Controversy surrounding Flyers' sandy skate issues boils over

The reflexive response is to attach “-Gate” to any controversy (although I wonder what would happen if the Dallas Stars were involved … we already have “Stargate” after all) but perhaps this Flyers-Habs dilemma deserves a couple extra syllables. Maybe we should refer to it as “Sand-on-the-Skategate” instead? Or perhaps the “Great Sandy Skate Debate”?

Either way, the media is buzzing with discussion about the odd story. Puck Daddy includes a media roundup. The local scribes, including, discussed the “unsolved mystery” today. And you know it’s a big/ridiculous/embarrassing deal when Deadspin gets in on the action.

If you’re not up-to-date with this odd little story, Brandon shared the initial news (broken by NBC’s Pierre McGuire) and then followed it up with a story that the Montreal Canadiens claimed they were dealing with skate issues of their own. Brandon broke down the situation – including how much of an impact faulty skates can have on a sport with such a thin margin of error – in his first report.

Those “rumors”, first reported by NBC’s Pierre McGuire, was that some some sort of substance had been spilled on the rubber mats that players walk on from the locker room to the benches, which was causing all sorts of problems with their skates not only being sharp but having gouges nearly destroying the blades the blades as well.

The Flyers didn’t exactly blame any sort of tampering or sabotage for the sand ending up on the rubber mats, although according to Seravalli one player did admit there was a substance on the mats that caused these issues.

For those unfamiliar, any sort of sand or sand-like substance is kryptonite for the sharpness of skates and for such a highly skilled sport as hockey having your skates as sharp and in as good condition as possible is tantamount for success on the ice. Yet the Flyers lost players all throughout the game to have their skates repaired, and likely had them ruined once more walking back out of the locker room and to the bench as no one discovered the substance until later in the game.

Eventually, towels were laid across the mats to prevent further damage.

The story went from troubling to (mostly) amusing thanks to the fact that the Flyers still managed to bludgeon the Canadiens 3-0. Anthony Safilippo reported that Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen had the most issues while Scott Hartnell, Darroll Powe and Claude Giroux also needed to head out for extra skate sharpening. On the Habs side, the reaction probably can be summed up by Jaroslav Spacek comparing the Flyers to “figure skaters.” Montreal coach Jacques Martin even blamed, oddly, the sport’s heavy use of composite sticks.

As Brandon mentioned, it’s a good thing that the Flyers won or this could have been a genuine headache for the league. Here I was, thinking that home ice advantage left the series with that limp Montreal loss, but you certainly cannot blame Habs fans for their team not showing up on Saturday.

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    Ready to Roll: Oilers activate Schultz from IR, send down Reinhart

    Justin Schultz
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    The Edmonton Oilers activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve and assigned Griffin Reinhart to the minors.

    Schultz has missed the last 14 games because of a back injury, but he’ll suit up in Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    The 25-year-old has one assist and a minus-6 rating in nine games in ’15-16.

    Here’s his interview with Oilers TV from earlier today:

    Reinhart was acquired in an off-season trade with the New York Islanders this summer.

    The former fourth overall pick has no points and a minus-1 rating in 12 games with the Oilers.

    The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

    James Reimer
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    James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

    Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

    The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

    Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

    He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

    Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

    Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

    The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

    In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

    Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

    The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.

    War of words continues between Rangers and Bruins on Saturday


    The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.

    After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.

    On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.

    “Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”

    The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

    Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby


    Brandon Dubinsky and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will have a chat about his cross-check on Sidney Crosby.

    The hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, per beat reporter Aaron Portzline.

    As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.

    “There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”

    Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.

    Anyone who follows the NHL knows that Dubinsky and Crosby aren’t fans of each other.

    The two have engaged in some serious battles, including this fight last February: