Cross Checks: Claude Giroux

From the official NHL release:

CROSBY, GETZLAF AND GIROUX VOTED HART TROPHY FINALISTS


NEW YORK (May 1, 2014) – Forwards Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” the National Hockey League announced today.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Hart Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Following are the finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, in alphabetical order:

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby posted 36 goals as well as a League-leading 68 assists and 104 points to capture his second career Art Ross Trophy and lead the Penguins to their second consecutive division title. He registered points in 60 of the 80 games he played in (75.0%), including 30 multi-point performances, and never went more than two consecutive games without registering a point.
Crosby also reached the 100-point milestone for the fifth time in his career and on Nov. 29 hit 700 career points, doing so in his 497th game, the fastest among active players and sixth-fastest in NHL history. The 26-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S., native is a Hart Trophy finalist for the fourth time after winning the award in 2006-07 and finishing as a runner-up in 2009-10 and 2012-13.

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

Getzlaf scored a career-high 31 goals and ranked second in the League with 87 points to power the Ducks to the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history. He posted a 14-game point streak Nov. 15-Dec. 15 (6-11—17), the longest in the NHL since the
2011-12 season. Getzlaf also set a career high with seven game-winning goals, second on the team to Corey Perry (9), and recorded a +28 rating, the second-highest of his career (2007-08: +32), to help the Ducks set franchise records for wins (54), points (116), points percentage (.707), home wins (29) and road wins (25). The 28-year-old Regina, Sask., native is a Hart Trophy finalist for the first time.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Giroux matched a career high with 28 goals and finished third in the NHL scoring race with 86 points to help the Flyers bounce back from a 3-9-0 start to the season to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven years. After being held pointless in his first five games and not scoring a goal until his 16th contest, Giroux totaled 28-51—79 in his final 67 outings of the season, an average of 1.18 points per game. He also compiled a career-long, nine-game point streak Dec. 11-30, totaling 6-11—17 in that span, and recorded his 100th NHL goal Dec. 19. The 26-year-old Hearst, Ont., native is a Hart Trophy finalist for the first time.

History

The Hart Memorial Trophy was presented by the National Hockey League in 1960 after the original Hart Trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The original Hart Trophy was donated to the NHL in 1924 by Dr. David A. Hart, father of Cecil Hart, former manager-coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

Young Flyers have growing up to do

May, 1, 2014
May 1
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NEW YORK -- Two words said it all.

After his team was eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek was asked what the difference in the series was.

“One goal,” he replied.

Two words. So simple. So accurate.

And so painful to swallow.

Philadelphia’s season started with a stunning coaching change and a franchise-worst 1-7 start, and ended with a 2-1 loss to New York in Game 7 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

“Everyone feels lousy, obviously, but I’m proud of our players,” said Craig Berube, who took over behind the bench after Peter Laviolette was fired just three games into the season.

“They went through a lot this year. We were stuck in a hole for awhile, and they battled out of it and stuck together. There’s a lot of character in our locker room.”

The difference in Wednesday night’s game was one goal, and three words: the second period.

Following a scoreless opening frame, the Rangers tallied twice in the second, getting goals from Daniel Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot and outshooting the Flyers, 18-5.

[+] EnlargeSteve Mason
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesSteve Mason proved to be one of the key parts of a solid young core in Philadelphia.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who scored 28 goals during the regular season and two more in the playoffs, had a chance to get his team on the board with four minutes left in the middle frame. But with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist down and the top half of the net open, Giroux fired high.

“I was trying to get away from their D, and I’m not sure if (Anton Stralman) got his stick on it,” Giroux said. “I shot up high because the goalie was low.”

The Flyers got within a goal in the third when rookie Jason Akeson tallied his second of the postseason, but that’s as close as they would come.

“It’s the worst feeling ever,” Voracek said. “You come so close, do-or-die and lose that critical Game 7. That’s hockey. We got to make sure and learn from it and use it in the future.”

In the end, the power-play may have done the Flyers in: they went 5-for-8 in their three wins, 1-for-13 in their four losses.

“Special teams are important,” said Vincent Lecavalier, whose team killed off 21 straight Rangers power plays to end the series but still lost. “They were aggressive and they played well on the PK tonight.”

Throughout a Stanley Cup drought that has now reached 38 years, Philadelphia’s Achilles heal has always been goaltending, but even in the loss Steve Mason proved he might be the one to change that. After missing the early part of the series due to a concussion, Mason started the final four games, compiling a 1.97 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage.

He made 31 saves in Game 7, several of them -- including his highway robbery of Derek Stepan at the doorstep in the second -- of the highlight reel variety.

If Mason were healthy throughout the series, who knows, maybe the Rangers would be the team going home.

“From the time he took over until now, he’s really developed into a terrific goalie,” Berube said of Mason.

With a young core in place that features Giroux (26 years old), Mason (25), Wayne Simmonds (25), Voracek (24), Akeson (23), Sean Couturier (21) and the Schenn brothers (Luke, 24 and Brayden, 22), the Flyers appear primed to be a playoff contender for years to come.

Still, they’re going to have to solidify their defense. And when it comes down to it, their goal-scorers are going to have to score goals in the biggest games.

Historically, they have. This time they came up short.

One goal short.

“For a young team, I think it’s great. This is only going to make it stronger,” Giroux said.
NEW YORK -- If Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux’s Game 4 guarantee made waves inside the New York Rangers dressing room, they did their best to keep that fact concealed, shrugging off their opponents' confidence.

After the Flyers’ 4-1 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, Giroux boldly proclaimed:

“We’ll be ready for Game 4. We’re going to tie up the series and go back to New York.”

That sort of statement could have poured gasoline on an already bitter series, but the Rangers, keen on preserving their series lead, didn’t seem interested in playing into the postseason rhetoric.

“I heard some people say he said something, but why wouldn’t he? What’s he going to say, ‘We’re going to go in and lose’?” said veteran center Brad Richards. “He wants to win. I’m sure their focus is on that. None of it involves us either way, whatever he says.”

