Tweet of the week
Is it weird that @68Jagr has exactly 68 tweets as he lets us know he’s on twitter now? #thesalute #Flyers.
Philadelphia Flyers’ defenceman Matt Carle welcomes 40-year-old Jaromir Jagr to the Twitter generation.
They said it
“Some championships, you don’t have to be that good. You just have to be lucky that night and you have a chance to win it. In hockey, you have to beat one team four times. It’s not an accident.”
The Philadelphia Flyers veteran won two championships early with the Pittsburgh Penguins but none since 1993.
By the numbers
Number of players involved in the 2012 playoffs, who’d led the postseason in scoring in previous years: David Krejci, Danny Brière, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg, Sidney Crosby, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Brad Richards and Jamie Langenbrunner.
Record for most game-winning goals, one playoff year, set by Brad Richards of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 (23 games).
Going into Friday’s date with the Florida Panthers, number of playoff games for the New Jersey Devils’ Martin Brodeur, second highest among goaltenders in NHL history after Patrick Roy (247).
Rolston’s last hurrah
For all the keen hockey observers who heaped praise on the Boston Bruins for landing Brian Rolston from the New York Islanders at the trade deadline, congratulations. You saw what others couldn’t – that Rolston, at the age of 39, had a wisp of gas left in the tank. Rolston has been just what the doctor ordered – the Bruins’ doctor that is, who determined that Nathan Horton’s concussion will keep him on the sidelines for the duration of the playoffs. Without Horton, the Bruins had a need for a supplementary piece on the team’s third line and that’s been Rolston, who won a Stanley Cup with the 1995 New Jersey Devils and, like Jaromir Jagr, has been waiting a long time for the chance to do it again. The Islanders had Rolston on waivers just before the deadline, but the Bruins made a deal for him – along with depth defenceman Mike Mottau – giving up two fairly long-shot prospects to essentially take them off New York’s hands. The hope is that Rolston is to this year’s edition of the Bruins what 43-year-old Mark Recchi was to last year’s championship squad – not just a steadying, experienced hand, with a Stanley Cup pedigree, but someone who can still play, and make a tangible contribution to success. Rolston right now is playing with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot, the latter another Bruins’ reclamation project. Rolston had one previous turn with the Boston – acquired by the Bruins in the deal with the Colorado Avalanche that ultimately permitted Ray Bourque to win a Stanley Cup and, like Recchi, go out in style. Rolston, obviously, would like to follow in those illustrious footsteps, too.
The reality of Oilers’ No. 1 pick
Let’s pause for a deep breath and put the Edmonton Oilers’ victory in last Monday’s NHL draft lottery in perspective. Yes, it’s nice that the Oilers now have the top pick for the third year in a row. But it’s not as if they wouldn’t have had a high choice anyway, in what Columbus Blue jackets’ GM Scott Howson rightfully calls “a difficult draft at the top.” The reality is, the Oilers moved from No. 2 to No. 1 when the ping-pong balls aligned correctly. Two years ago, if the Oilers had been at No. 2, they would have settled for Tyler Seguin instead of Taylor Hall. Not bad. Last year, if they’d been at No. 2, they would have settled for Gabriel Landeskog instead of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Not bad again. It’s not as though they came from out of nowhere to get the No. 1 pick. They were going to be at No. 2 anyway, No. 3 if they were unlucky and somebody from behind leapfrogged them. Nor does the primary decision change much, other than to permit the Oilers to dangle the psychological lure of drafting No. 1 in front of a team that might be looking for a big splash, with its eyes trained on the Sarnia Sting’s Nail Yakupov. Question: If the Oilers do trade the pick, do they move down just a couple of places to draft one of half-a-dozen available defensive prospects – or do they trade right out of the top 10 and ask for an NHL-ready defenceman in exchange? By rights, they should be talking to the Washington Capitals, drafting No. 11 in the Colorado Avalanche’s spot, to see if Karl Alzner, Jeff Schultz or maybe even Mike Green were available. Trade down; draft a defenceman at No. 11, sign coveted soon-to-be free-agent defenceman Justin Schultz and look out. Not only could the Oilers corner the market on every available defenceman named Schultz in the known hockey world, it would at long last help the pieces of their rebuilding puzzle click nicely – and firmly – into place.
Canada’s world championship roster included a couple of nice surprises, including the Anaheim Ducks’ duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, two members of the 2010 Olympic gold-medal team, who had underachieving regular seasons and thus presumably feel they have more to give. Perry fell from an MVP-winning 98-point season last year to a modest 60 this year; and it was even worse for Getzlaf, who had 76 points in only 67 games two years ago, a year marred by a serious facial injury. This year, Getzlaf played all 82 games and had just 57 points, which included a career-low 11 goals. Getzlaf acknowledged to reporters in Anaheim that adjusting to parenthood may have been a contributing factor, and parenthood is what will keep Eric Staal, father of a three-month-old son home this year. “I think people can respect I have a newborn child at home and I need to be with my family,” Staal told the Raleigh News and Observer. “I always put hockey first. Right now, I feel like I need to put family first.” The hardest decisions may come for Staal’s and Getzlaf’s Finnish-born teammates, given that Helsinki is playing host this year, meaning there’s extra pressure on the likes of Tuomo Ruutu (Hurricanes) along with Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu (Ducks) to compete. How do you say no to Jari Kurri, Finland’s general manager, and avoid the backlash in Finland surely to come against anyone that turns down their invitations in this critical year? Difficult.