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Empty Netter Assists - 02-26-10

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Olympics

Men

United States-Finland

-"Yeah, if we can get onto NBC instead of MSNBC." - Brooks Orpik (above) on NBC being horrible if the United States' success can help hockey's growth in the NHL.

-United States goaltender Ryan Miller is a popular fellow these days.

-Defenseman Brian Rafalski is the only player on the United States roster who wasn't drafted.

-Do yourself a favor and read this wonderful piece by Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber on United States general manager Brian Burke.

-There's going to be a lot of "U-S-A" chants coming from fans in red and white jerseys today.

Canada-Slovakia

-Not even a week after being staggered by the United States, Canada is the favorite to win the gold medal.

-Did Marc-Andre Fleury's troubles in the 2004 World Junior Championships prevent him from starting in the Olympics for Canada?

-"They can do it all out there and they showed it last night." - Sidney Crosby (right) on teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

-"The Canadians had Sidney Crosby, who toiled everywhere, in all three zones, which is why he is the pride of Canada." - Russian/Soviet legend Igor Larionov.

-Canada paid lip service to Slovakia.

-"I was asked a ton of questions about playing Sweden last night. I didn't answer any of them because I wasn't sure it was a done deal." - Canada defenseman Dan Boyle on Slovakia's upset of Sweden.

-Former Wild teammates Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik have been re-united on Team Slovakia.

-Swedish star Henrik Sedin issues a warning on the dangerous Slovakians.

-Considering most of their games in this tournament have ended around 2:30 a.m. on the east coast, the Slovaks are a bit of secret.

-James Mirtle breaks down the players still eligible for medals by NHL teams.

-Mirtle also breaks down the past 30 years of Olympic participation by country.

Other Teams

-Sweden defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom announced he was retiring from Olympic competition.

-Sidney Crosby is the NHL's whiny bratty superstar right?

-"Yeah, let's bring some guillotines and gibbets! We have 35 men in the hockey team — let's kill them on the Red Square!" - Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov offering some Michel Therrien approved coaching techniques. We think.

-KHL president Alex Medvedev complained his league's players in the Olympics weren't able bring their wives or girlfriends to Vancouver. You would think that would be a big distraction bring your wife and girlfriend along.

Women

-The United States clunks out on the power play and loses to Canada, 2-0 in the gold medal match.

-Because it doesn't have anything else to worry about in Vancouver like transportation issues or death trap luge tracks, the IOC said it was going to investigate Canada's boozy postgame celebration.

-Unavailable for comment:

-White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had a bet with his Canadian counter part, Dimitri Soudas, and must wear a Team Canada jersey at his next press function.

-Finland beat Sweden, 3-2, for the bronze medal.

-IOC president Jacques Rogge threatened to remove women's hockey from the Olympics unless the other countries catch up to Canada and the United States.

-Canada's much beleaguered medal count would be a lot lower were it not for the efforts of its female athletes.

NHL

Penguins

-Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin (right) are going to get some downtime.

-Pascal Dupuis thinks the Penguins' roster is fine as it is (PG+).

-Dan Bylsma was rather critical of the quality of team play in the Olympics (PG+).

-Bob Smizik wants to see a Winter Classic at Heinz Field.

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Steve Wagner is dealing with a broken jaw.

-Happy 53rd birthday to former Penguins all-star forward and assistant coach Joe Mullen. "Slippery Rock Joe" was acquired in the 1990 offseason in a trade that sent a second-round pick to Calgary. Re-united with former Flames coach Bob Johnson, injuries would limit him to 47 games in his first season as a Penguin, but he contributed 17 points in 23 playoffs games as the franchise won its first Stanley Cup title in 1991. The 1991-92 season was the exact opposite as he recorded 47 goals and 87 points in 77 regular season games but injuries forced him to miss most of the 1992 playoff run towards a second consecutive championship. Mullen would continue to be a steady offensive contributor over his next three season as he recorded 177 points in 201 games. In 1994-95, he became the first American-born player to reach the 1,000 point mark. After spending the 1995-96 season with the Bruins, Mullen returned to the Penguins as a free agent in the 1996 offseason. While his production dipped to 22 points in 54 games in what was his final NHL season, Mullen did become the first United States player to reach the 500-goal mark that campaign. He is 19th on the team's career scoring list with 325 points. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000, Mullen is currently an assistant coach with the Flyers.

