Don't underestimate USA - McGinley - Europe captain Paul McGinley says his side will not underestimate the USA in the Ryder Cup, which starts on Friday. I have been given six watches - Dyke - No. 2 Oregon holds off Washington State, 38-31 (Yahoo Sports) - Marcus Mariota threw for 329 yards and five touchdowns as No. 2 Oregon held off Washington State 38-31 on Saturday night in a matchup of two of the top offenses in the nation. Devon Allen and Keanon Lowe each had two touchdown receptions for Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12), which has won eight straight games against Washington State. Connor Halliday threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns for Washington State (1-3, 0-1), which boasts the nation's top passing attack. Washington State played stout defense in the first half, sacking Mariota five times and recording seven tackles for losses, while holding the Ducks to a total of 210 yards. Madness of Premier League loan game - 'I would love to partner McIlroy' - Graeme McDowell says his friendship with Rory McIlroy is stronger than ever as he prepares for his fourth Ryder Cup. Weaver helps Angels to 8-5 win over Rangers (Yahoo Sports) - ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Jered Weaver earned his AL-leading 18th victory, Albert Pujols reached the 100-RBI mark with a two-run homer and Mike Trout also hit a two-run shot to lead the Los Angeles Angels to an 8-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night. No. 1 Florida St survives against No. 22 Clemson (Yahoo Sports) - With Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston watching from the sideline, No. 1 Florida State came back to beat No. 22 Clemson 23-17 in overtime on Karlos Williams' 12-yard touchdown run Saturday night. Winston was suspended for the game against Clemson (1-2, 0-1 ACC) after making ''offensive and vulgar'' comments earlier this week on campus. His backup, Sean Maguire, had an up-and-down night, and Clemson had enough missed opportunities to allow Florida State (3-0, 1-0) to extend its winning streak to 19 games. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney declined to attempt a 33-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime and Adam Choice was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1. No. 4 Oklahoma beats West Virginia 45-33 (Yahoo Sports) - Bruising freshman Samaje Perine rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 4 Oklahoma to a 45-33 win over West Virginia in their Big 12 opener Saturday night. Alex Ross scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and quarterback Trevor Knight caught a 4-yard scoring pass on a trick play for the Sooners (4-0, 1-0). Oklahoma pulled away from a 24-24 halftime tie to win its eighth straight game dating to last season and its 11th road game in 12 tries. Clint Trickett threw for 376 yards and two touchdowns for West Virginia, (2-2, 0-1). Mississippi St. stuns No. 8 LSU, 34-29 (Yahoo Sports) - Dak Prescott treated a national audience to an extraordinary performance and Mississippi State ended a 14-year losing streak against LSU by holding off a wild rally after most Tigers fans had left Death Valley. Prescott passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns and highlighted his 105 yards rushing with a 56-yard scoring run, and Mississippi State celebrated a stunning 34-29 victory over No. 8 LSU. MSU led 34-10 in the fourth quarter, but LSU scored three late touchdowns, two in a span of 28 seconds. Cards hit 3 HRs, top Reds, move closer to playoffs (Yahoo Sports) - Tony Cruz hit a three-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals connected three times, beating the Cincinnati Reds 8-4 on Saturday night and moving closer to their fourth straight playoff berth. The Cardinals cut their magic number to one for clinching a postseason berth. Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk also homered as St. Louis won for the seventh time in eight games. Cincinnati has lost six in row and been outscored 30-8 in that stretch.

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Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: Edmonton Oilers [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 6:12 pm]
(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!)    Last Season In Emojis Last Season, In Summary  For a moment, the Oilers were a preseason darling, with some predicting that Edmonton’s young core would finally earn a playoff spot. Instead, the defense sucked to the tune of 270 goals against, the team’s depth was shallow and Nail Yakupov generated more headlines about a potential trade than anything he did on the ice. But hey, at least they earned yet another high draft choice! Last Season’s Definitive Highlight  The end of an era for Ryan Smyth, again. The end of an era for Ryan Smyth, again.  Off-Season Transactions The Oilers shook up their depth at forward and their defense in the offseason.  They traded Sam Gagner to the Lightning for Teddy Purcell, who can play in the top or bottom six effectively. They inked Benoit Pouliot to a 5-year, $20-million deal. On the back end, they signed Mark Fayne (4 years, $14.5 million) from the Devils; Nikita Nikitin (2 year, $9 million) from the Blue Jackets; and Keith Aulie. Arguably, two off-ice additions made as many waves as these transactions: Former Hockey Canada director Bob Nicholson becoming vice chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, and Tyler Dellow, a blogger that had been a harsh critic of the Oilers in the past, becoming part of the team’s management team as a hockey analytics consultant.  Taylor Hall continued to blossom into a star with an 80-point campaign, his second straight season at a point-per game pace. Primary linemates Jordan Eberle (65 points) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (56 points) also had their moments, although the Nuge averaging more shots per game (2.23) than he had in his previous two seasons. David Perron was third on the Oilers in scoring last season with 57 points in 78 games, as Edmonton scored an emphatic win

