Sunday, November 30, 2014

Linesmen Break up Fight between Neil and Thornton, to Chagrin of Both

Ottawa's Chris Neil recorded a Gordie Howe Hat Trick on Friday in Florida, but before he and Shawn Thornton (and fight-loving fans) could get their money's worth out of the deal, the conflict was broken up by linesmen who reacted deftly when Thornton's helmet came off.

Though Panther's broadcaster and Hall of Famer Denis Potvin likened it to "turning out the lights on Gladiator," the NHL has given linesmen the latitude to step in and put the kibosh on fights when helmets become removed, whenever possible and safe to do so.

Here's some official jargon, per Darren Dreger's report from 2013:

"NHL linesmen have been instructed to stop a fight when the participants opt to remove their helmets prior to swapping blows.

This isn’t a rule change, simply a common sense approach to encourage players to protect their head at all times.

There is nothing formal about this strategy. It was implemented shortly after the preseason where it became evident players weren’t concerned about the additional two-minute penalty for removing their helmets to fight…even though the rule was introduced entirely for player safety.

Linesmen now have the authority to step in, when it is safe to do so, and stop a fight when the combatants purposely take off their helmets."

Neil, who along with Thornton seemed eager to continue the tussle, should have known. No helmet = maybe no fight.

Now, whether or not the whole fight was staged just so Neil could get the Howe Hat Trick, that's another question entirely.

Darryl Sutter Calls Blackhawks "Best Team in the League"

After the Blackhawks trounced the Kings, 4-1, in their first meeting since last year's memorable seven-game Western Conference Final, Kings' coach Darryl Sutter threw out some high praise for Chicago.

“They're the best team in the league and that's clear,” Sutter said after the game. “Through the first two months of the year. If you give them two goals, you're going to probably get your [butt] kicked. And that's exactly what happened.”

The standings don't currently point to Chicago being the league's best team. That distinction belongs to the Nashville Predators, who lead the NHL's Western Conference with 34 points in 23 games. But Mr. Sutter is certainly entitled to his own opinion, and his own motivational tactics.

ESPN's Stirring E:60 Profile on Islanders' Defenseman Travis Hamonic

E:60 Travis Hamonic - In the Name of the Father

Don't know the story of Travis Hamonic, the Islanders' 24-year-old defenseman? Sit down, grab some tissues and prepare to be moved/inspired...

Read more about Hamonic here

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Video: Hayes' Stick Gets Stuck in Lecavalier's Earhole

Simply put, it has been this kind of a year for the Philadelphia Flyers. The Broad Streeters gave up three third-period goals to lose the second half of their home-and-home with the Rangers on Saturday, and have now gone 1-7-1 in their last nine games to drop to 8-12-3 and sixth place in the Metropolitan Division.

Oh, and Vinny Lecavalier had a little difficulty with getting a stick stuck in his helmet in the first period to boot. Lecavalier, who has six points in 16 games and is a minus-4 for the season, had to pull the helmet off in order to finally join the play.

Like we said--it's been that kind of a year for Philly.

According to, the Rangers have won the past 10 regular-season home games against the Flyers dating back to March 6, 2011. The longest home winning streak by the Rangers against an opponent is 11 games, also against the Flyers from Jan. 14, 1990 to Nov. 4, 1992.

"This has nothing to do with the coach, nothing to do with systems, it's on us," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Video: Sabres Get Rare win on Lucky-Ass Goal by Matt Moulson

Wins have not come easy for the Buffalo Sabres in the 2014-2015 season, and that axiom proved true again on Saturday, but thanks to a strange, fortuitous bounce, Matt Moulson flicked home the game-winning power play goal (his fourth of the season) to give the Sabres a 2-1 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens (see video of lucky-ass goal above). Could there be a more perfect errant bounce off the boards if you're a Buffalo fan?

Buffalo improves to 7-14-2 with the victory, but they still have the NHL's worst goal differential at minus-34.

Montreal, still atop the Atlantic Division at 16-7-1, has lost two straight.