The Rangers have their own plans, namely to capitalize on the opportunity to build a commanding two-game series lead with another win at Wells Fargo Center on Friday. That would provide the Rangers with the opportunity to close things out at home in Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

“We want to go in and win tomorrow too. Does it matter what we say? It’s gonna be played out on the ice [Friday] night,” Richards said. “We’re going to have to be a lot better on the ice tomorrow night, a lot more disciplined, and that’s our focus.”

Rather than lobbing incendiary comments back in Giroux’s direction -- the most obvious ammunition being that he has been limited to a mere two shots on goal the entire series, for one -- the Rangers are hunkering down and trying to fine-tune their own game.

Given Tuesday’s emotional Game 3, the Rangers want to curb their enthusiasm and limit the amount of time they spend in the penalty box. They took six penalties in Game 3, leaving them short-handed for 7:19 in the game. While the penalty-killing unit was superb, aided by a zealous shot-blocking effort, they would rather not put themselves in a similar position Friday.

Though the Flyers have struggled at times on the power play in the first trio of games, going 2-for-9 with the man advantage, Philadelphia is reportedly making some changes to its special-teams unit. Flyers coach Craig Berube told local reporters Wednesday that he was not satisfied with his club’s ability to get shots through, indicating that the Flyers would look for ways to produce quicker puck movement and find more shooting lanes.

The Rangers are anticipating as much and know they have to keep the extracurricular activity to a minimum. They did a good job of that during the regular season, finishing ninth in the league among least-penalized teams with an average of 10 minutes per game. By comparison, the Flyers were the NHL’s most penalized team with an average of 14.4 minutes per game.

“We just need to play whistle to whistle,” said center Derick Brassard, whose linemate Benoit Pouliot took two undisciplined penalties Tuesday. “We try to tell each other before game, between periods, we want to play with emotions, we want to play hard and battle, but you just need that fraction of a second you need to decide whether you want to give extra shots or be in those extra scrums. I think we got away from it in Game 3. It’s something that’s going to be part of our plan [Friday].”

Coach Alain Vigneault said his club is aware of the hostile territory and that the chippy plays won’t always result in penalties in its favor. (Matt Read’s questionable hit on Daniel Carcillo was one particular example provided.) That can’t change their mindset regardless.

“It’s something we’re expecting,” Vigneault said. “Knowing the way they play, we’ve just got to play whistle to whistle.”

 
PHILADELPHIA -- The New York Rangers took a 2-1 series lead with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo made his first appearance of the series and it was a memorable one, as he recovered from both a head shot and a questionable penalty call to deliver the dagger against his old club, scoring to give the Rangers a three-goal cushion in the third period.

Flyers goaltender Steve Mason, playing for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on April 12, replaced Ray Emery in the third period after the 31-year-old gave up his fourth goal of the night.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux managed to register his first shot on goal of the series, but was again held off the scoresheet as Philly’s first line was effectively contained.

Change coming?: Emery, making his third consecutive start this series in place of injured starter Steve Mason, did not have his best outing Tuesday night. He was solid in the first two games, but gave up at least a few in Game 3 that he’d like to have back.

Considering Mason’s surprising appearance -- he dressed as a back-up, even though he was initially reported to be unavailable, and entered the game to replace Emery in the third -- he could be primed to make his first start for the Flyers in Game 4 in Philadelphia on Friday.

Big goal: The Flyers carried momentum into the second period after cutting the Rangers’ lead in half with defenseman Mark Streit’s goal at the end of the first, but they failed to capitalize on the emotional swing. Instead, Rangers’ blueliner Dan Girardi tallied the Blueshirts’ biggest goal to date of the playoffs, beating Emery with a deep slapshot to reclaim a two-goal lead at 5:17.

Lose your cool: Flyers coach Craig Berube stressed in his pregame press briefing the importance of discipline after his club spent a solid chunk of Sunday’s 4-2 win down a man on the penalty kill. Apparently, the players did not heed his message, because there was plenty of sloppy, undisciplined hockey right from puck drop. The Flyers took three separate penalties in the first period and the Rangers were almost as bad. For the Blueshirts, Benoit Pouliot was the main offender, taking two ill-advised penalties, the latter of which negated a Rangers power play.

Unlikely duo: Raise your hand if you had Jakub Voracek and Carl Hagelin as the first two players to drop their mitts in this black-and-blue series. Exactly. The two skill players squared off in the second period and Voracek ended it quickly in a lopsided bout, pummeling Hagelin before the Swedish winger could even land a punch. The crowd approved, erupting in a raucous roar, but again the Flyers failed to channel the surge. A stingy Rangers penalty-killing unit was the unsung hero for New York in the middle frame, snuffing both man-up opportunities for the Flyers in the period.
NEW YORK -- And we have ourselves a series, folks.

Following a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1, the New York Rangers had the chance to secure a two-game lead at Madison Square Garden, siphon all confidence from the Flyers and send them back to Philadelphia with doubts about whether they could knock off their divisional foe in the best-of-seven set.

They didn’t.

[+] EnlargeJakub Voracek
Paul Bereswill/Getty ImagesFour unanswered goals sunk the Rangers in Game 2.
Instead, the Rangers let a two-goal lead in the first period disappear as a resilient Flyers squad rattled off four unanswered goals to snap a nine-game losing streak at MSG with a 4-2 win Sunday afternoon. The two teams now head to Philly for Game 3 in what promises to be hostile territory for the Blueshirts at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.

“We knew they were going to come back and play a better game than last time. It’s going to be a close race,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who gave up three goals on 24 shots. “We didn’t expect this to be easy.”

And it won’t be, if Sunday’s matinee was any indication. Staring down a 2-0 hole after the Rangers exploited some wide-open passing lanes and took advantage of the Flyers’ lack of discipline, Philadelphia surged back with the help of its first line.

Rendered ineffective for the most part on Thursday, the Flyers' top trio of Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek got the team on the board off the rush late in the first period and didn’t look back. The Flyers' penalty kill was stellar, limiting the Rangers to just one man-up marker on six power-play attempts. Backup netminder Ray Emery, who was replacing injured starter Steve Mason, was solid in net, making 31 saves to record his first win of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Flyers raised their level of play, as the Rangers expected they would.

“This is a good team. By no means did we think this was going to be an easy series,” said veteran forward Martin St. Louis, who scored his first playoff goal as a New York Ranger on a sharp-angle shot 4:08 into play. “We know we have to be better. We knew that they were going to be better after Game 1, and they were.”

