Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 12:54 am
There's always a winner and a loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.
Los Angeles Kings: Entering Tuesday's game in Nashville it had been nearly three full months since the Los Angeles Kings scored five goals in a single game, and they managed to do it for the first time since January 9 in a 5-4 win against the Predators thanks in part to a pair of first period goals from Justin Williams.
The Kings offense, which has been the worst in the league for much of the season, is finally starting to show some signs of life in recent weeks and they have now scored 16 goals over their past five games.
Regression to the mean works both ways, and perhaps it was only a matter of time until things started to improve. A team with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty never should be one of the worst offensive teams in recent NHL history, as the Kings have been this season.
[Related Kings 5, Predators 4]
Boston Bruins: It wasn't necessarily pretty, but after losing back-to-back games over the weekend the Bruins were able to get back in the win column on Tuesday night with a 5-4 win in Toronto. The Bruins were led offensively by Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron, each scoring a pair of goals, and the win allows them to maintain their three-point lead over the Ottawa Senators, 7-3 winners in Tampa Bay, in the Northeast Division race.
The next step for the Bruins is trying to figure out how to do something they haven't done in almost two months … win consecutive games.
They have another chance on Thursday night against Buffalo.
[Related: Bruins 5, Maple Leafs 4]
Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers: For the second straight game Ilya Bryzgalov came up big for the Flyers, stopping 37 of the 39 shots he faced in a 3-2 win over the Red Wings. Max Talbot continued his career year for the Flyers scoring his 18th goal of the season. The only downside of the night for the Flyers was the hit forward Jakub Voracek received from Niklas Kronwall.
[Related: Flyers 3, Red Wings 2 -- Voracek crushed by Kronwall -- Grossmann's name change]
Dallas Stars: The Stars took over sole possession of first place on Tuesday night with an impressive 5-2 win in Vancouver, and in the process completed a perfect three-game road trip through western Canada, a road trip that saw them outscore the Flames, Oilers and Canucks by a 10-5 margin. Thanks to the Coyotes loss in Columbus (more on that below) the Stars now have a two-point lead over Phoenix in the Pacific Division race.
Mike Ribeiro had a three-point night (two goals, assist) in the win and also won over 50 percent of his faceoffs, while Richard Bachman 29 of 31 shots.
Phoenix Coyotes: After putting together an 11-0-1 run in February some regression had to be expected for the Coyotes at some point. They weren't going to keep winning forever, and even though they entered Tuesday's game riding a three-game losing streak, they showed some signs of busting out of their mini-slump on Monday night.
But that was all erased on Tuesday in Columbus where they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Blue Jackets, losing to the 30th ranked team in the NHL for the second time in less than a week. Those are points you can not let slip away, and the last thing the Coyotes can afford right now is to have this turn into a five or six game losing streak.
[Related: Blue Jackets 3, Coyotes 2 -- For Coyotes, playoffs have already started]
Toronto Maple Leafs: What started as a positive day with the re-signing of forward Mikhail Grabovski ended with not only a loss on the scoreboard to the Bruins, their fifth in a row this season, but also included injuries to forwards Joffrey Lupul and Colby Armstrong, neither of which is expected to play Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Not good.
[Related: Leafs re-sign Grabovski]
Photo: Getty Images
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Tags: Adam Gretz, Anze Kopitar, Boston Bruins, Colby Armstrong, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jakub Voracek, Jason Williams, Joffrey Lupul, Jordan Caron, Los Angeles Kings, Max Talbot, Mike Richards, Mikhail Grabovski, Nashville Predators, Niklas Kronwall, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Seguin
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:11 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 9:15 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Midway through the second period of Tuesday's game between Detroit and Philadelphia, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was on the receiving end of this crushing hit from Niklas Kronwall, one of the biggest hitters in the NHL (his resume is all over the Internet).
It's pretty clear right away that Voracek was in some trouble, and that's Flyers analyst -- and former Flyers player -- Bill Clement asking where the freakin' whistle was as Voracek was on the ice trying to figure out what just happened to him.
There was no penalty called on the play, but it's pretty obvious that the head is the principal point of contact, which means it's definitely going to get a look from the NHL, especially since Voracek appeared to be injured as a result of the hit.
Voracek scored his 12th goal of the season earlier in the game.
Given the issues the Flyers have had this season with concussions (Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Brayden Schenn, James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Matt Read have all missed games due to one this year) there has to be some concern in Philadelphia after watching that hit.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:55 am
There is a growing trend in hockey and quite frankly, it's stupid. That's the best word I can think of to describe it.
There is a lot of discussion these days in the NHL on fighting and hitting. The two physical aspects of the game were already intertwined, but they seem to be colliding even more these days. With Brendan Shanahan's focus on removing bad hits from the game through the use of his Shanahammer, maybe the players are more on edge and aware of it themselves.
Here's what I don't get. The old-school hockey people continue to complain about these measures taking hitting out of hockey. Players don't seem to want anything to do with that, nor do many fans -- removing hitting, that is.
So why is it that when a player delivers a clean but vicious hit in today's NHL, they have to "answer the bell" as Ryan Kesler of the Canucks put it? I understand fully the concept of a guy having to answer for a bad hit. After all, that's one of the biggest arguments people use for justifying fighting in hockey, the enforcers are out there to discourage the other team from taking cheap shots at your teammates. If any liberties are taken, then you'll have the liberty of meeting the other team's tough guy.
As long as fighting is "allowed" -- I'll play along with Gary Bettman's semantics game that fighting isn't allowed, it is punished -- I have no qualms about a player having to answer to somebody's fists about a bad hit. That's a case of reaping what you sew when you add a couple of the bad stitches into the equation.
But enough is enough with fights after good, clean hits. Nothing is going to take hitting out of the game faster than players having to face a fight for every good check they deliver.
It happens on a seemingly nightly basis in the NHL. The best, most recent example came on Wednesday night in a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks. It was after that game that Kesler talked about answering the bell. What he was referring to was a bit hit levied on him by Niklas Kronwall. Here's a look at the play.
Could the Canucks have some beef with the hit? OK, a little. Kronwall did leave the ice to make the hit, but it was a man coming at him with the puck on his stick. Also, right or wrong, there was no penalty given on the play. Still, Kesler was revved up and obviously wanted a piece of Kronwall.
“I like the hit, but my only problem with the hit is that he doesn’t stand up for himself,” Kesler said. “If you're going hit guys like that, you're going to have to drop the gloves.
“I gotta get my head up. Obviously you see him backing up and you know that’s his move there. I think you have to put the blame on the ‘hittee’ a little bit, but I also think he’s gotta stand up for himself.”
The always vocal Kevin Bieksa put his two cents in on the situation as well.
"Because how sneaky it is, it's a little bit dirty," Bieksa said after the game. "If you're going to do that, you should pay the price and he hasn't paid the price yet. So he loses a little respect in my book."
So let me get this straight: Kesler had no problems with the hit and even implicated himself for part of the responsibility but thinks Kronwall still needs to put his dukes up? Why? Because, as Bieksa puts it, it was sneaky? If you have no problems with the actual hit, then requesting the guy to fight isn't the answer. You guys still have more time to play, you are free to hit Kronwall in return.
Thanks to the magic of HBO and 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic we saw another example of this concept at work.
In the Rangers' recent visit to the Phoenix Coyotes, Mike Rupp was seen laying a good, solid hit along the boards on Kyle Chipchura. Moments later he is being jumped by the Coyotes' Raffi Torres, whereupon the refs immediately come in and are insisting to Torres it was a clean hit from Rupp. (NSFW Warning: In case you didn't know, NHL players -- and the refs -- have potty mouths. You've been warned.)
As a side note, maybe the most interesting part of the second episode was following the refs into their locker room where they discussed the hit a little further.
Now neither of this incident or the Kronwall/Kesler one resulted in a fight, but that wasn't for the lack of trying from the instigators. There have been plenty of other hits this season that have led to fights after what the referees and later the NHL deemed were OK hits.
Quite frankly, players getting aggressive toward others for clean hits is as threatening to hitting in the game as any league official. If guys are going to have to "answer the bell" when players come knocking after a good hit, then in essence the players themselves are discouraging hitting among their fellow athletes.
It almost feels like a machismo thing to me. A guy gets clobbered during play so he has to save face and get the guy back. Not to sound like a cranky old man, but I'm tired of it.
Don't read this as an anti-fighting column. It's not that. Instead it is anti-stupid fighting. Asking guys to drop the gloves are good hits is a waste of time -- literally as the player will have to sit at least five minutes if he gets the fight. Just get back up and play hockey.
Posted on: November 23, 2011 10:44 am
Edited on: November 23, 2011 1:29 pm
By: Adam Gretz
In the closing seconds of his team's 3-2 win in St. Louis on Tuesday night, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was issued a two-minute minor for cross-checking T.J. Oshie face-first into the boards. At first glance, during real-time and on the normal broadcast view, it didn't look to be anything out of the ordinary, other than your run-of-the-mill cross-checking minor.
From the second angle, it appeared to be a little worse, with Doughty hitting a vulnerable player into the boards in a dangerous spot. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after the game that Oshie should be OK.
On Wednesday the NHL announced that Doughty has been fined $2,500 for the play.
