Zdeno Chara courtesy:yardbarker.com

Big D Visits The Hub, Big Z And Ice Girls Help Kids In Need

The Dallas Stars are in town to take on your Boston Bruins this evening (7:00pm EDT New England Sports Network) and do not be surprised if this one of the best games of the season. The Stars currently reside in 3rd place in the Western Conference with 65 points. They have won 30  of their 51 games played in 2010-2011 and 6 of their last 10.

Tonight also marks the return of “Razor.” Former B’s goaltender Andrew Raycroft will be tending the goal for Dallas. Raycroft, the NHL’s rookie of the year in 2003-2004, has been the backup netminder for much of the season but has played the bulk of the schedule recently due to an injury suffered by starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Raycroft enters tonight’s game with 8 wins and 4 losses on the season. He has a save percentage of .920 and a goals against average of 2.42. The native of Belleville, Ontario told the Boston Herald he is looking forward to returning to Boston.

My wife is from here…we have ties here. We’re going to end up living here at some point when my career’s done. Being in the city is always fun for me.”

Dallas is led in scoring by 2011 NHL All Star Brad Richards who has scored 20 goals and 38 assists totaling 58 points. Richards has been the subject of many trade rumors throughout the season but with the Stars enjoying a season that has put them in the group of elite National Hockey League teams, it is quite doubtful the 30 year old center is going anywhere. Another Star to watch is Loui Eriksson, who joined Richards in the 2011 NHL All Star Game. Steve Ott leads the club in penalty minutes which is nothing new when one considers Ott’s agitating style of play.

Tonight’s tilt could also be the sign of things to come should each team see success in the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring. It is possible there could be a Boston vs. Dallas Stanley Cup Finals.

To get more news on the Stars, check out Fansided’s Austin Waldron here http://blackoutdallas.com/2011/02/02/stars-still-have-no-answer-for-canucks/.

The rage on the internet today has been concerning last night’s goalie fight between New York Islander (and former Boston University) puckstopper, Rick DiPietro and Pittsburgh netminder, Brent Johnson. It really was not much of a fight as far as hall of fame fisticuffs goes but DiPietro did garner more respect out of this writer because of what he did that precipitated the bout. DiPietro protected his crease from Penguins forward Matt Cooke as Cooke tried to skate through it in pursuit of a loose puck. DiPietro leveled Cooke in the fashion that makes all Bruins fans’ hearts go aflutter. See it here http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hdpid=49&id=95819. In the words of former B’s coach Don Cherry, I say, “Way to go, Ricky boy!”

Another note from last night’s NHL action, how about Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings scoring 5 goals in the Wings 7-5 win over the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa. Nights like that are rare for any hockey player but for one to do that in the National Hockey League is a night for the ages. To top it off, he scored 3 of his goals in the 3rd period. See all of the highlights here http://www.nhl.com/ice/recap.htm?id=2010020764.

Congratulations go out to Bruins center and alternate captain, Patrice Bergeron for being named the NHL’s 1st Star for the month of January, 2011. Bergeron put the black and gold on his back and carried them to the top of the Northeast Division standings and took over the team scoring lead during the first month of the new year. The accolade comes as no surprise to readers of Causeway Crowd as I wrote about Bergeron and the great season he is having on January 14, 2011. You can read it here, http://causewaycrowd.com/2011/01/14/olympian-leading-the-way-for-boston-2/. By the way, NHL, you missed the boat by not including this young man in the All Star game. Just sayin’.

Not much new to report on center Marc Savard and his latest concussion. As of this writing, Savard is on his way back to Boston from his home in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada for an appointment with Bruins doctors. Reports out of Canada have been saying that the crafty forward is considering retiring from hockey. After suffering two concussions within a year, certainly no one would blame Savard if he did hang up the blades. It would be sad to say good bye to a fan favorite but the overall health of the man takes precedence over anything at this point in time.

As mentioned in a past article, http://causewaycrowd.com/2011/01/16/the-staals-seguin-and-neely/,the Boston Bruins Ice Girls will be skating with fans in various rinks throughout Massachusetts to raise donations for various charities. Before lacing up your blades, take a moment to get to know the Ice Girls http://video.bruins.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=1031&id=93356.

Finally, I admit I have been a critic of Zdeno Chara’s play this season but I will give the captain the highest marks for his tireless efforts on behalf of Boston area charities. February 4, 2011, Chara will be at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Waltham, Massachusetts during the hours of 4:30pm-6:30pm to accept donations to the Cradles to Crayons PJ Drive. Fans can donate new pajamas purchased at BJ’s Wholesale Club and make a low income and/or homeless child very happy.

For all news pertaining to the NHL in general…..please visit  Too Many Men on the Site – Fansided`s excellent coverage of the Greatest Game on Ice !

Shawn Hutcheon can be followed on twitter by going to www.twitter.com/@shawnhutcheon. You can also become his friend on facebook by going to www.facebook.com/shawnhutcheon.

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Tags: 2011 NHL All Star Andrew Raycroft Austin Waldron Belleville BJ's Wholesale Club Boston Bruins Boston Herald Boston University Brad Richards Brent Johnson Canada Cradles To Crayons Dallas Stars Detroit Red Wings Don Cherry Ice Girls Johan Franzen Kari Lehtonen Loui Eriksson Marc Savard Massachusetts Matt Cooke National Hockey League New England Sports Network New York Islanders Northeast Division Ontario Ottawa Ottawa Senators Patrice Bergeron Peterborough Pittsburgh Penguins PJ Drive Rick DiPietro Stanley Cup Stanley Cup Playoffs Steve Ott Waltham Western Conference Zdeno Chara

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