When a player is seriously injured during a hockey game, it’s tradition for both teammates and opponents to tap their sticks on the ice in a salute to the fallen comrade.
Jack Jablonski was that player in Dec. 2011, when an accidental check from behind left him paralyzed. Since then, he’s inspired awareness for spinal cord injury research, ranging from fundraising to a celebrity prom date.
On Saturday, Nov. 1, Jablonski and his organization, the “Bel13ve In Miracles Foundation,” are holding “A Night To Bel13ve” at the Minnesota Wild’s game vs. the Dallas Stars (nee North Stars). There’s going to be an in-game presentation featuring Miracle On Ice players, as well as something that will reach beyond the walls of the arena:
A global stick-tap.
Jablonski will lead fans during intermission in “hockey’s largest stick tap,” and has asked fans around the world to share photos or videos of their own stick tap using the #StickTap2Hope hashtag on social media.
Visit here to learn more about the event and Jablonski’s organization.
Why five games? It’s sorta the going rate for illegal hits to the head that result in injuries. Ryan White on Kent Huskins in April 2013. Deryk Engelland, also a repeat offender, got five for a hit on Justin Abdelkader in Dec. 2013. Zac Rinaldo and Mike Rupp both got four-gamers for hits last April.
But Larry Brooks of the NY Post has another theory: The NHL went five because six would have earned an appeal from the NHLPA. From the Post:
Given Moore’s history, the five-game sentence is probably light by a few games. But a sentence of six games or more would qualify for an appeal to an independent arbiter. And a reduction of the suspension — which would surely be possible, if not likely, given precedent — would not exactly prove a ringing endorsement of Quintal in his first ruling after being named this summer as Brendan Shanahan’s successor as VP of the Department of Player Safety.
Here’s the thing: Brooks isn’t right, but he’s not necessarily wrong, given the optics of the NHL’s supplemental discipline decisions.
The only suspensions reduced by Gary Bettman have been ones that mandated a minimum ban due to the circumstances of the incident (players leaving the bench for a fight; Dan Carcillo’s contact with an official) or because the initial ban was completely draconian (the open-ended Raffi Torres suspension).
Otherwise, we’ve seen Pat Kaleta drop his appeal and Bettman uphold the 15-game ban for Shawn Thornton. In Thornton’s case, he probably had a legitimate chance to get the suspension reduced from an independent arbitrator, but instead chose not to pursue it.
Was a Moore appeal “likely” to overturn a lengthier suspension had it gone to the arbitrator? There’s zero reason to believe that’s the case. First, because a suspension between 6-10 games has precedents for repeat offenders (like Kaleta and Torres, and as Brooks notes, Moore has played himself into that pantheon).
But more importantly because the NHLPA and its suspended defendants have shown a lack of desire to push things that far. Why? Who knows, but the fact remains that the NHLPA is essentially defending one member who injured another, and that probably leads to some uncomfortable conversations between the players on the edge and the players who are usually targeted. Which could be why we haven’t seen these cases go above Bettman yet.
But in Brooks’ defense, the NHL hasn’t exactly convinced anyone that the potential for appeal over a six-or-more game suspension hasn't placed a cap on punishments.
Since the new CBA was signed and the appeal process was implemented, we’ve seen just six suspensions for illegal hits that were over six games:
Raffi Torres (six games, May 2013); Pat Kaleta (10 games, Oct. 10); Shawn Thornton 15 games, Dec. 2013); Zack Kassian (eight games, Sept. 2013); John Scott (seven games, Oct. 2013); Matt Cooke (7 games, April 2014).
That’s a whole lotta slam-dunk cases there with repeat offenders. But notice the dates on two of them: In the playoffs, where the weeks-long appeals process probably doesn’t get that player back on the ice before his team’s season is over.
Meanwhile, how many suspensions came in at four or five games in the last two seasons? Fourteen.
So I don’t think the threat of appeal capped the Moore penalty at five games, because I believe the Department of Player Safety would welcome that appeal.
But I also find it curious that so many, many of their suspensions seem to fall just short of that mechanism, you know?
No. 1 Star: Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings forward was an offensive force in their 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals, scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals and assisting on Gustav Nyquist’s opening goal. That included this awesome individual effort in the third:
No. 2 Star: Craig Smith, Nashville Predators
Smith opened and closed the scoring for the Preds in their 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Roman Josi assisted on both goals.
No. 3 Star: Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
Rinne shut the door against the Oilers with 26 saves and his sixth win of the season, although the crossbar bailed him out at least once.
Honorable Mention: Taylor Beck and Shea Weber had the other Predators goals. … Taylor Hall scored his sixth for the Oilers. … Pavel Datsyuk scored the clincher for the Red Wings. … Evgeni Kuznetsov scored a slick goal for this first of the season. … Henrik Zetterberg was a plus-3.
Did You Know? Alex Ovechkin didn’t have a point for his fifth straight game, the longest drought of this NHL career.
Dishonorable Mention: Smith had a goal at 1:35 of the first period waved off as the referees claimed the whistle was in the process of being blown. … Jeff Petry was a minus-2. … Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom and Brooks Oprik were a minus-2.
“Listen shooter, I'm not gonna [expletive] you, all right? I don't give a good [expletive] what you know, or don't know, but I'm gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to make a save. It's amusing, to me, to torture a shooter. You can say move you want cause I've seen it all before. All you can do is pray for a five-hole, which you ain't gonna get. Now, you ever listen to K-Billy's 'Super Sounds of the Seventies' weekend? It's my personal favorite.” – Frederik Andersen, probably ...
It doesn’t get much cooler than the dialogue from Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and it doesn’t get much cooler than honoring that pivotal film with a goalie mask.
Frederik Anderson of the Anaheim Ducks has done just that, thanks to artist Dave Gunnarsson. And not only does he have the “Reservoir Ducks” featured – including the black tie on the front of the mask – he specifically features Michael Madsen’s “Mr. Blonde.”
With a duck holding a straight razor. Near the ear, of course.
Frederik and me loves to come up with new design ideas for every new mask... And a Reservoir Ducks mask feels so good... And more movie themed Andersen masks will come :)
And if you have seen the Reservoir movie you will see Mr Blonde is not a very nice guy... And on the side of the mask you will find Mr Blonde again, with his team, as ducks of course... And he is holding his razor...
And on the other side the Ducks logo, and as a true Reservoir Duck of course he wears sunglasses...:)
This is actually the second Tarantino-inspired hockey mask we’ve seen, as Kari Lehtonen used to rock The Bride from “Kill Bill.” Alas, no one has mined “Pulp Fiction” for a mask yet, even though Sam Jackson’s hair from the movie would seem natural for a lid.
The Arizona Coyotes face the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, and Mike Smith will tend goal for them.
Normally, this wouldn’t be news: He’s the starter, after all. But he’s also been terrible this season: 2-4-0, with a 4.29 GAA and an .858 save percentage. At even strength, even worse: .855 save percentage. This includes the 7-3 drubbing from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
“Smitty had an average night. Again. And we didn’t play that well in front of him,” said Coach Dave Tippett.
Tippett’s defended Smith throughout the team’s struggles, and he has a point: The Coyotes have inexplicably been sloppy in defensive coverage this season. Players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson have made some downright amateurish mistakes, which Tippett chalks up to trying to do too much to pull the team out of its slump.
“He’d certainly like to make a few more stops, but we have to clean up some of the stuff in front of him. We’re missing assignments, just plain and simple. Giving up opportunities we shouldn’t be giving,” he said.
“You start pressing. Overdoing things, instead of getting in a rhythm.”
So the Coyotes focused on defensive coverage in practice, and Smith gets another chance at finding his groove against the Panthers.
It’s an important start for him. One assumes Devan Dubnyk will get a start over the weekend as the Coyotes play Saturday in Carolina and Sunday in Washington.
“He came around, he played a couple strong games there before we came out on the road. And while his numbers have been just as bad – five goals against on 43 shots at even strength – one good performance while Smith struggles could make things interesting.
Of course, a good performance from either goalie could just mean that the Coyotes have finally put together a solid game, which hasn’t happened much in their 3-4-1 start: Fox Sports notes that they’ve only led for a total of 47:54 this season.
John Moore of the New York Rangers accepted the NHL Department of Player Safety’s invitation to plead his case in person for his hit on Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula Monday night. Stephane Quintal and his crew listened, and the verdict is that he’ll be sitting for five games.
Take it away, Patrick Burke:
Moore will lose $51,859.75 in salary for the five-game suspension. You’ll also note the five-game ban is juuuuuuust enough of a punishment so that Moore and the NHLPA can’t appeal.
Haula sat out Tuesday’s win in Boston as a precautionary measure. The Wild said he hadn’t been diagnosed with a concussion, but wanted to be careful with how they handled him.
You hear Burke pointing that Moore is a repeat offender. He was given a two-game ban 12 games ago for a hit on Dale Weise of the Montreal Canadiens during the Eastern Conference Final -- an eerily similar hit.
Like the hit on Weise, the angle and elevation of Moore's hit on Haula is what had the DoPS calling yet again.
Will the message get through now?
- - - - - - -
There are different kinds of roles for actors. There are prestige projects, in which you sweat and bleed and get fat or get skinny and give everything you have to make art. And then there are paycheck jobs, in which you show up as General Hawk for 10 minutes in “G.I. Joe: Buy This Toy.”
After 10 games, Buffalo Sabres coach Ten Nolan has to realize this is a paycheck team.
This is a collection of players that know they’ve been set up to lose, from the crease out, and know that help isn’t on the way until Bill Daly flips over their logo card at the draft lottery next April.
He has to know that this historically bad start – their 10 goals in 10 games is the fourth-fewest in NHL history – isn’t indicative of anything beyond this being a paycheck team.
But he’s a prideful guy, and thus he skated the Sabres through a wall on Wednesday: Bellowing expletives through 85 minutes of muscle-aching practice.
“I always give our team a 10-game grace period. Give them a little bit of rope, and maybe some of them will hang themselves,” he said. “Taking it easy is over now. Maybe I didn’t push them hard enough.”
It’s not exactly rocket surgery to see who isn’t pulling their weight. Drew Stafford has 16 shots in 10 games for a minus-6. Cody “Fourth Line” Hodgson is a minus-7 with two points in 10 games. Tyler Myers is a minus-2 with no points in 10 games.
All three were here last season, and you figure at least one of them is waiting for his inevitable trade out of Buffalo.
“We got some good characters on this team. I’ve never doubted that. But sometimes we get caught in wishing things will turn around, instead of working to turn them around,” said Nolan.
“We’re the kind of team that has to work. If we don’t work, we’re in trouble.”
And so Nolan gets angry and skates them hard, hoping for some fire or anger or anything. “We’ve got a quiet group of athletes,” he said.
Hoping for some pride.
“This is our occupation. This is our profession,” he said.
Those are two different things, of course. Every player on the roster has chosen to make hockey their profession. But majority of them probably see this season’s job as an occupation separate from the grand scheme; a paycheck rather than a passion project.
There’s no incentive to win, nor will there be dramatic moves to encourage it. They’re six points out of the wild card on Oct. 28, and everyone has two games in hand.
But at least the checks clear.
Will Arnett does not shy away from being a Maple Leafs fan. The former “Arrested Development” actor, who hails from East York, Ontario got to live his dream – or nightmare maybe – of coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs in the below video.
This comes on the heels of Montreal Canadiens commercials where “This is the End” star and Habs superfan Jay Baruchel creeps on some players.
The recent actor love for these teams got us thinking. Who are our favorite celeb fans of other Canadian franchises?
Ottawa Senators … Matthew Perry: The former “Friends” actor was raised in Ottawa. Though he often claims the Kings, we’ll take the excuse that he can root for Los Angeles in the Western Conference and Ottawa in the Eastern Conference. Thankfully for Perry, they’ve never met in the Stanley Cup Final.
Vancouver Canucks … Cobie Smulders: On “How I Met Your Mother," Smulders never hid her love of hockey, or the Canucks, often wearing shirts honoring her team … even after the Canucks crashed and burned in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Honorable mention goes to Elvis Costello who 'pumped it up' for the Canucks in the 2011 postseason.
Edmonton Oilers … Kevin Smith: The film director and New Jersey native is somehow an Oilers fan. We don’t get it, but his movies often include hockey scenes, so we dig it.
Winnipeg Jets … Neil Young: The rock, and Manitoba, legend famously gave up rooting for the San Jose Sharks to pull for the newly reincarnated Jets.
Calgary Flames … Bret Hart: The former and pro wrestler Calgary, Alberta native is the co-founder of the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen and one of its original owners.
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• This Columbus Dispatch cartoon sums up the Blue Jackets’ recent injury woes. [Dispatch]
• James Wisniewski, Mark Letestu and Artem Anismov have now joined a crowded injured list. [Dispatch]
• Things are not going well in Buffalo and Ted Nolan is fed up. [Olean Times]
• Add this to the growing lore of Connor McDavid: there’s a claim that the top prospect in hockey shot a puck so hard off a crossbar that the thing exploded. [Buzzing the Net]
• The Colorado Avalanche power play is currently 5-for-38. So why are they underutilizing Nathan MacKinnon with the man advantage? [TheScore]
• Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill on the team's future: “The foundation’s there. We’ve just got to be patient with it and make the moves at the right time.” [Yahoo]
• Brad Mills of the Binghamton Senators has been suspended 20 games by the AHL for violating the terms of the AHL/PHPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. He’s the first player banned under the new program. [Press Connects]
• Really great story about a paralyzed fan receiving a gift from a Federal Hockey League goaltender. [THN]
• When “That 70s Line” meets the Regression Monster, the LA Kings will still be okay. [Jewels from the Crown]
• What’s to come now that Lars Eller appears to be in Michel Therrien’s doghouse? [Habs Eyes on the Prize]
• Therrien and Bob Hartley tell fishing stories, like the time Hartley’s boat ran out of gas. [Calgary Sun]
• “The owner of the NHL's Dallas Stars will be sentenced next month for damaging a fish habitat during renovations to his vacation property in Kamloops, B.C.” [CP via CBC]
• Alex Galchenyuk or Tyler Toffoli: who are you taking for your fantasy team? [Dobber Hockey]
• USA Hockey will announce later this week that Grand Forks, North Dakota will host the World U-18 championships in 2016. [Grand Forks Herald]
• Finally, NHLers talk about their favorite Halloween costumes when they were kids:
It's a Wednesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Star: Bruce Dowbiggin on Canucks, TV;
* Dangerous hits
* The Sabres
* NHL news
Question of the Day: Ask us anything! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!
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(Jen Lute Costella is our new analytics writer, breaking down the fanciest of stats for you each week. She's a mom. She's writing for Puck Daddy. Hence, Puck Momalytics)
On Monday night there were two games in the NHL, both of which afforded an opportunity to look at how teams try to get back in a game when they are trailing. The Montreal Canadiens were not successful in their bid to comeback against the Edmonton Oilers and lost 3-0. The New York Rangers scored five goals in the third period to hand the Minnesota Wild a tough 5-4 loss.
Over the years, hockey analysts have noticed a common trend in the way teams play with a lead and when they are trailing. It’s called Score Effects.
The idea behind Score Effects: When a team has a lead of two or more goals in the first or second period or even just one goal in the third period, it tends to protect that lead. Often, the leading team will go into a defensive shell and be much less aggressive offensively. The leading team takes fewer risks in order to avoid giving up a goal. The team trailing in these situations tends to be much more aggressive offensively, taking more risks to score and get back in the game.
The Canadiens put on a clinic in what we expect to see from Score Effects in their game against the Oilers. The game was tied at 5 on 5 (5v5) for 11.3 minutes of play. During that period where the score was tied, Edmonton posted 55.56% CF% (Corsi For Percentage) compared to Montreal’s 44.44%. Simply put, the Oilers attempted more shots than Montreal when the game was tied. Once Edmonton started scoring, Montreal threw their offense into overdrive to get back into the game. The Canadiens nearly doubled their shot attempt rate during the 29.9 minutes of play (5v5) that the team was trailing, moving their CF60 (Corsi For Per 60 or all shot attempts rate) from 42.60 at score tied to 78.33. At the same time, the Oilers CF60 dropped from 53.25 at score tied to 42.18 while leading.
A look at the 5v5 shot attempt chart from the analytics site war-on-ice.com puts this change into perspective.
Up until the first goal of the game, the play was back and forth with both teams having some significant power-play time as well. Once Edmonton scored, the team kept its foot on the gas in terms of offense and Montreal began to increase their attack.
After Edmonton’s second goal, Montreal clearly took over the offensive play in the game. The attack did not work to get them back in the game. Of their 39 shot attempts when trailing, 16 were blocked and 6 missed the net. They still managed 17 shots on goal, but Oilers’ goalie Ben Scrivens was on his game and sealed the win by shutting out the Habs. The Canadiens certainly had the right idea for trying to get back into the game, but this was one of those instances in which it just did not work.
In the only other game on Monday evening, the New York Rangers got back in the game and ultimately won, but not by following the usual Score Effects pattern. With the score tied for 16.9 minutes of play, the Minnesota Wild had 55 percent of the shot attempts (CF%) while the Rangers had 45 percent. While trailing in the game, the Rangers CF% actually dropped a bit to 44.44 percent. Their CF60 went from 31.97 at score tied to 39.36 when trailing. This is an increase in the Rangers shot attempt rate of course, but it is nowhere near what we would normally expect to see.
There are a few reasons for this. Last season, the Rangers had a very active offense.
The graph above shows the each team’s deviation from the average CF60 last season when the score was tied and when the team was trailing in a game. The Rangers were 7.61 shot attempts (CF) per 60 higher than the league average when the game was tied. In a situation where one would expect Score Effects to push the team’s offensive numbers skyward, the Rangers were 3.72 shot attempts (CF) per 60 higher than the league average. The actual change in the Rangers CF60 from tied to trailing was only 0.8 shot attempts per 60.
Obviously, teams make changes in how they play from year to year for many reasons, so the Rangers will not necessarily continue on this path; however, the rather low increase in the team’s CF60 during the game against Minnesota fits into the Rangers’ usual pattern. This is despite the fact that the CF60 in this particular game was much lower than the numbers the Rangers usually put up. The reason for that is simple; Minnesota is one of the best shot suppression teams in the league. The defensive systems used by the Wild greatly lower the shot attempt rates of even the best offenses in the league.
When Minnesota’s stifling defensive system is combined with the fact that, at least last season, the Rangers gave up shot attempts at a rate higher than the league average as shown in the graph above, it is not hard to understand why the team struggled to register a decent shot attempt rate when trying to come from behind. Again, last season’s numbers do not necessarily mean the Rangers will continue to play in this manner, but they are helpful to understanding how the team has played by providing a bit of context.
Despite the fact that the Rangers struggled to get much going in terms of shot rates against Minnesota, they still managed to come back and win the game. This is due in large part to the opportunistic and explosive offense they possess. New York’s on ice shooting percentage (on ice sh%) while trailing in the game was nearly 42%. They actually ended up with more shots on goal (12) than Minnesota (6) did during that period as well, so while they may have been out attempted in terms of shots, the Rangers managed to put more of them on net. Wild goalie, Darcy Kuemper, who had seen very few shots on goal in the first two periods, struggled mightily posting a save percentage (Sv%) of right around 58% in the third period.
Despite New York’s problems trying to get their shot rate up in the third period, the scoring chances given up by Minnesota, combined with Kuemper’s lack of sharpness and New York’s dangerously talented forwards, allowed the Rangers to hand the Wild an otherwise unlikely defeat.
Statistics used herein were gathered from war-on-ice.com and nhl.com
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The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t the only team feeling the effects of the injury bug. After losing captain and all-around workhorse Zdeno Chara for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury and Kevin Miller dislocating his shoulder, the Boston Bruins announced on Wednesday that Torey Krug will be exiting the lineup with a broken finger.
Krug broke the digit during Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild and will miss the next 2-3 weeks. According to CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, it was a pretty rough night for young Bruins blueliner. Aside from taking a shot off of his foot and the broken finger, Krug also lost part of the tip of his pinky finger after a slash.
Tuesday night’s loss against the Wild showed just how much the Bruins could use help in the back. A night after Minnesota blew a 3-0 third period lead to the New York Rangers, they bounced back from 3-1 third period deficit to score three times in the final period and escape from Boston with two points.
Joe Morrow and David Warsofsky have been recalled from Providence of the AHL. Neither have played an NHL game this season, with Warsofsky being cut out of training camp and Morrow not dressing during his time with the Bruins these last three weeks. That leaves Boston's top-6 as Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski, Zach Trotman and one of Morrow or Warsofsky.
Meanwhile, Johnny Boychuk is really enjoying his time on Long Island.
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There was a reason to worry about Nikita Kucherov after seven games for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He notched two assists in that span, and his ice time was as all over the map as his effectiveness. This was after a dazzling six-goal preseason, but also after an inconsistant rookie year in 2013-14.
But then came a three-assist game against the Winnipeg Jets. And his first NHL goal against the Minnesota Wild. And then, on Tuesday night, his first NHL hat trick.
His surge coincides with his meshing with last year’s rookie darlings, center Tyler Johnson and winger Ondrej Palat.
"Having those guys (as linemates) made it easy," Kucherov said. "It was important to get back on track."
"They've given us a boost to take some pressure off Stramkos when he's not scoring," Cooper said. "All three play the game fast. There's something to be said about the chemistry of that line."
They’ve only played about 35 minutes together at 5-on-5, but this line has been a possession monster so far. Johnson (67.6 Corsi-For percentage) and Palat (61.9) have been awesome with Kucherov, and he’s played his best hockey with them.
It’s been an interesting journey for him. He played 52 games last season with middling results, and didn’t see the ice late in the season and during two games in the postseason. As Erik Erlendsson writes, he’s found his groove:
It had never happened at the NHL level, however. A high-scoring phenom in junior who got off to a scorching start in the minors last season before he was called up in November, Kucherov never had more than one goal in an NHL game and only had one multi-point game last season. After leading the league in goal scoring during the preseason, however, Kucherov may now be finding his stride a bit with three multi-point games already this season, including a career-high three assists Friday in Winnipeg. Already with a stable of young, talented offensive players, Kucherov is now inserting his name into that mix after making an impression last season.
“He had about 14 breakaways against us in New York last year,’’ said [Brian] Boyle, who signed as a free agent this summer after spending last season with the Rangers. “But the skill set is pretty impressive, and I’m happy for him now. He’s been going to the dirty areas to make subtle plays that might not get written about or show up on highlight plays, and he’s been rewarded.’’
It’s a speed game in the NHL these days, and having a trio that can fly is essential. Cooper has one in the Kucherov line; and one that isn’t going to see the same defensive assignments as the Steven Stamkos line.
This could end up being one of the best secondary scoring units in the League.
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[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]
8. “Look how well-behaved everyone has been!”
Around this time last week it seemed like everyone kind of climbed to the top of the nearest hill, surveyed the beautiful autumn landscape stretched before them, and with hands on hips, inhaled deeply and said with great relish, “Player Safety has really done its job.”
Not a single suspension through 20 or so days of the season. That's a lot of games, and no one tried to kill anyone. Were there a few borderline incidents? Sure, but who can really remember them? For the most part, everyone was skating around out there like Brendan Shanahan was still in his real gun-slinging days from his first preseason. No one, it seemed, wanted to incur the wrath of new guy Stephane Quintal.
But there must have been a sub in charge of the Department of Player Safety the last few days, because the NHL has turned into a madhouse. The San Jose/Anaheim game was insanity, and there were not one but two hits that should have resulted in suspensions on the part of the Rangers on Monday.
I don't want to say everyone jinxed it, but everyone 100 percent for-sure jinxed it.
7. John Scott
So let's talk about the first of these suspensions that happened this week. Boy it seems like only yesterday we were talking about John Scott trying to kill Loui Eriksson on the ice with the qualifier, “But he's never done anything like this before! He's never even been suspended!” And now here we are about a year later and he's got two suspensions under his belt. Super-hard to believe that about a guy like Scott, isn't it?
The league didn't like Scott kinda-sorta leaving the bench to fight — they say it was a legal line change but not, like, super-legal — and so they suspended him two games.
Fair enough. That game was a mess and someone has to pay for it. Might as well be the guy who can barely skate, hey?
But then, as happens with just about any suspension for a borderline play, we had to sit through all the, “Well I disagree with the league's decision but I have to respect it,” pap we usually get. Scott blamed the referees, Scott blamed Tim Jackman. Scott questioned the league's mindset. Scott said he was just doing his job.
That's the thing, though, right? If John Scott's job is “come off the bench to fight someone after having already fought him,” then really, what purpose does Scott serve in this league? (Spoiler alert: No purpose.) Like, okay, the conventional wisdom on no-talent enforcers like Scott is that they “calm things down” and “prevent cheap play.” Watch that Anaheim/San Jose game and tell anyone, with a straight face, that Scott and equally useless Tim Jackman served as any kind of deterrent. That game was a mess and a disgrace. And only people as dumb as Jim Carr would continue to yell, “THIS IS HOCKEY!!!!” over the lowlights of that turdfest.
The fewer games John Scott plays in this league, the better off we all are. Period.
6. John Moore
The fact that John Moore is getting an in-person hearing for his headshot on Erik Haula makes a lot of sense. It couldn't have been more textbook if Moore had hit him with a copy of the NHL rulebook. It was eerily reminiscent of the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard for one thing, and Haula was held of out Minnesota's game against Boston last night as a precaution. Wisely so.
I was appalled to see people actually trying to argue that something other than Haula's head was the principal point of contact. Anyone who watched the various angles could have said Moore first made contact with the fourth moon of Jupiter and have preserved as much credibility as those arguing Moore hit shoulder first.
But hey, it's not like Moore ever made this exact hit before just kidding it was like five months ago.
Players who make this kind of hit in 2014 don't belong in the league. At this point it's fair to say that Moore obviously plays with a blatant disregard for his opponents' safety, and that can't be explained away or forgiven. By the time you read this, the decision on Moore might have come down, and boy do I hope it's about a million games (it'll probably be closer to six).
5. Already soft, eh?
However, the NHL wasn't about to just go ahead and start throwing the book at everyone or anything like that. Chris Kreider was judged to have “won a physical battle” with Jonas Brodin.
What actually happened on the play was Brodin held up to possibly initiate contact, which Kreider was more than happy to accommodate a good 10 feet from the endboards. That's DOPS's view of it, anyway. But if you watch the video, you can see that Mats Zuccarello dumps the puck into the corner and it starts to rim around. Brodin looks to see if he's the one that's supposed to go get it (the look to his right at Marco Scandella is telling here).
Brodin should have no reasonable expectation that he's going to be run that hard from the goal line. That far out from the boards, any contact should be minimal at best, especially because the puck is likewise a good five feet out of his reach and moving away from him.
Here's the thing, and it's the worst part about the league's standards on this kind of hit: Brodin returned to the game, so Kreider was basically off the hook. The league felt the game misconduct was a just punishment at the time, and that nothing further was required. But if Brodin had missed the rest of the night, or any further games beyond that, you can bet Kreider would be at least getting a fine out of this.
It's weird. I'm all for suspending to the injury's severity, but only when it would lengthen a suspension. Not-suspending Kreider because Brodin didn't get a concussion is silly; that's a stroke of good luck that came from a reckless play. Letting Kreider skate on it only encourages more hits like that, and next time the guy on the receiving end might not be as lucky as Brodin was Monday night.
The two hits in the Ranger game were just two more strokes of bad luck for a Wild club that already had the bad luck of going through Los Angeles and Anaheim, and coming out with some sort of infectious disease.
This is also true of the St. Louis Blues, who are likewise being hit hard by this illness, not to mention a slew of other injuries.
So just as a precaution, let's give all every player and team employee in the league one of those hazmat-suit showers from 12 Monkeys. Can't be too careful these days. (Judging by the news lately I think it's probably Ebola???)
3. The American dollar
The last several years have not been good ones for the American economy, but things are finally starting to get back to pre-recession norms in a lot of different ways. One of those ways? The devaluing of the Canadian dollar.
There was a brief period a year or three ago now when the CAD was running neck-and-neck with the USD in terms of value, and that was good news for Canadian NHL teams. See, they do a lot of their business in Canadian dollars, as you'd expect, but they have to pay their players in US dollars, as per the CBA. Meaning that it's getting more expensive for Canadian teams to do business.