-Happy 35th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Mike Wilson. A free agent signing in the 2001 offseason, Wilson's Penguins career amounted to 21 games and two points in 2001-02. Wilson spent most of 2001-02 and 2002-03 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and was traded to the Rangers along with Alex Kovalev, Janne Laukkanen and Dan LaCouture in exchange for Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner, Rico Fata and Mikael Samuelsson. He is currently a member of the Toledo Walleye, the Blackhawks' and Red Wings' ECHL affiliate.

Atlantic Division

-The Islanders signed defenseman Andrew MacDonald (right) to a four-year contract extension. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Northeast Division

-The Senators recalled defensman Brian Lee from Binghamton of the AHL.

-Odd Stat of the Day: Inconsistent forward Alexei Ponikarovsky is 43rd on the Maple Leafs' career scoring list.

Southeast Division

-Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau compared "defense"man Mike Green to former Penguins great Paul Coffey. Said Boudreau, "Paul Coffey never got the recognition until he was in the Hall of Fame of how great he was. Mike's similar, except I think he's better defensively."

-Coffey by the way, won the Norris Trophy three times, was named to eight first- or second-team all-star teams, went to 13 all-star games and was named to five of Canada's international teams before he "got the recognition."

-New Lightning assistant coach and former Penguins defenseman Jim Johnson is trying to make the best out of a bad situation.

Central Division

-Blues forward Cam Janssen was suspended five games for a hit to the head of Capitals forward and former Penguin Matt Bradley Feb. 13:

-Red Wings defenseman Andreas Lilja is hoping to return to the lineup Monday. He has not played in nearly a year due to a concussion.

-The Millers - Detroit forward Drew and Buffalo goaltender/Team USA star Ryan - are brothers.

-Pleasant surprise here. The worst network on earth NBC has chosen to broadcast Capitals at Blackhawks March 14.

-Is Antti Niemi unofficially the Blackhawks' No. 1 goaltender now?

Northwest Division

-The Flames re-signed forward Rene Bourque to a six-year contract extension worth a total of $20 million. He will have a salary cap hit of $3.3 milion.

-The Wild re-signed forward and Sergei Gonchar fan Cal Clutterbuck to a three-year contract extension worth a total of $4.2 million.

-Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell (right) is still suffering from a concussion suffered Jan. 16 when he was hit into the boards by Evgeni Malkin.

-Vancouver forward and former Penguin Mikael Samuelsson resisted the urge to take joy (publicly at least) in Sweden's upset at the hands of Slovakia. When he was left off Sweden's roster, Samuelsson was quite vulgar in his reaction to the news.

-Oilers forward and Czech native Ales Hemsky unofficially began the latest "Bring Jaromir Jagr to Edmonton Campaign."

Pacific Division

-Stars goaltender Alex Auld cleared waivers and was demoted to Texas of the AHL.

-The Ducks recalled forwards Dan Sexton from Manitoba of the AHL, defensemen Brett Festerling and Brendan Mikkelson from Toronto of the AHL and goaltender Timo Pielmeier from Bakerfield of the ECHL.

-What recession? The Ducks are raising their ticket prices for next season.

-The Coyotes demoted goaltender Joel Gistedt to Las Vegas of the ECHL.

Smythe Division

-Former Panthers/Canucks/Islanders/Lightning/Hurricanes/Rangers/Devils goaltender Kevin Weeks has made a smooth transition as a broadcaster for CBC and NHL Network.

-Happy 64th birthday to former Pittsburgh Hornets defenseman Gary Doak.

-Happy 69th birthday to former Pittsburgh Hornets forward Bob Cunningham.

(Photos: Orpik-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; Crosby-Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press; Lemieux-Carlos Osorio/Associated Press; Malkin-Jamie Squire/Getty Images; MacDonald-Al Bello/Getty Images; Mitchell-Nick Didlick/Getty Images)

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