NHL General

Jordin Tootoo gets five games for punching out Robidas

We filed this one under fights but it’s not much of one. Jordin Tootoo was suspended five games for a one punch knockout of Stephane Robidas. We think the NHL overreacted a little in the wake of the thuggery that’s been happening over the past couple of months. Let’s go to the video…

In reviewing this incident, Stephane Robidas appeared to be initiating a confrontation by approaching Jordin Tootoo,” NHL senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement. “While a player is entitled to defend himself, Mr. Tootoo’s forceful blow to Robidas’ head was an overly aggressive and inappropriate response.

The fact that Mr. Tootoo’s actions resulted in an injury to his opponent also was a factor in this decision.

Exactly, Robidas was coming to plant Tootoo into the boards just because Tootoo drilled Modano with a clean hit. It wasn’t a sucker punch. It wasn’t a cheap shot. Tootoo’s instincts took over and he just swung and connected. It’s unfortunately for Robidas that he has a glass jaw but he was the aggressor in that situation. Five games seems to be a little excessive. The Predators stand by Tootoo but they will not appeal the suspension.

Oh by the way, Robidas, Chris Tucker has a message for you.

NHL suspends Tootoo for five games

[Short and Fat]: Great analysis of the Tootoo punch

Chicago Cubs

Odds and Ends: Kerry Wood’s evil hot tub

Kerry Wood makes an early bid for the upcoming “Dumbest Non-Playing Injury” list we’ve been meaning to do on Sportscolumn blog. Wood is out for a few days after slipping and landing on his stomach and chest getting out of a hot tub. It’s gonna be that type of season, Cubbies fans.

In other news…

[Flash Warner]: Why Isn’t Hardaway In Rehab Yet?

[Can’t Stop the Bleeding]: Kenny Smith on John Amaechi

[WBRS Sports Blog]: Handicapping The Entire All-Star Weekend

[James Mirtle]: Analysis of Forsberg to Nashville

[Jeff Little]: Looking at past McDonald’s All Americans (1991-1995)

[DC Sports Blog]: Yeah… this isn’t representative of Sixers fans

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Edmonton Gets One Back

1. Exacting Revenge
It sure wasn’t the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Edmonton Oilers were able to take out some revenge on the team that ended their miracle run in last year’s playoffs. Edmonton downed the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 3-1, moving the Oilers into first place in a busy and tight Northwest Division. None of the teams in the Northwest can be counted out at this point, so it will be interesting to see who’ll come out of the jumble on top. Jussi Markkanen had a nice night between the pipes, stopping 28 shots in a rare start. Carolina still sits several points behind the Thrashers, who are having a solid year and aren’t showing many signs of letting up. Some bad news for Canes fans: Rod Brind’Amour left the game with what’s being dubbed a “lower body injury”. Hopefully it’s nothing serious–but knowing Brind’Amour, he’d be on the ice even if it was.

2. Best of the West
Two of the NHL’s titans squared off last night in a battle of Western Conference supremacy, with Anaheim shutting out Nashville 4-0. This was a bit of a statement game for the Ducks, who now hold the league lead in points (surpassing the mighty Buffalo Sabres). Temmu Selanne came up big, as he tends to do while in the spotlight. His two goals and assist boosted Anaheim to a win, leaving no doubt about who’s the best in the Western Conference. Chris Kunitz also contributed offensively, netting one goal and tallying three assists. Jean-Sebastien Giguere was “Giggy”, turning away all 21 shots he faced to send the Preds to their third straight loss.

3. Nieuwendyk Retires
Joe Nieuwendyk, who knows about winning better than anyone, announced his retirement on Wednesday night. Back problems have made the NHL to big of a mountain for Joe, who is 40 years old. In his 20 year career, he played for Calgary, New Jersey, and Toronto, before spending last season and the first quarter of this season with the Panthers. He won three Stanley Cups in those 20 years, and was named the playoff MVP in 1999. Here’s hoping he sticks around to call games in the booth, because it would be a shame if this kept him out of hockey for good.

Check It Out
The West Central Tribune discusses the declining rate of concussions in the NHL, and how to continue playing the game injury free. Perhaps the noticeable increase in penalties has something to do with the lack of these serious head-related injuries

Game of the Night: Montreal at New York Islanders
Canadeins: Lost three of last four games

The Last Shot
On Wednesday, the Edmonton Oilers announced plans to retire Mark Messier’s #11 on February 27th. Messier won five Stanley Cups with Edmonton, and is the NHL’s second-leading scorer of all-time. The New York Rangers raised his number to the ceiling of Madison Square Garden last year.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Penguins, NHL Luck Out

No more red for Malkin

1. Malkin Staying In NHL
After an ongoing dispute with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League, a federal judge ended all debate and declared that rookie sensation Evgeni Malkin could stay with the NHL… from the AP:

Metallurg Magnitogorsk, a Russian Super League team, claims that Malkin is under contract in his native country. The club sought a preliminary injunction that would have banned the forward from playing for the Penguins until the matter is resolved.
But the ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska clears the way for Malkin, a star rookie with Penguins, and minor leaguers Andrei Taratukhin of the Calgary Flames and Alexei Mikhnov of the Edmonton Oilers to stick with the NHL franchises.

The Penguins and the NHL must be thanking their lucky stars. Malkin is what the Pens have needed for a while as far as options on the ice – and he’s a marketing machine for the NHL, much like Alex Ovechkin has proved to be after his incredible rookie campaign.

2. Surviving a Scare
The Nashville Predators were able to hold off a pesky Columbus club on Wednesday night, propelling to a 5-4 win. The Preds scored the final two goals of the game in the third to help themselves to the victory – they were netted by David Legwand and Scott Nichol with less than 10 minutes to play. This was a pretty important victory for Nashville, who continued to stay on Detroit’s tail in the Central. As we said before, it looks to be a two-team dogfight for possession of that division, and the race will be close throughout the remainder of the season. The Red Wings have won nine straight, and are clearly the hottest team in hockey. If there was one positive to come out of this game for the Jackets, it’s the solid play of Rick Nash, who scored two goals and racked up an assist in the game.

3. Can’t Capitalize
The Bruins downed the Caps on Wednesday in Washington, taking it to a shootout and converting for the 3-2 victory. After Boston jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the 1st, the Capitals stepped up their D for the final two periods, shutting out the Bruins for the rest of regulation and overtime. In shootouts, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron got one by Washington goaltender Olaf Kolzig to secure the victory. In the game, Tim Thomas saved 33 shots off the sticks of Caps’ players, including shutouts in the final three segments of the game. The Bruins’ Marc Savard earned two assists, extending his points streak to seven games.

Check It Out
CBS Sportsline’s Wes Goldstein repots that the Capitals’ days of misery have finally passed by. With a building block like Alex Ovechkin, is tough to disagree — Washington looks to be a legitimate contender not only in the Southeast Division but in the Eastern Conference as a whole.

Game of the Night: Minnesota at Nashville
Wild have lost four of last five games

The Last Shot
Alexander Ovechkin fired his agent, Don Meehan, on Wednesday. This comes as a bit of a surprise to us, as Meehan is known to be a solid agent in the hockey world, working for clients like Jerome Iginla and Jose Theodore.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Weekend Recap

Check out my ugly uni!

1. Awesome in OT
The Buffalo Sabres continue to take care of business, and look to be a Stanley Cup contender come playoff time. They racked up another win on Saturday night, drowning the already dead Philadelphia Flyers. The 5-4 overtime victory was the third straight win for Buffalo in the extra period. Daniel Briere had an outstanding game, scoring two goals–one to tie it, and another to win it. While the Sabres continue to roll along, the Flyers continue to fall to the pit of the NHL. The giant wing on their jerseys has been clipped this year; at 3-11-2, Philly is dead last in the Eastern Conference. Even Flyers fans are having a hard time remembering the times when team was actually good. That’s an unfortunate thing, since it really wasn’t that long ago. It doesn’t help that they’ve been without captain Peter Forsberg, who has been battling a nagging ankle injury and is listed as day-to-day.

2. Jinxed
Friday’s post on Crashing the Zamboni featured the Anaheim Ducks and their emergence to begin the season. With their 12-0-4 mark, they set a record for most games without a regulation loss to start a season. On the same night of the post, the Ducks suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Calgary Flames–and it didn’t come in overtime or a shootout. Our apologies go out to the Ducks and their fans, who we’re sure were hoping to see their team go without a regulation loss this year. But don’t just blame us: Mikka Kiprusoff had a stellar performance, stopping all 37 shots that came his direction on the way to a shutout victory.
Anaheim would avenge the loss with another victory on Sunday night over the Wild, 3-2. Currently, their record stands at 13-1-2, by far the best in the Western Conference.

