Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Video: Shawn Thornton Gets 40 stitch Wound In Face From Skate, Wants At Hawks Bench

During the second period of Tuesday night’s Bruins Blackhawks game Shawn Thornton on the Bruins was cut in the head by the skate of Fernando Pisani.  The cut was purely accident and left behind a wound that took 40 stitches to close above his eye. 

After taking the skate to the face Thornton got up and was skating off the ice while bleeding profusely when he heard something from the Chicago bench that made him attempt to get at them before the linesman stepped in.


Hat tip to Puck Daddy

Stepan Back With Gaborik, Breaking Down the Healthy Scratch Contenders

Based on practice today there appears to be at least one change to the New York Rangers lineup tomorrow against the Buffalo Sabres and it has nothing to do with who the healthy scratch might be.  The lines that were reported from practice showed two that remained intact and the other have been shifted at the center position. Derek Stepan has been moved from his recent role as centering the fourth line to playing with Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal.  The move is one that coach John Tortorella has employed with Stepan already this year where he drops him down in the lineup when his game slips and then when he finds it again he moves back up.  Moving down in the lineup was Erik Christensen who after his four game point streak has gone scoreless in his last three. This move was done for large parts of the Boston game as well.

In terms of the healthy scratch for tomorrow it is a very safe bet that it will come from the foursome of Wojtek Wolski, Sean Avery, Mats Zuccarello and Erik Christensen.  Here is a quick breakdown of the candidates:

Wojtek Wolski: Wolski has been healthy scratched once already and has been scoreless in his last seven games.  Combine his lack of impact when he isn’t scoring with those facts and he is certainly a candidate to end up wearing a suit tomorrow night.  The potential skill of Wolski likely saves him for this game, but no telling for how long after that.

Sean Avery: Avery has been a scratch in four of the last six games, and only played 5:45 of ice time against Boston, but he was a spark with his fight and contributed that huge shot block late in the third so I expect him to be in again.

Mats Zuccarello: Zuke was scratched against Boston with the size of Bruins seen as a factor and that factor should not exist tomorrow Buffalo who has a number of small players of their own.  That said Zuccarello has seen his ice diminished significantly over his last six games before the scratch.  He has three assists in his last six game so while he is not scoring goals the combination of his even limited production with his effort might get him back in the lineup.

Erik Christensen: Christensen is by far the biggest enigma on this team in terms of figuring out what version of him is going to show up to the rink on a given night.  You can either get the guy who looks like a top line player and makes beautiful plays on the ice with and without the puck or you get a guy who looks like he couldn’t make a recreational league team and plays like a ghost in a uniform.  While Wolski and Avery have both played center at times in the past I think being a center is what saves Christensen for this one.

As of now I would assume that Zuccarello will be the odd-man out again as, but I would not discount the chances that it is Wolski who goes back to the pine given how little he is giving right now. 

Rangers Sign Forward Tommy Grant

Per the New York Rangers twitter the team has agreed to terms with Tommy Grant, an unrestricted free agent forward out of the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Grant, 24, an undrafted free agent, played four seasons there and had a career senior season with 32 points in 37 games this year (16-16) including five game winning goals.  Grant played for the Whale on Sunday and recorded two assists.  Grant is 6’2, and 195 lbs, and played in all situations for UAA including on the point during the powerplay. 

Should Kreider Sign or Spend Another Year At BC?

Over the past few months much has been written about Rangers 2009 first round pick Chris Kreider and whether he will or won’t leave Boston College this summer to sign with the New York Rangers.  Everything that has been said to this point suggested the Rangers will attempt to bring him into the fold even if to play for the Connecticut Whale in the AHL next season.  The hesitation appears to have been more on the side of Kreider himself.  According to John Connelly at the Boston Herald that might be changing as Kreider is considering leaving Boston College for the Rangers. 

In the past few days both Cam Atkinson and Jimmy Hayes left BC early to sign with their respective NHL clubs.  Those moves might make it easier for Kreider to do the same based on the level of talent that will be left in the program next season.  The question remains though if Kreider is really ready to make the transition from college to the pros.

There are those who say he might be bored with the college game and that is a possibility, but if it is so easy for him you would think he would put up better numbers than 11 goals and 12 assists in 37 games.  Those stats do not speak to domination or even Kreider coming close to tapping the potential he has at this point.  For those who throw out the Derek Stepan comparison you have to realize the utter differential in the way the two performed in college and have reasonable expectations both for Kreider’s performance next season and whether he should leave at all.  In 41 games last season Stepan had 12 goals and 42 assists for an average of 1.32 points per game while Kreider was at .62 this season.

Personally I would rather see him stay at BC for another season and work on his game in a great program where he is likely to be the main focus of the offense next year instead of forcing him into the professional ranks early and looking to “fix” the issues with his game.  College hockey is certainly a place where he can develop.  The biggest negative being that he will not be preparing for the grind of the long professional season with the shorter schedule, but if it improves his game and ability to be an impact player down the road it is still the right move.