Sunday, February 28, 2016

Watch: Wilds' Haula Makes Incredible End-to-End Rush and Scores

Don't know who Erik Haula is (we do realize that most of you probably do)? Then take :25 out of your busy day to watch this amazing play. It's kind of an odyssey, really. First Haula makes a nifty play to poke the puck off the boards and around Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, then he steals the puck from Aleksander Barkov and splits two defenders (Barkov and Erik Gudbrandson) before warding off a last-ditch stick check from Gudbrandson while depositing the puck over Roberto Luongo's shoulder, off the post and in.

Grit, determination, creativity and skill. All in one end-to-end rush.

It's probably why Haula leads the Wild in plus-minus and now has eleven points in eleven games.

Watch: Dylan Strome Undresses Four Niagara Ice Dogs and Scores

The third overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft might need some better competition next season. Watch as Dylan Strome weaves his way through four Niagara Ice Dog defenders before notching his 33rd goal of the season for the Erie Otters during Sunday action at Niagara. Those boos you hear after the goal are fans who were quick to recognize--and get angry about--the fact that four defenders should be able to stop one guy.

Ah, but full credit goes to the 18-year-old Mississauga native. He made a breathtaking play, dangling and darting in to the open space before finishing his statement with authority. He should be a fun watch when he gets the call to join the Coyotes in the NHL.

Pens Gamble on Schultz, Hoping He'll Fit in

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired much-maligned defenseman Justin Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers for a third-round pick. Schultz is considered a reclamation project, as the offensive defenseman has struggled in Edmonton for the last two seasons after showing promise in his rookie season when he was seventh in Calder voting.

"He's still a pretty young guy," said Penguins G.M. Jim Rutherford. "There's some things that he has to work on with his game. We think a change of scenery is going to be good. We'll see how the fit is."

As far as Schultz' struggles in Edmonton, Rutherford doesn't believe that they are all his fault.

"Sometimes when you have that many young players it can be difficult for everybody," he said.

When asked about Schultz's defensive deficiencies, Rutherford admitted that it was a fair scouting report.

"We want to get as many NHL guys here so we have depth at all positions. We'll see how this sorts out--who he ends up playing with when he plays."

Schultz says he's excited to put his struggles with the Oilers behind him. “Really excited to come to Pittsburgh," he said. "I think it will suit my game well. I got to the NHL by being a good offensive defenseman. That maybe got away from me a little bit this year. Hopefully, I'll get it back and not be a liability defensively but want the puck and go.”

The Oilers are picking up half of Schultz's contract, and the 25-year-old will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Schultz has 10 points in 45 games for the Oilers this season. He's a minus-22.

Rangers Land Eric Staal for Draft Picks and Prospect

The New York Rangers landed a big prize just ahead of tomorrow's trade deadline, pulling Eric Staal for prospect Aleksi Saarela plus a second-round draft pick in each of the next two drafts.

Staal, 31, has spent his whole career with the Hurricanes, amassing 322 career goals and 775 points. He won the Stanley Cup in Carolina in 2006 and has 19 playoff goals in 43 games.

Though his numbers are down this season (10-23-33), Staal is expected to step in with the Rangers in a leadership role, and he'll no doubt be energized by joining a team with post-season hopes. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native has not been to the playoffs since 2009.

According to sources, Carolina is picking up half of Staal's remaining salary for this season:

The Rangers are hoping to win now (they've reached the Conference finals in three of the last four seasons, and made the Stanley Cup final in 2014), and they haven't been shy about dealing away draft picks to make it happen. According to General Fanager, the team has only one pick in the first two rounds of the next two drafts (a first-rounder in the 2017 draft).

Staal, who waived his no-trade clause to allow the deal to get done, will leave his brother Jordan in Carolina to play alongside his brother Marc in New York. Reportedly, Staal would only waive the no-movement clause to go to New York, which limited what the Hurricanes could get in return.

Aleksi Saarela, the Finish prospect that come over in the deal from the Rangers, scored seven points in seven games at the World Juniors this year. The 19-year-old was a third-round pick in the 2015 draft.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Watch: Rangers' Girardi Gets Puck Stuck Under His Visor

Hockey fans: Why not take a break from all your NHL trade tracking to have a good, old-fashioned laugh? That's what New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi did during his team's 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

Luckily, he wasn't hurt. And his teammates had a good time with it on Twitter.

Of course Rangers' fans, who love to point out every single deficiency of Girardi's game pretty much every five minutes, had some fun with it to. Snark alert:

Sharks Swap Alex Stalock for Leafs Goale James Reimer

The San Jose Sharks have made a move to upgrade their goalie tandem.

They've sent Alex Stalock, Ben Smith and a conditional fourth-round pick to Toronto for James Reimer and Jeremy Morin.

Reimer, 27, is 11-12-3 with a .918 save percentage and 2.49 goals-against average in 32 games with Toronto this season.

Stalock appeared in 13 games this season, going 3-5 with a .884 save percentage and 2.94 goals-against average for San Jose.

Both Goalies will be UFAs after the season.

So, the Sharks get stronger in goal, and the Leafs keep on piling up the picks:

Caps' Carlson to Miss 3-4 Weeks with LBI

Capitals' defenseman John Carlson is heading to the sidelines again. Carlsson, second on his team in ice time, missed about a month earlier in the season. He had returned to action on January 27, but the same injury is nagging him again.

“He’s out for a while,” coach Barry Trotz said. “He had a procedure, just to take care of that sort of nagging thing he had all of the time. He’s going to probably be out for a couple of weeks here.”

Here's more from Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post:

"Carlson missed 12 games earlier this season, and with the injury wasn’t healing as the team expected, the Capitals opted to take another step for Carlson to be 100 percent healthy entering the playoffs. He was a full participant at Friday’s morning skate, but then didn’t in the game."

Marc Staal would love to have brother Eric come to New York

New York Rangers' defenseman Marc Staal would love to have his brother Eric come visit him in the big apple. And if Eric stayed a while, well that would be okay, too.

Eric is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but the Carolina Hurricanes are still in the hunt for a playoff spot as the NHL trading deadline looms on Monday. That fact, and the fact that the career Hurricane would have to waive a no-trade clause to be moved, hasn't stopped the rumor mill from heating up.

