Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kovy Thriving In Leadership Role

Great article and video on Puck Agency client Ilya Kovalchuk. Check it out at http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/30085-VIDEO-Kovalchuk-thriving-in-leadership-role.html

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dadonov and the Amerks raising money for Salvation Army today!

Today, December 14th, Evgeny Dadonov and his teammates will be out helping to raise money for the Salvation Army. They have a goal of raising over $500 in two hours! We think they can do it!

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thrashers 7-2-2 since Kovy's return

Ian Busby explains the successes of the Atlanta Thrashers in the season before Ilya Kovalchuk becomes a Free Agent. In the Edmonton Sun article, Busby details the 2009-10 season so far for Atlanta and the effects of trading and injury on the team's performance. The article also touches on Olympics, Free Agency and NHL playoffs.

Rinne stops 34 shots vs. Vancouver

Nasvhille emerged victorious with a 4-2 score against Vancouver last night in Tennessee. PuckAgency client Pekka Rinne made 34 saves, 16 of which were in the third period. For the full article in the Miami Herald, please click here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Evgeny Dadonov scores a goal in win over Manitoba Tuesday night

Rochester defeated Manitoba 4-1 Last night in Winnipeg. Evgeny Dadonov scored one goal in the game. Check out the DemocratandChronicle.com article for more game detail.

"NHL and KHL are almost the same," says Sergei Zubov

Sergei Zubov, PuckAgency client and KHL's best defenseman of November, answers fan questions on sportbox.ru. www.russianhockeyfans.com offers a translation of the "most interesting" responses. For the untranslated interview, with additional Q&A, visit sportbox.ru.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sergei Zubov is KHL's defenseman of the month

PuckAgency's Sergei Zubov has won the title of "Best Defenseman" for November in the KHL season. Zubov is currently +7 this season with SKA St. Petersburg. See the other KHL players of the week here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thrashers goaltending on a roll

Why are the Thrashers doing so well? Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution attributes recent success to Atlanta's netminders.

PuckAgency client Johan Hedberg, as well as Ondrej Pavelec of the Atlanta Thrashers are on a three-game winning streak with two shutouts. "Hedberg, who earned his 12th career shutout Saturday against Philadelphia, is tied for second in the league with a .932 save percentage."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Make that six games!

Another win last night for Pekka Rinne against the Detroit Red Wings, making it 6 in a row for the Predators with Rinne in goal. The Red Wings suffered a 3-1 loss Monday in Nashville. For details, read the Free Press article by Helene St. James. For the NHL.com version, click here.

Canucks TV Interview with Mikael Samuelsson

Part II of an interview with Mikael Samuelsson was posted November 24th on Canucks Today. Be sure to check it out!

Part I and II can be found here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pekka wins fourth straight game in goal

The Predators won their fourth straight game with Pekka starting in goal. Last night's game resulted in a 3-2 shootout victory over the Devils. To read game details, visit WKRN.com.

AIK Stockholm possibly joining KHL for 2010-11 season

AIK Stockholm has accepted an invitation to join the KHL, pending approval by the club's members. Check out Jeff Klein's article on New York Times' Slap Shot. If accepted, this would mark a major step towards the KHL becoming a pan-European league.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kovalchuk one of NHL's 3 Stars

After a stint off the ice with a broken foot, PuckAgency client Ilya Kovalchuk came back and impressed the league. Kovy was chosen as one of the week's 3 Stars.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Welcome back, Kovy

Ilya Kovalchuk was back on the ice Thursday evening, playing the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Kovy had missed the previous 6 games with a fracture in his foot and was expected to be out for at least four weeks. Instead he came back last night with a goal and two assists! The Thrashers won the game 5-3.

To read Jeff Klein's full article on Kovalchuk's return to the Thrashers, please visit the New York Times website.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brian Leetch inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame!

Monday night, Brian Leetch was officially inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Watch his speech at the ceremony in Toronto here.

Michael Obernauer of the Daily News wrote an article today about Brian's love for the game, surprise at his success in the NHL and his history with the Rangers.

Also, watch videos of current New York Rangers talk about Brian and his career on the NYR website.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brian Leetch, Sergei Zubov and the 1994 Rangers

Jeff Klein of the New York Times calls the '94 partnership of Brian Leetch and Sergei Zubov "one of the most offensively dangerous blue-line partnerships in N.H.L. history."

The article details the Leetch-Zubov pairing, featuring an interview with Sergei Zubov, and also includes Leetch's long list of career highlights. The Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Toronto begins Monday evening at 7:00 pm and will be broadcast on TSN and NHL Network.

For more information about the ceremony, visit the HHoF website.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Morozov scores overtime winning goal in Karjala Cup

Russia beat the Czech Republic Sunday, thanks to Alexei Morozov's overtime goal. The final score was 4-3. AP article here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Khabibulin added to 2010 Olympic team list

Nik Khabibulin is now on the list of names being considered for the Russian hockey Olympic team. The list currently consists of 50 players, and will be finalized by the end of the year.

Among the 50 players are the following PuckAgency clients:
Sergei Zubov
Anton Volchenkov
Alexander Radulov
Alexei Morozov
Denis Kulyash
Ilya Kovalchuk
Vasily Koshechkin
Nikolai Khabibulin
Dmitri Kalinin

Full list of players and article available here.

PuckAgency's Pekka Rinne back to the #1 spot

As Bryan Mullen of The Tennessean puts it, in recent games Rinne "has been stellar...3-0-0 with a 0.76 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage." Rinne looks relaxed and confident in goal.
The full article features Coaches Barry Trotz's and Mitch Korn's, as well as Pekka's commentary on his goaltending.

Samuelsson scores 2 goals vs Rangers

The Canucks faced off against the Rangers on Tuesday night, beating them 4-1 in Vancouver. PuckAgency client Mikael Samuelsson scored 2 goals in the game. He is currently at 14 points in 16 games for the Canucks' 2009-10 season.

Find the full article here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Leetch always calm, cool and collected"

"Leetch was incredibly hard on himself. The pressure he put on himself to perform at a peak level every night was intense. He had to be a difference maker. There was no other way."

A few days before Brian Leetch's induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Dan Rosen of NHL.com writes about Brian Leetch's calm attitude in stressful situations both on and off the ice. The article includes some of Richter's and Messier's stories about Brian.

Also on NHL.com, read John McGourty's article on Leetch's accomplishments.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lindgren: 1 goal, 2 assists against Chicago Wolves

The Texas stars hosted the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night, beating them 4-1. Lindgren scored a goal and had 2 assists in the game. Read Mark Stepneski's full writeup and statistics on Saturday's game here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rinne shuts out Blackhawks

The Predators held off the Blackhawks last night in a 2-0 win. Jesse Rogers from ESPNChicago.com mentions that the Hawks had a lower-than-usual 22 shots and writes, "the real key to that low number was goaltender Pekka Rinne."

To read the full article, visit ESPN.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Alexei Morozov scores 4 goals, Ak Bars defeat Sibir

Alexei Morozov had 4 goals in the third period of today's game against Sibir. The final score was 7:4, Ak Bars.

Русская статья в sovsport.ru.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Samuelsson: Canucks v Red Wings game tomorrow, Tuesday October 27th

Mikael Samuelsson's talks about his experiences so far this season in a Globe and Mail article by Matthew Sekeres. Samuelssons discusses his play with the Canucks as well as what he learned from the Red Wings organization. Tomorrow night is the Canucks' first game against Detroit in Vancouver.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pekka Rinne stops 27 shots in 6-5 victory over Senators

Nashville beat the Senators in overtime with a final score of 6-5. The game marked Pekka Rinne's first win of the season. Full AP article can be found at washingtonexaminer.com.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Samuelsson scores late goal, giving Canucks a 3-2 win over Blackhawks

With under 5 minutes to go in the game, Samuelsson scored an impressive goal to break a 2-2 tie against Chicago. The final score on Wednesday night's game was 3-2. To watch the goal, click here. Check out the full AP article at AP.org.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NHL Live! interviews Kovy

On Tuesday NHL Live! interviewed several players, including Ilya Kovalchuk. The video is available at NHL.com. Check out the video and fast forward to 1:03:45 to listen to Kovy's interview.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Khabibulin makes 39 saves in 2-1 win over Canucks

In Edmonton's 2-1 win on Monday night, Khabibulin stopped 39 shots. Too see the game highlights on NHL.com, click here. You can read the full article at The Canadian Press.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Samuelsson scores winning goal against Wild

On Saturday, the Wild fell to the Canucks 2-1. PuckAgency's Mikael Samuelsson scored the winning goal in the third period.

