Fri Dec 20 03:44am EST
The opportunity to snag a loose puck in the stands at an NHL game doesn’t come around often; and when the rubber disc does go flying from the rink into the seats, chances are there’s a some tall, aggressive person that’ll snag it before, say, a young fan gets their shot at the puck.
Perhaps knowing this, a young Tampa Bay Lightning fan put his faith in the holiday spirit to produce a souvenir puck at their game against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. He sat near the glass, holding a sign that read “ALL I WANT FOR XMAS IS A HOCKEY PUCK.”
Santa must have heard him. Or, at the very least, Santa let some dude in the neighboring section know about this Christmas wish.
In the second period, a puck flew over the glass and was caught by a Lightning fan. As he was celebrating his conquest, the boy held out his Christmas puck wish sign. The fan immediately handed the puck over to the young lad, pointed at him with the universal sign for “you da man!” and the fans cheered the selfless act as the young fan waved the puck in the air.
If that’s not the essence of the fan experience in the NHL, we don't know what is: Young fans participating in decades-old traditions, and older fans doing whatever they can to grow that hockey love. (That said, we hope something paid it forward to the dude that gave away his puck. And by "paid it forward" we of course mean "paid for his next round.)
What a cool moment. Also cool for all involved: Tampa Bay won the game, 4-2.
A Christmas wish granted. But we do hope this young fan understands this is a one-time deal and doesn’t return to the arena with signs reading “ALL I WANT FOR XMAS IS AN UPGRADE TO A LUXURY SUITE” or “ALL IT WANT FOR XMAS IS STEVEN STAMKOS’ CONTRACT.”
Then it again, it did work once …
Fri Dec 20 02:43am EST
Alec Martinez #27 and Ben Scrivens #54 of the Los Angeles Kings use a sign to retrieve a soccer ball prior to the game against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center on December 19, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
No. 1 Star: Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers had a miraculous 5-goal rally in the third against the Columbus Blue Jackets, led by Giroux’s 2 goals and 2 assists, including a goal of the year candidate. The Flyers won, 5-4. Jakub Voracek had a goal and two assists.
No. 2 Star: Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings
Alfredsson opened and closed the scoring for the Wings, scoring a power-play goal in overtime to give Detroit a 3-2 win over Calgary. Congrats, “HBO 24/7” producers.
No. 3 Star: Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues
New contract in hand, Steen scored a shorthanded goal and another at even strength (his 24th on the year) to help the St. Louis Blues to a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Honorable mention: Erik Cole had a goal and two assists and Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves in the Dallas Stars’ 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. ... Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers scored third-period goals, leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins. Brian Flynn had a shorthanded goal in the first. Brad Marchand had the Bruins’ goals. … The Florida Panthers won again, getting third period goals from Tom Gilbert and Tomas Kopecky in their 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. … Michael Cammalleri assisted on both Calgary goals. … Anders Lindback made 28 saves to beat his old team, as the Tampa Bay Lightning topped the Nashville Predators, 4-2. … Max Talbot’s shorthanded goal in the second period ended up as the game-winner, as the Colorado Avalanche topped the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2. … … The Toronto Maple Leafs outlasted the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-1, in the shootout, as James Reimer outdueled Mike Smith. … Martin Jones moved to 7-0-0 with a 31-save effort in the Los Angeles Kings’ 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. … Finally, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Minnesota Wild, 5-2, as Chris Kuntiz scored to goals. But Olli Maata’s short-handed penalty shot was the most memorable tally:
Did You Know? Jones picked up his first NHL point on an assist on Tyler Toffoli’s goal.
Dishonorable mention: R.J. Umberger and Ryan Johansen were both a minus-3. … Alexei Yemelin and Raphael Diaz were minus-3. … Sam Gagner earned a 5-minute major and a misconduct for cross-checking Paul Stastny. … Dustin Brown was ejected for a knee-on-knee hit with Tomas Hertl, who did not return to the game. … Tom Sestito was given a misconduct in the third period for Vancouver. … Roberto Luongo was pulled after giving up four goals.