The general consensus is that Eric and the Rangers would be a great fit, but damn if the Hurricanes recent success hasn't thrown a wrench in the move Eric Staal plans.

That said, Marc says it'd be "cool" to chase the cup with his older brother.

"It's obviously something that I'd absolutely like to [do]," Marc told on Friday. "It would be very cool. It would be a nice change of pace from playing against those two."

The youngest of the Staal brothers, Jordan, currently playing alongide Eric in Carolina, says not so fast.

"Those are the rumors, obviously," he said, according to Whether that happens or not, it'd be pretty neat to see them playing together as well. I don't really know what's going to happen. Brothers stealing brothers is not what I want to see, but at the end of the day, if that's the way it works out, that's the way it works out. To play alongside your brother and battle for two points every night, you pinch yourself every once in a while. It's been really cool."

Blues Acquire Nilsson from Edmonton to Shore up Goaltending

The St. Louis Blues got themselves an insurance policy for their injury-riddled goalie corps on Saturday, closing a deal with the Oilers to acquire goaltender Anders Nilsson in exchange for goaltender Niklas Lundstrom and a 2016 fifth round draft pick.

With Brian Elliot recently heading to the IR, the Blues needed a proven backup for Jake Allen as they head down the stretch. Now they have him.

Or at least they think they do. Nilsson has played 49 games in the NHL, none of them in the post-season, with a career save percentage of .900. It will be interesting to see if that number improves with a more "elite" defensive corps in front of him.

Nilsson, 25, has appeared in 26 games for the Oilers this season, posting a 10-12-2 record along with a 3.14 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. The 6-foot-5, 229-pound goaltender was originally drafted by Islanders in the third round of the 2009 draft.

Elliott, injured last week in a game vs. the Sharks, is on the LTIR, and will be re-evaluated in a little over three weeks:

Hawks Get Richer as Habs go to Sell Mode

The Chicago Blackhawks have shored up their troops for a run at becoming the first repeat Stanley Cup winners since the 97-98 Red Wings quite nicely. A day after adding prized left winger Andrew Ladd as a rental to play alongside Jonathan Toews, Chicago struck twice on Friday, acquiring defenseman Christian Ehrhoff from Los Angeles, then adding forwards Dale Weise and Thomas Fleischmann from Montreal.

Weise and Fleischmann are both speedy and solid forwards with solid possession numbers for Montreal, and should help Chicago's team speed and depth at the forward position.

Montreal is retaining some of Weise's salary as part of the deal. Here's the breakdown via General Fanager:

Chicago has now given up its first and second round picks in 2018, prospects Phillip Danault (to Montreal) and Mark Dano (Winnipeg) and other assorted assets.

Clearly the team his gunning hard for the Stanley Cup, and these moves make a deep run more likely, despite the fact that the defense hasn't had significant upgrades (though Ehrhoff could end up helping--we'll see).

As for Montreal, the team begins a sell-off process that could continue over the weekend. Both Weise and Fleischmann are set to be UFAs on July 1, so getting a return is the wise thing.

Who will Montreal move next? And are the Hawks done dealing? Stay tuned.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Andrew Ladd Traded to Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks pulled the trigger on one of the biggest deadline deals to date, trading for left winger Andrew Ladd to bolster their attack and pair with Jonathan Toews as the playoffs draw near. Ladd, who spent three full seasons with the Hawks, helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2010.

The Blackhawks dealt forward Mark Dano, a first-round pick in the 2016 draft plus a conditional pick in the 2018 draft to acquire Ladd, forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Jay Harrison. Winnipeg also retains 36 percent of Ladd's remaining salary in the deal.

"Chicago was at the top of my list and I'm excited to have the opportunity the Stanley Cup again," Ladd said.

"We're thrilled to have Andrew back," said Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman to reporters. "We've been working on this for several weeks now."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Watch: Armia Dangles Around Oduya for Spectacular Goal

The Winnipeg Jets lost their captain Andrew Ladd in a trade with the Blackhawks on Thursday, but the team rallied to notch a solid victory in Dallas to ease their pain.

"I think we channeled [the Ladd trade] in the right direction, used it as motivation," Jets forward Chris Thorburn said. "To have him not there for the meeting and then for the game, it was weird. It was really weird, but the guys did a great job being professionals and getting the job done."

One of the players that did an exceptional job was Joel Armia. He scored a softy buzzer-beater at the end of the first period that put the Jets up 2-0, but this vintage dangle in the third really took the cake.

It was Armia's first multi-goal game of his career, and it left Dallas with a bad taste in their mouth.

"It's embarrassing," Spezza said. "We've got to cut down our goals-against, we've got to help our goalies out, we've got to play better hockey."

Neuvirth's Miracle Save Robs Wild of OT

Flyers goalie Michael Neuvirth put his name in the hat for NHL save of the season with this miracle last-second save which preserved the Flyers' 3-2 win over the Wild on Thursday night at the Well Fargo Center.

Everyone in the building thought that Charlie Coyle's shot was in, except for Neuvirth and referee Brad Meier. Eventually the replays revealed that Neuvirth made the save. A closer look at the replay shows the Neuvirth actually deflected the puck with his stick before smothering it in the crease. Truly incredible stuff from the 27-year-old Czech.

Lavoie: Expect Drouin to be Dealt before Deadline

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman reiterated that his preference is to trade stagnant forward Jonathan Drouin before the NHL's trade deadline on Monday:

Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times Confirms:

"I definitely prefer to deal him sooner than later, it would be better for everyone," Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday. "A lot of things factor into it when making the trade, a lot of things to consider here. But number one is, 'Can I do something involving Jonathan that benefits the team that makes us better right now that helps us for the playoffs? I'd certainly like to do that."

"We all have needs," Yzerman said. "If I could do something to help our power play, I'd like to do that. And that's going to be difficult to do."