The problem isn't so bad right now, but the US dollar is only going to gain ground or, put another way, the Canadian dollar is going to lose it. Projections show the CAD could be worth as little as 82 cents US before the season ends. Which is B-A-D, especially for teams that don't do as well at the box office as some other Canadian clubs (like, say, the Senators).
It's also bad for the league overall, because the rate at which revenues have been growing in the past few years have been driven by both growing popularity in the US but also the strength of the Canadian dollar. When it takes a step back, so too do overall revenue figures.
And who else is that bad for? Players. If there's not as much money to increase the cap by a certain percentage every year, they don't get as much money for themselves. Doesn't affect guys who have already been extended of course, but guys who will be UFAs in the next year or two can't be too happy. Who else isn't going to be too happy? Teams that signed players long-term for big money (say, Chicago and Boston and Montreal, to name a few) but are now living with the possibility that the cap won't go up to that mythic $80 million number many were projecting several months ago.
Maybe it's all overblown, of course. Maybe the popularity in the US just keeps growing and growing and revenues are fine and the cap keeps rising and everyone's happy. But this at least makes things a lot harder. On just about everyone.
2. Being the Oilers all of a sudden
Look at all these wins the Oilers have. Look how well Ben Scrivens is doing. Look at what the offense is producing. Why it's almost like their horrible luck at the start of the season was totally unsustainable. So weird, right?!
Keeping Leon Draisaitl up with the big club for his 10th game sure seems dumb though. Nothing gold can stay.
1. Cap planning
Far be it for me to start casting aspersions on the job Dean Lombardi has done in building the Kings roster to fit under the salary cap — how could he have foreseen one of his defensemen getting suspended for maybe-maybe-not beating up his wife? — but boy does it ever stink having to play a man down.
Poor Anze Kopitar. Not being able to play last night must have been awful for him because his team only got to dress 19 people. I remember the last time that happened, and the Flames (who at the time, back in 2008-09, were GMed by the current Kings coach) got slaughtered. And the Flames actually did it on multiple occasions, because Darryl Sutter took on too much salary at the deadline and then everyone got hurt.
From April 3-11, 2009, the Flames played five (FIVE!!!!!) games with at least one player missing from the roster. On April 3, they dressed 16 of 18 skaters at Minnesota, and lost 4-0. On April 6, they used 17 skaters when hosting the Kings and actually won 4-1. The next night at Vancouver they got smoked 4-1 with 17 guys. April 10 rolled around and they were pummeled at Edmonton 5-1 because they used only 15 skaters, which seems impossible. And the next night, to close the regular season, they beat the Oilers 4-1 at the Saddledome, once again using just 15 skaters. Soon thereafter the Flames made the last playoff appearances in team history.
That's not what's going to happen in Los Angeles, of course, because these Kings are better than those Flames could have ever hoped to be, even down a man. And also because Sutter isn't in charge of putting the roster together any more. That helps too.
(Not ranked this week: Tumors.
Get well soon to Olli Maata, who's really great. His doctors were like, “Hey bud, you have a tumor in your neck,” and he said, “Okay,” then played really well for a month. Now he's having it removed and he's gonna be fine. He's 20 years old, but he neither plays nor acts like it.
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No. 1 Star: Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Three goals and one assist for the third-year player in St. Louis’ 4-3 overtime win over Dallas. Leads the Blues with nine points in eight games.
No. 2 Star: John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim rookie stopper made 38 saves to shut out Chicago on the road for his second career blanking. The Ducks improved to 8-2-0 and have won eight of their last nine games.
No. 3 Star: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
Bolts sophomore continues to impress with a three-goal outing against the normally stingy Arizona Coyotes. Kucherov has nine points in 10 games.
Honorable mention: Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta had one assist and played 19:46 one day after it was announced he would undergo surgery for a thyroid tumor next week… Devils defenseman Andy Greene was a plus-3 in the Pens 8-3 vanquishing of New Jersey … Dallas forward Tyler Seguin continues to push Pittsburgh’s Sidney Croby for the NHL scoring lead. Seguin had one goal and one assist for Dallas … Crosby had two goals for Pittsburgh … Clarke MacArthur scored two goals and added an assist. He also won 100 percent of his face offs as the Senators powered past Columbus with three third period goals … Carolina’s Eric Staal notched an assist and won 71 percent of his face offs in his season debut … Los Angeles’ Mike Richards scored his first regular season goal since March 25 … Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov stopped 49 of 51 San Jose shots on goal, losing a netminding battle with Antti Niemi who made 31 saves on 33 shots on goal. The Sharks have won two straight after four straight losses … Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd scored two goals in the Jets’ 4-3 win over the Islanders … The Islanders Brock Nelson scored a goal and added an assist for four points in his last two games.
Did you know: Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller notched his 300th NHL win in a 29-save performance over winless Carolina.
Dishonorable mention: The Buffalo Sabres registered 10 shots on goal against Toronto. Only one player on Buffalo’s roster, Torrey Mitchell, registered more than one shot on goal … The Carolina Hurricanes remained the only winless NHL team … Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was a minus-4. He now ‘leads’ the NHL with a minus-11 rating on the year … Devils goaltender Corey Schneider stopped 18 of 23 shots on goal from Pittsburgh … Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask allowed three third period goals as Boston blew a 3-1 lead to Minnesota … Defenseman Jon Merrill was the worst of the Devils with a minus-5 rating … The Los Angeles Kings played with 19 players … Eric Gryba’s head-shot of Artem Anisimov should merit a call from the NHL.
Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi can play with a physical edge. And this was apparent Tuesday when he hit Calgary's Matt Stajan in a knee-on-knee collision.
Below is the video...
Is this worth supplementary discipline? Tinordi doesn't make an effort to get out of the way, but he also didn't seem to put himself in the way on purpose. He's also 6-foot-6.
50.1 Kneeing - Kneeing is the act of a player leading with his knee and in some cases extending his leg outwards to make contact with his opponent.
50.6 Fines and Suspensions - There are no specified fines or suspensions for kneeing, however, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion
Either way, he got two minutes for kneeing and Stajan left the game.
Per Calgary Sun scribe Wes Gilbertson, Stajan did not put any weight on his right leg as he exited.
The NHL season is (to paraphrase "Anchorman") is escalating quickly. And Senators defenseman Eric Gyrba seems to be the latest offender in what could be yet another suspension-worthy play.
Gryba was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for this check of Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov.
Is this suspension worthy? Sure looks like Gryba should get a call from the league. He's also a repeat offender, well-known for his hit on Montreal forward Lars Eller in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Anisimov left the game with what the Blue Jackets called an upper body injury.
Just keep in mind that before Sunday there were no suspensions in the NHL in the 2014-15 season.
According to a story in the Detroit News, Red Wings legend Gordie Howe suffered a "pretty serious" stroke Sunday per his son Dr. Murray Howe.
The hockey hall of famer endearingly known as "Mr. Hockey" is resting at his daughter's home in Lubbock, Texas, according to the story.
"The right side of his body is very, very weak. He's unable to stand without help. He's able to speak, but very, very difficult to speak," his son said. "He knows who he is. He knows the people around him. But it is very difficult for him to get up and walk around. So he is pretty much confined to his bed right now. So we're just trying to keep him comfortable, and that's our goal."
Gordie Howe, 86, had a rough summer, one where he had spinal surgery. But according to his son, in the story, the elder Howe was walking close to 1 mile per day before the stroke.
Howe is the third-leading scorer in NHL history with 1,850 points. He has the second-most goals with 801.
Oh, Johan Ryno had it all in front of him.
His Swedish Hockey League team, Leksand, was up 3-2 with under a minute left against Brynas. An empty net waited for him down the ice, ready for Ryno to dump the puck in for the game-clinching goal.
And then his skates stopped working.
Ryno fell to the ice on all fours as he entered the offensive zone, the puck sliding away from him. Savvy veteran that he is, Ryno was able to get to his skates and corral the disc just a few strides away from the net …
… only to have it slip off his stick and glide in reverse, away from the goal.
As a Brynas player tried to take the puck back, Ryno attempted to stop him.
And, of course, fell down again.
As you can hear from the announcers' cackling, this was all very embarrassing.
The good news is that his team still ended up winning the game, sparing Ryno a lifetime of Patrik Stefan comparisons, who infamously whiffed on an empty netter with the Dallas Stars and allowed Edmonton to tie the game back in 2007.
That said, Ryno will probably still have a lifetime of YouTube celebrity with this humbling moment.
How does Ryno feel about going viral? “It's not so unexpected in today's society,” he told SportExpressen. “But I will be able to laugh about this later.”
So say we all.
It’s always fun to root against the “bad guys,” (a.k.a. the visiting team) and cheer for the “good guys,” (a.k.a. the home team). Next month, the Toledo Walleye will give their fans the chance to follow the game with a comic book mentality.
Marking the 75th anniversary of Batman’s first comic book appearance, the Walleye will don special jerseys during their “Heroes Night” celebration on Nov. 22, making you wish Adam West could show up.
Surely the Riddler ones would outsell the third jerseys of the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres, right?
The Walleye will, of course, be wearing the Batman threads, while the visiting Evansville IceMen will be dressed as the Riddler. (Will their helmets be a bright auburn color like Jim Carrey’s hair in Batman and Robin?)
As with many of these special jersey nights in minor league hockey, there’s a charity component involved.
The game worn jerseys will be sold after the final whistle during a live auction, with proceeds benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association, March of Dimes and the Walleye Wishing Well. A limited number of replica Batman themed jerseys will be available at The Swamp Shop on Monday, November 3.
Let's hope the arena soundperson plays the legendary KAPOW! WHAM! ZAP! POW! sound effects from the 1960s Batman show during each and every check in the game.
- - - - - - -
John Scott, there you go, fighting and getting suspended, and then not agreeing with said suspension per Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area.
But while Scott's disagreement is interesting in its own right (and we'll get to that later) what's more fascinating is that said suspension came from fighting Ducks tough guy Tim Jackman and not going after an Anaheim skill player in retaliation for a Jackman rough on Sharks star blueliner Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
“I did that a few years ago and that did not end well. It was a little different,” Scott told Kurz. “But I think it’s kind of gutless to go after a guy like [Vlasic] when you’re a tough guy."
The 'few years ago' incident is when Scott, then a member of the Buffalo Sabres, went after Maple Leafs star forward Phil Kessel, which led to Kessel's bizarre stick swinging, light saber fight-like thing.
Scott referenced this.
"Obviously I don’t condone me going after Kessel, but those were different situations,” he added.
Interestingly Scott said he didn't agree with the two-game suspension. But according to the NHL's Department of Player Safety video, Scott said he left the bench with the desire to fight Jackman.
"As Scott described the play on our hearing today, his intent upon coming over the boards is to challenge Jackman," the video said.
Without knowing the particulars, it's hard to really note what was said in the hearing and how it was delivered. But just by the eyeball test of the video, the line change looked legal. If Scott announced his intention was to fight Jackman, then he basically outed himself in the hearing.
(Ed. Note: Ryan Lambert is our resident NCAA Hockey nut, and we decided it’s time to unleash his particular brand of whimsy on the college game every week. So NCAA HOCKEY 101 will run every Tuesday on Puck Daddy. Educate yo self.)
The good thing about conference re-alignment is that it has forced more non-conference games overall, and for the most part like ends up seeking like.
That means, for instance, that there will be more matchups between teams that aren't legitimate contenders for anything, but also a larger number of non-conference games between some of the best teams in the country. There was no shortage of the latter (and, one supposes, the former) this past weekend.
In fact, when it comes to games between nationally ranked teams, there was a huge variety of fascinating games to take in. Union took on St. Cloud, North Dakota hosted Providence, Michigan visited Lowell and BU, and Denver traveled to Duluth. And wouldn't you know it, pretty much all those matchups were deeply interesting for different reasons.
What's interesting is how many of these series were splits. In what was the biggest matchup of the weekend, only then-No. 3 North Dakota ended up taking the majority of points from its two games (a 6-1 win and a 2-2 tie). And unfortunately it seems that No. 5 Providence isn't exactly off to the hot start many projected; they were picked to win Hockey East but are only 1-2-1.
In the Friars' defense, they're injury-depleted right now, haven't played at home, and Calgary pick Jon Gillies — perhaps the most talented goaltender in the country — has a save percentage of just .882. That they're going to rebound from this slow start for a number of doesn't change the fact that it happened, and those points are going to be valuable to North Dakota come the end of the year, but it doesn't get any easier for the Friars going forward. They're in a home-and-home with BU next weekend.
Speaking of then-No. 12 BU, they swept the weekend in hosting Michigan State (1-0 win) and No. 14 Michigan (3-2 win). Jack Eichel had two points, Matt O'Connor stopped 67 of 69, and the Terriers look like they're bouncing back nicely from their nightmare season a year ago. Michigan, by the way, also pummeled No. 7 Lowell, 8-4, the night before, in what had to be one of the sloppiest games I've seen live in quite a long time. Save percentage in that one between three goaltenders was a combined .831, and no one seemed all that interested in playing defense. Both coaches were so quick to throw their own teams' efforts under the bus that the quotes would have made the impartial observer find it tough to figure out which one actually walked out of there with two points. Lowell saved face with a 2-1 win against unranked State the next night.
Meanwhile, No. 2 Union crushed No. 9 St. Cloud at home on Friday, 5-1, before losing 3-2 the next night. What's interesting here is that, as with the Lowell/Michigan game, you'd think the higher-seeded Dutchmen lost instead of winning by four. (To be fair to Rick Bennett, they gave up 36 shots at home, and they're a team that thrives on possession.) This is a stunning presser, with Bennett kicking himself for not showing 30 turnovers a night in video sessions with the team:
Finally, No. 11 Denver and No. 19 Duluth split, with the Pioneers winning the first game 3-1 before getting trounced 6-1 the following night.
What conclusions can we draw from these results? That it's still early, and that very little probably separates a team in, say, the top five from one that's almost not ranked at all. That's great for college hockey.
What's wrong with Northeastern?
On the other end of the spectrum, we come to the discussion that has many observers in Hockey East in particular scratching their heads.
The Northeastern Huskies were picked to finish fourth in Hockey East. They returned a starting netminder who was among the best in the country last season, a point-a-game player in Anaheim pick Kevin Roy, and a number of other very talented young players.
And yet here they sit, 0-4 to start the year (and also lost their exhibition to a Canadian college). They have, in point of fact, been pathetic. They've scored just four goals in those four games, and allowed 15. They're 0-for-18 on the man advantage, and just 15 of 19 on the PK.
They have, to their credit, played tough opponents. Hosting Vermont and losing 6-2 is not ideal, of course, but you go to Colgate for a pair and you expect it to not go well for almost anyone. Maybe you don't get outscored 6-0 in those 120 minutes, but still. However, losing 3-2 at home to UMass is indefensible.
So what gives? Well, contrary to the widespread opinions in the college hockey media, which — like Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis — takes every result at face value irrespective of the process which either got them there or was overcome in getting them there, the Huskies just aren't that good. They're not 0-4 bad, and they're not a shoot-3-percent-and-save-88-percent team. But they're not good.
Last year they went 19-14-4, which is respectable. But that's after starting the year 16-9-3, while the team shot about 10.8 percent and goaltender Clay Witt had a .946 save percentage. They collapsed badly down the stretch because their strategy of conceding 35 shots per night wasn't sustainable. And they changed nothing in the offseason.
The Huskies have conceded 127 shots in four games, which is actually an improvement, but two of their games saw them allow 37 and 41. After the first game, by the way, one of their assistant coaches argued that they're actually a good possession team, and that echoes something their head coach said last year: Giving up a million shots is part of the team's strategy because they're low-percentage (IN THEORY!). Their SF% was 46.7 in all situations last season. This year it's 48.6. That's a problem.
Wins are coming, as I said. An all-situations team PDO of 90.5 can't stand. But maybe not all that soon. They're visiting Quinnipiac — which, to be fair, hasn't won any of its last three games — for a pair this weekend, then they're taking on Lowell in a home-and-home. Not easy to get results out of that. But this team is too talented throughout the lineup to languish for too much longer than that.
Still, though, they won't be as good as most people thought at the beginning of the year, because they were never that good, and weren't going to be so just because a bunch of yokels thought they were.
Only six undefeated teams remain
There are 59 teams in Division 1, and through three weeks of the season, only about 10 percent of them haven't dropped a decision yet. Those teams are a mix of surprising and unsurprising.
Minnesota, okay, sure. No kidding they're 4-0. Vermont is 4-0 and BU 3-0, too, and that's not really a shocker. But they've played one tough opponent combined so far (BU vs. Michigan; Vermont hasn't played anyone of note in Northeastern, Clarkson twice, and then UConn).
But how about these other three teams: Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan are both 4-0, and Robert Morris is 5-0-1. Together, they won a combined 48 games, and of that number Robert Morris took 19 and finished just one game above .500.
Now, you can say the same thing about all these teams that you can about Vermont: They haven't really played anyone. In terms of strength of schedule, Robert Morris is at No. 55 out of that 59, Northern is 40th, and Tech is 38th. (Tech at least had the decency to take down No. 8 Ferris State twice, on the road, this past weekend. But I'd argue Ferris isn't nearly as good as most people seem to think.)
Still, if they all have somewhere between 20 and 35 percent of their wins from last season before Halloween, then they're positioning themselves well to go far in their conferences. Which is what it's really all about anyway.
And the reason for all that winning...
Teams that have yet to lose any of their games are, interestingly, doing it all for pretty much the same reason: Their goaltending has been incredible.
A quick look at the national leaders in save percentage paints that picture pretty clearly. Robert Morris's Dalton Izyk is sitting at .990 through three appearances, two of which were shutouts. Matt O'Connor and Connor LaCouvee (for the sake of convenience, they should henceforth be referred to as Matt O'Connor LaCouvee) are a combined .970, Northern's Mathias Dahlström is .968, and so on.
Obviously, these are huge numbers that cannot be preserved for an entire season, so the question is just how much they're going to regress. It's worth noting that of the unbeatens, only Minnesota, backed by Lightning prospect Adam Wilcox, was able to get truly elite goaltending last season (.929 versus the national average of .908). Of the rest, only Vermont was able to get away from even a few points above that national number, climbing to .917 with the same pair they've got between the pipes this year. Meanwhile, Northern (.905) and Tech (.903) were below it.
From my own statistical research, these things matter in college hockey a lot more than they do the NHL. The difference between great and bad teams is much wider because there are more schools, and the better ones attract a higher-quality talent overall. Fourth-line players at North Dakota, for instance, would likely dominate lesser conferences. Thus, regression tends to hit earlier and harder than it does in the NHL.
An somewhat arbitrary ranking of teams which are pretty good in my opinion only (and just for right now but maybe for a little longer too?)
1. Minnesota (swept Bemidji at home)
2. Colgate (swept Sacred Heart on the road)
3. North Dakota (took three points from Providence at home)
4. Union (split with St. Cloud at home)
5. St. Cloud (split with Union on the road)
6. Boston University (swept Michigan State and Michigan at home)
7. UMass Lowell (split with Michigan and Michigan state at home)
8. Boston College (swept Colorado College and UMass at home)
9. Michigan (split with Lowell and BU on the road)
10. Vermont (beat UConn at home)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. [@tseguinofficial]
• After missing the last five games with an upper-body injury, Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal will return to the lineup Tuesday against Vancouver. [Canes]
• Ben Lovejoy fractured a finger during his scrap with Joe Pavelski on Sunday and will miss the next 6-8 weeks. [Ducks]
• Nick Foligno talks about his scary collision with a linesman on Sunday that resulted in a stinger. He's currently day-to-day with a sore neck. [Columbus Dispatch]
• There will be no hearing for Chris Kreider after his hit on Jonas Brodin Monday night. The five minute major and game misconduct was enough punishment. [NHL]
• “Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG) is exploring splitting into two publicly traded companies to unlock value in the New York Knicks and New York Rangers sports franchises and buoy its entertainment business.” [Bloomberg]
• Cory Schneider has already played 8 games this season for the New Jersey Devils. Will he end up getting 70-plus starts? [Star Ledger]
• Mike Cammalleri will remain home and not be in the lineup tonight when the Devils visit the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s out with a sore jaw. [Bergen Record]
• Sean McIndoe presents the dirtiest clean hits of all-time. [Grantland]
• Elliotte Friedman on why Randy Carlyle doesn’t deserve all the blame in Toronto, plus 30 thoughts. [Sportsnet]
• Joining soccer legend Mia Hamm in being nominated for the board of directors at Italian soccer side Roma will be Cam Neely. Maybe he can lure back Michael Bradley? [CP via Yahoo]
• These Eastern Conference teams are having some issues on defense, which could be affecting your fantasy team. [Dobber Hockey]
• The story behind the young girl who dropped the ceremonial puck before Sunday’s Capitals-Canucks game will make you smile. [RMNB]
• Really great read on how Anze Kopitar’s name helped one hockey fan fight colon cancer. [Puck Buddys]
• Daniel Sedin talks about last season, Willie Desjardins and new teammate Radim Vrbata. [NHL.com]
• Florida Panthers captain Willie Mitchell is not a big fan of fancy stats: "Just because x,y,z does stats for this team they're too subjective. In baseball you can quantify the strike zone but in hockey every play is constantly evolving and no play is the same. I don't put a lot of stock into it. It's the buzz item right now but I think it's going to come and go.’' [Sun-Sentinel]
• Good read on “puck luck” and how it affects college hockey. [College Hockey News]
• The LA Kings haven't had much luck in drafting left wingers, but they've hit the jackpot with Tanner Pearson. [The Royal Half]
• Making sense of a Nail Yakupov for Adam Larsson trade. [The Hockey Writers]
• Finally, here’s Leland Irving’s flipping and flopping on the ice in the KHL and eventually making a save:
After initial indications that it could be a phone hearing, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced that John Moore of the New York Rangers has been offered an in-person hearing for his hit on Erik Haula of the Minnesota Wild.
This usually means Moore will be given a suspension north of five games.
Haula was injured on the play and did not return to the game.
(Chris Kreider, by the way, will not get a hearing for his hit from behind on Jonas Brodin, who wasn't injured on the play.)
For the sake of argument, here's a sorta reverse angle. Did he hit the chest?
It's the second illegal hit to the head Moore's been tagged with in the span of 12 games, after he was suspended two games for a hit on Dale Weise of the Montreal Canadiens during the Eastern Conference Final.
The Moore hit on Haula? It's a predatory hit that deserves about six games.
It's a Tuesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Star: Michigan coaching legend Red Berenson joins us.
* Dangerous hits by Rangers vs. Wild
* The end of board hitting?
* Marek's wheelchair story.
* Injury woes.
Question of the Day: What's the most dangerous illegal act in hockey? Email email@example.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!
Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.
(UPDATE: Story updated after Kings coach Darryl Sutter indicated Anze Kopitar may play against Philadelphia.)
Oh the irony that the Los Angeles Kings would be having salary cap issues before they play the Philadelphia Flyers -- a team that has essentially hid non-retired, retired players on long-term injury reserve.
Earlier in the morning Los Angeles Times scribe Lisa Dillman, said the Kings could play shorthanded Tuesday night at Philly with 19 players with Anze Kopitar being out.
This likely stems from Los Angeles being unable to call up a player because of their tenuous salary cap situation. Per CapGeek.com, the Kings have $458,106 of salary cap space as of Tuesday.
A lot of this may have to do with the indefinite suspension of Slava Voynov by the NHL under suspicion of domestic violence. He's currently counted on the salary cap for Los Angeles, in spite of not being able to play.
Per lakingsinsider.com, Kopitar -- who suffered an upper body injury against Columbus on Sunday -- could play per Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
"He’s ready to go," Sutter said.
Does this mean he will be in? Per Rosen, Kopitar was on the injured line during rushes Tuesday morning.
So much drama!
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi took responsibility for the situation, to The Times, instead of throwing the league under the bus for putting the Kings in this situation, by not giving the team cap relief because of Voynov's alleged actions:
"This won’t happen again. Or it won’t be because we didn’t do a better job training them in strength, nutrition and development. This clearly sends a message you have a job to train your players as far as conduct away from the rink," Lombardi said. “The price is steep. It’s fine. I’ve learned my lesson.”
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Guillaume Coudé is a center for the Sorel-Tracy Eperviers in the LNAHLigue Nord-Américaine de Hockey, a.k.a. that goon league.
His team faced the Cornwall River Kings last Friday, which meant yet another chance for old rivals Francis Lessard (Cornwall) and Jon Mirasty (Sorel-Tracy) to drop the gloves twice in one game. But it was Coudé that stole the show with a one-punch KO of Dylan Garrioch of Cornwall.
He skated around waving his right hand, mesmerizing Garrioch before exploding with his left hand. Garrioch crumpled to the ice. Coudé saluted the raucous crowd and celebrated the win, as trainers came out to tend to Garrioch.
If Dylan Garrioch’s name is familiar, it’s because the Toronto Sun chronicled his decision to visit the same doctors that Sidney Crosby visited for his concussion symptoms back in 2011. Garrioch, who had dozens of fights in the QMJHL, “realized that his memory wasn't as good as it used to be and that he was suffering from speech problems and headaches more frequently.”
Three years later, and his face is a punching bag in North America’s home for wayward goons. Good work if you can get it, one supposes.
Another day, another injury hitting the Columbus Blue Jackets’ lineup.
The Blue Jackets announced on Tuesday morning that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will be placed on injured reserve and miss the next 1-2 weeks after fracturing a finger during practice.
Bobrovsky joins a very crowded list of injured players for the Blue Jackets. Currently, Matt Calvert, Brandon Dubinsky, Nathan Horton, and Boone Jenner are all on IR. Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson almost joined them after a pair of freak incidents over the weekend. Foligno is still day-to-day with a sore neck, while Atkinson is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday night against Ottawa.
Columbus head coach Todd Richards is probably wondering what sort of voodoo curse has been put on his team after last season's exciting run to the playoffs. Despite getting Ryan Johansen re-signed late in training camp and the numerous injuries affecting the lineup, they haven't dug themselves that deep of a hole just yet. The Blue Jackets' 4-4-0 record place them sixth in the Metropolitan Division and two points out of one of the wildcard spots in the Eastern Conference.
Curtis McElhinney, who recently came off IR himself after dealing with concussion symptoms, will grab the starter’s role until Bobrovsky returns, with rookie Anton Forsberg getting recalled for the backup job. McElhinney played in 28 games last season, starting 21 of them, and posted a 10-11-1 record and .914 even-strength save percentage.
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NEW YORK – The shot trickled through Darcy Kuemper. Anthony Duclair, who already showed impressive speed skating down the wing, found another gear in circling around the Minnesota Wild to celebrate.
It was his first NHL goal, and arguably the biggest of Monday's game: Completing a New York Rangers’ third-period comeback to tie the Wild, 4-4, the momentum carrying over to Mats Zuccarello's game-winnner 35 seconds later.
Duclair, 19, skated back to the bench as the crowd chanted his nickname: “Duuuuuuuke…”
“It doesn’t get old,” he said of the chants. “To get the first one in Madison Square Garden, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
To paraphrase Mel Brooks, it’s good to be the Duke. Or, for Duclair, to be the Duke again. It was his nickname in midget hockey, but he lost it in junior with the Quebec Remparts. You know how two players with the same number have to decide who wears what? Well, you can't have two "Dukes" either. And Duclair was at a disadvantage, because he was up against an actual Duke: Defenseman Brendan Duke.
“So I had to change it to Tony,” said Duclair.
By any name, he’s had an impact on the Rangers at the start of the season. Duclair has five points in seven games, including an assist in front of his parents in friends in the Rangers’ game at the Montreal Canadiens over the weekend.
“When he plays they way he did the last two games, it’s not hard [to give him ice time],” said coach Alain Vigneault.
Duclair didn’t see the ice much against the Wild, but that was due to the 14 minutes in penalty killing time the Rangers were faced with on Monday. But he was strong in the 10:29 he played, including his first NHL goal.
“I had outside speed. I saw an opening there, low blocker. It squeezed through luckily. It was a big goal for me confidence wise, and I’m just happy to get the first one out of the way,” he said.
He’s been a spark plug in the Rangers’ lineup, and one that’s putting up points. Which leads to the most interesting question about Anthony Duclair through seven games: Will he still be around for a 10th game?
He was supposed to be sent back to junior after training camp, but instead the Rangers made a move to open up a roster spot for him. The message from Vigneault at that time: “As long as you can prove you can play in our top nine (forwards), then you’re going to stick with us.”
So with Derek Stepan on the mend and needing a roster spot, Vigneault and the Rangers have an interesting call to make.
I'd like to say I've always been on the Duclair bandwagon, but I've probably underrated him for about six months. Given a chance to amend, Duclair would have surely been on my top 100 NHL prospects list instead of just being an honorable mention. When I scouted him at Canada's World Junior Championship evaluation camp, he looked outstanding and has carried that into the start of his pro career.
His skating/skill combination is really high end, and he projects as a quality top-six forward for the Rangers in the near future. Despite putting up three points already, that future may not be now. There's nothing wrong with sending him back down to work on his all-around game, bulk up his 5-foot-11 frame, play well for Canada at the WJC and come back next season in a position to compete for a significant spot on New York's roster.
There's a wrinkle here for Duclair, according to the New York Post (h/t Peter P.):
An interesting note on Duclair’s contract: Ordinarily, the contract would slide for a second straight season if Duclair returns to juniors, thus leaving him with the full three-year Entry Level deal to fulfill. But because Duclair did not sign his first contract until Jan. 6, 2014, thus missing the Dec. 31, 2013 cutoff date, the Rangers got only one “slide year” out of it.
Thus, even if Duclair returns to Quebec, the winger will have just two years remaining on his contract and would become eligible for restricted free agency in 2017. He will not, however, have salary-arbitration rights, which he would have held at the expiration of the three-year deal if it included two slide years. A management source told The Post that Duclair’s camp preferred it this way.
His unrestricted free-agent status could also be moved up if he plays this season.
There's logic in sending him down for another year of growth. But the 19-year-old forward is stating his case, and his coach is listening.
“Talent has no age,” said Vigneault.
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No. 1 Star: Ben Scrivens, Edmonton Oilers
Professor Scrivens stopped all 29 shots the East-leading Montreal Canadiens threw at him in the Oilers 3-0 victory. The Oilers are now on their first four-game win streak since March/April 2013.
No. 2 Star: Anthony Duclair, New York Rangers
The Rangers were down by three goals before Derick Brassard kicked off a scoring run. With less than four minutes to go, Duclair fires his first ever NHL goal past Darcy Kuemper to tie the game for the Blueshirts.
No. 3 Star: Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers
Just 37-seconds after Duclair's goal, Zuccarello notches the 5-4 game winner for the Rangers. The Wild appear to be asleep on their skates as Brassard feeds a beauty of a pass from behind the net to Zuccarello for the score.
Honorable Mention: Rick Nash scored his ninth goal of the season putting him in a tie for first in the league ... Oooh girl! Look at Alex Galchenyuk's moves...
Galchenyuk doing stuff http://t.co/hwyftiGl83— Steph (@myregularface) October 28, 2014
... Nail Yakupov was relieved to finally score a goal, his first in six games, on a feed from Benoit Pouliot ...
... In addition to assisting on the Yakupov goal, Pouliot scored what would go on to be the game winner in the first period.
Did You Know? The Wild extended their power play goal-less streak to seven games. They went 0-for-4 against the Rangers, which included two five minute major penalties.
Dishonorable Mention: Minnesota was sitting pretty at 3-0 until 2:52 in the third when New York's Kevin Klein kicked off the Wild's collapse ... Chris Kreider was the first of the Rangers to be ejected from the game after he boarded Minnesota's Jonas Brodin from afar. Brodin returned to the game later in the second period ... The second Ranger to get tossed was John Moore after he planted a blatant blow to the head of Erik Haula. Haula was helped off the ice and did not play the rest of the night ... Dustin Tokarski got the start for the Habs and stopped 16 of 18 Edmonton shots in the loss ... Zach Parise took an accidental high stick to the face from his teammate. After bleeding profusely on the ice, he left the game and came back with a 'zipper' (pictured above) just in time for Halloween.
Hey, remember that whole “the NHL’s suspension-free start” jive? Well forget it because apparently we’re in Thunderdome now.
After John Scott’s two-game suspension for fighting after a line change, the New York Rangers’ home game against the Minnesota Wild featured two incidents that’ll get a look from the NHL: Chris Kreider’s game misconduct for boarding against Jonas Brodin in the first period, although Brodin returned; and, more egregiously, John Moore’s head shot on Erik Haula in the second period.
As Haula fired the puck wide of Henrik Lundqvist, Moore skated by and lifted his left elbow, his shoulder making contact with the Wild forward’s head. He dropped to the ice, facedown, and was eventually helped off.
Moore was given a match penalty for an illegal check to the head.
He’s going to have repeat offender status with the NHL, having been suspended two games for a hit to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise in the Eastern Conference Final.
So how many games? For something this blatant, we'll go with at least five, maybe six games. Of course, Haula's health is a factor; Kreider might escape suspension with Brodin's return.
Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers plays on the edge, and the referees determined he went over it against the Minnesota Wild on Monday night.
Kreider hit defenseman Jonas Brodin in the back several feet from the end boards, propelling him face-first. He was helped from the ice. Kreider was given a 5-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
That latter aspect of the penalty came under some scrutiny, but according to NHL rule 41.5, the nature of Brodin’s injury warranted it:
When a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, a game misconduct shall be imposed.
Now, did Brodin initiate contact?
There’s an onus on the player taking the hit not to put himself in a defenseless position, but that’s more in the “don’t turn your back to the hit” variety. Brodin appeared to be bracing for contact, and his actions here didn’t lead to the end result.
He was in a defenseless position and Kreider not only didn’t attempt to minimize contact, he gave him a forearm to the back.
Which is generally frowned upon.
So much for that suspension free start, eh?
Just hours after the proclamation above from Nostradamus Wyshynski, the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks took to the ice in a game that saw a total of 165 total penalty minutes being handed out between the two teams. A majority of PIMs were given just over midway through the third period.
Anaheim's resident tough guy, Tim Jackman, exited the box after serving a double minor for roughing San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic. As Jackman skated though the neutral zone, John Scott made a legal line change and went straight for Jackman, to which the Ducks player obliged.
Both players were tossed, but only one was sent to the principal's office the next day. Scott received a two game suspension for his troubles.
Here's Patrick Burke of the NHL's Department of Player Safety explaining the particulars for the repeat offender:
Scott will miss out on just slightly over $17K in salary for the Sharks next two games at Colorado and at Minnesota. He's already matched his goal scoring career high at one goal. The Sharks will be fine without him (maybe?).
Few things to think about. The NHL has told linesmen to jump into fights before they start happening. They did just that throughout the game between the Ducks and Sharks. They didn't see this one coming? If Scott skated around in circles first and then went at Jackman would there still be an issue?
Perhaps the bigger loss in all the mayhem of Sunday's game was for the Ducks. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy fought Joe Pavelski, and appears to have broken his hand in the bout. Lovejoy will be out for an indefinite amount of time. An already shaky defense just got a whole lot shakier.
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Seeing this image reminds us of a song from a Disney musical/excuse to sell a ridiculous amount of merchandise:
“Do you wanna meet the Bru-ins?/
All dressed up for Halloween/
They’re ‘Frozen’ characters/
And Dougie Hamilton/
Is dressed as the Snow Queen/
Do you wanna meet the Bru-ins…”
The Boston Bruins made their annual visit to Boston Children’s Hospital for Halloween on Monday, and like every girl under the age of 10 they went as characters from “Frozen.”
Bruins players Matt Bartkowski, Matt Fraser, Seth Griffith, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller went “reverse trick-or-treating” around the hospital and handed out Bruins swag to the young patients.
That's Fraser as Anna and Hamilton, suffering the curse of the fair-haired, as Elsa. Then Miller, then Bartwoski as Sven, Torey Kurg as Olaf and then Griffith.
The boy in the photo is Joey, a young man who is recovering from brain surgery after being struck with a puck.
This tradition has given the world some amazing “things you can’t un-see” in the past,” such as Zdeno Chara as a giant pink rabbit.
Read more about Boston Children's Hospital here.
Many have probably had the following experience at their first Columbus Blue Jackets game:
The home team scores, the crowd is going wild, AC/DC starts up on the speaker system with “For those about to rock …” and then a loud "BOOM!" fills the halls of Nationwide Arena, scaring everyone who didn’t know that the team fires a blank cannon after every goal.
It’s horrifying, heart palpitation providing … and uniquely Columbus. And they totally own it.
Now the Blue Jackets are going a step further with their “Cannonball Wall.” Every time Columbus scores a home goal, there will be a cannonball placed on a wall, with the aesthetics looking like the ball went through the wall.
Below is Blue Jackets forward Artem Anisimov signing his cannonball:
It's unclear that a player will sign every ball placed on the wall -- Columbus scored 128 home goals last year -- at least the Blue Jackets have embraced it as uniquely Columbus, no matter how frightening the cannonball can be to others. And for those fans of opposing teams who scare easily, the best answer may be to just bring ear plugs.
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Roberto Luongo is the best. [Instagram]
• What kind of journey has Chicago’s Scott Darling taken to the NHL? Consider this: the Blackhawks are his 13th organization since 2010-11. [Eye on Hockey]
• Daniel Carcillo will miss the next four weeks after injuring his knee during a collision with T.J. Oshie. [Sun-Times]
• Mike Cammalleri is expected to get X-rays on a suspected broken jaw, while Martin Havlat heads to the IR. [Fire & Ice]
• The Philadelphia Flyers are kicking the tires on Ryan Whitney with their defense corps ravaged with injury. For the time being, it’s Shayne Gostibehere’s moment. [Daily News]
• Jeff Carter, Ben Scrivens and Frans Nielsen are your NHL Three Stars of the Week. [NHL]
• The Cardiff Devils missed out on bringing Paul Bissonnette back to Wales after he decided to join the AHL’s Portland Pirates over the weekend on a PTO; but they hope to have him suit up for the team sometime in the future. “The door is always open to a man and a player of his quality.” [Wales Online]
• Anders Lee was cut during training camp because of the numbers game with the New York Islanders. Since his recall, he’s made the most of his opportunity. [Islanders Point Blank]
• Looking at the good, bad and ugly of the Islanders and their 6-2-0 start. [The Fourth Period]
• Joffrey Lupul on playing at Air Canada Centre: “There are some nerves coming into this building. It’s quiet, it’s one of the quietest buildings in the league. And it can quickly turn bad.” [The Star]
• Josh Ho-Sang scored a lovely goal and then decided to celebrate in front of the Mississauga Steelheads bench. [Buzzing the Net]
• Sergei Fedorov talks the KHL, the Russian Five and Scotty Bowman. [The Hockey Writers]
• It’s still early, but here are 10 players you should worry about if they’re on your fantasy hockey team. [Dobber Hockey]
• Hockey media is so unique in that it finds ways to tear down the sport’s top stars. [Japers’ Rink]
• Paul Byron has been an underrated aspect of the Calgary Flames’ good start to this season. [Matchsticks and Gasoline]
• The best, the worst and the meh of the NHL's 2014-15 jersey designs. [Hockey By Design]
• Finally, here’s Justin Hodgman scoring his first NHL goal, as predicted by Tyson Nash:
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced on Monday that defenseman Olli Maatta will undergo surgery next week to remove a tumor from his neck. Doctors said there's an 85-percent chance of the tumor being a form of "low-grade thyroid cancer."
“Olli will have surgery to remove the tumor,” said Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, the Penguins’ team physician. “Even if it is found to be cancerous, we do not expect that he will need radiation or chemotherapy, and we anticipate a complete recovery. In all likelihood, Olli will go on to live a healthy life and this should not affect his ability to play hockey long-term.”
Doctors discovered the tumor during pre-season physicals and came to their official diagnosis after multiple tests.
"I feel fine,” Maatta told the media Monday, via Wes Crosby. “The only thing that's different is that now, maybe I have cancer."
Maatta has played in all seven games for the Penguins this season, recording five points and averaging 20:12 of ice time per game. He’s been cleared to continue playing until his surgery next week and head coach Mike Johnston said he expects to use the 20-year old defenseman in their three home games this week against New Jersey, Los Angeles and Buffalo.
According to Vyas, after the surgery, Maatta will be able to return to the Penguins’ lineup in four weeks time.
This is the third major health scare to affect the Penguins over the last two seasons. In Sept. 2013, goaltender Tomas Vokoun was diagnosed with a blood clot and missed the entire year. He's now a free agent. Last February, defenseman Kris Letang suffered a stroke and returned in April after missing 10 weeks.
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It's a (I don't like) Monday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Star: No guest! Just your boys.
* Pee-Wee Triangles
* Scott Darling.
* Ducks vs. Sharks
* The most amazing game sheet!
* Expansion fees.
Question of the Day: Ask us anything! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!
Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.
There have been many tributes from the hockey world for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the soldier who was killed in last week's shooting at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Fans singing 'O'Canada' at NHL games, along with moments of silence at other contests. But maybe the most touching occurred in Hamilton, Ontario, where Cpl. Cirillo's 5-year-old son dropped a first puck at a Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs game.
The game was chosen because Cpl. Cirillo's cousin plays for the Bulldogs.
Obviously this is a sad event, but it seems that hockey has played a major role in helping Canada heal from the tragic and frightening occurrences from a week ago. This game would clearly be no different.
When Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was arrested on domestic violence charges last year, Evgeniya Vavrinyuk, his then-girlfriend and the alleged victim, suggested that a civil suit could follow the criminal action.
Prosecutors in Denver dismissed a misdemeanor assault charge in Dec. 2013, claiming that they didn’t believe they could convict Varlamov “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But as everyone that recalls the O.J. Simpson saga knows, there’s a different, lower burden of proof in a civil trial. On Monday, TMZ Sports reported that Vavrinyuk has filed a civil suit against Varlamov, citing years of abuse:
In her suit, filed in Colorado by attorney Keith Fink, Vavrinyuk claims Semyon first attacked her back in 2012 in a "drunken animal rage" ... kicking and punching her even after she was "helpless on the ground."
Vavrinyuk claims the abuse occurred multiple times ... with Semyon constantly apologizing and begging her for forgiveness when he sobered up.
In her suit, Vavrinyuk says some of the abuse occurred when they were living in Russia -- but even when neighbors called police, "they refused to file any report or press charges due to Varlamov's celebrity hockey player status in Russia."
"The officers even shook his hand and wished him the best of luck the following season after speaking to the beaten and bruised Vavrinyuk," her lawsuit claims.
She’s seeking more than $1 million in damages. She gave a lengthy interview to Russian media last year that detailed her accusations.
