Martin Brodeur is Back in Net

 

Starting on Thursday night New Jersey Devil’s goalie Martin Brodeur will continue his assault on Patrick Roy’s all-time wins record.

All eyes on the hockey world will be on Brodeur that night not just because he is only seven wins behind Roy but because he has been off for four months due to elbow surgery. The 36 year old who has 544 wins in his Hall Of Fame career put things in perspective when asked about this upcoming game.

“We do something pretty cool playing hockey, so I am excited every game to play,” he said. “But definitely there is a little more emphasis on this.” “I have not played in a long time and I want to get out there and see how it goes.”

This three time Stanley Cup winner got the nod on Wednesday after the Devil’s brass observed his steady progress over the past six weeks. Admitting to feeling frustrated at sitting on the sidelines for such an extended period of time, Brodeur expressed confidence in the way he has felt during practice and said that the bicep muscle in his elbow isn’t hurting.

“I feel good,” Brodeur said. “I feel like I haven’t lost much out there practicing and moving around and then feeling the puck and controlling my rebounds and all that.” “It’s a question of seeing game action and I am sure that will take a bit.”

With only 22 games remaining and a slim six- point lead over second place Philadelphia Flyers in the Atlantic Division, Coach Brent Sutter hasn’t yet decided how many games his veteran goalie will play.

To make room on the roster for Brodeur, New Jersey shipped goalie Scott Clemmensen who was 25-13-1 on the season down to Lowell in the AHL.    

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John Tortorella is Back

On Tuesday morning the John Tortorella era officially began in New York when he conducted his first practice since taking over approximately 24 hours ago from the fired Tom Renney. Wanting to instill some much needed confidence into this fragile squad who have lost 10 of their past 12 games (2-7-3), Tortorella knows that time is an essence with the playoffs not that far away. “I just want them to relax a bit here,” said Tortorella who has an impressive 239-222-36-38 coaching record spanning over 6.5 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning. “My biggest question is how much do we give them in a short period of time. There are 20 plus games left and I don’t want to confuse them anymore.” Tortorella who has that reputation for being a tough as nails coach preached that the immediate goal is for the team to gain that much needed self confidence. After losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, the Rangers occupied fifth spot in the Eastern Conference and are in no ways a shoe in to make the playoffs. Knowing he had no choice, general manager Glen Sather made the coaching move on Monday and now the players know it’s their turn to step it up. “New coach, new guy and a new style,” said Rangers forward Scott Gomez. “We’ve got to wake up. “It’s going to be different and we’ve got to adjust.” Currently the Rangers are 31-23-7.

NHL Hockey Notes

Gretzky Does Not Want To Be Involved With Team Canada At 2010 Olympics

Next year when Team Canada battles for hockey gold in the Vancouver Olympics, they will be missing one prominent name in Wayne Gretzky.
Gretzky who was instrumental in the management position in helping Canada win gold at Salt Lake City in 2002 recently told reporters in Phoenix that he had no interest in getting involved with a coaching position.
Canada who will be looking for redemption after a disappointing 2006 Torino Games, are in good hands as former Detroit Red wing star Steve Yzerman will serve as the executive director.
Addressing the rumors that won’t go away, Gretzky made it perfectly clear that he has no intentions of changing his mind regarding the Olympics.
“I don’t know how many times I can say this,” a frustrated Gretzky told reporters on the weekend. “I don’t plan on being involved. I really enjoyed my time with Team Canada. I think it’s a privilege to be part of Team Canada. It was a great honor for me.  But I really felt stepping aside and having a new regime take over-a fresh start heading into Vancouver-was the best for Canada.”

