Tag:Jonathan Toews
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:38 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 9:45 am
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Pregame Skate: Big night for all in playoff push

Jumbo Joe and San Jose enter the night eighth in the West. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Pregame Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

10:30 ET, Edmonton at San Jose

This is pretty amazing to type with only a few weeks left in the season, but if the Sharks don't win this game, they could be out of playoff position.

Now here is the part where I throw out the disclaimers: the Sharks have multiple games in hand on the teams ahead or near them in the standings. It's also where I remind you that does you no good unless you actually win those games in hand.

But the Sharks are sinking right now. They are 4-10-1 in their last 15 games, unable to really find their footing since returning from that nine-game road trip they took in February. As a result, they find themselves holding on to the final playoff spot in the West at the moment. Of course, they could also forge a three-way tie with losses by their Pacific Division rivals tonight and regain the third seed. This is how it is shaping up to be for the remainder of the season in the Pacific.

The important thing for San Jose is to not let these types of games slip away. The Sharks have had a couple days off, they're at home and the league's second worst team record wise (the Oilers) are visiting a night after playing in Anaheim. It's as good a shot at two points as any. It's more or less herring just dangling in front of them.

9 ET, Minnesota at Colorado (NBC Sports Network)

The Avalanche won't go away out West either. Unlike the East where teams like Toronto and Washington to an extent have been playing their way out of the playoffs, Colorado is one of those out West that has been winning its way in, meaning they have won five of the last seven games.

That includes a win on Sunday night against the same Minnesota Wild they host on Tuesday. It was a 2-0 win for the Avs with the lone tallies coming from Jamie McGinn in the first period.

I still haven't been convinced by the Avalanche that they have staying power in the Western Conference to make the playoffs this season. But here we are in March and they just won't go away. With that said, their odds still aren't as good as the other teams around them in the standings due to the extra number of games they have played. Sports Club Stats puts the odds on the Avs making it in at 17.95 percent.

It's important to point out that Semyon Varlamov has been significantly better in goal for them of late, showing why they traded a first-round draft pick for him this summer. Only once in his last six starts has he given up more than two goals. In the other five starts his goals against average is a decimal shade above 1.00 even.

7:30 ET, Ottawa at Tampa Bay

Welcome back to the playoff picture, Tampa Bay.

The Lightning have been streaking of late behind the hot stick of Steven Stamkos -- honestly, when is it not hot? -- and are about to enjoy some time at home. Having won four in a row, the Lightning are embarking on a nine-game stretch where eight games will come at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Here's an interesting little tidbit about that: The Lightning actually have the Southeast Division's best home record. Better than Winnipeg. Actually, Washington has a better home record than Winnipeg too (by two fewer OT losses). That's saying something about Tampa's prowess at home.

If they can use this home-heavy stretch the way the Jets just did on their eight-game home stand, there's no reason the Lightning can't get in the playoff seeding very soon, or possibly even jumping the Panthers for first place in the division (they enter tonight six points behind).

Of note for the Senators: Ben Bishop is expected to get his first start since being traded to Ottawa after Robin Lehner was sent back to AHL Binghamton.

NHL Playoffs
2011 NHL Playoffs
More NHL coverage

Others worth watching

7 ET, Boston at Toronto: Let's see if the change from Ron Wilson to Randy Carlyle is going to help the Maple Leafs finally get over the Bruins hump. Boston has won all four meetings this season by a combined score of 23-6. Eek.

7 ET, Phoenix at Columbus: The Coyotes come into Columbus straight off a loss -- albeit a good showing -- against the Penguins on Monday. It was just Saturday that the Blue Jackets beat the Coyotes in the desert.

7 ET, Carolina at Washington: The last time these two got together the Hurricanes whitewashed the Capitals 5-0 in Raleigh. Washington comes in having lost two straight at home while failing to score in either. To say the Caps need this is an understatement.

7 ET, Detroit at Philadelphia: Not a whole lot in the playoff picture other than Detroit's battle for the Central Division and Presidents' Trophy, but Mark Howe's number will be retired before the game and it should just be an all-around good game.

8 ET, Los Angeles at Nashville: Kings coach Darryl Sutter joked the Predators “haven’t lost at home since Christ was a child.” Doesn't bode well for a team trying to stay in the playoff hunt too. If things go right, L.A. could be just one point out of first in the Pacific by night's end.

10 ET, Dallas at Vancouver: As the day begins, this is a matchup of division leaders as the Stars took that title on Monday night with Phoenix's loss. But the task is tall if they want to keep that lead after tonight.

