Kings worries: OK so Willie Mitchell is broken, so is Alexei Ponikarovsky

You knew things were going along a little too smoothly to start the year for the L.A. Kings. The team’s been playing great, they’ve been winning lots of games, and they’ve been able to stay healthy. Saturday night saw defenseman Willie Mitchell leave the game against Nashville early with an upper body injury. Yesterday, the Kings said that Mitchell didn’t have a break or fracture in his arm but as it turns out, he did have a break in his wrist. Before you jump to conclusions, the Kings weren’t messing with everyone because they were surprised by it too.

Mitchell underwent X-rays after the game and no breaks or fractures were found. But  the fracture was detected during an MRI on Monday.

Apparently there’s nothing modern medical science can’t do.Mitchell will be out of action for 4-6 weeks because of the broken wrist. Unfortunately for the Kings, injuries and Willie Mitchell go together like peanut butter and jelly.

The bad news didn’t end there for the Kings today, however, as the team also announced that forward Alexei Ponikarovsky will be out for four weeks with a broken finger. Like Mitchell, Ponikarovsky suffered the injury against Nashville. While Ponikarovsky’s contributions to the team’s success aren’t immediately noticeable in the stat sheets, he’s been working a solid defensive player on the third line with Wayne Simmonds and Michal Handzus. Ponikarovsky is meant to be more of a scorer, but if he’s playing well regardless of his scoring, the Kings will take it, especially when their top two lines are having no problems putting the puck in the net.

With these two players out for a month or more, the real test for how the Kings can handle adversity begins. Losing a key shutdown defenseman and a contributing forward will be interesting to see how L.A. fares without them. They haven’t had an real bumps in the road to this point, and if the Kings are to be a Stanley Cup contender this year, how they deal with this will show how seriously we can take them.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.