Hey, everyone. It’s Dan Mount and I’m here with my Monday NHL headlines. I was away for most of the holidays so I will be putting all of my cool videos at the end of this column. If you have a suggestion for a First star, Worst star or something unbelievable for Who blew up the Death Star? Then hit me up on Twitter @DanMountSports.
I’m also scheduled to be on NHL on the Ice this Thursday with Brian Yates. Here’s the link.
The headlines today will talk about the returns of John Tortorella and Daniel Alfredsson to their former locations.
Many happy or not so happy returns
The holidays are the time of year when people get together with old friends and family. Last weekend in the NHL had two such occasions as Vancouver Canucks coach John Torotorella returned to New York to face the Rangers and Daniel Alfredsson made his way back to Ottawa as a member of the Red Wings. There were questions on how each person would be received, but the reactions were not surprising.
First I’ll talk about the return of Torts to Madison Square Garden. Tortorella brought in a Canucks team that had been reeling most of the month of November. He did say that he wanted to go in and kick their asses and leave. He downplayed the return angle.
However, the return was spoiled when the Rangers beat the Canucks, 5-2. The game was played up as Tortorella trying to get a measure of revenge on General Manager Glenn Sather and the rest of the Rangers’ front office. However, Chris Kreider was the one that got revenge as he netted a hat trick against his old coach. Kreider was often a target of Torts as he was often a healthy scratch or sent down to Hartford of the AHL. Kreider did take the high road and said that he had no hard feelings for Tortorella. (The Rangers fans added insult to injury by chanting “Tor-to-rella” at him towards the end of the game.)
Both teams haven’t been lightning up the standings, but the Rangers have improved after their disastrous early season road trip. They seemed to have found their backup goalie in Cam Talbot, who will keep Henrik Lundqvist from being overworked as Pro Hockey Talk and NHL.com’s Joe Yerdon pointed out.
Lundqvist has played 20 of 27 Rangers games this year. Maybe getting a couple games off is a *good* idea.— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdonPHT) December 2, 2013
Lundqvist also played 43 of 48 games last season. It's an Olympic year and guess who will play most games for Sweden? #NotAControversy— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdonPHT) December 2, 2013
The Canucks are still trying to figure it out as evidenced when Torts ripped into Alex Edler after his mistake led to the first Kreider goal. Roberto Luongo’s play in the first part of the season was good, but he got chased and Eddie Lack came in for him. I think Vancouver will have a struggle for a playoff spot, but they’re better off than I thought.
While Tortorella failed in his return to the Big Apple, Daniel Alfredsson was a little more successful when the Red Wings beat his old team, the Ottawa Senators by a score of 4-2. Alfie even scored in his return to the Canadian Tire Centre. There was a question if Alfredsson would be appreciated for his years of being a captain, but he was welcomed back with open arms. (The Sens fans really outdid themselves when they gave Alfie a standing ovation.)
It was really cool to see the Ottawa fans thank him after Alfie went to Detroit for a shot at the Stanley Cup. I thought there would be some fans that would boo him on his return, but I’m glad they didn’t. (I’m sure there were a few knuckleheads, but they were clearly outvoiced by the majority.)
The Sens haven’t gotten off to a good start, but did beat the Wings in two games at Detroit. Like Tortorella did, Alfredsson downplayed his return. He kept it business and said good things about the Senators franchise. I know once he retires, they’ll finally give Alfie the night that he deserves in Ottawa. He is the first person I think of when I think of the Ottawa Senators, and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Senator.
Here’s a couple of games to watch this week.
San Jose at Toronto, 7 p.m. ET, Comcast CA, Rogers Ontario: The Leafs are struggling right now, but beating the Sharks would right the ship.
Los Angeles at Anaheim, 10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports West, Fox Sports Prime Ticket: It’s the Battle of Los Angeles just like the Rage Against the Machine album.
Montreal at New Jersey, 7 p.m. ET, RDS, TSN, MSG+: Two fourth-place teams in an early season wild card matchup.
Philadelphia at Detroit, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN: The Flyers have turned it around since Craig Berube has taken over, and the Wings have some momentum.
San Jose at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET, Comcast CA, ROOT Pittsburgh: Two great offenses square off at the new Igloo.
And now is the part of the program where I give you some of the best, worst and funniest video of the week.
Normally I try to give great goals, assists and saves, but this video is too good. The WHL’s Calgary Hitmen did their annual Teddy Bear Toss and got awesome results. 26,000 bears went on the ice for charity.
Carolina’s Kevin Westgarth gets a 2-game Shana-ban for this shot on Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki.
Who blew up the Death Star?
Say hello to Anaheim’s Cam Faller… err… Fowler. (Bonus points to Hampus Lindholm for his reaction.)
That’s it for this week. I’ll see you later in the week.
Dan Mount is an NHL and college football writer for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, NY.