Andy Sutton not happy with "expert" reporter

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Leopold.jpgUpdate: Follow the jump for a still shot of the moment of impact of the hit.

It didn’t take long, but we may have our first round of controversy and drama in the playoffs.

Late in the first period of the Pittsburgh and Ottawa game, Jordan Leopold was skating the puck up the near boards in the neutral zone, when the Senators’ Andy Sutton laid a disastrously monster hit on the defenseman. Sutton was not penalized for the hit, and Leopold did not return to the game.

You can see video of the hit here, and it’s pretty obvious right away how dangerous a play like this might be. More on that in a bit.

First, let’s get to the drama that occurred after the game, when a reporter asked Sutton about the hit. You can see the video here, but here’s the transcript:

Reporter: You didn’t know your elbow came up and hit him in the head?

Sutton: Are you asking me or are you telling me?

Reporter: No, I’m asking you.

Sutton: Are you an expert?

Reporter: No, it was on the replay.

Sutton: So you’re an expert?

Reporter: No, it was on the replay.

Sutton: You saw it, you’re saying you saw it, you’re an expert.

Reporter: Yes.

Sutton: You’re not an expert.

Reporter: I saw it. I’m asking if you knew you got your elbow up.

Sutton: You’re telling me I got my elbow up?

Reporter: It was on the replay.

Sutton: So you’re an expert. You know it was up.

And….enter PR representative to get Sutton out of there.

Anyone else getting a “Who’s on first” vibe here?

After the jump, thoughts on the hit and a still frame look at the moment of impact.

Here’s a still frame look at the moment of impact. It’s not perfect, but you can see that Sutton’s elbow was tucked and his skates were on the ice. As much as I hate to see head injuries and as much as such devastating hits can hurt players, there little doubt that this was a clean hit. Leopold had his head down, didn’t see Sutton coming and then turned away at the last instant, making the hit much, much worse. But it was clean

Screenshot courtesy of Versus.

The original report is below.

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The best thing that Andy Sutton could have done was to dismiss the question with a “no comment”. There’s no way he’s going to own up to hitting Leopold with his elbow, because that admission of guilt alone could earn him a suspension.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, however, the NHL will not be handing out any supplemental discipline to Sutton as it’s been deemed a “clean hit”.

It certainly raises the eyebrows a bit that the hit has been dismissed so quickly, as it seemed that there was certainly some contact between elbow and head. Was his elbow raised for the hit? That’s debatable, but for a league that is seemingly so concerned with head injuries I’m surprised it’s been passed over so quickly.

This adds to the debate that if a player has his head down low, and an player making a hit makes contact with the head with his elbow, is it still illegal? I’m of a mind to say that this hit should be illegal, but as the rules are
now it’s not.

It’s also tough to say this was a ‘blind side’ hit, as Leopold turned at the very last instant as the hit was coming.
I’m sure that Pittsburgh fans aren’t going to be too happy with the non-suspension and lack of even a penalty.

Still, we should be thankful that we at least had this glorious exchange between player and reporter. You have to hand it to him; he never backed down in the face of a player who obviously was a bit angry with his line of questioning.

Stars put Spezza on injured reserve, recall Faksa from AHL Texas

Dallas Stars v Arizona Coyotes
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Sitting three points out of top spot in the Central Division and on the eve of an important divisional clash on home ice with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars have placed center Jason Spezza on injured reserve retroactive to Thursday, the club announced on Friday.

Spezza, 32, was injured during Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars can move back to within a point of Chicago for the division lead with a regulation win on Saturday.

In 52 games this season, Spezza has 18 goals and 40 points, which ties him with Patrick Sharp for fourth on the team in total points.

With Spezza out, the Stars recalled 22-year-old forward Radek Faksa from the Texas Stars in the AHL.

Faksa has 15 goals and 26 points in 28 games this season with Texas. In 18 games with the NHL Stars, he has one goal and three points.

Hitch’s recipe for more goals is a pretty simple one

Ken Hitchcock, David Backes, Dmitrij Jaskin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund
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Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.

Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.

“To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.

“When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”

According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.

The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).

Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.

The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.

St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.

Goalie nods: Lindback ‘really excited’ for first start in almost three weeks

Anders Lindback
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Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.

The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.

Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.

Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.

Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.

Elsewhere…

— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.

— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.

A ‘pretty solid two-way player,’ Sundqvist to make NHL debut for Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins' Oskar Sundqvist (49) collides with Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.

Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.

“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.

“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”

Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.

Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.

Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury