Dubinsky: Limiting Sid no walk in the park

- April 19th, 2014

PITTSBURGH — Brandon Dubinsky knows Sidney Crosby will get scoring chances.
For Dubinsky, the Columbus Blue Jackets centre who goes over the boards when Crosby does for the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s about ensuring Crosby doesn’t get a lot of them.
“He is one of the … probably the best player in the world, and you just try to be in his face as much as you can,” Dubinsky said on Saturday morning.
“Look, you’re never going to shut a guy like that down. He is too good a player but you have to do your best to try to contain him and limit his scoring chances. Instead of having six or seven in a game, (try to) keep him to one or two.”
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference best-of-seven quarterfinal goes tonight at the Consol Energy Center. Dubinsky did a good job on Crosby in Game 1 as No. 87 had just an assist and was minus-2, but the Penguins’ depth made up the difference in a 4-3 Pittsburgh victory.
The Blue Jackets, looking for the first playoff win in franchise history, will have forward R.J. Umberger back in the lineup, and he is expected to play on a line with Artem Anisimov and Blake Comeau. Jared Boll is the likely scratch with Umberger, who had an upper-body injury, back in.
Forward Nick Foligno (knee) skated but will not play. He is possible for Game 3 on Monday night in Columbus.
“It was hard to watch (Game 1), especially a playoff game in my home town,” said Umberger, a native of Pittsburgh.
“You want to get out there as much as you can helping your guys and your team. I’m excited to be back tonight.
“Hopefully I can bring a lot of energy and some puck possession down low and get in front of (Penguins goalie Marc-Andre) Fleury and battle. Use my big body.”
The Penguins expect the 6-foot-2, 214-pound Umberger, who had 18 goals during the regular season, to make an impact.
“He is a big guy, brings some physical play to their lineup, he is good in front of the net and can score goals,” Crosby said. “He is a veteran guy and has lots of experience, so yeah, I would expect them to get a boost from that.”
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Bernier to have surgery, Reimer unsure of future

- April 14th, 2014

Jonathan Bernier will go under the knife on Wednesday.
The Maple Leafs goaltender confirmed during the club’s parting session with reporters on Monday that he requires sports hernia surgery.
“It was something that was sore, but my range, my stretching was fine,” Bernier said. “I think a lot of players play through that. It’s not something that keeps you away from playing.
“I will be ready for training camp.”
Bernier missed the final four games of the regular season, his first in Toronto after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings last summer. Bernier also missed five games in March.
In 55 games, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a .923 save percentage (eighth in the NHL) and a 2.68 goals-against average and one shutout.
Bernier’s emergence as the Leafs’ No. 1 goalie has led to speculation that James Reimer, who is headed for restricted free agency this off-season, will ask for a trade.
Does Reimer expect to be back in Toronto in 2014-15?
“I have no idea, to tell you the truth,” Reimer said. “The hockey world is a crazy place. This has been my team and I have really enjoyed it, and it has been a huge blessing. I always dreamed this would be the organization that I stay with my whole career, so we will see what happens.”

Leafs name Shanahan president, alternate governor

- April 11th, 2014

The Maple Leafs have made official the hiring of Brendan Shanahan as team president and alternate governor, with a news conference scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. at the Air Canada Centre. MLSE president Tim Leiweke and general manager David Nonis will be present at the news conference. Nonis’ participation is a clear indication he will be staying with the organization. The text of the Leafs’ news release on Friday morning:

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment announced Friday that Hockey Hall of Fame member Brendan Shanahan has been appointed to the position of President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 45-year old native of Mimico, Ontario will begin his new role immediately and will be made available to media on Monday morning. The team will reserve comment until that time.
Shanahan joins the Maple Leafs to oversee all team operations for the 97-year old franchise after a 27-year NHL career as both a player and league executive. During his distinguished career, he earned three Stanley Cup Championships with the Detroit Red Wings as well as gold medals with Team Canada at the 1994 World Championships, the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 1991 Canada Cup. Shanahan was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on July 9, 2013.
Drafted second overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, Shanahan also suited up for the St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. An eight-time NHL All Star, and winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2003, Shanahan joined the NHL’s head office in December, 2009 as Vice President of Hockey and Business Development. He would later serve as the league’s chief player disciplinarian for three seasons.
Throughout his career, Shanahan established himself as an important voice for the game of hockey, not only for his on-ice credentials, but for his leadership qualities off the ice. During the 2004-05 NHL lockout season, Shanahan convened a group of influencers in the game to discuss the direction of the on-ice product which led to several recommendations to the League and Players Association including the formation of an official Competition Committee.

Leafs happy to be getting help

- April 5th, 2014

For a few hours on Friday night, Nazem Kadri and his Maple Leafs teammates happily became big fans of the Chicago Blackhawks.
And when the Hawks got a late goal to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in regulation, there were cheers heard in the Leafs’ living rooms.
“That was a pretty spectacular finish,” Kadri said. “I did fist pump one or two times. That is just the bounces. We have been talking past couple of weeks that we have not seen any of those.
“Now, I think it is catching up with us a little bit and it is starting to favour us a little more.”
At the downtown condo they share, defencemen Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly also were watching the game.
“Mo and I were sitting on the couch, saying we do not want this to go into overtime, and we were so excited at the end when they scored,” Gardiner said. “There were a few fist pumps in our place last night.”
So does this mean the hockey gods are smiling on the Leafs?
“I don’t think he’s ever been a Leafs fan,” Rielly said, jokingly.
Leafs fans know the score. The Leafs have four games remaining, including their final home game of the 2013-14 regular season on Saturday night when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Air Canada Centre, and have 84 points.
The Blue Jackets, with 85 points, hold on to the second and final wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and have five games remaining. The Jackets are idle on Saturday and play host to the New York Islanders on Sunday.
The Leafs have won their past two games to make themselves relevant again, but the damage of the recent eight-game losing streak might be too much to overcome.
Toronto has a 24-15-1 record at the ACC, their best home record since 2005-06, when they were 26-12-3.
“In order for you to be a team that is going to qualify for the playoffs and build an organization, the home rink has to be one place that is difficult for the opposition to come in and steal points,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “Every team that comes in here has numerous players from the area. If they are anywhere in Eastern Canada, this seems to be the focal point where people want to come and watch a game.”
James Reimer will start in goal for the Leafs. Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, who have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Joffrey Lupul, battling a lower-body injury that kept him out of the overtime win against Boston on Thursday, will be a game-time decision. Apparently so too will Dave Bolland, who did not practise on Friday and did not take part in an optional morning skate.
“Bolland would be in the same situation as Lupul from a standpoint we don’t think he is going to be an issue for him not to play, we think he is available to us,” Carlyle said, sending a bit of a mixed message.
Phil Kessel, who has been limping after taking repeated shots off his leg, is expected to play.
Evander Kane, who has 39 points in 60 games for the Jets, could be a healthy scratch for the first time this season. But Jets coach Paul Maurice would not confirm that Kane would be out.
As for returning to Toronto — where he coached the Leafs from 2006-08 — Maurice knows what to expect.
“The game is going to be a lot of emotion … they are going to want to establish that good feeling as early as they possibly can,” Maurice said. “We are going to do everything we can to swing the weight of the room. There is a lot of pressure on that team, and we’re going to scratch and claw for inches of ice to move that pressure to our favour.
“(In being out of the playoffs), we have to learn how to manufacture some emotion.”

MacIntyre on way to join Leafs

- April 4th, 2014

Drew MacIntyre has been recalled by the Maple Leafs from the Toronto Marlies.
But the 30-year-old netminder didn’t make it to practice at the MasterCard Centre on Friday morning as the Marlies play in Utica, N.Y., on Friday night.
MacIntyre will be back in time for the Leafs’ final home game of the regular season on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre against the Winnipeg Jets.
Jonathan Bernier suffered an MCL injury against the Boston Bruins on Thursday and will be out for up to the next three weeks.
Bernier was hurt when Leafs defenceman Paul Ranger pushed Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron on to him during the third period. Bernier left the game and gave way to James Reimer, who stopped 10 of 11 shots in the Leafs’ 4-3 overtime victory.
Reimer will have to carry the load in the Leafs’ final four games.
“He gave us the opportunity, gave the chance, and good for him,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after Reimer relieved Bernier. “We needed that and he needed that. It is great.”
With MacIntyre en route to Toronto, the Leafs used Ryerson University goaltender Troy Passingham at practice.