Let’s look back at Friday night’s games, starting with the marquee match of Pittsburgh vs. New Jersey.
Devils 3, Penguins 1
New Jersey continues to dominate the defending Stanley Cup champions this season. Ilya Kovalchuk was “struggling” with eight points in first 10 games as a Devil, but last night he made his presence felt with one goal, two assists and a failed penalty shot. (Remember: Kovy and Crosby don’t exactly love each other.)
Lightning 3, Capitals 2
Neither Steven Stamkos nor Alex Ovechkin improved their chances in Richard race in this game, allowing Sidney Crosby to regain a temporary lead with his 45th goal. Perhaps Scott Walker should keep getting lost in DC’s metro system out of sheer superstition because he has two goals in three games after only scoring two in the previous 291 of his career games!
Jump for the other four game recaps.
Rangers 5, Thrashers 2
Someone had to win this game of two slumping teams and the Rangers did so handily. Lundqvist and Gaborik both were big in the win for New York. Friday marked the home debut for “new” Thrashers defenseman Chris Chelios who blocked two shots in his second game back.
Wild 3, Sabres 2
In this battle of backups, one of the best (Minnesota’s Josh Harding) beat one of the worst (Buffalo’s Patrick Lalime). While Harding made 43 saves to lead the Wild to a rare road win, Lalime was jeered by Buffalo fans after two early goals. Look, I get that he’s not Ryan Miller, but why shake the confidence of your own goalie?
Kings 2, Stars 1 SO
Jonathan Quick might want to get back to being the Kings’ starter because the other Jonathan (Bernier) had a great win in his first game of the year. One weird thing from this game: one assistant coach from each team was hit by a puck.
Predators 1, Ducks 0
Jonas Hiller had a nice game, but Pekka Rinne was even better for Nashville. Rinne earned his 11th career shutout in only 100 games played.
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.