Video: Marian Hossa Robbed by Frederik Anderson, Tosses Stick in Disgust

Question: Was this a really brilliant save by Anaheim Ducks' goalie Frederik Anderson, or a really poor job of lifting a backhand by Chicago Blackhawks' winger Marian Hossa? Judging from Hossa's reaction after the play, it might have been more the latter than the former. In any case, Chicago notched a big Western Conference victory against Anaheim, 4-1, behind 38 shots on goal and two markers from Patrick Kane (his 9th and 10th of the season).

Chicago improves to 14-8-1 with the win, but is still in sixth place, six points behind Western Conference leading Anaheim and Vancouver.

As for Hossa, he was last seen in the tunnel outside the Chicago dressing room, working on getting some air beneath his backhand...

Martin St. Louis Notches 1,000th NHL Point

Martin St. Louis became the fifth active NHLer to notch 1,000 points when he scored his ninth goal of the season in Philadelphia on Friday afternoon during the Rangers' 3-0 victory over the Flyers. St. Louis, 39, is the 81st player in NHL history to reach the milestone.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Magic Man Pavel Datsyuk Bats Home Bouncing Puck vs. Flyers

Pavel Datsyuk returned from a four-game absence due to a groin injury on Wednesday in Motown, and though it took a period and a half, the Russian was up to his usual Datsyukian craftiness by the end of the Red Wings 5-2 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday night (see video of Datsyuk taking out the five-iron to bunt this puck ever so softly--yet accurately--past Flyers' goalie Ray Emery. And if you think it looks easy, try it yourself a 100 times or so and see if you can do it).

Datsyuk tallied twice in the second period, and finished a plus-2 in 14:14 minutes of ice time, increasing his 2014 totals to 7-6-13 in 11 games.

"I feel good. I have not played many games and feels like I had a lot of energy," said Datsyuk, who helped the Wings improve to 12-5-5, which is good for third in the Atlantic Division.

The Flyers, meanwhile, have lost six of seven, and have failed to win in their last six road games.

"We've got a couple of guys who aren't competing hard enough, and the result was goals," Flyers coach Craig Berube said.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dallas' John Klingberg Fires a 75-Foot Knuckler Past Viktor Fasth

When you're tied for last in the NHL in points, it's pretty safe to say that things aren't going well for your squad. That's true of the Edmonton Oilers, who've struggled all season to build any kind of momentum, and after this goal by Dallas Stars' defenseman John Klingberg, it's doubly true.

This may have been a SERIOUSLY lucky goal for Klingberg (did that puck have eyes?), which sailed through the air like a sparrow with a chemical imbalance in its brain before finding the twine behind Edmonton netminder Viktor Fasth, but the Stars' rookie is now skillfully averaging a point a game in his first 8 NHL games after also picking up an assist on Tuesday night on Tyler Seguin's backhand goal.

The assist may have not been lucky, but judging from the replay, it was just about 75 feet also (sweet feed)...

The Stars won the game, 3-2, dropping Edmonton to a dismal 6-14-2 for the season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Leafs Give Up Most Goals Since '91 in Blowout Loss to Preds

The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs gave up nine or more goals, Doug Gilmour hadn't even been acquired by the club yet and the Leafs ended up finishing in last place in the Norris Division. On Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre the Leafs gave up nine at home to the hungry Nashville Predators, who greedily tacked on five markers in the third stanza to leave the Leafs dispirited and their fans flummoxed after a 9-2 drubbing to the upstarts from Nashville.

Was it just one of those nights or are the cracks in Toronto's armor starting to be revealed?

Hard to say. The good news for Toronto is that they are still playing above .500 hockey and would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

But that didn't stop fans and members of the media from feeling that the season HAD ended today and that the sky was also falling:

“When you get beat like that in professional sport it’s embarrassing and to get beat like that in front of your home fans, it compounds the issue,” said captain Dion Phaneuf. “It’s something that we obviously went through and it’s unacceptable by our group to have a performance like that.”

Toronto will look for a big bounce-back game when they face the Tampa Bay Lighting on Thursday at home.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Keith Ballard Goes for Two Hip Checks, Gets Beat Up

Minnesota's Keith Ballard has long been one of the NHL's best practitioners of the hip check (just google it), and on Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets at the Xcel Energy Center, he connected beautifully on Adam Pardy, sending the pinching d-man flying, feet-first into the air. Giddy from his success, Ballard next tried to take down Evander Kane, who was also skating down the wall, but he missed and then got walloped into the boards by Dustin Byfuglien.

A good time was had by all, in other words.

Not quite sure why connecting on an entirely clean check gets you beat up in today's NHL, but I can also understand why hip checks are taken as an insult.

The Wild won, 4-3 in overtime, on Marco Scandella's OT winner.

Somehow, Nino Niederreiter Sneaks the Backhand Past Pavelec

Minnesota Wild's Nino Niederreiter made this superhuman play look easy during the first period of the Wild's 4-3 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. The goal was the 22-year-old's team-leading eighth marker of the season, and it put the Swiss native's athleticism on full display as somehow while falling over the goaltender's pads, and behind the goal line, AND ON ONE SKATE!!!, Nedierreiter has the presence and the hands to finagle the puck onto the backand and slide it into the net. Slick stuff from the kid.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cornell's Mike Schafer Calls Quinnipiac's Coach a Classless A**hole

After Cornell's 1-0 loss to Qunnipiac on Saturday, Cornell's head coach Mike Schafer let the fur fly in his post-game presser, calling Quinnipiac's coach Rand Pecknold a classless a**hole among other things. Listen to the high quality audio above, if you wish...

Schafer was upset that Pecknold argued with refs that Cornell's Cole Bardreau embellished the hit from behind into the boards by Quinnipiac's Matthew Peca to draw the penalty. Peca was awarded a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the play.

"We're not NHL hockey," says Schafer. "The kid gets hurt and goes down, you don't start yelling from the bench and looking for extra minutes or no minutes. You're concerned for the kid. If it was his kid that goes into the boards, I'd be a little concerned. Maybe not anymore."

Minnesota's Vinni Lettieri Blocks Slapper with Head

Minnesota got the sweep of its series with Notre Dame this weekend, taking Friday night's decision 5-0, then coming up with a 4-2 win on Sunday, but the weekend was not without loss.

Gophers' forward Vinni Lettieri took a puck to the head off the stick of Irish d-man Robbie Russo and went down on the ice immediately afterwards.

Lettieri was not on the bench for the remainder of the game.

The good news is that Lettieri got up and skated off the ice with the help of his teammates, according to SB Nation.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Gods Were Kind to Sidney Crosby on This Game Winner vs. Winnipeg

So, this is how Sid the kid got the Pittsburgh Penguins over the hump in their shootout victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Crosby's seeing-eye shootout beauty, guided over the goal line by an invisible god in a Pens' jersey no doubt, was the difference for the Pens as they defeated the Jets.

Thanks to @MyRegularFace for the Gif

A bit of a shame for the Winnipeg Jets, who tied the Pens in the third when Evander Kane scored his 100th career goal on a wrister after sneaking behind the Pittsburgh D, but the Jets can be comforted by the fact that they have points in their last seven games.

As for Pittsburgh, they've won six in a row, and if they keep getting bounces like Crosby's shootout goal, we should expect that streak to continue.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gif: Canucks' Bonino Scores Bogus Goal vs. Avs

Two questions about this sorry excuse for a goal by Vancouver's Nick Bonino, which ended up to be the game winner in the Canucks 5-2 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night in Denver:

1. How is this a goal?

And how is this a wrist shot?

Thanks to @Myregularface for the gif

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Jonas Hiller Wipes out and Everybody Smiles

Play of the night in the NHL? Hardly, but it did put a smile on Canadiens fan's faces, and also Jonas Hiller.

Montreal may have won this battle, but the Flames and Hiller won the war, improving to 7-4-2 with the 6-2 beatdown of the Habs.