Tag: 2011 Hockey Day in America

Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson

Video: Mike Milbury’s Hat Trick highlights Hockey Day’s early games

(Looking for recaps of Hockey Day in America’s three early games? Click here to read about the Capitals close win against the Sabres, check out this post for analysis of the Brian Boucher’s great performance vs. the Rangers and then peruse this article regarding Todd Bertuzzi’s successful 1,000th career games as the Red Wings beat the Wild in a shootout.)

There were some great moments during Hockey Day in America’s first three games, but Mike Milbury spotlighted his three favorite ones during his “Mike’s Hat Trick” segment.

Milbury singled out Alex Ovechkin’s impressive juggling act and rush that helped the Capitals beat the Sabres, Niklas Backstrom’s outstanding glove save against the Red Wings and some adorable youngsters enjoying some outdoor hockey as his top three moments. Watch the entertaining segment in the video below.

Hockey Day Preview: John Carlson goes from U.S. juniors hero to future of Caps’ D?

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There are many “signs that you made it” in the Internet age, but getting the “GIF” treatment might have the widest range of effects. After all, people are likely to freeze a moment in time for two very disparate reasons:

1. They want to solidify a difficult or embarrassing moment (see: Alex Ovechkin’s brutal hit on Jaromir Jagr during the 2010 Olympics).

2. People want to honor (dear I say, deify?) a historic or outstanding accomplishment in one short clip.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson received the latter version of the “GIF” treatment by fans after he scored an exhilarating gold medal winning goal in overtime on January 6, 2010 to power the U.S. World Junior Championship team past Canada. (Seriously, go watch that goal … it’s outstanding.)

Being an international hero isn’t a half-bad claim to fame, but Carlson looks like he might be quite a bit more than that as a cornerstone member of a young, talented Capitals blueline. The 21-year-old Massachusetts-born defenseman has offensive skill (24 points in 59 games this season), impressive size (he’s listed at 6’3″) and is playing big minutes (more than 22 minutes per game this season) while showing nice responsibility. He was also strong in the Capitals’ playoff run in 2010, earning four points in that seven-game series while only trailing Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in ice time.

He might not be “all the way there yet” defensively at his young age, but his +28 career mark and +17 plus/minus in 2010-11 indicate that he isn’t exactly in over his head at the NHL level either. Carlson and the team’s other defenseman of the future not named Mike Green (Karl Alzner) are facing opposing teams’ top scoring lines with increasing frequency, showing that the future might just be “now” for the young American.

In other words, he should amount to much more than a glorious moment immortalized in a transfixing “GIF” … not that there’s anything wrong with that, either.

Hockey Day Preview: Top 5 Americans who will play in Sunday’s games

Ryan Miller

The 2011 Hockey Day in America special will cover four hockey games that spotlight the growth of the sport in the United States. As February 20th approaches, we’ll share some of the most interesting (and sometimes unexpected) stories heading into the great event.

To kick things off, we thought: what better way to begin our coverage than to discuss the best American hockey players who will compete in the four games? Here are the top five U.S.-born players who will appear in Hockey Day in America’s contests.

(Note: players were chosen from a pool of eight teams: Washington, Buffalo, Philadelphia, NY Rangers, Detroit, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Chicago. All stats were compiled before Thursday night’s games.)

1. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres goalie)

How could it be anyone other than the goalie who almost won a gold medal for Team USA? Sure, it seems like his 2010-11 season is observing the laws of gravity after an otherworldly 09-10 campaign and Olympic run, but he’s still the heart and backbone of the Buffalo Sabres. If the Sabres manage to put together a sprint into the top eight in the Eastern Conference, it will be in large part due to the work of last season’s Vezina Trophy winner.

2. Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks right wing)

If there’s any other American player who can compete with Miller’s clout, it would be this captivating Chicago Blackhawks forward. Kane was the first overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft thanks to his phenomenal puck skills and elite playmaking ability. Kane became the cover star for NHL ’10, starred as one of the most dangerous U.S. forwards in the Vancouver Olympics and scored that wacky Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime.

That’s not bad for a 22-year-old guy from Buffalo, New York.

3. Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings defenseman)

If you wanted to find the Scottie Pippen of NHL defensemen, it might just be Rafalski. Despite producing great hockey as a key member of championship teams in New Jersey and Detroit, the offensive defenseman has been overshadowed by Hall of Famers (or soon to be HoFers) such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer.

It wasn’t until the Vancouver Olympics that Rafalski received the opportunity to prove that he could be the go-to guy at the highest level of competition. He might be 37 years old, but Rafalski remains an outstanding blueliner for the Red Wings. He produced 36 points and a +15 rating in 45 games this season.

4. Brandon Dubinsky (New York Rangers center)

Consider this pick a (slight) leap of faith, as the two-way center seems to be making a leap toward near-elite status this season. He’s consistently been an asset in his own zone for the Rangers during his young career, but his 19 goals and 42 points in 53 games this season indicate that he’s primed to become an all-around threat. Some might even call him the Rangers’ version of another outstanding two-way American center: Ryan Kesler.

5. Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings goalie)

Things have been a little rocky for the Syracuse, New York native this season, but in many ways Howard saved Detroit’s season in 09-10. It also must be said that the Red Wings’ defense has been a bit lacking lately, so it’s far too early to write-off Howard.

Howard has 28 wins so far this season. If he regains the confidence that helped him go 37-15-10 with a 92.4 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average last season, he might be the Red Wings’ goalie of the present and future.

Honorable mentions: Drew Stafford (Buffalo Sabres winger), Paul Martin (Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman) and Tim Connolly (Buffalo Sabres center).