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NHL: pluses and minuses around the league

Teams around the league show support for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. The Ducks, unlike past seasons, have followed a fast start with a slow finish.

April 22, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • New York Islanders' Keith Aucoin skates during warmups with the words "Pray for Boston" written on his skates.
New York Islanders' Keith Aucoin skates during warmups with the words… (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

Pluses

Teams across the NHL paid tribute to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings in many ways, including holding a moment of silence, players writing "Pray for Boston" on a stick or skate, and the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres joining to salute the crowd with raised sticks on Wednesday. In a touching gesture, Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle — a Boston native — wore a jersey in warmups Saturday with the name of 8-year-old bombing casualty Martin Richard on the back.

Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, expected to retire after the season, was serenaded by fans after the Flames' home finale Friday. Kiprusoff, part of the Flames' 2004 Stanley Cup runner-up team and 2005-06 winner of the Vezina and Jennings trophies, went out a winner with a 32-save performance in a 3-1 victory over the Ducks.

The New York Islanders are headed toward the postseason for the first time since the 2006-07 season. They have a 10-game points streak (8-0-2) and their 14 road wins rank behind only the 17 by Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Minuses

The Ducks, usually slow starters and fast finishers, have reversed that pattern. They had a great start but are stumbling to the finish line because their scoring has dried up, including the secondary production that carried them earlier. They must build some momentum from their 3-1 victory at Edmonton on Sunday or it will be one round and out for a team that seemed capable of much more.

Open mouth, insert skate: Edmonton Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe last week alienated a chunk of his audience by saying the team has "two types of fans. We have paying customers and we have people that watch the game that we still care about." He later apologized, but it's tough to forget being called a second-class fan.

Boston Bruins play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards wasn't shy in criticizing Pittsburgh hockey writers' nomination of Matt Cooke for the Masterton Trophy, awarded for perseverance and dedication to hockey. Cooke has a history of head-hunting, including a blind-side hit that left Boston forward Marc Savard with a concussion, but he has lately been law-abiding. "Nominating Cooke for the Masterton is about the equivalent of nominating Sirhan Sirhan as the prisoner of the year," Edwards said, referring to the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. Sirhan is serving a life sentence in Coalinga, Calif. Edwards later apologized via Twitter. The choice of Cooke is debatable, but Edwards' remark was repugnant.

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