluky goal off Bobby Ryan’s stick to give Anaheim the 3-2 win with only seconds remaining in the game. “There was a lot of traffic. I don’t know if it hit anything on the way in or not,” Ryan said about his game-winning goal. “It was a little bit of a changeup in speed and just found a way to go in. It’s a whole different feeling coming into this room tonight. It’s huge.”

No one cares at this point how they won. A win is a win.

Danger: A night of injuries in the NHL

Minnesota Wild v Anaheim Ducks

There are some nights where everything goes smoothly and we can simply focus on the on-ice results around the league. Tonight was not one of those nights. Important players were dropping like flies all around the league tonight. Forget wins and losses, it was all about getting through the night without losing guys on the roster.

Kristian Huselius injured… again

The good news for the Blue Jackets was that they were able to beat Montreal in a shootout. The bad news is that they lost Kristian Huselius almost as quickly as they got him back in the lineup.

Huselius was just activated from injured reserve list on Friday as he was recovering from a torn pectoral muscle. It only took four days for the oft-injured forward to get injured again. The worst part is that the injury is apparently unrelated to the previous injury sidelined Huselius for the first two months of the season.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.

Friendly fire: Josh Harding takes headshot from teammate

Josh Harding made it through just over a minute of the game in San Jose before he was forced to exit stage right. Still, it was an eventful 1:11 for the netminder. First, Harding gave up a beautiful goal to Joe Pavelski exactly a minute into the game. Then, only seconds later, he took a shot from his own teammate that would knock him out of the game. Not exactly the best way for defenseman Nick Shultz to show his love for his goaltender.

The silver lining for the Minnesota Wild is that just about every goaltender that gets a chance looks like an all-star this season. Matt Hackett looked very good in his first NHL action in replacing Harding. It looks like he may have learned a thing or two from his uncle, former NHL netminder Jeff Hackett.

David Booth catches knee from Avs’ Kevin Porter

Any way you cut it, it was an ugly, dangerous play that ruined David Booth’s night. As Booth was cutting across the middle of the offensive zone, Avalanche defenseman Kevin Porter stuck his knee out and clipped the attacking Booth. Booth was in visible pain before he even hit the ice and had to be helped off the ice. Porter was given a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct for his actions.

The next time we hear Kevin Porter’s name, there’s a good chance the words “suspension” and “Brendan Shanahan” will be attached.

For the Canucks, it was announced early that Booth was being evaluated and would not return to tonight’s game. We can hope for the best—but it didn’t look good when he was helped to the locker room.

Perry, Luongo miss time

Aside from the guys that were forced to the locker room for the rest of the night, both Corey Perry and Roberto Luongo dodged bullets in their respective games. Luongo took a puck up near the throat and was forced to leave the game prematurely. He was able to stay on the bench in a back-up role and initial reports are that it’s not a serious injury.

In Anaheim, Corey Perry took a cross-check in the lower back from former teammate Dustin Penner midway through the second period. Perry was helped to the locker room, but was able to return to the ice for the third period.

If you think things are dark in Anaheim, just imagine how bleak things would be if their defending-Hart Trophy winner went down with an injury.

Update (1:25 am EST): Devin Setoguchi was seen limping badly after Minnesota’s win in San Jose; head coach Mike Yeo said he probably won’t play against Los Angeles on Thursday.

Bettman says it’s too early to link CTE to fighting

Derek Boogaard

Not all of the news coming out of the Board of Governors meeting in Pebble Beach has revolved around realignment. In addition to the well-publicized conference shuffling, Gary Bettman discussed a much more important topic on the second day of the meetings in California. Today, the NHL commissioner was discussing the New York Times article that revealed that yet another former NHL player had been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

It’s not surprising that Bettman was confronted with plenty of questions in the wake of the Times series of articles this week. But even as former players are being diagnosed, the league insists that it’s too soon to make any assumptions.

From QMI Agency: “Do you know everything that went on in their lives?” asked Bettman. “Were there other things going on which could also cause CTE? The data is not sufficient to draw a conclusion. Our experts tell us the same thing. You don’t have a broad enough database to make that assumption or conclusion because you don’t know what else these players might have had in common, if anything.”

But that wasn’t all Bettman had to say. He insists that the league has been ahead of the curve with head injuries and continues to look for ways to keep their players safe. “Look at our history,” Bettman told USA Today’s Kevin Allen. “Starting in 1997, we’ve been all across all fronts, whether it was the working study group, baseline testing, diagnosis and return-to-play protocol, rule changes and creation of the department of player safety, we’ve been doing lots and lots and will continue to do lots and lots. But there are no easy answers yet. But I think it’s unfortunate that people use tragedies to jump to conclusions that probably at this stage aren’t supported.”

The problem for the league and its decision makers is that there isn’t an easy fix even if CTE is positively linked to the NHL. It’s easy to say that fighting would eliminate the degenerative brain risk, but Rick Martin wasn’t a fighter and he was diagnosed with CTE earlier this year.

No matter what rule changes are put in place, hockey is a fast-paced, violent game. “Even if it’s a legal hit, it can lead to a concussion,” Bettman said. “We play a very fast-paced, physical game in a close environment. I think people need to take a deep breath and not overreact. It’s important to react and it’s something we’ll monitor closely.”

Nobody wants any of the players to have to endure mental or physical injuries that linger well past their playing career. The league may be slow to admit there is very likely a link between NHL hockey and CTE, but it’s true that there isn’t a quick fix to prevent players from potentially dealing with the disease.

The best news: it’s an issue that is getting mentioned at one of the most important meeting of the year. The first step is admitting there may be a problem. Once the issue is officially on the docket, the Board of Governors can take a look at possible solutions.