Basebrawler Nyjer Morgan used to be a Regina Pat, teammate of Derek Boogaard

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nyjermorgan-whl.jpgIn case you hadn’t heard around the Internet today, baseball player and Washington Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan caused a bit of a stir last night against the Florida Marlins by charging the mound and then getting his clock cleaned by Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez while charging after pitcher Chris Volstad.

While we’re certainly not Hardball Talk over here, there’s actually a tie-in to hockey and one that helps make Sanchez’s blindside takedown a bit easier for Morgan to handle. You see, Nyjer Morgan wasn’t always a baseball player, he used to play junior hockey for the WHL Regina Pats.

If you’re wondering if Morgan was able to pick up any of his hot temper hints from his teammates back in his 1999-2000 season with the Pats, you better believe he did as he was teammates with current  NHLers  Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, former Blue Jackets and Sens defenseman Filip Novak and a guy by the name of Derek Boogaard. Don’t suppose that Nyjer Morgan learned how to keep his head up in Pats practice though given the way he got cleaned out by Sanchez. Doing that in practice with the Boogie Man on the ice might’ve ended any career attempt for him.

Of course, as one might suspect, there’s always one writer who will take everything out of context in hilarious fashion and try to blame Morgan’s recent wrestling-heel behavior and blame it on hockey. Enter the Phanatic Magazine saying it was Morgan’s hockey upbringing that made him violent.

That’s why it should come as any surprise to any baseball fan who knows the game of hockey that the Morgan-Volstad meeting which sparked the brawl played out the way it did. Though clearly at a size disadvantage, Morgan faced bigger and more motivated kids in Moose Jaw and Red Deer than Volstad, so, of course he wasn’t going to back down.

He came in with elbows up and right hand cocked in battle position, like smaller players are taught when facing a fight. So what if he didn’t land it the way he wanted? He got the only shot in. He took care of the situation the way he was trained.

Well that’s just crazy. If you’re going to go out on the precarious limb to call a baseball fight to be anything similar to a hockey fight you better have the video evidence to back it up. Frankly Nyjer Morgan’s dust up with the Marlins is nothing at all like a hockey fight. The only time I can recall seeing that kind of take down on the ice during a line brawl was March 26, 1997 when Brendan Shanahan of the Red Wings intercepted Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy at center ice to prevent him from getting mixed up with Darren McCarty and Claude Lemieux.

Nyjer Morgan might have some issues, but growing up a hockey player isn’t one of them. It just makes him a much more interesting person to follow in baseball as far as us hockey-minded people are concerned. After all, we never saw former Kings draft pick and Braves all-time superstar Tom Glavine ever throw a punch before.

Rozsival to make season debut for Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 20: Michal Rozsival #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks passes against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center on December 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Sharks 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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An injury to Trevor van Riemsdyk has paved the way for Michal Rozsival to make his season debut for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Rozsival might’ve been scheduled to play anyway, as the veteran defenseman is expected to replace Michal Kempny when the ‘Hawks host the Flames tonight at United Center.

“We want to get everyone in at some point,” said head coach Joel Quenneville, per the Chicago Tribune. “We don’t want to wait too long to get him into the season here. He can be useful, gives us some experience and can play minutes against top guys.”

At 38, Rozsival is one of the oldest players in the NHL. When the ‘Hawks re-signed him for another year, it came as a surprise to many. And by the time training camp rolled around, even he wasn’t exactly sure what his role would be this season.

But not surprisingly, after last season, GM Stan Bowman would rather err on the side of too much depth on the back end.

“It’s funny, because we had these [interviews] a year ago and they were always saying, ‘Are you worried about your defense? Do you have enough depth there?'” Bowman said, per the Sun-Times. “And now you’re saying we have too much depth. I think no matter what the story is, there’s a story line to it. But I’d rather have more guys who can play. Are we going to be healthy all year long? I hope so. But I don’t know if we will. … The thing with Michal, even last year, he just played too much consecutively. He still has a lot of hockey left.”

Related: Blackhawks’ issues go beyond the penalty kill

Goalie nods: Slumping Flames go back to slumping Elliott

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 12:  Goalie Brian Elliott #1 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Edmonton Oilers on October 12, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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Calgary head coach Glen Gulutzan made a noteworthy decision over the weekend, opting to sit No. 1 netminder Brian Elliott against his former team, the St. Louis Blues, in favor of backup Chad Johnson.

The move didn’t pay off. Calgary lost 6-4, with Johnson allowing five goals on 39 shots.

So now, Elliott is back in goal was the Flames take on the ‘Hawks tonight at the United Center.

Acquired to fix the goaltending issues that plagued Calgary all of last season, Elliott has gone 0-3-0 with an .839 save percentage and 4.72 GAA.

Not good, obviously — especially for a 31-year-old pending UFA that’s looking to score a contract extension.

The Flames will hope that Elliott’s former goalie partner, Jake Allen, is something of a psychic. Over the weekend, Allen predicted that Elliott “will find his game very soon,” and tonight would be a good night for that to happen — Chicago’s offense has been firing over the last four games, finding the back of the net 16 times.

That said, the ‘Hawks are facing issues of their own.

They’ll give Corey Crawford the start tonight.


— Just one other game on the ledger, as the Flyers will take on the Habs in Montreal. Philly is going with Steve Mason, who allowed three goals on 30 shots in a win over Carolina on Saturday. The Canadiens are going with Carey Price, who allowed two goals on 21 shots in a win over Boston on Saturday.

Crosby skates in full-contact practice, but still no timetable for a return

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His official status hasn’t changed, but Sidney Crosby wasn’t wearing a no-contact jersey at Penguins practice today, and that’s progress.

“Sid is day-to-day, as he has been. We’ll take tomorrow as it comes,” head coach Mike Sullivan said, per the club’s website. “It’s obviously a big step when he joins the group. To have him join the group in a full-contact practice like that is encouraging from our standpoint.”

Crosby has not played this season due to a concussion. There remains no timetable for his return, and the Pens aren’t going to rush their captain. But the way things have been progressing, don’t be surprised if he plays pretty soon. The Penguins host Florida tomorrow and the Islanders Thursday, then it’s off to Philadelphia for a game Saturday before embarking on a three-game trip to California.

“I got the OK to go out there and be in a full practice,” Crosby said. “It was just good to be back on the ice with the guys. It’s not easy watching. To be out there was nice and hopefully a good step.”

Budaj getting the job done, so far

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save on Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks for a 4-3 overtime shootout win at Staples Center on October 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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He hasn’t been perfect, but Peter Budaj has been good enough to give the Kings a two-game winning streak. Now the 34-year-old goalie is just hoping to keep it going, while Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff recover from their groin injuries.

“I just want to take it one game at a time,” Budaj said, per LA Kings Insider. “I know it’s a cliché and you guys probably hate it when players say that, but it is true. You just want to look up one game ahead, and that’s what you want to look at. We won today, we’re very happy, but we’ve just got to regroup, come back to work.”

Again, Budaj hasn’t been perfect. His save percentage is just .889, which isn’t very good at all.

But for a guy who’d started just one NHL game since the 2013-14 season, simply playing well enough to give his team a chance to win is about all that could be asked, and on that he’s delivered. He was a perfect three-for-three in Saturday’s shootout versus Vancouver, recovering nicely after allowing a late goal to send the game to overtime.

Next up for the Kings is a home game tomorrow against Columbus. After that comes a visit from Nashville, and then it’s off on a two-game trip to St. Louis and Chicago.

“There are a lot of tough games coming up for us, so we’ve got to just be ready and work hard and try to focus on the next game and don’t look too far ahead,” said Budaj, “because then you’re going to get caught in the moment and the present’s going to kind of slip away from you, so you’ve just got to focus on the present.”