Daily Cupcakes - February 14th, 2012

Colorado Avalanche's Erik Johnson is getting some love.

Erik Johnson played like he had a score to settle with the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. The young Avalanche defenseman was chippy but did not commit a penalty, and his mean streak was pure benefit to his team.

Johnson scored a power-play goal, using his big shot from the point to perfection, and did not commit a defensive-end turnover. Overall, it was the type of game the Avs expect Johnson to have regularly — and what the Blues expected from him when they took him with the first pick in the 2006 draft.

The Avs believe Johnson, 23, will fulfill his lofty long-term potential if he continues to play with a mean streak and keep his body in continuous motion during shifts.

A fairly in-depth article about the Trade Deadline Day.

Every NHL trading deadline differs from the one before and last year, the overriding theme was how many of the most important deals were done weeks or even a month before TSN assembled their multiple panels and began the nine hours of chatter and analysis.

That, obviously, isn’t happening this time around. Just about every general manager tells you the same thing - it’s quiet, eerily quiet, and it’s pretty clear why.

So often in the past, teams that have fallen by the wayside would move assets to contenders in exchange for help down the road.

TheScore is looking at the Calder race, and surprisingly, Gabriel Landeskog is one of Cams favorites.

For Colorado, Landeskog would be my pick as Calder front-runner even with a healthy Nugent-Hopkins; the young Avalanche centre has lead the team in Corsi and quality of competition and has become an offensive force ever since Colorado head coach Joe Sacco started playing him more in the offensive end starting in around early December, playing at a 20-goal, 49-point per 82 game pace since December 1.

These factors aside, Landeskog also leads all rookies in shots (we all know how much I like looking at that statistic) and is probably the one who is the best at moving the puck forward into those shooting positions.

So even while Nugent-Hopkins waits on the sideline for medical clearance, I’m not sold he ought to be back in an Edmonton sweater for the remainder of the season. In the meantime, there is still an impressive crop of rookies to follow who have exceeded their expectations at the early stage of their National Hockey League careers.

Most of you know I love highlighting the philanthropist ways of NHL players. Dustin Penner has taken a lot heat over a comment, but true to NHL'er form, he turned this into a positive, with the help of IHOP, raising almost $3,000 for charity.

Whatever you may think of Dustin Penner as a hockey player, one’s thing for sure – the Los Angeles Kings’ forward is one funny man. It’s something that should have been obvious to people a month ago, when back spasms forced him to miss a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The day after, Penner compared his painful, bent-over posture to being in the "third stage of evolution," a description that should have provided a clue to the humorous context of what came next – an admission that his back problems originally flared up while digging into a stack of his wife Jessica’s "delicious" pancakes.

But the nuance of his tone and the timing of his delivery was lost in cyberspace, where it was simply interpreted as the worst kind of dog-ate-my-homework excuse from a slumping player, who’d just missed a game against the NHL’s worst team because of a breakfast-related injury.

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