Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: The Basement Suite

Well folks, it’s official.

After Tuesday night’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Edmonton Oilers have clinched last place in the NHL’s overall standings.

It was practically inevitable at this point - had they won (which they almost did) they would still have had to win all six of their other remaining games, while hoping the Toronto Maple Laughs lost the rest of their games in regulation.

Keep your chins up though Oilers fans - while finishing last isn’t something to be proud of, it does guarantee the team a top two pick at this summer’s NHL entry draft in Los Angeles and a 48.2% shot at that number one pick.

Should they wind up picking first, who should the Oilers pick? It’s a debate that’s been raging on and on (and on) for months now – Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin?

Both players finished this season with 106 points, though Seguin had eight more goals, but Hall played in six fewer games.

Hall has 123 goals and 280 points in 183 career OHL games with the Windsor Spitfires, while Seguin has put up 69 goals and 173 points in 124 career games with the Plymouth Whalers. Both players are good, strong offensive talents, both players have put up solid numbers…but who should the Oilers pick?

If only there were some type of competition underway where we could see these guys go head-to-head…

Ahh yes…that brings us to the OHL playoffs, where the Spitfires and the Whalers will do battle starting on Thursday night in Windsor. If you want to get a good look at these guys – try to find this series on TV/the interweb.

On the topic of next season – you know that Jaromir Jagr to the Oilers rumor that won’t go away? Here’s the latest:

Russian Hockey Fans reports that Jagr is now saying he wants to spend another season with his current KHL club, Avangard Omsk, and hints that he would even take a pay cut.

“I'm not looking for other teams now. I would like to stay in Avangard, but it's not up to me only… I don't think about the money, that's for my agent. But I will understand if Avangard will reduce its budget. We didn't play like we should. Who can pay big salaries to players which don't give results on ice?”

It wasn’t the most exciting season on record for the Oilers, but it looks like this summer could be a lot of fun as the team figures out its direction for the coming year(s).

My question to you is: If you could subtract from the current roster, where would you start and who would you draft this summer?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week:

The Oilers kicked off the week with a win over the Canucks, but then dropped back-to-back contests against the Ducks and the Blues as they play out the remainder of the season.

Andrew Cogliano scored the game-winner in a 3-2 win over the Canucks and the Oil gave up two late power play goals in a 3-2 loss three nights later to the Ducks. They rounded out the week with a 2-1 loss to the Blues thanks to a third period goal by veteran Keith Tkachuk.

This week:

Edmonton continues a four-game road trip with stops in Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix this week and can play the role of spoiler a bit along the way.

Oilers @ Wings
Tuesday March 30th - Pre game: 4pm, Puck drop: 5:30pm; 630 CHED

-The Edmonton Oilers can sweep their season series with the Red Wings if they can beat them on Tuesday night at the Joe. For whatever reason, the Wings have had a tough time against the last place Oilers, but they need the points right now as they fight for playoff position. Detroit is on a coming into this game, having won five straight and eight of their last nine - vaulting them into a race for fifth with the Nashville Predators.

Oilers @ Stars
Friday April 2nd - Pre game: 5pm, Puck drop: 6:30pm; 630 CHED

-Both teams are playing for pride at this point in the season, but players on both clubs are doing their best to impress their respective coaching staffs right now, with next season in mind. The Stars, like the Oilers, are in a position to ruin the party for other teams these days, but have lost two of their last three coming into this week. Edmonton has taken two of the three meetings so far this season, all of which were one-goal games.

Oilers @ Coyotes
Saturday April 3rd - Pre game: 6:30pm, Puck drop: 8pm; 630 CHED

-The Coyotes are easily the biggest surprise of this season and the last week or two of the year will be the difference between them finishing first overall in the West or not. Coming into this week, the Coyotes are four points back of the Sharks for first in their division and first overall in the conference - wouldn't that be something if they can end up leading the West? Before they meet up with the Oilers, the Coyotes face the Canucks and the Flames.

Who's hot:

Cogliano/Penner/Brule - This has been the best line for the Oilers in the past few weeks; they're putting up points and they've become the go-to guys for the team. Gilbert Brule has put up 16 goals on the season, Andrew Cogliano has saved an otherwise bad season and Dustin Penner is closing in on his first 30-goal season.

What to watch for:

Job Search - Quite a few members of the Edmonton Oilers are playing for a job next season and with less than ten games left on the schedule, it should be interesting to see who steps up. There are some young forwards that could make a statement, a few defensemen that don't have a contract past this season and of course - Jeff Deslaurier and Devan Dubnyk battling in goal.

Springfield's Prospects - Speaking of fighting for jobs - the Springfield Falcons are home to some of the Oilers big up and coming prospects including the likes of Jordan Eberle. Eberle has eight points (3g, 5a) in six games on the farm, while it'll be fun to see how a guy like newly-signed NCAA prospect Jeff Petry works out down there.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: NHLPA approves Headshot Rule; What now?

The NHL Players Association has given the nod of approval to a rule that outlaws blind side hits to the head, at least for the rest of this season.

This means the NHL can now go back and punish players for targeting the head of an opponent – that is, until the league finds another excuse to not punish this type of garbage.

Why do I say that?

Well, the NHL is trying to look proactive on the issue of headshots by making a big deal out of this new rule when they could have been punishing players all along (like they occasionally, but not consistently have been doing).

According to the NHL rulebook, "intent to injure" should result in a match penalty, which comes with a game ejection and a five-minute penalty. Elsewhere in the NHL rulebook, intent to injure is described as “any physical force which a player or goalkeeper knew or should have known could reasonably be expected to cause injury.”

Even a diminutive New York lawyer should have no problem arguing that, for example, Mike Richards knew (or should have known) that if he put his shoulder into the head of an unsuspecting David Booth at a high rate of speed, it would cause injury.

Am I right?

So, they’ve had a rule in place all along that could have been used to protect players like Booth, who missed 45 games, but they didn’t use it. What makes anyone think this ‘new’ hit to the head rule will result in anything of substance?

If you’re confused about what constitutes legal and illegal hits under the new rule, the NHL has released a video with examples of both:







Did anyone else snicker when they saw Richards on Booth and Cooke on Savard in the “illegal” part of that package?

How about when the NHL went vintage and used a Scott Stevens on Eric Lindros hit in the “legal” portion. Gold.

Okay – so to recap, Richards on Booth and Cooke on Savard were both legal hits and now they’re not. Yet, Cooke on Artem Anisimov earlier this season, which is identical to both of those hits if not less severe, warrants a two-game suspension?

To make things even more confusing, despite the fact that it’s one of the least offensive of all the dirty plays we’ve seen this year, James Wisnewski’s hit on Brent Seabrook is worth eight games?

I just don’t get it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Postseason Punishment

Referees have long been known to “put away the whistle” when it comes to playoff hockey, but don’t think that the Ontario Hockey League isn’t still keeping a close eye on things just because the regular season is over.

Just ask the Barrie Colts or the Sudbury Wolves.

After handing out some pretty severe suspensions during the season, the OHL is back at it, dishing out 22 games worth of penalties for some incidents that took place in a playoff game between those two clubs on Sunday.

First up is Barrie’s Zac Rinaldo: he’s been suspended for 12 games for a blindside hit on a player coming out from behind the net. Marcus Foligno never saw him coming and fell to the ice clutching his head (though he might want to tighten that chin strap of his). Rinaldo, a prospect of the Philadelphia Flyers, was given five and a game for the hit.






