Sports Outside the Beltway

Florida Panthers trade Nathan Horton to Boston

Will the last scorer please turn off the lights at the Bank Atlantic Center. From the Sun-SentinelNathan Horton2-

The Panthers traded right winger Nathan Horton to the Bruins on Tuesday, along with forward Gregory Campbell, for the 15th pick in this year’s draft, defenseman Dennis Wideman and a third-round pick in 2011.

Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon said Horton asked to be traded in Tallon’s initial conversation with the winger after he was hired.

“He showed frustration and felt maybe it would be better if he was able to go somewhere else,” Tallon said.

Horton, 25, was the Panthers’ second-longest tenured player. They drafted him No. 3 in 2003. He was the team’s second-leading scorer this past season, finishing with 57 points (20 goals) in 65 games. He missed 17 games with a broken leg.

Horton was happy to be moving on to Boston.

“I’m not going to say anything bad about the [Panthers] organization, but there have been five coaches in the time I’ve been there,” Horton said. “Now I’m going to a stable, historic organization. I’m very excited. I’m going to give it all I’ve got. I think it’s going to be good.”

Horton said not getting a chance to play in the playoffs has been hard to deal with.

“As a player, that’s the best part of playing hockey,” he said. “When you don’t make them for seven years, I just think it’s too long. It can’t happen. With this [Bruins] organization, it just doesn’t happen. It’s exciting for me just to come and be a part of it.”

Horton has 142 goals and 153 assists in 422 career games.

Tallon said Horton “was frustrated with what had gone on in the past and was leaning toward, if we could help him out, seeing what was out there for him. That’s how this all began.” Tallon said when he told Horton of the trade this morning, “he thanked me.”

Wideman, 27, had six goals and 24 assists for the Bruins this past season and averaged more than 23 minutes of ice time.

First, I’m not going to miss Gregory Campbell. He was an almost total offensive zero last season who got way too much playing time because he was Coach Peter DeBoer’s pet(He coached Campbell in junior leagues). For that reason I think DeBoer was bypassed in the decision making progress that led to this trade. Unless Florida plays well next year, I bet DeBoer won’t be back for the 2011-12 NHL season.

As for Horton, he’s been an underacheiver with a poor work ethic on a team that at best muddles their way through an NHL season. Trading him for a #15 is great but leaves the Panthers with a big offensive hole. 5 draft selections in the top 50 picks are great, but none of them are likely to play in the next NHL season, alone have any kind of impact. Florida could take the pick and trade for someone. Names that are being floated around include Jeff Carter, Jason Spezza, or Kris Versteeg. Florida’s new General Manager came from Chicago, so Versteeg would be the obvious one of the three above but I like Carter the most.

Also blogging on the Horton trade- Donny at the Litter Box and Stanley Cup of Chowder.


NHL does not supsend Matt Cooke for hit on Marc Savard

The NHL is now a sick joke. From ESPN-

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke has escaped suspension for a hit to the head of Marc Savard that knocked out the Boston Bruins center.

NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell made the announcement Wednesday at the general managers’ meeting in Boca Raton, Fla. Penguins general manager Ray Shero also confirmed the news to via e-mail.

Cooke delivered a blindside hit with his shoulder to Savard in the third period of Sunday’s game. Savard was taken away on a stretcher and has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 concussion. He is out indefinitely, and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has said Savard possibly could miss the remainder of the season.

Doctors will continue to evaluate Savard during the next several days before determining how long the star center might be out.

Florida Panther David Booth suffered a similar concussion and miissed 45 games. Savard could well be out for the rest of the NHL 2009-10 season plus the playoffs.

Here’s a video of the hit

There’s no question it was a deliberate elbow to the head. Now listen to the justification for not suspending Cooke who BTW is a repeat offender.

Under the new guidelines recommended by GMs on Wednesday at the conclusion of their meetings, both hits would have been subject to a penalty and a possible suspension next season. The recommendation of a rule change still needs to be approved by the NHL/NHLPA competition committee and by the league’s board of governors.

“I know it’s not something that Boston fans, or hockey fans would like to hear,” Campbell said, according to TSN. “They want justice. We feel we have to be consistent and do what we feel is right and hopefully we’ve gone to a place in our meetings today that we can eradicate plays like this in the future.”

Colin Campbell you are one very sick puppy. You fucked up on Richards so now you’re using your stupidity in that case to do nothing in the case of Deliberate head hit. You’re telling me if Savard was paralyzed for life by what Cooke did, you would sit on your hands because of precedent. Admit your fucking mistakes or get out of the way other people who care about hockey can stop this nonsense.


Dallas Stars waive Goalie Alex Auld

With the recent acquisition of Kari Lehtonen, the team had one more netminder than they needed. From ESPN-

The Dallas Stars placed Alex Auld on waivers Wednesday and are content to go with Marty Turco and Kari Lehtonen in goal the rest of the season.Alex Auld

Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk acknowledged there’s little chance of trading Turco, who played well the last six games leading into the Olympic break. Turco is 4-1-1 with a 1.15 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage in that stretch.


Lehtonen, 26, has not played an NHL game since last April. The Stars traded for him earlier this month in an effort to fortify their goalie position going into next season. Lehtonen is a restricted free agent next season, while Turco and Auld are unrestricted free agents.

The Stars are one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot and have games every other day in March.

“We’ll work Kari in there because we have so many games,” Nieuwendyk said.

Auld is a journeyman Goalie who has played for six teams since 2006. That says enough about how good he is. Could a 7th team on the horizon? I’d say the chances are about 50-50. If Auld can’t find work in North America, he can always go to play in Europe.


The Agony of victory- Anaheim beats Boston 4-3

Last night’s victory could prove to be a very painful one for the Ducks. From AP-

The Anaheim Ducks’ season-high fifth straight victory was tempered substantially with word that Teemu Selanne fractured his jaw.Teemu Selanne

Playing his third game after missing the previous 17 because of a broken hand, Selanne was injured with 8:29 left in the Ducks’ 4-3 victory over Boston on Wednesday night. Teammate Ryan Whitney took a slap shot from the left point that deflected off the stick of Boston’s Miroslav Satan and bounced up into Selanne’s face.

“We’ll have to see if it can be surgically repaired tomorrow and what kind of time frame they’re going to give us,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “It’s a tough loss, especially the way it happened. That’s unfortunate for Teemu. We know how much he loves to play the game. It’s unfortunate for him and unfortunate for us. We were just starting to get some bodies back in our lineup and get our likes settled, but that’s just the way it goes. Injuries are part of it.”

Selanne, a 10-time All-Star and three-time NHL goal-scoring champion, is expected to be sidelined anywhere from four to eight weeks. He was planing on competing in the his second Olympics next month in Vancouver.

NHL players are a hardy lot, but a broken jaw which requires it to wired shut, will require a person to slow down. That due to a person’s feeding habits having to be radically altered. A person with a broken jaw will lose weight and easily become dehydrated.

So the Olympics are possibly out for Selanne.(The Florida Panthers are scheduled to play Anaheim on February 1st and aren’t likely to see Selanne then. I was possibly planning to go to that game since it won’t be on television.) Will his injury do damage to the Ducks’ playoff hopes? It certainly can’t help, as this moment Anaheim is 12th in the Western Conference standings.

Get well Teemu.


NHL Eastern Conference at the mid point of the 2009-10 season

Due to the Winter Olympics, the NHL season is being being played at a more accelerated rate than normal. For instance, prior to Christmas week the Florida Panthers had four games in a week, five straight weeks in a row.

A NHL season is 82 games in length. Half of 82 is 41. Most teams are at 41 games or more

New Jersey 39 games 28 wins 10 losses 1 overtime loss 57 points
Buffalo 40 25 11 4 54
Washington 40 24 10 6 54
Pittsburgh 42 26 15 1 53
Boston 40 21 12 7 49
Ottawa 41 21 16 4 46
Montreal 43 21 19 3 45
NY Rangers 41 19 17 5 43

Tampa Bay 41 16 15 10 42
Philadelphia 40 19 18 3 41
Atlanta 40 18 17 5 41
NY Islanders 42 16 18 8 40
Florida 41 16 18 7 39
Toronto 41 14 18 9 37
Carolina 41 11 23 7 29

Bold denotes all teams who would make the playoffs as of this minute.
The above standings are as of 6 p.m. on Saturday January 2nd.

Teams all but certain to make the playoffs- Buffalo, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Washington
Team that won’t make the playoffs- Carolina

That’s hardly rocket science based on the above.

I will be greatly surprised if Florida, NY Islanders, or Toronto are playing in the post season. The Panthers haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years and this will be no exception. How is a team that hasn’t won more than 3 games in a row since March 2008 supposed to get the momentum up for a playoff run?

Tampa Bay and Atlanta have been pleasant surprises this year. I’m still not convinced either team can make the playoffs. Particularly so in the case of the Lightning who are most impotent offensive teams in the league,(28th of 30 teams)

Honestly I think the teams who are currently 1-8 will all make the playoffs. There will be reshuffling but I think the 7 other teams each have enough liabililites that it will keep them out of the postseason.


Boston Bruins send RW Chuck Kobasew to Minnesota

Are two players plus a future draft pick too high a price for a player that scored 48 points all of last season. From AP-

The Minnesota Wild acquired right wing Chuck Kobasew from Boston on Sunday in a deal that sent right wings Craig Weller and Alexander Fallstrom to the Bruins.

The Wild also sent the rights to their second-round pick in the 2011 draft.

The 27-year-old Kobasew had one assist in seven games with the Bruins this season. He had 21 goals and 21 assists in 68 games last season, reaching the 20-goal mark for the third time in his career.

