Around the rink – Tuesday, November 30th

7:00 pm

Tampa Bay @ Toronto

Nothing like a good old fashioned showdown that sees the winner break a losing skid. Both teams come into this game on two game losing streaks and with opposite problems. Tampa Bay has Steve Stamkos to do the bulk of their scoring while the Leafs could stand to use anyone they can rely on for consistent offense. Look for Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri to get the first big test of his career working against Stamkos. No pressure, kid.

8:00 pm

Phoenix @ Nashville

Phoenix had their seven game win streak snapped by the Ducks on Saturday but they’re still a team doing well having won seven in a row previous to that. The Predators, meanwhile, are looking to snap a four game losing streak. The Preds will be hoping that Ed Jovanovski doesn’t burn them the way he did back on November 3rd when the burly defenseman had a hat trick.

St. Louis @ Chicago

An old rivalry is renewed once again and for the streaky Blues they’ll be looking to snap a two-game skid after they lost two straight to Dallas. Chicago comes in winners of three of their last four games. In those three games they Blackhawks have given up just one goal in each of them. You might think it’s Marty Turco doing the heavy lifting there, but it’s not. Corey Crawford has been the stud in goal. For the Blues, they’ll need to find a way to score some goals. In their last three games they’ve scored a total of four goals.

10:00 pm

Atlanta @ Colorado

The scorching hot Thrashers hit the road with two of the league’s players of the week in Ondrej Pavelec and Dustin Byfuglien playing brilliant hockey of late. Pavelec has been one of the best goalies in the NHL over the last couple weeks leading Atlanta to a five-game win streak. Over those five games, the Thrashers have given up a total of three goals while they’ve scored 19 of their own. Colorado comes into the game with a new defenseman in tow in Matt Hunwick who was acquired from Boston yesterday. Can he help tighten up an Avs defensive unit that’s allowed 14 goals over their last four games or will he help them just score more goals to make goaltending irrelevant? It’ll be fun to watch either way.

10:30 pm

Detroit @ San Jose

Last year, the Sharks ended the Red Wings run in the playoffs by ushering them out of the playoffs in no time. The Wings aren’t looking for revenge but they will be looking to make a statement. The Wings are winners of three out of their last four and while the Sharks have been inconsistent this year, they’re dangerous. Perhaps they’ll be just hoping that Dany Heatley’s mind will be looking ahead to facing his former team in Ottawa on Thursday.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.