Los Angeles Kings 2, Vancouver Canucks 1 (SO)
You could say that the Canucks “left a mark” on the Kings last summer when they knocked them out of the playoffs, but that was in a figurative sense. As you can see from Anze Kopitar’s gnarled mouth (image via my buddy from The Royal Half, in case you couldn’t tell), the Canucks left a more literal mark in this one.
This time around, though, the Kings won … even if it happened via a glorified skills competition. Considering the likely dental injury Kopitar dealt with in this game, I don’t know if I’d say that he had the “last laugh” but he did help his team win with a gorgeous shorthanded goal. The Associated Press write-up captured the scene quite well.
Kopitar’s opening night appeared to be spoiled when he ran into the end of Manny Malhotra’s stick while trying to throw a check midway through the second period. He stayed down as blood pooled beneath him, and had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room. Kopitar returned to start the third period and beat Roberto Luongo with a backhand deke to open the shootout.
Jack Johnson sealed the shootout win with a simple-yet-effective wrist shot goal and the Kings received a tiny morsel of revenge against their rivals.
Jonathan Quick was solid in this game (23 for 24), but Roberto Luongo earned those obnoxious “Lou” chants by stopping 31 out of 32 shots. Both teams were unable to score in 5-on-5 situations, as each tally came via a power play or shootout.
Christian Ehrhoff scored the Canucks power-play goal with assists from the Sedin twins while Justin Williams provided the Kings’ goal, with Michal Handzus and Dustin Brown earned assists.
Ultimately, Kopitar’s face was a microcosm of an ugly, tough game between two probable contenders in the Western Conference. It might not have been pretty, but if both teams can play like this, they might see each other in the playoffs once again.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.