In recent years, the Rangers have shown difficulty in closing out a series quickly, even after taking Game 1. In the 2012 playoffs, the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers took the series opener of both their quarterfinal set against the Ottawa Senators and their semifinal matchup against the Washington Capitals. It took the Rangers seven games to win both series, raising the question of whether fatigue was a factor in the team’s Eastern Conference finals loss to the New Jersey Devils that spring.

Last spring, the Rangers fell down 2-0 before edging the Capitals in seven games. They were then bounced in a matter of five in the second round, outclassed by the dominant Boston Bruins.

New York couldn’t convert on the chances it had to close out Sunday’s game, and the Flyers responded with that needed sense of opportunism.

How much did that hurt the team in the end?

“They were very big,” alternate captain Brad Richards said of the team’s missed opportunities. “We had some power plays tonight that we didn’t get done. We had some point-blank chances that Emery made some big saves on. It could go either way in some of those situations. They seemed to be very opportunistic on their chances, and they won.”

Buckle up. These teams may be in for a lengthy battle.
NEW YORK -- With the Philadelphia Flyers sorting out their goaltending situation -- starter Steve Mason declared himself out for Game 2 on Sunday (click here for the full story) -- the New York Rangers have paid little attention to what is happening on the other side of the series.

Regardless of which goaltender is in net each game -- Mason or Ray Emery, the Rangers feel no need to deviate from the plan that propelled them to a 4-1 win against the Flyers in Game 1 on Thursday night.

They have a blueprint moving forward, and they plan to stick with that as much as possible.

“We know our game plan works if we all buy into it,” said top-line winger Rick Nash.

Nash helped spark that effort against Emery Thursday night with a team-high seven shots on goal against the Flyers backup. He picked up one assist by game’s end and said he hopes to drive the net even harder in Game 2.

“We have the same game plan. To get traffic, try to shoot from all angles. No matter what goalie you’re playing, you’re going to have to out-work him to score,” Nash said.

By comparison, the Flyers’ top line struggled to create chances, with both captain Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek failing to register a shot on goal.

The team had a decent start against the Rangers in hostile territory at Madison Square Garden, but the forecheck faltered and the Flyers ended up chasing play all night.

“In my mind, we didn’t play Flyers hockey,” said veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen.

So what is that exactly?

“It’s more skating and hitting,” he said. “We’ve got to forecheck really hard.”

Look for the Flyers to be more aggressive in that facet of their game on Sunday, when they aim to even the series 1-1 before the best-of-seven set shifts back to Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the Rangers will look to make some small adjustments as well.

“Five-on-five there were a couple of areas as far as getting more situations in front of the net,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said when asked where he’d like to see his team improve.

Indeed, if there was any area in which the Rangers struggled, it was the prolonged stretches in which they were kept to the perimeter.

That’s not ideal for the type of pressure they’d like to create, obviously.

Instead, the Rangers aim to attack the middle of the ice and wreak havoc in front of Emery down low.

“If that’s not where we are, that’s where we need to get,” said veteran center Brad Richards, who finished Thursday’s game with a goal and two assists.

The Rangers sealed the game with a pair of power-play goals on Thursday, but Richards admitted it could’ve gone the other way had the team not killed off a huge penalty at the beginning of the third period.

Richards said the team expects much more from the Flyers on Sunday. And the Rangers will be ready.

“This is where we have to realize the level is going to go way higher and we can’t get caught resting on Game 1,” Richards said. “It’s a whole new game. It’s going to be a whole new speed, intensity level and we’ve got to rise to that.”
There was an enthusiasm in the voice of Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux we hadn't heard much last season or earlier this season.

But when you’re on a 9-2-1 run and you've rescued a season that began 1-7-0, you’re certainly in a better frame of mind.

"Man, it's been fun," the star center told ESPN.com by phone Monday night.

No time to rest, though, because a weekend home-and-home sweep of the rival Pittsburgh Penguins is already old news and the Chicago Blackhawks are in town Tuesday night, followed by other tough tests with the playoff-desperate Dallas Stars on Thursday and visits from Stanley Cup contenders St. Louis and Los Angeles.

Quite the home stand, indeed, for a Flyers team beginning Tuesday second in the Metropolitan Division but only three points away from the danger zone.

"It's going to be a good test for us," Giroux said. "I think it's good timing for those teams to come to Philly and play us. We're aware that all of those teams have been playing well this year. We need to get those wins if we want to stay in the playoffs. They’re going to be interesting games, and good games, too."

The sweep of the Pens, albeit against a Pittsburgh team missing some key injured players, gave the Flyers an emotional boost.

[+] EnlargeClaude Giroux
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteClaude Giroux has fueled the Flyers' resurgence this season.
"I think anytime you get a couple of wins in a row against a good team, it builds your confidence, you believe a little bit more in your play," said Giroux, the pride of Hearst, Ontario. "Anytime we play Pittsburgh it's always a good game and I thought we did a pretty good job of it."

Kind of amazing this team began the season 1-7-0, right? It's 34-18-7 since then.

"Once we won a couple of games we started getting our confidence back and we started to believe again," said Giroux, who wore the early season struggles heavily as team captain, just as he did last season when the team missed the playoffs.

No coincidence that the Flyers are soaring just as their top player is, with Giroux entering Tuesday tied for fourth in NHL scoring with 69 points (23-46), playing his best hockey in perhaps two years.

A little motivated after being overlooked by Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics?

"A little bit, but I try not to think about it anymore," said Giroux, who was crushed he didn't make the team that would eventually win gold in Sochi. "Obviously, I was disappointed and wanted to go to play for my country. But now that it's over with, I had a chance to get some rest, had a vacation, mentally and physically it was good and hopefully that’s going to help me for the stretch run and the playoffs."

Led by Giroux, the Flyers have been a dangerous offensive outfit and are keeping the opposition on its heels. It’s the kind of fluidity in their game that just wasn't there earlier in the season.

"They can get up and go offensively as good as any team in the league," said Ed Olczyk, who worked a pair of Flyers games for NBC over the past 10 days. "They're playing a much faster game. Their back end, too, is playing much faster which really helps the way that they’re built. That's the one thing that's been very noticeable, they're playing a much faster game. And they're finishing their chances, earlier in the year they were real fragile and weren’t doing that.

"The strength of their team is that they can get and up and go and play a real offensive game but they can also play a slugfest, too. If they find a way to make it, and I believe they will, they become a real dangerous team. The only question I have is whether they can defend enough."

Indeed, the team's Achilles' heel remains the blue-line, although veterans Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit are playing their best hockey of the season right now and the acquisition of Andrew MacDonald has helped stabilize things back there a little.

Still, when push comes to shove, that's going to be their weak spot.

Which is why for the Flyers -- much like the Colorado Avalanche in the West -- it’s about keeping the puck on the stick of their forwards and spending as little time as possible in their own end.

The Flyers looked slow in transition in early October, but since Craig Berube was elevated to head coach three games into the season the club has improved its ability to transition out of its own end.

And it's quite obvious the players on this team are buying what Berube is selling.

"He's good with the players, he really wants to know what we think," said Giroux. "He's really strong on the system and how we play. He's also pretty relaxed behind the bench. People may not think that because of how he was as a player but he's really calm back there."

In a season in which the Eastern Conference appears to be wide open, don’t count out this hard-charging Flyers team, folks.
 

It didn’t take long for the week’s high-profile tilt between the unbeaten San Jose Sharks and unbeaten St. Louis Blues to turn ugly Tuesday. Early in the first period, Blues forward Max Lapierre sent veteran Sharks defensemen Dan Boyle head-first into the boards with a hit from behind. The hit left Boyle unconscious, and he was removed from the ice in St. Louis on a stretcher. Lapierre was ejected for the hit and will almost certainly be suspended for the dangerous play. Early reports indicate that Boyle’s injuries aren't too severe, which, needless to say, represents the best outcome.

"I'm doing OK, thank you for your concern and support," Boyle said in a message directed at fans via ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun from the St. Louis hospital where he spent the night. "Means a lot to me. I've never once taken this game or any of my fans for granted. Hope to be back soon."

We didn't like the hit by Sharks forward Brent Burns on Brenden Morrow later in the game that also could have produced a serious injury, and it was a bit of a disappointment to see Burns assessed only a minor penalty (Morrow did return to the game). In the end, the greatest statement was made by the Sharks, who used their skill to avenge Boyle’s injury as they humbled the Blues 6-2, scoring three times with the man advantage. The Sharks also chased Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who has been a key factor in the Blues’ hot start, out after the second period. The game marked the first in a stretch that will see the Sharks play seven of eight on the road.

Kaleta's at it again: The Lapierre hit on Boyle came just a few hours after the NHL suspended serial cheap-shot artist Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres 10 games for his latest transgression: A dirty, head-high hit on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson. By almost any measuring stick, 10 games is a heavy sentence -- almost any measuring stick except for a guy such as Kaleta, a player who is either too stupid to learn from his mistakes or too reckless to care. Given Kaleta’s history, one wonders what number would have been appropriate. At some point, with players such as Kaleta, who has been fined or suspended six times in the last four seasons -- the most recent being last season when he drove Brad Richards head-first into the boards -- it would seem the threat of actually being unable to play the game anymore is the only real deterrent. We saw this happen with Matt Cooke when he was in Pittsburgh; the Penguins publicly said that unless Cooke changed his ways, he wouldn't be able to play with them. This happened after Cooke’s last suspension, in the spring of 2011, after a hit on New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Cooke worked with the Pens’ coaching staff during his suspension, which lasted through the first round of the 2011 playoffs, watched video and dedicated himself to changing his style of play. To date, he remains a shining example of players who can learn from their mistakes. It would be nice if we heard something similar from the Sabres, although we aren't holding our breath, given that ownership/management of NHL teams historically only worry about dangerous play when it’s some other team’s player who’s playing outside the lines. We often criticize league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for what we've felt has been consistently lenient discipline for plays that have no place in the game. Yet the stakeholders, owners, general managers and players themselves remain, for the most part, mute on issues such as those created by guys such as Kaleta. Where is Buffalo owner Terry Pegula on Kaleta? Where is Buffalo GM Darcy Regier, a smart, thoughtful hockey man, on how his employee behaves? The Buffalo News reported that, even though the Sabres were playing Tuesday, neither Regier nor Kaleta would comment. Way to take responsibility. Shanahan could have, indeed, should have, given Kaleta 20 games and left his return open-ended, pending an end-of-suspension interview. But it would mean a lot more if the Sabres would come out and announce they will no longer employ a player such as Kaleta until he learns from his mistakes. Sadly, that’s not likely to happen, so we remain skeptical this latest brush with the NHL law will change how Kaleta plays the game.

Not so fast, Avs: An interesting experiment in fan reaction occurring in Denver where the Colorado Avalanche are the story of this young NHL season. With their 3-2 win over Dallas on Tuesday night, the Avs moved to a remarkable 6-0-0. The win marked their first home game after three impressive road wins, and yet the announced attendance at the Pepsi Center was 15,208, well below the capacity of 18,007. It reminded us of a conversation with Carolina GM Jim Rutherford during the ‘Canes superlative 2005-06 season. The Hurricanes would go on to win their first Stanley Cup in June 2006, but during that regular season, the ‘Canes’ crowds remained soft in spite of the fact the team was one of the most entertaining in the league. Rutherford explained that on-ice success does not translate instantly into fan support. A kind of elasticity is at play; a team has to prove they have turned a corner before fans will consistently return to support them. In short, you don’t repair a badly damaged fan base in the first month of a season even if the Avs appear to be on the track to redemption.

Giroux's Olympic goal is toast: It’s never too early for players to make a case for their respective Olympic teams. Likewise, it’s never too early to start playing yourself right off the map. One has to wonder about the early-season struggles of the Philadelphia Flyers and how it might affect captain Claude Giroux and his bid to be named to the Canadian Olympic squad for the Sochi Games in February. A lock to make the team heading into the season, even though he missed the Canadian orientation camp with a golf-related hand injury, Giroux and the Flyers have been stuck in neutral since the season started. OK, that’s being charitable. After blowing a third-period lead and losing 3-2 to Vancouver on Tuesday, the Flyers dropped to a woeful 1-6-0. Even the firing of head coach Peter Laviolette three games into the season hasn't helped, as the Flyers have managed only 10 goals. Giroux has yet to score and has just two assists, and with Canadian executive director Steve Yzerman and the Canadian selection committee already facing the onerous task of narrowing the talented Canadian forward contingent down, Giroux’s tepid play further muddies the waters. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s hard to believe there is any way Giroux makes this squad unless he mounts a significant renaissance in the next two months.

Reimer ain't backing down: Nice statement game for netminder James Reimer, who appeared to have been frozen out of the Maple Leafs' goaltending equation after an early bad game combined with the strong play by newcomer Jonathan Bernier. Not so fast. Reimer was outstanding in stopping 36 of 37 shots as the red-hot Leafs moved to 6-1-0 with a 4-1 win over Minnesota on Tuesday. Those are exactly the kind of goaltending “issues” Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle likes to have.

Bruins are looking mediocre: It’s been interesting to watch the Boston Bruins through the first couple of weeks. There’s something solid and reliable about the team GM Peter Chiarelli has built, and which for a number of years now has stolidly reflected the personality of head coach Claude Julien. That doesn't mean there haven’t been hiccups early on, and maybe we didn't appreciate the transition that would be required after the Bruins lost Jaromir Jagr, Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin through trades and free agency. Although the team continues to play well defensively, allowing just eight goals through their first five games, they've managed just 12 going the other way. The struggles continued Monday when the Bruins could not solve Detroit backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson during the matinee, losing 3-2 in spite of a long 5-on-3 and the fact the Red Wings did not have a single power play. Specifically, winger Jarome Iginla is struggling to find his place with the B's and has just one assist. If he hadn't struggled during the playoffs for Pittsburgh last spring, there wouldn't be much cause for concern, but in spite of prime ice time and a ton of power-play time, he’s not hitting the mark, which has to be worrying for Julien et al. Not that Iginla is alone. Patrice Bergeron (one goal, one assist) and Brad Marchand (one goal) are also off to slow starts.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers’ new coach, Craig Berube, who replaced Peter Laviolette behind the bench on Monday, doesn’t need to say much when he’s unhappy.

He doesn’t need to say anything at all.

“That look [is] enough,” Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux said after the Flyers edged the Florida Panthers 2-1 Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

But it was far more than Berube's cutting stare that served as a motivating force behind the Flyers' first win of the season. The victory was a necessary response after the quick-trigger dismissal of Laviolette. And though the win wasn't pretty, it had purpose.

Players recognized the gravity of the recent regime change and answered accordingly.

Yes, the Flyers hired from within -- a practice that has earned them scrutiny many times before -- and picked a former tough guy, no less. But make no mistake that there has been a clean break from the previous regime.

Berube, Giroux and everyone in the Flyers' room knew that some things had to change following the team’s dreadful 0-3 start.

“All the guys in this room feel responsible for the two guys [Laviolette and assistant Kevin McCarthy] who lost their jobs,” said defenseman Braydon Coburn, who notched the deciding goal on a fluky bounce 7:31 into the first period.

This was not a team that looked relieved to see someone cut loose. Instead, there was a collective sense of accountability for what happened and acknowledgement of responsibility moving forward.

“It definitely conjures up some different emotions, for sure,” Coburn said. “Everybody in here, especially being so young, everyone has a really family feeling about each other. I think everyone in this room cares about each other. It’s tough for guys, and it’s tough for coaches, too.”

Coburn’s first-period marker, one that forced Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas from the game with a lower-body injury, gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead, but a strong, sustained attack began even before that. The Flyers, who team owner Ed Snider characterized as “lost” on Monday, skated hard, employed an aggressive forecheck and attacked the net with purpose.

They got on the board first when Jakub Voracek's hard slap shot took an odd bounce off the end boards for Brayden Schenn to bury 4:49 into play.

There were still some hiccups; among them, Jay Rosehill’s boneheaded decision to jump Tomas Kopecky on his detour from the penalty box during the third period.

“That was unacceptable,” Berube said sternly after the game.

But, in terms of hustle, Laviolette’s successor was pleased with what he saw.

“Overall effort, I have no problem with it,” Berube said.

That included an inspired penalty kill to erase Rosehill’s mistake -- a short-handed situation in which the Flyers chose to be down a man for four minutes instead of down two skaters for half that time.

Goaltender Steve Mason was terrific in his first start under Berube -- he made a fantastic split save to rob Aleksander Barkov in the first period and stuffed Shawn Matthias on a short-handed breakaway in the second -- but he didn’t have to face much rubber while his team killed off Rosehill’s roughing double minor to preserve a late 2-1 lead.

“It was huge,” said Mason, who finished the night with 33 saves. “When you can kill off four minutes like that, and, really, I don’t think they had a quality shot on net during that entire time. Penalty killers did a great job; that’s something that’s actually been a strong point for us so far.”

Berube, whose nickname -- “chief” -- is appropriate for his dry, no-nonsense personality, will be sure to hammer home all those other areas in which the team needs to improve.

He wants the club to be a harder-skating, harder-working team, one with a different personality and tougher mindset. Team defense will require some work, too. The Flyers’ blue line isn’t exactly the swiftest in terms of personnel, but they’ll need to activate in order to aid the team’s offensive weapons.

Those things will be points of emphasis in the weeks to come as Berube acclimates to his new position and his charges get used to the new leadership.

Whether the decision to fire Laviolette three games into the season was premature, or far too late, is moot now. The team needed someone different, and not just the shot in the arm that comes with a change of that magnitude.

They are still grappling to forget what got them all in the situation in the first place.

A fresh start?

“I think that’s what the guys want to feel like,” Giroux said. “There’s a taste of last year, not making the playoffs, and starting 0-3 [this season]. I think it’s a bad taste. I think guys want to believe it’s a new start. Start fresh.

"With a win tonight, obviously guys are going to get more confidence,” Giroux continued. “That’s how it’s going to start.”
Sochi 2014 JerseysHockey CanadaHow about those new Team Canada sweaters? Feeling the love? And the recycled plastic bottles?