The Wild have scored 15 goals while going 1-6, and forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Cal Clutterbuck, Martin Havlat and Petr Sykora have been out with injuries.

Kobasew has gotten off to a slow start this year, so trading him may look premature. On the other hand Fallstrom was one of the Wild’s top prospects. He could end up a much better player than Kobasew but that won’t happen immediately.

Bottom line- I think Boston will come out better in the long-term.


Did the NHL make a mess of the 2009-10 schedule?

The upcoming schedule was released yesterday. Right away I noticed something interesting. Florida has a home and home series with Nashville.

Nov 28 and Mar 29 are when the Panthers and Predators play next season.

What I find interesting is- Florida is playing Nashville home and home for the second straight season. In 2008-09, the Panthers and Predators played on November 1st and December 23rd.

In light of the way the NHL season is set up, namely that any Eastern or Western conference team plays only play 3 home and homes in any season, Florida and Nashville shouldn’t meet home and home more than once every five years 15 western conference teams divided by 3 home and home series equals five.

Here’s a link to the 2009-10 schedule. Anyone have theories as to what happened here or am I off base?


Washington and Carolina advance in Stanley Cup playoffs

The last two first round series concluded last night. First Washington rallied to eliminate the New York Rangers.

Fedorov beat Henrik Lundqvist with 4:59 left in the third period, rookie Simeon Varlamov was good in the net when he had to be, and the second-seeded Capitals edged the No. 7 New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal Tuesday night.

If Washington coach Bruce Boudreau had stuck with the veteran Theodore as Goalie, The Rangers would have advanced. It was a gutsy decision.

New Jersey was victimized by two late Carolina goals in their loss.

Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal scored in a 48-second span late in the third period as the Hurricanes stunned the Devils 4-3 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference series.

To me, Carolina’s win is more surprising than Anaheim knocking off San Jose.

The conference semi-finals are set. My predictions are-

Boston takes Carolina 4 games to 1. I think the Bruins are the best team still in the playoffs.
Washington beats Pittsburgh 4 games to 3. Can Varlamov stand the pressure of Crosby, Malkin, and company? He better, otherwise the Capitals will make mincemeat of Theodore.


Niklas Backstrom, Steve Mason, and Tim Thomas named Viezina Finalists

That’s the trophy given to the best goalie in hockey for an individual season. From AP-

Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild, Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender.

The league announced the finalists Monday. The winner, voted by general managers around the league, will be revealed June 18 at the NHL awards show in Las Vegas.

Mason, a rookie, posted a franchise-record three straight shutouts in December and helped the Blue Jackets reach the playoffs for the first time. Thomas led the NHL with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage for the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.

Backstrom appeared in 71 games for Minnesota and ranked among the top five goaltenders in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts. His 37 wins were a franchise record, and after playing in his first All-Star game he received a four-year, $24 million contract extension that will begin next season.

Here are the regular season stat lines for each goalie. Note only Thomas is still playing in the ongoing NHL playoffs for 2008-09.

Thomas- Games Played 54 Wins 36 Losses 11 Overtime Loses 7 Goals allowed 114
Shutouts 5 Goals against average 2.10 Save Pct .933

Backstrom- 71 37 24 8 159 8 2.33 .923
Mason- 61 33 20 7 140 10 2.29 .916

Sentimentally I’d vote for the rookie Mason, but Thomas clearly has the best stats of the three nominees.


Boston Bruins’ Defenseman Matt Hunwick has spleen removed

It probably resulted from a hit put on him in a playoff game last Thursday night. From AP-

Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick had his spleen removed Saturday but has not been ruled out of the NHL playoffs.

The surgery was done Saturday afternoon, about 2½ hours after Hunwick felt increased pain while the team was together for its morning skate before that night’s second game against the Montreal Canadiens.

“He’s comfortable and he’s recovering in his room” at Massachusetts General Hospital, Bruins team physician Dr. Peter Asnis said before the game. “Spirits are high, feels well, and he’ll be there for a couple of days.”

Asnis said Hunwick, 23, thought he was injured when he was checked during the second period of Boston’s 4-2 win Thursday night. But he said the defenseman didn’t notice any abdominal pain after the game and “had no complaints” during practice on Friday.

Asnis said that when the Bruins learned of his injury, they determined that Hunwick would not play Saturday night.

“It’s possible, depending on his recovery, that he could be back” later in the playoffs, Asnis said, “but that’s something to be determined.”

I’m astonished the playoffs haven’t been ruled out for Hunwick. It’s 8 months since I had open heart surgery. Having your spleen removed isn’t the same, but it isn’t minor surgery.

Get well Matt Hunwick.

Boston beat Montreal last night to go up 2 games to none in their series. I would be surprised if the Bruins don’t get to at least the Eastern Confernce final.


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