Corey Crawford, Kari Lehtonen, Henrik Lundqvist among Top 5 goalies exceeding expectations

In accordance to my series of the Top 5 at Center Ice Chat, I attempted to do justice by those who have been work horses, or close to it, and haven’t seen the benefits in the grand scheme of things.

Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings may be the more obvious ones. But I’m not going to reward Tomas Vokoun anything, just yet, as he’s backing up a very, very talented Washington Capitals unit.

In my Top 5, I also bring up Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Al Montoya of the New York Islanders. It all makes sense, trust me. Continue reading

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Top 5 disappointing NHL goalies

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this WordPress, mostly in part of my duties at Center Ice Chat, a WordPress-themed blog part of the Yardbarker and Fox Sports Network. But for my good friends and followers here, I’ll try to update some of my better stuff from there.

So, the NHL season has seen a lot of surprised in the net, and some not so much. The Red Wings we all knew would be good. Maybe decent. Maybe just at par with my Chicago Blackhawks.

I guess wrong. And perhaps so did a lot of others. Continue reading

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Sale of Blues expected before season starts

Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer isn’t the only one who wants an NHL franchise. Recent reports say four others are interested in the Central Division basement franchise.

St. Louis Blues majority owner Dave Checketts reportedly has five interested buyers for the team he purchased just years ago in an effort to rebuild the franchise. The Blues have made the playoffs once in that time frame.

It was reported Hulsizer became interested in the St. Louis Blues after withdrawing a bid for thePhoenix Coyotes several months ago. Continue reading

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Sabres re-sign Sekera, surpass cap ceiling

The Buffalo Sabres re-signed restricted free agent Andrej Sekera on Tuesday to a four-year, $11 million deal, avoiding arbitration, but are now in an unfamiliar position.

Andrej Sekera, a restricted free agent, re-signed with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. The 25-year-old defenseman scored three goals and tallied 26 assists last season with 34 penalty minutes.

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier is now looking at a team cap space in the red by nearly $2.4 million with a current payroll at $66.6, exceeding the cap ceiling for the 2011-12 season of $64.3, according to Cap Geek.

Continue reading

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Audio blog: One last shift

The time has come my friends for this blog, still in its infancy, to go into hibernation.

I have a new endeavor at another Word Press-themed website at I’m co-editor of the website which will feature original features and articles by yours truly and another writer I will be working with. We’re both professional journalists, mine is print emphasized and his is in audio broadcast.

Together we are gearing up for a lot of great things and exciting ways to engage with hockey readers with well thought hockey posts and not the same regurgitated news available on 500 other news websites.

But most importantly, I recorded my last audio blog for a long while. I took 15 minutes to break down the important details of the Vancouver riot after Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. If you’re a fellow puck head, you’ll definitely want to tune in.

6-17 Audio Blog

I’m suspending this blog in length depending on how Center Ice Chat shakes up. I’ll be putting in a lot of time and energy to help make it as successful as possible. Please join the conversation.

If you’d like to contribute, please tweet me. I’d also be willing to duplicate content from your personal blog and add a link to your blog at the top of the post on Center Ice Chat.

And as always, follow and converse with me on Twitter @Mattjw24.

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Eye for an eye

Hockey fans, pundits divided on NHL dishing out 4-game suspension on Rowe

If Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton can’t finish out the remainder of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, neither can Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rowe.

That was the conventional thinking of NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy, when he issued Rowe a four-game suspension Tuesday afternoon.

It’s not agreeable by either team’s fan base, but it will suffice. Horton was cleared from Massachusetts General Hospital on Tuesday, but was diagnosed with a severe (Grade 3) concussion.

Rowe’s statement of apology is as follows:

 “I want to express my concern for Nathan’s well being and wish him a quick and full recovery. I try to play this game honestly and with integrity. As someone who has experienced this type of injury I am well aware of its serious nature and have no desire for another player to experience it. I will not take away my teammates’ focus on the task at hand and intend to speak at an appropriate time in future.”

Pittsburg Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was removed from the season in early January due to a mild (Grade 1) concussion. The recovery for Horton may take a while, to say the least.

But there’s no doubt that the hit pushed the Bruins to their wits end in the eventual 8-1 rout. The onslaught of goals derailed the Vancouver momentum, and Boston is looking the favorites all of the sudden.

