By Stu Hackel
Once upon a time, some hockey executive — it might have been Phil Esposito — plastered a motivational phrase on the wall in his team’s dressing room that read, “Turn Every Negative Into A Positive.” Well, things can’t be much more negative for the NHL than this ongoing, ridiculous lockout and nothing’s been more negative during the last few months than the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Yet a group of locked-out players turned both things into a positive on Saturday night in Atlantic City.
To once again see Steven Stamkos slithering through defenses, Daniel Alfredsson making tape-to-tape passes through traffic, Martin Brodeur lofting the puck halfway down the ice, P.K. Subban dropping his shoulder and carrying the puck one-handed deep into the opponent’s zone, Simon Gagne breaking free from coverage, linemates Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry reading and reacting to each other’s moves, James Neal threatening to score every time he had the puck, and Kimmo Timonen making a perfect outlet pass felt like a reunion with an old friend.