Empty Netter Assists - 03-16-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-"Anytime we play the Rangers, it's going to be a tough game, especially with what they're going through. They're going to be a desperate team coming in." - James Neal (above).

-Guess which team leads the NHL in goals from undrafted players?

-Dan Byslma speaks:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Matt Cooke speaks:

-Chad Kolarik and Warren Peters each had a goal and an assist for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 5-3 win against the Worcester Sharks. Trevor Smith recorded two assists for the Penguins while teammate Brad Thiessen made 34 saves.

-Peter Delmas made 32 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 5-3 loss to the Toledo Walleye.

-Happy 62nd birthday to former Penguins forward Brian McKenzie. A second round pick in 1971, McKenzie's entire NHL career amounted to six games with the 1971-72 Penguins in which he recorded two points. The following offseason, he was traded to the Atlanta Flames for cash.

-Happy 42nd birthday to former Penguins forward Greg Johnson (right). Acquired midway through the 1996-97 season in a deal that sent Tomas Sandstrom to the Red Wings, Johnson spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He finished 1996-97 by playing in 32 games for the Penguins and scoring 16 points. During the 1997 postseason, he played five games and scored one goal. After five games and one goal in 1997-98, Johnson was traded to the Blackhawks in exchange for Tuomas Gronman. In 37 regular season games with the Penguins, he had 17 points.

-Happy 58th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Gord Laxton. The club's first round pick in 1975, Laxton spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1975-76, Laxton appeared in eight games, went 3-4-0 with a 4.49 goals against average. In 1976-77, he played in six games and went 1-3-0 with a 6.17 goals against average. In 1977-78, he was limited to two games, a 0-1-0 record and 7.40 goals against average. Laxton's final NHL season was 1977-78. He played in one game, went 0-1-0 with a goals against average of 8.00. After spending the next five seasons in the IHL or AHL, Laxton was released in the 1983 offseason. In 17 games with the Penguins, Laxton was 4-9-0 with a 5.55 goals against average.

-After the Jump: Montreal's David Desharnais and Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson get paid.

Atlantic Division

-Shootout goals by Matt Read and captain Claude Giroux gave the Flyers a 2-1 win against the Devils. Ilya Brzygalov made 27 saves in the victory.

-Check out this slick re-direction goal by New Jersey's David Clarkson:

-If you can imagine such a thing, a Flyers player left his feet to hit someone. Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn dropped New Jersey's Peter Harrold late in regulation:

-This game had another iffy boarding penalty as Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo was nabbed for this hit against New Jersey's Adam Larsson:

-Thinking Out Loud: We're thinking Rinaldo's reputation bought him that penalty.

-Read was pumped after his shootout goal:

-Cool Photo of the Night: Clarkson and Bryzgalov all alone:

-New Jersey goaltender and former Penguin Johan Hedberg had a moment alone during repairs to the glass:

-Devils forward Andrei Loktionov left the game in the first period due to an undisclosed ailment.

-"I'm from a pretty small town. My town's, like, half the size of Central Park." - Rangers forward J.T. Miller, a native of East Palestine, Ohio, on living in Manhattan.

-"I don't think you're allowed to do as much as you could do 10, 15 years ago. It was ugly around there. Now you're taking that stick off the ice, it's an immediate signal for a referee to maybe call an interference or hooking. I think they allow a little bit more around the net . . . but it's certainly not like where it was a rumble there. Underneath the hashmarks, I think you need to let us play a little bit more. I kind of miss that part of it." - Rangers coach John Tortorella on battles around the net.

-The Islanders signed former Penguins forward Colin McDonald to a two-year contract extension worth a total of $1.275 million. In the final year of a two-way contract, McDonald, 28, will have a salary cap hit of $637,500 with his new deal. In 24 games this season, he has 10 points (four goals, six assists).

-EN Says: After bouncing between the NHL and AHL with the Penguins and Oilers, McDonald seems to have found regular work as a third-liner with the Islanders. He's not afraid to go the net and will mix things up physically but he won't make or break any team.

Northeast Division

-The Canadiens signed forward David Desharnais (right) to a four-year deal worth $14 million. In the final year of a contract with a salary cap hit of $850,000, Desharnais' new deal will have a salary cap hit of $3.5 million.  In 26 games this season, Desharnais, 26, has 16 points (eight goals, eight assists).

-EN Says: On the surface, this might seem like an overpayment for Desharnais. But he did produce 60 points (16 goals, 44 assists) last season and di so on a rotten team. That's tough to do in even optimal situations in the league any more. Desharnis is a small (5-foot-7, 177 pounds), crafty playmaker who can be creative with the puck. He doesn't offer much in terms of physical play and lacks a strong defensive game.

-Thinking out Loud: If a fairly one dimensional talent like Desharnais is worth $3.5 million as a pending restricted free agent, what is a strong two-way player like Pascal Dupuis worth when he become a unrestricted free agent this summer?

-The Canadiens assigned forward Petteri Nokelainen to Hamilton of the AHL and recalled forward Mike Blunden from Hamilton.

-Canadiens forward Michael Ryder is dealing with a "lower-body" injury.

-Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul (right) is expected to return to the lineup today after missing 25 games due to a broken forearm.

-Sabres forward Ville Leino is expected to return to the lineup today against the rival Senators after being sidelined 11 months due to a hip ailment.

-The Sabres returned rookie forward Mikhail Grigorenko, a first-round pick last year, to Quebec of the QMJHL.

-“[Neil] sent me a text right after and apologized and I just said, ‘It’s a hockey play, that’s all it is.'" - Bruins forward Chris Kelly on Senators forward Chris Neil, a former teammate, who injured Kelly with a low hit earlier this week.

