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2014 NHL playoffs preview: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

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Goalie Steve Mason of the Philadelphia Flyers vs. the New York Rangers

If it’s spring, there must be questions about the quality of the Flyers’ playoff goaltending. (Scott Levy/Getty Images)

By Sarah Kwak

Regular season recaps

Oct. 24: Flyers 2, Rangers 1

Jan. 12: Rangers 4. Flyers 1

March 1: Flyers 4, Rangers 2

March 26: Rangers 3, Flyers 1

Notable injuries

Rangers: D Ryan McDonagh (shoulder, day-to-day), LW Chris Kreider (hand, day-to-day)
Flyers: G Steve Mason (upper body, day-to-day)

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  • Published On Apr 15, 2014
  • 2014 NHL playoffs preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Blue Jackets will have a hard time shutting down Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    The Blue Jackets will have a hard time shutting down Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    By Sarah Kwak

    Regular season recaps

    Nov. 1: Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 2

    Nov. 2: Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 0

    Dec. 9: Penguins 2, Blue Jackets 1

    Dec. 29: Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 3

    March 28: Penguins 2, Blue Jackets 1

    Notable injuries

    Penguins: C Marcel Goc (ankle, day-to-day); C Evgeni Malkin (foot, IR); LW Pascal Dupuis (torn ACL, IR)

    Blue Jackets: RW Nathan Horton (lower body, day-to-day); LW R.J. Umberger (upper body, day-to-day); LW Nick Foligno (lower-body, day-to-day)

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  • Published On Apr 15, 2014
  • FHL hug-and-beer-hockey-fight stunt falls flat; players suspended

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    By Sarah Kwak

    The scene was familiar to any fan, but particularly to those who know and love the trenches of minor minor-league hockey. Off a third-period draw last Friday — in a game in which the Danville Dashers trailed the Dayton Demonz by four goals with less than 10 minutes to go in their Federal League seasons — Danville forward Matt Puntureri and Dayton center Jesse Felten shed their gloves, elbow pads and helmets and made for center ice. They looked at each other as they deked and danced from there to the far blue line, but when Puntureri made his move to scrap, he did so with outstretched arms. Felten, too, opened his arms wide, and the two hugged it out before a punch was thrown. But that’s not all. Puntureri then reached into his hockey shorts and took out a can of Coors Light, a leftover from the Dashers’ rookie party last week. He cracked it open and, with his arm around Felten while flashing a peace sign, the two skated around the rink in a surprising show of harmony.

    On the video of the “hug and beer fight,” which went viral over the weekend, an announcer proclaimed, “I think that was set up.” His ever-astute reasoning proved correct.

    “It was my idea, not to brag or anything,” Puntureri said on Monday from his home in Wampum, Pa. “I’m always pulling silly antics like this, whether it be some celebrations or anything like that.”

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  • Published On Apr 01, 2014
  • SI.com NHL fan misery rankings: No. 3 Buffalo Sabres

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    Brett Hull scores the infamous foot in the crease goal vs. Buffalo in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.

    Brett Hull’s controversial Stanley Cup-winning goal sums up what it means to be a Sabres fan. (Kevin Frayer/AP)

    By Sarah Kwak

    Sometimes it’s just plain awful to be a fan.

    We’re not talking about the occasional emotional bump and bruise, the kind fans get from a devastating last-second loss or a disastrous season-ending injury — or even when they watch their favorite team bow out in the conference finals, one round shy of a shot at the Stanley Cup. We mean years of suffering at the hands of a club that almost seems to delight in tormenting those who freely give to it their hearts, minds, time and money.

    This is the eighth in our series on the 10 NHL franchises that take an ongoing toll on their fans, the teams that suggest that their devoted followers are either bottomless wells of hope or certified masochists — or perhaps just a touch crazy. Today we look at the Buffalo Sabres, a team that inspires exceptional passion and dedication in its followers while often languishing on the lower end of the spectrum between bad and promising while cruel fate lurks to darken its brightest moments.