Samuelsson says he is feeling more comfortable with his new teammates as the season continues. Full article at The Hockey News.

Perttu Lindgren recalled to Dallas Stars

PuckAgency client, Perttu Lindgren, has been recalled to the Dallas Stars after 6 games with their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. Lindgren, 22, had played 6 games with Texas. Dallas' next game is Monday night against the LA Kings. For the full article, click here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shirokov has 7 points in 4 games with Manitoba

In a Vancouver Sun article, PuckAgency's Shirokov gets a mention with his recent success in the AHL.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Kovalchuk's fast start one reason for Thrashers' early success"

Chris Vivlamore from ajc.com attributes Atlanta's great start to the 09-10 NHL season to Ilya Kovalchuk's performance on the ice. With five goals and one assist in three games, Kovy is off to a quick and excellent start so far. Also in the article, Coach John Anderson talks about Kovalchuk's hard work in the off-season. For Ilya, it's all part of the job. Full Article.

"Samuelsson's game has picked up"

A Canada.com article mentions Samuelsson's recent success after a rough start to the Vancouver Canucks' season. The article mentions the injuries plaguing the Canucks and highlights Samuelsson's recent power play performance.

"Samuelsson finished plus-2, and added a couple of nice assists on Sunday against Dallas."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kovalchuk scores 300th goal

Atlanta won 4-2 in the Thursday's game against St. Louis. In the first period, Kovalchuk scored his 300th career goal and then scored another goal on an empty net at the end of the game. Kovy has 5 points so far this season. The full article on last night's game can be found here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zubov still bringing some impressive ice time

The New York Times hockey blog, Slap Shot recently ran an article on the success of the KHL's SKA St. Petersburg. Jeff Klein identifies PuckAgency client, Sergei Zubov, who leads the team in ice time, as a major part of SKA's success. The KHL season began on September 10th, and since that time SKA has risen to the top of the Western Division. Zubov currently has 2 goals and 3 assists in St. Petersburg's 10 games this season.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kovalchuk scores twice in season opener

Kovalchuk had two goals in the Atlanta Thrashers' season opener on Saturday. The Thrashers started out strong, Tampa rallied hard and then the Thrashers ended the third period strong to gain a 6-3 victory over the Lightning. To get the details on the game, see the ajc.com article here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sergei Shirokov to play on Canucks' second line

PuckAgency's Sergei Shirokov has made quite an impression with the Vancouver Canucks during the preseason.
"Shirokov, the 23-year-old who bolted from Russia's Kontinental League to chase his NHL dream, will start the season on a line with Ryan Kesler and fellow newcomer Mikael Samuelsson. He'll also play alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin on Vancouver's first-unit power play."
To read the full article, click here

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Goodbye, Zubie!

The Dallas Stars have posted an article on their website bidding Sergei Zubov farewell. Ralph Strangis examines Zubie's ability on the ice, as well as his modest avoidance of publicity through the years he spent with Dallas.

"He is, above all, a hockey player, frequently the first on the ice for practice and just as often the last to leave. Once there he is a gregarious and radiant, and a unique talent. Dallas fans will always remember the eighty-foot passes up the gut and on the tape, the ease with which he toted the puck through and around frustrated opponents, the ever-so-slight shoulder shake and quick move to the forehand for a shootout winner, and his improvisational brilliance quarterbacking the Power Play." Link to article

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oilers look towards Khabibulin in this season's push for playoffs

Globe and Mail's article by Eric Duhatschek explains why Khabibulin is going to be a major element in Edmonton's playoff journey. "In Khabibulin, the Oilers landed a proven winner that was four years Roloson's junior and a primary reason why Chicago made it to the NHL's final four in May."

In the article, Khabibulin shows his excitement to play the 2009-10 season in a city that loves hockey, and the Oilers have a lot of praise for Nik as well. The Oilers also reveal their goaltending plans for the season in the article, which can be found here.

Evgeny Dadonov posts a goal in Panthers' 3-1 win over Stars

In Florida's preseason game against Dallas, PuckAgency client Evgeny Dadonov scores a goal. The Panthers won the game with a final score of 3-1. Find the AP article here!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thrashers defeat Hurricanes 4-2 in preseason opener

Ilya Kovalchuk, Bryan Little and Nik Antropov played in their first game Monday night in a preseason exhibition game against Carolina. The Thrashers won 4-2 and PuckAgency's Kovalchuk had an assist in the third period. An article about last night's game can be found at ajc.com.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Khabibulin to play tonight at Edmonton exhibition game

PuckAgency's Nik Khabibulin is gearing up for the regular season. The Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers will go head-to-head in an exhibition game tonight (September 18th) and Khabibulin is set to play in goal. The Edmonton Sun has written an article about Nik's attitude towards the game, as well as some training camp updates. Also, check out the video Oilers TV has put up of an interview with Nik.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shirokov's progress in Canada

Globe Sports "Russian prospect makes impression on, off ice" examines PuckAgency client Sergei Shirokov's progress so far in North America and shows his determination to get to the NHL. Link to article

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shirokov scores 2 goals Monday night at exhibition game

Shirokov scored two goals in an exhibition game last night against the Islanders. The Canucks beat the Islanders 2-1. Watch videos of the goals here and here. To read the full article at usatoday.com, please click here.

Kovalchuk: stay or go?

Kovalchuk has a big decision to make this season: to stay in Atlanta or to sign with a new team. Craig Custance at SportingNews explores why this decision is so important to both Kovy and Atlanta here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Khabibulin ready to see a lot of ice time this season

PuckAgency's Khabibulin won't be playing pre-season games, but he is preparing for a 60-game schedule once the 2009-10 season officially begins.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ak Bars win in the opening match of the 09/10 KHL season

PuckAgency client, Alexei Morozov, scored two goals in the opening match of the KHL's 2009-10 season. The game went into overtime and ended with a score of 3:2 Ak Bars - Lokomotiv.
Читать статью о победе Ак Барса в газете Совспорт здесь!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dadonov signs with Florida Panthers

Evgeny Dadonov signed an entry-level contract with the Florida Panthers Tuesday. Panthers Rookie Camp begins on September 7th.

Miami Herald

Monday, August 17, 2009

PuckAgency client, Sergei Shirokov, signs with Vancouver

Shirokov signs two-year deal with Vancouver Canucks, after spending the last year in Moscow playing for CSKA in the KHL.

Canucks sign Russian Sergei Shirokov
Vancouver Sun August 17, 2009 12:05 PM
VANCOUVER - The NHL's Vancouver Canucks announced Monday they have signed former Russian national junior team forward Sergei Shirokov.
Shirokov, 23, scored 41 points (17-24-41) in 56 games with CSKA Moscow of the KHL in 2008-09. He has also appeared in two world junior championships for Russian in 2005 and 2006. In 12 games played over two tournaments, Shirokov registered 134 points (7-6-13).
The 5-10, 176-pound native of Moscow was drafted 163rd overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2006 NHL entry draft.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Copyright The Vancouver Sun

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sergei Zubov signs with KHL team SKA St. Petersburg

Zubov signs on with Russian team
Smooth defenceman heads home after 16 NHL seasons, two Cups
Jul 31, 2009 04:30 AM TheStar.com

Sixteen-year NHL veteran Sergei Zubov has signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, TSN.ca reports.
The 39-year old blueliner spent his last 12 seasons with the Dallas Stars, playing just 10 games last year because of a hip injury that required surgery.
The Moscow-native was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1990 with the 85th overall draft pick. Known as one of the better puck-moving defenceman and power play specialists of the last decade, Zubov has 152 goals and 619 assists in 1,068 career games.
He helped the Rangers capture the Stanley Cup in 1994 then helped lead the Stars to their first Cup in franchise history in 1999. He also captured an Gold medal for the Commonwealth of Independent States at the 1992 Olympics.