Your promised miscellany

  • Monday's Winners & Losers
  • The Senators threatened they might leave Ottawa if tax breaks were eliminated. No worries, they're staying. (Ottawa Sun)
  • The news on the Jonathan Toews mystery injury front is sounding better for Chicago. (CSN Chicago)
  • A little more on my favorite story of the year so far, OHL forward Connor Crisp talks about the experience playing goaltender.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Posted on: March 3, 2012 10:25 am
 

Pregame Skate: Randy Carlyle's Toronto debut

Carlyle

By: Adam Gretz

The Pregame Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

Playoff Race

CanadiensMaple Leafs7 ET, Toronto at Montreal: Well, it is still technically a game in the playoff race, at least for Toronto, even though their chances appear to be hanging on be the tiniest of threads. And if the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, long-time bitter rivals, have anything in common this season it's that they both seem to be a complete, dysfunctional mess at the present time. Their meeting on Saturday night in Montreal will be the debut for new Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle after he was announced as the new bench boss on Friday evening, replacing Ron Wilson.

Is it a needed move to give the Maple Leafs a boost to get back into serious playoff contention? Or is it simply too little, too late for this season, and rearranging deck chairs on what looks to be a sinking ship?

Toronto has lost 10 of 11 entering Saturday's game, and suddenly finds itself behind Tampa Bay and Buffalo in the standings. The Maple Leafs haven't made the playoffs since the NHL came out of the lockout in 2005-06, and the only other team that can make that claim is the Florida Panthers, and their drought looks like it has a pretty good chance to come to an end this year.

CanucksSabres10 ET, Buffalo at Vancouver: Thanks to wins in five of their past six games, and a 10-3-3 mark in their past 16 games, the Buffalo Sabres are another team that's found a way to work their way back into the playoff picture, and a lot of that, at least recently, is due to the play of goaltender Ryan Miller.

The veteran netminder has had his share of struggles this season, but over the past couple of weeks he has been playing like he did back in 2010 when he was the best goalie in the league -- and the Olympics -- and at no time has he looked better than he has over his past two games, recording back-to-back shutouts in wins over Anaheim and San jose.

Over their past wins, which have been by a combined score of just 3-0, the Sabres have allowed Miller to be peppered by 82 shots (that's 41 per game), many of them quality chances, and he's turned aside every single one of them.

Over his past six starts he's allowed just seven goals.

The only thing at stake for the Canucks on Saturday night is ... well, pretty much nothing. Even if they lose they're still going to be the top team in the Western Conference.

DucksKings10:30 ET, Anaheim at Los Angeles: Just 24 hours after picking up a huge two points thanks to a 3-2 win against Calgary, due to a last-minute goal from Ryan Getzlaf, the Anaheim Ducks have to jump right back into it on Saturday night in Los Angeles against one of the many teams they're still chasing in the standings.

The Ducks enter the game four points behind Los Angeles, and still seven points behind Dallas for the final playoff spot in the West, and as has been the case for the past couple of months, and will be for the remainder of the regular season, this is a game the Ducks pretty much have to win if there is going to be any chance to complete this late-season comeback.

At least Friday's game finally moved them ahead of one team -- the Minnesota Wild -- putting them at 12th place in the West.

The Kings, meanwhile, are fresh off a 4-0 win in Minnesota and need the two points just as much as Anaheim does. After Saturday the Kings hit the road for five of their next six games, and it looks to be a brutal stretch of games that includes matchups with Nashville, Chicago, Detroit (twice) and another game with Anaheim.

Others worth watching
7 ET, Tampa Bay at Carolina: After knocking off the New York Rangers on Friday the Lightning have an opportunity to continue their own late season playoff push in Carolina, and just to show how completely bonkers the playoff race currently is, the Lightning still have an outside chance of winning the Southeast.

8 ET, Columbus at Phoenix: Another tight divisional race is out west in the Pacific, as the white-hot Coyotes enter Saturday's game against Columbus two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks. The Blue Jackets recently played the role of spoiler by blanking the Avalanche in Denver, and the Coyotes are coming off what was their first regulation loss since the end of January.

10:30 ET, St. Louis at San Jose: And the team chasing Phoenix, San Jose, has an important -- and tough -- home game against the toughest team in the league to score against, the St. Louis Blues. Good news for the Sharks: for as good as the Blues record is, they've been pretty mediocre away from home.

Your promised miscellany
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 3:23 pm
 

Jonathan Toews OK after minor car crash

Toews' car is taken away from the crash site. (25stanley.com)

By Brian Stubits

The Chicago Blackhawks got more than a scare on Thursday afternoon. Captain Jonathan Toews was involved in a one-car accident in Chicago and was taken away from the scene in an ambulance.

Now before you get too worked up, the Blackhawks did say in a statement that Toews was in an accident but he was not injured.

“Jonathan Toews was in a minor one-car collision in downtown Chicago this morning while driving himself to the United Center. He was not injured."

Toes confirmed the team report himself in a text message to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.

When contacted via text following the accident, Toews responded by saying, "It's nothing serious at all" and added, "I'm good."

Phew!

Here's a little more on the specifics of the scene of the accident from CBS Chicago:

Toews’ black AMG Mercedes Benz struck an “L” support beam at the intersection of Lake and Garvey in the loop just before 10 a.m. 670 The Score confirmed the vehicle is registered to the Blackhawks center and witnesses said he was driving the car.

“I saw his car in the pole,” Theron Banks, an employee at Steak Express said. “I came out. People were everywhere. Toews was in the ambulance. People were videotaping and taking pictures and trying to get autographs, but police said they couldn’t get autographs.”

Really? Seeking autographs and trying to take pictures with somebody in an ambulance? I knows fans can get a little crazy from time to time, but man, that's just not one of those times. Obviously he's entitled to some privacy, is he not?

But back to the matter at hand. This has to really have the Chicago fans on edge, even if the team says there was no injury. Toews is already out of the lineup on a day-to-day basis and comes a day after the same CBS Chicago outlet reported that Toews might actually have a concussion. Talk about a bad week.

Toews was already scheduled to miss the team's game on Thursday night against the Stars with the upper-body injury.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 1:04 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Hart awfully tight, Vezina clear

Last year's winner Corey Perry poses with the Hart Trophy. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Rankings. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

The Hart Trophy is the king of trophies, the biggest and best (outside of the Stanley Cup and playoff awards, of course) in the game. It goes to the league's most valuable player.

And here's the thing about it this season: It is going to be one heck of a race to the finish to determine it. The top of the points leaderboards are scrunched. So are the playoff pictures. That means the Hart race is in the same squished mode too.

The difference between a lot of guys right now in the Hart race is like differentiating between a Lamborghini or Ferrari, you really won't go wrong either way. Then you have Mercedes Benzs, Audis and Lexuses in the conversation too. So many great choices, so few winners. Just one, in fact. We aren't Jay Leno here and buying them all.

These rankings are reflective of where they stand now. They are certainly subject to change. For example, Steven Stamkos didn't crack the list here, but if the Lightning actually overcome their five-point hole and grab a playoff spot despite selling seemingly half their team, he'd have to be in consideration without a doubt.

Keep in mind the Hart race is incredibly tight with a ton of contenders at this point. There is an argument to be made for a lot of other players as well as for the order here to be changed. I'm sure you'll make those arguments below. This is just one man's opinion.

The Hart starts with a guy who hasn't won it yet despite some awesome seasons recently. But he was hindered by another spectacularly awesome teammate who hasn't been there much to help this season.

We also look at the Vezina, which isn't anywhere near as tight as the Hart race at the top but the fighting for the finalists is fierce.