Kaberle Submits Ten Teams He Will Go To

Even though Tomas Kaberle has continuously said that he doesn’t want to leave Toronto, this veteran defenceman recently submitted to general manager Brian Burke a list of teams he has agreed to be traded to.
Kaberle who refused to wave his no trade clause last season when the Leafs had a pending deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, could be moved if not at the March 4 trade deadline then sometime in the time frame between the NHL Entry Draft and August 15. (If the Leafs fail to make the playoffs)
It’s been a trying season for the 30 year-old who is currently sidelined with a broken hands. At the time of his injury Kaberle had 30 points and a –12 rating.

Blackhawks Lose Sharp To Injury

On Saturday night, the Chicago Blackhawks suffered a devastating blow when scoring forward Patrick Sharp suffered a lower body injury against the Dallas Stars.
Sharp who was traded to Chicago by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005, was enjoying a stellar season of 23 goals and 38. This six- year veteran who has scored 98 goals and 173 points in his illustrious career will be out for 2 to 3 weeks.

Schneider Traded To Habs

Mathieu Schneider Traded
Veteran defenceman Mathieu Schneider was thrilled on Monday to hear the news that he is heading back to the place where his stellar NHL career began over a decade ago. This 39 year-old who is still playing well in his 19th season was moved to the Montreal Canadiens for a second round draft pick in 2009 and a third round selection in 2010. Along with Schneider who has 15 points on the season, Montreal also picked up a conditional draft choice from Atlanta.
“It was a special time for me,” Schneider said about his first stint with the Habs, which began in 1990 and lasted until 1995 when he was traded to the New York Islanders.
“Some of the best years (including winning the 1993 Stanley Cup) of my career were in Montreal. There’s just so much pride in the Canadiens in the city.”
Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey who was rumored to be in the market for a scoring forward, likes the offensive upside the veteran defenceman brings and believes that he will be a big help for the power play.
“We were looking for a defenceman who could contribute offensively,” Gainey said. “Mathieu, an experienced player with a lot of offensive upside, will bring depth to our core group of defenceman and will be an asset on our power play.”
Gainey who went on to praise Schneider’s passing abilities made room for him on the roster by farming out Ryan O’Byrne to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League.
Over the years this American born blue liner has accumulated 717 points during his time with the Canadiens, Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks and the Thrashers.
This is only the very beginning of what will be lots of trades made between now to the trading deadline comes on March 4.

Therrien Out As Pittsburgh Penguins Coach

Michel Therrien Given His Walking Papers

 

On Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being badly outplayed in an ugly 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Pittsburgh Penguins management decided to pull the trigger on a coaching change.

Even though Michel Therrien led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals last season management knew they had to make a major shakeup with their team badly underachieving in sitting five points out of a playoff spot.

“We believe we need a change in direction and with 25 games remaining in the regular season, our goal remains to finish strong and qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs,” said the Penguins Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.

Despite the rumors circulating that Therrien wasn’t well liked by his players it’s hard to ignore his success since taking over from Ed Olczyk prior to Christmas in 2005.

The following season under Therrien the Penguins enjoyed a 47- point improvement.

Last season despite missing star forward Sidney Crosby and goalie Marc –Andre Fleury to significant injuries, Therrien still managed to execute a successful game plan which resulted in Pittsburgh achieving not only its second straight 100 point season, but also their first division title since 1997/98.

On Saturday night, Therrien’s Penguins built an early 2-0 lead against the Leafs before without any warning stopped attacking and seemed to lose interest.

Stepping behind the Penguins bench will be Dan Bylsma who was coaching this season with the Penguins farm team the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. This 38 year-old talked about wanting to make the Penguins play more of an up temp style of hockey.

“With the strengths we have, we should be able to go into buildings and make teams deal with the quality of players we have at every position,” said Bylsma. “I look at a group that can win games right now, and we need to do that. We can do this, but the players have to believe we can do this.

Therrien wasn’t the only one affected by this shakeup though he was the only one to lose his job. His old assistant coach Andre Savard was reassigned to another position within the organization. Filing in for Savard will be Tom Fitzgerald who served as the team’s director of player development.  

The Penguins who are a very mediocre 27-25-5 will now be led by a young man who enjoyed success with the baby Penguins where this year he coached them to a 35-16-1-2 record upon being promoted to the big team.

“Dan Bylsma is one of the bright young coaches in the game and has done an exceptional job as the head coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season,” Shero said.

The first test will come on Monday when the Penguins face-off in an afternoon contest against the New York Islanders.

Mike Green Breaks A Long Standing Record

Capitals Mike Green Ties Record 

The big news on Saturday night came out of Tampa Bay where Washington Capitals young defenceman Mike Green continued to show why he should be a serious candidate for the 2010 Canadian Olympic team.

This 23 year-old who is only in his third season made some NHL history when in the second period with the man advantage he scored in his eighth straight game to eclipse the old record of seven which was set way back in the 1983/84 season by Mike O’Connell.

After being covered with shaving cream from his teammates after the game, Green was pretty modest and sentimental as he reflected on not only the goal but how all his teammates came off the bench to mob him.

“It’s incredible,” said Green. “I’m playing with some of the best players in the world. I wasn’t expecting that (being mobbed by all his teammates) but I was excited. It almost brought a little tear to my eye, so I was pretty jacked up.”

Another milestone that was reached with this 5-1 win was that Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth turned aside 31 of the 32 shots in recording his first NHL victory. After the game this 20 year-old who was also doused with shaving cream was still in shock over what he accomplished.

“What can I say?” he said. “It’s unreal. I still can’t believe this. That was my best feeling ever.”

Green who is now starting to get recognition around the NHL has a total of 10 goals and 17 points during this eight game streak. He is now only one game shy from tying the Capitals franchise record of consecutive games with a goal, which was set by Alan Haworth back in 1985-86 and Mike Gartner in 1986-87.

Heading into the stretch drive the Washington Capitals who are running away with the Southeast Division have now won five of their past seven games.

 

Clemmensen Earns Another Shutout

 Clemmensen Registers Consecutive Shutouts

 

The dream season of New Jersey Devil’s backup goalie Scott Clemmensen got that much better on Friday night when the five- year veteran stopped 31 shots in shutting out the Eastern Division leading Boston Bruins by a 1-0 score.

It’s been quite the ride for this 31 year-old who a year ago found himself out of the NHL and playing for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

Last summer Clemmensen who was a Devils draft pick back in 1997, came back to New Jersey to serve as a backup to four time Vezina Trophy winner Martin Brodeur.

In November hockey experts were expecting the Devils to fall once Brodeur got injured but Clemmensen to his credit took advantage of the opportunity and has definitely been the talk around the league.

Coming into the season with only eight NHL wins under his belt, Clemmensen has already posted 24 wins with approximately 30 games still remaining.

“I don’t know what is going to happen when he comes back,” Clemmensen said in reference to Brodeur who is due back in early March. “I just know that if called upon, I’m going to play the best that I can.” “It’s taken me so long, and it’s been so hard to get here that I’m not going to take any game for granted or any situation for granted.”

After not earning a shutout since March 2004, Clemmensen had the hockey world buzzing on Friday after completing his second straight shutout in blanking the Bruins.

Showing to be the ultimate team player he wanted to talk about the team’s success as opposed to the shutouts with the first one coming last Monday against the New York Rangers.

“We’ve really made a strong push to get to the top of the standings,” said Clemmensen whose team has won 12 of 14 games. “If we’re going to make that next push and be an elite level team in this league, we’ve got to beat teams like this.”(Boston) “We know we can beat anyone in the league no matter what.”

Tim Thomas was stellar in net but would like to have had a mulligan on the shot by Bryce Salvador that beat him for the game’s lone goal.

“I picked it up right away.” “I had plenty of time,” Thomas said. “That was the easiest shot of the night.” “They kind of lull you to sleep.” “All of a sudden you get a shot that’s so soft you just miss it.”

With the win New Jersey is only 10 points behind the top seeded Bruins.