Tuesday’s games are full of intrigue. There are two games that didn’t make the top three that are fairly interesting, but it seems that we know more or less the fate of the Capitals-Senators and Blackhawks-Blues. Since profiling all of today’s nine games might be a bit much, here are the three best. Two of them have fairly huge ramifications.
(However, if you want a full schedule, click here.)
Today’s Best Games
Los Angeles Kings (42-27-6, 90 pts) at Nashville Predators (44-27-6, 94 pts) 8 PM ET
Nashville’s four-point lead over the Kings is misleading because the Predators have played two more games. This game is especially enormous for Los Angeles; they’ve lost four in a row and would have to start to sweat the Flames a bit if they don’t make it out of this one with at least a point. It’s not going to be easy as Nashville is quietly one of the league’s hottest teams at an impressive 8-1-1 in their last 10.
Boston Bruins (34-29-6, 80 pts) at New Jersey Devils (44-26-5, 93 pts) 7 PM ET
This game is big for both teams, even if they have wildly disparate ambitions. For the Bruins, they must continue to fight-and-claw simply to remain in the playoff hunt. The Devils can re-gain the Atlantic Division lead with a win. My money is on New Jersey in this one.
Phoenix Coyotes (47-23-6, 100 pts) at Vancouver Canucks (45-26-4, 94 pts) 10 PM ET
The Sharks’ lead over the Coyotes for the Pacific division is another deceptive four-point gap. Why? Because the two teams finish their seasons against each other. If Phoenix can make up 2-3 points in their remaining 5 games, that could give them an opportunity to take it. The Canucks are pretty much set at No. 3, so perhaps this one’s all about advancing Henrik Sedin’s Art Ross cause.
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.