Joe Sakic named Avs GM, sad ballad of Greg Sherman continues [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 4:12 pm]
Greg Sherman began the summer as the Avalanche’s general manager-in-name-only, as Joe Sakic ran the player personnel show along with coach/VP of hockey operations/egoist Patrick Roy. The man who used to pull the trigger on trades was demoted, internally, to being their capologist. Now, Sherman and his red Swingline stapler have been moved all the way to the basement of Innitech. Quietly, the Avalanche added “general manager” to the job title of Sakic and added the word “assistant” to that of Sherman. It’s a formality, of course, as Sakic has been running the show since his triumphant return to the team in May 2013 to, as the Avalanche say, “oversee all hockey-related decisions.” But as Colorado enters this season as a defending division champion with a 112-point season in Roy’s maiden voyage, Sherman’s demotion begs the question: How much credit should the former general manager get for this success? Adrian Dater took the contrarian route this summer (you know, for once) and defended Sherman’s biggest, boldest moves: * The July 2011 trade of a first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick to the Washington Capitals for Semyon Varlamov remains a contentious move. Yes, Varlamov entered elite status last season, but would that ever happened without Roy and Francois Allaire coming aboard under Sakic? (Then there’s the continued debate over whether the Avalanche could have just offer-sheeted Varlamov and avoided losing the first-round pick.) * Also in 2011, Sherman made that infamous trade with the St. Louis Blues, sending Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart to St. Louis for Erik Johnson and Jay McClement. It was panned by many, including Paul Stastny’s father. You know, newly signed St. Louis Blue Paul Stastny … Johnson had a strong season under Roy, but the Avalanche could certainly use Shattenkirk’s puck-moving and offensive spark on their still too-sparse blueline. He made some other smaller moves, some of which were chronicle

Tampa Bay Lightning have the coolest NHL billboard of season (Photo) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 2:40 pm]
There are only so many ways to present a hockey billboard promoting the new season. The standard formula: Famous player plus image of intensity plus some clichéd tagline that’s typically related to ice. (Example: “Kick Ice.”)  Which is why the Tampa Bay Lightning’s new billboard featuring Valtteri Filppula should be celebrated. Because it’s actually two billboards, on either side of the I-275. “Be The Thunder” is the tagline on the billboard to the left.  The one on the right, which the rocket shot of Filppula has turned into tatters, features a website for a fitness company called “Flex Fitness 20” which, of course, takes you directly to a Tampa Bay Lightning “flex ticket plan” page. Cute. If the goal of any billboard is to be “eye-catching,” mission accomplished. Although we’ll go ahead and assume there are others that feature that Stamkos guy, who might move a few more tickets than Valtteri Filppula. No disrespect to Valtteri Filppula. OK, maybe we just did. s/t Reddit Hockey

Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: Florida Panthers [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 8:20 pm]
(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!)  Last Season In Emojis Last Season, In Summary  The Florida Panthers found themselves in very familiar territory last season. They welcomed a new owner, fired their coach, finished toward the bottom of their division (29-45-8, 66 pts.) and missed the playoffs. Wash, rinse, repeat. Vincent Viola became the franchise’s latest owner last September. He’s promised to spend to make the team competitive. With the influx of youth on the roster, that could help the team turn things around long-term. The biggest move made was welcoming back Roberto Luongo after months of rumors. Could a now happy goaltender equal a few places in the standings? The low finish helped the Panthers earn the no. 1 overall pick through the draft lottery. They selected defenseman Aaron Ekblad to be a cornerstone player going forward. Last Season’s Definitive Highlight  A pane of glass behind one of the BB&T Center nets broke and arena workers were unable to take the protective cover off of its replacement. That’s how it looked for much of the third period. Off-Season Transactions General manager Dale Tallon was busy on July 1, spending Viola’s money by bringing in Jussi Jokinen (4 years, $16 million), Dave Bolland (5 years, $27.5 million), Willie Mitchell (two years, $8.5 million), Derek MacKenzie (3 years, $3.9 million), Al Montoya (2 years, $2.1 million) and Shawn Thornton (2 years, $2.4 million). Heading out of Sunrise was Tom Gilbert, who would ink a deal with Montreal; Scott Clemmensen, who returned to New Jersey; Tim Thomas, who remains unsigned; Krys Barch, who’s on a PTO in Arizona; and Jesse Winchester, who signed in Colorado. The franchise’s first ever draft pick and team captain, Ed Jovanovski, was bought out in June. Nick Bjugstad set an NHL record last seas

Stop calling Ryan Johansen greedy (Trending Topics) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 7:22 pm]
“This is worse than we thought.” That was the immediate reaction from just about everybody when John Davidson went up there at Blue Jackets media day, and detonated the dirtiest of dirty bombs available to a team in ongoing negotiations. Revealing each of the three substantial contract offers made to Ryan Johansen this summer (two years at $3 million per, six years at $5.33 million per, and eight years at $5.75 million per) and calling his continuing to not-sign with the team “extortion” can be — and in some cases, was — seen in the business as being pretty low, and perhaps more desperate. But you have to examine why Davidson, who's been around this league in just about every capacity long enough to know all its various ins and outs in just about any situation, went out and pulled the curtain back on all this behind-the-scenes stuff. Basically, he knew exactly what the reaction would be. All of a sudden, a fan base that really wasn't all that critical of either side in particular, but just wanted to see a deal get done started using the word “greedy,” a lot. And isn't that interesting? It's long been illustrated that people are more sympathetic toward teams worth hundreds of millions or more than to the relatively little-paid athletes that serve as their face, and the overall driver of whatever success they have. In saying, “Here's exactly what we offered Johansen, who by the way is holding us hostage here,” the Blue Jackets knew they'd get everyone to turn on their once and future No. 1 center, even if they were being unfair in the abstract. (Please remember, too, that Johansen is not a “holdout.” He is not under contract and is thus not “holding out” from anything. Players — or employees of any kind — owe your employers nothing but hard work when they're under contract, and this player isn't.) The problem here is stubbornness. Johansen and his agent, Kurt Overhardt (who it should be noted has done this kind of thing before), aren

Claude Giroux out 2 weeks; Philly fans’ sigh of relief at hurricane force [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 6:03 pm]
Claude Giroux left the Philadelphia Flyers’ first day of training camp with a lower body injury, just 15 minutes into his practice session.  Perhaps coincidentally, Internet searches for “draft lottery rules” and “Connor McDavid” spiked around parts of Pennsylvania and South Jersey around the same time … As GM Ron Hextall said, “Obviously, it’s not the way you want to start.” But he later calmed the fears of fans, explaining that Giroux’s lower-body injury – there were reports of a groin injury and/or a hip injury – would only sideline him for two weeks of the preseason. Or pretty much all of the preseason. Boy, if it’s not his lower body, it’s someone else’s lower body causing Giroux problems this year, right? The Flyers won’t have Giroux for a key preseason opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs in London, Ont. Random Center Who Will Be Back In The AHL In October will really have to step up his game for that tilt. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ]