    TEAM 10: Winnipeg Jets | 9: Dallas Stars | 8: Columbus Blue Jackets | 7: Vancouver Canucks
    6:
    Florida Panthers | 5. Edmonton Oilers | 4. Washington Capitals | 2. New York Islanders
    1. Toronto Maple Leafs

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  • Published On Mar 21, 2014
  • Top Line: Tom Wilson dodges Shanaban, Kings rookie rolls on, more links

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    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    By Sarah Kwak

    • Just two days after taking a nasty hit into the boards by Capitals rookie Tom Wilson (who dodged a suspension), Flyers forward Brayden Schenn played on Thursday night against the Blue Jackets. He also didn’t take a concussion test, claiming that he was not experiencing symptoms. Right. No sense in chancing it with a test. Never mind that sometimes the onset of apparent symptoms can be delayed for days …

    • Meanwhile, Capitals coach Adam Oates continued to defend Wilson. Said the coach: “[Schenn] had every opportunity to resist the hit, and he chose not to.” When will “blame the victim” cease being the standard hockey person’s logic? Probably never.

    •  Late in the first period on Thursday night, Kings captain Dustin Brown received a five-minute major and game misconduct for a nasty knee-on-knee hit on Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl, who didn’t return to the game. The league will probably look at it.

    •  Kings’ rookie goalie Martin Jones remained undefeated and continued to amazingly keep pucks out of his net. His extraordinary emergence has some observers saying, “Jonathan who?” and is fueling speculation that L.A. could dangle Ben Scrivens as trade bait.

    • Philadelphia put together a feverish comeback on Thursday night against Columbus, scoring five goals in the third period. Highlight? Claude Giroux lifting a filthy backhand with a man draped on his back while falling down. The goal was the 100th of his career, and the game-winner. Philadelphia is now in playoff position. Then again, the Metropolitan Division is not very good.

    • It’s official. The Ottawa Senators have entered The Crisis Zone.

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  • Published On Dec 20, 2013
  • Top Line: Is speed killing hockey?; fight ban plan; more links

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    The speed of the NHL game may now be making most hits potentially dangerous.

    The speed of the NHL game may be making too many hits potentially dangerous. (Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)

    By Sarah Kwak

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • The seemingly daily drip of questionable, dangerous hits has some people seriously wondering if the game is now too fast, and if all-around speed is actually neutering the very best parts of hockey.

    • Are suspensions of players really enough t stop the carnage? Judging by the continued stream of bans, maybe not. Perhaps, says Vancouver Sun columnist Cam Cole, it’s time to punish coaches too.

    • Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland will sit out five games for his hit on Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, yet another blow to Pittsburgh’s depleted blueline corps.

    • Capitals rookie Tom Wilson will speak with the Department of Player Safety today about his wrecking ball treatment of Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn.

    • Fighting continues to be a hot topic in hockey circles, and now USA Hockey will consider a plan to ban all fighting from Junior-A, the only amateur level that permits it.

    • In the NHL, some people, including Coyotes tough guy Paul Bissonnette, think the league might start leaning in the direction of an all-out ban. “I think it will end up going down to, if you fight once, you’re out of the game,” he said. “And if it comes to that, there’s really no point in having a guy in the lineup that’s just going to fight once and be out.”

    • Much of the fighting debate has been spurred by the better awareness around the dangers of concussions. So what exactly happens to the brain after a concussion? The New York Times explains.
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  • Published On Dec 19, 2013
  • Top Line: Ilya Bryzgalov back in NHL, Ben Scrivens keeps winning, more links

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    Ilya Bryzgalov dressed for his first NHL game as an Edmonton Oiler.

    Ilya Bryzgalov: Second chance? Hey, the new Oiler goalie says he never lost his first one! (Andy Devlin/Getty Images

    By Sarah Kwak

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • Ilya Bryzgalov is back and instructing the media about second chances. Edmonton’s always distinctive new goalie dressed for his first NHL game of the season and watched as his Oilers dismantled the Blue Jackets, 7-0, on Tuesday night.

    • Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin meet tonight for the first time as divisional rivals. Should be a good one. First place is on the line.

    • Hey Michiganians, stumped for New Year’s plans? Head to Ann Arbor and watch a giant puck drop at midnight.