So, we are now a week into the NHL calendar, with no shortage of storylines and sidebars. Sounds like the perfect time for more ramblings.

Clarke the carpenter: Interesting to hear much-traveled Clarke MacArthur make his not-so-positive feelings about former head coach Randy Carlyle known before the Leafs’ home opener against MacArthur’s Ottawa Senators over the weekend. The comments were a bit more temperate than similarly negative comments from another former Leaf, Mikhail Grabovski, who was bought out by Toronto before signing late in the offseason with Washington. Still, it made us cringe to hear MacArthur boohooing about being made a healthy scratch in the playoffs last spring, and how it took the fun out of the game for him. Seriously? Get over yourself just a bit. Maybe it had something to do with the fact MacArthur had managed just two goals in his last 20 regular season games. Or maybe it was the fact that MacArthur had developed a reputation as a guy who showed a little flash, but little in the way of substance, since he was drafted 74th overall in 2003. Whether things change in Ottawa -- his fourth NHL club, by the way -- remains to be seen, although the carping about his treatment in Toronto suggests not.

Cast of thousand castaways: Speaking of Grabovski, the first week of the NHL season has been a boon for players cast aside by other teams. Slotted into the second-line center role in Washington, Grabovski has responded with three goals and five points in three games, and he’s thrown in a shootout goal for good measure. Mason Raymond showed up at Toronto's training camp on a tryout basis and has two goals and two assists, including a game winner for the 3-0-0 Leafs. How about Mathieu Perreault, who ran out of chances to make a case as a top-six forward with the talented Caps, and was dealt on the eve of the regular season? He has two goals and an assist, including a game winner, for the 2-1 Anaheim Ducks. Tom Gilbert, signed after a tryout with the Panthers, played 24:41 in Florida’s opening-night victory over Dallas (and 22:03 in their 7-0 loss to St. Louis in the team’s second game) while Damien Brunner, surprisingly at loose ends after a strong season for the Detroit Red Wings, has three goals and an assist with the New Jersey Devils. Even Chuck Kobasew, a surprise addition to the Penguins’ roster, has scored twice in two weeks.

Not a flying start: Top on the list of teams that absolutely had to get off to a good start were the Philadelphia Flyers. How is that working out for them? The Flyers have scored three times in three straight losses and have a league-worst minus-6 goal differential, all of which combined for head coach Peter Laviolette's firing Monday morning. Still, for all their stumbling about in recent years, it’s refreshing to watch the Flyers do business. Owner Ed Snider, president Peter Luukko and general manager Paul Holmgren were all on hand for the announcement Monday. Mistakes were acknowledged, but no one backed down from the decision. “The press conference was honest and powerful,” one NHL executive told ESPN.com. “They want to win, no B.S., and they get after it. Tough day for them but they handled it well.” How will the players respond? The pressure is certainly on talented captain Claude Giroux, who struggled last season and has yet to record a point in the team’s three losses. Time for him to step up.

Dubious with Dubnyk: During the offseason, we wondered aloud at the passive approach the Edmonton Oilers were taking to their goaltending situation. Yes, Devan Dubnyk had decent enough numbers (a .920 save percentage and 2.57 GAA last season), but those were numbers produced on a team that had only moderate expectations. If, as the coaching staff and management have repeatedly indicated, this season is a time for shedding the "Oh, they’re still a young team" crutch, they need the goaltending to provide meaningful support. Thus far, Dubnyk has allowed 10 goals in a little more than a game and a half for the Oilers. Seven of those goals were at even strength. The problem for the Oilers is that they have no Plan B. Jason LaBarbera was brought in to act as Dubnyk’s backup and allowed three first-period goals and four goals on 25 shots in his first start, which was Monday night. Still, the Oilers managed to eke out a 5-4 win in a shootout for their first victory of the season. But as one NHL executive told ESPN.com, LaBarbera’s a tourist, he’s not equipped to assume a significant workload if Dubnyk falters. Unless the goaltending sorts itself out quickly, this season is going to get away from the Oilers, just like all the others have since their last playoff appearance in 2006.

Speaking of goaltending: You can hardly fault Ryan Miller, who is one of the most interesting figures in the NHL as he enters the final season of his contract, for the Buffalo Sabres’ 0-3-0 start. Miller, looking to restore himself to the upper echelon of NHL goaltenders, has allowed just three goals on 80 shots for a .963 save percentage. He remains a key figure in the Sabres dressing room and has been nothing but a good citizen, even in the face of disappointing results. Soon, teams (hello, Edmonton general manager Craig MacTavish) will be asking Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier about the asking price for Miller. Beyond that, the 33-year-old's play will continue to be closely watched by U.S. Olympic team organizers. Needless to say, his early performances -- including one in which he dueled with fellow U.S. Olympic team hopeful Craig Anderson of Ottawa -- aren't going unnoticed.

Not a Quick start: While on the subject of U.S. Olympic goaltending hopefuls, it hasn't been a banner start for Jonathan Quick, who is clearly the favorite to be named starter when the U.S. hits the ice in Sochi in February. Quick was yanked in the Kings’ second game of the season and then badly misplayed a shorthanded icing shot Monday night that helped the New York Rangers to a 3-1 win over the 1-2-0 Kings.

Blueshirts bounce-back: The Rangers' win Monday was the first of the season for the 1-1-0 Rangers, who won’t play at home until Oct. 28 as construction continues at Madison Square Garden. After playing poorly both in the preseason and in their opening night loss to Phoenix, Monday’s win will take a weight off the team, and presumably head coach Alain Vigneault. But Monday’s win was significant, specifically for beleaguered forward Brad Richards, who had two goals, including the game winner. Also, netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who has struggled to find a groove but was excellent Monday, turned aside 28 of 29 Kings shots. The Blueshirts are going to need both those veteran players to be at their best if they’re to come out of this elongated nine-game road trip in decent shape in the competitive Metropolitan Division.

No sweater: And, finally, Hockey Canada officially unveiled their Olympic jerseys, even though they seemed to have leaked out weeks ago. Sadly, they don’t look any different now from when the picture was leaked. Of course, this comes from a guy who, at one point, used to wear a chef’s white jacket to work as a news reporter at The Windsor Star, so we acknowledge we’re probably not qualified to comment on the stylings of the new Canadian gear. And we’re pretty sure the fact that at least one of the offerings looks like an old du Maurier cigarette box won’t have any bearing on whether Sidney Crosby & Co. will successfully defend their gold medal in Sochi. The fact that each jersey is apparently made up of 17 recycled plastic water bottles is cool, and of course, environmentally hip. We hope they didn't use the water bottles the Canadian men’s squad used the last time the Olympics were held outside North America, when they were bounced in the quarterfinals by Russia in Italy in 2006.
The Flyers have fired coach Peter Laviolette. Can former tough guy Craig Berube turn the ship around? Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun have an idea.

Scott Burnside: Well, my friend, that didn't take long. You confirmed Monday morning through sources that the Philadelphia Flyers fired Peter Laviolette as head coach after the team lurched to an 0-3-0 start, scoring just three goals over that span. I watched some of the Flyers' 2-1 loss to Carolina on Sunday and they were not really a factor, dominated in the first period and managing just three shots on goal in the third when they needed a goal to tie. Overall, they had just 18 shots on goal.

So, is that a function of coaching? No question a team with Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek, and newcomers Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit should be generating more than this. But the firing, for me, also illustrates the fact this is a team that has been in an almost perpetual state of upheaval since going to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010.

Top players such as former captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have been traded. The Flyers signed a big-name free agent netminder in Ilya Bryzgalov, which fell to pieces with the team buying the netminder out in the offseason, and now they've fired their head coach after just three games. Lots of questions about whether longtime Flyers assistant Craig Berube is the right guy to get Philadelphia back where it needs to be, but the bigger question is what comes next, especially if the team continues to struggle?

Pierre LeBrun: I do know Berube is beloved by the players and I think that's where it has to start: re-establishing a trusting relationship between the players and the coach. A source told me Monday morning that Laviolette and the players were no longer on the same page, and that's not shocking when you saw how they played in the opening three games. The players seemed to be waiting for the coach to be fired. It makes you wonder why the Flyers didn't make this change last spring, after the Flyers missed the playoffs.

In my conversations with GM Paul Holmgren during the offseason, Holmgren was wary, generally speaking, of overreacting to a lockout-shortened 2013 season. But it was clear Laviolette would be on a short leash to begin this season, and now we see Holmgren meant it.

Burnside: Listening in on the Monday press conference to announce the change, it was clear Holmgren felt the team was not truly a team at this stage. We've seen this kind of change go both ways. Joel Quenneville came on for the popular Denis Savard four games into the 2008-09 season, and the Chicago Blackhawks went to the Western Conference finals the following spring before winning the Cup in 2010. In 2007, the Atlanta Thrashers fired Bob Hartley after an 0-6-0 start and the Thrashers stumbled to a 14th-place finish in the Eastern Conference with Don Waddell behind the bench.

Are the Flyers more Thrashers than Blackhawks? Probably not. But how good are they, really? The goaltending has been OK, but there needs to be more from the offense. Is this about structure and scheme or is it about personnel? If it's about personnel and the team continues to struggle, does it not stand to reason that Holmgren is next out the door?

The dominoes were in place for such a move the moment owner Ed Snider brought in longtime fan favorite and assistant GM Ron Hextall from Los Angeles. Holmgren said he made the decision to fire Laviolette on the flight home from Carolina on Sunday night, and a testy Snider said the GM made the decision and the owner approved it. But one has to imagine that the team is going to have to show immediate improvement or the pressure will continue to mount to remove Holmgren, even though it’s unusual to see a GM replaced in-season.

LeBrun: I believe one factor in Laviolette’s firing was an organizational concern that some young players on the team -- namely Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn -- were not developing properly, or as rapidly as anticipated. The Flyers traded away Carter and Richards because they truly believed Couturier and Schenn were capable of supporting star center Giroux as the team redeveloped its core. It just hasn't worked out that way so far.

Moving Berube into the head coaching role will be interesting, not only because the players really like him, but also front-office men Ian Laperriere and John Paddock move behind the bench to Berube's staff. Laperriere will also be well-liked by the players, and Paddock is a key with his loads of coaching experience. His voice will be important for Berube in helping reshape the team's identity. His addition to the staff is the move I like most.

As for Holmgren, it's pretty obvious with Hextall in place that if the team doesn't turn this thing around, it's only a matter of time before a GM switch happens. But a GM change usually is best left for the offseason or when the season is obviously lost, and it's still early in this season.

Burnside: OK, so now what? Yes, the players say they love Berube. And Holmgren went on glowingly about what a smart hockey man the former NHL tough guy is, but is he ready to be an NHL head coach in a market that is starved for a winner? I agree with your assessment of the changes to the staff, but if Holmgren had strong misgivings about Laviolette after missing the playoffs last spring, he did a disservice to the coach and the franchise by not acting in the offseason when candidates John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault, Dallas Eakins and Lindy Ruff were available.

Berube's the man now, though, and everything falls on him. As for Laviolette, I always feel a bit bad for a coach who gets axed because of an underachieving team, because the stink of failure rarely adheres to the players who are, for the most part, responsible. Laviolette, who is an assistant to Dan Bylsma with the U.S. Olympic team, is a good coach and will get another job. And now that he's available, it ups the ante for other teams off to rocky starts, as was the case when Bruce Boudreau was let go early in Washington a couple of years back and quickly took Randy Carlyle's job in Anaheim.

LeBrun: The biggest challenge now for this team is to re-establish an identity. Coaches talk about that all the time, and it's true. You have to establish who and what you are as a team. The Flyers have been lost for more than a year. There is no swagger and there hasn't been for a long time. Berube's task it to make this a team that's hard to play against, and a team that uses its speed to create turnovers. We've seen very little of that from this squad for a long time.

Never a dull moment in Philadelphia, right?
Flyers captain Claude Giroux fully expects to be on the ice opening night with his recovery from a hand injury going smoothly at this point.

"The rehab is going well," Giroux told ESPN.com Friday. "I’m taking the splint off on Monday. The timeline is good; I want to play some preseason games. Right now, it’s just about finding that game shape so that when I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.

He’s been skating and has remained in shape.