In both of Boston’s losses, Tim Thomas gave the Bruins chances to compete, and kept the tempo of the game peaked. The collapse of Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo derailed the Canucks’ offense, too.

It’s a similar situation with for the Canucks. In the Western Conference quarterfinals, the defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks thrashed Luongo in a 7-2 romp at the United Center in Chicago.

But much later in the playoffs with the stakes much higher, the Canucks once again revealed their vulnerability. However, as the Bruins got to the Olympic gold medal goaltender, they’ll sure look to repeat in Game 4 on Wednesday at Boston’s TD Garden.

Until then, the hockey world has been providing a lot of insight on the Rome suspension ruling. Here’s a few of them:

It’s easy for the NHL to suspend a spare part like Aaron Rome for a significant period. Heatley’s vicious elbow only got him 2 games.” @Proteautype Adam Proteau of The Hockey News.

(Dan Heatley’s elbow on Steve Ott earlier this season can be seen here.)

“Mixed feelings on everything… just glad horton is ok and hope to see this type of consistency down the road.”  @MaxPacioretty67 Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens forward who suffered a season-ending injury ironically in a game against the Bruins. Boston’s captain Zdeno Chara brushed Pacioretty toward the stanchion, and as a result Pacioretty suffered a concussion and a broken vertebra.

“Instead of irate, VAN fans shud be happy. Their team loses a 6th D. BOS loses top RW. Not even close to an even tradeoff. Canucks ahead.” @DamoSpin Damien Cox, Toronto Star hockey columnist

Question: Is the eye-for-an-eye punishment on Aaron Ward warranted? If so, why now as opposed to other concussion blows we’ve seen this season? Please submit your answer to the comment section or let’s discuss on Twitter.

Mattjw24 can be contacted on Twitter @Mattjw24.

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Tweeting up a storm

This hockey season I joined the micro-blogging addiction that is Twitter.

I did so with several motivations. One, to stay connected with a good friend who I worked with for nearly a year before I moved to Michigan. Second, because once I settled in Michigan, I wanted to launch this very blog you’re reading, and I wanted to use my Twitter account to promote this blog, while communicating with other hockey bloggers and personalities. However, I did not know I would succumb to the obsession of following hockey’s best and brightest.

According to the website Tweeting-Athletes, there are 128 hockey players –current and retired — with active official Twitter accounts. For the most part, the accounts are facilitated by the players themselves, tweeting a glimpse in the world of a number of professional hockey player via Twitpic to 4square updates, and chumming it up with teammates via mentions.

It’s living vicariously for us, the followers, to peer into uncharted territory, and feel connected by being able to tweet a response, and become overzealous once we receive a reply back.

For the players, it’s building a fan base, marketing the team, and showing personality off the ice.

One player every puck head follows is @BizNasty2point0, Phoenix Coyotes fourth line left winger Paul Bissonnette, a former ECHL player of the Wheeling Nailers who worked his way through the minors and eventually joined the Pittsburg Penguins in the 2008-09 season.

From Bissonnette's yfrog account: Jesus just told me the Yotes will win the cup next year. Thanks #Jesus

He was shipped to Phoenix the following year, and built a following on Twitter not because of anything he does on the ice, but because of his brash personality. Bissonnette crude jokes which appeal to teenagers and young adults has earned himself over 91,000 followers, including yours truly.

The sensation of Twitter has put professional athletes under fire for controversial tweets, or for comments made on television, which carry over to tweets.

But the amount of athletes joining the micro-blogging sensation keeps ballooning, and franchise owners should welcome the new promotion of their prized athletes. If one thing is for sure, Bissonnette didn’t get a contract extension this season because of his one goal, no assists, and +6 performance in 48 games. Sure, he tallied 71 penalty minutes this year and has emerged more in the last two years as a bruiser, but he’s arguably one of the most popular Coyotes in the Phoenix fan base because of Twitter. Bissonnette even has a line of clothing with slogans such as “4th line for life.”

But in all, the NHL ranks fourth with the NFL, MLB and NBA with those 128 tweeters. There are 1,034 tweeting off the gridiron, 333 off the hardwood and 220 off the baseball diamond, according to Tweeting Athletes.

The website displays the athletes’ Twitter feed, the date added to their database, and a “NEW” logo for recently added athletes.

So, if you feel you may be missing athletes on your Twitter account, find them on Tweeting Athletes, and chirp away.

Mattjw24 can be contacted on Twitter @mattjw24.

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