    • Some teams have a hard enough time finding a No. 1 goalie. Now it’s all about the backup? It could be for the Wild, now that Josh Harding is the No. 1 in Niklas Backstrom’s absence.

    • Kings goalie Ben Scrivens has made the backup discussion a hot topic. His shutout streak ended at 191 minutes on Tuesday night, but Los Angeles still bested the Lightning, 5-2. Scrivens is all the rage right now.

    • After years of brutal netminding, the Leafs are more than glad to have two quality stoppers. Coach Randy Carlyle says goaltending is now the flashpoint of the trade market.

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  • Published On Nov 20, 2013
  • U.S. Olympians start camp knowing they won’t be underdogs this time

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    Patrick Kane participated in a USA Hockey sponsored youth clinic on Monday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Patrick Kane participated in a USA Hockey sponsored youth clinic on Monday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Sarah Kwak

    ARLINGTON, Va. — Nearly four years removed from the 2010 Olympic Games, when it came within an overtime goal of winning gold, Team USA can no longer claim underdog status. The U.S. can’t downplay its skills or its level of experience on the Olympic stage. It can’t expect to fly under the radar while all the attention goes to teams from Canada and Russia. It can’t be so sure anymore that no one would bet a dime on the Red, White and Blue to win it all, as former general manager Brian Burke had so often said in the months before Vancouver. The days of softened expectations for American hockey are gone.

    “[Burke] in Vancouver gave the players great cover, if you will,” said David Poile, the GM for Team USA. “He lowered the expectations outside the room. But I can tell you inside the room, we knew we had a chance to win…. [Now], I think — no, I know — we are at the point when we… put on the U.S. jersey we expect to win. We are not going into Sochi as an underdog.” Read More…


  • Published On Aug 26, 2013
  • Top Line: Blackhawks auction odd items; goalie pains

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    You know you want to bid on Andrew Shaw's stitches, right?

    You know you want to bid on Andrew Shaw’s stitches, right? Right? (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Sarah Kwak

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • The Phoenix Coyotes held their big post-sale press conference yesterday in Glendale, where the backsplash behind the podium displayed the words “Here to Stay.” Better that than, “Which Way to Seattle?” Amirite?

    • First the Blackhawks decide to auction off pieces of ice–errr, water, at this point?–and now this: Chicago forward Andrew Shaw is putting his stitches up for sale. Ever dreamed of owning thread that’s been through the face of a Blackhawk? Yeah, didn’t think so, but here, you can have it anyway. Proceeds go to breast cancer research.

    • A report out of Buffalo suggests that emerging star center Cody Hodgson, the team’s only outstanding restricted free agent, and his agent, Ritch Winter, are making things hard on the Sabres, who would like to sign the 23-year-old who scored 34 points in 48 games last season. He finished the season second on the team in scoring and was thought to be a big part of Buffalo’s future.

    • Being a goalie hurts. For some, like Roberto Luongo, the pain is more psychological than anything else. But there’s plenty of physical pain. One goalie explains how  it hurts to stop a frozen rubber disc.

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  • Published On Aug 07, 2013
  • Top Line: Coyotes sale finally closed; Red Wings fan fave Burr dies

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    The Coyotes' sale will keep the team in Phoenix...for now.

    The Coyotes’ sale will keep the team in Phoenix…for now. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

    By Sarah Kwak

    An annotated guide to this morning’s short list of must-read hockey stories:

    • The Phoenix Coyotes finally have real owners not named the NHL! After more than four years under league ownership, the Coyotes are now the property/problem of IceArizona Acquisitions Co., a group of 11 businessmen who are now charged with making things work in Glendale. Otherwise, say hello to the five-year out-clause and goodbye to the ‘Yotes…. again.

    • Former Red Wings first-rounder Shawn Burr, who had been battling cancer for three years, died at the age of 47 after a fall down the stairs caused brain trauma. Mitch Albom pays tribute to the Detroit fan favorite.

    • Panthers forward and Rookie of the Year Jonathan Huberdeau is back on the ice after off-season hip surgery. He hopes to be ready by training camp.

    • Team Canada’s junior national team evaluation camp update. Flames prospect Sean Monahan impressed during the controlled scrimmage.

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  • Published On Aug 06, 2013


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