Sunday, July 31, 2011

July-lights: July 31st, Eberle Toe Drags Around Calgary

Welcome to the last installment of this year's "July-lights". We have seen jaw dropping dangles, bone crushing hits, and unbeleivable saves over the past month, but like all great things it must come to an end. Which brings us to the the final highlight of the month, the goal of the year.

Along with his fellow rookie teammate, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle is among a developing young cast of future stars on the Edmonton Oilers' roster. It is a feeling universally felt around the league that as these young stars continue to get older and develop, both them and the OIlers will get better and grow into a Stanley Cup contender.

Eberle specifically is coming out of his rookie season, where he scored 18 goals and notched 25 assists totaling 43 points in just 63 games played. A formidable rookie season that would have gotten more attention had fellow rookies Jeff Skinner, last year's rookie of the year, and Logan Couture not produced 50+ point seasons.

However, most rookies can't say they scored their first NHL goal shorthanded and in highlight fashion (see below).

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July-lights: July 30th, Conklin's Diving Save On Ribiero

Yesterday's July-lights featured Mikhail Grabovski dangling Ty Conklin. So it is only fitting that Conklin get a rebuttal being he turned out the save of the year, in a game against the Dallas Stars early in the season.

After he came into the NHL during the '01-'02 season, Ty Conklin has made his way round through the NHL, playing for the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and St. Louis Blues. His longest tenure being with the Oilers from 2001 to 2006.

Returning to the Red Wings next season as a back up for Jimmy Howard, Conklin will star the season with 91 wins, a .908 save percentage, and a 2.64 goals against average in his 200 games played. Although Conklin does not have the best numbers in the league, he has proven to be a solid back up for teams in need and has made big saves in his career much like the one below.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Jersey And Parise Agree To One Year Deal

Earlier today the New Jersey Devils and star forward, Zach Parise, came to terms on a one year, $6 million deal, that will keep the two parties away from an arbitration meeting that was scheduled for August 2nd in Toronto.

 “So, really what we have done is avoid arbitration by settling on one year with the understanding and intent to take whatever time is necessary to get a long-term deal.” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said in an interview with David Gulliti of "Fire and Ice" regarding Parise's one year deal.

It makes sense. Parise would have become and unrestirced agent on July 1, 2012 no matter what if the two parties made it to arbitraion. Now with this deal in place, they do not have to rush into signing a deal due to a looming deadline. The Devils' Organization and Parise's agent now have all the time in the world to come to terms on a long term contract.

Parise has stated on many occasions that he wants to play in New Jersey, this deal will allow him to get the right contract to keep him there without worrying about hitting the UFA next season.

July-lights: July 29th, Grabovski Goes 360 Degrees On Conklin

In the NHL their are household names like, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Roberto Luongo, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tim Thomas. People all around the NHL will know these names no matter what team they root for day in and day out. A name on the opposite end of that spectrum is Mikhail Grabovski, other than fans of the teams he has played for, he is not too well known.

However, during the '10-'11 season Grabovski took a step towards becoming a more well known name around the league. After he set career highs in all of his major statistical categories with 29 goals, 29 assists, 58 total points, in 81 games played. He has steadily developed into one of the Toronto Maple Leafs' top offensive threats, finishing the season ranked third in points.  Behind only Clarke MacArthur and Phil Kessel. 

Adding to his stats last season, Grabovski turned out one of the best shootout goals of all time when he beat St. Louis Blues' goaltender, Ty Conklin.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July-lights: July 28th, Rinne Stuns Horcoff

The Nashville Predators have burst into the leagues elite over the last few seasons, further solidifying their spot after making it into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season. A major contributing factor to this success is Nashville's tight checking defensive style of play. There is not much room to move down in "Smashville".

When an offensive scoring chance does manage to squeeze through the solid Predators defense, they have a wall in between the pipes by the name of Pekka Rinne. Rinne has become the bread and butter in Nashville, playing 147 games for the club over the last three seasons. Breaking the 30 win mark each of the last two seasons and missed 30 wins by one in '08-'09.

It is no surprise that Rinne is on his way to hitting the 100 win mark, which he will likely hit next season being only six wins away from the milestone, when you see some of the saves he is capable of making. However, even when a puck does manage to squeeze by, sometimes the puck still manages to not make it to the back of the net. Much like Rinne's save on Shawn Horcoff of the Edmonton Oilers (see below).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NHL's Remaining Free Agents Have An Older Look To Them

 The majority of this year's free agency was decided in the first week of the free agency. Hell, most of it in the first day. With the vast amount of players either resigning with their old team, or packing up and signing a new deal with a new team, the free agency pool has begin to empty. However, even though the first wave of free agents has been locked up, there still remains a hand full of forwards that could be useful for a team in need.