Renaud Lavoie of TVA, speaking with Jeff Blair of Sportsnet on Thursday, says that there are as many as 12 to 15 teams still in the hunt for Drouin's services:

“I’ve been told there’s around 12 teams, and some are saying there’s 15 teams, looking at the possibility of trading for Jonathan Drouin,” Lavoie told Jeff Blair on Sportsnet The Fan 590 Thursday. "He's such a great kid, such a great person, and such a great player.

"I really do think that the team that is going to be able to trade for Jonathan Drouin is not going to regret, and they are going to forget easily what happened with him," he added. "He’s going to be traded by Monday."

Panthers Cooling on Ladd? Isles, too

As the Winnipeg Jets fall farther out of playoff contention, and the trade deadline nears, it seems almost a certainty that Andrew Ladd will be in a new uniform by February 29. But where?

George Richards, a beat writer for the Panthers, says the team is cooling on Ladd, due to the steep asking price.

According to Richards, a team would need to part with a prospect and a first-rounder.

It's a high ask for a rental (Ladd is a UFA), but one that will certainly be paid. The Blackhawks, who have been working to clear cap space and are rumored to be in search for a left winger to play alongside Jonathan Toews, appear to be a good fit.

The Islanders have been mentioned in the mix for Ladd, but Isles' beat Arthur Staple says no dice on that deal. He also mentions the price being the same as what Richards mentioned--a prospect and a first-rounder.

According to Nick Kypreos, the Kings will also make a play for Ladd, due to Marion Gaborik's injury. Here's a snipped from Luke Fox's trade deadline piece over at Sportsnet from today:
Kypreos figures the Ladd sweepstakes will come down to the two most recent Cup champions, Chicago and L.A. Because Kings forward Marian Gaborik is on long-term injured reserve, that frees cap space for Dean Lombardi to take a run at Ladd. Not unlike how Patrick Kane’s injury paved way for Chicago to rent Antoine Vermette a year ago at this time.

Jets' Little out for Season with Fractured Vertebrae

A play that made waves last week in the NHL unfortunately is making waves a week later. The Winnipeg Jets announced that Bryan Little has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a fractured vertebrae suffered in a collision with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman.

The play and it's aftermath was a huge story last Thursday during the Lightning's 6-5 OT win in Winnipeg, and eventually lead to the the ejection of Jets coach Paul Maurice. Read more about the play here.

Pick up the video below at 4:10 to hear Maurice talk about Little's injury:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Highway Robbery: Schneider Denies Miller with Shaft

Corey Schneider made 16 saves in tonight's 5-2 win over the Rangers at Prudential Center, but none were bigger than this miracle save that robbed J.T. Miller of what would have been the go-ahead goal in the second period.

You just have to love this type of desperation save at a game-changing moment in a huge game for both teams.

It was an impossible play to read because Derick Brassard's shot caromed off Andy Greene and went directly through the legs of Adam Larsson and onto the tape of Miller, who immediately one-timed the puck. Schneider, out at the top of his crease to close the angle on Brassard, had to react instantaneously and get a strong push off the left leg to get across the crease in a split second.

As he's doing that he has the wherewithal to know he's a dead man if he doesn't get the paddle up in the air and begin to pray (all the while he's FREAKING DOING THE SPLITS!).

His prayers were answered (see Miller's reaction after the save) and the Devils took care of the rest to notch their 30th win and stay in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Metropolitan Division.

Watch: Michael Neuvirth's Ill-Advised Pass Leads to Gimme for Nordstrom

If only we could all have the luck that Joakim Nordstrom had on this play during the second period of Carolina's win over the Flyers on Tuesday night at PNC Arena. We'd play the lottery ever day and push our chips into the middle of every poker table, even if all we had was a pair of ducks. And Michael Neuvirth's shame after this play? We wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Watch as Neuvirth's brain goes temporarily blank as he turns from the back wall and looks to make an outlet pass to spring the attack. Problem is, the Flyers goalie thought he was passing to puck to forward Matt Read. Seconds later, he was rudely awakened to the gravity of his mistake. Nordstrom took the generosity and buried a wrister into the open net as Neuvirth scrambled to get back to the crease.

Carolina went on to win, 3-1. Rumor has it that Neuvirth is still shaking his head in the locker room.

Watch: Filip Forsberg Nets Natty Hat-Trick vs. Leafs

Filip Forsberg put the Predators on his back in the first two periods at the Air Canada Center, notching his first career regular-season hat-trick (Forsberg did score a hat-trick in last year's post-season) against James Reimer and the Leafs. Have a look at all three goals above.

Forsberg now has 23 on the season for Nashville and the Predators lead the Leafs 3-1 midway through the third.

Blues Place Elliot on IR

The St. Louis Blues got one goalie back on Monday, as Jake Allen played his first hockey since being placed on the IR on January 9. That was good.

What was bad, very bad in fact, is that Allen only got into last night's game at Scottrade Center because Elliot was injured while making a save in the first period. St. Louis placed Brian Elliot on injuried reserve today after the backup was injured during last night's loss to the Sharks. According to the Blues, Elliot has a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated in four weeks.

Elliott has played in 34 games for the Blues this season, registering a 17-7-6 record. He ranks fifth in the League in goals against average (2.14) and third in save percentage (.929).

The Blues have recalled goaltender Pheonix Copley from the Chicago Wolves to back up Allen.

Brooks: Komarov Texted McDonagh in-Game after Levelling Him

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Leo Komarov texted Ryan McDonagh to apologize for the nasty head shot that landed the Rangers blue-liner on the ice and out of the game. And he did it during the game.

Read Brooks' full article on the topic here

On Tuesday, Brooks tweeted that McDonagh told him that hits that look malicious on video can often be accidental. Here's the quote:

“You wish those hits were never a part of the game, but obviously they’re going to happen because it’s a fast-paced game and things can happen sometimes without the intent that it sometimes looks like.”

Komarov's apology and McDonagh's sympathies are worth mentioning because there is an immediate rush to judgement every time a big hit goes down in the NHL. This brief, heart-warming digression doesn't mean that Komarov isn't culpable for the fact that he let his elbow wander into the head of McDonagh on this occasion, but it does show that Komarov was likely not the hatchet man sent by Satan to finish off McDonagh's season.

