A few thoughts for a Tuesday as we wonder if the Anaheim Ducks will manage to keep an opponent to fewer than 45 shots per game this season. With the problems Anaheim has along the blue line, you should wonder too.
In the meantime there are other things to consider, like how many games Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson and James Wisniewski of the Islanders will get for what they did on Columbus Day. The holiday was pretty busy for the NHL with six games on tap, but those two stood out and because of it, seemed destined for suspensions. The question is for how long.
Hjalmarsson’s hit from behind on Buffalo’s Jason Pominville was probably the more egregious of the two because his victim suffered a concussion, although the consensus from both teams dressing rooms in the aftermath was that it was more the result of carelessness by the young Blackhawks defenseman than malicious intent. But Wisniewski miming of a sexual act to the Rangers choirboy Sean Avery was on YouTube before the game was over and had lots more viral appeal, and things that embarrass the league tend to rate just as highly on its required disciplinary meter.
Of course there is no defined penalty for being stupid, which is how you would describe Wisniewski’s action on a day when commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance on Long Island. Bettman was there to help the Islanders owner lobby for improved facilities, the kind of information usually passed along to players before games when they are reminded to put on a ‘good show’ for the matinee crowd.
Then again, you have to figure that Wisniewski is someone who tends to block things out. He had no problem blocking out that he was going to be Brent Seabrook’s best man when he crushed his former teammate into the glass last season. Wisniewski started at Chicago’s blue line and plastered Seabrook into the glass well after he got rid of the puck, causing the Blackhawks player to crumple in a heap and suffer a concussion.
Wisniewski sat eight games for that, although wasn’t penalized following this latest incident. Hjalmarsson was, getting ejected for the boarding major after he hit Pominville from behind. It wasn’t a particularly dirty hit to the shoulder area and there will be those who think Pominville left himself vulnerable, but the upshot is that Buffalo’s forward went face first and hard into the glass and was carried off on a stretcher. And that requires some sort of suspension, if only so the NHL can send the message that players have to think more on the ice.
Decisions should come down soon.
Oh yes and as far as Anaheim goes, Ducks defenseman Paul Mara says the team’s weak start should be put into perspective.
“Three games in, I don’t think it’s time to panic,” he told NHL Home Ice. “Once the 10-, 15-,20-game mark hits and you don’t have the wins you thought, then it’s time to hit the panic button and figure out what’s going on.”
We can wait. Can they?
D-men and discipline
Posted on: October 12, 2010 12:15 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 12:18 pm