Sorry about the delay in getting this up. I was writing something for hockeybuzz.com and I should have more exciting news on that front in the coming days. But enough about me - here's what is going on in the league:
It was an eventful day with 11 games on the schedule. We could call it "Revenge Friday" as Hitch was in Philly, Niedermayer was in NJ and Legace was in Motown..
Ken Hitchcock coached his first game for Columbus against a Flyers team that he was coaching about a month ago. Columbus played very well, outshooting Philly 41-22 but lost on a goal by Mike Richards, of all people.
"It felt good to go on the bench. It felt good to coach the game. It felt good to try to help the team win," Hitchcock said. "I'm excited to get back and teach again." (from AP)
Richards hadn't scored in 46 regular season and playoff games so that has to be a huge relief for him
Carolina played well after losing two straight in New York (NYR & NYI). The Canes scored twice in 9 seconds midway through the second to open up a two-goal lead and never looked back.
Tim Thomas was pulled, but according to Dave Lewis it wasn't because of his play:
"I thought he was our best player," Boston coach Dave Lewis said of Thomas. "I didn't want to subject him anymore to their approach. We had 19 players that were off their game and he was the only one that was on." (from AP)
Andrew Ladd scored his second of the year. There are rumours of him being dangled in an attempt to add help on defence.
Niklas Backstrom started and played very well once again, shutting out the Coyotes 4-0. Backstrom has given up just 10 goals in 355 minutes of action this year.
The Ducks beat the Devils 4-2 as Niedermayer returned to New Jersey. Apparently Brodeur had some critical words on Niedermayer in his recently released book, regarding Niedermayer's choice to have surgery instead of playing in the Olympics last year, and his decision to leave New Jersey and sign with the Devils. Surprising that Marty chose to criticize Niedermayer and I'm sure it felt good for him to beat his former team (and possibly former friend).
The Islanders continued to roll, this team beating the Pens in front of a sold-out Nassau Coliseum. Crosby took the pregame skate but missed another one due to his groin injury.
Soonafter scoring in the third to break the shutout, Malkin was crushed by Brendan Witt. Fortunately, he doesn't appear to be hurt although I have a feeling he has learned his lesson to keep his head up.
Dipietro played very well yet again.
Toronto shelled Washington 7-1. The Leafs get Sundin back tonight after scoring 4 goals a game in his absence.
Tucker scored his 16th of the year. He is now tied with Hossa for second in the entire league, 1 goal behind Shanahan.
Ottawa's resurgence continues, led by Heatley, Spezza and Emery. The Sens are now back to .500 and climbing.
Dany Heatley had three goals and an assist and is playing great hockey. He's now just three points behind Hossa, who was way ahead not too long ago. He has been consistently generating offense, putting up points in 15 of the last 18 games
St. Louis upset Detroit in a shootout. The Wings outshot the Blues 43-19 but were stoned by their old friend Manny Legace. That had to be a sweet win for Manny, who wasn't treated great on his way out of Detroit but still took the high road:
"It was nice to be back in front of the fans," Legace said. "I saw some signs in the warmup, it brought some tears to my eyes. They missed me and that touched me. They treated me well here. I love it here. My summer home is here. It was a good homecoming." (from AP)
Johan Franzen missed the game with a concussion and may be out for a while. It's time to seriously look at these hits to the head and figure out how to protect the players. Hopefully it won't take an injury to a star player before that happens.
Sheldon Souray scored with one second left in OT to knock off the Sabres. Both Huet and Miller played extremely well but it was Miller who blinked just before the game went to the shootout. Montreal is a team that I doubt the Sabres would want to see in the playoffs..
Marty St. Louis scored the winner in OT and added an assist to beat Atlanta. At first when he started playing better I thought he brought his value up enough to be dealt. Now I think he is too valuable to be dealt.
Philippe Boucher had a hat trick against his former team as the Stars beat LA 5-3. The Kings can't seem to keep the puck out whether Cloutier or Garon is in net.
On the bright side for LA, their young foursome up front (Frolov, Cammalleri, Brown and Kopitar) combined for 7 points.
Edmonton chased Brian Boucher early and coasted to a 5-1 win over the Hawks. When Havlat went out the Hawks were near the top of the West. By the team he gets back they may be at the bottom.
In Injury News...
Vokoun out 2-6 weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Lehtinen and Morrow should be back tonight for Dallas
Cheechoo skated and could be back this week for SJ