What’s Jaden Schwartz waiting to hear from Blues? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 5:37 pm]
One of my favorite moments when we interviewed NHL No. 1 draft pick Aaron Ekblad on “Marek Vs. Wyshynski” was when he admitted that CapGeek.com was the hockey site he frequented the most. Hey, players are just like us: Curious about other contracts and their team’s own cap situation.  So one wonders if Jaden Schwartz’s Internet is down. Cap Geek tells us that the St. Louis Blues have $2.783 million in cap space, with 23 players currently under contract, 21 of them on one-way deals. It tells us that Schwartz is a restricted free agent who doesn’t have enough games to his credit to be eligible for an offer sheet. It tells that that Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who has similar numbers in a similar amount of games played, is making $1.15 million against the cap. It also tells us that the Blues have roughly 10 players due for new contracts in Summer 2015, among them goalie Jake Allen and forward Vladamir Tarasenko, who will be directly affected by whatever the Blues give Schwartz. GM Doug Armstrong is a funny guy. He opened the purse strings for free agents this summer, including that $7 million cap hit for Paul Stastny. But he can play hardball with the best of them when it comes to talent already on the roster, which is partly why Vlad Sobotka is playing in Russia this season. "We have to find common ground that Jaden's comfortable with, that the St. Louis Blues are comfortable with. There's a host of dynamics that are involved from his performance on the ice, his character off the ice. He's got two check marks in both of those areas,” said Armstrong, via In The Slot. “Now we have to look at the collective bargaining agreement and use the system to put him in where he should be based on his play and also based on the right that he has and based on the right the team has."  The St. Louis Dispatch has reported that Schwartz and the Blues are about $1 million apart in their talks. It’s a manageable gap, one assumes, but with the Blues’ ca

Hiller talks Boudreau; NHL resolutions; Peverley cleared to work out (Puck Headlines) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 5:02 pm]
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Arrrrrrrrrrrr matey! Happy #TalkLikeAPirateDay! http://t.co/64nlVBLQLZ pic.twitter.com/c8W1ALBNVq— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 19, 2014 • Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day. • After Teemu Selanne’s book comments were released on Thursday, Flames goalie Jonas Hiller piled on Bruce Boudreau. “It didn’t end how I wanted there, and I didn’t feel I got his support there 100% at the end of the year.” [Calgary Sun] • The Royal Half has uncovered the lost texts Teemu Selanne sent during Game 7 against the LA Kings. [The Royal Half]  • Fifteen minutes into their first skate, Flyers captain Claude Giroux left the ice with a lower-body injury and will be evaluated. [CSN Philly] • For the second year in a row, Ryan Whitney has been invited to attend Blues camp on a tryout. [Blues] • NHL Network US announced that they channel will be broadcasting 22 preseason games in-between airings of WaxVac and Money Mutual commercials. [NHL.com] • Rich Peverley’s comeback has taken a step: he cannot skate just yet, but doctors have cleared him to work out. [Dallas Morning News] • Sean McIndoe has some resolutions for the new NHL season, including “Let’s stop making everything about character” and “Let’s let the Great Analytics War die.” [Grantland] • The trend among NHL teams toward having more players talented enough for 5-on-5 minutes is growing. [TSN] • There are a lot of good vibes surrounding the Islanders as they enter their final season in Nassau Coliseum. Can they take that next step this year? [The Fourth Period] • The Panthers aren’t going anywhere says Panthers owner. [Sun-Sentinel]  • Good interview with Florence Schelling, bronze medal winning goaltender for Switzerland’s women’s Olympic team. [In Goal Mag] • Ticket sales in Denver are d

Can we stop penalizing clean hits in hockey? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 3:42 pm]
Martins Karsums of Dynamo Moscow delivered this brutal hit on Metallurg captain Sergei Mozyakin in a game on Wednesday. And it reminded us of all the things we loathe about the way clean hits are disrespected in today’s game, whether it’s a game in the KHL or NHL. Seriously, look at that hit: Mozyakin had just played the puck, it’s a killer shoulder check near the boards. The aftermath is unfortunate, with Mozyakin’s head bouncing off the boards and his leg getting caught under his body. But it's a clean hit. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ] So then the nonsense starts, with a good check earning a mass of Metallurg teammates raining down on Karsums, and then the referees deciding that he somehow, someway earned a roughing minor for all of this. The fight after the hit is at least understandable, given it was an injured captain on the ice. But the penalty that followed was handed out for the same reason – there was an injured captain on the ice, so clean hit be damned, off to the sin bin with you, comrade.  Sigh. Great hit though, penalized or not.

Pass or Fail: Pittsburgh Penguins rock the gold in new third jersey [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 2:14 pm]
INT – PENGUINS FRONT OFFICE [Mario Lemieux, heralded owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, sips a glass of wine next to the phone receiver on his ear. A voice on the other end is filled with concern.] PHONE: “Seriously Mario: $104 million for Sidney and $76 million for Geno … how are we going to afford this? [Mario Lemieux glances around his office, which is covered in photos of his favorite player, Mario Lemieux. His eyes dart to a familiar sweater design, not seen on his players in eons but readily available to fans for the last 25 years.]  MARIO: “Let’s just say I’ve got an idea, and it’s gold. PITTSBURGH gold!” [He laughs heartily, startling Sidney Crosby, who was asleep on his cot in the corner.] ***  Annnnnnd scene.  The Pittsburgh Penguins revealed their new third jerseys for the 2014-15 season, and they’re glorious throwbacks to the 1980s, when Mario was piling up points while carrying Dave Brown on his back: That’s a pretty sharp looking sweater right there. Vibrant colors, great design. We imagine most Penguins fans are in “TAKE MY MONEY NOW!” mode. Here’s the schedule for when the Penguins will rock the Pittsburgh Gold. Hopefully they fare better than their more recent third jerseys, which were totally cursed. Not as cursed as that creepy doll from “Annabelle,” but cursed nonetheless. So, with that … PASS OR FAIL: The Penguins new third jerseys.

Wild re-sign Darcy Kuemper to two-year deal, suspend Josh Harding [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 12:43 pm]
Darcy Kuemper tried to play the KHL card in his RFA negotiations with the Minnesota Wild, but all he needed was an unfortunate incident to open the door for his return.  On Wednesday, the Wild announced that goaltender Josh Harding would be out "indefinitely" (read: months) with a fractured foot after an off-ice incident. According to Mike Russo of the Star Tribune, the incident was with a teammate, which afterward Harding kicked a wall, causing the injury. Down to only Niklas Backstrom in goal, general manager Chuck Fletcher reached out to Ilya Bryzgalov, bringing him back on a tryout contract. Further bolstering his depth in goal, Fletcher was forced to move on his contract standoff with Kuemper, signing the netminder late Thursday to a two-year, one-way deal worth $2.5 million. Kuemper was looking for a one-year, one-way deal, while the team was offering a two-year pact with the second year being one-way. What does this mean for the Wild's goaltending situation going forward? From Russo: In the meantime, Fletcher said Thursday night that Kuemper’s signing won’t affect Bryzgalov’s tryout. If Kuemper’s not one of the top two goalies in training camp, the Wild can sign Bryzgalov and assign Kuemper to Iowa of the American Hockey League without waivers. If that happened, Kuemper would be paid his $1 million salary there. Bryzgalov also gives the Wild insurance if veteran Niklas Backstrom were to get hurt. Because of the nature of Harding's injury, the Wild have suspended him and his $2.1 million salary will not count against their cap. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ] Backstrom was hampered by injury last season, while Kuemper and Bryzgalov impressed at times when they had the no. 1 goalie title in Minnesota. With Harding out of the picture for at least a couple months, the competition for the no.1 job is once again open.  - - - - - - - Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email h

IIHF grants Korean hockey teams automatic entry into 2018 Olympics [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 12:16 pm]
When PyeongChang, South Korea hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics, their men's and women's hockey team will be able to ice teams in their respective hockey tournaments after the IIHF granted the country automatic entries. Last April, the IIHF expressed to the Korea Ice Hockey Association their desire to see the country make "progress in performance." That progress, at least on the men's side, meant seeing the team rise to 18th in the IIHF world rankings, a tall task after recently being relegated to Group B in the Division I World Championships. The IIHF Congress decided on Friday that the Olympic hosts should be able to participate after the KIHA presented a four-year development plan that will see $20 million invested into the national team program. From the IIHF: In addition to the financial investment, the KIHA plans to organize annual exchange programs for their players with the world’s top hockey leagues and organizations. A major effort will be also made towards increasing the number of domestic and international games for the national team. “Korean hockey has been working for a long time for this opportunity, and to have this presented to us today is overwhelming,” said Korean men’s national team head coach Jim Paek. “I don’t want to make any promises but as long as we focus on the process every day to get better I think we’ll be very competitive and hopefully we’ll represent the country well.” Had Korea's men's side not been granted automatic entry by the IIHF, they would have had to attempt to earn one of three spots through the qualification process. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ] Overseas training camps and expansion of the country's domestic league are in the works to helps the women's side. The men's team made their first step to improving in July when Paek was hired as head coach. There's a lot of work to be done in Korea, and while the results may not be seen in four year's time, t's a good first st

