Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard has been out of the team’s lineup the last few games for reasons really only known to head coach Alain Vigneault. Ballard’s been healthy but he’s been kept out of the lineup in favor of the likes of Aaron Rome. If you think that Ballard’s benching hasn’t been noticed by fans in Vancouver… You’d be very wrong.
Also taking notice of Ballard’s absence are his teammates who decided to greet Ballard’s return to action in a way that makes you think it was an idea borne from bloggers themselves. Gordon McIntyre of The White Towel shares the Canucks practical joke on Ballard that proves “tough love” has a few meanings.
In honour of Keith Ballard rejoining the lineup for a game tonight, after four healthy scratches in a row, one of his teammates had a little fun at the defenceman’s expense.
On the wall in the visitors room there often is taped a sheet for players to sign up for tickets for friends or family in the road city.
Among the handful of requests for tickets to tonight’s game, someone wrote K. Ballard in the ‘donor’ column and T. Vokoun under ‘recipient.’
“I think it’s hilarious,” Ballard said after the morning skate.
If you’re missing out on the reference of what’s going on here, think back to last November when Ballard swung his stick in frustration and accidentally cracked Tomas Vokoun in the head after being burned for a goal against. Despite playing in Florida at the time, this moment was one of the lowest of Ballard’s career, at least until he scored into his own goal later in the season anyhow.
As for who the responsible party is for the tickets, Ballard’s got a short list of suspects that makes a lot of sense.
“I have a couple of names in mind,” he said.
“That’s one of them.”
At the very least, Roberto Luongo knew better than to potentially agitate the goalie-swinging Ballard. Well played, Roberto.
Capitals’ Tom Wilson has a discipline hearing today for interference
The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Saturday morning that it has scheduled a disciplinary hearing with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson as a result of his late hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas on Friday night.
It will be the first hearing for the department under the direction of its new leader, George Parros.
This particular incident happened early in the third period of the Blues’ 4-0 win on Friday night.
Here is a look at the entire sequence, including the fight that Wilson found himself in with Dmitri Jaskin in response to the hit.
It is clear that Wilson delivered his hit long after Thomas was in possession of the puck.
Even though Wilson always seems to be getting attention for some of his hits and physical play he has never been suspended in his career. His only punishment from the league has been in the form of two fines — one for diving/embellishment, and another for kneeing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary during the 2015-16 playoffs.
The fact that he has a hearing for his hit would seem to indicate a suspension might be on the horizon. The only question is whether or not it will just end his preseason (the Capitals still have four more games) or if it will carry over into the regular season.
Probably not the type of thing you want to see happening because that looks like a great way to break a bone (or the entire hand) and get sidelined for extended period of time. Niemi said the officials told him there will no longer be an automatic whistle for goalies losing a glove or a blocker, but that one will remain for when they lose their helmet.
Niemi said refs told him there will no longer be automatic whistles for lost blocker or glove. Tho still in place for lost helmet -SK
The Penguins signed Niemi to a one-year contract this summer as a replacement for Marc-Andre Fleury after they lost him in the expansion draft to the Vegas Golden Knights. Niemi is looking to rebound from a tough year in Dallas. He will serve as Matt Murray‘s backup for the season.
‘A good start’ — Stamkos stands out in preseason debut
Far more importantly for the Bolts this evening was the return of their all-star center Steven Stamkos, as he made his preseason debut in what was his first game in 10 months.
His 2016-17 season was abruptly ended in the middle of November because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, making it the second time in four years his regular season had been disrupted by a major injury.
It may still take a while before Stamkos feels truly comfortable coming back from this injury.But his performance on Friday proved to be a very promising start for No. 91, the Bolts and their fans in Tampa Bay.
He didn’t score, but he assisted on two first period goals, including a nice set-up to linemate Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1. Stamkos also received a healthy dose of ice time, playing more than 19 minutes, including 5:32 on the power play.
His pass to Kucherov resulted in a power play goal.
“It was exciting to get out there, I was pretty anxious about it… It was a good start, something to build on,” said Stamkos afterward, per the Lightning. “It was nice to just go through a game day, I haven’t done it in a long time… I was glad with how the first one went.”
Golden Knights assign 2017 first-round picks Glass, Suzuki to junior
The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make roster moves during their inaugural training camp.
On Friday, the expansion club assigned four players to junior. That includes 2017 first-round picks Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.
The Golden Knights made franchise history by taking Glass with the sixth overall pick and then selected Suzuki at 13th overall. Both players appeared in two preseason games for Vegas, each recording two points in the exhibition opener versus the Vancouver Canucks.
“Nobody is going to rush (the rookies), that’s for sure,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Sun following the club’s 9-4 win over Vancouver on Sunday.
“We are in a position where we want to make sure they are ready to play. They are going to be good players when they’re healthy and strong enough to play in the league.”
Vegas has all three 2017 first-round picks — Glass, Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — signed to three-year entry-level contracts.