Fri Dec 20 01:59am EST
The Los Angeles Kings apparently have one criteria for their starting goaltenders, which is that they possess some sort of supernatural and/or mutant ability to magically stop pucks.
Jonathan Quick, currently injured, may or may not be a Jedi, able to control pucks with his mind. Martin Jones, currently starring for the Kings in Quick’s absence, made a save on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks that was made of magic.
Check out Jones, becoming Tommy Wingels’ waking nightmare with this incredible save:
Now, granted, some of this magic was in the San Jose Sharks blowing two clear shots at a gaping net, with Wingels’ wraparound glancing off the post. But then the puck hit Jones’ pad, and looked destined to cross the goal line … until he swept his glove back and swatted it away.
The Kings won the game, 4-1, with Jones making 31 saves. That included four saves made during nine minutes of power-play time for the Sharks, buoyed by a 5-minute major on Dustin Brown for a knee-on-knee hit on Tomas Hertl.
Jones moved to 7-0-0 on the season. According to the Kings, the NHL record for consecutive wins to start an NHL career is Bob Froese (8-0-0 with Philly in 1982-83). Next up for the Kings: a home game against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
Fri Dec 20 01:32am EST
The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-4, on Thursday night. The box score reads that they scored five goals in the third period to rally for the win, and that captain Claude Giroux scored the final two goals to complete the comeback.
But his ninth goal of the season, the game-winner at 18:22 of the third? It has to be seen to be believed:
This goal of the year candidate by Giroux is remarkable on several fronts. There was the spin move to get deeper into the attacking zone and track the puck. There was the way he controlled the puck while wearing David Savard as a coat. Savard shoved him, and Giroux lost his balance; yet he had the wherewithal to put the puck on his backhand, take a stride and fire it on net.
Not only did he fire it, he fired it perfectly: a rocket over the glove of Curtis McElhinney, who flashed the leather high but couldn’t catch up with it.
What a shot.
Obviously it was exactly what Giroux planned, right?
“I was just trying to get it on net,” he said after the game. “I was at the end of a shift, pretty tired. Just trying to get it on net.”
The goal completed a 4-point night for Giroux in leading the 5-goal rally. Few players are hotter right now: 10 points (4-6-10) in his last five games.
And one of those goals we’ll not soon forget.
Fri Dec 20 01:00am EST
Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings has a reputation for playing on the edge. The question is whether he actually played over it against the San Jose Sharks, in taking out rookie star Tomas Hertl in the first period.
As 18:59 of the first, Hertl swept the puck ahead and out of his own zone after a Kings offensive chance. Brown skated toward him, and his right leg connected with Hertl’s left leg.
Hertl hit the ice in pain, and would not return to the game. Brown was given a major for kneeing, which carries a game misconduct penalty.
Did he deserve it?
Look, there’s no question that Brown has found himself on the delivery side of several lower body collisions. There was a blatant knee on Jaden Schwartz of the St. Louis Blues last season. There was the thigh-on-thigh hit from Brown on Michal Rozsival in the 2012 playoffs; the Coyotes were outraged, but the NHL didn’t offer any supplemental discipline.
So understandably, Brown doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt here.
But look at the play. Does he lead with his knee? No. His weight is clearly on his left leg, which is his lead leg.
Did he extend his leg to make contact with Hertl? That’s a little debatable, but ultimately it appears he’s attempting to get away from the collision.
So it shouldn’t have been a major, nor a game misconduct, nor will it lead to a Shanaban.
But boy, Dustin Brown is just the John McClane of knee-on-knee hits, right? Nakatomi Plaza, Dulles Airport, New York, D.C., Russia ... wherever he goes, the terrorists are there.
Thu Dec 19 11:02pm EST
At the start of the shootout between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, James van Riemsdyk skated in and slid the puck at goalie Mike Smith. The Coyotes keeper trapped the puck under his pad but momentum carried him back into the net.