Here's a look at the video, via The Score:
Andy Strickland spoke with Doughty following the game as he offered his point of view on the play, saying, “I thought he turned at the last minute, I was just trying to finish my man. I saw him take a peak and maybe I should have done a shoulder hit as opposed to a cross-check but I had no intention of hurting him and I hope he’s OK."
Just last week the Blues had one of their own players, forward Chris Stewart, an otherwise clean player, receive a three-game banishment from the NHL for a similar push into the boards.
More NHL Discipline News Here
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 5:20 pm
Here is the video from Brendan Shanahan explaining the decision.
When the hit was made, everybody immediately jumped to the question of how many games? There didn't seem to be much if on the suspension question, just how much. Now we have our answer.
In Shanahan's explanation he notes the primary fact that Stewart saw Kronwall's number for some time before delivering the hit. Heading into the boards with a player on his back, Shanny said it was his belief that Kronwall was defenseless and it was then on Stewart to avoid or at least minimize the hit. Instead, he shoved Kronwall, resulting in a dangerous-looking colision with the wall.
"It's a situation that we accept and we move on with," Blues GM Doug Armstrong said in a statement. "But I just want to be 100 percent crystal clear that our support for the type of player Stewart is hasn't wavered. He's a very honest, hard player. This is a hockey play that went awry."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock defended his player, explaining that Stewart was anticipating a reverse check from Kronwall on the play and that there was no intent for him to injure Kronwall. That's not how the sherriff saw it.
In an interesting twist, Kronwall actually took blame for the hit from Stewart. According to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free-Press, Kronwall absolved Stewart of blame on the play.
The other big points that Shanahan has taken into consideration in the past -- i.e. whether or not an injury resulted from the hit and any past record of the offender -- weren't even met in this case. Kronwall was OK after the hit and Stewart has nothing to speak of in his past to qualify him as a repeat offender. Yet he still received three games.
Imagine if Stewart did have any priors on his resume or if Kronwall were hit from the check. We could have been looking at more than five games for this same act. The call for three games is right where I thought it'd be. It was a bad hit from start to finish and not even a clean record was going to save Stewart here.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 10:47 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 10:51 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Chris Stewart might need to open up his schedule for a discussion with Brendan Shanahan in the near future.
The St. Louis Blues forward had a short night during his team's 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, playing just a little over three minutes before he was issued a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking Niklas Kronwall from behind midway through the first period.
Stewart is definitely a physical player, but he has a pretty clean reputation and has never been issued any supplemental discipline from the league. Still, it's hard to imagine that he won't be hearing from the league regarding this play.
Kronwall left the game for a brief period of time but was able to eventually return. The Red Wings were unable to take advantage of the power play time, failing to score on the five-minute advantage.
Click Here For More NHL Discipline News
Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:37 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 11:48 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The Detroit Red Wings lost their fifth straight game on Tuesday night, dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to the Minnesota Wild thanks to a Devin Setoguchi power play goal 1:33 into the extra period, just 24 seconds after Johan Franzen was sent off for goaltender interference. Setoguchi was standing just outside the crease to bang in a rebound for his fourth goal of the season to end the game, but it's what happened just prior that has Red Wings fans a little upset.
To the moving pictures!
After Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu, who scored his first goal of the season earlier in the game, attempted a one-timer from the top of the circle that was blocked, he and Detroit's Niklas Kronwall were involved in a race for the puck that ended when Koivu delivered a hit that left the newly signed Red Wings defenseman a bit stunned. But was it interference?
You can check out the entire Interference rule (Rule 56) in the NHL rule book right here. Do Red Wings fans have a legitimate gripe? Or is this is a good non-call and a good hockey play by Koivu? I'll say this: I've seen it called for less.
In other news, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports, via Twitter, that Kronwall was injured on the play and will be reevaluated on Wednesday. Rough night for the Red Wings.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:31 am
Edited on: October 31, 2011 10:33 am
By: Adam Gretz
There has been a lot of talk for a couple of weeks now that the Detroit Red Wings and defenseman Niklas Kronwall were involved in contract talks, and on Monday the team announced, via Twitter, that the two sides have come to an agreement on a seven-year contract extension.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the contract has an average annual salary of $4.75 million.
The 31-year-old Kronwall is currently in his eighth year with the Red Wings after being a first-round selection by the team in 2000. He's scored 35 goals and recorded 148 assists in 394 games, and is perhaps best known for his physical style of play and crushing open-ice hits. Had a new contract not been worked out prior to July 1, he would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency and would have no doubt been one of the top players on the market. This new deal makes him the focal point of the Red Wings defense going forward (well, he will be when Nicklas Lidstrom retires).
With Kronwall secured through the 2018-19 season the Red Wings now have Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Jonathan Ericsson signed together for at least the next three years.