Award watch
Hart Vezina
Evgeni Malkin The Penguins have had to deal with more injury loss this season than any other team, including two of their top three centers. The third is Malkin. He leads the league in points and is second in goals. He's been the best player in the league. But this race is very tight and has a long way to go. Henrik Lundqvist The Rangers are arguably the top team in the league and Lundqvist is a massive reason why. He is tops in the league in save percentage at a whopping .940 and has a goals against of 1.78. He's separated himself from the field ... and the Rangers from the East field as well.
Henrik Lundqvist Yes, I think he's been good enough to be seriously in this conversation. He's incredibly valuable to the Rangers, that's not a question for anybody. With scoring down so much in the NHL, this is a perfect year for a goaltender to win the Hart again. Jonathan Quick He means as much to the Kings as Lundqvist does to the Rangers and I'm not going to penalize a goaltender for his offense's lack of production. His 1.96 goals against and .931 save percentage are very good. He's the only reason Los Angeles is still fighting for a playoff berth.
Claude Giroux He was asked to carry a lot more of the load in Philadelphia this season and he has. Despite missing a few games with a concussion, the 24-year-old Giroux is set to pass his career highs very soon with 23 goals and 47 assists already despite playing just 55 games. He's had to with Philly's defense. Jimmy Howard Despite recently missing three weeks in February with a broken finger, Howard is still second in the league in wins with 32 (one behind Pekka Rinne). He is having a career season with a 2.03 goals against average and .924 save percentage and is a big reason why the Wings have returned to the top of the West.
Radim Vrbata Why not? He has 30 goals and counting on the season for the Coyotes, a team that otherwise relies on defense. That's 12 more than anybody else on the team. Aside from Ray Whitney, everybody on the team is at least 16 points behind Vrbata. For a team expected to be in the basement, he deserves a lot of credit. Brian Elliott The only thing keeping Elliott this far down the list is the fact that he splits almost 50/50 in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak. But his 1.65 goals against average and .937 save percentage are obscene. However he'll be hurt by Halak's success as well as the Ken Hitchcock argument ... he makes all goalies look good.
Jason Spezza The assumption before the season was that the Senators were going to be in the running for the best lottery position, not the Northeast Division crown with the Bruins. But here they are and Spezza's 27 goals and 39 assists are a massive reason why. So is Erik Karlsson, but he'll show up elsewhere. Tim Thomas Last year's runaway with the Vezina, Thomas isn't having the season he did a year ago. But in his defense, nobody ever had before him either. He's still excellent with his .929 save percentage and 2.21 goals against. For now he barely beats out Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne in this race for me.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Norris: Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom.

Calder: Adam Henrique, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Read.

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella.

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Glen Sather, Don Maloney.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 21, 2012 12:55 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 8:43 am
 

Datsyuk to miss two weeks after knee surgery

Datsyuk leads Detroit with 59 points (16-43=59). (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Red Wings were able to withstand the loss of All-Star goaltender Jimmy Howard just fine. But now they'll really be put to the test as superstar forward Pavel Datsyuk is going to miss the next two weeks after having arthroscopic knee surgery.

Datsyuk, who was recently lauded by his fellow players in the NHLPA poll in six different categories, is certainly as critical a component as anybody to the Wings. Some argue that he's the world's best player. The good news, though, is that he's not expected to be out long. The two weeks sounds like a solid time frame after hearing coach Mike Babcock on Tuesday.

"Datsyuk had minor arthroscopic knee surgery this morning," Babcock said before Tuesday's game against Chicago. "Everything is real good."

With that two-week timeframe -- three to be safe -- that brings Datsyuk back in the latter half of March, giving up a couple of weeks to get back up to full speed before the playoffs. So that's why they decided to take care of it now.

"This way we have an opportunity to get [Datsyuk] going 100 percent before playoff time," Babcock said.

That is a luxury Detroit has right now, holding a big enough cushion to withstand the loss of Datsyuk for a little while and still keeping their playoff position. What it might do is open the door for the Vancouver Canucks to overtake them and move into the West's top spot.

The good news for Detroit at least is that Howard will be making his return against the Blackhawks. He has missed the past few weeks with a broken finger but Detroit just kept on winning, taking the last six games without Howard in the lineup.

On the other side of the ice in Chicago tonight the Blackhawks will be missing their top forward as well. The 'Hawks announced Jonathan Toews is going to miss the game too with an upper-body injury. So at least it's an even trade in players being out for the always entertaining Chicago-Detroit battle.

The absences take away a bit of the juice that was shaping up to be about Howard's return.

More from Eye on Hockey

NHLPA poll really likes Datsyuk
Datsyuk dramatically extends Wings' streak

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 3, 2012 12:18 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:55 am
 

Sam Gagner records 8 points in win



By: Adam Gretz

Oilers forward Sam Gagner had the game of his life on Thursday night during Edmonton's 8-4 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, having a hand in every single goal his team scored.

Gagner scored four of the goals himself, assisted on the other four, and became the first player in the NHL this season to record eight points in a game (and only the 14th of all time, including playoffs) and the first since Mario Lemieux did it all the way back in the 1989 playoffs (that was also infamous Ron Hextall-Rob Brown game).

The last regular season eight-point performance came on December 31, 1988, also by Lemieux, which was the night he scored five goals, five different ways.

The NHL record still belongs to Darryl Sittler with 10 points on February 7, 1976.

Prior to Thursday, the most points scored in an NHL game this season was five, which had been done by five other players: Evgeni Malkin (twice), Lars Eller, Jonathan Toews, Brad Marchand and Gagner's Edmonton teammate, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

 Throughout his five-year career the 22-year-old forward tallied more than three points in a single game just once, finishing with a four-point night back in March of 2009 in a game against the Colorado Avalanche.

