Sat Mar 08 12:21am EST
It's hardly much of a punishment, being banned from playing for the Vancouver Canucks right now, but it's all the Department of Player Safety's really got, and it's definitely what Zack Kassian deserved for his boarding of Brendan Dillon in the second period of Thursday's content between the Canucks and the Stars.
For this act of boneheaded malfeasance from a repeat bonehead Kassian has been banned three games.
Shanahan, explaining the obvious:
"It's important to note that what raises this minor penalty to a suspension is that, not only does Kassian see Dilon's number for quite some time, but he boards Dillon with significant force."
"And while it's true that Dillon both stops and turns his back during this play, he does both of these actions well before this forceful check from behind. Kassian has enough time to avoid this check entirely, or at the very least minimize this force."
Honestly, Kassian got off light, probably because Dillon came back to the game. As a repeat offender -- the dude broke a guy's jaw earlier this season in what the league effectively deemed to be an intentional stick swing -- the league could very well have thrown the book at him. Heck, they didn't even mention that he appears to leave his feet, or that this was clearly an act borne out of frustration at the team's on-ice performance that night.
Unless, of course, Shanahan knows what everyone else in Vancouver knows: the real punishment is that Kassian has to come back at some point.
Fri Mar 07 06:58pm EST
Here is the Puck Daddy Viewing Guide: Spotlighting five things to watch for during tonight's slate of games. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.
Create-a-Caption: "Ryan Miller #39 of the St. Louis Blues eyes the puck over his head at Bridgestone Arena on March 6, 2014."
• • • • •
Preview: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: New Jersey Devils at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Buffalo Sabres at Florida Panthers, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: New York Islanders at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m. ET
Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks, 10 p.m. ET
• • • • •
Five things to know about tonight's NHL games ...
1) Prodigal Lu. Roberto Luongo starts for the Panthers, something we haven't said since late 2006. It's about the only reason to watch Florida and Buffalo, two of the league's worst teams, at this point in the season.
2) Pittsburgh and Anaheim. It's a battle of division leaders -- and members of the bird family -- as the Penguins and Ducks go at it in Anaheim, but neither of these teams is really in the mood to preen right now. Anaheim is 4-5-1 in their last 10 home games. And the Penguins have surrendered 11 goals in the first three games of a five game road trip.
3) Calgary holds the fort. The Flames aren't very good, but they're pretty good at home right now. They've won 6 of their last 7 in Cowtown, and with the struggling Islanders paying them a visit Friday, they've got a good chance of making it 7 of 8.
4) Ruutu debuts for Devils. The Devils were looking to add a little grit to their top-nine and they grabbed Tuomo Ruutu from Carolina at the deadline. He makes his first appearance for New Jersey in Detroit.
5) St. Louis seeks first Rangers' win. The diminutive scorer looked like the only Ranger interested in winning his debut, so here's hoping they all join him his second time out. Maybe they can take inspiration from the addition of Raphael Diaz, who plays his first game as a Ranger?
Bold prediction: Pittsburgh gets crushed by the Ducks.
Fri Mar 07 04:56pm EST
Jersey Fouls is our ongoing exploration of the rules and etiquette for proper hockey jersey creation and exhibition. If you spot what you think may be a foul in your arena, email a photo to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in future installment.
When Martin St. Louis was traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the New York Rangers – fulfilling what we now know was a years-long desire to play closer to his home in Connecticut – one wondered how the Tampa fans would react to their captain’s departure.
He is, after all, a franchise legend and a former MVP. He had given his career to turning the Lightning into winners.
On the other hand … he peaced-out at the trade deadline, right as Steven Stamkos returned, because Steve Yzerman had the nerve not to make him a first-teamer on Canada’s Olympic squad.
So how would they react?
With the Protest Jersey you see here, via Caleigh Baldwin. So, yeah, looks like there needs to be some healing before his number gets raised to the rafters. (It still will, right? Right?!).
Coming up, more Protest Jerseys, some unfortunate ‘69’ sweaters and the most Canadian jersey ever.
And here … we … go.
Via @Sabourin91 from the Winter Classic alumni game comes this common misspelling of a Sergei FedOrov jersey. Hey, at least it’s phonetically correct, right?
But the real question is where he purchased it? And by that we mean, is there a gear shop in the greater Detroit area that’s a little hazy on the spelling on Red Wings legends? Are they the source for all the Lindstrom and Eyezerman jerseys in circulation?
While many in the Western Conference would likely agree with this Nickname Jersey for Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings, this unfortunately appears to be a case where someone used the captain’s sweater as a foundation for a sexual terminology joke.
And we’ll leave it up to you to discover that whimsy on its own, because (1) it’s unprintable here and (2) WARNING: YOU CAN’T UNSEE IT. Via @BTNemeth.
This New Jersey Devils protest paring is rather clever, via @Stevehague5. One guy has altered his Jamie Langenbrunner jersey into a Damien Brunner one. And the other has transformed his David Clarkson one into an Adam Larsson one. (We’ve had a variation of this before, but not with the ingenious math equation adding up to Larsson’s No. 5.)
Another protest one, and a little hard to see, so we pass the mic to David Simon:
“Saw this outside the Nassau Moseleum after the Isles Kings game. Yes that's an old traffic cone Yashin jersey with packing tape over the 9 and the name CARKNER scribbled on top over Yashin. Pretty sure it's the only Carkner jersey I'll ever see at the Coliseum short of someone in his family wearing one.”
Incidentally, they’re still paying for that Yashin jersey.
Um … what?
Er … whhaaaaaaat?
Via Cameron and Laura come this Oliver Ekman-Larsson Frankenjersey Army, combining his Phoenix Coyotes sweater with this Team Sweden sweater. Which is odd, because he only gets ice time while wearing one of them.
Speaking of Frankenjerseys …
This is one of the worst we’ve ever seen. From Erik Wood:
The second foul came from Saturday's tilt in Nashville between the Predators and the New York Rangers. As you can see, this is a Frankenjersey of the two teams in play that evening. As we all know, Frankenjerseys are always a foul. To make matters worse, the Predators jersey had no name plate, but the Rangers one was a MARK MESSIER jersey. This guy took half of a Messier jersey and turned it into an abomination. I'm no Rangers fan, but if I were, I'd probably hunt this guy down.
The words. We lack them.
Somehow, we can believe this classy Vancouver Canucks fan definitely eats cake and yet we’re surprised he has the opportunities to do so. Via Chris Rubio.
Meanwhile, we’d like to thank this Pittsburgh Penguins fan for getting to the point with a PERVERT 69 jersey. Via Stephanie Masood.
And finally …
We’ve had many clever Fouls. This one is next level. From Seth Dean:
Nameplate: "Canadian." Number: Upside-down 34 to make "Eh"
Brilliant, ya know?
Fri Mar 07 03:41pm EST
Shannon Szabados won her second consecutive gold medal as the goaltender for the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team in Sochi.
Her next challenge? Backstopping a professional men's hockey team.
Szabados took to Twitter to make the announcement herself:
Well here goes nothing Heading to the @SPHL to join the @Cottonmouths for the remainder of their season See you on the 12th guys! #snakes — Shannon Szabados (@ShannonSzabados) March 7, 2014
The 27-year-old Edmonton native has signed a contract with Southern Professional Hockey League's Columbus Cottonmouths. From the Cottonmouths:
The Edmonton, AB, Canada native is a former teammate of current Snake’s players Jordan Draper, Andy Willigar and Captain Kyle Johnson at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. Szabados’ signing will make her the first female to play hockey in the Southern Professional Hockey League since its inception ten years ago.
“I am very excited to get a world class athlete that has competed and has faced, high pressured situations. Shannon has won at every level she has played, in women’s hockey or men’s hockey,” head coach Jerome Bechard said.
“She won a championship with NATI last year alongside Andy Willigar and Jordan Draper so I know she can compete at this level. We are working on her immigration, and we are looking to sign her officially Thursday, where she will be backing up Loewen. She will play when she feels comfortable and situated.”
As mentioned in the release, this isn't Szabados' first time playing among men. Just last week she practiced with the Edmonton Oilers, who were short a goaltender after making a series of goalie swaps just before the NHL trade deadline.
"She's pretty good," Jordan Eberle said afterwards. "Once you figure that out, you try and score and put in as many as you can."
Before she became the first female to play in the SPHL, she blazed a trail in juniors, becoming the first female to play in the Western Hockey League as well as the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where she recorded a shutout in her first game.
Kevin Dineen, Szabados's Team Canada head coach, is confident that she's got what it takes to succeed in the SPHL. "I think she's going to do just fine in that environment," he said. "I don't think this is one of those gimmicky things, although I'd be naive to think that wasn't on the owner's mind. She can play. She'll be more than up to the task."
Szabados joins a short list of women’s hockey stars who laced up the skates with men’s pro teams. Manon Rheaume was the most famous example, becoming the only woman to appear in an NHL exhibition game with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992. Others, like Hayley Wickenheiser, played in men’s leagues in Europe due to a lack of opportunities for women to play professionally in North America.
The Cottonmouths' next home game is Thursday, March 13th, and a press conference has been scheduled to introduce Szabados before the game.
Fri Mar 07 02:56pm EST
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Sochi bathrooms strike again! US Sled Hockey goalie Steve Cash gets stuck in bathroom. Good old American ingenuity gets him out. [CBS Sports]
• Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik met with Martin St. Louis twice prior to trade in an effort to get him to stay with the organization. [Tampa Tribune]
• Worst kept secret in hockey: St. Louis and Steve Yzerman had a difficult relationship. [Tampa Bay Times]
• Craig Berube believes the Flyers aren't getting any respect from the officials, but he doesn't want to complain about it. Instead he actively disagrees to reporters about recent calls against the team. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
• Script pitch for the show Scandal: The President has yet to make good on his beer bet with the Canadian Prime Minister. This has international incident written all over it. However, being the trusting, polite Canadian he is, Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes President Barack Obama is good for it. [Chicago Tribune]
• Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Boston Bruins had a deal done in principle on deadline day and it fell through. [CSNNE]
• The New York Islanders are not happy being the butt of jokes, you guys. [Newsday]
• Help is on the way, Capitals fans! Evgeny Kuznetsov terminated his deal with the KHL and is winging his way to DC. [ProHockey Talk]
Fri Mar 07 02:02pm EST
It's a (gettin' down on) Friday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Star: Kevin Dineen, coach of the gold-medal winning Canadian women's team.
• Sidney Crosby's terrible night.
• The imploding Canucks.
• The Devils get their Kovalchuk pick back.
• GAME SHOW FRIDAY!
Question of the Day: Describe the current state of the Canucks in three words. Email at email@example.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!
Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.
Fri Mar 07 01:01pm EST
Sidney Crosby had one of the worst games of his NHL career on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks. Zero points. A career-worst minus-5, on a night in which the Sharks won 5-3. One shot on goal amidst four shot attempts.
And this happened, on Patrick Marleau’s shorthanded goal at 5:18 of the third period:
Crosby skated hard and then trailed the play, allowing Evgeni Malkin to attempt to defend Marleau one-on-one and, well, you can see how well that went.
The view from the corner camera was rather incriminating re: Crosby’s effort on the play. Which led to one of the Internet’s burgeoning memes being applied to Sid – the Xbox controller disconnected meme. This one’s by the great Ann Frazier:
It’s hilarious, of course. Just as it was when Alex Ovechkin coasted into the Capitals zone on “defense” against the New York Rangers on this classic GIF:
My first reaction was that this was unfairly maligning Crosby, who by all accounts is a better than average defensive player and is like the love child of Pavel Datsyuk and Patrice Bergeron when compared to Ovechkin.
But beyond that, what was his responsibility on this play? Backcheck Marleau at the risk of a penalty? Be ready to transition to offensive on what could be a 4-on-3 the other way? Stand there and do nothing?
Of course, Ovechkin’s Xbox moment was similar snapshot. But guys like Mike Milbury have made it a hobby to collect these moments and use them as evidence in a larger trend, which is that Ovechkin is atrocious defensively. (Spoiler: He sorta is.)
But what do either of them realy tell us?
They’re both a symptom of a highlight culture in sports media, in which plays are reduced to a few seconds of cathartic offense or blundering defense without context. The rise of GIFs (and for Yahoo iPhone users, “Loops”) has raised this to an art form: a single moment is played, replayed and serves as substantiation for all of us who are too lazy to wait for YouTube.
But if you look at the total play in the NHL.com clip and then the GIF for Crosby … well, the added context is either exonerating (he was coasting in, letting Malkin and the goalie handle it) or damning (he was coasting in, letting Malkin and the goalie handle it?!).
We recently moved to a publishing platform here on Y! Sports that’s going to allow for more GIFs, which is great, because they’re a fascinating way to capture an emotion or convey a point or highlight a play if there’s no long-form video asset available. (Like the Kassian play last night.)
But for the purposes of breaking down a play, they’re as myopic a device as building a story about a single tweet, from a journalistic standpoint.
That said … they’re also funny as [expletive] when the two biggest stars in the NHL both appear to have accidentally shut off their controllers on a defensive play. LONG LIVE THE XBOX MEME!
Fri Mar 07 11:48am EST
The St. Louis Blues have put out an A.B.B. – an All Bags Bulletin.
Center David Backes (USA), winger T.J. Oshie (USA) and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (Canada) are all missing team bags from the Sochi Olympics.
They actually made it back to the U.S., where the Blues say FedEx picked up the luggage at Newark International Airport in New Jersey. But only 18 of the 21 pieces of luggage were returned to the team.
One of the bags contained a significant amount of Team USA autographed memorabilia belonging to Backes that he planned on using for a charity event this month. (And who wouldn’t want to bid highly to commemorate our fourth-place medal?)
If you have any information about the bags, please send it over to Dan O’Neal of the Blues at DO'Neill@stlblues.com.
Obviously we’re happy to hear that the missing bags didn’t contain a gold medal. Or a puck used to beat the Russians in a shootout. Or, like, 10 dogs, in another player’s case.
Fri Mar 07 10:50am EST
At every NHL game, two large nets separate fans in lower level seats from the ice, stretching from the top of the glass to the rafters. They serve to protect fans from pucks that fly from the rink into the spectator areas.
But on Thursday night, it was one of the nets themselves that ended up injuring two fans.
After most fans had emptied out of the arena the Boston Bruins’ 3-0 victory over the Washington Capitals at TD Garden, two women were standing near the glass near the end boards. Suddenly, a pole that holds the protective netting fell from the Garden roof and landed on them.
A few other fans rushed to their aid before medical personnel arrived on the scene.
WARNING: The following images are graphic in nature.
Boston police did not release the names of the victims, only to say they’re women in their 20s. The incident happened around 9:40 p.m. At least one of the women was taken away on a stretcher, her neck immobilized.
According to the Globe, the women were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for evaluation.
The Garden released the following statement: "Two fans were injured following last night's Bruins game when a safety net fell unexpectedly. Our immediate concern is the well-being of these two fans. Safety of our fans is our top priority and we are investigating the incident."
What happened with the netting? It’s unclear, although it could have happened during the deconstruction of the Bruins’ rink that occurs when a non-hockey event is scheduled at the Garden the following day. The Boston Celtics face the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
The NHL installed the protective netting in its arenas in 2002 after Brittanie Cecil, a fan just four days shy of her 14th birthday, died after being struck on her left temple by a puck that deflected into the stands at a Columbus Blue Jackets game in March of that year. The League installed the nets for the following season.
Fri Mar 07 09:59am EST
Rattle off a laundry list of all the things Mike Gillis has fumbled in the last 12 months or so, and you're going to come up with a lot of items.
Many of them are contingent upon the ongoing illusion in Vancouver that this was a team well-suited for the rigors of the newly constituted four-division NHL; in which the Canucks now had to play more, and more important, games against titans like the Kings, Sharks and Ducks on a regular basis. A look at the roster the Canucks brought in to start the year, and the coach they thought would guide them back to a Cup Final, should have been a pretty good indicator that things were about to take a hard left into the rough part of the Pacific Division neighborhood, populated already by two other Western Canadian teams, but still they pressed on.
