Author: Mike Halford


Over 1,100 rinks nominated for Kraft Hockeyville USA

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There’s no shortage of candidates in the running for the first-ever Kraft Hockeyville USA.

Over 1,100 rinks have been nominated and more than 11,000 stories submitted for the Hockeyville grand prize: $150,000 in arena upgrades and the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game, which will be televised live on NBCSN.

With submissions pouring in, it’s not surprising to see rinks from all 50 states, including Hawaii, nominated. The nomination phase closes on March 18.

From there, 10 communities will be selected for a national round-robin vote, with the community capturing the highest number of votes in the final round winning the title of Kraft Hockeyville.

The “Top 10 Announcement” will air on NBCSN on April 11, and the first round of finalist voting open to the public will take place April 14-16.

Stars’ Eakin might sit again after healthy scratch (disciplinary) versus Flyers

Columbus Blue Jackets v Dallas Stars

On a day where Nazem Kadri’s two-game banishment made headlines, another disciplinary issue flew under the radar — Dallas forward Cody Eakin, who was healthy scratched in Philly yesterday for what the club called a “team discipline decision.”

It was a quiet development, to say the least. The scratch barely registered a blip on the radar and, following the game, head coach Lindy Ruff didn’t offer any comment or explanation regarding what led to his decision.

On Wednesday, though, Stars Inside Edge reported the punishment might extend to Thursday’s game in Carolina:

Nobody’s quite sure what to make of this situation. Eakin has been a lineup fixture since coming over from Washington three years ago, and the healthy scratch versus Philly marked just the fifth game he’s missed during his time as a Star.

As for his ice time… well, it’s been all over the place lately. Eakin received over 20 minutes in a 4-3 shootout win over Florida last week but, two games prior, was held to one of his lowest totals of the year — just 14:31 — in a 3-1 loss to Anaheim.

Still only 23 years old, Eakin sits tied for fifth on the team in goals (with 15) and seventh in points, with 30.

Ducks prep for ‘potential playoff matchup’ tonight in Calgary

Jonas Hiller, Kyle Palmieri, Patrick Maroon

With an 11-point lead in the Pacific Division, Anaheim is all but assured of opening the playoffs against one of the Western Conference’s two wild card teams.

One of those could very well be the Calgary Flames, who the Ducks will face tonight at the Saddledome.

“This could be a potential playoff matchup and you always want to play good against teams you think you could possibly play in the playoffs,”Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano explained, per “It’ll be a good game. We’ve had great games against them so far this year, especially in this building. We expect nothing else.”

Tonight’s game is big for both teams. Anaheim is looking to snap a two-game losing streak and bust out of its offensive slump, having scored just three goals over the losing skid. The Ducks are also looking to figure out their anemic power play, which has converted just once over the last 13 games.

The Flames, meanwhile, are fighting for their playoff lives.

Last night saw the Kings draw even on 77 points with a 5-2 win over Colorado, meaning Calgary’s hold on a postseason berth is now reliant on the ROW tiebreaker (Calgary leads L.A. 32 to 30.) A regulation loss tonight would see the Flames actually fall out of the playoff picture — the Kings would take the lead on superior points percentage — and the team knows it’s in tough given it has lost three straight to the Ducks, the last two by identical 6-3 scorelines.

“[Anaheim’s] definitely one of the best hockey clubs in the league,” Flames bench boss Bob Hartley explained. “You try to find weaknesses on that team, you better wake up early in the morning.”

The Flames will catch a break tonight, as the anticipated returns of forward Matt Beleskey and d-man Sami Vatanen have been delayed. Both are traveling with the Ducks for this Western road swing and were thought to be in the mix to return this evening, but it looks as though Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau will delay those returns until at least Friday, when his team plays in Minnesota.

Report: Isles lose Leddy (upper body) for two weeks

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs

The injury that sidelined Isles d-man Nick Leddy for last night’s loss to the Rangers will keep him sidelined for two more weeks, according to sources of Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

Leddy, 23, was hurt in a win over Toronto earlier this week following a collision with Morgan Rielly. His departure is a big blow for the Isles — at the time of the injury, Leddy sat second among New York blueliners in points (29) and third in TOI (20:05).

Leddy also recently signed a seven-year, $38.5 million extension with the Isles, one that locked him in through the 2021-22 season at $5.5 million per.

Looking ahead, Leddy’s two-week timetable puts his potential return at Mar. 25 — meaning he could miss up to five more games, assuming he comes back for a home date against Los Angeles on Mar. 26.

Ondrej Pavelec had some interesting things to say after allowing that center-ice goal

Ondrej Pavelec

Ondrej Pavelec didn’t speak to reporters following last night’s 5-4 loss in St. Louis, a game that was decided after Pavelec — on in relief of Michael Hutchinson — failed to stop Barret Jackman’s innocuous center-ice shot with 63 seconds left.

Today, Pavelec spoke to reporters about the goal, explaining that he “lost the puck in the stands and it went in.”

From there, though, the conversation took a rather curious twist:

Pavelec: Listen, I didn’t play for three weeks, I was sitting on the bench for three weeks, and I just went in and it was 4-1, and I just tried to have fun and enjoy the game. I was happy I was in the game. But obviously, what happened, happened. I’m not the last guy it’ll happen [to], but like I said before, it happened at a bad time.

Reporters: Do you feel like the rest of the game helped your confidence, with how well you played in the second and third?

Pavelec: No. You don’t get confidence in 20 minutes if you didn’t play for three weeks. Obviously you’re not happy you have to go in. You’re losing 4-1, it’s not a situation you want to be in. But, end of the day, you want to play hockey, you want to play the game. I was happy for 20 minutes.

Reporters: You seem a little frustrated.

Pavelec: Now? No… well, everybody would be. I don’t see any players or any goalies that wouldn’t be frustrated if they don’t play. Everybody wants to play. That’s why you play sports, to play the games, not just practice. But it is what it is. We are winning, we are in a battle for the playoffs, so nothing else matters.

Here’s the full audio, if you’d like to have a listen.

And here’s the Jackman goal:

For the record, Pavelec — who hasn’t started game since Feb. 19 — played just under 28 minutes on Tuesday night, stopping 19 of 20 shots for a .950 save percentage (as mentioned in the interview, he did play extremely well before letting in the Jackman goal.)

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see which goalie Jets head coach Paul Maurice goes with for Thursday’s game in Florida: Hutchinson, who allowed four goals on seven shots in St. Louis, or Pavelec.

One thing’s for certain — Maurice already has his mind made up.