IIHF grants Korean Olympic hockey teams automatic entry into 2018 Olympics [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 12:16 pm]
When PyeongChang, South Korea hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics, their men's and women's hockey team will be able to ice teams in their respective hockey tournaments after the IIHF granted the country automatic entries. Last April, the IIHF expressed to the Korea Ice Hockey Association their desire to see the country make "progress in performance." That progress, at least on the men's side, meant seeing the team rise to 18th in the IIHF world rankings, a tall task after recently being relegated to Group B in the Division I World Championships. The IIHF Congress decided on Friday that the Olympic hosts should be able to participate after the KIHA presented a four-year development plan that will see $20 million invested into the national team program. From the IIHF: In addition to the financial investment, the KIHA plans to organize annual exchange programs for their players with the world’s top hockey leagues and organizations. A major effort will be also made towards increasing the number of domestic and international games for the national team. “Korean hockey has been working for a long time for this opportunity, and to have this presented to us today is overwhelming,” said Korean men’s national team head coach Jim Paek. “I don’t want to make any promises but as long as we focus on the process every day to get better I think we’ll be very competitive and hopefully we’ll represent the country well.” Had Korea's men's side not been granted automatic entry by the IIHF, they would have had to attempt to earn one of three spots through the qualification process. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ] Overseas training camps and expansion of the country's domestic league are in the works to helps the women's side. The men's team made their first step to improving in July when Paek was hired as head coach. There's a lot of work to be done in Korea, and while the results may not be seen in four year's time, t's a good first st

Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: Los Angeles Kings [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 1:15 am]
(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!) Last Season In Emojis Last Season, In Summary Ho-hum. Nothing big happened in Los Angeles. Well, not during the regular season, that is. The Kings used the regular season as a tuneup for the playoffs. They finished with a 46-28-8 record. In the Western Conference, a 100-point season like LA’s will get you a No. 6 seed in the playoffs. No biggie for the Kings because the playoffs is when the magic happens. For their first act, the Kings performed a disappearing act. LA vanished in the Aztec Tomb, falling down 0-3 to the San Jose Sharks; only to make a historic come back and win four-straight. Next they went toe-to-toe with freeway frenemy Anaheim. In a series that took only 20 years to come to fruition, the Kings and Ducks battled to a seventh game. Anaheim proceeded to lay down and get run over repeatedly like two-day old roadkill. In a thrilling seven game series, Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup after defeating Chicago in overtime. Oh wait. My mistake. They had to play a team from the Eastern Conference to win the Cup. It was the NHL’s dream American series, media-market wise, Los Angeles versus New York. The Rangers did put up a bit of a fight taking three of five games to overtime; including two double-OT tilts. On an Alec Martinez goal in double-overtime of Game 5, the Kings won their second Cup in three years. Last Season's Definitive Highlight Like there could be anything better? Off-Season Transactions For the most part, GM Dean Lombardi kept the band together only shedding a few pieces in the off-season; however, he’s bumping right against the cap. Matt Greene was the first to re-sign with the team; inking a four-year, $10-million extension. Greene had been a workhorse of a defenseman prior to the most recent lockout. When play resumed, he

Blue Jackets forward Nathan Horton injured again, again [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 18, 2014, 9:25 pm]
At this point in his tenure with Columbus, Nathan Horton has been paid $289,474 per point. He’s played 36 games – missing the start of his first season with the team after offseason shoulder surgery, and then basically missing the rest of the season after suffering an abdominal tear in March.  The Blue Jackets were obviously excited to have a healthy Horton to start this season. Instead, they not only don’t have a healthy Horton, they won’t have Horton at all. According to Puck-Rakers, Horton has a back injury that will force him out of training camp and potentially the first part of the regular season. Again. From Aaron Portzline: "He signed a big contract – I signed almost the same contract (this summer) – and you feel like you have a lot to prove," Dubinsky said. "We certainly feel for him. We hope he gets better. But we certainly want him to take his time. Because a 100 percent Nathan Horton for 60 or 70 games -- or however long it’s going to be -- is better than a 70 percent guy for 82 games. Hopefully he can have a speedy recovery." The Blue Jackets will likely look at several different options to make up for Johansen's absence. One consideration is to move Boone Jenner from left wing to center, his natural position. That would give the club Dubinsky, Jenner, Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu down the middle. Or, the Blue Jackets could keep Jenner on the wing and simply move each of Dubinsky, Anisimov and Letestu up a line. In that scenario, they'd probably look at Alexander Wennberg, Marko Dano or Michael Chaput as the fourth line center. Or they could be without Nathan Horton and Ryan Johansen for the first part of the season, which looks like it’s going to be the case for the Blue Jackets.    