The youngest of the Staal brothers and his Sudbury teammate were given five games each for what the league called on ice “bullying” during their team’s 6-2 loss.

Jared Staal was penalized for slashing and crosschecking a Barrie player and was given a game misconduct. Kain Allicock received a double game misconduct for an exchange with Barrie captain Stefan Della Rovere.

Just before a face-off in the Colts zone, Della Rovere skates up next to Allicock and does something to flick the crazy switch, because the Wolves forward seems to lose his mind out of nowhere.

Allicock attacks the Barrie captain and gets another shot in even once he’s tied up by the officials. He also got in trouble for abuse of an official because they couldn’t calm him down afterwards.






There are reports that a racial slur may have been used by Della Rovere, but Allicock simply said “no comment” when asked about the accusation.

This is just another example of junior hockey coming down a lot harder on players than the NHL does.

The Barrie Colts go for the series sweep tonight.

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Instigator?

At this time of the year, a lot of games have what people will call a real “playoff atmosphere,” and Tuesday night’s tilt between the Flyers and Senators was no exception.

With all the talk of a lack of respect in the game these days and players in vulnerable positions getting hit, there’s one incident I’d like to focus on here.

Less than 20 seconds into the third period Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov drilled Simon Gagne sorta from behind along the boards.

The breakout pass comes from the Philadelphia zone to a waiting Gagne at centre ice; he bounces the puck off the boards in what is a pretty routine play, turning towards the boards as he does so. That’s when Volchenkov lays into him, sending the oft-injured forward crashing face first into the rink side advertisements.

The real injustice here is that when Gagne went after Volchenkov at the end of the play, which Ottawa scored on, he wound up with 19 minutes in penalties (five for fighting, a ten minute misconduct and two instigator penalties). Check out the video:


To me, that’s one of those hits where the defending player should ease up when he sees the other guy turn. The best part of this clip is something one of the Sportsnet broadcasters says during the replays:

“You know he’s coming and you turn your back - why would you trust somebody not to hit you?”

Why would you trust somebody not to hit you if you’re in a vulnerable position? How about: why would a guy see you in a vulnerable position and still hit you?

The worst part is, Ottawa ended up with a seven-minute power play.

What do you think? Was it a dirty hit? Should Gagne have received 19 penalty minutes? Is there no respect in the game anymore?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week:

The Oilers went 2-2 in four games last week, snapping a five game losing streak with wins over traditional western conference powers on Friday and Sunday.

In a battle of the conference basement, the Oil fell 5-3 to the Blue Jackets on Monday and dropped a 4-2 decision to the Wild the next night. Things changed for the better on Friday though, in a 3-2 shootout win over the Red Wings which (finally) gave goalie Devan Dubnyk his first career win.

They wrapped things up with a dominant 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, as Dubnyk improved his record to 2-8-2.

This week:

Edmonton wraps up a four-game homestand with games against Vancouver and Anaheim before traveling to St. Louis to begin a stretch of four straight road games.

The Oilers come into this week, the third last week of the season, eleven points out of second last Toronto in the overall standings with ten games left on the schedule. Edmonton is the only team officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Canucks @ Oilers
Tuesday March 23rd - Pre game: 5:30pm, Puck drop: 7pm; 630 CHED

-The Oilers are 1-3-1 so far in five meetings with the Northwest division leading Canucks this season, heading into this final meeting between the two clubs. Since their record 14-game road trip on either side of the Olympic break, the Canucks have won three of five, with points in four of those games. So far this season Vancouver is averaging 3.27 goals per game, which is second behind only the Washington Capitals (3.93). The Sedin twins have been huge for their team so far this month, putting up 31 points between them in 11 games, and Mikael Samuelsson has also been very productive with nine goals and 13 points in nine games. Ryan Kesler is another player that has played very well following the Olympics with 12 points in 11 games. All in all, the Canucks are a dangerous team right now as they get set for a playoff run. Roberto Luongo has been solid in goal for most of the season, as he closes in on his second career 40-win campaign.

Ducks @ Oilers
Friday March 26th - Pre game: 5:30pm, Puck drop: 7pm; 630 CHED

-Coming into this week, the Anaheim Ducks sit nine points out of a playoff spot in the West, behind Detroit, Calgary and St. Louis in the battle for position. The Ducks have won four in a row though and are 2-0 this season against the Oil, including a 7-3 win in their last meeting on February 14th. Anaheim has a very potent offence with players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan leading the charge. Getzlaf has 69 points in 64 games and is one goal away from his fourth straight 20-goal season. Right behind him is Perry with 24 goals and 68 points, and Bobby Ryan is having a very solid second season with 31 goals, tying his career high, and 56 points in 70 games. In net, Jonas Hiller is a goalie that is capable of shutting the door on opposition players, with a 2.75 GAA and .917 save percentage in 55 games this season.

Oilers @ Blues
Sunday March 28th - Pre game: 2:30pm, Puck drop: 4pm; 630 CHED

-While the Oilers aren't battling for a playoff spot, the Blues are a team that is on the cusp and still has a shot at that eighth spot in the Western Conference. One point up on the Ducks coming into this week, St. Louis is eight points back and plays Detroit, on Wednesday which will be a big game for them if they can win it. They've lost three of their last five coming into this week though and they play six of their last 10 games at home, where they are six games under the .500 mark. The Blues are led by Andy McDonald, who has 21 goals and 47 points this season, but they've got nine players with at least 12 goals this season, which shows a bit of offensive diversity. Chris Mason gets most of the reps in goal for St. Louis and has a 21-21-8 record this season, with a 2.59 GAA and a .911 save percentage. The Blues need literally every point that's still up for grabs if they want to play beyond game number 82, so this should be hard fought game.

Who's hot:

Andrew Cogliano - The young forward hasn't had a great season, but he's been on fire lately. In the past six games, Cogliano has three goals and seven points playing with Gilbert Brule and Dustin Penner.

Dustin Penner - When Penner is hot, the Oilers have a shot. Penner also has seven points in his last six games, and combined with Brule and Cogliano, that line has 18 points in that stretch.

Aaron Johnson - The 26-year-old has five points in his last seven games and he is logging pretty serious numbers on the blue line for the Oil, who are thin on defenders right now. Johnson is playing for a job next season, and so far, is doing a great job.

What to watch for:

The Win Column - The Oil haven't been able to put together more than two consecutive wins since that five-game stretch in early December. With another two-game win streak on the go, can they make it happen?

Win and You're In - Rookie goalies Jeff Deslaurier and Devan Dubnyk have been playing until they lose for the last little while, but Head Coach Pat Quinn says that might not be the case anymore if the team strings together some more wins. For both goalies, this is their last shot of the season to show the coaching staff what they've got.

Eberle's production - Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle is putting up big numbers down in Springfield, which should be music to the ears of Oilers fans. In three games, Eberle has three goals on seven shots and six total points with a plus-three rating.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Another Headshot

For the third time this season, a player in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is facing a serious suspension for what might be an interference penalty in the NHL.

Moncton Wildcats winger Scott Trask was assessed a major penalty and handed an indefinite suspension for a blow to the head of Saint John Sea Dogs forward Aidan Kelly with less than five minutes to go in a 5-2 Moncton win.

As you’ll see in the video below, Kelly is skating the puck out of his own end when Trask makes a quick cut and catches him with a shoulder to the side of the head, sending him right to the canvas.






You know what that hit reminds me of?

Photobucket

It’s very clear that the powers that be in the world of major junior hockey take head shots a lot more seriously than they do in the NHL. In the three hits in the above picture, a player seeks out another player that doesn’t see him coming and goes right for the head.

None of those hits resulted in anything more than a two-game suspension. It’s a different story in the ranks of major junior though.

Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward Patrice Cormier was suspended for the rest of the season plus the playoffs in late January, Val d’Or Foreurs defenseman Marco Scandella was suspended for 15 games in early February and now Trask faces a similar punishment, all for blows to the head.

In the Ontario Hockey League, Erie Otters forward Ben Fanelli was suspended for the rest of the season plus playoffs back in October and Zack Kassian of the Windsor Spitfires was suspended for 20 games, also for headshots.

The most any NHLer has sat out for targeting the head of an opponent this season is three games, and even then, they’ve decided that some blindside headshots are okay and some aren’t.

While we’re talking about suspensions and the “consistency” that the NHL preaches, can someone tell me why one of these hits is a four game suspension and one is a two game suspension?










So, Lapierre hits Scott Nichol, who missed one game, and gets a four game ban and Ovie gets two games for putting Brian Campbell out for up to two months.

Does that make sense to anyone?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week:

After snapping a three-game losing skid with back-to-back wins, the Edmonton Oilers went 0-3 against Canadian competition in three games last week.

It started with a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, the second time in a week that the Oil were tied headed into third period and were heavily outshot. Two days later, the Oilers bounced back with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens and they rounded out the week with a 6-4 loss in Toronto.

This week:

The Oilers wrap up a four-game road trip with games in Columbus and Minnesota before returning home to face the Red Wings and Sharks in the first two of four straight home games.

Oilers @ Blue Jackets
Monday March 15th - Pre game: 3:30pm, Puck drop: 5pm; 630 CHED

-The Blue Jackets have won two of six since the Olympic break and, like the Oilers, are a team that is well out of the playoff picture heading into the home stretch. This will be the final matchup of the season between these two clubs, with the Oil looking to even the season series at two each. Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash is out with a lower body injury, which takes Columbus’ leading scorer out of the picture. Nash leads the team in scoring with 28 goals and 57 points, followed by Antoine Vermette’s 52 points and Kristian Huselius’ 49 points. In net, the Jackets have gone between Steve Mason and Mathieu Garon all season – Mason’s second year in the league hasn’t been what anyone expected though, which is part of the reason the team has fallen off a bit this season.

Oilers @ Minnesota
Tuesday March 16th - Pre game: 4:30pm, Puck drop: 6pm; 630 CHED

-The Minnesota Wild have won two in a row after dropping four straight games, including a pair of divisional games. They’re now eight points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and desperate for wins as their postseason hopes fade fast. Wild captain Mikko Koivu leads the team in scoring with 62 points in 68 games, while Guillaume Latendresse holds the team lead in goals with 25 (23 since joining the Wild). Nik Backstrom is Minnesota’s starting goaltender and is always a tough goalie to beat when he’s on his game. Josh Harding has started the last three games though, with Backstrom nursing a groin injury.

Red Wings @ Oilers
Friday March 19th - Pre game: 6pm, Puck drop: 7:30pm; 630 CHED

-The Detroit Red Wings are in an unfamiliar spot these days – battling for a playoff spot late in the season. After a 2-2-2 month of February though, the Wings have turned it on in the month of March so far putting up a 6-2-0 record to move three points clear of the Calgary Flames for eighth in the West (as of Tuesday). The Oilers have beaten the Red Wings both times the two teams have met this season, but the Wings need the points more than ever right now. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk leads the team in scoring with 57 points and has goals in five of his last six games and 11 points in his last nine games. Henrik Zetterberg is tied for the team lead in points and defenseman Nik Lidstrom has really turned it on in the last 25 or so games. The Wings are always a dangerous team, but consistency has been tough for them this year. In goal, Jimmy Howard is starting to come into his own, making the bulk of starts this season.

Sharks @ Oilers
Sunday March 21st - Pre game: 4:30pm, Puck drop: 6pm; 630 CHED

-The San Jose Sharks have cemented their position as one of the league’s elite teams and they’ve been one of the teams this season that you really don’t want to play if you’re struggling on the defensive end of things. The Sharks have six players with at least 40 points on the season and are coming off a recent win that saw them put up eight goals against the stingy Predators. Like a few of the other top teams, I’m not totally convinced about San Jose’s goaltending. Evgeni Nabokov is obviously a good goalie, but he’s looked very human at times this season (like Russia’s 7-3 loss to Canada). The Oilers better come to play on Sunday, otherwise this one could get embarrassing.

Who’s hot:

Dustin Penner – The Oilers winger leads the team in scoring in March with 6 points in eight games and has been playing a lot better since being paired with Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule (they had six points each too). That line could be key to any further success for the Oil.

Robert Nilsson – The 25-year-old has goals in two of his last three games coming into Tuesday night’s tilt against the Wild. If Nilsson is able to provide some secondary scoring, it could be key for the Oil.

Aaron Johnson – The deadline day acquisition put up two points in that loss to the Blue Jackets and has goals in back to back games and four points in his last four games. Good stuff!

What to watch for:

The Eberle Watch – The Edmonton Oilers assigned prospect Jordan Eberle to the Springfield Falcons on Monday, after his WHL season came to a close (50g, 106pts in 57 games). Will the team call him up to the big league?

The Battle in Net – Jeff Deslaurier and Devan Dubnyk are playing musical chairs in net with the coaching staff taking a “win and you’re in” mentality. The problem is, they are both still playing a lot, which tells us no one is playing that great.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

Tyson/Holyfield III?

Believe it or not, Mike Tyson is set to return to a boxing ring near you (if you live somewhere near Las Vegas, that is).

Yes, according to RingSideReport.com, “Iron Mike” is preparing to fight for the first time since an embarrassing loss in 2005 and it could be against Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, who is set to fight Francois Botha later this month.

The man behind the comeback is, of course, promoter Don King and he has apparently spoken to both sides about the possible fight.

Here’s how far the heavyweight division of boxing has fallen: a fight between a 43-year-old and a 47-year-old is garnering more attention than anything else going on in the sport right now!

Maybe they can get Chris Chelios to ref the thing…

Lights Out

Speaking of 40-something boxers, James “Lights Out” Toney signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC last week.

His first opponent hasn’t been announced yet, but months of following organization president Dana White around has finally paid off for the 41-year-old, who has won 72 of his 81 pro fights.

Sportsnet’s Showdown Joe Ferraro predicts we could see Toney and Kimbo Slice in the octagon as soon as May 8th in Montreal at UFC 113.

One thing the UFC should be (at least slightly) concerned about when it comes to Toney is the potential damage the NABO and IBA champion could potentially do to the sport. He has been suspended in the past for positive steroid tests, which is the last thing Dana White needs.

If Mike Tyson’s comeback goes well, I wonder how long it’ll be before we see him trying MMA on for size.

Going out on top…

One thing nobody likes to see is a boxer staying in the game until he is past his ‘best before’ date – but that doesn’t look like it’ll be a problem for Manny Pacquiao.

The 31-year-old, who is considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, is getting ready to fight Joshua Clottey on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium – and it could be the last time he steps in the ring.

Pacquiao is running for a congressional seat in the Philippines as we speak, telling ESPN recently “I want to be a good public servant. I want to help people.”

If he’s elected, he’ll be a boxing champ, politician, commercial pitchman and movie star – and the guy can sing too:






Talbot can’t fight

I’m not usually a very big Sean Avery fan, but he did something pretty hilarious last week in a 5-4 Rangers loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With just less than 12 minutes to go in the third period, Avery hit Pens forward Max Talbot after the whistle…which is pretty much par for the course when it comes to New York’s super pest.

What happened next was pure comedy though: Talbot threw some kind of two-handed slap-punch at Avery, who then mocked him all the way to the penalty box:






Love him or hate him - that was pretty funny stuff!

Aussie Rules

Sure, you’ve got to be crazy to play Aussie Rules Football, but now the league is making it so that you’ve also got to be crazy to try and cheat…

The Australian Football League will soon become the first sport in Australia to test for human growth hormone and a new form of the drug EPO.

On top of that, they’ll be freezing blood samples and storing them for up to eight years so that as technology develops, they can retroactively penalize players that test positive.

That news comes a couple of weeks after Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced plans to start testing minor league players for HGH. Before those tests can be brought to the Majors though, the players union has to agree.

Honestly, I think they should be testing for everything when it comes to baseball. I bet even the owners take steroids.

If you care…

Apparently Tiger Woods is planning to return to golf soon…some reports say he’ll be back for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Associated Press says he’ll be back for the Masters.

Oh, and if you're a fan of Major League Soccer you won't like this news - the players have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if a new CBA isn't reached with the league before March 25th (the start of the season).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: The Wheel of Justice Revisited

On the very same day that the NHL general managers announced their idea for a rule change addressing headshots in hockey, the league reminded us of the other problem it has: the “Wheel of Justice.”

NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell followed up the GM’s headshot recommendation by telling reporters that Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke, who gave Boston’s Marc Savard a grade-two concussion with a blindside hit last Sunday, would not face suspension.

Why? Campbell said the ruling was “based on consistency involving similar incidents,” at which point I rolled my eyes and fired up YouTube.

Before we even get started on the video evidence, lets discuss the level of consistency the NHL has shown when it comes to headshots this season.

In late October, Philly’s Mike Richards put Florida’s David Booth out of action for 45 games with a blindside hit and wasn’t suspended. About a month later, Matt Cooke leveled the Rangers’ Artem Anisimov in a hit that’s practically identical to the one involving Marc Savard…and guess what? He was suspended for two games.

So here we have two hits where players were stretchered off the ice and missed/will miss significant time (assuming Savard is done for the season, as some reports have indicated), and one hit where the player got up on his own and played in his team’s next game.














Amazingly, the latter is the one where a suspension was handed out. Even more amazingly, that makes Cooke a repeat offender for the exact type of hit he laid of Savard – yet the league bases their decision on the fact that Richards wasn’t suspended. That makes no sense.

Further to that point, when the league talks about consistency, they seem to forget the handful of suspensions they’ve dished out this season for pretty similar incidents.

For example: Calgary’s Curtis Glencross on Chris Drury of the NY Rangers. This blindside hit in early November landed Glencross a three game suspension.






Later that month Philly’s Danny Briere smoked Colorado’s Scott Hannan right after the Avalanche defenseman took a shot on goal and scored. Briere leaves his feet, but I think it was the blindside aspect of it that hit that caused the league to sit Briere down for two games.






Here we have an interesting one involving Mike Green of the Washington Capitals. Florida’s Cory Stillman hits Green from his blind spot and later in the play, Green evens things up by doing the same thing to Michael Frolik…just with a little more elbow. Green was suspended for three games.






In closing, I’d just like to reiterate that the NHL has punished hits like the one Matt Cooke laid on Marc Savard with suspensions earlier in the season – including one on Cooke himself for basically the same thing…which makes him a repeat offender.

The NHL can add all the rules it wants to try and take headshots out of the game, but until guys like Colin Campbell take it seriously, nothing will change and eventually, someone won’t get up after a hit like that.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: That’s a Penalty (pending approval)!

The next time you see a player get blasted with a blindside shoulder to the head during an NHL game, you can rest easy knowing that there will be at least a minor penalty.

That is, if the league, the Players Association and the Board of Governors approve a recommendation put forward by the NHL's general managers to penalize "lateral, back or blindside hits."

With some reports pegging the average number of concussions per season in the NHL over the past three years at about 70, it’s definitely the right time to discuss ways of changing that. While headshots don’t account for all concussions, there’s no question they are part of the problem.

Here’s the exact wording the GM’s went with:

“A lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and or the principal point of contact is not permitted. A violation of the above will result in a minor or major penalty and shall be reviewed for possible supplemental discipline.”

So next season if (for example) Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke decides to level an unsuspecting Bruins player like Marc Savard, he’ll get at least a minor penalty (while Savard will likely get at least a concussion and miss at least a few games).






That hit was timed perfectly – as in, right before the GM meetings, ensuring the topic was fresh in the minds of everyone. I’m sure that’s why Cooke did it.

I think the hope here is that the potential new rule will end the discrepancy between hits like that one from Cooke and the equally vicious Mike Richards hit on Florida’s David Booth – Cooke escaped without even a minor penalty, while Richards was assessed five and a game (for interference). Neither player was suspended afterwards though (see why here), which is interesting given the fact that Booth missed 45 games as a direct result of the Richards hit.

We won’t see these changes until next season (if they’re passed), but I see this as a step in the right direction for the league. What do you think?

Kerrzy's Notebook: Too Late?

Pittsburgh Penguins captain and Team Canada hero Sidney Crosby is taking some heat south of the border...

No, he's not being accused of whining too much, nor is his offensive output being questioned after not scoring in a couple of (Olympic) games. No, this time Sid the Kid is be criticized for turning down an opportunity to read the Top Ten list on the "Late Show" with David Letterman.

NY Post writer Larry Brooks said on Sunday that Crosby blew the NHL's "golden chance" by snubbing the long-time late night host, also pointing out that last summer Crosby turned down NBC's "Today" show after winning the Cup - leaving him one rejection short of the American hat trick.

Golden chance for what? Brooks is acting like reading the Top Ten on Letterman is the ticket to getting NHL hockey back onto ESPN (or like he’d be the first NHLer to do it).

Brooks writes:

“It's difficult to understand why the NHL's most recognizable player and ambassador refused to spread the gospel” in the days after so many people in the US and Canada watched the Olympic final between the two countries.

Who cares? Is Sidney Crosby appearing on the “Late Show” going to put hockey over the cusp in the US? Get real!

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero (and anyone from Hockey Canada, if you asked them I’m sure) backed up Crosby, telling The Canadian Press:

"At some point there's a responsibility, that he takes very seriously, about being a hockey player and preparing. To me, any criticism for Sidney isn't warranted. He does so much for the game, so much for the league. He's trying to do it all and it's unfortunate he can't do it all. But he does a lot. There's no one in the history of the game, (not) Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, that's done more to promote the NHL than Sidney Crosby."

That last comment might be a bit of a stretch, but there’s no question Crosby has done a lot for he game in his short time at the top.

Larry Brooks suggests the NHL is “miffed” by the snub of Letterman – but I honestly don’t see how they could be upset at him. This seems to be the type of ‘grasping at straws’ story that gets guys like NY Rangers coach John Tortorella riled up.

