Chicago owner says Ovechkin should have season-long suspension

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Just when you thought we had all moved on from the last illegal hit a
player was suspended for, someone weighs in a brings it all right back
out in the open again.

Rocky Wirtz, Chicago Blackhawks owner, feels that Ovechkin should
have been suspended for the remainder of the season. Via
Ed Sherman of Crain’s Chicago Business
:

“Thank God it’s only the end of the season for Brian
Campbell, not the end of his career. These head hits are cumulative.
When you get a concussion like that, and get them over a period of time,
it could end your career. That’s not what you want to see. You want to
see these players on the ice. You don’t want to see them in the press
box.”

“If you’re really going to hurt a player, knee to knee,
make a head hit, and you’re out for the season, then let them suspend
that player for the rest of the season. I’ll tell you, you wouldn’t see
those knee-to-knee and head hits anymore.”

I can understand Wirtz’ sentiment and it’s one that many people
share: make the offending player miss the same amount of time as the
player he injured, and you’d see the dirty hits disappear. I just can’t
agree with it.

All hits should be punished the same, regardless of
injury. That’s not the way it works, however; Ovechkin would never have
been suspended if Campbell had not been injured. But if the exact same
hit resulted in just a bruised shoulder for Campbell, would it make the
hit any less dangerous or illegal?

One other thing: Wirtz is using
the Ovechkin hit to get in on the discussion of head shots and knee on
knee hits, and that is completely unfair to Ovechkin and this particular
incident. I thought he ‘push’ of Campbell was reckless, but far from
malicious and far from being on the same level as a blind-sided shot to
the head.

You can’t just lump them all together. Ovechkin’s hit
was worthy of a two-game suspension. Matt Cooke’s was worthy of a
20-game suspension. The fact that they weren’t punished at those levels
is the NHL’s problem, and just now they decide to do something about it.

But
making every suspension the same length as the injury? Not needed, not
going to happen.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Video: Kuznetsov sets table for Vrana’s first NHL goal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Jakub Vrana of the Washington Capitals poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).

Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.

See it for yourself:

Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.

He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.

Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.

Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:

Kulikov returns to increasingly healthy Sabres lineup

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 18: Dmitry Kulikov #77 of the Buffalo Sabres in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.

The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?

He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.

Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.

With Foligno out sick, Columbus gives Bjorkstrand another shot

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 13:  Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets lines up for a face-off during the game against the Boston Bruins on October 13, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.

The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.

He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.

With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.

Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?

Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: