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 Philly.com, 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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    ‘If he was in Toronto, there’d be no Carey Price, media-wise’ – Boudreau on Dubnyk

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    The Minnesota Wild aren’t exactly dominating the NHL, so it might be easy to ignore just how outstanding Devan Dubnyk has been to start the 2016-17 season.

    We’re talking “Carey Price and Tuukka Rask territory.”

    While his 11-6-3 record won’t blow anyone’s mind, his 1.65 GAA and .946 save percentage are jaw-dropping. With Dubnyk doing special things, Bruce Boudreau felt the need to say weird things* after Dubnyk helped the Wild beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Wednesday.

    “If he was in Toronto, there would be no Carey Price … I’m just saying media-wise,” Boudreau said after the game, as you can see in this video:

    That’s some Haagen-Daz level praise from Boudreau.

    Even if Dubnyk was in a bigger market, there’d probably be room in our hockey thoughts for Dubnyk and the consensus best goalie in the world, but Boudreau’s larger point is taken: Dubnyk has been right there with the best early on this season.

    And, let’s be honest, we shouldn’t be too hard on Boudreau or he might stop saying … well, things like this:

    Never change, Bruce.

    * – Unlike his comments about “Die Hard,” which were amusingly on-point.

    Trademark headaches for the Vegas Golden Knights?

    LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 22:  The team name and logo for the Vegas Golden Knights are displayed on T-Mobile Arena's video mesh wall after the Vegas Golden Knights was announced as the name for the Las Vegas NHL franchise at T-Mobile Arena on November 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team will begin play in the 2017-18 season.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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    It’s difficult to tell just how big of a headache this might be, but SBNation‘s Mary Clarke uncovered quite the eyebrow-raiser on Wednesday: the Vegas Golden Knights’ trademark request was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    You can read the 164-page document here (if you’re weird), but the gist is that “registration of the applied-for mark is refused because of a likelihood of confusion with the mark” used by the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights.

    Clarke summarized it simply enough:

    Essentially, the logos and stylizations are too similar. It’s baffling the NHL and Vegas didn’t go through the trademark process before announcing the name and logo last month. Yet, all is not lost. Later down, the document states the Black Knight Sports and Entertainment group “may respond to the refusal by submitting evidence and arguments in support of registration.”

    Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt received this release from the Vegas Golden Knights, which indicated that they will respond to the refusal (and also noted how teams like the Boston Bruins and UCLA Bruins share names without issues).

    There seem to be some mixed messages, at least if you note owner Bill Foley’s response to NBC Las Vegas’ Amber Dixon:

    Hmm.

    This could merely be a messy issue that really doesn’t cause anything to go off track, even if people are certainly having some fun at the league and team’s expense.

    The logo and other marks seem to be the biggest sticking point, so compare the two for yourself:

    Again, this could all be a mild disruption, but it’s an odd situation. And, to some, a great laugh.

    Related: There also might be some issues involving the Army.

    Capitals manage OT win after coughing up lead to Bruins

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    It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.

    For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.

    After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.

    Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.

    Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:

    Capitals over the last three games:
    Shootout loss to the Lightning
    Overtime win against the Sabres
    Overtime win tonight against the Bruins

    Bruins over the last five games:
    Shootout loss against Flyers
    Shootout win against Hurricanes
    Regulation win against Sabres
    Overtime win against Panthers
    Overtime loss to the Capitals

    Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.

    Matt Niskanen injured by Patrice Bergeron boarding hit

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    Patrice Bergeron doesn’t have a reputation for dirty hits, but he drew the Washington Capitals’ ire for a hit on Matt Niskanen.

    The Capitals consider Niskanen “probable” to return to Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins with what they’re calling an upper-body injury. Bergeron received a two-minute boarding penalty for the infraction.

    (Check out video of the hit above.)

    The Capitals’ Twitter acknowledged the brewing bad feelings.

    Does Bergeron deserve supplemental discipline for that boarding hit?

    Update: The Capitals won the game 4-3 in overtime, but Niskanen did not return. Click here for more on the Caps’ victory.