I think some Americans are still just a little choked about losing that gold medal.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week:

The Edmonton Oilers began last week with back-to-back losses and wrapped it up with two straight wins, as they added and subtracted players from the lineup at the trade deadline.

On Tuesday Denis Grebeshkov, who the Oilers dealt to Nashville a day before, burned his old club with a two-point night in a 4-3 Predators win. A day later, the Chicago Blackhawks scored three third period goals in a 5-2 win over the Oil, who dealt two veteran blue liners away earlier that afternoon.

After two days to regroup and get new bodies like defensemen Ryan Whitney and Aaron Johnson in the lineup, the Oilers beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout on Friday and followed that up with a 2-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Another newcomer, Ryan Jones, suffered a sprained knee against the Wild and is out for four weeks.

This Week:

It's an all-Canadian week for the Edmonton Oilers this week as they get set to host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday before visits to Montreal and Toronto on Thursday and Saturday, as the team looks for it's first three-game win streak since the second week of December.

Senators @ Oilers
Tuesday March 9th - Pre game: 5:30pm, Puck drop: 7pm; 630 CHED

-It’s been an interesting start to the year for the Senators – they lost six in a row and then eleven straight in January and early February. They then won three of five, followed by three straight losses coming into this week’s action. Much of their success came when forward Jason Spezza was on a roll, scoring 15 points in 11 games. He’s not their only offensive weapon though – Daniel Alfredsson leads Ottawa in scoring with 51 points, followed by Alex Kovalev at 47. In terms of goal scoring, Milan Michalek has 21, with Mike Fisher right behind him at 20. In all, the Sens have five players with at least 15 goals. Brian Elliot and Pascal Leclaire have both played at least 30 games, with Elliot posting the better record and statistics. The Sens are in a tight battle for the Northeast division with the Buffalo Sabres, sitting just two points back.

Oilers @ Canadiens
Thursday March 11th - Pre game: 4pm, Puck drop: 5:30pm; 630 CHED

-The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to even their season series with the Oilers when the two teams meet on Thursday – they’ll also be looking to keep a hold of their playoff spot in the East. Right now, they’re just one point up on the eighth place Bruins and three points ahead of the ninth place Rangers. Coming into this week, the Habs have won three of four and face the Lightning before their tilt with the Oil. Montreal is led offensively by forward Tomas Plekanec, who has 62 points in 67 games this season. The Habs have seven players with at least 11 goals – one of those guys is Mike Cammalleri, who is currently sitting out with an injury. Montreal has had troubles in goal as both Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak have been good and bad this season – Halak has a better record but they’ve both had their moments.

Oilers @ Maple Leafs
Saturday March 13th - Pre game: 3:30pm, Puck drop: 5pm; 630 CHED

-The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers are the two bottom teams in the NHL and both clubs are playing for pride at this point – but you know players on both sides will want to win on the national stage of Hockey Night in Canada! The Leafs have won just once in their last six games and just six times in all of 2010, one more win than the Oil. Toronto has made big changes in the past couple of weeks, but their main pieces are still there – Phil Kessel has the most goals on the team (22), and is second in points (42), behind Tomas Kaberle who has 46 points. Jonas Gustavsson is the clear number one in T.O. now that Vesa Toskala has been shipped out of town; J.S. Giguere has been pretty brutal in the few games he has started for the Leafs.

Who's hot:

Gilbert Brule - Brule potted the game-winner against the Devils on Sunday and has five points in his last five games for 30 points on the season. Oilers coach Pat Quinn has said he likes what he's seeing from the Edmonton native and wants to see him develop into a solid two-way player.

Mike Comrie - Comrie has two goals in his last three games plus a shootout winner in the Minnesota game and three points in his last four outings. If Comrie is producing offensively, that's an obvious plus for the team.

What to watch for:

The Battle in Goal - With jobs on the line, look for one of Edmonton's goalies to emerge as the number one guy. It appears to be Jeff Deslaurier right now, but neither he nor Devan Dubnyk has shown enough consistency at this point to call it a sure thing. The coaching staff has said on several occasions that one guy has to step up, but who will it be?

Follow the Leader - Oilers coach Pat Quinn spoke to reporters at length about leadership on Monday, so who will be the players that emerge as the leaders of this team in the last part of the season? The Oil are playing good hockey in the last couple of games, but who will take charge and keep the team consistent?

New Faces - The team welcomed three new faces at the trade deadline in Ryan Whitney, Ryan Jones and Aaron Johnson. Whitney is an obvious top-line defenseman, but Johnson will also be playing some big minutes as he tries to show the coaches that he's worth keeping around after this season. Unfortunately, Jones is out for four weeks with a sprained knee after that Derek Boogaard hit. Another possibility? Jordan Eberle could make his Oilers debut after the WHL season ends in mid-March.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Random Friday Thoughts

Special Delivery

Thanks to the efforts of Sidney Crosby and the rest of Canada's gold medal winning hockey team, it looks like Prime Minister Stephen Harper won't have to go on a beer run this weekend if he decides to let loose.

That's because US President Barack Obama owes him a case of Molson Canadian, according to the Vancouver Sun, who say it's part of a friendly wager between the two leaders. He wasn't the only one of his staff to lose a bet though - White House press secretary Robert Gibbs lost a pair of bets with Harper's spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, on the Canada/USA women's final and went double or nothing for the men's final.

In addition to the suds, Gibbs will now have to wear a Team Canada jersey during one of his daily on-camera briefings.

Had the Americans prevailed last Sunday, Harpo would have had to buy Obama a 2-4 of American beer - though if he was smart, Obama would have asked for the Canadian stuff too!

Missing Gear (again)

If you're planning to head to the Hockey Hall of Fame sometime soon to see the stick that Crosby used to score that overtime winner against the States - don't hold your breath!

For the second time in his international hockey career, Sid the Kid has had some post-championship gear stolen.

You might remember back in 2005 when someone swiped his Team Canada jersey on the way home from a win at the World Junior Hockey Championships in North Dakota (it was later found in a mailbox outside a Quebec post office). Well, Crosby is now missing the gloves and stick he used to score Sunday's deciding goal, which he jubilantly threw up in the air moments after beating Ryan Miller with a low shot.

If you watch the replay closely, he takes his mouth guard out with one of his gloved hands and then throws his arms in the air, shedding the mitts in the process. When the HHOF came calling, Hockey Canada had to tell them they didn't know where Crosby's gear was!

I heard him say in an interview earlier this week that he actually got the mouth guard back somehow, which is actually a little bit strange.

As for the Hall of Fame, Hockey Canada says they ended up just giving them some equipment from other players.

Dmitry Madvedev!

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took his frustration out on his country's top Olympic officials earlier this week as the 2010 Winter Games came to a close with Russia earning just three gold medals and 15 overall - their worst showing since (if you'd believe it) 1912!

That, along with his country's hockey team falling flat on its face against Team Canada, didn't sit too well with the President. He called for the resignation of Russia's "sports bureaucrats," saying the country's sports pyramid should be turned upside down, according to CNN.

Before the games started, Russia was predicting a top three finish with at least 30 medals and they had one bronze after the first week - and we thought we were doing bad!

It only took a few days for the first guy to take Medvedev's advice - on Wednesday, the president of Russia's Olympic Committee, Leonid V. Tyagachev gave his two weeks. Apparently the money that's supposed to be going to the athletes doesn't always get there, says the NY Times.

That, my friends, is why playing in the KHL may not be the best call!

Performance Enhancing?

The blog With Leather posed an interesting question earlier this week when Steve Holcomb won the USA its first medal in the four-man bobsleigh since 1948 - what constitutes performance enhancing?

Holcomb didn't (as far as we know) take steroids or HGH or any other banned substance and his bobsleigh didn't have a motor in it or anything like that, but he did undergo a procedure which definitely enhanced his performance - he had laser eye surgery back in 2000.

A Sports Illustrated feature on Holcomb says he suffers from a degenerative eye disorder that causes streaking and blurring, and the eye surgery only helped his cause for a little while. By 2007, his vision was bad again and so he opted for a "radical procedure" which isn't yet approved by the FDA.

If Holcomb couldn't see, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be very successful on the ol' bobsleigh.

Does that, or should that count as performance enhancing? There's definitely a valid argument there if you think about it - but what do you think?

Co-Ed Practice

Here’s an interesting bit of news I stumbled upon this week – the WNBA’s (Women’s National Basketball Association’s) Phoenix Mercury are holding tryouts for an all-male practice squad later this month.

Coach Corey Gaines says the team is looking to fill a 15-man squad, who will scrimmage and train with the team.

"I encourage any man who thinks he is on the same level or even thinks he can outplay the women from the Mercury to put his skills to the test and tryout for the practice team," he told AZCentral.com.

If you make the team, you’ll get a new pair of basketball shoes and tickets to a Suns and a Mercury game. If you don’t end up making the team, you still get a boxed lunch and a complimentary t-shirt.

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal either way!

One more thing…

I found this pretty funny feature on ESPN yesterday featuring the worst banners found in the rafters of North American stadiums and arenas.

Usually, that part of the roof is reserved for retired jersey and/or championship banners, but as you’ll see, that’s not always the case.

An example? The Washington Mystics proudly displace their 2002 and 2003 WNBA Attendance Champions flag. The Oilers even feature in this one!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: D-Day Blog

Just days after most of our country sat down to watch Canada beat the US in dramatic fashion to take home the gold medal at the Olympics - hockey fans have something else to look forward to...yes folks, it's trade deadline day!

Right up there with the start of the season and the start of free agency, the trade deadline is one of the most anticipated days of the year. Some years it's exciting, other years it's a bit dull, but you never know until it's all over. This year a few of the big names were dealt way before the deadline, like Ilya Kovalchuk and Dion Phaneuf, but there's still plenty that can happen.

Check back here for updates and analysis on whatever happens (starting as soon as I wake up in the morning!).

- - - - -

TRADE: Oilers deal Visnovsky

-The Edmonton Oilers have acquired defenseman Ryan Whitney and a sixth round pick from the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.

Personally, I’m sad to see Visnovsky go because I think he’s been one of the team’s best, most consistent players. He hasn’t put up less than 31 points since before the lockout and he’s got 10 goals in 57 games this season. On the other hand, things didn’t work out for Whitney in Anaheim after a couple of very strong seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. If Edmonton is a good fit for Whitney, perhaps he can get back to the form that saw him put up 59 points in 2006-07.

TRADE: Oilers trade Staios to Calgary

-The Edmonton Oilers have traded veteran defenseman Steve Staios for Aaron Johnson and a conditional third round pick.

This deal has a lot to do with the Oilers dumping salary and the team looking to shake things up by getting rid of some of its veterans. Staios has been with the Oilers since 2001, but has just seven points and a minus-19 rating in 40 games this season. Again though, this move has a lot to do with the team dumping salary, which was an issue that lots of people have said was making it tough for Edmonton to make many deals today.

TRADE: Boyd joins Preds

-The Calgary Flames have sent forward Dustin Boyd to the Nashville Predators for a fourth round pick.

Boyd has 19 points in 60 games this season with the Flames, his third full season with the Flames. I think he’s developing into a strong young forward and will be a good fit with a Predators team that I think has made itself a tough club to beat in the last few years.
TRADE: Eriksson goes to Broadway
-The NY Rangers have acquired defenseman Anders Eriksson for goalie Miika Wiikman and a seventh rounder in 2011.
TRADE: Nokelainen to the 'Yotes
-The Anaheim Ducks have traded forward Petteri Nokelainen to the Phoenix Coyotes for a sixth round pick in this year's draft.
TRADE: Picard to Phoenix

-The Phoenix Coyotes have swapped minor league forwards with the Columbus Blue Jackets, sending Chad Kolarik to Ohio for Alexandre Picard.

TRADE: Yelle back to Colorado

-The Colorado Avalanche have brought Stephane Yelle back to Denver, along with forward Harrison Reed, for Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll and a conditional sixth round pick.

Late in his career, Yelle returns to the team he started with in a deal involving a couple of minor-leaguers. Not much else to say, really.

TRADE: Peluso joins Leafs

-The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired a sixth round pick for defenseman Chris Peluso.

TRADE: Panthers get Roy

-The Florida Panthers have traded college prospect Matt Rust to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Mathieu Roy.

TRADE: Alberts to Vancouver

-The Vancouver Canucks have acquired defenseman Andrew Alberts for a third round pick.

Alberts is a depth guy for the Canucks to maybe fill some holes with guys like Willie Mitchell injured.

TRADE: Ducks acquire another goalie

-Joey Macdonald is the newest member of the Anaheim Ducks, with a seventh round pick in 2011 going the other way.

Macdonald is a minor-league goalie with fairly limited NHL experience. This season with the Toronto Marlies, he has an 11-17-3 record with one shutout – not great stats, but the Ducks didn’t give up much for him.

TRADE: Kings get Modin

-The LA Kings have acquired defenseman Fredrik Modin for future considerations from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Once again, the Kings pick up a veteran defenseman, albeit one who has seen limited action in the past few seasons. Since the lockout, his offensive production has dropped off significantly, however the Kings may be doing what a lot of other teams did today – looking to a veteran guy to maybe play a leadership role down the stretch.

TRADE: Caps add veteran d-man

-The Washington Capitals have brought defenseman Joe Corvo into the mix, with Brian Pothier and prospect Oskar Osala going to Carolina.

Corvo had 38 points last season with the ‘Canes, which is two off of his career high of 40, set in 2005-06. He’s a solid defensive player but has only played 34 games so far this season. It’s clear the Caps are trying to get a strong veteran presence in their lineup on the road to the playoffs.

TRADE: Stempniak to the ‘Yotes

-The Toronto Maple Leafs have dealt Lee Stempniak to the Phoenix Coyotes for fourth and seventh round draft picks.

Stempniak was brought to Toronto to be a goal scorer and he has failed to live up to the bill with just 25 goals in 123 games with the Leafs. With this deal Toronto continues to stockpile draft picks.

Side Note: Reports say Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray, who the team may have hoped to trade despite a broken hand keeping him out of the lineup, is done for the season because of an infection in his hand. ALSO - the Nashville Predators say Dan Hamhuis will not be traded.

TRADE: Jurcina goes home

-After being dealt to Columbus earlier this season, Milan Jurcina has been traded BACK to the Washington Capitals for a sixth round draft pick.

Jurcina is an average d-man; strange that he would end up back in Washington after playing 17 games for the Blue Jackets. I hope he didn’t sell his house!

TRADE: Sabres deal MacArthur

-Moments after picking up Raffi Torres, the Buffalo Sabres have sent forward Clarke MacArthur to the Atlanta Thrashers for third and fourth round picks.