A few more quick notes to add to the absurdity of his performance:

-- Entering their game on Thursday, there were 10 players on the Oilers roster that had appeared in at least 15 games this season and did not have eight points ... for the entire season.

-- Of the 834 skaters that have appeared in an NHL game this season, only 428 have at least eight points for the year.

-- His eight points tied a franchise record that is also held by Wayne Gretzky (twice) and Paul Coffey.

Pretty amazing performance, and it's also the second time this season the Oilers have blown out the Blackhawks, beating them 9-2 on Nov. 19, the night that Nugent-Hopkins had his five-point (all assists) performance.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 9:07 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 9:35 pm
 

Brendan Morrison traded to Blackhawks

BlackhawksBy: Adam Gretz

The Chicago Blackhawks added some center depth to their lineup on Friday evening by acquiring Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames in exchange for Brian Connelly.

Morrison, 36, has four goals and seven assists this season in 28 games with the Flames, and is playing on a one-year contract worth $1.25 million. The Blackhawks will be on the hook for a salary cap hit of about $354,000 for the remainder of the season, so it's a relatively cheap pick up, not only financially, but also in the sense that they didn't have to give up much in return.

Connelly, a 25-year-old defenseman that signed with the Blackhawks organization back in 2009 after playing his college hockey Colorado College, has spent his entire professional career playing for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League scoring 21 goals to go with 105 assists. In 44 games this season he has five goals and 31 assists.

Morrison isn't going to provide much offense for the Blackhawks, but with players like Jonathan Toews and Dave Bolland logging the big minutes down the middle they only need some depth at the position. If nothing else, he gives Chicago another solid option in the faceoff dot as he's currently winning over 50 percent of his draws this season.

It is kind of interesting to see the Flames deal a veteran for a prospect that's already in his mid-20's when they're still in the playoff race, and just recently added Mike Cammalleri from Montreal. General manager Jay Feaster said it was mainly due to their projected lineup going forward, as well as Morrison's status as a free agent after this season.

“As we projected our line-up going forward we felt it was going to be difficult for us to find a spot for Brendan or get him significant ice-time,” said Feaster. "Given his pending UFA status and the fact that we were not going to re-sign him, we felt it important to try to move him for another asset. In Brian Connelly we obtain a 25 year old highly skilled AHL All-Star defenceman who is still a legitimate prospect. We are excited to have Brian in the organization.”

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:14 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 1:17 pm
 

Hartnell named to All-Star team in place of Toews

Hartnell down? More like Hartnell up. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

We knew it was only a matter of time before some of the obvious snubs of the All-Star Game were corrected and named to the team. It comes through the guise of injury replacements, but that's just semantics. Scott Hartnell is an All-Star!

Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers' colorful scorer was named to the team on Tuesday morning, replacing the injured Jonathan Toews from the Blackhawks. In the case of Hartnell, it's no "well he doesn't really deserve it" situation (imagine the most annoying friend you have saying that, works for the effect).

"It definitely was a surprise to get the phone call late [Monday] night and be selected," Hartnell told NHL.com. "I just had a smile on my face. It's our father's trip here, so he was sitting here with me. A real special night."

Since he wasn't named an All-Star, Hartnell has been on a tear. He had a natural hat trick on Sunday against the Bruins, scoring three straight goals, all in the second period. The game before that he had two goals in a win against the Devils. That recent spurt has brought his season total to 25 goals, five behind his career high.

While he isn't replacing him, Hartnell makes a nice fill-in for Alex Ovechkin, who pulled out of the game on Tuesday. They are both power forwards who will lay some lumber and Hartnell has a big personality that helps hide the absence of one of the games better players and bigger names.

"I had something lined up to get away for a few days, get away from hockey," Hartnell said, "but in the back of my mind I had my fingers crossed, maybe I'd get a call. There's a lot of good players in the NHL these days, and if it wasn't me it could have been two or three other guys. I feel pretty fortunate and pretty lucky. Going there, I was thinking about the skills competition. Hopefully I don't get too nervous out there. I can't wait. I'm super excited."

From Toews' standpoint, don't get too concerned, Blackhawks fans. His injury isn't thought to be serious, although he will miss Tuesday's game against the Predators.

By my count that leaves the most egregious snub count at two; James Neal and Patrice Bergeron. After them it's probably Radim Vrbata.

More from Eye on Hockey

Ovechkin withdraws from All-Star Game
Toews out with upper-body injury
More All-Star Game coverage

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com