Monday, July 6, 2009

PuckAgency client, Mikael Samuelsson, signs with Canucks

Mikael Samuelsson will be playing in Vancouver for the 2009-10 season. Samuelsson, 32, signed a three-year deal worth $7.5 million US. In his career, Samuelsson has won Olympic Gold, a Stanley Cup and a World Championship Gold. He played for Detroit for the last 4 seasons.

Versatile Samuelsson a nice fit for Canucks
By Jim Jamieson, Canwest News Service July 5, 2009
VANCOUVER - The Sedin twins are used to going into an NHL season not knowing whether they've got a regular right-winger.
This year it's not much different - for different reasons - as they already have two that can fill the role.
It's one of the reasons the Vancouver Canucks went after Mikael Samuelsson right away when the free agency window opened on Wednesday.
The versatile winger who spent the last four seasons in Detroit took a day to mull over multiple offers before accepting the Canucks' three-year, $7.5 million US contract, that was announced on Friday. The Canucks like the 32-year-old Samuelsson because of his skill set - he's big, he's fast and he can shoot the puck - but also because he played on a line with Daniel and Henrik for the gold-medal winning Swedes at the 2006 Olympics.
That's not likely to be the case next season - as Alex Burrows will be the incumbent there - but you can expect the right-handed shooting Samuelsson to get a lot of time with the Sedins on power plays. The Canucks also like that Samuelsson can play the point on the power play - he was a fixture there on Detroit's second unit - and has a bomb for a shot.
Samuelsson was 24th in the NHL in shots last season, with 257, in only 15:22 of average ice-time per game. He averaged 16 goals and 39 points in his four seasons in Detroit.
Samuelsson played on the second and third lines in Detroit and said he chose Vancouver not only because of the money.
``It was to hopefully get more ice time and get more opportunities offensively,'' said Samuelsson.
Canucks assistant GM Lorne Henning said the six-foot-one, 205 pounder will play a prominent role.
``Certainly, we see him as a top six,'' said Henning. ``He's a right-hand shot, which we love about him, his familiarity with the twins, he's great on the power play, he's got a great shot. There's a lot of pluses.''
Henning said Samuelsson's age - he'll turn 36 in the final season of his deal - isn't an issue.
``He's in phenomenal shape,'' said Henning. ``He was one of their top conditioned athletes.''
Clearly, Detroit coach Mike Babcock is sorry to see Samuelsson go in what was essentially a salary cap squeeze. The Wings had offered him a multi-year deal for $1.5 million but it was too little, too late.
Just what ripples Samuelsson's signing causes in the Canucks' roster pool has yet to play out.
The addition of Samuelsson gives Vancouver a very credible second line if he plays with Ryan Kesler and Pavol Demitra, and some interesting options on the power play.
It also brings the number of players signed to NHL contracts for next season to 18 (11 forwards, six defencemen and one goalie), for a salary cap hit of about $49.6 million. That leaves Vancouver about $7.2 million below the cap ceiling of $56.8 million. However, it doesn't include the expected salaries of unsigned but qualified restricted free agents Kyle Wellwood, Jannik Hansen and Shane O'Brien. That three skaters made about $2.5 million between them last season. Those numbers suggest it's going to be tough to sign Mats Sundin and fill the other roster holes, a No. 5 defenceman and a back-up goalie, while staying under the cap.
Vancouver Province
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nikolai Khabibulin signs with Edmonton Oilers

PuckAgency client Nikolai Khabibulin signed a four-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, the first day of the Free-Agency period. The deal is worth $15 million.

Oilers get their No. 1 goalie in Khabibulin
TSN.CA STAFF 7/1/2009
Nikolai Khabibulin is the latest big name off the board in free agency, as the veteran netminder has signed a four-year, $15 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
The 36-year-old spent the past four seasons in Chicago, helping lead the Blackhawks to their first Western Conference final since 1995 this past season. He also captured the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.
"Nikolai is a world-class goaltender who has proven himself throughout his career as one of the best in the game," Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said in a release. "He has had success at many levels of hockey and we're looking forward to seeing him continue that success here in Edmonton."
The signing marks the end of a tumultuous time in the Windy City for the Russian native. After signing a massive four-year deal with the Hawks in 2005, Khabibulin suffered through various injuries and inconsistent play.
It was thought that his days in Chicago were numbered after the Blackhawks signed free-agent netminder Cristobal Huet prior to the season. The Hawks even went as far as placing the 1992 Olympic gold medalist on waivers in September with rumours circulating of a return to Russia and the KHL. Khabibulin raised the level of his play and took over the No. 1 goaltender role and was a big reason that the Blackhawks reached the post-season for the first time in seven years.
Khabibulin finished the season with a 25-8-7 record with a 2.33 goals against average and .919 save percentage. He also picked up three shutouts.
In 678 career games split between the Jets/Coyotes, Lightning and Blackhawks, Khabibulin has a lifetime record of 299-267-21 with a .908 save percentage, 2.67 goals against average and 41 career shutouts. He has also played in four NHL All-Star games.
The Oilers also re-signed unrestricted free agent Jason Strudwick to a one-year, $700,000 deal on Wednesday.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Check out what the Carolina Hurricanes have to say about PuckAgency client Mattias Lindstrom

Mattias Lindstrom was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round of the Entry Draft on Saturday. Lindstrom, chosen 88th overall, is a 6'4" Swedish defenseman. Hear what the Hurricanes have to say about Lindstrom.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

David Rundblad selected 17th overall by St. Louis in NHL Entry Draft

The St. Louis Blues selected PuckAgency client, defenseman David Rundblad, in the first round of the Entry Draft on Friday night. Rundblad, 18, played in the Swedish Elite League during the 2008-09 season. John Davidson, President of the Blues said, "We always talk about you can never have enough defense. We had David ranked in our top 10. That's high-end skill there." (USA Today)

Blues Select Rundblad at 2009 Draft
Swedish defenseman was selected in first round, 17th overall
St. Louis Blues
Jun 26, 2009, 9:32 PM EDT

MONTREAL – The St. Louis Blues today selected defenseman David Rundblad with the 17th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.Rundblad, 18, a native of Lycksele, Sweden, competed in the Swedish Elite League for Skellefteå in 2008-09. As a 17 year old rookie he held his own on the blue line recording 10 assists (0-10-10) in 45 games. He spent 10 games with the junior team this season, showing his offensive side, contributing 15 points (8-7-15).At the 2009 World Junior Championships, Rundblad helped Sweden win a silver medal, finishing with a plus-three rating and two points (1-1-2) in six games. He won gold at the 2007 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, defeating Finland 3-2 in the final.In 2007-08, as a member of the Skellefteå Junior team, Rundblad led all defensemen in points (26) and goals (11) in 35 games. The 6-2, 189-pound defenseman was ranked 6th among all European skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

PuckAgency's Tim Erixon selected 23rd overall by Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames selected Swedish defenseman Tim Erixon in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal. Erixon was selected 23rd overall on Friday night.

Flames select Swedish bloodlines in Erixon
By Scott Cruikshank, Calgary Herald, June 26, 2009

There had been pre-draft buzz that the Calgary Flames would pick according to bloodlines.
Maybe Landon Ferraro, son of Ray.
Maybe Carter Ashton, son of Brent.
Maybe Dylan Olsen, son of Darryl.
Well, none of the above.
But the Flames didn’t deviate far from the family tree.
With their first-round selection at the National Hockey League draft Friday at the Bell Centre, the Flames bagged Tim Erixon, a Swedish defenceman who’s the son of Jan, a splendid defensive forward for the New York Rangers (1983-93).
But this day belonged to the boy.
“It’s a great feeling, for sure, an awesome feeling,” Erixon, via telephone, said from Montreal. “It’s a dream come true. A great organization. I’m very happy about it.”
Added the proud papa: “Can I brag? He’s a two-way defenceman with offensive skills. He can play on the power play, I would say, and on the penalty kill, too. Good size. He’s a pretty good skater for his size. Mobile. He has a good first pass.
“It was a tough night. It’s great to see him picked by a classy team, and I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing him play there.”
This past season, Erixon skated primarily in Swedish elite league, making 45 appearances and collecting seven points.
“One of the reasons he was able to play against men — and that’s the top men’s league — is because he’s smart,” said Flames director of scouting Tod Button. “He’s got some physical development to do. He doesn’t have to grow any more, he’s just got to get man strong. His ability to read the game, to get to the right spots ahead of time, is what allows him to play in the elite league at a young age.”
Jan had been drafted by the Rangers, 30th overall in 1981 (which just happens to be one selection before Mike Sands — currently director of amateur scouting for the Flames — was taken by the Minnesota North Stars).
Jan ended up making 556 appearances (many against the arch-rival — and current Flames employees — Duane and Brent Sutter in Long Island), collecting 216 points, for the Blueshirts.
Flames scout Tom Webster, once upon a time, coached Jan in New York.
And while pedigree always makes for intriguing storylines, it’s not something the scouts discount, either.
“It doesn’t make a defining difference,” said Button, “but you know what? He’s ahead of the game mentally, in how to prepare for games, and his maturity level . . . because of his dad. He can go to his dad for advice. (Bloodlines) aren’t going to make a bad player a good player, but it’s certainly going to help make a good player settle down and be more mature.”
Operating out of the 20 hole, the Flames boss did what he likes to do.
Trade down, splitting his pick into two.
Moments before his first-round holler, Sutter found a willing partner.
His old friend Lou Lamoriello, boss of the New Jersey Devils (and, until recently, employer of Brent Sutter).
After a brisk negotiation, the Flames’ original pick was parlayed into the 23rd and 84th selections. And that’s how Erixon, the sixth Swede taken on the night, got fitted for a Calgary sweater.
“We think he’s a well-rounded player,” said Button. “He can carry the puck a little bit. I wouldn’t say he’s a rusher, but if the ice is there, he’s got the ability to take it and make plays with it. We think his best asset is probably his hockey sense and his vision.
“The standard line (of success) is a top-four D . . . you don’t want to overblow guys or over-rate them, but we think he’s more than that. We think he’s a No. 2 or 3 down the road with his ability. The ability to play in any situation. That’s the biggest thing for us.”
Netting a Swede in the first round for the second time in three years — Mikael Backlund was plucked, 24th overall, in 2007 — the Flames feel they have added another reliable rearguard to their cupboard, which is brimming with top-notch defenders (such as John Negrin, T.J. Brodie, Keith Aulie).
“You have to be able to project those guys out, and I really believe that if there’s a tie between a defenceman and a forward, you take the defenceman,” Darryl Sutter told NHL Radio. “(Erixon) is a good defenceman, very stable, and the boy is pretty close to playing and he’s very well-prepared. You’re trying to get a good player in the first round always, but when you pick at the bottom of the first round, you know there’s time.
“There are a pile of good players this year, and we’re lucky to have lots of picks tomorrow. Hopefully it goes well for us.”
The draft resumes this morning, with the Flames holding seven selections.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

PuckAgency client, Brian Leetch, to be inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, June 23, the Hockey Hall of Fame selected Brian Leetch as one of four players to be inducted into the HHOF on November 9, 2009. Leetch won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1989, the Norris Trophy in 1992 and 1997 and the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy in 1994. Leetch scored over 1,000 points in his NHL career. He retired in May 2007.

By Mike Brehm, USA TODAY
The four players from the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2009 would scare opposing goaltenders.
The fifth electee would figure out to shut them down.
Forwards Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman and Luc Robitaille scored more than 2,100 goals among them. Defenseman Brian Leetch has more than 1,000 points. Together they won seven Stanley Cups. Hull, Yzerman and Robitaille were together on the 2002 champion Detroit Red Wings team.
Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the New Jersey Devils, won Stanley Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003. Backstopped by Martin Brodeur, his teams are known for having strong defense and opportunistic offense.
The group will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at ceremonies in Toronto on November 9.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thrashers re-sign Salmela to a multi-year contract

Anssi Salmela will be returning to Atlanta in the 2009-10 season. The Atlanta Thrashers re-signed the defenseman to a multi-year contract on Thursday.

Last season Salmela had one goal and five assists in 26 NHL games, playing for the New Jersey Devils and the Atlanta Thrashers. Don Wadell, General Manager of the Thrashers said, “He is a guy we wanted to get, and he showed us exactly what we wanted to see [during his time with the Thrashers]...He’s a high-end skill player, and we wanted to move forward with him.”

Thursday, June 04, 2009
Thrashers re-sign defenseman Salmela
By Chris Vivlamore
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Thrashers re-signed defenseman Anssi Salmela to a multi-year contract Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Salmela, 24, was acquired by the Thrashers on March 2 in a trade with the New Jersey Devils for Niclas Havelid and Myles Stoesz.

“He is a guy we wanted to get, and he showed us exactly what we wanted to see [during his time with the Thrashers],” general manager Don Waddell said. “He’s a high-end skill player, and we wanted to move forward with him.”

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound defenseman scored his first career NHL goal in his second game with the Thrashers, which came against the Washington Capitals on March 16. In his nine games with the Thrashers he had three points (one goal, two assists). He also played in 17 games for the Devils last season with three assists.

“I see him as being with the team [next season],” Waddell said. “We are going to carry seven defensemen, and we expect him to be one of them. He’s not in the top four yet, but he’s young and has a lot of upside.”

Following the NHL season, Salmela played for his native Finland in the World Championships. He had one goal in seven games as Finland advanced to the quarterfinals.

Salmela was originally signed by the Devils in May 2008 as a free agent after four seasons in the Finish Elite League. He also played in 40 games in the AHL last season with Lowell and Chicago, where he combined for 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Babchuk comes up huge for Carolina; 'Canes force Game 7

The Carolina Hurricanes rolled over the New Jersey Devils 4-0 last night, forcing a do-or-die Game 7 in Newark tomorrow night. Carolina Head Coach Paul Maurice made several changes to the lineup from Game 5, including replacing Frantisek Kaberle with Anton Babchuk on the third defense pairing with Niclas Wallin. This move paid immediate dividends as Babchuk made a smart defensive play, which led to Carolina's first goal; they never looked back from there. Ray Whitney was the first star of the game, with a goal and three assists.

Big play from Babchuk

Anton Babchuk was back in the lineup Sunday after being scratched for Game 5, and it was a move with a pretty solid foundation.

Babchuk wasn’t happy at being left out, so you figure you’ll get a pretty good game from him. And it’s at home, so you get to control who he’s out against and should get more power plays to use him.

As these things often happen, Babchuk made a key play in the first period that led to Carolina’s first goal. After a long Carolina shift in the Devils’ zone, the Devils were on their way in the other direction when Babchuk held the puck in the zone at the blue line.

Babchuk’s deflection went straight to Eric Staal at the right circle. Martin Brodeur saved his shot, but Chad LaRose grabbed the rebound and fed Staal behind the net. Staal found an open Ray Whitney in front for Carolina’s first goal since Jussi Jokinen’s late game-winner in Game 4.

Babchuk didn’t get an assist on the play, but that goal doesn’t happen without his gutsy decision to stay put at the blue line — and the team that has scored first has won five of the six games in this series.

On the night, Babchuk was plus-1 in 19 minutes of ice time, with two shots on goal and one blocked shot.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Alexander Radulov scores two goals to lead Russia past France in day 3 of the World Championships

Alexander Radulov scored two goals today as Russia cruised past France 7-2. Radulov got Russia on the board only 1:23 into the first period and logged 20:27 of ice time for the day while skating on the third line with former Ottawa Senator Oleg Saprykin and Konstantin Gorovikov. Russia will face Switzerland on Tuesday, having outscored its opponents 12-2 thus far in two games.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Anton Babchuk to be reinserted into lineup tonight for Game 6 vs. New Jersey Devils

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Anton Babchuk will be back in the lineup tonight as the 'Canes try to even up the series at 3 against the New Jersey Devils.  Babchuk, who led Carolina defensemen in goals (16), had been a healthy scratch for Game 5, when Carolina was consequently shutout by New Jersey.  Babchuk had 9 powerplay goals this season and came on strong at the end of the season, after receiving increased ice-time.  Babchuk scored 2 goals in Carolina's regular-season finale against New Jersey.  If Carolina can win tonight, Game 7 would be Tuesday night in Newark.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For one night, Flames have advantage over Khabibulin

Well, Monday night, after looking all but done, the Flames got themselves back into their series against the Blackhawks with a 4-2 victory at the Saddledome. Calgary forward Eric Nystrom said this about Nikolai Khabibulin, "He's a world-class goalie. He’s a great goalie. The way you beat him is just to put pucks there. It’s eventually going to go in. You’ve got to put bodies there, too, and I think we did a great job of that tonight."

Game 4 is Wednesday night at 10 PM ET.

Flames burn down 'Bulin Wall

Solid effort all-around gives Calgary new life in series against Chicago

Last Updated: 21st April 2009, 1:07 am

The Wall has cracks after all.

And the Calgary Flames have life in the series.

One more goal in each of their first two games was all that kept the Flames from coming away from Chicago with a 2-0 lead instead of an intimidating deficit in the first-round matchup.

One goal changed their fortune last night at the Saddledome in a 4-2 Flames victory that helped them climb back into the fight.

It wasn't a pretty one, but neither the Flames nor their fans will complain when Nikolai (The 'Bulin Wall) Khabibulin gives up a soft one.

Rene Bourque's wraparound bank-shot that hit Khabibulin's pad and slid through the five-hole gave the Flames their first lead of the game with less than three minutes to play in the second period.

They didn't give up the lead this time.

"We learned from our mistakes and we knew how we had to play to keep the lead," said Eric Nystrom, who tied things at 1-1 early in the first period. "We got the next goal, which was huge, and we got the next one to seal the deal. You've got to stay on the hunt.

"That was the difference tonight."

Bourque's didn't hold up as the winner, but boosting the confidence of a snakebitten Flames squad that hasn't had an easy time against the Blackhawks backstop over his career, they charged out of the room in the final frame and added to the lead just 1:18 in.

It was David Moss — earning his first of two over the final 20 minutes — pushing the puck into a gaping cage to give the Flames a two-goal cushion.

He made it 4-1 minutes later courtesy of a lucky bounce off his skate as he charged the net.

It was more than luck, however, that gave the Flames their first win this spring.

It was good, old-fashioned, green hard-hat-type workmanship.

Todd Bertuzzi became the power forward many might remember from earlier in the Millennium.

Bourque overcame obvious pain to put in a full night's effort.

Moss continues to bloom as a clutch sniper unafraid of the punishment he takes for going to the net.

Oh, and the other goaltender, Miikka Kiprusoff, was in fine form as he rejected 36 of the 38 shots sent his way.

“All year, we struggled against them. We haven’t played up to our potential," said defenceman Adrain Aucoin, relieved to finally beat the Hawks and Khabibulin. "We’d seen a couple of flashes the last two games, but tonight was our wire-to-wire best effort."

The goal-scorers were Moss, Bourque and Nystrom, but you have to give credit to the supporting roleplayers on each of those tallies.

Rookie defenceman Adam Pardy forced Khabibulin to give up a juicy rebound right back up the gut with his individual rush to the blue paint and Moss was Johnny-on-the-spot to make it 3-1.

Owing his game-turning goal to the legwork of Olli Jokinen — until now barely mentioned in the series unless it was for his lack of an offensive presence — Bourque wouldn't have been in prime position for an attempt without Jokinen out-hustling Hawks captain Jonathan Toews to push the puck deep and set up the attack.

Anyone looking for bad omens might have considered the Sea of Red's inability to sync up both sides of the building for its first 'Go Flames Go' chant an early one.

The Flames weren't in sync in the opening minutes, either.

Taking advantage with a scoring chance on the first shift, the Blackhawks showed no signs of intimidation.

Even less after they opened the scoring on the powerplay 2:03 into the game.

Patrick Sharp had an easy tap-in set up by Toews with Jokinen in the box for goaltender interference.

Nystrom gave the sold-out Saddledome new life with his first career playoff goal less than five minutes later, roofing the puck past Khabibulin to tie things at 1-1.

Again, partial credit has to go to the other Flames on the ice.

Screening Khabibulin was Warren Peters, who suited up for his first NHL playoff game instead of Jamie Lundmark. Feeding Nystrom was Curtis Glencross, who took a pass from defenceman Adrian Aucoin and raced up the wing before spotting the open man across the ice.

Contributions came from all around, and the flames will need more of that tomorrow night as they try to even the series in Game 4 at the Dome.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Anssi Salmela added to Finnish roster for World Championships

The Atlanta Thrashers season ended on April 11, but will continue for Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Anssi Salmela, who was just added to the Finnish roster for the IIHF World Championships.  The World Championships will take place in Switzerland, beginning April 24.  Salmela will be a restricted free agent this summer.  Other Thrashers playing in the World Championships are Ilya Kovalchuk (Russia), Ron Hainsey, Zack Bogosian and Colin Stuart (USA), Colby Armstrong (Canada), Tobias Enstrom (Sweden) and Boris Valabik (Slovakia).   

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Khabibulin and Blackhawks get best of Flames once more; series shifts to Calgary Monday night

Nikolai Khabibulin was spectacular once again on Saturday night against Calgary in Game 2 of the series between the Blackhawks and the Flames. Khabibulin has a .922 save percentage to go along with a 2.26 GAA in 59 career playoff games; you can say that the 'Bulin Wall rises to the occasion. Much has been written recently in the local newspapers as well as on a national level about Khabibulin's mastery of the Calgary Flames. Game 3 is tomorrow night in Calgary.

Familiar Wall once again too tough to crack

Last Updated: 19th April 2009, 4:52am

CHICAGO -- The Flames finally managed to knock a couple of bricks out of the Bulin Wall.

They just can't seem to take it down.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has dominated the Flames his whole career.

His all-time record between the playoffs and regular season is an ungodly 28-8-2.

Should it really be a surprise nothing seems to be changing in their best-of-seven series.

When Calgary had the chance to extend the two-goal lead in the first period of last night's 3-2 loss -- a third goal would have been akin to a knockdown punch -- Khabibulin held strong.

When Calgary was pushing frantically to draw even -- there were three scoring chances in the first minute -- the Bulin Wall didn't have a hole.

You can't help but think the Flames are starting to think they won't beat him.

"I'm sure Habby's in their heads as much as Kiprusoff's in ours," said Hawks forward Patrick Sharp. "We know we have to outwork him if we want to score. Anything those two guys see, they're probably going to stop. We've got to drive the net hard and score dirty goals.

"Whether it's the Flames or anybody else, we know he's going to give us a good effort, been doing it all year long. I think he's really stepped up his game for us.

"I think they've got some gifted goal scorers going to put it in, hopefully they don't, but Habby has been playing well."


How about amazing.

Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff has been excellent through the first two games of the series that now shifts to Calgary.

Khabibulin has been better.

"Spectacular," assessed Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville. "He was the key factor in us winning tonight. He was big, made several quality saves you're saying, 'How did that stay out of the net?' "

The Flames must have been saying that, too.

Like when Todd Bertuzzi sent a sharp-angled offering that Khabibulin stopped with his outstretched leg while he was on his stomach.

Like when Khabibulin took another hard shot off the mask in the second period, when Calgary could have restored a blown lead.

Or in the early and late portions of the final period when Calgary was frantically trying to find an equalizer.

"We expect him to play well. We expect him to battle for them," said Flames forward Michael Cammalleri.

"I think we know that going in and therefore it's our job to make things more difficult for him.

"We need to put more pucks, more tips, more screens and get it by him."

But is he in their heads, creating all kinds of self-doubt?

"No one's talked about it and I, personally, haven't been here," Cammalleri said.

"You guys have mentioned it to me once or twice, and that's all I've heard of it."

Adrian Aucoin also disagreed.

"Not that I can see. We're driving the net and we're digging hard," he said.

"Those are going to go in. Our goals were like that, a rebound on a point shot and my goal was guys hanging around the net, and that's what we need to do.

"When good goalies see the puck, they're going to make the saves. We're dug a few, and had some more that almost went in."

Almost isn't good enough.

Not when you're trying to smash down the Wall for good.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nikolai Khabibulin looks to continue nearly 15-year dominance of the Calgary Flames

Tonight marks the beginning of the first round of the NHL Playoffs with 4 games on tap, but meanwhile the Calgary Flames will have one more day to figure out a way to stop the "Bulin Wall"-Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. There is no denying Khabibulin's playoff experience (remember the Tampa Bay Lightning's improbable 2004 Stanley Cup run) and his numbers against Calgary don't lie. Every player says the right things, that the playoffs are a new season. Khabibulin came on strong at the end of the season when Chicago needed him most, taking over as number one goaltender; Khabby shutout the Detroit Red Wings this past Sundat to end the regular season. This is why they play the games.

Plan to crack Khabby in place

If the enemy netminder is struggling, fire a lot of pucks.

If the enemy netminder is stellar, fire a lot of pucks.

"It's almost comical. . . or hypocritical, right?" says Michael Cammalleri. "Every day we get reports on these goalies and it's the same things. 'Get a lot of traffic. They hate traffic.'Although I've yet to meet a goaltender who loves getting screened. 'And when he's down, shoot high. And when he's up, shoot low.'

"I mean, it's really common sense stuff."

The issue at hand, not surprisingly, is how the Calgary Flames plan to beat archrival Nikolai Khabibulin, star goal-keeper of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Cammalleri insists it's important that the Flames aren't intimidated by his presence, starting Thursday in Game 1 of their National Hockey League first-round clash.

In other words, continue to play to your strengths.

Avoid being too fine.

"You don't want change your shot --ever--because of a goaltender," Cammalleri says. "The best goalies have that ability, to make players change their shot, and that's when you get into trouble.You can't change where you're going to put it . . . based on the goaltender's play, based on the distraction, 'Oh, he's too good to beat.'

"You still want to make your shot. If he makes a save, he makes a save."

Which, of course, is precisely what Khabibulin has been doing forever against the Flames. Hence, the career log of 22-5-2 (2.06 GAA).

"Yeah, I saw that record the other night," says Rene Bourque.

"Obviously, he's a great goalie. When he's on his game, he's hard to beat. I played with him for three years and he's one of the best goalies in the league. It's not going to be easy to get 'em by him, but we'll have to find a way."

That lopsided work includes the 2004 Stanley Cup final, when, as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he edged the Flames in a seven-game set (4-3, 1.85 GAA).

This winter, Khabibulin, 36, prevailed in all three of regular-season starts against Calgary (1.99 GAA).

Coach Mike Keenan was asked about lifetime one-sidedness, one goalie versus one team.

Has he ever seen that before? Of course, he has.

"I think Ken Dryden dominated the Boston Bruins, for example," says Keenan. "Well, obviously (Khabibulin) is a confident goalie -- he's playing well right now . . . two shutouts in his last four games (of the regular season). We know that. It's one thing that's going to be intriguing about this series -- two excellent goalies."

While the masked men in question are comparable in post-season experience--Miikka Kiprusoff's 50 playoff appearances (23-24) versus Khabibulin's 57 (31-25) -- Flames goaltending guru David Marcoux downplays the showdown aspect.

"They don't compete, one against the other," says Marcoux. "Miikka competes against the shooters of the Chicago Blackhawks. And Nikolai Khabibulin competes against our guys in here. He has no control over the other guy at the other end. And vice versa."

"But you can't take away the Stanley Cup from Khabibulin. And what one guy has, the other wants."

"From an entertainment standpoint, it's great. But it's not about Miikka, it's not about Khabibulin. It's about the Calgary Flames going into Chicago and winning Game 1."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ak Bars Kazan's Alexei Morozov scores only goal in deciding game of KHL Finals

Ak Bars Kazan forward Alexei Morozov scored just over halfway through the 3rd period of Game 7 of the KHL Finals against Yaroslavl Lokomotiv.  After Wednesday's loss to Yaroslavl, Kazan was trailing the series 3-2.  However, a win on Friday evened the series at 3, setting up an intensity-filled final game on Ak Bars' home ice.  This is Kazan's 2nd title in the last four years.  

Morozov led the KHL (in its inaugural season) in scoring, nothing new for Alexei, a former Pittsburgh Penguin first-round draft choice; Morozov led the Russian Super League in scoring in 2006-07.  Today's game capped a tumultuous year for the Kontinental Hockey League, whose teams are believed to be cutting payroll (and hence salaries) next season due to the struggling economy.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Defenseman Anton Babchuk continues his strong play; Hurricanes go for their 10th straight

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Anton Babchuk has been stellar recently. On Tuesday night, Babchuk had a career-high four assists in a 9-0 win over the New York Islanders, which was the worst loss in Islanders' franchise history. Babchuk, who will be a restricted free agent after this season, now has 32 points (14 G, 18 A) and is a +15; he is tied for second in points among the team's defenseman (Joni Pitkanen) and is tied for the highest plus-minus rating on the team (Eric Staal). His play has been a huge reason why Carolina is arguably the NHL's hottest team. The 'Canes go for their 10th consecutive victory tonight when they face the Buffalo Sabres at the RBC Center.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Anssi Salmela leaves game with a concussion, won't travel with Atlanta this weekend

Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Anssi Salmela left last night's game vs. Buffalo with a concussion after a collision with teammate Nathan Oystrick and Buffalo forward Thomas Vanek. This is the second concussion that Salmela has suffered this year. His first one occurred while he was a member of the Lowell Devils. Anssi has scored a goal and added 3 assists in 9 games with Atlanta, after being acquired in exchange for defenseman Niclas Havelid. There is no word yet on whether or not he will travel with the team to Florida.

Boris back, Anssi out

The Thrashers sure timed this one right. Anssi Salmela, who took a blow to the chin in Wednesday night’s victory over Buffalo, won’t be making the trip to Florida and Washington this weekend and will be evaluated again next week. Salmela didn’t practice with the team on Thursday, but he told me he’s feeling better.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ilya Kovalchuk hits 40-goal mark once again

Atlanta Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 40th goal of the season and added an assist on Saturday night in a 6-3 win over Ottawa, marking the fifth consecutive season that he has hit the 40-goal plateau.  Kovalchuk must have impressed Russian National Team coach Slava Bykov, who along with his assistant coach, was on hand Saturday night at Philips Arena; Kovalchuk will likely play for Bykov at the IIHF World Championships, which take place in Switzerland next month.  Kovy was the hero at last year's World Championships in Quebec, as he scored the game-tying and game-winning goals against Canada to lead Russia to the Gold.  After a slow start to the season, Ilya now has scored 28 goals in his last 38 games, still leaving the possibility that he can reach the 50-goal mark, which he has already reached twice in his relatively young career. Kovalchuk was named captain earlier in the season, and from that point on, has taken off; he is now only 6 goals away from 300.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anton Babchuk's power play goal leads 'Canes over Senators

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Anton Babchuk scored a power play goal with just over 6 minutes remaining in the third period to edge the Ottawa Senators 2-1 last night.  Babchuk has been on fire in recent weeks; last night's goal was 13th of the season and his 4th in  the last 5 games.  Babchuk leads Carolina in plus-minus rating with a +12 rating and is second among the 'Canes defensemen in goals and points.  Carolina travels to New Jersey Saturday for a 7 PM start against the Devils.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Defenseman Anton Volchenkov to return for the Senators tonight

The A-Train is back on the tracks. Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov will return for the Senators tonight when they face the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes. Volchenkov missed Sunday night's game at the New York Rangers, with "bumps and bruises," likely coming from the multitude of shots that he puts himself in front of. Anton is currently ranked 8th in the NHL in blocked shots (155) despite missing 14 games due to injury. With only 10 games remaining, Ottawa is attempting to make an improbable run to capture the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nikolai Khabibulin returns to form with a near shutout against Los Angeles

Nikolai Khabibulin was minutes away from a shuout against the Los Angeles Kings yesterday at the United Center when Kings rookie defenseman Drew Doughty got his team on the board (at the 16:54 mark of the 3rd period). Khabibulin's solid day in net was overshadowed by the return of Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who scored 2 goals in yesterday's victory. Khabibulin's win was his 18th of the season and his first since February 11. This comes after Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville indicated he would "ride" Khabibulin the rest of the way, as Chicago solidifies their playoff drive.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anton Babchuk's two powerplay goals lead Carolina over New Jersey

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Anton Babchuk scored two powerplay goals last in a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at the RBC Center. This was the first two-goal game of the 6'5" defenseman's career, giving him 11 goals for the season, 6 of which have come on the powerplay. Anton is known for his booming shot from the point and thus has found himself as a mainstay on Carolina's first powerplay unit. Carolina head coach Paul Maurice had this to say about Babchuk, "He's got a huge shot. Boy, when he gets a chance to step into it, he's been real good. A lot of that is confidence. He's scored enough this year that he wants the puck, and there aren't a lot of guys who want to stand in front of it."Babchuk's plus/minus rating of +10 is tops among Carolina defensemen and is tied for the team lead with Matt Cullen. Carolina takes on the New York Islanders tomorrow night as they fight for their playoff lives.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Anssi Salmela scores first career NHL goal

Congratulations to PuckAgency client Anssi Salmela, who scored his first career NHL goal, an unassisted powerplay goal last night in a 5-1 Atlanta win over Washington, the Thrashers' sixth consecutive win. Salmela was acquired by Atlanta on March 4th in exchange for defenseman Niclas Havelid (sent to New Jersey). Anssi is known as a defenseman who likes to join the rush and who flourishes on the power play as he possesses a strong shot from the point. Last night, Salmela logged 21:50 and was a +2. Atlanta faces off against Pittsburgh tonight at the Igloo.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pekka Rinne sets Nashville franchise record for shutouts

Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne made his way into the record books on Saturday night after making 18 saves in a 2-0 win over Phoenix at Jobing Arena. This was Pekka's seventh shutout of the season, breaking a franchise record for shutouts, previously held by Dan Ellis. Rinne is now top 5 in the league in shutouts, save percentage (.923) and goals against average (2.21). The Predators are currently on a West coast roadtrip, and take on the Los Angeles Kings tonight. They will then travel to Anaheim on Wednesday and then on to San Jose for a Thursday night tilt.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

'Hawks happy to have Khabby back

Nikolai Khabibulin returns to the net today for Chicago as the Blackhawks take on the NY Islanders at the United Center.  Chicago was defeated 5-3 by Columbus on Friday and the Blackhawks' lead for 4th place in the Western Conference over Vancouver is now only 4 points. Khabby last played February 11 vs. Atlanta. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pekka Rinne healthy again, could be in goal tomorrow night vs. the New York Rangers

Pekka Rinne was a welcome addition to Nashville's practice today. Pekka had been fighting the flu for about a week. Rinne could be in the net tomorrow night in a crucial meeting with the New York Rangers. Pekka trails only Columbus rookie sensation Steve Mason in shutouts; Mason made 35 saves last night to get his 9th of the season, a 2-0 blanking of Boston. Nashville's six-game winning streak came to an end last night in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals.

Rinne returns to practice
by John Glennon at 3/11/2009 2:10 PM CDT

Pekka Rinne, who missed Tuesday’s game with the flu, was back at practice on Wednesday and said he should be ready to go on Thursday. Trotz didn’t commit to going with Rinne or sticking with Ellis, who had a strong 42-save game on Tuesday.

The Preds reassigned Drew MacIntyre to Milwaukee as a result of Rinne’s return.

Nikolai Khabibulin could return as soon as Friday

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin could return to action as soon as Friday vs. Columbus or Sunday afternoon vs. the New York Islanders. For the first time since dealing with a lower-body injury, Khabibulin skated with the entire team yesterday and has been making steady progress recently.

Published: 3/11/2009 12:01 AM
Khabibulin might be back in net soon

By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin returned to practice Tuesday and could be back in the Blackhawks' lineup this weekend.

"He's much better today," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was nice to see him in practice, and he looked pretty good, too. We'll visit with him (Wednesday) as far as exactly when he'll play, but he's close."

Khabibulin has missed the last 12 games with a groin injury.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ilya Kovalchuk stays hot, comes through with another multi-point game as Thrashers douse Flames

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 36th goal in yesterday afternoon's 5-2 win over Calgary. Kovy is now tied for third in the league in goals and he has climbed into the top 20 in points (76). The Thrashers won consecutive games over the weekend, blanking Montreal 2-0 on Friday night.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Kovalchuk stays hot

With a goal and an assist Sunday, Kovalchuk has 15 goals and 26 points in his past 13 games.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Nikolai Khabibulin inching closer to a return

There appears to be good news on the injury front for Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. There is no timetable for his return, but he has been skating with the team and could return to practice in the near future. Chicago travels to Boston tomorrow for a 1 PM face-off with the Bruins.

Published: 3/6/2009 12:02 AM

By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Making progress: Nikolai Khabibulin, out since Feb. 11 with a groin injury, had a third straight day of solid work on the ice Wednesday, although he didn't practice with the team.

"We're seeing real good progress over the last couple of days," Joel Quenneville said. "That's three days in a row on the ice, so I think it won't be too long before he's inserted into practice."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

HPK's Jussi Makkonen named SM-Liiga Player of the Month for February

Today, HPK forward Jussi Makkonen was named Player of the Month in SM-Liiga for the month of February. Makkonen is currently the leading goal scorer (27) in the Finnish Elite League and ranks 3rd in points (58). The 24-year old undrafted forward is a native of Turku, Finland and is in his first full season with HPK.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Finnish defenseman Anssi Salmela heads to Atlanta in return for Niclas Havelid

Anssi Salmela is headed to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for defenseman Niclas Havelid. Havelid was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and so Atlanta didn't want to let him go for nothing. In Salmela, the Thrashers acquire a younger (24 years old) offensive-minded defenseman who does some of his best work on the power play.

Ilya Kovalchuk named NHL's 3rd Star for week ending March 1, NHL's 1st Star for month of February

Atlanta Thrashers LW Ilya Kovalchuk continued his torrid pace Saturday night by scoring 2 goals and adding 3 assists in Atlanta's 5-3 comback win over Carolina. Kovalchuk has amassed 17 points (10 G, 7 A) in his last 7 games, moving him to 7th in the NHL in points (71). At the midpoint of the season, it appeared very unlikely that Kovy would reach the 50-goal plateau, but now, with 21 games remaining for the Thrashers, this plateau is well within Ilya's reach.

Thrashers surge past Hurricanes

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Saturday, February 28, 2009

There is no hotter player in the NHL these days than Ilya Kovalchuk, and he has made the Thrashers a suddenly dangerous team.

Kovalchuk scored an NHL-best 13 goals in February and capped the month with a two-goal, three-assist game in Saturday night’s 5-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The victory gave the Thrashers their first winning month since 2007 and a 4-2-1 record in their past seven games. Kovalchuk has scored in nine of the past 10 games. His five points Saturday tied a career high.

“When Kovy hounds the puck, when he wants it, you can see it in his eyes, almost, that’s when you know he’s going to play a good game,” Thrashers coach John Anderson said. “The last period and a half of this game, that’s what you saw. He took over. … When you see that little spark in his eye, that’s when you know the other team had better be ready.”

The Thrashers trailed 3-1 before scoring four goals in the final 10 minutes. Rich Peverley scored two of those, including the game-winner with 1:28 left. It was an impressive stretch of hockey against a Carolina team that came into Philips Arena tied for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

“If we’re going to play like that, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games,” Kovalchuk said.

It’s too late for the Thrashers to make the playoffs but not too late for them to affect who does. The Thrashers head into March with a schedule filled with games that have a lot of meaning, at least to the other team. All but three of Atlanta’s final 19 games come against teams in playoff position or teams that headed into Saturday within a point of a playoff spot.

Only one NHL team has fewer points in the standings than the Thrashers, but the Thrashers have been playing much better than that record lately.

“I think what’s happening here is you’re seeing a little belief in the team and the system and in each other,” Anderson said. “Hopefully we can carry it on throughout the year. I know it’s maybe a little late now, but at least we’re seeing some progress.”

Saturday night’s announced crowd of 17,796 was the Thrashers’ largest since the season opener, but it had little to cheer until the final 10 minutes.

Carolina led 3-1 thanks to first-period goals by Tuomo Ruutu and Sergei Samsonov and a third-period power-play goal by Anton Babchuk.

But the Thrashers rallied. Marty Reasoner put the puck on net, and Peverley squeezed it past Cam Ward at the 10:25 mark.

“I took about four whacks at it,” Peverley said. “I don’t think he knew where it was.”

A few minutes later, Kovalchuk was so sure he had scored the equalizer he raised his stick in celebration. Ward somehow stopped the puck but couldn’t prevent a rebound, and Todd White knocked it in.

A slashing penalty on Tim Gleason created the power play for Peverley’s game-winner. Peverley carried the puck in from the left boards and lifted the puck past Ward high on the far side.

Kovalchuk added an empty-net goal with three seconds left.

Kovalchuk’s first goal came with 34 seconds left in the second period, and it was key for the Thrashers. It “gave them life,” Carolina’s Eric Staal said.

And no hockey player is living better these days than Kovalchuk.

Stellar season continues for Pekka Rinne

Since Pekka Rinne has taken over the starting goaltending job in Nashville, he has really taken off. Saturday night's 8-0 thumping of Detroit marked Pekka's sixth shutout of the season, tying a franchise-record previously set by Dan Ellis last year. Rinne is now tied for second in the NHL in shuouts, only trailing Steve Mason, another Calder Trophy candidate who has 8 shutouts. Entering tonight's action, Rinne is currently among the top 3 in SV% (.926), GAA (2.15) and shutouts, quite an accomplishment for the 26 year-old, who entering this season, had only appeared in 3 NHL games. The Predators are one point behind the 8th place Anaheim Ducks, but have one game in hand.

March 1, 2009

Pekka Rinne ties shutout mark

By John Glennon

The Predators' offensive outburst in Saturday's 8-0 win over Detroit was so shocking that it overshadowed another stellar effort by goalie Pekka Rinne.

Rinne stopped 30 shots for his sixth shutout of the season, tying the franchise mark set by Dan Ellis last season.

Rinne's best save came just over two minutes into the second period, when — while seated in the crease — he robbed Tomas Kopecky, extending his arm almost over the goal line to glove Kopecky's quick wrist shot.

"That, to me, was a signature save,'' Predators Coach Barry Trotz said. "Guys realized, 'Let's get it back on track here and not let them get any momentum.'''

Friday, February 27, 2009

Nikolai Khabibulin still sidelined with a groin injury

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin last started in net on February 11th in Atlanta, when he made 36 saves in a 3-1 win over Atlanta. Khabby currently ranks 5th in the NHL in save percentage (.924) and is tied for 9th in GAA (2.37). Also, Nik was recently rated the 7th best goaltender in the NHL by the Hockey News in their "Goalie Issue." There is no timetable for Khabibulin's return for the Blackhawks, who are in 4th place in the Western Conference with 76 points.

Published: 2/27/200 12:05 AM
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

No Khabibulin: The Hawks hoped Nikolai Khabibulin could return to practice Thursday, but it didn't happen.

Khabibulin has been sidelined since Feb. 11 with a lower body problem that's believed to be a groin.

"He was on skates a little bit (Thursday) and did some things, but we'll give him some time here," Joel Quenneville said.

Cristobal Huet starts against the Penguins tonight for the eighth straight game, but Quennevile said he was considering giving rookie Antti Niemi the start Sunday against Los Angeles.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ilya Kovalchuk red hot as the Avs head to Atlanta tonight

The Colorado Avalanche head into Atlanta to face the Thrashers tonight. Both teams have struggled mightily this season; Atlanta is 14th in the Eastern Conference, 20 points out of a playoff spot and Colorado is last in the Western Conference, but only 7 points out 8th place. However, Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk has been on fire in recent weeks. He was named the NHL's 3rd Star of the Week for last week's game and scored his 30th goal of the season on Saturday afternoon in San Jose. Kovalchuk has scored at least 30 goals in 6 of his 7 NHL seasons; he scored 29 goals in 2001-02, his rookie campaign.

Published February 23, 2009 at 9:26 p.m.

Bull's-eye on Kovalchuk

The Avalanche will need to pay close attention to Thrashers left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, one of the NHL's most dangerous offensive threats.

Kovalchuk has nine goals and four assists in the past seven games.

He ranks seventh in goals with 30 and 12th in points with 63.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pekka Rinne not getting all of the attention, but people are starting to notice

Pekka Rinne recorded his fifth shutout of the season on Saturday night in St. Louis as the Predators edged the Blues 1-0. Rinne began the season as the backup to Dan Ellis, who Nashville re-signed to a two-year contract this summer. Saturday night is another example of Rinne delivering for Nashville, while having an extremely small margin for error. You can expect Pekka to receive some votes in the Calder Tropy voting, especially if he keeps this up.

The longer the Predators remain in the Western Conference playoff race, the more likely goalie Pekka Rinne is to emerge as one of the NHL’s top rookies.

He hasn’t gotten the attention yet of players like goalie Steve Mason in Columbus or forwards Kris Versteeg (Chicago), Bobby Ryan (Anaheim), Blake Wheeler (Boston) and Patrik Berglund (St. Louis). But with the exception of Mason, who is the biggest reason the Blue Jackets appear on their way to a first playoff berth, you could certainly make a case that Rinne has been more important to his team than any other rookie.

Following Rinne’s 1-0 shutout win over St. Louis on Saturday, he’s now tied for fourth in the league with a 2.23 goals against average, is sixth in save percentage (.923) and has five shutouts – just two behind the league-leading Mason.

Rinne has also proven a beast in shootouts, stopping nine-of-10 attempts in three victories.

All those numbers become even more important considering the Preds are the lowest-scoring team in the league, meaning that virtually every goal scored against Nashville can be decisive in a game.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Anssi Salmela returns to the New Jersey Devils' lineup tonight vs. Tampa Bay

Finnish defenseman Anssi Salmela was recalled from Lowell yesterday afternoon and joined the Devils in Tampa Bay as they prepared for tonight's game. Salmela's last played for New Jersey on November 29th in Pittsburgh. Anssi's brief stint earlier this season with New Jersey was highlighted by a two-assist game vs. Tampa Bay on November 23rd. Salmela earned a call-up with his strong play down in Lowell, where he quarterbacked the power play.

New Jersey Devils' Anssi Salmela gets help from Larry Robinson, Scott Stevens, among others

by Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger
Wednesday February 18, 2009, 8:23 PM


TAMPA, Fla. - Anssi Salmela got the Hall of Fame crash course.

First it was Larry Robinson who showed up in Lowell, Mass., this winter to work with the Devils prospect.

Then it was Scott Stevens who arrived in the New England outpost to offer the 24-year-old Finnish defenseman a few lessons in being a pro. In between, Jacques Laperriere did some teaching.

"They came to give me tips," Salmela said Wednesday after he was recalled from the minors and joined the Devils for practice at the St. Pete Times Forum. "They're such pros, it's so easy to listen to them.

"Scott Stevens talked about being a pro and dealing with game situations, like three-on-twos and two-on-ones. I have to find my own style, but I really like that style he played."

With Paul Martin still sidelined by an upper body muscle pull, Salmela will be in the Devils lineup Thursday night when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning. He figures to see time on the power play.

"He didn't come up to sit in the stands," coach Brent Sutter said.

In 36 games at Lowell this season, Salmela had 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) and 41 penalty minutes. He was minus-6.

"He's been playing very well in Lowell," general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "With Paul's soreness, and not knowing day to day, what (Salmela) brings offensively gives Brent another option. He brings more offense. He can certainly add to the power play."

In 15 games with the Devils earlier this season, Salmela had three assists and was plus-2 before being demoted.

"I don't think there is any player who does himself a disservice by playing in the minors and learning," Lamoriello said. "And with the coaching -- Larry, Jacques Laperriere and Scotty Stevens -- how could you ask for more than that? We have an outstanding crop of young defensemen in the minors."

Not many teams can send three Hall of Fame defensemen as tutors.