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Tag:Phoenix Coyotes
Posted on: February 25, 2012 10:50 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 11:03 pm
 

Winners & Losers: Coyotes, Kings and Capitals



By: Adam Gretz


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.

Winners

1. Phoenix Coyotes: Is it too soon to give Dave Tippett the Jack Adams Award? Maybe, but it looks like he might have another one coming his way if this continues in Phoenix.

With their 3-1 win against the Oilers on Saturday afternoon the Coyotes won for the ninth time in the past 10 games, a stretch that has seen them go without a loss in regulation, and thanks to San Jose's loss in Nashville, they actually moved into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division. For now, anyway.

And this is a team that looked like it may not make the playoffs as recently as three weeks ago.

[Related: Coyotes 3, Oilers 1]

2. Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter's debut with the Kings was a rather large success. He didn't record a point in the Kings' 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, of course, but the fact the Kings scored four goals in a single game is impressive enough. Entering Saturday night they have scored just 18 goals in their previous 11 games.

Leading the was captain Dustin Brown as he did his part to respond to recent trade rumors with a hat trick, scoring two power play goals and a shorthanded goal, while also assisting on Willie Mitchell's second period goal.

Big-time performance for a Kings team that desperately needed it. Oh, hey, and another shutout for Jonathan Quick.

[Related: Kings 4, Blackhawks 0]

3. Washington Capitals: A fast start and a huge road win -- 4-2 over the Maple Leafs -- for what has been one of the worst road teams in the Eastern Conference . It's only the third road win for the Capitals in their past eight road games, and it allows them to keep pace with Florida and Winnipeg in the race for not only the No. 8 spot in the East, but also the top spot in the Southeast Division.

[Related: Capitals 4, Maple Leafs 2]

4. Wojtek Wolski and the Panthers: On the same day that the Florida Panthers acquired him from the New York Rangers, Wojtek Wolski was in the lineup for his new team and he not only scored his first goal of the season, it came with less than two minutes to play in the third period to tie the game at two, sending the game to overtime where the Panthers would eventually win in a shootout. That's how you make a debut and make an impact for your new team.

[Related: Panthers 3, Hurricanes 2 -- Wolski traded to Panthers]

Losers

1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Entering Saturday's game the playoff chances for the Tampa Bay Lightning were slim, especially now that the team has established itself as a seller. Their 8-1 loss to the Penguins can be described using only one word: Woof.

[Related: Penguins 8, Lightning 1 -- Malkin's highlight reel goal]

2. Toronto Maple Leafs: In what was a classic four-point game in the standings for both Toronto and Washington, the Maple Leafs got off to a slow start giving up two goals just three minutes into the first period and were never able to recover on their way to a 4-2 loss to the Capitals. The Leafs have now lost four in a row and eight out of their past nine. Perhaps being a buyer at the trade deadline isn't the best course of action for Toronto at this point.

Then again, Ron Wilson did his part to throw James Reimer in front of the bus during his post-game press conference, and seemed to be begging for a goaltender to be added. It could be an interesting 36 hours in Toronto.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:13 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:27 pm
 

Wojtek Wolski traded to Panthers

PanthersBy: Adam Gretz

For the second day in a row the Florida Panthers added to their roster, this time by acquiring veteran forward Wojtek Wolski from the New York Rangers in exchange for a third-round draft pick and Michael Vernace according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

Wolksi has appeared in just nine games this season scoring no goals and recording three assists for the Rangers. He scored 12 goals during the 2010-11 season which he split between the Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes.

For the Rangers, the biggest value they may get from this deal, along with getting any sort of a return for Wolksi given how little he's played this season, is the simple fact that they were able to clear some salary cap space in advance of Monday's trade deadline (where the Rangers are rumored to be interested in adding Columbus' Rick Nash) dumping the remaining portion of Wolksi's $3.8 million cap hit for the season.