There was some thought, and I must admit to sharing it, that John Tortorella could coax a better performance out of this team; not because they had the personnel to play his style (they didn't and don't), but because he seems to have an ability to bend rosters to his will. It doesn't always work overnight, but historically, it has always worked.
The Canucks, perhaps the most veteran team Tortorella has ever taken over as an in-progress group, largely rejected what he espoused. “'Hard' hockey? Blocking shots? All set, thanks.” But the makings of this wreckage of a franchise, ruined by their pursuit of the Cup that eluded them just a few short years ago, were already in place.
Gillis's first and greatest mistake was letting the goaltending drama stretch on longer than your average kabuki play, complete with astonishing transformations and plot twists no one could have ever seen coming. And while it was never quite revealed that Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider's pads were made from the skin of anyone's parents, the fact that it was Schneider flying away after all that nonsense was definitely a jaw-dropper. The return Gillis ended up getting for a relatively young, career .927 goaltender — the No. 8 overall pick — was perhaps the best he could have done, but when it comes to taking Bo Horvat with it, not so much. Especially because that left him with a goaltender who was good, but old, expensive, and certainly about to decline hard over the next few years, and who carried a contract which essentially made him valueless in a trade.
That Gillis got anything at all out of Florida is a minor miracle.
That said, though, people have criticized the Canucks for ending last season with a goaltending tandem of Luongo and Schneider, and now being on their way to ending it with a duo of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom. This is, by any measure, a notable downgrade, but it indicates a judicious stewardship of the team in one respect:
Gillis is totally prepared to blow up this roster; and while Canucks fans will be loath to hear it, is the best thing that could happen to it.
Here are the simplest two questions to divine whether the Canucks should start dismantling perhaps their best roster ever:
1) Were they likely to compete for a Stanley Cup?
2) Were they likely to get better?
The answer to both questions is an effusive “no,” and thus Gillis, having made his most crucial misstep in dealing Schneider, was at a crossroads.
On the one hand, he could make like his forebears in Calgary and Edmonton, and try to milk a few more seasons of feckless playoff appearances in which his team wins a game or two but ultimately doesn't come close to being in any way threatening to one of the top teams in the West, before inevitably bottoming out in embarrassing and difficult-to-watch fashion. On the other, he could sell what he could, while he could, and potentially start the team back onto the path to success in a handful of years while still keeping its “core.”
He chose the latter tack, which by the way is the smarter one.
It is also, though, the less popular one, and the one less traveled by. In hockey we're used to seeing many of our more dynastic teams (if you want to call the Canucks that; they certainly held significant considerable sway over a garbage division for years but had little in the way of tangible success outside the Presidents Trophies) run slip slowly but inevitably under the black waves, rather than explode spectacularly like a Nazi blimp over Lakehurst.
Make no mistake: The Luongo situation was handled with a kind of magnificent and almost admirable lack of grace, and to do it over a period of a few years shows a real commitment to the art of pissing off your franchise netminder. But the trade had to happen for more reasons than just Luongo wanting out. Gillis saw where this franchise was headed and steered into the skid.
It is, however, going to cost him his job. Probably costs Tortorella his as well. All the indication you need in this arena, beyond that 1-8-1 stretch ahead of the trade deadline, one supposes, is those reports about Gillis not having authorization to deal Ryan Kesler, which he ultimately did not accomplish on Wednesday, whatever the reason may have been. He will almost certainly be moved prior to next season, probably at the draft, and if they're smart, so too will anyone else with some tread left on the tires and something in the way of remaining value but who likely aren't going to be serviceable when the team is once again ready to compete again (Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa). The rumors about trading Alex Edler were a little curious, given how long he's locked up, and how affordably, unless Vancouver plans to really and truly blow things up, which seems doubtful.
It's difficult to be convinced that “rebuilds on the fly” actually work, especially when the two star forwards around whom you plan to build are 33 years old. And it's certainly not something that Gillis is going to see through to the end; he could have tried to pick up a rental or two, squeeze into the playoffs, and get creamed, then say he accomplished something.
But in starting the process, he did the right thing for the long-term good of the franchise. That's not a job many general managers would probably do, but it is admirable and praiseworthy.