Kimmo Timonen out ‘months’ for Flyers, chance for return 'slim' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 18, 2014, 8:29 pm]
Last month it was revealed that Kimmo Timonen, veteran defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers, was diagnosed with blood clots in his lower right leg and lungs. His status for the 2014-15 NHL season had yet to be determined.  On Thursday, the Flyers offered some clarity: Timomen will be out “months,” through the new year, but hasn’t ruled out a return to the ice this season. “My desire is I want to play. But the chances of me playing are really slim. That’s a fact. But I’m ready and waiting to see,” said Timonen. “There’s a little chance there’s a safe way for me to step on the ice, then we have a new discussion. But we don’t know yet.” Timonen, 39, had a 2013-14 season resurgence -- skating 20:20 per night, with 35 points in 77 games while being a puck possession monster – which earned him another 1-year deal in Philly. His absence from the lineup created a significant hole for the Flyers, who attempted to address it with the addition of Michael Del Zotto as a free agent. He joins Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann and Luke Schenn as the Flyers’ back line. Looking at the group … well, best of luck for a speedy recovery Kimmo Timonen. The Finnish defenseman said on Thursday that even if he’s able to make it back after a few months, it will be his “last year” in the NHL. Hopefully this class act is able to go out on his own terms. 

Crosby, Malkin to miss start of camp; Kesler talks Vancouver media; Sharks go to Tahoe (Puck Headlines) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 18, 2014, 5:25 pm]
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. • The Penguins are releasing a new jersey design on Friday morning. Will it be similar to the yellow concept here? [Icethetics] • PANIC TIME!!!!!!! Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will miss the start of Penguins camp as a precaution after injuries suffered while preparing.  [Tribune Review] • How did Josh Harding fracture his foot? Well, “…while kicking a wall after an off-ice altercation with a teammate and is expected to miss at least two or three months.” Not good times for the Wild. [Star Tribune] • Ryan Kesler talking about his time in Vancouver: “That’s the problem with Vancouver. The media makes up a lot of stories that aren’t true. To be honest, I was really sick of certain media guys throwing people under the bus.” So who was making stuff up? [PiTB] • Canadian hockey great Tessa Bonhomme has retired and will join TSN as an anchor/reporter. [TSN] • The Sharks went to Lake Tahoe to bond and air out any issues inside the locker room. Said Joe Thornton: "We're going to have to have 23 captains on the team this year. It doesn't matter who has it or who doesn't have it. We all have to come together and be leaders.” [Mercury News] • Cam Janssen on whether his role in hockey is diminishing: “Did they take hitting out of the game? Have they taken energy out of the game? It’s not fighting that is being taken out of the game. It’s the square off, buckets (helmets) off, sideshow fights that are getting taken out of the game.” [NJ.com] • Is it a bad thing if a team doesn’t have a captain for the season? [Lozo] • Who replaces Jarome Iginla and when will Torey Krug and Reilly Smith sign are just some of the questions facing the Boston Bruins as camp opens. [Bruins Daily] • How do recent NCAA rulings affect college hockey? [College Hockey News] • Red Win

NHL Fantasy Hockey: Finding late round gems in your draft [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 18, 2014, 3:45 pm]
Dobber launched his fantasy hockey website DobberHockey back in 2005 and has been Puck Daddy's resident fantasy hockey 'expert' since 2009. Yeah, winning or losing your league depends on your success rate with some of the sleepers you take in the later rounds blah blah blah. All sleeper articles say the same thing in the intro, so I'll forego that and get to the goods. Here are my picks for the late round gems, 2014-15 edition. All players below have an average draft position (Yahoo!) of 147th overall or later and an average round drafted of 14 or later… [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ] (Average Pick, Average Round) Defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins (147.6, 14.0) - It's no secret that Hamilton's career is trending upward. Of course he's going to get better, Captain Obvious. But poolies don't know when the big jump will happen and so they're playing it safe and drafting him as if he's a 25-point, 40 PIM player. But you should be taking him in the 10th or 12th round because his plus/minus will be nuts again and he should flirt with 35 points and 150 shots. His ice time is rising with every game that he plays and with it will come the production. Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche (152.6, 14.4) - Anyone who has followed me knows that right from when he was 19 or 20 I had him pegged as a slow developer, often reminding that Chris Pronger was 26 the first time he had more than 46 points in a season. Johnson is 26 right now and coming off of a 39-point campaign. The former first-overall pick has it figured out now and I say he builds on that. But even if he flatlines, how does a 40-point, 60-PIM player drop almost to the 15th round? Radko Gudas, Tampa Bay Lightning (165.3, 14.5) - Shut the front door, seriously? The best PIM defenseman to own - one who has the ability to pop in 30 points at that - is lasting until the 14th round? Yes, selecting PIM guys in the later rounds is almost a fantasy-hockey tradition, but not when it's th

