Lundqvist defends net flippage: ‘I needed a whistle’

Henrik Lundqvist is not sorry, and he'd do it again.

The New York Rangers goaltender lost it Thursday, flipping his net off its pegs during play, a few moments after captain Ryan McDonagh inadvertently collided with him.

Lundqvist suffered neck spasms due to the collision, and won't play Tuesday in Buffalo. He's hoping to return on the weekend, and said Monday that he did what he did because he needed a whistle - and when it didn't come from the referee, he took matters into his own hands.

"When I realized the puck is in our end, I was not really ready to play. That was the truth," Lundqvist said, according to the New York Daily News' Justin Tasch. "I don't know how I came up with the conclusion to move the net, but that's what came up in my head, and I'm not gonna apologize for it because I was just not in a position where I could play the game. I needed a break."

Lundqvist's opponent that night, Marc-Andre Fleury, called the incident "baby stuff," but the Swede refused to address the comment, saying he wasn't ready to play, and did what he had to do.

"I needed a whistle. If the ref's not gonna give me one I'm gonna deal with it my way," Lundqvist said. "Could I have done it differently? Absolutely. But at the same time it was a really tough hit where I was not really thinking straight, I think. But I got the whistle."

The Rangers are in Detroit on Saturday, and home to Pittsburgh on Sunday, so expect Lundqvist back in the crease in one of those games - hopefully the one versus the Penguins.

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Canucks, Hurricanes make minor trade

What trade deadline?

Vancouver and Carolina made a minor deal Monday, the Canucks sending forward Dane Fox to the Hurricanes for future considerations.

Fox has spent the majority of the season in the East Coast Hockey League, with Kalamazoo, where he has a team-leading 26 goals and 50 points, but he's moving on up to the American Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers.

The 22-year-old was an undrafted free-agent signing of the Canucks in 2013. He's 6-feet tall and weighs 188 pounds. He had 30 goals in his first ECHL season, after scoring 64 goals in 67 games in his final season of junior hockey.

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Kadri, Maple Leafs reflect 1 year after team-imposed suspension

Nazem Kadri learned a valuable lesson, according to Nazem Kadri.

A year ago this week, Kadri was suspended by the Toronto Maple Leafs for off-ice related issues. Asked about it Monday, Kadri called the suspension his "moment of clarity," according to TSN's Mark Masters.

"I mean, that could've went one of two ways. I could have taken it one of two ways," Kadri said. "I'm proud of myself for just battling my way out of it. Obviously, it was a hard time for myself, but I stuck with it, I worked hard, I didn't let that bother me and I came back with something to prove and I think I've proved that."

Kadri's numbers don't show it, but he's one of Toronto's better players this season, tied for the team lead with 35 points on an offensively-challenged team. He remains a positive possession player and elite at drawing penalties. And he hasn't let a lack of box-score results - he's shooting 5.5 percent with only 12 goals on 220 shots - influence his work ethic, which is the only thing he can control.

"Every single day I want to be the hardest-working guy in practice and I want to bring that work ethic and lead by example not only on the ice but off the ice as well," Kadri said, adding that he's matured as a player and a person.

Head coach Mike Babcock, who's been vocal in his praise for Kadri in his first year coaching him, pumped the brakes a little bit, saying the 25-year-old still has far to go.

"Well, let's not get carried away, work in progress," Babcock said. "If Naz was right here I'd say the same thing to him. A big thing for him, for all kids who come in to the league obviously, is you've got to figure out what a pro is. When you start getting paid you think you're a pro. To me, that has nothing to do with it. That just means you're getting paid. When you become a pro, you learn how to practice hard, you know how to sleep right, how to eat right, you know how to bring it every day, you know how to fight through adversity, you know how to control your emotions. There's lots of things and you're a work in progress and so Naz is that."

The Maple Leafs continue to strip their roster, and are seeing an infusion of youth, as the team begins to develop its own talent. Kadri's one of the older guys now, and he'll only turn 26 in October.

"Especially with the young guys coming in, I want to be a person they can look to," Kadri said.

Kadri needs a new contract, as he's due for restricted free agency after signing a one-year bridge deal worth $4.1 million. He can help as the rebuild continues, and Toronto may be able to lock him in at a cheaper rate after his unlucky season.

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Avalanche coach Roy: ‘It’s time for Varlamov to step up’

If the Colorado Avalanche have any chance at making the playoffs, their No. 1 goalie will have to be just that.

Related: By the numbers: Are the 16 playoff spots spoken for?

With his team two points behind Minnesota in the race for a wild-card spot, head coach Patrick Roy has tabbed Semyon Varlamov to start his first game since being pulled from a 6-3 loss to the Wild on March 1.

After Calvin Pickard went 1-1 in two starts since, Roy's turning back to Varlamov, and with high expectations.

"We knew he was going to play eventually," Roy said of Varlamov after Monday's morning skate. "I thought he had really good practices (while) Pick played really well in those games. Now it's time for Varly to step up."

Varlamov has been down more than up this season, as evidenced by his save percentages by month.

Month Games Shots Against Sv%
October 7 198 .889
November 7 154 .885
December 11 341 .942
January 10 287 .926
February 8 208 .897
March 1 12 .750

Roy will obviously need more of what Varlamov showed midseason, or at least something closer to his career save percentage of .917.

With games against Arizona, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton on tap, it's as good a time as any to pick up some valuable points.

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NHL shuts down rumors of expansion decision

Following a report that a decision has been made regarding the NHL's expansion process, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said no such resolution has been reached.

"We will not comment on the substance of our process, which remains ongoing," Daly said in a statement. "No final decisions have been reached and no recommendation of any kind has been made or communicated by the League Office or the Executive Committee either to the NHL Players' Association or to the NHL Board of Governors."

The statement was released Monday just hours after former NHLer Georges Laraque told 91.9 Sport the NHLPA was informed that Quebec City has been excluded from NHL expansion.

Quebec City and Las Vegas are both currently going through the NHL's formal expansion process.

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Yzerman not closing door on Drouin’s return to Lightning

Anything is possible when it comes to Jonathan Drouin and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Upon lifting the 20-year-old's suspension and announcing Drouin would report back to the AHL's Syracuse Crunch, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is keeping the door open for a reconciliation between the two parties.

In the immediate future, Yzerman said Drouin could resume AHL play as early as Friday, and isn't ruling out a call up to the NHL if all goes well.

Yzerman is believed to have been approached by several suitors prior to the NHL trade deadline, and was looking for pieces that could help the team reach its goal of winning a Stanley Cup this spring. Unable to find the right deal, he ultimately decided to hold onto Drouin's rights, but until now, it seemed as though he had played his last game with the club at any level.

For now, they're taking it one step at a time, but the addition of a player of Drouin's skill set could end up being the boost the Lightning need to get over the hump.

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VIDEO: Lady Gaga, fiance hog time on the Blackhawks’ kiss cam

Love is in the air in Chicago.

Lady Gaga and fiance Taylor Kinney took in the Chicago Blackhawks' victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday after participating in the Polar Plunge.

When it was their turn for the kiss cam, the couple was more than excited.

We had such a good time! Though I can tell Taylor's shorts were freezing in this pic ! 💦

A photo posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on

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