MacArthur is in his fourth NHL season with the Buffalo Sabres and is starting to become a reliable secondary scorer, which is always a valuable asset (especially on a team like Atlanta, who just lost its star forward). The Lloydminster native had 17 goals last year in his first full season with the big club and has 13 goals and 26 points in 60 games this season. I can see MacArthur complimenting what the Thrashers currently have offensively (Afinogenov, who he played with in Buffalo, for example).

TRADE: Sabres add grit, occasional scoring

-The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded former Oilers forward Raffi Torres to the Buffalo Sabres for defenseman Nathan Paetsch and a second round draft pick.

Torres has good hands and a good touch around the net but doesn’t necessarily put it to good use consistently enough. He has 19 goals and 31 assists in 60 games this season and 310 points in 418 career games, which makes him a pretty solid second line player. One thing that sets him apart at times is that he can be a vicious hitter when he’s playing physical. The Sabres are an on-again, off-again good team and I like this addition. Nathan Paetsch hasn’t played much in Buffalo this season, so he’ll probably look forward to the chance to get some ice time in Columbus.

TRADE: Flames send backup to Anaheim

-The Anaheim Ducks have acquired Calgary Flames backup goalie Curtis McElhinney in exchange for former Maple Leafs starting goalie Vesa Toskala.

The Flames were a team that had a solid starter that plays most of hs team’s games and a weaker backup that barely ever starts. Adding former Leaf Vesa Toskala gives them a big name and a bit of a one-two punch in goal. Toskala and Miikka Kiprusoff are apparently friends, which is probably good for team chemistry. Toskala had a rough season in Toronto, but pretty much everyone has had a rough season there. This could be a very good fit for the Flames.

TRADE: Caps continue to stock up on depth forwards

-The Washington Capitals have acquired forward Eric Belanger from the Minnesota Wild for a second round pick.

Belanger is a great depth guy for the Capitals – a consistent 30+ point player in the last seven seasons. He has 13 goals and 35 points in 60 games this season so far with the Wild…but the Caps have started to become known for taking average players to the next level.

TRADE: Bolts send d-man to Kings

-The Tampa Bay Lightning are sending defenseman Jeff Halpern to the LA Kings for Ted Purcell and a third rounder.

The Kings add a veteran blue liner who has represented his country at a few World Championships and could possibly help mentor a young player like Drew Doughty. On seven occasions during his career, Halpern has scored at least 10 goals and is sitting on nine right now.

TRADE: Schneider to the Coyotes

-The Vancouver Canucks have dealt disgruntled defenseman Mathieu Schneider to the Phoenix Coyotes for Sean Zimmerman and 6th round pick.

Schneider hasn’t played for the Canucks since December 16th after getting in a fight with the organization. Since then he’s played eight games with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. The one-time 21-goal scorer (2005-06) isn’t the player he was, but is still able to contribute. This gives the Coyotes another veteran defenseman and if they can get him to up his game a bit, he could help the team out. The Canucks have also sent d-men Brad Lukowich to the minors, clearing some more cap space.

TRADE: Minor trade between Wings, Rangers

-The Red Wings send centre Kris Newbury to the Rangers for winger Jordan Owens.

Not a big move, but I’ll write a sentence or two on it! Neither of these guys has any real NHL experience, but Newbury is having a decent year with Grand Rapids of the AHL (33pts, 52 games). Owens has 19 points in 50 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack.

TRADE: Mueller on the Move

-The Phoenix Coyotes have dealt forwards Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter to the Colorado Avalanche for Wojtek Wolski.

Mueller had a great rookie season, but hasn’t really had the same spark since, going from 22 to 13 to just four goals this season. On the other side of things, Wolski has scored as many as 22 goals and as few as 14 so far in his four-ish seasons in the NHL. Both players are former first round picks that could probably benefit from the change of scenery. Kevin Porter won the Hobey Baker award in 2008 and has had two pretty decent seasons in the American Hockey League – a good addition for the Avs.

TRADE: Canucks add Stastny

-Not that Stastny though – Vancouver has traded forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie to St. Louis for Yan Stastny.

Stastny has spent most of this season with the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL, putting up 27 points in 49 games; Labrie has just six points in 45 games with the Manitoba Moose. It appears as though this is a win for the Canucks, but Labrie is still developing.

TRADE: Walker to Washington

-The Carolina Hurricanes have traded winger Scott Walker to the Washington Capitals for a seventh round pick.

Walker adds some grit to an extremely talented Capitals offense, which they addressed earlier with the acquisition of Jason Chimera from Columbus. Walker won’t score you big points, but by all accounts he’s a great character guy that could be more valuable for his off-ice contributions than what he does on the ice.

Waiver News: Oilers claim forward Ryan Jones off of waivers from the Nashville Predators. Jones had seven goals and 11 points in 41 games this season, his second in the NHL. In other waiver wire news, Chris Chelios has cleared waivers, paving the way for his NHL return with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Could the Oilers be adding a forward because they're hoping to unload another? I think Oil fans are hoping that is the case. Jones looks like he's got potential and seems like the type of player that could fit in with some of the team's other young forwards (Brule, Pouliot, etc.) As for Chelios, I think it's great that he's headed back to the NHL potentially. I think playing in his hometown in the AHL has probably recharged him and his passion for playing pro hockey.

Side Note: So far nothing HUGE has happened...things to watch for in the final two hours are what the Oilers are doing (apparently they are working hard to ship at least two players...a deal with the Rangers could be in play). Also, there are tons of players that have been rumored to be on the move in the past few days like Carolina's Ray Whitney - but will anything materialize? This is the last chance for teams to make adjustments before the playoffs...

TRADE: Ducks get Ward

-The Anaheim Ducks send goaltending prospect Justin Pogge and a fourth round pick to Carolina for defenseman Aaron Ward.

Ward is an experienced defender who has three Stanley Cup rings, adding a solid presence on the blue line and another leader in their dressing room. We’re seeing a lot of teams adding experienced depth players a lot so far today.

TRADE: Seidenberg to the Bruins

-The Florida Panthers have dealt Dennis Seidenberg and Matthew Bartkowski for Craig Weller, Byron Bitz and a second round pick.

The Bruins were thin on the blue line, so adding Seidenberg makes sense. Right now, Weller is a minor league player, while Bitz is a 25-year-old who hasn’t scored more than four goals in either of his two NHL seasons.

TRADE: Don’t get comfortable - Skoula to NJ

-Less than 24 hours after being dealt from Pittsburgh to Toronto in the Alex Ponikarovsky deal, Martin Skoula has been traded to the NJ Devils for a fifth round draft pick.

Skoula is a depth defenseman and is a good fit on a defensive team like New Jersey. Toronto seems to be stockpiling draft picks as they try to rebuild the franchise.

TRADE: Morris back to Phoenix

-The Phoenix Coyotes have acquired defenseman Derek Morris to Boston for a conditional pick in 2011.

Morris is a consistent defenseman who has only missed 10 games in the past four seasons. The Coyotes are a great team this year, and bring back a familiar face in this deal.

TRADE: Pens Pony up

-The Pittsburgh Penguins have dealt prospect Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula to the Toronto Maple Leafs for winger Alex Ponikarovsky.

This is a good move for the Penguins - Ponikarovsky is an imposing figure (listed at 6'4, 220lbs) with a good touch around the net - with one more goal this season, he'll have his fourth 20-goal campaign in the five years since the lockout. If he was able to put up pretty good numbers on a struggling team like the Leafs, you'd think he'll be even better with Pittsburgh. Going the other way, Caputi is a good prospect - a one-time 50 goal scorer in the OHL who has 23 goals and 47 points in 54 games in the AHL this season as a 21-year-old. Don't forget, the Leafs have some good prospects in the system already, with another high draft pick likely coming this year. Skoula is a depth defenseman that can probably help the Leafs in that respect.

TRADE: Habs and Blues swap youngsters

-The Montreal Canadiens have traded forward Matt D'Agostini to the St. Louis Blues for forward Aaron Palushaj.

D'Agostini has a huge upside but hasn't had very good numbers for the Habs this season (2g,2a in 40 games). Palushaj has 22 points in 44 games with the Peoria Rivermen after putting up 94 points in 82 games with the University of Michigan from 2007 to 2009.

TRADE: Boynton to the Hawks

-The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired defenseman Nick Boynton from the Anaheim Ducks for future considerations.

First up – I’d hate to be traded for ‘future considerations’ but this is a good move for the Hawks to add some experience and depth to their blue line. During a long run into the playoffs (which Chicago is hoping to have), depth and experience are key.

TRADE: Sens add Sutton

-The Ottawa Senators traded a second round draft pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for defenseman Andy Sutton

This is clearly a move to add some experience to Ottawa’s blue line, which is always a good move when it gets to this point in the season. Sutton is more known for his grittiness than his offense – leading the Isles in hits and blocked shots.

TRADE: Thrashers land Artyukhin

-The Atlanta Thrashers acquired forward Evgeny Artyukhin from the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Nathan Oystrick and a conditional pick in 2011.

In this deal, the Thrashers get a big, strong forward and the Ducks get a young blue liner that could become a bigger part of their team with the right guidance.

TRADE: Oilers deal Denis

-The Edmonton Oilers sent defenseman Denis Grebeshkov to the Nashville Predators for a second round pick.

This could be the first of many deals for the Oilers ahead of the 1pm deadline – or it could be the only move they are able to make. The Predators reaped the benefits of having Grebeshkov right away; he had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win over the Oilers on Tuesday night.

TRADE: Leopold changes teams…again

-The Pittsburgh Penguins added defenseman Jordan Leopold on Monday, sending a second round pick to the Florida Panthers the other way.

Leopold joins his fourth team in two seasons – he’s a former Hobey Barker award winner that was part of the deal that sent Jay Bouwmeester to the Flames. He’s a pretty good defenseman that can definitely add to what the Pens have on the blue line.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week:

Prior to the Olympic break, the Oilers lost three of four games – ending in a 7-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

In February, the Oilers went 3-5-0 after going winless in the month of January (0-10-2). With 21 games left in the season, Edmonton is dead last in the league, five points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs and 16 points out of second last in the West.

This week:

It’s a busy week for the Oilers as they get back to work with a pair of road games and a pair of games at Rexall Place.

The Nashville Predators are up first on Tuesday night, followed by a trip to Chicago to face the Blackhawks the next night. The Oilers return home to take on the Minnesota Wild on Friday and the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

Oilers @ Predators
Tuesday March 2nd – Pre game: 4:30pm, Puck drop: 6pm; 630 CHED

-The Preds come into this game after a so-so month of February that saw them post a 3-2-2 record in seven games, looking to hold onto a playoff spot with a strong showing in the month of March. Nashville currently sits in seventh place, with a one-point lead over their division mates, the Detroit Red Wings. Nashville added some depth to their blue line on Monday by sending a second round pick to the Oilers for defenseman Denis Grebeshkov, who will face his former team immediately. The Preds are 2-1 against Edmonton this season, registering 6-3 and 5-3 wins, after a 6-1 loss in their fourth game of the season. Offensively, the team is led by a group of about six players all within two points of one another – Patric Hornqvist leads the team in goals with 23, but is tied with J.P. Dumont for the team lead in points with 37. Defenseman Shea Weber is right up there with 11 goals and 35 points, providing a threat from the back end. In net, Pekka Rinne has started the bulk of the team’s games, but both he and Dan Ellis have shown signs that they are capable of filling the role of a number one net minder.

Oilers @ Blackhawks
Wednesday March 3rd – Pre game: 5pm, Puck drop: 6:30pm; 630 CHED

-The Chicago Blackhawks are 3-0 against the Oilers this season and have won seven of the last eight meetings between the two clubs, including a 9-2 drubbing last season that no Oiler fan has been able to forget. The Hawks are a highly skilled club that was on a roll heading into the Olympic break, winning four in a row. Fatigue could be an issue for a handful of players that were playing in those Olympics, including captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Kane leads the team in points with 25 goals and 67 points, with Toews a point shy of 50 on the season. Between the pipes, Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi both have around 20 wins this season (24 and 17, respectively) with four shutouts each…though goaltending may be where this team is weakest.

Wild @ Oilers
Friday March 5th – Pre game: 5:30pm, Puck drop: 7pm; 630 CHED

-The Oilers and the Wild meet up for the fourth time this season, though the fact that it’s a divisional game no longer means much due to Edmonton’s place in the standings. The Oil won the first of the three meetings between the two clubs but the Wild, who went 3-3 in February, have taken the last two meetings. Mikko Koivu leads this team offensively with 56 points and is coming off a bronze medal win in Vancouver. Guillaume Latendresse is another offensive weapon for the Wild, with 18 goals and 26 points in 36 games with the team this season. Nik Backstrom is Minnesota’s go-to guy in net and may feel like he has something to prove after backing up Miikka Kiprusoff for Finland at the Olympics.

Devils @ Oilers
Sunday March 7th – Pre game: 4:30pm, Puck drop: 6pm; 630 CHED

-In their only meeting of the season, the Oilers host Martin Brodeur and the NJ Devils on Sunday. The Devils haven’t been at their best in the last two months, but thankfully for them – neither have the Pittsburgh Penguins, with whom they’re in a fierce battle for the Atlantic Division crown. Coming into this week, the Devils had a one point lead, but had lost four of five. Ilya Kovalchuk has yet to make a real impact with his new team, scoring just once in his first six games; Zach Parise has 28 goals and 61 points to lead the club and is coming off a strong performance on the world stage. Like Minnesota’s Nik Backstrom, Martin Brodeur may too feel like he has something to prove after a suspect performance against the US in the Olympics. The Devils are a dangerous club and need all the points they can get – the Oilers can’t allow them to turn this into a blowout.

Who’s hot:

Lubomir Visnovsky – The Slovakian defenseman is coming off a strong Olympics and has been one of the Oilers more consistent performers this season. His offensive output is often key to the team’s success.

Ethan Moreau – The captain has just 13 points in 60 games this season, but four points in his last three games following a game where he was a minus-4 in a 6-1 loss to Phoenix.

Ryan Potulny – One of the bright spots for the Oilers this season has been the play of Ryan Potulny. He seems to score in bunches, and has goals in two of his last three games, while playing almost 20 minutes per night.

What to watch for:

D-Day is coming – What will the team look like come Wednesday at 1pm? So far Denis Grebeshkov has been shipped out of town; but who is next? General Manager Steve Tambellini has said he’ll be trying to make some moves before the deadline…the makeup of the team could be quite different by the time the Oilers and Blackhawks meet up.