Teemu Selanne demolishes Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau in book [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 18, 2014, 2:08 pm]
Teemu Selanne has a book coming out in Finland. It’s a 320-page tome called “Teemu” that chronicles his life at and away from the rink. It appears to very much capture the essence of Teemu: Captivating and jovial, with occasional bursts of intense, aggressive professional pride. One target of that pride: Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, whom Selanne blasts as an ill-prepared oaf who lacks the respect of his players and, basically, was the reason Selanne both considered leaving the Ducks and eventually retiring after last season.  Finnish journalist Juha Hiitela translated a number of quotes from Selanne from the book, which was obtained by the LA Times. Among the most damning ones: Selanne on Boudreau and the Ducks: “It would have been wrong if we had won the Stanley Cup with coach like that.” “You are as good as you your coach wants you to be. If we had any other coach, I’d still be playing.” Selanne said that his feud with Boudreau ran so deep that he considered leaving the Ducks in 2013 to sign with the rival Los Angeles Kings or – and that sound you’re about to hear are thousands of hearts breaking in Manitoba – the Winnipeg Jets, his first NHL team.  He said Boudreau promised him power-play time and an average of 15 minutes of ice time in 2013-14, and that he wanted to see Selanne reach the 700 goal plateau. “Season started well, but after that my time on ice declined, just like previous year. He didn’t keep any of his promises,” said Selanne. According to the book, Selanne texted his wife and friends during intermission that the Ducks’ Game 7 performance against the Kings in the Western Conference Semifinal was “a f—king joke.” Selanne and Boudreau clashed all season over his usage and ice time, although there was a bit of a reprieve after the star winger lit up the Olympic Games in Sochi. "I got to play with [Ryan] Getzlaf the next four games, scored two goals and four points. After that everything went back to way it

Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: Minnesota Wild [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 18, 2014, 5:33 am]
(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!)  Last Season In Emojis Last Season, In Summary  The Minnesota Wild finished at 43-27-12, good for the first wild card in the Western Conference. They played an epic first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, with four overtime games including a Game 7 OT win at Colorado. Alas, the magic couldn’t continue in Round 2, with the Chicago Blackhawks thwarting them in OT of Game 6. Last Season’s Definitive Highlight  “Is it in? YES!” Off-Season Transactions The worst kept secret in hockey was finally revealed as Thomas Vanek signed a 3-year, $19.5-million free agent deal with Minnesota. The Wild also inked center Jordan Schroder, Justin Falk, Joel Rechlicz and Stu Bickel. Moving on from the Wild were Matt Moulson, Dany Heatley and Clayton Stoner, among others.  The Minnesota top six was a mix of steady veterans and young players finding their stride. Jason Pominville led the Wild with 30 goals and 60 points, including 23 goals at even strength. Zach Parise was second on the Wild with 29 goals, as he found solid chemistry with rookie Charlie Coyle (30 points in 70 games) and Mikko Koivu (54 points in 65 games). Mikael Granlund had a revelatory Sochi Games and 41 points in 63 games for Minnesota. Vanek joins that top six as one of the NHL’s best, albeit streakiest, goal scorers. One of the lineup’s wild cards is Nino Niederreiter, who had 36 points in 81 games last season. Where does he fit for Minnesota? Center Kyle Brodziak had 42 points in 81 games, skating mostly with the cordial Matt Cooke and Justin Fontaine (21 points in 66 games). Jason Zucker and Erik Haula have both made strong cases for increased ice time, although one wonders if Zucker has enough to stick. Cody Almond, Zack Phillips, Brett Bulmer and Jordan Schroeder will be in





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