Grossmann nears personal best in blocked shots

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Grossmann nears personal best in blocked shots

Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann is close to breaking his personal record for shot blocking.

Going into Thursday’s game against Columbus, Grossmann and Montreal’s Josh Gorges were tied for third in the NHL with 91 shot blocks each.

Following the 5-4 win over the Blue Jackets (see story), he has 92 blocks.

Grossmann’s career high is 100, which he set twice as a member of the Dallas Stars in 2008-09 and 2009-10, respectively.

Ironically, he is on pace to shatter that record with a projected 219 blocks this season.

“Yeah, I don’t really know what my record is,” Grossmann admitted on Thursday. “I’ve never looked at it.

“Way I see it, that’s 91 shots that doesn’t get to [Steve] Mason. That’s one way to look at it.”

One shot that did get to Mason this week still bothers Grossmann.

During last Sunday’s Flyers meltdown against the Capitals in Washington, defenseman Dmitry Orlov fired the puck from distance late in the third period.

Grossmann was the only Flyer directly in front of Mason -- no one else was within an area code. Normally, Grossmann would have blocked the shot or moved aside since Mason’s view was clear. He did neither and the puck snuck through shortside, making it a 4-3 game before Alexander Ovechkin tied it, sending the game into overtime.

Grossmann’s reaction became a critical play in retrospect as the Flyers eventually lost, 5-4, in a shootout.

“It was a little miscommunication there,” Grossmann said. “It happened fast and I was in the lane. I should have blocked it. I heard something else and tried to get out of the way. Once you do it, it’s too late.”

What happens here is if there is no one in front, Grossmann moves aside and allows Mason to see the shot. Which is what he could have done.

Or he could have blocked it. Instead, he stood and literally blocked Mason’s vision, which was the wrong move. It doesn’t happen very often because Grossmann almost always makes the block.

“He might say, ‘Get out of the way and let me see it,’" Grossmann said. “It’s a split-second thing. He has to say it in time and I have to react in time or it gets all [expletive] up and it ends up like that goal there.

“It’s something we talk about and try to clear up. Personally, once you commit, it’s tough to change. It’s a small detail.”

A detail that can make all the difference between a shot block and a goal.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal practices, but won't play vs. Capitals

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal practices, but won't play vs. Capitals

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jordan Weal participated in the Flyers' full practice Tuesday at Skate Zone but will remain out of the lineup against Washington on Wednesday with an apparent concussion.

He was nailed in Edmonton by Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba. The hit in the corner came at 13:57 of the opening period.

Video replays show Gryba sandwiched Weal hard on the boards with Weal striking his head and right shoulder, then falling to the ice. Actually, Gryba hit him earlier in the period as well, but it was the second hit that seemed to go the most damage. 

Weal said both he and trainer Jim McCrossin agreed it was better to not return to the game after the second hit.

“He kind of drove me in pretty good there,” Weal said. “It’s a hockey play, though. Not much you can do.” 

The Flyers are being cautious with the head injury.

Coach Dave Hakstol was vague as to when Weal would re-enter the lineup. Weal had just been called up last week to replace Travis Konecny, who was placed on IR.

“I feel good,” said Weal, who took extra practice on Tuesday. “It definitely has been progressing every day. ... I’m day-to-day and as soon as I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.

“It’s one of those injuries you just have to take your time with. I think when I feel I’m ready to play, I’ll be in.

“It’s frustrating. But it’s part of the game. With these injuries, it’s tougher than if it was, say your finger or your shin or something where you could put ice on it and get it better. You just have to treat it right and get back as quick as I can.”

Gudas’ departure
Defenseman Radko Gudas left early during what was a brief but long-delayed 45-minute practice on Tuesday.

What was noteworthy about Gudas’ departure, however, was that he picked up his gear and headed back to the dressing room while both trainers remained on the bench.

So he wasn’t injured.

Immediate speculation was that he might have been traded. An hour later, general manager Ron Hextall announced Gudas had had a dentist appointment to fix a broken tooth, incurred during the recent road trip.

Needless to say, Gudas’ leaving blew up Twitter with trade rumors.

Lower, lower body
Jake Voracek took a shot below the belt and couldn't stand for a few minutes near the end of practice. He remained in obvious pain in the dressing room and did not talk … as if he could.