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.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?