Scott Nichol speaks about the Maxim Lapierre hit

Reaction to Maxim Lapierre’s hit on Scott
has been near unanimous: it was horribly dirty play and he
deserved the suspension he received, and perhaps should have been
suspending for longer. On the play, Lapierre checked
Nichol from behind
after he had released a shot on net, sending
Nichol into the boards head first and starting an angry scrum between
both the Sharks and Canadiens. Nichol
is out ten days with a shoulder injury himself.

Personally, the play was beyond scary and really hit me hard. As soon
as I saw replay of the hit, I was instantly reminded of when Mike
was sent headfirst into the boards by Ruslan Sulei, a play
that looked like it nearly killed him.

Lapierre was handed down a four-game suspension by the NHL yesterday.
Today, David Pollack talked to Nichol about the hit and the scrum that
happened afterward. His
reaction may shock you.

“It’s one of those things,” Nichols said when we talked this morning.
“We’re the third or fourth line and we play against other third and
fourth line guys. I’m not defending him or anything, but you play right
on the edge and sometimes for myself, you’re going hard to the net and
things like that happen.”

Later he added:  “I’m no saint by any means — I’ve  been suspended,
too, before — and in the heat of the battle, you don’t  mean to do it.
You’re trying to finish your check or your trying to stick up for a
teammate. There’s so many different variables.”

It’s a lengthy interview, and Nichol goes on to talk about his
reaction immediately after the hit and how he and the rest of the Sharks
originally Andrei Markov was the perpetrator of the hit. He also has
the cringe-inducing description of his injury:

thought my shoulder was on the other side. It just went numb and I
didn’t know what went wrong. When I first hit, I thought I broke my
collar bone. Everything in that area went numb, but once I came in and
it settled down a little bit, it was pretty sore.

have to respect Nichol for being not only being open to talking about
the injury and the hit, but with being completely honest with his
feelings. Lapierre is being vilified by the media for the hit, yet
Nichol says it’s just an unfortunate play that was the result of an
incredibly fast sport that is played on ice with concrete-hard walls
lining the playing arena.

There’s an argument that the players
nowadays aren’t any more dirty or vicious than they’ve been in the past,
but that their athleticism, speed and size is making the game much more
dangerous overall. The forces involved when two players collide in
today’s NHL are massive, and when you add in the desire to play your
heart out each night you get some plays that are the result of just
plain, hard play and bad luck.

Was this that sort of play? Well,
Lapierre did hit Nichol from behind when it was definitely not needed.
Was it a vicious play, or just careless? Was the fact that the referee
who was just feet away from the play failed to call a penalty the real
injustice here? What are your thoughts?

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    Avs expect to recall Mikko Rantanen from minors next week

    DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 21:  Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche warms up prior to facing the Carolina Hurricanes at Pepsi Center on October 21, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Hurricanes defeated the Avalanche 1-0 in overtime.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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    The Colorado Avalanche are planning to recall forward Mikko Rantanen from the AHL next week, according to the Denver Post.

    The 19-year-old was the team’s first round pick, 10th overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

    He failed to record a point in nine games last season, but had a strong campaign in the minors, as he scored 24 goals and 60 points in 52 games. Those are incredible numbers for a teenager getting his first taste of AHL action.

    It looked like Rantanen would make the Avs out of training camp, but an ankle injury changed that.

    After Saturday’s game against Florida, the Avalanche will have six days between games, which is why they’ll leave their top prospect in the minors for another week.

    Both head coach Jared Bednar and GM Joe Sakic have stated that the young forward will have a top-six role with the club when he arrives.


    PHT Morning Skate: Erik Karlsson’s awesome Halloween costume may give you nightmares

    Melinda Currey on Instagram

    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    –Which of these four players will be able to sustain their hot starts? (Sportsnet)

    –Caps forward Daniel Winnik lost a piece of his ear after blocking a shot last night. (Fox Sports)

    –Bobby Orr still wants to see the return of the red line. (ESPN)

    –Five General Managers that are on the hot seat. (The Hockey News)

    –Watch as workers put together the rink at Investors Group Field for the Heritage Classic:

    –Warning: You can’t unsee Erik Karlsson‘s black swan Halloween costume (if you can’t see it, click here):

    I just want to be perfect. ⚫️🐦🙆🏻

    A photo posted by melindacurrey (@melindacurrey) on

    Ovechkin scored the winner against the Panthers, as the Capitals continued to roll

    Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), from Russia, celebrates his goal as center Marcus Johansson (90), from Sweden, comes to join him in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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    SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) The Washington Capitals are off to a fast start.

    Alex Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period Thursday night to lift the Capitals over the Florida Panthers 4-2.

    Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead 3-2 with 12:27 left in the third. His one-timer from the point got past Roberto Luongo, who was screened on the play.

    The Capitals have earned at least a point in each of their four games.

    “At the start of the season, it’s almost always important to take points,” Ovechkin said. “We didn’t lose the game and it’s a good sign. We just have to continue to collect the points and move forward.”

    Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams scored for the Capitals. Matt Niskanen recorded two assists and Braden Holtby made 26 saves.

    “In the third, (we) responded really well and I thought in the third period they (Panthers) really didn’t have much,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “They had one or two chances, but not much. We had the majority of them.”

    Jaromir Jagr became the third player to score 750 goals. He is in third place all-time in the NHL, behind only Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). Michael Matheson also scored for the Panthers. Jagr’s goal was his first in 10 games, including one last season, six playoff games last season, and three this season.

    “It’s always good to get the first one. A good play, a good pass, I was wide open in the slot,” Jagr said. “I had a lot of chances in the games before but I couldn’t put the puck in. I’m glad I did tonight.”

    Luongo made 25 stops for the Panthers, who lost their second straight.

    The Capitals surged in the third period with two goals on 13 shots. Johannson stretched the lead to 4-2 with an unassisted goal with 1:20 left.

    “In the third we sat back a little bit or they pushed back a little bit.” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “They took the chances to us. That third goal was sort of lucky, a bouncing puck from the blue line and changed direction. Tough to lose like that.”

    Jagr’s power-play goal tied the game at 2 with 5:50 left in the second. Jagr took a pass in the slot from Aleksander Barkov from behind the goal line and beat Holtby. The power-play goal was the first in 11 opportunities for the Panthers this season.

    The Panthers had an apparent power-play goal at 7:47 of the second waved off. Colton Sceviour swept in a loose puck sitting to the left of the crease but an early whistle killed the play.

    “He (referee) said he wasn’t in position and thought the puck was covered. He made a mistake,” Gallant said.

    Trailing 2-0, the Panthers closed to 2-1 on Matheson’s shot from the sideboards that snuck past Holtby on the stick side with 6:13 left in the first. The goal was Matheson’s second in two games.

    The Capitals scored two goals less than two minutes apart in the first period. Williams took a pass from Nate Schmidt in front and poked in the puck on his second try to make it 1-0 at 8:25. The goal was Williams 250th in the NHL.

    Washington stretched its lead to 2-0 when Kuznetsov deflected a shot from the point under Luongo’s glove at 10:21.

    Stars’ Sharp out with concussion symptoms following controversial OT loss to Kings


    The Dallas Stars lost to the L.A. Kings on Thursday, and they could also lose forward Patrick Sharp for a period of time to injury, too.

    Sharp left the game with concussion symptoms, as per the Stars. He didn’t return. The 34-year-old forward was on the receiving end of a big hit along the boards from Brayden McNabb early in the second period and was put through concussion protocol.

    As per Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, Sharp will be out for “a while,” according to head coach Lindy Ruff, who is already dealing with a host of injury problems up front. Stars forward Patrick Eaves also left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return.

    The Stars lost 4-3 in overtime, as the Kings recorded their first win of the season, although the eventual winning goal was reviewed for possible goalie interference.

    From the NHL:

    At 1:20 of overtime in the Kings/Stars game, the Situation Room initiated a review under the terms of a Coach’s Challenge to review whether a Los Angeles player interfered with Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen prior to Alec Martinez‘s goal.

    After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line.

    Therefore the original call stands – good goal Los Angeles Kings.

    Of course, Ruff didn’t agree with the league’s ruling on the play.