Mike Halford

Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks during NHL action in Vancouver, Canada, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Parise, Elliott, Kessel named NHL’s three stars of the week

Minnesota’s Zach Parise, St. Louis’ Brian Elliott and Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Mar. 27, the league announced on Monday.


Parise paced the NHL with five goals and shared the League lead with seven points in three contests to help the Wild (37-28-11, 85 points) extend their winning streak to a season-high five games and move back into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Elliott stopped all 52 shots he faced over two appearances to help the Blues (45-22-9, 99 points) extend their shutout streak to a franchise-record four consecutive games and clinch their fifth straight playoff berth.

Kessel shared the League lead in assists (5) and points (7) to help the Penguins (42-25-8, 92 points) win two of their three starts and finish the week in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Pretty emphatic statement from Parise, who capped off his week with a pair of goals in Saturday’s huge 4-0 win over the Avs. That victory pushed the Wild five points clear of Colorado for the final wild card spot, and could’ve essentially ended the Avalanche’s season in the process.

Rangers sign prospect Nieves to entry-level deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Cristoval Nieves, 59th overall pick by the New York Rangers, talks during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, New York’s second-round pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the club, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Nieves, 22, has spent the last four years at the University of Michigan, emerging as a durable, big-bodied center (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) that excelled in the faceoff circle.

With his collegiate career ending this weekend — the Wolverines were topped by North Dakota in attempting to qualify for the Frozen Four — Nieves will, like many other collegiate skaters signing deals recently, jump immediately to the AHL.

Per McKenzie, Nieves will sign an amateur tryout contract with New York’s AHL affiliate in Hartford, and try and help the Wolf Pack sneak its way into the Calder Cup playoffs.


Johansen: ‘I wish I was still a Blue Jacket’

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Well, this is probably going to get some eyeballs.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Nashville-Columbus game — the first in which Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones will face their old clubs since January’s blockbuster trade — Johansen conducted a lengthy Q&A with the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

It’s a compelling read — check out the entire thing here — and the quotes bound to garner the most attention are ones in which Johansen professes how much he loved Columbus.

From the Dispatch:

“I wish I was still a Blue Jacket. Let me make sure I’m wording this the right way. (pauses)

“I wish we didn’t start the season 0-8. I wish we were in the playoffs. I wish we had a great year. I wish we were all still together. But that’s professional sports. It happens, and when a team struggles there are trades. Maybe I felt like it wouldn’t be me that’s going (to get traded), but it was.

“I loved more than anything else in the world being a Blue Jacket.”

Johansen went on to say “I love being a Nashville Predator,” but did preface that remark by saying it’s partly because “they didn’t believe that I could be a big piece of the franchise in Columbus any more.”

Interesting stuff, to say the least.

To put this into context, it’s worth remembering that Johansen’s formative NHL years came in Columbus. He debuted as a 19-year-old and was a central figure in some of the franchise’s best-ever moments: scoring six points in six games during an exciting ’14 playoff series against Pittsburgh, and capturing MVP honors at the 2015 All-Star Game, which Columbus hosted.

So it’s easy to see why he has an affinity for the place.

Saturday’s game will be in Nashville, and chances are most of the local focus will be on Jones’ return to Bridgestone, and what kind of reception he’ll get.

But with these latest remarks now out there, it’ll be curious to see what kind of response Johansen gets, too.

Hurricanes ‘stand against all forms of discrimination’ in wake of bill approval

RALEIGH, NC - APRIL 19:  Fans of the Carolina Hurricanes cheer on their team as they play the New Jersey Devils during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 19, 2009 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. New Jersey won 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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On Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes released the following statement:

The Carolina Hurricanes and PNC Arena are devoted to providing a welcoming and respectful environment for all fans.

We stand against all forms of discrimination.

The release comes just two days after the North Carolina General Assembly approved a bill that would prevent transgender individuals to use public bathrooms based on the gender with which they identify.

Per the Raleigh News & Observer, the National Basketball Association has voiced its concern with the bill.

“We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte,” the league said in a statement.


Wait, is there a goalie controversy brewing in San Jose?

at SAP Center on March 24, 2016 in San Jose, California.
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In his first season as a Shark — his first a full-time NHL starter — Martin Jones has played pretty well.

And in his first stint as a Shark — his first anywhere outside of Toronto — James Reimer has played pretty well, too.

So maybe that’s all San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer was referencing in his reply to CSN Bay Area’s question of “is Jones your playoff starter?

But his answer could also open a can of worms, one most didn’t see coming.

From CSN’s Kevin Kurz:

Now make no mistake, Jones has been the guy for San Jose this year. He’s posted solid numbers (35 wins, .920 save percentage, 2.24 GAA) while carrying one of the league’s heaviest workloads. His 60 appearances are second-most among goalies, and only his former mentor — Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick — has played more.

But Reimer’s arrival has made things interesting.

Prior to, the guy Reimer was traded for — Alex Stalock — was mired in a disappointing campaign, and regarded as one of the league’s weaker backups. So with Stalock in the fold, there was a sense Jones almost had to play as much as he did.

That’s not the case anymore.

Though it’s a small sample size, Reimer’s numbers through five games as a Shark are pretty impressive: .920 save percentage, 2.03 GAA and a pair of shutouts. And those numbers are after a rough outing against Edmonton on Thursday night, in which he allowed five goals on just 21 shots.

As for playoff experience, there’s not much to choose between. Reimer has a bit more — seven games to Jones’ two — but it’s not like either has established himself as a perennial postseason performer.

With all this in mind, it seems likely that 1) Jones will be the playoff starter, and 2) DeBoer is simply keeping his cards close, because he doesn’t see any benefit in revealing them.

Of course, there are still eight games left in San Jose’s season. Things can change.