Komarov deserves every game of his current three-game suspension, and hopefully he'll learn to be more careful when he returns to action. But he also deserves some credit for thinking enough of McDonagh to text him during the game. It often appears that hockey is a hate-filled, violent game, and that there's very little respect amongst NHL protagonists, but peel a few layers of the onion back and we see a different story. Players play to win and they'll do anything to do that, but it doesn't mean there isn't a healthy respect among peers in the NHL.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Video: Torts Says Get Rid of Coaches Challenge

Hot under the collar after a win? Yes! And Why not? On Monday during Columbus' 6-4 win over the Bruins in Boston, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was miffed about blowing a timeout on a challenge that he vehemently believed would pay off for his team. When referees ruled that Loui Eriksson's skate did not interfere with Joonas Korpisalo on Boston's first period tally, Torts became disillusioned with the system that has drawn mixed reviews throughout its inaugural season. He aired out his frustration after the game.

Join a Reddit Discussion about this play here

Here's a look at the goal:

"Just get rid of it," Tortorella said of the coaches challenge. "The whole being of the coaches challenge it to get it right. If we can't get it right on that call then let's get rid of it. Because all I did was waste a timeout. It's discouraging. That is a no-brainer call."

The frustration is understandable, hockey is a passionate game and there's a winner and loser to every call. But there is a hole in Tortorella's theory about this particular play: The refs got it right.

It's just too difficult to tell if Eriksson is interfering with Korpisalo and keeping him from extending his pad to try and make a play on that bouncing puck. Torey Krug's shot is deflected by a defender in the slot and ends up bouncing off the ice and caroming off course. After that there's just too much chaos. It's nearly impossible to tell if Korpsisalo is being obstructed or if he is simply just caught out of position by a crazy bounce. Referees need something conclusive to overturn a call. On this play there was just too much grey area.

Still, Tortorella's experience left him decidedly downbeat about the NHL's fledgling plan, which allows NHL coaches to challenge goals based on whether a play was offside or if there was goalie interference.

"If they vote again for it--no coaches challenge as far as this organization is concerned," he said. "We should just get rid of it, and let the refs make the call, because if we spend two or three minutes and a coach wastes his timeout to try and get the call right, and we still get it wrong? Why have it? I wanted my timeout back, quite honestly."

Columbus won tonight's game 6-4 at TD Garden, which left Tortorella in a far less cantankerous mood than he otherwise might have been.

"I respect the referees," he added. "It is a really tough job. But I thought [the coaches challenge] was for that reason, to make their job easier. It gives them a chance to look at it again, get some information from hockey ops. To get that one wrong it's just beyond belief to me.

It's a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Get rid of it, and let's just get back to where we were before."

Watch: Craig Smith Crashes and Burns then Lives Again in Predators Win over Montreal

Nashville winger Craig Smith felt so much shame after finding the strangest, saddest of ways to not bury this puck into the open net during OT of the Predators 2-1 shootout win over the Habs on Monday night that he let that fuel shame him into powering up his pride in the shootout.

Suddenly, moments after being the potential goat for "double-hitting" this loose puck and then getting crosschecked onto his keister by Tomas Plekanec (see video above), Smith was alive and on fire, steaming into the Canadiens zone with a chance to earn an extra point for his team.

He slowed, he deked, shifted the shoulders, faked and SCORED! (see video below) Quite the redemption song for Smith, and yet another heartbreaker for the Habs.

Ryan Reaves Tossed for Hit on Tennyson

Ryan Reaves received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for the above hit on Sharks' defenseman Matt Tennyson during Monday night's Blues-Sharks game at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Reaves came in hard looking to finish his check on Tennyson, who had his back to the play, and finished with force despite having nothing to look at but Tennyson's numbers.

Tennyson fell to the ice and had to be helped off to the dressing room.

The Sharks have scored twice on their ensuing power play time to take a 3-0 lead in St. Louis.

Watch: Ovechkin Plasters Jordan Martinook into Boards

Alexander Ovechkin doesn't just score goals in bunches, he also brings the intimidation. On this play the NHL's leading goal scorer might have taken it a bit too far, however.

Ovechkin was given a two-minute minor for boarding for this dangerous hit on Coyotes winger Jordan Martinook.

Though Ovechkin doesn't come in at full speed, he does crosscheck Martinook from directly behind, sending him face first into the boards.

Martinook looked a bit banged up after the play, but he did skate off on his own power.

Ovechkin now has 30 penalty minutes in this his 56th game. The Caps and Yotes are locked in a scoreless tie after one.

Blues Lose Steen for Four Weeks with Upper Body Injury

The St. Louis Blues have lost center Alexander Steen four four weeks due to an upper-body suffered during the first period of the Blues 6-4 win over the Coyotes in Glendale. He will be re-evaluated at that time. Steen has 17 goals and 30 assists this season, ranking second on the roster behind Vladimir Tarasenko.

Blues captain David Backes is expected to switch over to center tonight as the club faces the San Jose Sharks at home.

"We're gonna have to share the load and share the responsibility like we have all year," Backes said. "He's a big loss for us but hopefully he'll be well-rested for the playoffs when we get him back."

Sharks Get Polak and Spaling for Torres and Two Picks

In an attempt to get tougher on the blue line and deeper up front the San Jose Sharks sent embattled forward Rafi Torres and their second-round draft pick in the next two years to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Roman Polak and forward Nick Spaling.

"We're in a position to compete going forward and we felt this group deserved every chance to be successful," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Monday, "and we plan to give them that opportunity."

Polak should be a good fit for a San Jose blue line that is prepping for possible playoff meetings with either the Kings or Ducks. Both teams play strong, heavy hockey and Polak--listed at 6' and 237 pounds--should help the Sharks deal more effectively with those challenges.

"The physicality we're playing against, being familiar with playing in the West, the importance of penalty killing in the playoffs and down the stretch run is obviously a big indicator," Wilson added, according to Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News.

Polak has 13 points and 56 penalty minutes in 55 games this season. Spaling, who is also good on the penalty kill and faceoffs, has seven points in 35 games for the Leafs.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Video: Zucker Knocked out of Game by Roszival Hit

Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival was tossed for this hit on Wild forward Jason Zucker during Minnesota's 6-1 win in Sunday's Stadium Series showdown. Rozsival was given an interference penalty and the rules call for an automatic ejection on interference calls when an opposing player is injured on the play.

Whether or not the call should have been interference is up for debate. Zucker is reaching out to make a play at the puck and Rozsival is attempting to stop him by taking the body. Unfortunately for Zucker, who is two inches and 25 pounds lighter than Rozsival, he is caught with his body stooped over which brings his head down to about chest level of Rozsival.

Making matters worse, Zucker loses control of his boday after the hit and the back of his head slams to the ice. Thank god for the helmet.

Zucker did not return to the game and we await news of his condition.

As for Rozsival, he could suffer further discipline for the hit, but it doesn't seem likely.

Watch: Crosby Throws a Wrench in Deslauriers' Plans

Sidney Crosby flipped the script on Sabres winger Nicolas Deslauriers during the Pens 4-3 win over Buffalo at First Niagara Center on Sunday. Sid may not rack up the hits, but he does a good job of avoiding them.

Crosby picked up an assist to go with his lone hit (he was credited with the hit though it looked more like smart, crafty self-defense), and the Penguins improved to 30-20-8, good for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for now with 68 points.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Gostisbehere Extends Points Streak to 14 with Assist

Break your own record. Rise, lather, repeat... Shayne Gostisbehere is like a broken record. And if you're a Philadelphia Flyers fan you can listen to it all day.

The rookie defensemen assisted on a third-period goal by Michael Rafl to extend his points scoring streak to 14 games (a pretty crisp helper, sent right to the tape of Rafl for a tap-in) during Montreal's 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers at Bell Centre on Friday. It is the longest such streak by an NHL defenseman in almost 20 years, since Brian Leetch had a 14-game streak for the New York Rangers (Oct. 30-Dec. 1, 1996).

Gostisbehere has already broken the points streak for rookie defenseman (that was 10) and for Flyers rookies (that was also ten).

Gostibehere currently possesses the third-longest rookie points streak of all-time, but he's got six games to go to break the record.

According to the NHL, the longest point streak by an NHL rookie since 1987-88 is 20 games by forward Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche (Feb. 3-March 17, 2007). Gostisbehere is tied for third-longest, and has the longest by a Flyers rookie.

The 78th overall pick in the 2012 draft now has 33 points in 39 games for the Flyers.

Watch: Legwand Scores from Long Range

File under: Get pucks on the net and good things will happen.

Check out Buffalo's David Legwand, scoring hockey's equivalent to a 75-yard field goal--and a shorty, no less--against Columbus tonight. The wind, apparently, was blowing in Legwand's direction. The puck took a wicked bounce from all the sidespin that Legwand put on it, and Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo really didn't have a shot. That does sound strange, doesn't it? A goalie not having a chance to stop a 150-foot wrist shot. But have a look at the video and tell us you don't agree.

Buffalo went on to win 4-0.

"It's something that's a lot of luck," Legwand said of his fifth--and weirdest--goal. "Obviously you throw it on net. You throw it on the net because there's nothing else to do. It has a chance to go in if it's on net. I never expected it to go in."

Watch: Boychuk Injured by Tootoo Hit from Behind

The Islanders may have lost defenseman Johnny Boychuk again. The Isles defenseman went in awkwardly to the boards when he was shoved from behind by Jordin Tootoo during Friday night's Islanders-Devils game at the Prudential Center. Tootoo got a five-minute major and an ejection on the play.

Boychuk, who injured his left shoulder in a collison on New Year's eve in Buffalo, missed eleven games due to the injury, and had just returned to action in the first week of February.

Update: Boychuk returned to the game and appears to be good to go.

Rumor: Hawks Searching for a Left Wing for Toews, Hossa Line

Will the rich get richer at the NHL trade deadline? If the Chicago Blackhawks have their way--yes.

TSN's Bob Mckenzie says that the Hawks are aggressively in the market for a left wing to play with Jonathan Toews. Earlier in the week the Blackhawks cleared some cap space by waiving defenseman Rob Scuderi, and they've got about $4 million to play with beneath the salary cap.

McKenzie says Chicago could be interested a number of high-quality left wings that may or may not be available on a rental basis.

"There's no question that the Chicago Blackhawks are very aggressively trying to pursue a left winger to play on that top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa," McKenzie says. "You've got Andrew Ladd with the Winnipeg Jets--the Blackhawks know him extremely well--Mikkel Boedker from the Arizona Coyotes and Loui Eriksson from the Boston Bruins."

McKenzie also added that Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes could be a target, if the Hurricanes were willing to pick up some of Staal's monstrous contract. Staal will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, but has not been asked to waive his no-trade clause yet, according to reports. Carolina is still battling for a playoff spot, but Staal understands that there's a chance he could be moved if things shift between now and the February 29 trade deadline.

“I’m not going to be crushed if a decision is made and I’m moving on for a different opportunity,” he told media in Ottawa. “But at the same time, my focus is on helping this team win games, pick up points. We’re learning how to win. We’re getting better everyday.”

If Staal does become available in the next ten days, the Blackhawks better be ready to part with valuable chips. They won't be the only one hungry to acquire the 31-year-old's services.

Komarov Suspended for Three Games by NHL

Toronto forward Leo Komarov has been suspended three games for his hit on New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh Thursday night in Toronto.

This is Komarov's first suspension.

Here's how the NHL explained its decision: Komarov "deliberately extends his elbow out and into the head of McDonagh," the NHL's Department of Player safety says in the video. "He has ample time to take a good angle of approach and deliver this hit in a legal fashion."

McDonagh left the game after the first period and did not return. He had just returned from a four-game absence due to a concussion on Wednesday in New York.

Komarov apologized for the hit today:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Paul Maurice Penalized, Ejected after Stralman's Hits go Uncalled

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice got the short end of the stick not once but twice during his team's 6-5 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Angered by Anton Stralman's dangerous hit on Bryan Little (see video above), which went uncalled, Maurice spent some time jawing at referees Dan O'Rourke and Francois St. Laurent before being awarded a bench minor. The frustration stuck with Maurice and when his team took the ice at the start of the third period he immediately got into it with the refs again and was promptly ejected by St. Laurent.

We're not sure what Maurice said, but we do know that Dustin Byfuglien thought it was funny:

After the game Maurice told reporters that he was proud of his team, which rallied from 4-1 down in the third to take a 5-4 lead before falling in the shootout, and added that he was concerned about Little's health.

"It’s because you work with these guys every day, and you care about them," he said after the game. "You care about their wives and their families, and Bryan Little’s getting his neck X-rayed, and I seem to be considerably more concerned about the result of that hit than anyone else."

Stralman's hit looks eerily similar to the one that Radko Gudas put on Sabres' forward Daniel Catenacci. Little, like Catenacci was on that play, was stretched out on the play, lunging forward and with head lowered. Neither Gudas or Stralman slowed up at all on their hits. Neither was penalized. Gudas did not get a call from the NHL's Department of Player Safety, and it remains to be seen what the NHL will do about Stralman.

Watch: Komarov Tossed for Nasty Head Shot on McDonagh

In his second game after returning from a concussion that he suffered when he was sucker-punched by Wayne Simmonds on February 6, Ryan McDonagh was treated with malice and disregard once again. This time the culprit was Toronto's Leo Komarov, the rugged Maple Leafs forward. Komarov caught McDonagh with a totally uncalled for elbow to the head as the Rangers captain was trying to maneuver the puck away from Nazem Kadri.

After missing four games, McDonagh was cleared to play in last night's game against Chicago at Madison Square Garden. But he left the game and did not return in the second period in Toronto after the hit by Komarov.

According to Rangers beat writer Steve Zipay, several Rangers were disappointed with the hit.

Derek Stepan scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:31 left and the Rangers went on to win the game, 4-2.

We'll know more about what the NHL's Department of Player Safety has planned for Komarov tomorrow.
It's not the first time that Komarov has been ejected for targeting a player with prior concussion issues this season:

Watch: Jones Scores Goal as it Caroms of Dumba's Face

File under: Don't get caught watching the puck.

Actually there was very little Minnesota Wild defender Matt Dumba could have done on this play. Wrong place, wrong face. David Jones' shot caroms off the stick of Mike Reilly and then soars into Dumba's face before pinballing into the goal.

"I definitely haven't scored one like that," said Jones, who hadn't scored in 14 games. "It felt good to finally get one."

Doubtful that Dumba could say the same.

But happiness came for Dumba in the form of a second consecutive victory for the Wild, 5-3 over the Flames at the Saddledome. Minnesota is now 2-0 since firing coach Mike Yeo and replacing him with interim coach John Torchetti.

Here's another look at the goal in case you've yet to grasp the true craziness of this play:

Watch: Yandle's Late Slash on Panarin Sends Him Flying into Boards

After Artemin Panarin buried this empty-netter to seal the Blackhawks 5-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday night in Manhattan, Keith Yandle let his frustration get the best of him and followed through on a slash that knocked Panarin's skate out from under him and sent him flying into the boards. The hit was late, dirty and unecessary. It looks like Yandle is in the process of trying to use his stick to defend, but he's barely in the process of taking it back when Panarin scores. After the shot is fired Yandle doesn't let up and knocks Panarin into the wall.

Yandle was not given a penalty on the play, and for some reason, the Chicago players on the ice at the time elected to let it go rather than go after Yandle with fists flying.

Yandle took a holding penalty on Jonathan Toews late in the third period that lead to the game-winner for Chicago. Was this a case of frustration of having cause the loss boiling over? Does the league look at this play and consider a suspension even though Panarin looked to be fine?

Notes: Panarin notched his first career hat-trick in the game and became the first Blackhawk rookie to score a hat-trick in 14 years... Panarin now leads the rookie scoring race and is ranked 5th in the entire NHL in points with 57... Panarin is the first NHL rookie to hit the 20-goal mark this season and the first Blackhawk rookie to score 20 goals in a season since Kris Versteeg did so in the 2008-2009 season.

Bettman Shreds NHLPA's Appeal on Wideman Suspension

Fortunately for Dennis Wideman and the Calgary Flames, the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement gives Wideman the right to appeal his 20-game suspension to an independent arbitrator. Because Wideman and the NHLPA had their appeal absolutely shredded by Gary Bettman and the NHL today. Will they have better luck with an independent arbitrator? Based on what we've read and heard today, maybe not.

On Wednesday Bettman and the NHL released a 23-page report which itemizes all the ways in which the NHLPA's appeal to reduce Wideman's 20-game suspension was unsatisfactory. This was by no means a no-brainer for Bettman from the moment that the idea that Wideman was concussed and therefore cognitively impaired during the moments leading up to his abusive hit on official Don Henderson was introduced into the debate.

But the NHLPA failed to use testimony from anyone on the Flames medical staff, and instead opted for two outside experts--neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Comper and neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher. This introduced a time lag into the testimony. Instead of offering the opinions of experts who were on the scene and who witnessed Wideman's mental and physical state as the incident unfolded, the NHLPA was only able to cull together after-the-fact interviews and assessments from experts in the field.

Note: Bettman's notes on this specifically make clear the implicit fact that Flames staff made critical mistakes in their decision to not remove Wideman from the game and to not diagnose his concussion state immediately. If there was a chance at a reduction from Bettman, it would have had to come from the club's staff--not hired hands who specialize in expert testimony.

Here's what Bettman wrote about Comper and Kutcher's findings:

"As discussed in greater detail below, the conclusions expressed by Dr. Comper and Dr. Kutcher were not based on what Mr. Wideman's capacity actually was at the time in question but about what his condition might have been. Those conclusions were based on little more than Mr. Wideman's own subjective report of concussion symptoms that he may or may not have actually experienced. The testimony was internally inconsistent in several respects, hedged or vague in other respects and largely belied by what is plainly visible on the video."

And here's a snippet of the transcript, from the report:

Q. And you would agree with me that Mr. Wideman certainly had, at least potentially, the motive to exaggerate his symptoms in order to obtain a report that said he wasn't responsible for his actions, that's at least a possibility, isn't it?

Dr Comper: It's a possibility.