-The Senators signed defenseman Michael Sdao, a seventh-round draft pick, to a one-year entry-level contract.

Southeast Division

-“It’s going to be expensive and it’s going to be time-consuming. Those road trips to and from Canada are going to be rough on Tampa and ourselves. But it’s probably best for hockey overall.’’ - Panthers general manager and former Penguins defenseman Dale Tallon on realignment. His team and the Lightning will be joining a division with the Red Wings, Sabres, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Senators and Boston.

-The Panthers acquired defenseman T.J. Brennan from the Sabres in exchange for a fifth-round pick in this summer's draft.

-“It’s the most important thing that coach has my back. I don’t care what fans, media guys want to say about my game. It’s most important thing what happen here in our family. It’s good.” - Capitals captain/forward Alex Ovechkin (right) on his relationship with head coach Adam Oates.

-The Hurricanes assigned forward Chris Terry to Charlotte of the AHL.

Central Division

-An overtime goal by Pavel Datsyuk gave the Red Wings a 3-2 win against the Oilers. Niklas Kronwall had a goal and an assist for Detroit while teammate Jimmy Howard made 30 saves. Taylor Hall led Edmonton with a goal and an assist.

-Goal of the Night: Check out this splending move by Datsyuk around Edmonton's Jeff Petry on his goal:

-Petry had a rough night as he also put a puck in his own net which was credited as a goal for Kronwall:

-It wasn't all bad for Edmonton. Check out this effort by Hall on his goal:

-Detroit's Jordin Tootoo had a spirited fight with Edmonton's Mike Brown:

-Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey suffered a potential fractured left cheek bone after being struck in the face with a puck.

-The Blue Jackets activated defenseman John Moore (shoulder) off injured reserve, recalled forward Sean Collins from Springfield of the AHL and assigned defenseman Cody Goloubef to Springfield.

-Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson is dealing with a sprained ankle.

Northwest Divison

-A hat trick by Curtis Glencross led the Flames to a 6-3 win against the Predators. Matt Stajan recorded three assists for Calgary while teammate Jiri Hudler added a goal and an assist. Miikka Kiprusoff made 17 saves in the victory. Roman Josi had two assists for Nashville.

-Glencross' hat trick which came on Western Night:

-"After I got the second one, I said, `It would be kind of neat to see a bunch of cowboy hats come on the ice." - Glencross on his hat trick.

-Check out the passing on this goal by Calgary's Blake Comeau:

-Pass of the Night: Check out this dish from Calgary's Mike Cammalleri to set up Hudler for a goal:

-After the anthem, some actors (we're presuming), shot off guns:

Pacific Division

-The Coyotes signed defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a six-year contract extension worth $33 million. In the final year of an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $1.75, Ekman-Larsson will have a cap hit of $5.5 million with his new deal. Ekman-Larsson, 21, has appeared in 25 games this season and has a 17 points (three goals, 14 assists).

-EN Says: First, this fantastic news about the state of the Coyotes franchise. They are able to make a long-term commitment with a franchise player who is capable of winning a Norris Trophy one day. This speaks volumes to the fanbase in Arizona. Second, getting a player of this caliber, even coming off an entry-level contract, for $5.5 million is a slight bargain. In just his third year in the NHL, Ekman-Larsson is already averaging in excess of 25 minutes a game and is doing so while logging signfinicant minutes on the power play and the penalty kill. He's still developing some aspects of his game such as physical play, but playing under head coach Dave Tippett, who has developed plenty of defenseman, Ekman-Larsson's game is not far from being complete at such a young age.

-Thinking Out Loud: If Ekman-Larsson (right) is worth $5.5 coming off an entry-level deal, what is Kris Letang going to be worth as he approaches unrestricted free agency in the 2014 offseaosn?

-The Ducks acquired forward David Steckel from the Maple Leafs in exchange for minor league forward Ryan Lasch and a seventh-round pick in 2014. Steckel, 31, has appeared in 13 games this season and has one assist. He is in the final year of a contract with a salary cap hit with $1.1 million.

-EN Says: This is a trade which makes sense for each team. Steckel is a player the Maple Leafs fell out of love. They move an unused asset for a few spare parts. The Ducks needed a large, fourth-line grit player and they get exactly what they need. Steckel (6-foot-6, 215 pounds) is one of better faceoff specialists in the NHL (58.0 percent in 2011-12). Also, he is familiar with head coach Bruce Boudreau given their history with the Capitals.

-The Ducks assigned forward Patrick Maroon to Norfolk of the AHL.

-Anaheim assgned goaltender Jeff Deslauriers to Fort Wayne of the ECHL.

-“He takes them back to his room during pregame and sleeps with them. I don’t know what happens once he gets there." - Stars captain Brenden Morrow on how teammate and former Penguins captain Jaromir Jagr treats  his sticks.

Adams Division

-Oscar Dansk made 27 saves for the Erie Otters in a 2-1 loss to the Guelph Storm.

-Eric Levine made 20 saves for the Robert Morris men's team in a 4-1 loss to Connecticut in Game 1 of their American Hockey Association quarterfinal series. Connecticut leads the best-of-three series, 1-0.

-Jordan Tibbett made 24 saves for the Mercyhurst men's team in a 3-2 win against Holy Cross in Game 1 of a  American Hockey Association quarterfinal series. Mercyhurst leads the best-of-three series, 1-0.

-The Mercyhurst women's team takes on Cornell in the NCAA Tournament's quarterfinal round today.

(Photo: Neal- and Lupul-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Johnson-Penguins Hockey Cards; Devils/Flyers-Matt Slocum/Associated Press; Desharnais-Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images; Ovechkin-Justin K. Aller/Getty Images; Ekman-Larsson-Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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