Why haven't these players signed the dotted line? One major factor casts a shadow on each of them, their age.

When looking at who remains on the free agent list, names like Chris Drury, Alex Kovalev, Mike Grier and John Madden stick out, however when looking over that very same list many can see there is not too many young fresh legs. Which raises the question. How much gas is left in these seasoned veteran's tanks?

Here are a few reasons why teams should still be looking at these players even if they are a little older than most.

July-lights: July 27th, St. Louis Speeds By The Devils

Martin St.Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning is not the biggest guy in the world. Listed at only 5'8", the majority of the National Hockey League towers over St. Louis when on the ice. So St. Louis has to rely on something other than size in order to be successful in the NHL, his speed.

Overall his career has has been full of highlights, scoring 298 goals and tallying 480 helpers, totaling 778 points in 854 games played. Not bad for a player that came into the league undrafted.  St. Louis was a key factor in the Lightning's '03-'04 Stanley Cup Winning season. He has played a significant role in molding the Lightning's future by mentoring their newest star, Steven Stamkos.

There are few in the league that can match St. Louis' speed, and when you pair his speed with his size it can be a lethal combination. This speed aids in his ability to pull away from defenders in races for the puck, along with his size helping evade fore checkers from all around the league. This is evident in his goal against the New Jersey Devils (see below).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Versus May Televise College Hockey

College hockey may be coming to Versus!

The NHL's Biggest Question Marks: A Team-By-Team Look

With just over 70 days until the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins kick off the 2011-2012 NHL season, there are still some major question marks floating around the league. From rookies making opening night rosters, to voting for arena upgrades, every team has their own personal question marks awaiting answers. Of course some are more serious than others. Here is a team-by-team look at the major questions for each team as we head towards training camps and the start of next season.

July-lights: July 26th, Thomas Roughs Up Sedin

Originally I was not going dub this play worthy enough to make the list of the season's best highlights. However, there is just something about a goalie lighting up one of the league's most glorified players and divers that rubs me the right way.

That being said, Tim Thomas will make his second appearance in "July-lights".

So, let me set the scene for you. We're in game three of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Vancouver Canucks are leading the series 2-0. The series has already been full of controversy, involving biting, a player being knocked out cold earlier in the game, and enough acting to win an Oscar. At this point in the game the Bruins are up 4-0 and on their way to winning their first game of the Finals.

However Tim Thomas can never do anything in a quiet, calm manner, he has to add a little flair and suspense to the moment. So what does he do, he flattens the other teams star player, Henrik Sedin (check it out below).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Callahan, Weber, And Parise Await Arbitration

As arbitration hearings near an end, three marquee players patiently wait for their hearing dates to arrive. Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, and Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils all have been key assets to their teams and have yet to sign new contacts with their teams.

Unlike most of the players that filed for arbitration, 16 of 22 to be exact, Callahan, Weber, and Parise have not been able to come to an agreement on the terms of a new deal with their respective teams. Coming closer and closer to each of the trial dates.

July-lights: July 25th, Christensen Goes One Handed On Ellis

This is Tampa Bay Lightning's goalie, Dan Ellis' second appearance on "July-lights". However, he has been on the wrong side of the highlight one both occasions. His first appearance was back on July 16th, when Linus Omark faked him out with a slapper at the hash marks, which I still find ridiculous. Here he is again getting dangled into next week by Erik Christensen of the New York Rangers.

Christensen on the other hand, has been in and out of line ups for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks, and New York Rangers since coming into the league in '05-'06, having his 63 games played last season be the closest he has came to a full 82 game campaign.

Over the course of his career he has played in 338 games, grabbing 151 points, with 61 goals and 90 assists. His career high coming in '06-'07 when he was with the Penguins and found the back of the net 18 times, and grabbed 15 helpers, to total 33 points. Not the best numbers but a solid career non the less.

Now lets take a look at Christensen's dangle on Ellis.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

July-lights: July 24th, Datsyuk Splits The Sharks

There is very few in the world of hockey that are better than the Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk. From his jaw dropping dangles to his slick handed takeaways there is nothing Datsyuk can't do. A player that has displayed so much offensive domination over the course of his career, most would think was highly recruited and taken very early in the draft, not it Datsyuk's case. Datsyuk was drafted in the 6th round, 171st overall of the 1998 Entry Draft, talk about a grab.

Since officially coming into the league in the '01-'02 season Datsyuk has displayed offensive excellence, appearing in 662 games, scoring 221 goals, assisting on 430, and totaling 651 points. Not bad for a sixth rounder if you ask me.

However, Datsyuk is also known for his defensive contributions as well, sporting an overwhelming +/- of 187 having only been negative during the '03-'04 season where he went -2.  A contributing aspect to his well groomed defense is his ability to steal the puck away from his opponent, ranking in the top ten in takeaways last season with 71.

But lets not get away from the purpose of this post, Datsyuk's goal against the Sharks. Check it out below.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July-lights: July 23rd, Price Rejects LaRosse

During the 2010-2011 season Montreal Canadiens' goalie, Carey Price, turned out his best campaign since coming into the league four seasons ago. Price set career highs in game played, wins, shutouts, goals against average, and save percentage, with 72, 38, 8, 2.35, and .923 respectively.

Price's 72 games played was the second highest in the league behind only Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes . While his 38 got him a share of first place in the wins department along with Vancouver Canucks' goalie Roberto Luongo.

However along with playing so many games comes the opportunity lose those games. Price did end the season tied for most wins, but on the other hand he was also tied with Florida Panthers' goaltender Tomas Vokoun for the second most loses last season. You win some, you lose some right?

Needless to say Price still played some of the best hockey of his career last season. Along with his stellar play came an amazing save on Chad LaRosse of the Carolina Hurricanes (see below).

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Winnipeg Jets Reveal New Logos

Ever since the True North Sports & Entertainment purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers everyone has wondered what the name and logos of the new Winnipeg franchise would be. The name was revealed during the NHL draft. The franchise would keep the old name and once again be called the Winnipeg Jets.

However, there was no logo or jersey for the new NHL draftees to wear for the photo ops with the organization's front office. The Winnipeg faithful that had waited so long for a team to return to the Manitoba capital would have to wait a little bit longer.

The wait is now over. Via there team website, the Winnipeg Jets released their official logos. Having no resemblance to the logos of Jets past, but a new revamped main crest and shoulder pieces. Imagine big Dustin Byfuglien coming down the ice with that on his chest, mine as well be an actual jet.

 Pass or fail on the new Jets logos, sound off below.

July-lights: July 22nd, Ovechkin Finishes The Islanders

When people here the name Alexander Ovechkin a highlight reel of goals flashes through their mind. Since coming into the NHL in 2005 Ovechkin has given both Washington Capitals' fans and NHL fans around the world some of the most dominating offensive performances in recent history.

There is also a hot debate surrounding Ovechkin. When ever a hockey fan mentions Ovechkin there is sure to be a person near by that will shout Crosby right back. Many say Crosby is the best player in the game, many say Ovechkin is the best player in the game. Here are some points if you're ever locked up in a team Crosby, team Ovechkin argument.

In four of his six season in the NHL he has surpassed the 100 point mark, hitting 112 points in the '07-'08 season.   He has appeared in 475 games, scoring 301 goals and assisted on 313, totaling 614 points. In his career he has scored 52 game winning goals, that's clutch if you ask me.

One of his game winners came against the New York Islanders last season in overtime.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July-lights: July 21st, Roloson Bats One Out Of The Air

Many may consider 42 year old, Dwayne Roloson, past his prime. However, after he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning last season he silenced some of his critics by anchoring the Lightning in net and helping the team make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Roloson came into the league undrafted, and has played for a hand full of teams since coming into the NHL in 1996. Roloson has spent time with the Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, and Tampa Bay Lightning. He has appeared in 566 games, winning 214, while posting a .910 save percentage, and a 2.56 goals against average.

Although Roloson has not produced Patrick Roy or Tim Thomas numbers, he can't be entirely blamed for that, look at some of the teams he has played for. Not the cream of the crop. However, Roloson has still turned out some amazing saves in his career, one being against the Montreal Canadiens last season.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There Is No Trophy Like A Hockey Trophy

From kids leagues to adult leagues, professional to amateur, players compete for trophies. Big, small, old and new, trophies come in all different shapes and sizes. Teams win trophies, individuals win trophies. Trophies have given the world of sports its competitive edge, and nothing makes a player forget the pain and agony they felt and endured playing for that championship like lifting the trophy they won, in victory.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Across the wide spectrum of professional sports, organizations spend millions of dollars employing players in hopes they will help bring a championship to the club. Those championships are all represented by a trophy, a symbol that represents that the teams have made it and can be called champions.

However, some trophies don't quite match up to there solid silver or gold cousins. Below are the championship trophies for the major sports leagues, across the world. I'll list some fun facts about the trophy and do something that has never been done before, give the trophy a trophy based on its appearance, history, past winners, size, stuff like that.

July-lights: July 20th, Eager Goes Between The Legs Against Dallas

Standing 6' 2" above the ice Ben Eager has always been known for his big body, coming into league and making his physical abilities known immediately. In his first two seasons, he played in 88 games, and spent 251 minutes in the penalty box.

On the other hand, Eager has never found his offensive stride only surpassing the 10 goal mark once, that happening during '08-'09 season with the Chicago Blackhawks.He has scored only 34 goals in 323 games played. But has spent 741 minutes in the penalty box over those 323 games.

This low offensive output could possibly be a contributing to his traveling from team to team, having played for the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers, San Jose Sharks, and will be lacing em up for the Edmonton Oilers come time for next season.

However, Eager issued a news flash to the NHL that he is more than just a big body when he scored the San Jose Sharks sixth goal against the Dallas Stars.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lightning and Stamkos Agree On Five Year Deal

The long wait for Tampa Bay Lightning fans is over. Steven Stamkos has signed with the Lightning for the next five years, where he will make on average, $7.5 million a year.

Stamkos ranked fifth in the league last season with 95 points, and was second in the league with a total of 45 goals. He added 13 points in 18 post season games where the Lighting came up short losing to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Stamkos, just 21 years old, was selected first overall by the Lightning in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and has only missed three games, all in his rookie season. In just three seasons Stamkos has racked up 232 points with 119 lamp lighters, and 113 helpers.

Stats like those solidify the money that Stamkos will be receiving over the next five year. Many fans were stressing over how long the negotiations took, thinking that Stamkos would get an offer sheet from another team and be playing in another uniform next season. That was never the case, Tampa Bay Bay GM, Steve Yzerman would  have never let Stamkos leave Florida and would have matched any offer given to Stamkos.

July-lights: July 19th, Tootoo Steam Rolls Frolik

Any long time NHL fan is sure to have heard the phrase, "All aboard the Tootoo train" echoed in highlight reels and on fan sites across the wide world of hockey when ever Jordin Tootoo, of the Nashville Predators lays out an opponent. That happens very frequently.

Over the course of Tootoo's seven year career he has only found the back of the net 40 times, and assisted on 55 goals, to acquire 95 points. Last season he matched his career high in points, which is 18, with 8 goals and 10 assists.

On the other hand Tootoo has spent 633 minutes in the box, most likely resulting from his physical play. Last season he grabbed 61 PIMs, which is low compared to some of his past numbers. His career high being 124, which he had during the '08-'09 season. With penalty minutes like those it is safe to say many players have felt Tootoo's physical presence.

Bobby Frolik sure has.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July-lights: July 18th, Howard Steals One From Sedin

Jimmy Howard made his first appearance in a Red Wings jersey in the '05-'06 season, where he played in four games, winning only one game and posted a goals against average just under 3.00. Over the next few seasons he would only appear in five more games for the Red Wings. Until his number was called during the '09-'10 season.

In recent seasons Detroit Red Wings' goaltender, Jimmy Howard, has solidified his spot as the team's number one goaltender. He has posted back-to-back 37 win seasons, while winning 12 playoff games over the last two seasons.

Some say it was the extra time in the Red Wings' farm system that allowed Howard to develop into such a dominating goaltender. Without out that time to develop, maybe Howard would not have been able to make this amazing save on Daniel Sedin.

Daniel Sedin received a pass from brother Henrik and skated in on Howard. Sedin cut across the crease and seemed to have Howard beat. Sedin pulled the puck to his backhand where he had a wide open net until Howard fell back and got his glove on the puck. 

Well at least Sedin can forget about this robbery, seeing he dominated in the Stanley Cup Finals and won the Conn.... Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July-lights: July 17th, Byfuglien Walks Around The Sabres

Dustin Byfuglien was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks late in the '03 Entry Draft, in the 8th round, 245th overall. However, Byfuglien does not play like an 8th round draft pick. If GMs around the league would have known that he would develop into one of the best defense man in the league, one would have definitely grabbed him in the opening seven rounds.

Byfuglien will be playing in his seventh season come time for the puck to drop for the 2011-2012 season, and has racked up 241 games played, 75 goals, 87 assists, and 162 points. He has played for the Blackhawks where he helped win a Stanley Cup during the '09-'10 season and is now playing for, the former Atlanta Thrashers, the Winnipeg Jets.

However, Byfuglien is primarily known for his ability to come through at the most opportune moment having scored 23 game winning goals in his career, five of these came during the Blackhawks quest to hoist the Stanley Cup. Below is one of those game winning goals.

Picking up the puck in the defensive zone, Byfuglien elects to try to take the puck cost to coast. He came across the blueline on the outside of Sabres defense man, Steve Montador, and crossed him over beating him to the inside. Byfuglien then roofed the puck over the glove of Ryan Miller to win the game.

Winnipeg better watch out because "Big Buff" is coming.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July-lights: July 16th, Omark Fakes Out Ellis

There was a lot of hype surrounding Linus Omark when he came into the league last season with the Edmonton Oilers. Maybe it was because he had goals like the one below, where he dangled a goalie into the corner and then ever so gently went bar down during an international game with Sweden, flowing throw YouTube.

What would you expect with dangles like that? Needless too say Omark played in 51 games grabbing 27 points with 5 goals and 22 assists during his rookie campaign. He did not fail to amaze either on his first shootout oppurtunity. He did receive some criticism for being to "showy", you be the judge.

Sure the spin was probably unnecessary  and that big of a fake slapper was a little over the top. But still what a goal. I think we should stop focusing on the show boat aspect of the goal and look at how then, Tampa Bay Lightning goalie, Dan Ellis, got faked out on a slap shot from the hash marks.

Close up those legs Ellis, that's how u get infected.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July-lights: July 15th, Williams Spins Past The Lightning

Since coming to the Los Angeles Kings three seasons ago, Justin Williams has found himself being one of the teams top forwards alongside players like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. That is when he is healthy. Williams has not played a full season, 82 games, since the '05-'06 season with the Carolina Hurricanes.

In his three seasons with the Kings, Williams has played in 134, games netting 33 goals, assisting on 57, totaling 90 points. He was close to playing all 82 games last season but a late season shoulder injury cut that short at 73 games played. Williams did return in the playoffs to play six games grabbing four points with three goals and one assist.

Kings fans are extremely happy when he is healthy because he can produce goals like the one below.

Kings forward, Ryan Smyth, started the play off by picking up the puck at the Tampa Bay blue line and fed the puck to Williams with a nice backhand saucer pass. Williams received the pass in front of the net and brought the puck around on his back hand  getting by the Lightning goalie.

A healthy Williams is a good Williams wouldn't you agree

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July-lights: July 14th, Khabibulin Stones Zetterburg

Nikolai Khabibulin has done fairly well in the NHL since he came into the league in the '92 NHL Entry Draft,  where he was drafted in the 9th round, 204th overall. Although he was grabbed so late in the draft, Khabibulin has won the Stanley Cup, posted four 30+ win seasons, and visited the playoffs a totals of seven times.

However last season Khabibulin lost 32 games, the most by a goalie in the league. Khabibulin also grabbed an .890 save percentage, resulting in a 3.40 goals against average in the process. Not the best season in his long NHL career.

If Khabibulin would have made more saves like the one below, those stats would have been a little more envious.

Coming into the zone, Detroit Red Wings', Henrik Zetterburg cut into the slot and released a snapshot. Following his shot, Zetterburg picked up his rebound and put the puck back on net where a recovering Khabibulin turned out one of the best saves of the year.

Falling to his back Khabibulin tipped the puck with his finger tips pushing the puck over the net and saving a for sure goal. Maybe the "Khabi-wall" hasn't fallen just yet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July-lights: July 13th, Ponikarovski Sends Zanon Flying

Alexei Ponikarovski's offensive presence has slowly declined since he left the Toronto Maple Leafs back in the '09-'10 season. Ponikarovski posted his career best 68 point season with the Maple Leafs, but has only totaled 14 points in the two seasons since he left the Leafs, where he played a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings.

Due to his lack of offensive production Ponikarovski played most of last season with the Kings on either the third or fourth line, with his main objective being, be a big body on the ice. With a 6'4", 224 pound frame, he did well, in just 61 games played, he delivered 139 hits, one being the monster of a hit on Minnesota Wild's Greg Zanon (see below).

After picking up a rebound, Zanon played the puck into the corner. However after he played the puck he continued to turn into the shoulder of the incoming Ponikarovski. Zanon went air born  and did not hit the ice until he came into contact with the boards behind the net.

Birds are a part of the wild right?

Ponikarovski will be taking his hits to Carolina next season, as the Hurricanes acquired him through the free agency after the Kings did not sign him to a new contract.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July-lights: July 12th, Quick Stuns Iginla

In recent history the Los Angeles Kings have had a bit of an identity crisis when it has come to goaltending. From Roman Choke-manek, to whats his name Fukafuji, it is easy to say the Kings have tried everything in the past decade or so when it came to who was between the pipes.

However, the Kings have found their goal tending savior, and his name is Jon Quick. Drafted in 2005, 72nd overall, he did not make a lasting mark on the Kings organization until the '08-'09 season, where he played in 44 games winning 21 and posting a .914 save percentage in the process.

In the '09-'10 season Quick took over as the Kings clear cut number one goalie, playing in 72 games, winning 39 games. Last season Quick's work load was a little lighter, with back up Jonathan Bernier relieving Quick from time to time. Although Quick only played in 61 games last season, he won 35, while having a 2.24 goals against average, and posting six shutouts.

After watching the video below one can see why Quick has continued to excel, MAGIC!

When first watching it looks as if Quick got a piece of Jarome Iginla's one timer with his skate or stick, causing the puck to deflect away from the net. That is not the case. The puck gets behind Quick, and shoots out away from the net, despite all of the momentum it had going towards the net. Oooooohhh, ahhhhh!

It seems as if Quick pulled a trick out of Hudini's bag of tricks here, or just willed the puck from going into the net. What ever the case it is one of the best, kinda saves of the year.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July-lights: July 9th, Bouchard Scores On Mason

Minnesota, considered the State of Hockey, and home to the Minnesota Wild. Drafted by that very same team in the '02 Entry Draft, is Canadien, Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Being drafted in the first round, 8th overall, he has not put up points like most top ten draftees have produced.

His career high came during the '05-'06 season where he scored 17 goals and assisted on 42 to acquire 59 points. Last season he scored 12 times, and grabbed 26 helpers for 38 points, adding to his career totals of 89 goals, 216 assists, and 305 points in 485 games played. A big difference between his total goals scored and total assists.

However, if Bouchard could channel some of the offensive skill he showed in his shootout goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets' Steve Mason (see below), he may be able to close that gap between his goals and assists totals.

Coming in wide to the blocker side, Bouchard stepped into the slot and faked a deke to the right, getting Mason to flinch. Bouchard then deked again pulling Mason further across the crease before Bouchard cut back to the opposite post, and tucked the puck into an empty net.

At least Mason had a good vantage point to watch the puck cross the goal line.

Friday, July 8, 2011

July-lights: July 8th, Subban Destroys Marchand

PK Subban has flourished in his what was his first full season in the NHL, he only played two games of the '09-'10 season, playing the majority of the season in the American Hockey League. He played a total of 77 games last season with Montreal, grabbing 38 points, with 14 goals and 24 assists.

The Montreal Canadiens selected him in the second round, 43rd overall, of the '07 Entry Draft. Being listed at 6'0" and just over 200 pounds Subban is not the biggest body on the ice. His size was not apparent when he crushed Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand (see below).

Brad Marchand had picked up the puck behind the Bruins' net and came around with speed, moving through the neutral zone and into the Canadiens' zone. PK Subban stepped up just inside the blue line and crushed Marchand. Subban threw the hit in somewhat of an uncoordinated manner, almost turning completely around and hitting Marchand with his backside.

Unordinary, but effective.

Subban unleashed 110 hits during the regular season, this one being one of his heaviest. Heavy enough to send Marchand to the bench where he hunched over in pain and tried to regain his focus.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July-lights: July 7th, Umberger Drops Seabrook

When most people mention RJ Umberger and huge hit in the same sentence they are referring to when Umberger who was then Playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, was absolutely destroyed by Brian Campbell who was playing for the Buffalo Sabres, in the opening round of the '05-'06 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

However, if Umberger continues to throw his body around like he did in the video below, maybe, just maybe, some people will be able to forget the image of Umberger laying flat on the ice gazing into the rafters of HSBC Arena.

After the puck comes squirting out of a scrum in front of the net, now a part of the Columbus Blue Jackets RJ Umberger found himself in a race to the puck with Chicago Blackhawks' defense man, Brent Seabrook. Both sprinting to the puck came into contact with each other before they hit the boards, after the contact it was only Seabrook who would hit the boards. Coming off of Umberger's shoulder, leaving the ice and hitting the boards while parallel to the ice.

"Campbell just destroyed........." is that Rick Jeanneret's voice fading into the distance?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July-lights: July 6th, Vanek Sends Carlson And Holtby Fishing

The Buffalo Sabres made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since losing to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals of the '06-'07 season, last season. After losing key players at the conclusion of that season many wondered who would lead the Sabres both on and off the ice. We can say Thomas Vanek has at least picked up some of the slack on the ice.

After being drafted 5th overall by the Sabres in the '03 Entry Draft, the Austrian native came into the league during the '05-'06 season posting 25 goals and assisting 23 times grabbing 48 points in his rookie season. Since coming into the league Vanek has been with the Sabres for six seasons, playing in 469 games, scoring 204 goals, and assisting on 182  goals, amounting to 386 points.

Over the course of his career Vanek has scored 34 game winning goals, five came last season. One of which was against the Washington Capitals in overtime (see below), where he has proved why he has been such an offensive key for the Sabres.

Washington Capitals' defenseman, John Carlson, may have a hard time fishing his jock strap out of the rafters after that dangle. After picking up the puck in the neutral zone, Vanek broke into the Capitals zone crossing over Carlson  and dekeing around a helpless Braden Holtby, who completely missed his pokecheck. Then tucking the puck into the back of the net, and celebrating the win with his team.

Nothing can describe the goal better than long time Sabres' announcer, Rick Jeanneret's account of the goal, "Vanek just turned everyone upside down, inside out, and BINGO!". Sabres' fans will be lucky enough to watch Vanek for a while longer being he is signed through the '13-'14 season.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July-lights: July 5th, Turris Snipes Lawson

The shootout, hated by some loved by many. However, when players score goals like Kyle Turris' below, one begins to wonder how anyone can not love the shootout. Being that the shooter can take his time and skate down one-on-one against the goalie creates an endless amount of possibilities. The shooter can snipe top corner, dangle the goalie's jock strap into the rafters, or the goalie can rob the shooter from scoring a sure goal. The wonders of the shootout.

Kyle Turris is still one of the younger kids in the NHL, being just 21 years of age, coming into the league 3rd overall in the 2007 Entry Draft. He did not have much playing time in his first season, splitting time between the University of Wisconsin and Phoenix Coyotes, playing just three games in the NHL.

However, since the '08 season Turris has made appearance in 128 NHL games, netting 19 goals and 26 helpers for a total of 45 points. On the other hand, Turris can say he has done one thing no one else has done, scored on a one-timer in a shootout (see below).

Coming into the shootout Turris had the chance to win the game for his team. Skating into the Islander zone Turris froze Islander goalie, Nathan Lawson, by bouncing the puck off of the outside of his right skate and back onto the blade of his stick. He released the puck with a quick snapshot that found its way over the left shoulder of Lawson, winning the game for the Coyotes.

Regarding Lawson and his snapping of his stick across the post, I'm no goalie but last time I checked the goalies stick has very little to do with getting sniped top cheddar over the opposite shoulder. Just saying.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July-lights: July 4th, Thomas Robs Beauchemin

In honor of 4th of July, today's highlight will involve one of the best American goalies in the league, Tim Thomas. Over the past season Thomas turned out one of the most dominating performances between the pipes, winning 35 games, posting the league's best save percentage and goals against average with .938 and 2.00 respectively, and recording nine shutouts in the process.

These stats and Thomas' overall performance during the season was enough for him to be awarded the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded annually to the leagues best goalie.

Thomas' stellar play continued on into the playoffs where he won the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is awarded to the player seen as the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs, and hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins. Through out the playoffs he recorded a .940 save percentage with a 1.98 goals against average. Perhaps the biggest achievement being his four shutouts over the course of the playoffs, the final one coming in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals where the Bruins won 4-0.

Some may question how Thomas can turn out such stellar numbers, the following video is a major reason why.

Thomas is able to produce such high numbers due to the fact that he never gives up on the play. Thomas and the Bruins found themselves tied, and in overtime with the Toronto Maple Leafs when Thomas saved the game. Leafs' forward Clarke MacArthur came off the side boards and deked, Thomas played the shot. However, when MacArthur dished the puck to defense man, Francois Beauchemin, who joined the play Thomas dived across the crease making a miraculous glove save.

Perhaps the best part of this video is number nine of the Maple Leafs, Colby Armstrong, celebrating in the left face-off circle until he realized Thomas had just robbed Beauchemin. Concluding this post with a resounding applause for Thomas, being able to commit armed robbery and get away with it, and a big USA, USA!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July-lights: July 3rd, Doughty Goes Vintage On Hall

For long time Kings fans it is not an unfamiliar thing to see a huge hip check thrown on an opposing player streaking down the boards. However, back in the 90's a much bigger Rob Blake was the Kings defenseman patrolling the blue line, not Drew Doughty.