He's eligible for restricted free agency after this season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 8:38 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 9:06 pm
 

Jeff Carter traded to Los Angeles Kings

CarterBy: Adam Gretz

The Jeff Carter era in Columbus has come to an end almost as quickly as it began.

The Blue Jackets traded the veteran forward to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round draft pick in either 2012 or 2013. The deal comes just eight months after the team acquired him in a trade from Philadelphia as one of the focal points of their offseason re-tooling.

The deal is contingent on Carter passing a physical on Friday.

“Jeff is a proven goal scorer in our league," said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi in a team statement. "He brings goal-scoring abilities, speed and at his age he is entering the prime of his career.  We also like his versatility as he can play both center and wing. We also want to wish Jack Johnson the best going forward.”

Columbus initially gave up a package of players and picks that turned out to be Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier (the player the Flyers selected with No. 7 overall pick the Jackets sent to the Flyers), as well as a third-round pick. Turning around and trading him this quickly, at what might be his lowest possible value, for a package that on the surface doesn't appear to be as good as the one they gave up for him initially is certainly eye opening.

Prior to this season Carter had scored at least 30 goals in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 46 during the 2008-09 season. He appeared in just 39 games for the Blue Jackets this year, scoring 15 goals to go with 10 assists. He still has 10 years remaining on his contract that carries a yearly salary cap hit of $5.2 million.

And with that, the firesale is underway in Columbus.

For the Kings, the deal helps to fix their primary area of weakness -- a complete lack of goal-scoring -- as the team is currently the worst offensive team in the league and one of the worst the NHL has seen in recent years. It also reunites Carter and his former teammate in Philadelphia, center Mike Richards, as both players were traded by the Flyers over the summer preceding the addition of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and forwards Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr.

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Even though he's appeared in just 39 games this season, Carter would still be tied for second on the Kings in goals (15) as of Thursday night, only two behind  Anze Kopitar.

The biggest piece going back to Columbus in this deal is Johnson, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 draft. He signed a seven-year, $30.5 million contract prior to start of this season, and while he provides a solid amount of offense from the blue line he has had his share of struggles defensively.

This is already the second trade for the Blue Jackets this week, having also sent center Antoine Vermette to Phoenix for goaltender Curtis McElhinney and a pair of draft picks on Wednesday.

Rick Nash's name continues to be the biggest one floating around the rumor mill, and he had been connected to the Kings. At this point it seems that it would be down to either the New York Rangers or San Jose Sharks for his services. Center Samuel Pahlsson is another player on the Columbus Roster that figures to draw a lot of interest before Monday's deadline.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 1:04 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Hart awfully tight, Vezina clear

Last year's winner Corey Perry poses with the Hart Trophy. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Rankings. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

The Hart Trophy is the king of trophies, the biggest and best (outside of the Stanley Cup and playoff awards, of course) in the game. It goes to the league's most valuable player.

And here's the thing about it this season: It is going to be one heck of a race to the finish to determine it. The top of the points leaderboards are scrunched. So are the playoff pictures. That means the Hart race is in the same squished mode too.

The difference between a lot of guys right now in the Hart race is like differentiating between a Lamborghini or Ferrari, you really won't go wrong either way. Then you have Mercedes Benzs, Audis and Lexuses in the conversation too. So many great choices, so few winners. Just one, in fact. We aren't Jay Leno here and buying them all.

These rankings are reflective of where they stand now. They are certainly subject to change. For example, Steven Stamkos didn't crack the list here, but if the Lightning actually overcome their five-point hole and grab a playoff spot despite selling seemingly half their team, he'd have to be in consideration without a doubt.

Keep in mind the Hart race is incredibly tight with a ton of contenders at this point. There is an argument to be made for a lot of other players as well as for the order here to be changed. I'm sure you'll make those arguments below. This is just one man's opinion.

The Hart starts with a guy who hasn't won it yet despite some awesome seasons recently. But he was hindered by another spectacularly awesome teammate who hasn't been there much to help this season.

We also look at the Vezina, which isn't anywhere near as tight as the Hart race at the top but the fighting for the finalists is fierce.

Award watch
Hart Vezina
Evgeni Malkin The Penguins have had to deal with more injury loss this season than any other team, including two of their top three centers. The third is Malkin. He leads the league in points and is second in goals. He's been the best player in the league. But this race is very tight and has a long way to go. Henrik Lundqvist The Rangers are arguably the top team in the league and Lundqvist is a massive reason why. He is tops in the league in save percentage at a whopping .940 and has a goals against of 1.78. He's separated himself from the field ... and the Rangers from the East field as well.
Henrik Lundqvist Yes, I think he's been good enough to be seriously in this conversation. He's incredibly valuable to the Rangers, that's not a question for anybody. With scoring down so much in the NHL, this is a perfect year for a goaltender to win the Hart again. Jonathan Quick He means as much to the Kings as Lundqvist does to the Rangers and I'm not going to penalize a goaltender for his offense's lack of production. His 1.96 goals against and .931 save percentage are very good. He's the only reason Los Angeles is still fighting for a playoff berth.
Claude Giroux He was asked to carry a lot more of the load in Philadelphia this season and he has. Despite missing a few games with a concussion, the 24-year-old Giroux is set to pass his career highs very soon with 23 goals and 47 assists already despite playing just 55 games. He's had to with Philly's defense. Jimmy Howard Despite recently missing three weeks in February with a broken finger, Howard is still second in the league in wins with 32 (one behind Pekka Rinne). He is having a career season with a 2.03 goals against average and .924 save percentage and is a big reason why the Wings have returned to the top of the West.
Radim Vrbata Why not? He has 30 goals and counting on the season for the Coyotes, a team that otherwise relies on defense. That's 12 more than anybody else on the team. Aside from Ray Whitney, everybody on the team is at least 16 points behind Vrbata. For a team expected to be in the basement, he deserves a lot of credit. Brian Elliott The only thing keeping Elliott this far down the list is the fact that he splits almost 50/50 in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak. But his 1.65 goals against average and .937 save percentage are obscene. However he'll be hurt by Halak's success as well as the Ken Hitchcock argument ... he makes all goalies look good.
Jason Spezza The assumption before the season was that the Senators were going to be in the running for the best lottery position, not the Northeast Division crown with the Bruins. But here they are and Spezza's 27 goals and 39 assists are a massive reason why. So is Erik Karlsson, but he'll show up elsewhere. Tim Thomas Last year's runaway with the Vezina, Thomas isn't having the season he did a year ago. But in his defense, nobody ever had before him either. He's still excellent with his .929 save percentage and 2.21 goals against. For now he barely beats out Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne in this race for me.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Norris: Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom.

Calder: Adam Henrique, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Read.

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella.

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Glen Sather, Don Maloney.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:01 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:40 am
 

Morning Skate: Playoff ramifications galore


By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

In this day and age with only two teams -- two! -- in the entire NHL being more than 10 points out of a playoff spot, it's hard to find a game on the schedule that isn't carrying a huge impact on the playoff picture. Save for Edmonton playing Columbus, they all have an impact.

That holds even if you have two teams hanging on by life support. Which is just what is on the schedule on Thursday night.

7 ET, Anaheim at Carolina: This is pretty much hockey's equivalent of a loser leave town match. The Hurricanes are eight points back of a playoff position, the Ducks are six back. So, you know, you can't lose this game if you want to stay in the conversation.

To be sure, both face very long odds. More specifically, the 'Canes have a 2.94 percent chance of seeing the postseason according to sportsclubstats.com while the Ducks have a 5.52 percentage.

For Anaheim it brings an end to one hellacious road trip that has been going since what feels like the All-Star break. And they've done very well on it until their last momentum-killing game, a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And Carolina? Well they are actually starting to brim with confidence. They just smacked down the Capitals 5-0 -- then again, who isn't these days? -- and are finally getting the expected production from Eric Staal.

So we have two teams near (or at, in Carolina's case in the East) the bottom of the standings playing some of the best hockey in the league. The game is make or break for both. Should be fun.

7 ET, San Jose at Toronto: The Maple Leafs are still in the thick of the futility battle that is the race for eighth in the East/the Southeast Division. It's like everybody has hit a slump together, giving hope to teams that once appeared on the outs. Toronto is no different.

The goaltending was looking good not long ago. Now Leafs fans are begging for help. They are 1-5-1 in the last seven games. In the last six games -- one OT win in there -- they have yielded 27 goals. That's 4.5 per game. They need to take advantage of the home games they have left, starting tonight.

The Sharks, meanwhile, find themselves actually in a battle for the Pacific Division crown. As of now, they are tied with the surging Coyotes. Now the Sharks do have two games in hand on Phoenix, but those do you no good if you don't win them.

On their own whirlwind road trip, the Sharks are riding a four-game losing streak, three in a row without points. Apparently they think the race for eighth looks so interesting they thought they might play their way into it. As of now, they are only three points up on that eighth spot, but again, have games in hand.

7:30 ET, Vancouver at Detroit: Here's the game of the night without a doubt. Neither team is fighting for their playoff lives, instead they are fighting each other for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Oh, and there is something about a 23-game home winning streak being on the line for the Red Wings? I suppose that might garner some interest here too.

But in reality this game is massive on many levels. In addition to the two-point discrepancy between the teams in the standings, it would do the Canucks a world of good to knock off Detroit at the Joe, prove to themselves that they can do it in case it comes up again at playoff time.

Unfortunately for the Wings -- and fans -- Pavel Datsyuk won't be in the lineup for the Wings, sitting out a couple weeks after having his knee scoped.

9 ET, Phoenix at Calgary: This is the West battle being waged in Calgary right here. The Coyotes have been on fire, winning eight of their last nine games and shooting into not only seventh place in the West but in a tie with the Sharks in the Pacific. And they just added Antoine Vermette.

If Phoenix takes two points tonight, you start to wonder if they can prepare for some playoff games in the desert again. Of course that's no guarantee, but they'd be in one good position for it.

But don't sleep on the Flames. They enter the day in ninth place, one back of the Kings and this will be their one game in hand. Here's what makes the Flames a real threat for a playoff berth, if you can believe that. They have 22 games remaining, 14 of them come at home. That's as favorable as any playoff hopeful down the stretch run.

Also worth watching: The Panthers host the Wild with Florida still clinging to the Southeast lead and Minnesota still clinging to their playoff hopes.

The Blues and Predators renew acquaintances in their continued battle for that crucial fourth seed in the West. The Preds have just owned the Blues this season.

The Stars visit the Blackhawks where Chicago has reeled off four in a row after the nine-game losing streak. Dallas is another team that's hanging within striking distance in the West.

The Lightning visit the Jets with Winnipeg entering in a tie for both the Southeast lead and the eighth spot in the East. They need to win these games since they've played more than any team. But the Lightning are still clawing, hanging five points back of the playoffs.

Your promised miscellany

  • Capitals coach Dale Hunter was hard on goaltender Tomas Vokoun after Washington's second big loss in a row on Wednesday. Of course, without Vokoun, there's no telling how low the Caps would be this season. He's been good for them the majority of the season. (Washington Times)
  • Here's a good read from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun about the always interesting P.K. Subban of the Canadiens. (ESPN.com)
  • Now this is entertaining. Check out Maxime Talbot of the Flyers taking on a fan in a Just Dance 3 challenge at the team's recent fair. (Puck Daddy)
  • While Milan Michalek scored one very pretty goal against the Capitals, Mathieu Perreault had one ugly goal that tried to make him ugly (the puck went in off his face). Guess what? They both counted as one score.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:17 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 11:38 pm
 

Winners & Losers: Karlsson, Capitals, Ruutu



By: Adam Gretz

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.

You know things are going bad for the Washington Capitals when the only way they can seem to generate some offense is when Mathieu Perreault has to get hit in the face with a puck, as shown in the above video. It was his 10th of the season, and probably the most painful goal he's scored in his brief career.

Unfortunately, that was probably the only highpoint of the night for the Capitals.

Winners

1. Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators: Over their past four games the Ottawa Senators are outscoring their opponents 21-4, and that includes their 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

It was also another huge performance for defenseman Erik Karlsson as he recorded another three more points, scoring a goal and chipping in two assists, to push his season total to 60. That's now a 20-point lead over the No. 2 scoring defenseman in the NHL, Florida's Brian Campbell.

That is absurd, folks.

The other big star of the night for Ottawa was Milan Michalek as he scored a highlight reel goal in the first period to open scoring, and added another later in the game when he deflected a Karlsson slap shot past Vokoun. Thanks to his two-goal performance he's now set a new career high with 27 goals.

[Related: Senators 5, Capitals 2 -- Karlsson's big year -- Michalek's goal]

2. Tuomo Ruutu's bank account: At this rate trade deadline day is going to come down to whatever the Columbus Blue Jackets do and not much else. For the second time in two weeks the Carolina Hurricanes took one of the most talked about players off the trade market with a long-term contract extension, signing the forward to a four-year contract with $4.75 million per season.

That's a hefty price tag for the Hurricanes, but for a team that's closer to the salary cap floor than the salary cap ceiling, it's probably not that big of an issue.

[Related: 'Canes sign Ruutu]

3. Paul Stastny and the Avs playoff push: Every game down the stretch is important for the Colorado Avalanche, especially when it's against a team that they're chasing in the standings like the Los Angeles Kings. Paul Stastny led the way for Colorado on Wednesday scoring a pair of goals in a 4-1 win to pull to within two points of the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is currently occupied by the Kings.

Stastny and the Avs managed to do what few other teams have been able to do this season, which is get the best of Jonathan Quick, chasing him from the net after the first period, scoring on three of their 11 shots.

[Related: Avs 4, Kings 1]

Losers

1.The Washington Capitals: Already without Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals had to hit the ice on Wednesday without Alex Ovechkin due to what was described as a lower body injury, and it goes without saying that those are two huge blows. But man, this team is quickly going in the wrong direction having won just four of its past 15 games.

Like the other two playoff contenders in the Southeast Division, the biggest thing keeping them in the playoff hunt at this point is the collective mediocrity of the division.

2. The Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets are obviously sellers at this point, but the decision to trade Antoine Vermette, a skilled, very useful player having a down year at what his probably his lowest possible value for what amounts to a throw-in goalie and two draft picks --  a second and a fifth -- is just … bizarre.

Vermette still has a couple of years remaining on his contract and unless the Blue Jackets think the bottom is about to fall out on his career, there shouldn't have been any rush to trade him for such a small return. The most valuable asset they received in return was a second-round draft pick, and as I pointed out last week, the odds of such a pick turning into a useful NHL player at some point down the line aren't exactly high. Especially if it's a mid-to-late pick in the round.

[Related: Vermette traded to Coyotes]

3. The Kings (lack of) offense: If Jonathan Quick doesn't stop every single shot he faces, the Los Angeles Kings don't have a chance right now. After scoring just one goal on Wednesday they've managed to score just 15 goals in their past 10 games. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that they've won just two of those games.

[Related: How would Nash fit in with the Kings?]

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 22, 2012 1:14 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 4:16 pm
 

Coyotes acquire Vermette from Blue Jackets

Vermette had been with the Jackets since being traded from Ottawa in 2009. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Blue Jackets fire sale has begun with the trading of center Antoine Vermette to the Phoenix Coyotes. Bob McKenzie of TSN broke the news of the deal.

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports that the return to Columbus is a second-round draft pick, a fifth-round (possibly fourth) and a goalie too in Curtis McElhinney.

Columbus GM Scott Howson told the Dispatch on Tuesday that the team was getting closer to a deal. No kidding.

The Coyotes get themselves a good center who had hit a rough spot in Columbus this season. He has just eight goals and 19 assists this season but it was only two years ago that he scored 27 goals while recording 38 assists for the Jackets. There isn't any reason to think a change of scenery and the jolt of joining a playoff race could spark him back to those bigger offensive numbers.

“We are extremely pleased to acquire Antoine,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said. “He is a smart, skilled, two-way center who will be a great addition to our lineup.”

What makes the deal a bit more interesting for Phoenix is that Vermette, 29, isn't a rental player at all. In fact, he's kind of pricey, and for a team that is being run by the NHL, you don't necessarily expect that. Vermette still has three years left on his contract after this for $3.75 million per season.

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It also makes it very clear that the Coyotes believe this recent hot streak of theirs can last. They have won eight of nine and vaulted into a tie with the Sharks in the Pacific Division. Now they want to make sure it can last and acquire Vermette to help.

Really, it's another shrewd move for one of the better GMs in the game, Maloney. Considering the high prices that players have been going for or rumored to be going for, this is a reasonable price for Vermette. The fifth-round in the draft can often just be a crap-shoot and the second round surprisingly can be too, as Adam Gretz detailed.

The Jackets get those two draft picks but also get McElhinney, an AHL goalie for the Coyotes who has spent some time in the NHL. Spanning five seasons, McElhinney has played 69 career games with a career save percentage of .899 and a 3.10 goals against average. Not a whole lot to inspire Columbus fans that he can be their next starting goaltender.

Of course with the season Vermette is having, Howson likely wasn't going to be able to get a big bounty, so in that regard it's not bad. He gets three assets and maybe more importantly gets Vermette's contract off the books as the team looks like it is heading toward scrapping the organization and starting over.

"This gives us more flexibility," Howson told the Dispatch. "It's never fun trading anybody. I don't think any GM enjoys that. But this is about us moving the team forward."

Maloney talked about the trade a little later on Wednesday and sounds like one pretty happy GM.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:03 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 2:07 pm
 

Clifford avoids suspension for hit on Brule

By Brian Stubits

Kyle Clifford's five-minute major for a hit on Coyotes defenseman Gilbert Brule likely cost the Kings the game in Phoenix on Tuesday night, but luckily for him that's all it will cost him.

After technically being suspended because of the match penalty until the league could review, there was no hearing scheduled by the league and thus no suspension for Clifford.

Late in the game with the Kings holding a 4-3 lead -- shocking, I know -- Brule pushed the puck up the ice along the boards through the neutral zone and watched as the play developed ahead of him. Moments later Clifford came from behind and delivered a hit that was either to the high chest or the head. Either way it ended up getting Brule's head and Clifford was shown the gate while also being given a five-minute major.

As you can hear, the Kings broadcasters -- who I must recognize as being some of the most impartial and rational home-team announcers in the NHL -- debate whether it was a hit to the head or not of Brule. What they can't argue is that the hit was delivered very high on Brule and as a result if nothing else the follow through caught Brule's head.

I didn't think Shanahan would go easy Clifford in this case. The hit was unnecessary; it came to an unsuspecting player more or less from behind well after the puck had advanced up the ice. Throw in the placement of the hit and Brule leaving the game and you get the sense it's going to be a couple games minimum for Clifford.

But I admit, I'm as lost as a lot of people with what's OK and what's not.

Plays like this seem to have greatly reduced as the season has gone along, Shanny hasn't seemed anywhere near as busy to me in the past few weeks. So perhaps the players are learning, but there will still be hits coming through like this.

On the season Clifford has four goals and six assists for the Kings, playing the dirty minutes on the bottom lines for L.A.

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For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com