"I’ve been working out pretty hard but, obviously, I can’t lift anything with my right hand. But my left hand is really strong," he joked.

"The doctors are confident that it won’t be hard to get back to 100 percent. We’ve got really good guys in Philly for the rehab."

Kesler excited for season, Olympics

After battling injuries for two years, Team USA center Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks says he’s 100 percent.

"I just chalk it up to a string of bad luck," Kesler said Friday summing up the last two injury-filled years. "One surgery after another after another ... then breaking my foot; I’ve blocked that shot over 100 times, same shot, it just hit me right. It’s bad luck, that’s it.

"I’m excited now. First training camp in three years. I’m excited for the new coach, excited to see the guys, excited for the outdoor game, excited for the Olympics. There’s a lot to look forward to this year. I’m healthy and I’m ready for it."

Kesler also flashed his sense of humor when asked about how impressive teammate Roberto Luongo has been in dealing with his adversity over the past year, including using Twitter to keep things light.

"I definitely don’t think he’s that witty to be tweeting that, I think somebody is tweeting for him," joked Kesler.

"But he’s handled everything so professionally, you can’t ask for anything else from the guy. He did what was asked of him. He’s extremely professional."

Claude Giroux to miss Hockey Canada camp

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
11:34
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Claude Giroux will not attend Hockey Canada's national team orientation camp next week so that he can focus on rehabbing his right index finger, the Philadelphia Flyers' captain told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun via text.

At this point in time, Hockey Canada does not plan on inviting another player to the camp, which will be held Aug. 25-28 in Calgary.

Giroux had surgery on the finger last week after sustaining tendon damage when a golf club shattered and splintered into his finger.

"Although there were no broken bones, there was some damage to his extensor tendons in his finger," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement last week. "He is expected to have a full recovery in 5-6 weeks."

Last month, Philadelphia signed Giroux to an eight-year contract extension worth more than $64 million.

Giroux was hurt playing overseas during the lockout last year and finished with only 13 goals and 48 points for the Flyers. He has 291 points (91 goals, 200 assists) in 333 career games spread over six seasons in Philadelphia.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
The Philadelphia Flyers and captain Claude Giroux are closing in on a mammoth deal. Sources told ESPN.com it will be eight years and north of $8 million per year.

The deal is not totally done and needs a bit more work over the next few days, but that’s the framework being discussed.

Also:

• Senators GM Bryan Murray sounded confident Thursday when speaking with Ottawa media that he would be able to re-sign captain Daniel Alfredsson. The GM also announced that unrestricted free agent winger David Clarkson -- perhaps the most sought-after player on the market -- spent Wednesday in Ottawa speaking with the Senators. Murray said Clarkson was Ottawa’s No. 1 free-agent target. Toronto is expected to be among the several teams chasing Clarkson as well.

• The Leafs cleared some cap room ($5.5 million a year) by buying out center Mikhail Grabovski. It allows Toronto all kinds of cap flexibility, whether that’s to re-sign Tyler Bozak, chase UFA center Stephen Weiss or go after Clarkson, among other possible moves.


I’m man enough to admit it when I guess wrong, and in the case of Vincent Lecavalier, I felt all along that he’d end up with the Dallas Stars.

Well, he almost did. The Stars were in there to the end, a source confirmed.

But the Philadelphia Flyers won out, agreeing to pay $22.5 million over five years for the 33-year-old center.

The Montreal Canadiens were in the mix for a good run, as well, but couldn’t make it work. The Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings also got serious consideration from Lecavalier among the 15 or so teams that showed interest.

“Wow,” one executive, whose team wasn’t in the running, texted to ESPN.com after the deal was announced.

Is Lecavalier worth $4.5 million a season?

The Flyers get a very motivated player who is out to prove he can still compete at an elite level. And in choosing Philadelphia, Lecavalier proved many wrong and showed that he was willing to go to a real hockey market.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux was pumped to hear the news, texting ESPN.com to say, “Really excited, he will bring a lot to our team.”

Lecavalier will bring his 6-foot-4 frame, to be sure, and hands that have always been soft. I give Lecavalier credit for not choosing what seemed like the safest choice in Dallas, where he would have made good money and been left alone, as was the case all those years with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team in another non-traditional hockey market.

He’s in for a bigger challenge in Philly.

The Flyers, meanwhile, will surely try to move out a body or two. And don’t forget they still need to find another goalie. This could reignite those Braydon Coburn trade talks.

Elsewhere


• The focus now shifts to fellow buyout unrestricted free agent Danny Briere before the rest of the UFA market opens Friday. The Canadiens, having lost out on Lecavalier, made contact with Briere's camp Tuesday night, a source confirmed to ESPN.com. Sources also indicated that the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Nashville Predators are among the teams to show solid interest in Briere and have already spoken to the Briere camp, which is led by agent Pat Brisson. Other teams were expected to contact Briere's camp Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Daniel Alfredsson hasn’t re-signed with the Ottawa Senators, and while I still don’t think we’ll see him in a different uniform, I warned everyone last week after he announced he was playing another season that his contract wasn’t a rubber stamp. Still no contract with Ottawa, and here comes the 48-hour window when other teams can call free agents. I fully expect other clubs to contact Alfredsson’s agent, J.P. Barry, once that window opens. And why not listen to what’s out there, even if you still plan on ultimately re-signing with Ottawa? Stranger things have happened. I bet you my Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys jersey that the Bruins will be among the teams to phone Alfredsson's camp. GM Peter Chiarelli was with the Senators’ front office before going to Boston and knows Alfredsson well, and it just so happens he has a hole in his top six with Nathan Horton leaving. Different player, I know, and Alfredsson is aging, but Chiarelli has always admired the Swedish winger. Not trying to make Senators fans paranoid; odds are he stays put. Just pointing out that other teams will be phoning.

• The San Jose Sharks traded winger T.J. Galiardi to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in 2015. With rookie center Tomas Hertl expected to play with the Sharks next season, plus newly acquired winger Tyler Kennedy in the fold, San Jose had to move a body out. It also suggests that the Brent Burns experiment at forward could be permanent. At some point, I think, you’ll see the Sharks announce that they plan on using him up front again next season.

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