prongeraveryrule

Chris Pronger falls victim to ‘The Avery Rule’ as Flames beat Flyers; did refs make the right call?

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During a 2008 playoff game between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, Sean Avery added to his elite pest resume by distracting Martin Brodeur with what I’d like to call a “windshield wiper” motion. He waved his stick in front of Brodeur’s mask in an obnoxious manner and the Rangers soon scored a goal thanks in some part to the diversionary technique.

Considering the fact that the NHL is quick to rule on matters related to Avery (see: six game suspension for making a joke about his ex-girlfriend and Dion Phaneuf), it wasn’t surprising that the league expanded some of its unsportsmanlike conduct penalty rules by amending it with “the Avery rule.”

It was an emphatic gesture against a rather regrettable (if, admittedly, a little bit funny in a “Bart Simpson antics” kind of way) moment, but few expected to see it come into play again.

Well, one of the league’s other troublemakers brought it back into the hockey discussion today. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger seemed like he successfully screened Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for what could have been an overtime game winner on the power play, only to find himself in the penalty box. The Flames would go on to win that game in overtime.

Obviously, Pronger wasn’t very happy with the call. (Kukla’s Korner has video of the press conference; we’ll keep our eyes open for video that we can post here.)

Adam Gretz of NHL Fanhouse notes why the call might be questionable, even though it’s clear that Pronger did wave his hand in front of Kipper’s face.

The issue, of course, is that Pronger wasn’t actually facing the goaltender as Avery was, which is what the league’s interpretation of the rule was back in 2008 — the player had to be facing the goalie. Continuing with the gong show is that the “rule” isn’t actually listed as part of Rule 75 (at least not as far as the one that’s made public by the league). All we have to go on is the league’s interpretation of the rule from 2008.

Take a look at the play for yourself in the video below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So, after all that, I must ask: did Pronger get hosed or did the officials make the right call? Let us know my voting in the poll.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.