Today’s article starts off with condolences to the family of Jim Kelley: a beloved and respected hockey writer who said what he wanted and worked hard for everything he received. Kelley was a true professional to the end, seeing his final column posted during his last day on Earth. Thank you Jim.
The Night that Was:
Things seemed to be going well for the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. When Tyler Bozak registered an assist on Kris Versteeg’s first-period goal, it was his first since October 15. Then Nikolai Kulemin potted two more goals (his second two-goal game in four contests) and Joey Crabb drew his first point as a Maple Leaf on Kulemin’s second. But, like last season, things fell apart for the Leafs late. Martin St. Louis put home two goals, one being a heart-breaker with just nine seconds left, and in overtime Luke Schenn turned the puck over deep in Tampa’s zone, springing the Lightning the other way as Simon Gagne capped off a two-point night with the game-winner. The Leafs have now lost three-straight since winning three of four.
The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues had a twelve-goal affair last night that initially looked like Chicago would have the win easily. After two periods of play the ‘Hawks were up 5-2 thanks to five different goal scorers, but St. Louis started tuning up the band for the comeback. Alex Pietrangelo’s second made it 5-3, and then Brad Boyes chopped it to a one-goal game. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews saved the day though: Each scored their second of the game and 11th of the season to put Chicago up 7-4, with David Backes scoring late (and Pietrangelo netting the assist) for a 7-5 final.
Toronto and Tampa Bay weren’t the only game going to overtime last night, as the Atlanta Thrashers and Colorado Avalanche did the same. Down 1-0 in the second, Matt Duchene and David Jones scored to make it 2-1 Colorado, but Dustin Byfuglien continued his ridiculous play as of late, scoring his tenth to tie it at 2 (Big Buff has goals in five of his last six games). The next goal wouldn’t come until overtime as Byfuglien and Ron Hainsey assisted on Anthony Stewart’s game-winner just under two-minutes in.
The other two matchups both involved Central Division teams. The Predators shut out the Coyotes last night as Shea Weber’s first-period power play goal was the game-winner and Pekka Rinne made 33 saves for the shutout, giving the Preds their first win in four games. Henrik Zetterberg got in on four of Detroit’s five goals in San Jose as the Red Wings downed the Sharks 5-3. Zetterberg had two goals and two assists as both Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle were held off the scoresheet.
What’s on Tonight?
Seven matchups in the NHL tonight. There’s the always-entertaining Boston and Philadelphia rivalry, while Edmonton visits Montreal and Vancouver visits Calgary in two all-Canadian tilts. Florida goes coast-to-coast to visit the Anaheim Ducks, as the Coyotes and Wild square off. Expansion cousins Nashville and Columbus go head-to-head while Ovie, the Capitals, and their new defenseman visit St. Louis.
The Injury Bug:
Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s long-standing battle with concussions seems to be over. Bouchard was cleared of his symptoms yesterday and will play tonight against Phoenix. It’s encouraging to see Bouchard finally be able to get back on the ice after missing over 100 games because of his head injuries.
There was news made available about Marian Hossa’s injury yesterday afternoon: He’ll be out for the next 2-3 weeks with a lower body injury. Jeremy Morin was called up to replace him.
Rumours and News Around the League:
The injury-stricken Avs made a move after publication yesterday, but instead of acquiring another defenseman, they were shipping one out. Veteran Scott Hannan was sent to the Washington Capitals yesterday in exchange for disgruntled and underachieving winger Tomas Fleischmann. The Capitals get what they want in a shut-down defenseman, while the Avalanche get a winger capable of scoring 20 for a very cheap price.
In addition, there’s a curious move being reported. Not from a standpoint of the players, but apparently Rogers Communication is in the process of trying to buy the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, and numerous other assets on the Toronto sports market.. The deal is to buy the majority stake in the enterprise from the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan. Odd that news of this emerged within the same 24-hour span that Richard Peddie said he was retiring.
In despicable news, it was also reported yesterday morning that someone broke into and robbed the car of Line Burns, Pat Burns’ wife, early Monday morning. The felons broke into her car and stole clothes, photos, and mementoes of Burns, including 30 jerseys signed by NHL stars that were to be auctioned off in support of his charity.
The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:
Tomas Kopecky had an outstanding four-point effort last night, but so did David Backes (1 goal and 3 assists), while Vladimir Sobotka had three assists as well. Both Blues also finished with plus-3 ratings as Backes went 7/9 on faceoffs and Sobotka went 3/4.
Speaking of Fantasy, Yahoo! Sports counted down the Top-Ten NHL Moustaches from “Movember”. Check it out!
All photos courtesy of YardBarker Images.
Bryan Thiel is a columnist for TooManyMenOnTheSite.com and Hockey54.com—The Face of the Game! If you want to contact Bryan, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.