Doughty is mainly known for his offensive presence and not bone crushing hits. Since being drafted second overall by the Kings in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft he has netted 33 goals, along with 93 assists, amassing 126 points in his first three seasons. This offensive nature stems from the fact that Doughty is not afraid to jump up in the rush alongside the offense and shoot the puck, launching 407 shots, grabbing nine game winning goals in his young career. 

Averaging just over 27 minutes of ice time a game, Doughty is the Kings go to defenseman, which makes it understandable that he was on the ice against the Edmonton Oilers' top line for this hit.

 Hall had just received a drop pass in the neutral zone and was wheeling into the Kings zone. Perhaps he thought he had enough speed to make it around Doughty who was angeling him into the boards. That was not the case, Doughty came gliding across throwing his hip into Hall and Hall into the boards.

 A pile up ensued after the hit after now King, Dustin Penner, took Doughty to the ice and the remaining players on the ice followed suit. Wonder if that is why Penner doesn't backcheck for the Kings.

 Drew Doughty is now a restricted free agent and currently negotiating his new contract with the Kings. He is expected to get signed long term and become the highest paid player on the Kings' roster. Money well spent if Doughty cotinues to anchor the Kings' defense like he has done so far.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July-lights: July 2nd, Dave Bolland Undresses The Predators

Coming into the 2010-2011 season, the Chicago Blackhawks were going to need a major effort from those players that returned from their Stanley Cup championship team the season before.  The team had a major make over between the two seasons, losing some key pieces to the success they had when they found themselves hoisting the cup.

The Blackhawks received just the effort needed by 5 year veteran Dave Bolland against the Nashville Predators in the video below. It was one of Bolland's 15 goals on the season, where he added 22 assists equaling 37 points in just 61 games played.

This highlight reel goal all started when long time Predator, David Legwand, turned the puck over to Tomas Kopecky at the Blackhawks blueline, Kopecky then fed the puck to Bolland, who was streaking into the Predators zone. Bolland found himself in a one-on-one against Ryan Suter, Bolland took Sutter to the outside and then cut to the middle crossing over Sutter, once around Sutter, Bolland cut across Anders Lindback's crease tucking the puck into the net, tweeners.

The Predators involved in the play never had a chance. Once Sutter committed to coming across at Bolland, Bolland made easy work of dragging the puck past the d-man. Lindback buried himself, backing into his net and finding himself practically on the goal line when it cam time for Bolland to shoot the puck. Needless to say, Bolland capitalized on the opportunity and turned out one of the best goals of the season.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Penguins Get Snubbed By Jagr And Talbot

Jaromir Jagr, and hopefully his mullet, will make their long awaited return to the NHL next season. However, the team he will be helping make a run at the Stanley Cup is not who most thought would land the rights to the NHL legend.

The Penguins and the rest of the NHL considered themselves the front-runners in the Jaromir Jagr sweepstakes. The Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, and Detroit Red Wings were the three teams that were known to be in talks with the star forward.

When it came time to sign the paperwork the Penguins were left empty handed, with Jagr signing a one year $3.3 million contract with non other than division rival Philadelphia Flyers.

Before the Penguins faithful could even fully comprehend the turn events that sent Jagr to their instate foes, they were dealt another punch in the gut. Learning that fan favorite Maxim Talbot had inked a 5 year $9 million dollar contract with the very same Flyers.

Max Talbot said during an interview on TSN that, much like Jagr, his heart was in Pittsburgh. Well both his heart, himself, Jagr, and the Atlantic Division foes called the Philadelphia Flyers will all be in Pittsburgh on December 29th for the first meeting of the season between the two teams.

July-lights: July 1st, Burmistrov Dazzles Against Washington

Welcome to "July-lights" ladies and gentlemen. A month long event where every day through out the month of July a new highlight of the 2010-2011 NHL season will be posted. Whether it be a jaw dropping save, an amazing dangle, or a bone crushing hit, if it is worthy, the highlight will make the blog.

Also feel free to suggest a play for the list, you can do so by commenting below, sending an email to, or by tweeting me (@_iRoberts) on Twitter.

Drafted 8th overall by the late Atlanta Thrashers, now Winnipeg Jets, Alexander Burmistrov came into the league at just 19 years old, playing 74 games, grabbing six goals and 14 assists in 2010-2011, his rookie season.

One of those six goals came in dazzeling fashion in a 5-0 win against the Wahington Capitals on Friday, November 19th. Burmistrov picked up a drop pass from teammate Andrew Ladd, walked around Capitals' defensemen, Jeff Schultz, and then dangled goalie Michal Neuvirth moving behind the goal line, then reaching back in front of the net and jamming home the goal (see below).