Red Wings unhappy with Brooks Orpik's knee-on-knee hit on Johan Franzen

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orpik-franzen-9-22.jpgConsider tensions escalated between the seemingly bitter rivals in Detroit and Pittsburgh. Familiarity breeds contempt for sure, but the two teams saw business pick up a bit in their pre-season game last night when Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik connected with a knee-on-knee collision with Red Wings forward Johan Franzen. The hit resulted in Franzen getting a “charley horse” and leaving the game, meanwhile Orpik got in a fight with Todd Bertuzzi after the hit and received a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct.

Understandably, the Red Wings are a bit upset in the wake of things as the hit came on the same knee Franzen had operated on last year and Johan Franzen is speaking out the loudest.

“It’s terrible,” Franzen said. “Stupidest play I ever seen. He lifted his foot up and put his knee inside of my leg…. I just put the puck back down deep and was trying to go get it, and he threw his knee out.”

Franzen, 30, didn’t skate today. He said he hoped to skate in the next day or two.

Does Orpik deserve to be suspended?

“Yeah,” Franzen said.

To be fair to Brooks Orpik, he doesn’t have a history of knee-hunting plays the way some players in the past have had (Derian Hatcher and Bryan Marchment come to mind immediately). Orpik does have one black mark on his record when back in 2006 he had an ugly hit from behind on Hurricanes forward Erik Cole, a hit that broke Cole’s neck.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock put things in a little bit or perspective, one that will likely drive Pens fans crazy.

“It’s one of those things in the league we’d like to look after each other’s knees. To me, that’s uncalled for,” Babcock said. “Obviously, I didn’t think it was a very good hit. I don’t think they’d be happy if one of our guys did that to Sid (Crosby) or (Evgeni) Malkin.” 

The Penguins have been on the wrong side of knee-on-knee hits before, most notably with former defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Orpik’s hit wasn’t the only knee-on-knee incident last night and it won’t be the last. If Franzen’s only going to be off his skates for a day or two, the reaction comes off looking hyperbolic, but the action is what should be punished.

The only problem with doing that is that there was no TV coverage of last night’s game. Good luck getting anyone from the NHL to make a decision based on wildly biased reports from each side. Don’t expect the fans to keep it civil either. Asking for peace amongst fans of the Penguins and Red Wings, however, might be like asking for cats and dogs to knock it off, however.

No hearing scheduled for Abdelkader after Barkov hit

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There’s no disciplinary hearing scheduled for Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader following his big check on Florida’s Aleksander Barkov last night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

The incident, which occurred early in the second period, left Barkov woozy and forced him from the game entirely. Abdelkader wasn’t penalized on the play — that, along with the hit itself, infuriated the Panthers and head coach Gerard Gallant.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald.

“I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way,” Gallant added, noting that Abdelkader “left his feet a little and got [Barkov] in the jaw.”

Abdelkader has run afoul of the Department of Player Safety before. He was suspended two games during the ’13 playoffs for a hit on then-Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman.

The Panthers are back in action tonight, as they take on the Sabres in Buffalo.

Detroit doesn’t play again until Wednesday, when it hosts the Sens at Joe Louis.

Dion Phaneuf traded to Senators

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 07:  Jordan Nolan #71 of the Los Angeles Kings is knocked off balance by Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Staples Center on January 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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And this is why we listen when Bob McKenzie says something.

The Ottawa Senators have acquired defenseman Dion Phaneuf, forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, and Ryan Rupert and undrafted defensive prospect Cody Donaghey from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg, plus Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft.

No salary will be retained by either team.

From the Leafs’ perspective, the trade provides even more cap flexibility for their rebuild. Phaneuf is signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $7 million; he’s entirely on Ottawa’s books now. As for the guys coming to Toronto, Michalek, Cowen, and Greening are only under contract through next season, for a combined cap hit of around $10 million. And according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, both Cowen and Greening could be bought out by the Leafs this offseason.

The Sens, meanwhile, get to add a workhorse defenseman to a blue line that already includes Erik Karlsson. Plus, they rid themselves of some onerous contracts.

Report: ‘Lots of Dion Phaneuf trade chatter’

Dion Phaneuf
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This isn’t the first time Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf has come up in trade rumors — far from it — but since it’s TSN’s Bob McKenzie putting it out there, we should probably listen.

“Hearing lots of Dion Phaneuf trade chatter,” McKenzie tweeted this morning. “Starting to think he could actually be dealt before the deadline.”

Phaneuf has three goals and 21 assists in 51 games this season, while logging an average of 22:02 in ice time. The big factor in trading the 30-year-old is his contract — he’s signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $7 million. 

Responding to McKenzie on Twitter, TSN’s Darren Dreger seemed to suggest Ottawa as a potential landing spot. The Sens, as we’ve noted recently, have had all sorts of defensive issues this season.

In the past, Detroit has come up as a potential destination for Phaneuf, though the Wings reportedly withdrew their interest in June.

NHL on NBCSN: Slumping Wild look to get back on track against Stars

Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel (21), from France, scores a goal past Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn. The Stars won 6-3. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the Dallas Stars at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

If you’re a fan of the Minnesota Wild, the last few weeks probably haven’t been pleasant.

The team has been slumping badly since the beginning of the new year, and late January/early February has been no different.

The Wild come into tonight’s game having dropped five straight decisions to the Sharks, Coyotes, Islanders, Rangers and Blues.

Minnesota has just 10 goals during the losing streak, which means their top offensive players aren’t producing.

Head coach Mike Yeo tried to shake things up on Saturday night by scratching Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker, but that didn’t work. The Wild were thumped, 4-1, by the St. Louis Blues.

After playing their last three games on the road, Minnesota hopes to get a boost from their home crowd.

“One thing for sure, [there are] mixed feelings about coming back home,” Yeo said on Monday, per the Star-Tribune. “Right now, obviously, a little home cooking would be nice for us. But I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little nervous for tomorrow. Certainly I think our fan base is a little restless — more than a little restless right now. And they expect more from us. And they deserve more of us.”

Things haven’t been as bad in Dallas, but the Stars are coming off an embarrassing 5-1 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It was a huge game,” forward Vernon Fiddler said, per the Morning News. “We talked about it before the game, what it means, and then we lay an egg. It’s unacceptable. There’s a lot of disappointed guys in here.

“After a big loss like that, you want to respond. We all have to be better and take a look in the mirror and expect more of ourselves.”

Prior to Saturday’s loss, the Stars had won three straight games.

Could this be a trap game for Dallas?

They won’t have to wait long to get another crack at the Blackhawks, as they’ll be shipping out to the United Center on Thursday, but they have to take care of business in Minnesota first.

The Stars are five points behind Chicago for top spot in the Central Division. Dallas has three games in hand.