Was the puck in? Did he make the save?
There was no signal from referees Paul Devorski and Rob Martell.
Up to the War Room we went for a review. The NHL found the footage inconclusive, and thus the call on the ice stood.
Which was … what?
A goal, apparently, even if neither official signaled it.
The Maple Leafs would score a second goal in the shootout via Joffrey Lupul, winning the game 2-1.
So what happened here?
“Paul Devorski told me that ‘100 percent’ it’s in,” said Coyotes Coach Dave Tippett. “You gotta take him for his word. The video was inconclusive, but Paul said ‘110 percent, Tip, I saw it in.’”
As for not signaling a goal, Tippett said that Devorski indicated to Smith that the puck had gone in.
So there wasn’t a goal signal, but there was a call on the ice, which apparently the officials felt the need to keep from the fans, players, coaches and viewers at home. OK then.
"There's only one guy in this whole building that saw it go in, so I guess you have to respect his call," said Smith, who said the ref "whispered" it to him. Because that's not odd.
Thu Dec 19 06:14pm EST
When the NHL has a hearing and decides not to suspend a player, it requires some thorough explanation to justify the decision.
Which is why the Department of Player Safety released a video that’s over three minutes long, breaking down why Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson wasn’t given any supplemental discipline for his charging hit on Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
We’re talking “coach’s diagram” specific:
Essentially, the NHL argued that Brayden Schenn knew Wilson was coming and by turning his back on the play put himself in harm’s way. If there was an injury here, significant or otherwise, the fault falls to the Flyers forward for turning his back on Wilson.
The other facet of this was the charging call on Wilson, the NHL buys his argument that he didn’t commit to the hit until he was well into the offensive zone, and that he was skating in as a forechecker and not taking a full skate from the neutral zone to hit him.
Hence, no suspension.
If the NHL wants to justify its decision not to ban Wilson for a couple of games with this evidence, it’s compelling enough to do so – especially the indictment of Schenn’s role in the potential injury.
But again, we come back this from the rulebook on charging:
Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.
Do we need to dip back into the NHL constitution and rephrase it as, “the actions of a player who, as a result of a distance traveled and with the clear intention to travel that distance to deliver a hit, shall violently check an opponent in any manner”?
Because if I'm a Flyers fan, I'm wondering where "intent of the hitter" is stated anywhere in that rule. And that seems to be the basis of the NHL's decision not to suspend him.
But the ultimate factor here, to me, is the lack of injury.
The NHL could let Wilson off and not worry about too much backlash because Schenn claims he's fine. But as always: If this is a stretcher incident, are we still hearing Brendan Shanahan breaking down the role of the F2 forechecker or is he telling us how many games Wilson's getting?
Thu Dec 19 05:56pm EST
The San Jose Sharks visit the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. ET), and we all win. Here are a few things to check out:
1. As You May Have Heard, The Home Team Does Quite Well
The last 15 times the Sharks and Kings have played, the visiting team has failed to win in regulation. In fact, the road team only won once in those 15 games – on April 5, 2012, which was a 6-5 shootout win. In the Western Conference semifinals last postseason, the home team won all seven games.
In their last 12 regular-season meetings, the home team has a 3.25 goals-for average, while the road team has a 2.25 goals-against average.
2. The Martin Jones Mystery
The Kings backup is 6-0-0 with a 0.82 goals against average, with three shutouts in five games.
So, uh, how do the Sharks beat this guy?
Shoot the puck a lot. We have pro scouts who will give us a scouting report on him and we’ll go from there. But, I don’t think we can change anything that we do. Just get shots and bodies to the net and try to get second chances. He seems like he’s saving everything right now.
From Coach Todd McLellan, via Kings Insider:
A number or our players have [faced him] in the Worcester scenario, I think for our group it’s more of about preparing to face six players rather than one goaltender. The five others that are on the ice… position themselves well around the net. It allows the goaltender to feel comfortable and make a lot of saves. They’ve been successful playing that way. It’s not just the guy wearing the pads, it’s the other five that you have to beat as well.
Well isn’t that a crafty way of saying that it’s the team instead of the goalie. Wonder what McLellan thinks of the Quick contract…
3. Anze Kopitar Is Pretty OK Against San Jose
Kopitar, Hart Trophy candidate for everyone but the East Coast, had the overtime game-winner last time these two teams met in Los Angeles, but that’s to be expected: The Kings center has 26 points in his last 23 regular-season games against the Sharks.
4. Clearly The San Jose Sharks Holiday Video Was A Moment Of Regrettable Hubris From A Struggling Team
5. Do Not Let The Kings Score First Or Lead Last
The Los Angeles Kings are 17-2-2 when they score first. They’ve yet to lose a game (12-0-0) when leading after two periods. So, uh, may want to avoid both scenarios there, Sharks.
Thu Dec 19 05:22pm EST
When we lamented the cookie-cutter disappointments of this season’s Christmas hockey sweaters, we had but one request: If you’re going to ugly, make sure it’s uuuugggggly.
So kudos to the Toledo Walleye for this monstrosity, which eschews the red-and-green of other sweaters for what looks like the bastard child of Hanukkah and Christmas:
Holy Toledo …
From the ECHL team, a feeder to both the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings:
Don't put your festive holiday sweaters away right after Christmas - you'll want to wear them one more time in 2013 for Ugly Sweater Night, presented by Goodwill: Saturday, December 28. The Walleye team will be getting in on the action, wearing the ugliest holiday-themed uniforms you've ever seen!
The Walleye game-worn 'Ugly Sweater' jerseys will be available for purchase after the game via a live auciton. Proceeds will benefit the Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio. The Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio is a 501(c)3 organization established to promote the health and wellness of individuals with physical disabilities by providing competitive and recreational adaptive sport opportunities throughout the State of Ohio. They offer eight sports, including Sled Hockey. The local team is named the Toledo Walleye Sled Hockey team and will be featured in the National Anthem and the Intermission Shootout Contest.
It’s just so gloriously bad. Like if your colorblind grandma got into the Peppermint Schnapps before knitting it.
Thu Dec 19 03:40pm EST
It was a pretty great year for jaw-dropping transactions in the NHL. The Mikhail Grabovski buyout, which greyed the hair of more than a few bloggers. The subsequent overpayment of Tyler Bozak. The David Clarkson contract. The firing of Brian Burke. The trade for Jonathan Bernier.
And these are just transactions that didn't make our top 10 -- from one city. (You so crazy, Toronto.)
Here are the transactions that shocked us in 2013.
We all saw it coming, but it was still pretty audacious. After two disastrous seasons in Philadelphia, and just one start shy of 100 in the orange and black, Ilya Bryzgalov was disappeared from the Flyers' organization. Only two summers earlier, Ed Snider had crowed about the signing, a $51 million deal that ran through 2020, saying, "for me, the goaltender is the final piece on this team.” Now, the Flyers were paying $23 million to rid themselves of a huMANGous mistake.
Most of the NHL's players returned from Europe in early January, when the league finally agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement with the player's association. (The end of the lockout: Puck Daddy's least shocking transaction of 2013, by the way, since it shouldn't have taken until this year.) But O'Reilly stayed behind, playing two more games for Magnitogorsk in Russia on Jan. 21 and Jan. 23 as he awaited a contract extension from the Avalanche.
Finally, nearly two months later, O'Reilly signed -- but not with the Avalanche, with the Calgary Flames, who inked the centre to a $10 million, two-year offer sheet. The Avalanche quickly matched. This in itself was not shocking.
Then we learned that, even if they hadn't, O'Reilly may not have been able to join the Flames. Those two extra games he played made him waiver-eligible if he signed elsewhere. As Chris Johnston pointed out, "That would have created a potentially disastrous situation where the Flames had to send two decent draft picks to Colorado before losing the rights to O’Reilly immediately afterwards."
That was shocking. Jay Feaster has since been fired, which probably makes some sense.