3. Preds Victorious
The Nashville Predator skated to a 1-0 victory on Saturday night, attempting to keep up with the Red Wings in the Central. Chris Mason was a brick wall between the pipes, saving his way to a shutout win with a career-high 42 saves. As a backup to Tomas Vokoun, it was his first shutout in the four games he’s started on the year. Scott Upshall scored the only goal of the game in the first period, but it was enough to fend off the Avalanche, who have slipped into last in the Northwest Division. This was the third 1-0 game in the NHL in the past week, which is exactly what the league is trying to stay away from with the rule changes put in effect last year (the other two games were a Dallas victory over Phoenix on Thursday and a Chicago win over Columbus last night).

Check It Out’s Allan Muir looks into the struggles of the Columbus Blue Jackets, perhaps the most irrelevant team in the league. He suggests sniper Rick Nash is the problem, and if the Columbus Blue Jackets want to get rolling, then that is the guy that needs to put up numbers. Playing in the same division as Detroit and Nashville, it may be quite a while before the Blue Jackets actually have an impact on this league.

Game of the Night: Buffalo at Carolina
Rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals (Hurricanes won in seven games)

The Last Shot
The Chicago Blackhawks actually won a game on Sunday night. Oh, wait… they faced Columbus. Does that really count?

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Feeling at Home on the Road

[Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Crashing the Zamboni”, a daily blog by Eric Caterina. Eric will be covering the NHL this year for Sportscolumn.]

1. Road Ice Advantage?
After losing the first two road games of the season, the Nashville Predators are feeling comfortably at home while away from the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville. With their 3-2 win last night over the Vancouver Canucks, Nashville has now won five straight road games, and seven of their last eight overall. None of their road victories have been overly dominating performances; four out of those five wins came in one-goal nailbiters. So what is the key to the Predators’ road ice advantage? Tomas Vokoun. The goaltender from Czechoslovakia is in his eighth year with Nashville (his fourth as a full-time starter). Even though the offense on this road stretch wasn’t tremendous, Vokoun picked up four of the five victories, never letting the puck slip into the net any more than two times. He’s given them a chance to win, and they’ve done just enough to walk off the ice with a W. This stretch of games could help Nashville tremendously in the longrun — it looks to be a two horse race in the Central Division between the Preds and the Red Wings.

2. Sharks Edge Panthers
Christian Ehrhoff’s last-minute goal gave the Sharks a 2-1 victory over the Panthers last night in Florida. The Power Play tally kept San Jose from slipping to third in the Pacific Division — where it’s possible that the Sharks and Stars could be playing catch up to keep pace with Anaheim for the year. Ron Wilson’s club has arguably the best special teams in the league, with an NHL best 28% on the Power Play this season. San Jose’s win put them at 7-0-1 in their last eight against the Florida Panthers (who eventually could get into the thick of things in a packed Southeast Division). This kind of dominance is similar to what we’ve seen in the Toronto-Atlanta series, as posted yesterday on Crashing the Zamboni.

3. Grinding It Out
Pure passion is hard to find nowadays in professional sports, where money is tossed around like a rag doll and the only basis for your expectations is your contract. That’s why it was refreshing to find this story on Florida’s veteran journeyman, Gary Roberts. In reading, it’s clear that this man is actually enjoying his time in professional sports, taking on an attitude unlike so many other big-time athletes. While the T.O.’s of the world are relishing in front of cameras and signing new shoe deals, sports’ real heroes continue to work hard just to spend that extra day in a big league jersey. Kudos to Gary Roberts for grinding it out, staying under the radar, and still going out and performing every night–he could teach some of today’s athletes a thing or two, if only they were patient enough to watch and listen.

Check It Out
It was hard not to laugh at this ridiculous report that Alex Auld got hurt “horsing around”. Not sure what’s funnier: the story itself, of Ed Belfour’s lame excuses as to why it happened.

Game of the Night: Nashville at Edmonton
Oilers look to stay undefeated at Rexall Place; Nashville has won five straight on the road.

The Last Shot
Montreal’s Chris Higgins scored his third shorthanded goal of the season last night, taking the NHL lead in that category.