Q. and you didn't discuss that in your report, did you?

Dr. Comper: No.

And here's Bettman on what the NHLPA could have done to make a stronger case:

"Neither the NHLPA nor its expert witnesses presented (or even sought) any corroboration for the contention that Mr. Wideman's seemingly intentional actions were in fact the product of a "confused" state. As noted above, Drs. Comper and Kutcher both simply took what Mr. Wideman told them at face value. They could have, but did not, seek to corroborate his statements by speaking with the Club's medical trainer, who was not consulted by either Dr. Comper or Dr. Kutcher or asked by the NHLPA to testify at the hearing about Mr. Wideman's supposed "confusional state."

Editor's Note: Was it an egregious oversight by Comper and Kutcher to avoid talking to the club's medical trainer or did they skip doing so because they knew doing so would have weakened their case, not strengthened it?

To the notion that Wideman really didn't "know what he was doing," Bettman provides a stern rebuttal of that theory also.

"The trainer's notes provided to Drs. Comper and Kutcher do not contain anything to indicate that Mr. Wideman was confused when he returned to the bench or at any point thereafter. While the trainer's notes state that Mr. Wideman was 'hit in second period, felt unbalanced going to bench [and] was cleared in a few minutes,' Dr. Kutcher testified that Mr. Wideman was not suffering from motor incoordination at the time he struck Mr. Henderson. Mr. Wideman continued to the bench without stumbling or exhibiting any other sign of imbalance immediately before or after the collision. The only person who fell on impact was Mr. Henderson."

Wideman wants the NHL to believe that he was not registering and that his hit was an "accident." But he also made statements that contradict that.

"In any event, the references by both doctors to Mr. Wideman's "confusion" are not supported by the narrative that Mr. Wideman provided or by the objective evidence provided by the video footage. Although Mr. Wideman did tell Dr. Comper that he was "not registering," he also said that he knew he had to get to the bench and that he was "focused" on getting there. Mr. Wideman testified at the hearing that "I knew I wasn't right. I knew I was injured, and I knew I had to get off the ice." He knew all of that within an instant of the Salomaki hit. I do not accept the proposition that Mr. Wideman "knew" all of that without also knowing that he could not cross-check the linesman, particularly in light of the fact that Mr. Wideman skated directly to the bench with his head up and gave no indication that he was confused (e. g. , he did not hesitate, he did not skate in the wrong direction, or to the wrong bench or to the penalty box).

"Along the way, he lifted his stick and tapped it on the ice to signal a line change to his bench. (Mr. Wideman acknowledged that video of the incident shows Calgary defenseman T. J. Brodie climbing over the boards in response. Mr. Wideman recognized Mr. Henderson as an on-ice official. He also told Dr. Comper (and testified at the hearing) that he realized that he was going to hit Mr. Henderson just before he did so and that he attempted to get out of the way, thus undermining Dr. Kutcher's suggestion that he experienced "situational unawareness."

If we are to believe this report, Wideman wasn't as cognitively impaired as he, the Flames or the NHLPA would like us to believe. Keep in mind the NHL has a precedent to set here as well. Surely they don't want to send a message to the players that extreme violence can be pardoned if a concussion has occurred on a preceding play. It's simply too dangerous of a tack to take.

Bettman concludes:

"In sum, I find that the expert testimony presented on behalf of the Player was speculative, at times contradictory, lacked support and was wholly insufficient to rebut the clear and convincing evidence provided by the video footage of the incident."

It may sound harsh, but Bettman's report provides clarity to a situation that had grown vague with all the debate swirling around this case. It takes us back to our original, objective appraisal of Wideman's act of violence. Wideman committed an egregious act of violence against an innocent official who had his back turned to him. It's not acceptable, it wasn't an accident, and the punishment fits the crime.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

McDonagh Set to Return as Rangers Prep for Blackhawks

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh will make his return tonight as his team faces the Blackhawks in a huge cross-conference matchup at Madison Square Garden. After missing four games with a concussion suffered ten days ago in a game against the Flyers, McDonagh has been cleared for contact. McDonagh is 7-19-26 in 52 games for the Rangers and is fourth on the team with a plus-13.

In other news on the Rangers blue line, Dan Boyle says he's feeling fit after missing Tuesday's practice with the flu.

But defenseman Marc Staal could miss for the Rangers due to the impending birth of his child.

On Chicago's side of the puck, Marian Hossa is expected to remain out of action for two weeks with an injury to his left leg.

The Rangers have earned points in their last ten home games (8-0-2), but lost to the Blackhawks 1-0 when the team last visited Madison Square Garden in March of last year.

The goaltending matchup is a good one, to say the least:

Puck drops at 5 New York time.

Tortorella Pissed about Blue Jackets OT Gaffe

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been a vastly improved team in their last 10 games. They've gone 6-1-3, allowing just 22 goals in those games, which is nearly a goal better per game than their season's average.

But Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, always the perfectionist, is pissed about that one that got away. That one would be Loui Eriksson's OT winner, which gave Boston the 2-1 win at Nationwide Arena thanks to some loose coverage by the Blue Jacket's defense.

"The thing that pisses me off is that we just give them a free one," said Tortorella. "It's frustrating. It's a simple three-on-three, man on man, and we just screw it up."

He added: "That is a simple three-man entering our zone and all you have to do is find your man. You can explain it ten different ways--it's a blown coverage."

You can see Torts' explanation of his frustration, and the play, above. And have a look at the OT goal by Loui Erikkson below:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Blandisi Preps for Oscars in New Jersey

Joseph Blandisi has proved he can score in his rookie season. He's got 12 points in 19 games, including this bit of hockey wizardry.

Now Blandisi is proving he can act. Check out the Markham, Ontario native pulling out all the stops in an attempt to draw a penalty against the Flyers during New Jersey's 6-3 loss to Philadelphia at the Prudential Center on Tuesday.

Andy MacDonald got two for slashing on the play; Blandisi got two for embellishment. A fine from the NHL, which frowns upon such theatrics, might not be coming though. In order for Blandisi to be fined, he'd have had to be warned already. The NHL does not make its warnings public but there haven't been any Oscar-worthy performances caught on camera, so he'll likely escape a fine.

Gudas Ejected Again in New Jersey

Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas miraculously avoided suspension for his crushing hit on Sabres' Daniel Catenacci less than a week ago. Could Gudas possibly escape the wrath of the NHL's Department of Player Safety again?

On Tuesday night during the Flyers 6-3 win over New Jersey, Gudas blindsided Devils' tough guy Bobby Farnham in the first period and received a five-minute major and game misconduct for the deed.

Gudas has already been suspended for three games this season for this forearm shiver to the head of Mika Zibenajad, and has been reportedly spoken to by his own team about toning his physicality down. Apparently those conversations did not have much of an impact on Gudas.

The 25-year-old Prague native is clearly one of those guys that players like to have as a teammate but hate to play against. He's a one-man wrecking crew who has the capacity to change momentum of games with one big hit, but his hits are dangerous, and often target the head. Though this hit on Farnham was not as egregious as some of his others, the NHL might elect to suspend him just to send a message that he's treading very dangerous waters.

Watch: Gostisbehere Stretches Point Streak to 13

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere extended his point streak to 13 consecutive games with this goal in the first period of tonight's Flyers-Devils matchup. The 22-year-old has eclipsed the previous record for consecutive points by a rookie defenseman by 3 already (it was held by Barry Beck, who did it twice in the 77-78 season if you're scoring at home).

Some details on "Ghost's" streak, and remarkable rookie season: Gostisbehere has 16 points in the 13-game streak, which dates back to January 19. He now has 32 points in 38 games for the Flyers, which puts him at 5th among NHL rookies (all positions). He entered tonight's game tied for 5th among all NHL defenseman in points per game, and third among all rookies (all positions) in points per game.

Paul Stastny's holds the all-time record for consecutive points for rookies (all positions), which stands at 20.

If the Ghost really gets carried way, the all-time consecutive points record for a defenseman is held by Paul Coffey at 28.

Gostisbehere holds the fifth-longest NHL rookie points streak since 1987-1988, per Elias:

Blackhawks Waive Defenseman Scuderi

The Chicago Blackhawks have waived veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi. The 37-year-old played just 17 games after Chicago acquired him in a trade with the Penguins. He was a minus-6 with zero points for the Hawks in his seventeen games and was a healthy scratch for the last two games.

If the defenseman is picked up by another team it would clear about $2.25 million of cap space for Chicago. And even if he is sent to the AHL, there would be cap relief.

According to Chris Peters of CBS Eye on Hockey, the Blackhawks would be working with about $3.9 million of cap space if they wished to pursue any deals before the deadline.

Davidson: Blue Jackets Not Giving up on Future

It's been a difficult season for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team started the season with a horrid losing streak and fired coach Todd Richards before it ended. Since John Tortorella has taken over there has been progress, but not enough for fans to get excited about. Columbus is second to last in the Conference but they have picked it up of late, going 6-2-2 in their last ten to forge their way back to respectability.

All that said, Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson is not about to tear down what the team is calling a work in progress.

"We’ve gone through a lot this year, good and bad. But there’s no change in the plan," Davidson told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. "We’ve done good things. We’ve made some mistakes. But you live with that and you continue with your plan, and you honestly try to win as you try to get better. That’s just in our DNA here. That’s what we do. It just is what it is."

Portzline says that the Blue Jackets could be looking to move veterans Scott Hartnell and Fedor Tyutin, but adds that the team is not going to change radically from this season to next. Davidson says that having healthy goaltending could make a world of difference for his team, which has already undergone a transformation when it dealt Ryan Johansen to Nashville for top-2 defenseman Seth Jones.

Here's another snippet from Portzline's article:

I’ve had everything thrown at me from A to Z. You know, “trade a first-rounder, get somebody and at least we’ll have a chance!” Well it doesn’t happen like that. You can’t do it. You can’t. You have to take the bullets and move forward.

"I know one thing: You’ve to have strong goaltending to win, and when we’ve had strong goaltending at various times this year, we’ve won a lot of games. It has a lot to do with it. It comes down to keeping the puck out of the net, and we’ve done better at that lately. You’re not going to win if you’re one of the three worst teams at goals-against. You just won’t. It’s pretty simple."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Watch: Brad Marchand Scores Fastest Goal to Open Game in Bruins History

Brad Marchand is a player on a mission these days, having notched 12 goals in his last 12 games for the Bruins. On Sunday he took his scorching-hot form to another level when he scored the fastest goal to open a game in Bruins history. It took just :08 for Marchand to rifle a wrister past Petr Mrazek, which eclipses the previous Boston record of nine seconds, which had stood since 1953.

Marhand was quick, but he was still three seconds off the NHL record. Four players scored a goal at the :05 second mark to start an NHL game, with the last being Alexander Mogilny in 1989.

Datsyuk Hits 900-Point Mark in Win over Bruins

Pavel Datsyuk blew through the 900-point mark with two goals and an assist during the Wings wild 6-5 win over the Bruins on Sunday. The milestone mark places the Russian in a special group of Red Wings to have reached 900 points. The others are Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio, Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov. Each of the other five are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"For me it's a big stepping stone, but it [doesn't] happen without lots of good players I am playing with," said Datsyuk , who now has 902 points. "Lots of helping and supporting, and lots of teaching me, too. Lots of giving me advice. I appreciate all of them."

Watch: Simmonds and McIlrath Jaw in Warmpups, Brawl in-Game

There's no love lost between Wayne Simmonds and the New York Rangers. Simmonds, who knocked out Ryan McDonagh at the end of an altercation on February 6th, has drawn the ire of Rangers players and coaches since. Today New York defenseman Dylan McIlrath aired out his grievances with Simmonds during warmups and the two took it up a notch during the game.

It only took 39 seconds for them to drop the gloves, then they went at it for what seemed like 15 rounds. It was a lengthy scrap, and we must note: wise move by the linesmen for not stepping in earlier. When big boys like this are throwing down it's best to let them tire one another out.

The Rangers lead 1-0 after one on the strength of Derick Brassard's 19th of the season.

McDonagh, who skated for the first time since being injured by Simmonds two days ago, is still day-to-day with concussion symptoms.