Now, what do you do if you’re the NHL, and you’ve just suspended Slava Voynov in a domestic assault case in which charges haven’t even been filed?
Probably nothing. They’ll likely draw a distinction between a criminal case and a civil case, and Varlamov will continue to play for the Avalanche. As he did last season, in a decision that now makes the NHL look either better informed or over-reactionary in their Voynov decision.
Tim Peel is a National Hockey League official. He’s abjectly terrible. Let’s find out what he’s been up to, shall we?
San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks, Oct. 26, 2014
As you’re no doubt aware, the National Hockey League is taking an aggressive stance against diving and embellishment this season, seeking to curb this scourge on the game’s integrity.
Perhaps feeling that the NHL rules don’t go far enough to prevent diving, referee/vigilante Tim Peel decided to apply his own unique brand of embellishment prevention to Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen on Sunday night in a against the Sharks.
It’s really a game-changer, people: Calling diving penalties on players that haven’t taken a dive.
Here’s the amazing true story of Sami Vatanen’s phantom dive and the eagle-eyed Tim Peel’s decision to conjure it into reality:
God, this is so great.
It begins with Tim Peel’s microphone malfunctioning as he announces a blown call, if symbolism’s your thing.
The Ducks announcers remind fans that these plays happen fast, in real time, and that although the replays reveal the crime we’re always left to wonder how “players can be so aggressive with their stick.”
And then they notice Sami Vatanen is discussing the penalty with Tim Peel, leading to the announcers’ awestruck “are they giving him an embellishment penalty?” lament.
Bruce Boudreau noticed this too.
He wasn’t happy.
Super mega angry.
Like, he went the full Angry Chipmunk.
And we thought that part where he started brandishing a giant cartoon telescope to mock Peel’s vision wasn’t cool.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored on the ensuing 4-on-4 to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead.
Otherwise, Tim Peel and his crew called a stellar game. Oh wait no actually they lost control 2:16 into the first period and the game ended up with a combined 165 penalty minutes and six game misconducts.
But hey, that’s the sidebar to the main story, which is that Tim Peel has apparently developed some sort of “Minority Report”-like pre-crime technology, because the only logical reason for calling a dive on Vatanen here was that he was penalizing some dive that happens in some other game in the future, because it sure as hell didn’t happen Sunday against the Sharks.
This one gets the coveted four Mario Kart peels:
Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars, Oct. 21, 2014
Dallas got a Peeling in the Stars vs. Canucks game last week.
Perhaps this tweet captures the spirit of the thing:
It should be no surprise that a game that Tim Peel is officiating is a hot ass donkey.— Jennifer Land (@jenn9772) October 22, 2014
Is “ass donkey” redundant?
We're going to give this performance two Mario Kart peels, sight unseen.
Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames, Oct. 8, 2014
Tim Peel. Helmet cam.
Yes, it happened.
In Peel’s defense, Radim Vrbata’s body blocks him from seeing exactly where his stick strikes the puck to deflect it into the net.
But to the suprirse of no one, the call was overturned.
The NHL War Room correctly ruled that this was a good goal, despite it being waved off on the ice. Which is Tim Peel’s default setting.
But he did look really awesome in that helmet cam.
The helmet alone gets three Mario Kart peels:
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)
The Minnesota Wild have eight points in six games, which is good for the eighth-best points-per-game in the league before the end of Sunday's games.
They trail some true giants in the league right now (just in the Western Conference there's Anaheim and Los Angeles and Nashville, all of which have more games played) and aren't even top-three in their own mega-tough division. A few weeks ago, Mike Yeo was lamenting how tough their conference is, and clearly if you can win four of your first six games and not even be one of the three best teams in your given seven-team group, you have reasonable concerns.
Yeah, they're technically holding onto that eighth and final playoff spot in the West by the skin of their teeth, but what the Wild are doing to this point in the season is truly remarkable, and portends good things for them going forward as well.
First, let's get it out of the way nice and early that they've played a relatively soft schedule to this point. Colorado twice, Arizona once, and then a messier-than-expected Lightning team gave them their four wins. But while their two losses were at Anaheim and Los Angeles, both were 2-1, and against the Kings they actually dominated the game (even-strength shot attempts were 45-26).
In fact, that's been a pretty common when it comes to score-adjusted possession, one site has the team tops in the league. Taking out score effects, and you have a similar situation: The Wild are second in the league in terms of even-strength possession. Now, games like the season-opening slaughters of Colorado will obviously give the Wild a lot of wiggle room in this regard, as the sample size is small enough that you can safely consider even one or two outliers to be massively impactful on the numbers.
But let's suppose you abhor “fancy” stats, and would like to determine whether the Wild are “for real” in other ways. Well, how about the fact that they've allowed just six goals (one per game, tops in the league), or scored 19 (3.17 per game, sixth)?
Now we're getting into questionable territory, though, because the team's even-strength shooting and save percentages are absurdly high. Darcy Kuemper's ludicrously hot start has them stopping .961 at 5-on-5 (third behind Florida and Los Angeles), and the team as a whole is shooting 11.11 percent themselves (first in the league). So you'd have to say that this hot start is wholly unsustainable for Minnesota to start the year. Darcy Kuemper is not a .960-plus goaltender — in part because very few people are even .920 goaltenders — and this Wild team doesn't have the shooting talent to sustain a percentage north of 10 percent, because no one does.
That, too, might be an issue of sample size more than anything else. Before Saturday night's inexplicable blowout of Tampa (in which they won 7-2 but only had 22 shots), their team shooting percentage at 5-on-5 was 6.67. And it's not like Kuemper is facing a lot of shots; through five appearances he only stared down 117 (23.6 per 60 minutes).
And so this becomes a question of figuring out what, exactly, the Wild are capable of doing this year.
There's no question they improved in the offseason, filling in basically all their big concerns (forward depth first and foremost) and actually letting their good goalie play the majority of minutes. Remember, this is a team that had 98 points last season in a conference that produced six 100-point teams, but got very lucky both in terms of Josh Harding's save percentage and the fact that they drew the hopeless Avs in the first round.
Because these wins are being so heavily driven by percentages on the whole, it's tough to imagine that they're actually going to keep winning at this clip all season, but they seem to have changed so much of the fundamentals that you have to start wondering whether they can, indeed, keep this up.
All that stuff in the last month or two with Zach Parise basically saying that the dump-and-chase style they played under Yeo prior to this season was idiotic comes from somewhere; one of the team's leaders doesn't go around decrying strategy given down from on high without clearance. Which tells you something big has changed philosophically in the organization, and for the better.
From an “eye test” point of view the style of hockey Minnesota is playing this year seems a lot more conducive to actually keeping positive possession numbers going the whole season. They're carrying the puck in a lot more (but you also have to note that they're doing it, for the most part, against not-great teams), and staying competitive with clubs that will almost certainly be among the best in the West this year. They're probably not going to be a top-five team in the league in those numbers for the whole season, simply because it's tough to buy that they all-of-a-sudden have that kind of personnel because of a tactics change and the Thomas Vanek signing. But Vanek is going to help their shooting percentage as a whole, and make them harder to play against throughout the lineup by shuffling some other skilled wings deeper into the depth chart.
Obviously, all of this comes with the “sample size” label still firmly attached to it, but I have to believe that this Wild team is going to be more competitive in their division than I probably thought before the season started. They're going to come back to earth a little bit, clearly, and their finish in the West is still not going to look all that impressive just because of who they have to play against in their division.
But this is an actually-good young club that's only going to improve within the next few years.
For this year, I'm not sold that they're going to get any deeper into the playoffs than they did last spring. But at least they'd probably earn that second-round appearance on merit rather than playing a bad team.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: This headline might be a little overblown.
Arizona Coyotes: The Coyotes aren't giving up a ton of power play goals any more so now Mike Smith is good again and totally worth that contract, right?
Boston Bruins: If Dougie Hamilton can keep up his recent performances all season long (no guarantee, obviously) then Bruins fans might soon be looking at their team having two “legit No. 1” defensemen.
Buffalo Sabres: The likelihood that this result is going to be the highlight of the Sabres' regular season is extremely high.
Calgary Flames: The Flames shut down Alex Ovechkin, but didn't cover Joel Ward at all.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes haven't decided whether they're going to trade Eric Staal and Andrej Sekera yet. Uhh, they should. They're going nowhere.
Chicago Blackhawks: How are they gonna replace Dan Carcillo for a month? Oh, right, they will call up literally anyone.
Colorado Avalanche: You don't see Jarome Iginla score too many goals on the backhand, but here we are.
Columbus Blue Jackets: You never want to see that someone had to “retain sight” after a game. Retaining sight should be a given.
Dallas Stars: Anders Lindback is pretty bad, folks. He's stopped just 568 of the last 640 he's faced (.888 save percentage).
Detroit Red Wings: Seems impossible that the Wings haven't won a regular-season game in Philadelphia since 1997. The slump, however, did allow Mike Babcock to break out his edgy material: “I don't think we've won in Philly since Christ was a kid.”
Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers have some really good forward lines. Pretty much top-to-bottom. But you know what would make them even better? Having more than one center.
Florida Panthers: It's really too bad the Panthers can't score. They are getting genuinely great goaltending.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings have lost just once in regulation this season, and are still acting like, “Ahh, we really need to play better.”
Minnesota Wild: This is really rubbing salt in the wound at 6-2 but man what a burst of speed from Jason Zucker.
Montreal Canadiens: The Habs have to start losing soon, right?
Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team: Speaking of which, the Penguins finally gave Nashville its first loss in regulation. The Preds are legitimately good and entertaining this year. It's a very weird feeling.
New Jersey Devils: Ol' Double J forever. Dude can still unload, apparently.
New York Islanders: This is the first hat trick of Frans Nielsen's career, the last coming into the empty net with 0.1 left on the clock. He is amazing. I love him.
New York Rangers: Real nice little story on Ryan McDonagh here.
Ottawa Senators: The Sens only have two regulation losses this season. Robin Lehner has been excellent.
Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere lasted less than a month in the minors. Hard to think he heads back any time soon.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Anyone can do this. Literally anyone.
San Jose Sharks: An existential crisis in October after a loss to the Sabres? Can't blame 'em.
St. Louis Blues: This reporter presumably got paid to copy and paste from CapGeek about which player on the Blues gets paid the most. He also conflates cap hit with salary. What a world.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Why yes, I am excited to watch this for the next 10-plus years.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Boy oh boy here we go again.
Vancouver Canucks: Even if you “run out of gas” on a road trip date against the Avs, you probably shouldn't give up the TD and extra point.
Washington Capitals: Jay Beagle swung by his dad's auto shop while the team was in Calgary over the weekend. Probably wanted to see if he could stop the team's wheels coming off this year.
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd was positively massive for Winnipeg on Sunday. Scored their first goal and maybe their second (though they credited the latter to Bryan Little, who was fronting the net).
Play of the Weekend
Look at this pass from Crosby. LOOK AT IT! Good lord what a player.
Gold Star Award
Dougie Hamilton straight-up brought it against Toronto on Saturday. Three points, plus-9 corsi despite a huge number of defensive zone starts, and 16-plus minutes at even strength. He could be a real good one, real soon.
Minus of the Weekend
Look at this awful unpressured pass to no one from Chris Mueller to spring a 2-on-0 shorthanded goal for Tomas Plekanec from Max Pacioretty. Ryan McDonagh had to look bad there.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “BigFatCat99” is making me so happy.
Colin Wilson + Victor Stalberg
Calle Jarnkrok + Ryan Ellis + Ollie Jokinen + Taylor Beck +
All the STaals
Four campers are stuck in the ropes course. I meant to tell you about that yesterday, but could you get to it now?
No. 1 Star: Scott Darling, Chicago Blackhawks
The first Southern Professional Hockey League player to play in an NHL game was huge in his debut. Darling made 32 saves, including 16 in the third period as the Blackhawks edged the Ottawa Senators 2-1. To get an idea of just how far Darling has come, check out Chris Peters' story.
No. 2 Stars: That 70s Line, Los Angeles Kings
The trio of Jeff Carter (1 goal, 3 assists), Tanner Pearson (2 goals) and Tyler Toffoli (1 goal, 3 assists) combined for four goals and 10 points as the Kings downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2, sweeping a six-game homestand. One of Pearson’s goals came via a homerun pass by Toffoli and an extra effort by no. 70:
No. 3 Star: Nick Bonino, Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2 Sunday night, with Bonino factoring in on pair of goals. He first scored his third of the season late in the second perod to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead. Just 25 seconds later, he would set up Luca Sbisa’s first of the year, which would stand as the game winner.
Honorable Mention: The Winnipeg Jets ended their five-game homestand with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Bryan Little’s goal with 25 remaining in overtime was his fifth of the year:
Andrew Ladd scored his 100th goal with the Thrashers/Jets franchise … Dustin Byfuglien, meanwhile, was hitting everything:
Tim Erixon and Liam O'Brien tallied their first NHL goals … Patrick Kane’s assist on Jonathan Toews’ second period goal was his 500th NHL point … Antti Niemi made 33 saves and the San Jose Sharks got goals from Tommy Wingels, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns en route to a 4-1, fight-filled win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Did You Know? “Eight minutes into the second period, Quick joined [Rogie] Vachon and Kelly Hrudey as the only goaltenders to play at least 20,000 minutes in a Kings uniform during the regular season. Among that trio, Quick is first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage - in addition to the shutouts.” (AP)
Dishonorable Mention: Nick Foligno collided with a linesman along the boards and ended up having to be stretchered off the ice. After being evaluated, he was deemed well enough to travel back to Columbus with the Blue Jackets … Anze Kopitar left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury. The Kings did not reveal any more information … They were handing out PIMs at Honda Center like Halloween candy … Anaheim’s seven-game winning streak came to an end.
The San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks spent their Sunday evening fighting, with breaks to play hockey.
It started in the second period when Ryan Getzlaf and Mirco Mueller were about to drop the gloves, but officials rushed in to break things up. Later in the period, Corey Perry and Tommy Wingels successfully threw down, and the temperatures started rising.
A few more scraps midway through the third period then turned into a full-on linebrawl that sadly didn't come close to getting both goalies involved. Instead, it was Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen getting involved in the fray, while Antti Niemi chilled out in his end:
Among the players getting handed penalty minutes was John Scott of the Sharks, who received 19 total minutes, including a game misconduct and two for leaving the bench to re-engage with Tim Jackman after their first period fight. In doing so, Scott broke NHL rule 70.3, which states:
The player or goalkeeper who was the first or second player to leave the players’ (or penalty bench) during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation, from either or both teams shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty.
You might remember this rule as the one that cost David Clarkson 10 games at the start of last season. (Of course, Wysh jinxed everything with this post on Sunday morning.)
Scott, however, could have made a legal line change (UPDATE: Looks legal to me) and this was just a wrong call by the officials amid all the chaos happening on the ice. The League will certainly review it and determine whether or not Scott just gave us our first suspension for an on-ice incident this season.
In total, the Ducks and Sharks combined for 165 penalty minutes. Oh, and when they played hockey San Jose won 4-1.
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The Los Angeles Kings were leading the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 midway through the third period when play was halted after an injury to Nick Foligno. The Blue Jackets forward collided with linesman Shane Heyer along the boards and fell to the ice, staying down face first and barely moving:
After a delay, Foligno was stretchered off as the Staples Center crowd cheered. Foligno gave a wave as he was leaving the ice.
As you see in the video, Foligno was rubbed out along the boards after a check from Jeff Carter. His head was down and made contact with Heyer’s leg, who was trying to avoid being involved.
Foligno was alert, talking and moving all of his extremities, and according to the Blue Jackets, he’ll remain at the arena for further evaluation, which includes precautionary X-rays.
UPDATE: Great news:
And Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards said in his post-game presser that Foligno will travel with the team back to Columbus.
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There's something about the below video post by the Washington Capitals official Twitter handle.
Maybe it's the fact that players on skates tower over their 5-foot-9 coach Barry Trotz. Or maybe that from behind and in a suit Trotz looks like a super villain in celebrating with his team after a 3-1 win at Calgary.
Either way, there's often sort of a separation between coaches and the players, even in victory. And especially with a new coach, it takes a while for him to get ingrained within the culture of the room.
Of course winning helps (Washington is 4-1-2) and Trotz has done quite a bit to align himself in a locker room that has chaffed under previous staffs.
Not that an Instagram photo is worth a thousand words -- and we're going to know a lot more when Epix starts releasing its documentary on the Caps and the Winter Classic.
But if anything, maybe Trotz is gaining the trust of his players? If not, at least he's got cool millennial-type greetings down.
Two days after working out a deal to join the EIHL’s Cardiff Devils, Paul Bissonnette has returned to the Arizona Coyotes’ organization.
He won’t be playing for the NHL, at least not yet. BizNasty will sign an AHL deal with the Coyotes’ affiliate, the Portland Pirates, according to Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan.
"I'm excited to go down and work on my game," Bissonnette told Morgan via text. "I love the game and am just happy to get to play in a great organization with a lot of great people.”
"I just heard from Paul today (Sunday) prior to our game and he explained that he has been offered a deal in the American Hockey League that he hopes will lead to an NHL deal later this season.
"I told him that I was happy for him that he is getting a chance to get back to the NHL and as much as we are disappointed, we wish him success."
I still would've taken the risk to bring him in. No hesitation on that, we had to try."
After signing with Cardiff last week, the plan was for Bissonnette to head to Wales next weekend ahead of their Nov. 2 game. The deal was with the Devils was a rolling one, meaning if an NHL or AHL side came calling, they would let him go.
Obviously the chance to re-join the Coyotes organization again was something Bissonnette just couldn’t pass up.
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Imagine you’re a Penguins fan. You’ve seen Sidney Crosby live on television countless times. You have incredible memories of him hoisting the Stanley Cup – young, effervescent smile from cheek-to-cheek.
Then you see Crosby in person. It’s just weird. You feel like you know him, just because you’ve seen him so many times on television and live at games. But you don’t know him at all.
That’s how it probably is for fans of the hipster cult flick “The Room” when they meet Greg Sestero. Many of them have seen the film upwards of 50 times. They laugh at lines, throw spoons at the screen and scream mantras.
And then you meet the man himself, and realize he’s a guy, trying to make a living, putting his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us.
Sestero is one of the main actors in that film, which has been called the “Citizen Kane” of bad movies, a film so impressively awful in its hilarity that it’s tough to emulate. It has achieved a cult following, bringing in a growing rank of revelers, who include the likes of actors James Franco, Paul Rudd and Kristin Bell.
Recently, the native of Walnut Creek, Calif. Wrote a tell-all book about “The Room” called "The Disaster Artist: My Life inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made."
It's a quite impressive and fun read that lends to friendship and finding you can realize your dreams even in failure. Oh and it's also hilarious.
He has been touring the world talking about the book, reading snippets and performing lines from the movie’s original screenplay, written, directed, produced and starring the mysterious Tommy Wiseau.
Since we here at Puck Daddy are big fans of this movie, and the subsequent book, we sat down with Sestero at Belcourt Theater in Nashville before a reading to ask him about hockey, and a few other sport items.
Q: Do you have a favorite hockey memory?
Greg Sestero: When the Los Angeles Kings were down 3-0 to the Sharks this past playoff and they came back and won. I thought that was incredible. I think the Kings beating the Sharks was my favorite memory.
The California Golden Seals were gone from Oakland in 1976. I believe that was a couple of years before you were born. Were your parents diehard Seals fans?
I think my dad was mainly a San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Athletics fan, so I don’t think they saw too much hockey. But I remember when the Sharks first started and they were a big thing. They weren’t good until I left for Los Angeles (in the late 90s), and then they started getting good.
What do you remember when the Sharks started? Were you a fan?
I went to one game, and the only other time I went to the (SAP Center) was for a George Strait Concert. But people were really into them.
Do you have a favorite hockey movie? “Slapshot” seems to be the popular choice amongst most.
It’s kind of embarrassing, but I would have to say “Youngblood.”
“Youngblood?” Have you seen any of the “Mighty Ducks” trilogy?
I think I saw the first one
Did it make an impression on you at all?
I always wanted to try playing hockey, and they always made it look so easy, but as soon as I put on the skates, I felt like I was going to collapse at any point.
How many times have you skated?
Three or four times. And the one time I remember the most was when I hurt my thumb doing something, and I was skating and falling to brace myself and ended up breaking my thumb.
Did you have a favorite hockey player growing up?
I would say probably Wayne Gretzky. He was the Michael Jordan or the Joe Montana of the sport.
In “The Room” there is some athletic activity with footballs. Your throwing motion seems effortless. Did you emulate Montana in your approach?
I always threw a football and played quarterback when I was younger. Playing football is one of my favorite things to do.
Were you self-conscious throwing a football with Tommy from three-feet apart?
When you’re that close, you can’t really throw the ball. So I worked on it and really perfected it. He shot-puts it. For him it kind of looks the same. One of the funniest things was watching him play football for the first time. He had no idea how to throw it, so he was really into it.
Why footballs and not hockey pucks in the movie? Is Tommy a hockey fan?
He likes hockey. But I think he sees football as the cool, American sport.
Did you ever see Tommy play hockey?
He was really into rollerblading, so I could see him playing street hockey. I would pay to see that.
Do you have any other Sharks memories?
Didn’t the Sharks go almost all the way?
I always feel like they would get close and lose. That’s when I started noticing them. And the Kings, they had never won, and then won in 2012. I think being in Los Angeles there’s more concentrated hockey fans. The fact that they play at Staples Center means the fans are around a lot more.
It seems like you identify more with the Kings than the Sharks
I feel like I have more loyalty to Bay Area teams, so I would probably say more the Sharks, but the Kings are covered more, so I’m more aware of what they’re doing.
A horrific on-ice injury halted Saturday night’s Southern Professional Hockey League game between the Peoria Rivermen and Huntsville Havoc.
Early in the second period, as the Rivermen were leading 2-1, Havoc forward Justin Cseter collided with Peoria’s Dennis Sicard and landed on his skate, cutting his thigh.
According to the Peoria Journal Star, Cseter’s parents and grandparents were in attendance and watched in horror as blood began accumulating on the ice as trainer’s from both teams were rushing to the player.
Doctors said Cseter suffered a wound about 1 1/2 inches deep and about six inches wide across his inner thigh on his right leg. His muscle was cut, but the skate blade missed his artery. Thirty minutes later he was rolled out on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance and hospitalized, with surgery ahead of him.
After Cseter was taken away, both head coaches joined a call with league president Jim Combs about what to do next. All agreed to suspend the game with a decision on when to continue — the game was stopped with 13:37 left in the second period — coming this week.
The injury hit close to home for Peoria goaltender Kyle Rank, who is good friends with Zach Redmond, who suffered a serious cut by a skate during a Winnipeg Jets practice in 2013.
According to the Havoc, Cseter was released from a hospital early this morning and returning back home with the team.
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We usually get ridiculously bad team anthems come playoff time, but the postseason won’t be coming for the Buffalo Sabres this year. Instead, they’re fully entrenched in their tanks for Connor McDavid, the consensus no. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, or even Boston University's Jack Eichel.
Sure, beating the San Jose Sharks isn’t what you’d call, “helping the cause,” but it’s a long season and there’s plenty of time for one of those 11-game pointless streaks to up their lottery odds come April.
In anticipation of McDavid or Eichel wearing one of those “turdburger” jerseys next season, we have our first parody song encouraging the tank. Via Reddit, here’s Buffalo's WGR 550 radio with their own version of “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor: “All About Last Place”:
The pipes on Thom Cich... magical.
Given the way their season has begun, we're looking forward to the next batch of McDavid/Eichel parody songs coming out of the Raleigh, North Carolina area. May we suggest "This Is How We Lose" set to Katy Perry's "This Is How We Do?"
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I write the following with the full acknowledgement that things can change in an instant, but here goes:
The NHL’s Department of Safety Twitter feed has been straight up boring this season.
Since September, DoPS has announced that Stephane Quintal was named to replace outgoing sheriff Brendan Shanahan; explained why Radko Gudas wasn’t suspended for hitting Scottie Upshall; and confirmed that a member of the Philadelphia Flyers payroll will join the NHL in an official capacity.
But here’s the thing: If you don’t hand out any fines or suspensions, you can’t tweet about any fines or suspensions, which brings us to this salient point:
The NHL hasn’t announced a suspension or fine for an on-ice incident this preseason or regular season through Oct. 26.
Or to put it another way: More beat writers have been suspended than NHL players so far this season. (Slava Voynov being the exception.)
To put this in context, here’s a look back at the last few seasons and the supplemental discipline doled out in the preseason and the first month of the regular season. For 2012-13, which began on Jan. 19, we used the first 23 days of the regular season, which is around the length of the first month of play.
PRESEASON SUSPENIONS (on-ice)
FIRST MONTH SUSPENSIONS (on-ice)
PRESEASON/FIRST MONTH FINES (Non-Unsportsmanlike Conduct)
Shanahan took over the Department of Player Safety in June 2011.
This isn’t to say that DoPS hasn’t been active. Gudas was warned, although he wasn’t given any formal punishment, for the hit on Upshall. One assumes others have been as well.
But we’ve yet to see a suspension or fine for an on-ice incident that didn’t involve some level of unsportsmanlike conduct (like Milan Lucic having a stroke in the penalty box).
A couple of theories:
1. It’s a total anomaly. And by the time you read this, we’ll have six phone hearings on the docket.
2. The New Regime is a little more lenient. In Shanahan’s two full seasons at the helm, the preseason featured 16 suspensions. I always saw that as an attempt to set an example for the regular season, especially in the amount of games they totaled (we saw 10- and 12-game suspensions in the 2011 preseason).
Quintal obviously didn’t follow that trend, although perhaps that’s due to a lack of material. (We didn’t exactly have a glut of “guess the suspension” posts on the last two months on Puck Daddy.) But on the few questionable hits – some of them didn’t throw the book for book’s throwing sake.
3. The Department of Player Safety has actually worked.
Again, this is something that could look completely immaterial and farcical if a bunch of players start braining each other in the next few weeks, but is it possible that players have learned something about the hits they should or shouldn’t take?
Shanahan’s goal was always two-fold: Punish the repeat offenders harshly, and educate players on how not to perpetually injure their opponents.
To that first point, some of the league’s suspension magnets from previous seasons are out of the NHL or marginalized on teams. And on the second … well, maybe some of them have finally figured out not to head-hunt or run someone in the numbers,
Hey, look, we all know how it works: The next stretcher that’s wheeled out on the ice, Quintal will probably drop the hammer.
But through the preseason and the first three weeks of the regular season ... well, the NHL certainly has a problem, what with only one Lady Byng Trophy to give out next June...
No. 1 Star: Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders
Nielsen’s three third-period goals surged the Islanders past the Dallas Stars in a wild 7-5 game. The center scored the first two goals of the period to give New York the lead, and closed out the scoring with an empty netter with a second left in the game. Or so we were led to believe.
No. 2 Star: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Sid opened the scoring and picked up assists on two third-period power-play goals as the Penguins blanked the Nashville Predators, 3-0. Marc-Andre Fleury had 25 saves.
No. 3 Star: Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils
Jagr’s clutch overtime, power-play goal gave the Devils a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. It was his 19th career overtime game-winner.
Honorable Mention: Michal Neuvirth made 30 saves and Cody Hodgson and Nicolas Deslauriers had third-period goals as the Buffalo Sabres shocked the San Jose Sharks, 2-1. … Dougie Hamilton had a goal and two assists as the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-1. Tuukka Rask made 32 saves. … Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist while Carey Price made 34 saves in the Montreal Canadiens’ 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. … Michael Raffl had two goals and an assist as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Detroit Red Wings. They tallied three times in the third, while Ray Emery had 35 stops. … Ryan Reaves and Dmitrij Jaskin – you know, household names – scored second-period goals in the St. Louis Blues’ 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. … The Minnesota Wild got two goals from Jason Zucker and one goal from five other players in the 7-2. … Joel Ward’s two goals were enough for Braden Holtby (20 saves) as the Washington Capitals defeated the Calgary Flames, 3-1. … Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s power-play goal in overtime gave the Arizona Coyotes a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Mike Smith reversed his fortunes with 23 saves. … Tyler Seguin scored his sixth.
Did You Know? Canadian fans are awesome.
Dishonorable Mention: Brayden Schenn was called for embellishment. … Brandon Saad was a minus-3. … Andrej Sustr was a minus-4; Eric Brewer was a minus-3. … Evgeni Nabokov gave up four goals on eight shots before departing the game for Tampa. … Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza were a minus-4. … James Neal didn’t tally a point against the Penguins. … The Rangers someone managed to give up a 2-on-0 shorthanded breakaway goal.
NASHVILLE – There was buildup, there were James Neal bobblehead dolls and there was a tribute video for Nick Spaling and Patric Hornqvist on Saturday night in Pittsburgh’s 3-0 win over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
And in the end, there was one constant for the Penguins – Evgeni Malkin scoring and looking really good doing so.
When the Penguins traded Neal in the offseason for Hornqvist and Spaling there were questions and queries – mostly around Neal and whether he could play without Malkin.
Hardly was there talk of how Malkin would look without his favorite 40-goal trigger man. It turns out just fine.
The hulking center – who started the year at wing and moved back to the pivot position – looked comfy with Pascal Dupuis and Blake Comeau.
“Geno is Geno. He makes everybody around him better,” Dupuis said. “Right now I’m the lucky guy (with him). I’ll take it.”
During the season it has been on the power play where Malkin – and the Penguins – have done most of their damage. Saturday was no different with Pittsburgh going 2-for-3 against the Predators. Currently the Pens stand at a lofty 40 percent.
Overall, six of the former Hart Trophy winner’s 10 points have come with the man-advantage. Which all basically states that a healthy power play means Malkin will still probably get his points even without Neal.
“They’re both really good hockey players, both have a different style but both create a lot,” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. “I think Geno is trying to play his game and we’re all adjusting to different players, but both guys have settled pretty good.”
And as for Neal? He hit one post. Came close near the end of the first period, and overall finished pointless as the crowd of 17,218 went home disappointed, but with dolls that almost perfectly resembled his flow.
James Neal in bobblehead form appears to have frosted tips. pic.twitter.com/pF0yUC1Cm6— Jim Diamond (@diamondhockey) October 23, 2014
The Ottawa Senators returned to the ice for the first time since the attack on the city on Wednesday, and took part in a memorable tribute to those affected by the tragedy -- a mutli-city ceremony that also celebrated the solidarity of Canadians.
Before their game against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night, the Senators held a center ice ceremony to remember Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, including a moment of silence that featured images of the National War Memorial where the shooting began.
But the Senators weren’t the only Canadian team in action on Saturday night: The Toronto Maple Leafs were hosting the Boston Bruins, while the Montreal Canadiens hosted the New York Rangers.
The teams had discussed doing a coordinated tribute during the week, and on Saturday night fans at the Canadian Tire Centre, Bell Centre and Air Canada Centre synced up for a stirring rendition of “O Canada.”
As Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk said on Friday: what doesn’t break us, makes us stronger. Today our country stands more united than ever and so does the entire NHL family. We are very pleased to join forces with the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs in coordinating a unique and special tribute prior our game on Saturday in honour and recognition of these two brave soldiers, their families and all members of our Canadian military.”
Players on both the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild are experiencing flu-like symptoms and other physical ailments that have, or will, keep them out of action for a bit.
Star Tribune beat writer Mike Russo has a theory:
Might be time to put on the old tinfoil hat, kids. (Or hazmat suit, you pick.)
Like Russo, I am not a doctor or any sort of infectious disease specialist. Yes, the Wild and the Blues were in Southern California in the past week in the visitors locker rooms. As were the Bluejackets and the Sabres. Oh, and a few NBA teams for exhibition games at Honda Center and Staples Center. They all appear to be fine...for now.
Patient Zero for St. Louis appears to be Jori Lehtera. From Blues beat writer Lou Korac:
"The Blues have ... been dealing with a bacterial infection that's affected players in the locker room.
"It started with center Jori Lehtera, who felt sick after a 6-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes last Saturday that caused him to miss the team's 3-0 loss against the Anaheim Ducks the following night.
"Lehtera missed practice Tuesday but was back at practice Wednesday and played in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks [in St. Louis] on Thursday, a game in which multiple Blues players played after contracting the infection ..."
Felt sick before even getting to Anaheim. Doesn't mean he didn't pass along whatever he had to his teammates, though. Hockey players are just like us! They spend a ton of time with the people they work with, and there is always that one guy who insists on coming to work despite being having a fever, runny nose, and hacking cough.
One other note: both the Blues and Wild had extended layoffs before even venturing to So Cal. St. Louis had four days off before playing Los Angeles, and the Wild had five days off before taking on Anaheim. Incubation period be damned!
If others are offering conspiracy theories, here's mine:
Lehtera of the Blues became sick after playing the Arizona Coyotes. Now the Wild are sick and the last team they played was ... wait for it ... the Coyotes. Arizona players are (allegedly) licking opponents. That odd strategy could explain their start to the season.
Flash back one week ago in San Jose. Everything was roses.
The captain-less Sharks were 4-0-1, including an season-opening win against the Los Angeles Kings. Everyone had supposedly bought into this new approach of stripping Joe Thornton of his 'C' and giving out three 'A's instead.
There is joy no more in San Jose. Three losses in a row was harsh. But getting beat 2-1 by hapless Buffalo at home Saturday? That's a real 'D'Oh' moment.
And even a former Shark ripped into his old team. NHL on NBC commentator Jeremy Roenick tweeted out some harshness towards San Jose. Behold...
Embarrassing— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) October 25, 2014
I just turned on Sharks game! Are u serious???? Losing to buffalo??? 3 loses in a row and now losing to second worse team in the league?— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) October 25, 2014
Remember there's some history (and dislike) between Roenick and Sharks, um, alternate captain Partrick Marleau. But Roenick does have a point. When you lose to Buffalo at home, even this early, it's a warning sign.
And the Sharks scribes agree. Below is the lead from CSN Bay Area's game story:
"There are losses that sting, such as the Sharks’ falling on a last-second goal to Columbus on Thursday, and then there are losses that are categorically embarrassing.
It was the latter for the Sharks on Saturday afternoon at SAP Center."
Everything is happening!
Let's all calm down for a second here. It's nine games into the season. This is a team that is loaded with talent and a group that has righted quite a few ships in the past.
But after last postseason's epic collapse against the Kings, and a game Sunday at red hot Anaheim to kick off a three-game roadtrip ... could disaster be afoot? Maybe.
NASHVILLE – Is there a better person to compare differences between current Penguins goal scorer Patric Hornqvist and former Pens sniper James Neal than the best hockey player on the planet?
No, seriously, Sidney Crosby gave a unique perspective when asked Saturday morning before Hornqvist and Penguins faced off against the Predators and Neal. Both Hornqvist and Neal were traded for each other last summer.
“With Patty, he’s probably more of a guy who goes to the tough areas and goes to the crease a little bit more. I think Neal is probably more of a shooter. He likes to find soft areas in the slot, and with his shot, he doesn’t need to be maybe as close. I think he can get away with being a little further out and getting lost in coverage and that kind of thing,” Crosby said. “Other than that, they both play with an edge, they both aren’t afraid to be physical when they need to, so I would say they’re very similar except the only difference I would say is one probably does their body of work closer to the net, and the other guy further out trying to get lost in coverage.”
While Crosby’s assessment might be in slight contrast to the Predators bobblehead promotion box for Neal, which said he goes to the “hard areas” (Saturday is James Neal bobblehead night at Bridgestone Arena) it’s spot on for Hornqvist.
The Swede, who was the last pick in the 2005 draft, has eight points, in six games mostly playing on Crosby’s line, and is seen as a welcome change from Neal for Pittsburgh.
Hornqvist stands in front of the net with reckless abandon, taking beatings from both from defensemen and flying vulcanized rubber, while Neal was seen by the Penguins as a guy who shied away from those spots. Though this is all well and good for the Pens right now, the question is whether it can suffice for the remaining four years of Hornqvist’s five-year $21.25 million contract.
“(The front of the net) is not an easy place to go to,” Crosby said. “You definitely have to realize you’re going to pay a price to go there, but there’s also some good rewards too. You’re going to get pucks there and find ways to put the puck in the net from there. You have to pay a price to go there, there’s no doubt, but there’s some good rewards for going there too.”
Then again, the 5-foot-11, 189-pound Hornqvist is a bit of a different breed. He almost seems to enjoy taking a beating from defensemen, goaltenders and pucks.
In practices during his five years in Nashville, he would do drills with defenseman Shea Weber (he of the 106 mile per-hour shot), where Weber would just blast from the blueline and Hornqvist would try to tip them past the goaltender. He also did this, generally, with a big smile on his face.
“I can’t speak for being in front of my shot, but he has never shied away, be it practice or games,” Weber said. “I think he’s such a competitive guy and wants to win so bad and wants to score and help the team, he’ll do whatever it takes.”
There is one shining example of a prototype for Hornqvist, who played well for several years. Hall of Fame forward Dino Ciccarelli played 1,232 games and scored 608 goals. And as a 36-year-old, he notched 35 scores in 77 games with Tampa.
So far in his 369-game career, the only season Hornqvist missed significant time was the 2012-13 lockout year. The lowest amount of games he played in a full season was 76. Neal’s was 59, which happened twice.
And as long as Hornqvist continues to produce, score and stay healthy, his teammates don’t seem to mind his firebrand style.
“It’s part of a willingness to go to that area and find pucks and battle for them,” Penguins forward Chris Kunitz said. “We always knew playing against him he was a guy who could score within 12 feet -- pucks always bounced to him and came to him. For the first six games, he has been really good if not excellent for our team in those areas.”
What happens when your economic engine begins to sputter?
By some estimates, roughly one third of hockey-related revenue is generated by the NHL’s seven Canadian teams. For several years, one of the reasons the League’s been fat and happy was the thriving Canadian dollar; but some claim that it could drop to $0.85 against the American dollar by next year.
Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette asks what the impact might be on the NHL as oil prices and the value of the Canadian dollar continue to plummet:
Because NHL salaries are paid in U.S. dollars, all the Canadian teams will feel a pinch, but there may be an unusual burden placed on well-heeled teams like the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs, who have the wherewithal to spend up to the cap. The Canadiens have already committed $56 million in salaries for next season and they have to negotiate second contracts for Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu.
A decline in revenues and the dip in the Canadian dollar will hurt Ottawa, where cash-strapped Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is already losing money, and it will be tough on Winnipeg, which has the smallest arena in the NHL. And you have to remember that this problem with the dollar is tied to a drop in oil prices, which means less demand for Alberta oil — which means less money for people to spend on hockey in Calgary and Edmonton.
Hickey also wonders if the NHL’s expansion affinity for Quebec City might be affected, or if an increase in asking price to balance the Canadian dollar’s value might give potential owners pause (doubt that).
As the Cylons say, "all of this has happened before and will happen again."
For all the attention Gary Bettman’s received for propping up struggling American franchises in recent years, he did the heavy lifting for Canada when those franchises were facing the “Armageddon” (according to Brian Burke) of a devalued loonie and heavy taxation from the government.
The dollar then was down to about 78 cents. It was just over 81 cents during the 2005 lockout that shuttered a season so cash-strapped franchises like Ottawa didn’t have to resort to bankruptcy filings again.
And that’s part of the difference between now and then: “Cost certainty,” as Bettman puts it, attempts to inject some fiscal sanity into the cerebral cortexes of NHL owners with the salary cap. How effectively it accomplishes this is another debate ...
I don’t think we’ll need to see another “Canadian Assistance Plan” enacted if the loonie falls; as was noted on this 2008 blog by Mirtle, these drops in value can be more hype than impact on a league whose cap is linked to revenue.
A lower “loonie” will affect the revenue generated by those teams, though not to the disastrous degree it could if it were to fall to under .70 cents US. Should the Canadian dollar level out between .80 – .85 cents for a number of years the Canadian teams should be fine, though it could be worthwhile keeping an eye on the Jets, who play in the NHL’s smallest market in the league’s smallest arena. A lower-valued “loonie” over a number of years could either force the Jets to continue charging significantly higher ticket prices or consider the construction of a larger arena.
And that’s what we’ll likely end up seeing: Lower dollar, higher ticket prices and more posturing from Canadian owners about how their financial challenges should exempt them from a higher percentage of revenue sharing.
Like we said: All of this has happened before …
No. 1 Star: Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
The speedster scored a slick backhand breakaway goal and notched two assists in Colorado’s 7-3 win over Vancouver.
No. 2 Star: Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
Took sole possession of the top spot in the Rocket Richard Trophy chase with his ninth tally of the year. Also notched an assist in Anaheim’s 4-1 victory over Columbus. It was the Ducks' seventh consecutive victory.
No. 3 Star: Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
Stopped 40 of 42 Winnipeg shots to lead the Lightning to a 4-2 win.
Honorable mention: Tampa’s Jonathan Drouin scored his first NHL goal … The Lightning's Nikita Kucherov notched three assists … Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl also scored his first goal of the season, which proved the Oilers’ game-winner … Colorado’s Tyson Barrie also had three assists … Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov made his return from a groin injury and made 20 saves … Edmonton goaltender Ben Scrivens picked up his third straight win with 27 saves … Oilers forward Jordan Eberle scored a goal and added two assists … Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf notched an assist and won 77 percent of his face offs … Colorado's Jarome Iginla scored his first two goals with the Avalanche ... Dallas’ Jason Spezza moved to 50 percent in shootouts (1-for-2) with a nifty move below
Did you know?: The New Jersey Devils extended an NHL record with their 18th straight shootout loss. They also tied a record for consecutive shootout attempts without a goal with 20.
Dishonorable mention: Vancouver’s Eddie Lack made 41 saves on 48 shots on goal … Canucks blueliner Luca Sbisa was a minus-5. Teammate Shawn Matthias was a minus-3 … Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec was yanked after allowing four goals on 18 shots on goal … Carolina goaltender Anton Khudobin allowed three third period scores … Columbus’ offense could only muster 17 shots on goal on Anaheim’s John Gibson.
Through seven NHL games there was fear, worry and anxiety that Edmonton rookie Leon Draisaitl should, dare we say it, turn into another Nail Yakupov. After all, the 18-year-old Draisaitl, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft, had just two points.
Worry no more. In game eight he has scored.
Sarcasm aside, at very least we found out he has the whole celeberation thing down sort of like the 2012 No. 1 pick who has become somewhat of a pariah in Edmonton. Behold Draisaitl's first NHL goal, which was game-winner in the Oilers' 6-3 win over Carolina.
You gotta love the fist pump and him knocking down Andrew Ference ... but mostly the fist pump