Brian Burke's dirty hits solution: Hug it out

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Brian Burke is a quirky man with quirky (but sometimes brilliant) ideas. This much was made clear in an idea Burke brought up to Darren Dreger of TSN: could “bear hugs” be the solution to the league’s problems with unsafe hits?
In other words, should the league fix its open ice hit problems by taking a page from professional wrestling?

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke is convinced a good hug may go a long way to curbing a constant safety issue in the NHL – hitting from behind.

Burke is lobbying the league to allow what he calls a “bear hug,” where a player, usually a defenseman, is allowed to wrap his arms around the targeted player, for a fleeting moment, while he takes him into the boards.

Burke says this change would avoid the “billiard-ball” force hits that exist now where all of the force is transferred directly from the “hitter” to the “hittee.”

Well, I can’t say the idea is insane but can you imagine the slippery slope this could cause with interference/holding/obstruction? Would refs think that a defenseman was simply protecting another player instead of impeding his progress to the net?

Perhaps the league should just be cut-and-dry instead. Something tells me if the NHL had a zero tolerance policy on hits to the head – whether they come from the front, side or from an overhead parachute approach – things would be a little different. Or maybe the league needs automatic suspensions for the egregious charges by Tanner Glass and James Wisniewski (it almost seems like “charge” is to light a word for those moments … perhaps they should receive a penalty for “stampeding”?).

Still, I appreciate the spirit of the idea. The league needs its most creative minds to take this issue seriously and come up with a solution that will straddle the line between “letting them play” and “allowing them to suffer irreversible brain damage.”

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    Bruins, Khudobin top Penguins for fourth straight win

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    Don’t look now but here come the Boston Bruins.

    Thanks to their 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday afternoon the Bruins were able to continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings with their fourth consecutive win, all of them coming with backup goaltender Anton Khubodin in net.

    Friday’s win ended up being a little more difficult than it looked after 20 minutes.

    The Bruins stormed out of the gates and dominated the first period, scoring a pair of goals and limiting the Penguins to just four shots on goal. They held a 3-1 lead in the second period until the Penguins were able to strike back with a pair of goals, including a really flukey game-tying goal from Sidney Crosby that needed to go through two different replay reviews, to tie the game.

    But early in the third period David Pastrnak was able to sneak behind the Penguins’ defense on a breakaway and score what would prove to be the game-winning goal.

    With that win the Bruins are for the time being in the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

    The Penguins, meanwhile, continue to look like a lost hockey team. Their loss on Friday was their ninth in their past 13 games and they have still just won just 11 of their first 24 games this season.

    Friday’s game was also the Penguins’ third consecutive loss.

    Defense continues to be an issue, as does depth scoring and 5-on-5 offense.

    Things will not get any easier for the Penguins on Saturday when they have to return home for a game against the NHL’s best team, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    It will be the third time the Penguins have played the Lightning this season in the second half of a back-to-back situation. They lost the first two games by a combined score of 12-5.

    WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Boston Bruins

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    If you are looking for a break from your Black Friday shopping or your relatives in town for the holidays we have something that should work nicely: Some afternoon hockey as the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Boston Bruins.

    The Bruins enter the game having won three in a row, all with backup goalie Anton Khudobin in net. He has allowed just four goals in those three games.

    The Penguins, meanwhile, are still trying to find their stride this season and have won just four of their past 12 games. They are still trying to figure out ways to replace some of the depth they lost this summer.

    Opening faceoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

    You can catch all of the action on NBC or on our NBC Live Stream.

    Click Here For The Live Stream

    Preview: NHL On NBC: Bruins’ Khudobin looks for fourth straight win in matinee matchup against Pens.

    New York Rangers reveal 2018 Winter Classic jerseys (Photos)

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    The Buffalo Sabres already revealed their look for the 2018 Winter Classic earlier this week, and on Friday the New York Rangers gave us our first look at what their uniforms will look like for the Jan. 1 game to be played at Citi Field in New York.

    [Buffalo Sabres reveal 2018 Winter Classic jersey (Photos)]

    Have a look, both in the picture at the top showing the front of the uniforms, as well as the picture just below showing the back.

    Thoughts on the Rangers’ look?

    The 2018 Winter Classic is scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET faceoff at Citi Field in New York, the home of the New York Mets.

    This year’s game will be the 10th anniversary of the annual New Years Day game.

    Related: Buffalo Sabres reveal Winter Classic Jerseys 

    NHL on NBC: Bruins’ Khudobin looks for fourth straight win in matinee matchup against Pens

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    It’s Black Friday, which means that the NHL on NBC will air a matinee game. This afternoon, the Boston Bruins will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1:00 P.M. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here

    The Bruins are in a weird goaltending situation right now. Tuukka Rask, who’s been their starter for the last few years, has taken a back seat to Anton Khudobin.

    Khudobin is a career backup, but he’s looked terrific over the last week or so. The 31-year-old has won three consecutive games (all on the road) over Los Angeles, San Jose and New Jersey. In those three contests, he’s allowed just four goals.

    “We’re playing with our hearts,” Khudosin said of the team’s recent winning streak, per the Boston Herald. “That’s how we’re playing. Right now, I think we put everything into one game. We’re focusing on that one game that we are playing. After the game, whether it is lose or win, we go on to the next game. I think that’s really important. It’s always hard work (that) pays off. When guys are playing like this, they’re not scared of the puck. They block the shots, they’re laying down to do whatever. Then there is always going to be positive result.”

    Here’s an injury update for the Bruins:

    Things have been going better for Boston than they have been for Pittsburgh recently. The Penguins have lost two games in a row and four of their last six contests. They’re coming off a 5-2 loss to rookie sensation Brock Boeser and the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.

    “For us, we just have to find the consistency, something we show at different times,” captain Sidney Crosby said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune. “A couple mistakes here and there end up hurting us. We had some tough bounces. You have to work through your bounces at some point.”

    In six games since Nov. 10, the Penguins scored five goals against Buffalo and four goals against Nashville. If you take those two games away, they have just seven goals in the remaining four contests.

    Things won’t get any easier for them on Friday afternoon, as they’ll face a tough Boston team without superstar center Evgeni Malkin, who is dealing with an upper-body injury. He’s day-to-day at this point.

    Enjoy the game!