Did Fisher's hit on Kaleta warrant a misconduct?

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Last night against the Buffalo Sabres late in the first period, Mike Fisher was given a five
minute major for boarding on Patrick Kaleta and then given a game
misconduct as well. It was similar to the hit by Alex Ovechkin on Brian
Campbell (of course, it’s not getting as much attention nationally) but
at the same time it wasn’t. It certainly didn’t appear on replays that
Fisher had shoved Kaleta to the boards; in fact, Fisher claims Kaleta
embellished the fall just a bit
:

“I didn’t touch him. He should be
playing soccer. I’m not going to
criticize. It’s a tough call to make if you’re a ways away. I saw the
replay and it was definitely a dive. He embarrassed himself.”

I’m
not one to completely discredit someone who falls into the boards that
hard. If Kaleta did a take dive there, it was an incredibly dumb thing to
do; he was hurt on the play and didn’t return to the game didn’t return to the game until the third period. But was this
truly a case of Fisher dangerously shoving Kaleta into the boards? Since
NHL.com doesn’t have the play on video, after the jump we go through a
series of photos to try to make the determination.

Kaleta and
Fisher were racing for the puck on an icing call, with Kaleta slowing
down directly in front of Fisher. Fisher has his hands up in a natural
position as he gets ready for what is most likely a violent crash into
the boards.

Fisher1.jpg

It’s something you see all the time, especially as two
players race to the puck. You can also see that Kaleta has the brakes
on in full, while Fisher does not. This is similar in car race, where
the car in front brakes quicker that the car on his bumper, creating a
bump and spin out.

Fisher2.jpg

So the issue at hand is whether Fisher extended
his hands out, and aided Kaleta to lose his balance and hit the boards.
This is just a split second after the first picture, as Fisher’s left
arm seems to be in almost the exact same position as before. Kaleta is
already starting to brace himself, leaning forward.

Fisher3.jpg

Kaleta loses
his balance and falls forward. He’s a good distance away from the
boards, and it’s a violent collision. It’s not something you want to
see. But Fishers left arm is still in almost the exact same position as
before. We can’t get a good look at his right, but how much of a shove
could he give him?

This really isn’t all that similar to
Ovechkin’s hit, as the players involved were in two separate positions.
Campbell and Ovechkin were racing for the puck, but Campbell came back
around and in front of Ovechkin and was then hit. Kaleta and Fisher were
racing side by side for the puck, with Kaleta getting front position on
Fisher as they braced to touch up the puck.

Fisher certainly
didn’t “hit” Kaleta, though there’s no doubt he had position directly
behind him. Should Fisher be at fault for having his hand on Kaleta’s
back, who then loses his balance and goes head first into the boards?

How
about the NHL enforce no-touch icing, like everyone wants, so that we
don’t have these type of ‘hits’ or falls any longer?

Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again

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If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”

There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.

Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.

One team climbing, the other stumbling

With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.

During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.

Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.

Canadiens are facing some turbulence (and mostly passing the test)

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 6: Patrik Berglund #21 of the St. Louis Blues checks Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Scottrade Center on December 6, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens aren’t in crisis mode, but as far as this so-far outstanding 2016-17 season goes, they are finally facing some adversity.

Alex Galchenyuk, one of their most promising young players, is out indefinitely. There are murmurs that captain Max Pacioretty isn’t getting along with head coach Michel Therrien.* Tuesday presented a body blow or two to boot.

For one thing, the Canadiens gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Jaden Schwartz grabbed an assist and scored the game’s last two goals, including the OT-winner:

Losing to a contender like the Blues, especially while still grabbing a “charity point,” isn’t that big of a deal. A possible David Desharnais injury makes things a little dicey, however:

Really, though, it’s not all that bad for Montreal. They managed a 2-2-1 mark during a five-game road trip heavy on quality opponents.

Also: six of their next seven games come at home, where they’re 12-1-1. So things will look brighter soon enough.

Still, with some injuries and a big road trip to end 2016 and start 2017, there may be some moments where Montreal looks vulnerable.

Ultimately, fighting through stretches like these could very well benefit the Habs later on.

* – Ah, the old standby: “Player X isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Therrien.”

From the Blues’ side:

Ristolainen, Kane, O’Reilly push Sabres past McDavid and the Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16:  Rasmus Ristolainen #55, Matt Moulson #26, Sam Reinhart #23, Kyle Okposo #21 and Ryan OÕReilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers on October 16, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.

In particular, high-scoring defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, power forward Evander Kane and two-way center Ryan O'Reilly made the difference in Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime win.

Ristolainen’s first goal of 2016-17 was a big one, as it clinched the contest in OT:

Evander Kane scored two goals of his own, including one in the dying seconds of regulation to allow Buffalo to get a standings point (and then a second) in the first place.

Kane finished with two goals, O’Reilly generated two assists and Ristolainen managed a one-goal, two-assist performance.

It would be wrong to say that the marquee names didn’t show up at all. McDavid generated two assists and Eichel also nabbed a helper.

You’d be correct in saying that other young players stole the show, though, and the Sabres were the biggest beneficiaries.

Video: Brent Seabrook shaken up after awkward fall

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It wasn’t nearly as scary as the falls suffered by Travis Zajac or Philip Larsen, but the Chicago Blackhawks are still holding their breath when it comes to defenseman Brent Seabrook.

As you can see from the video above, Seabrook was tripped up by Jordan Martinook of the Arizona Coyotes during a simple puck battle. Seabrook was shaken up after falling awkwardly on that play.

At the moment, it’s unclear if this will be an ongoing issue or if the Blackhawks avoided a costly injury.

Martinook was not penalized.

CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes that Seabrook wasn’t out to begin the third period. So far, not so good.

The Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0, so the silver lining for Chicago is that they won.