Can we put an end to the talk about running up the score?

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You would think that in professional hockey the talk about whether or not your opponent is running up the score or not would be non-existent. Such wasn’t the case when the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 7-1 back on November 20th. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was upset about the way the Blackhawks did things while they were up big late in the game and accused them of trying to run the score up. Keep in mind here, these are professional hockey players and not less-than talented six and seven year-olds.

Fast forward to last night’s game and again Vigneault was asked for his thoughts on things regarding that game. Vigneault stated once again that he felt the Hawks were trying to run the game up on them and pulled no punches in doing so.

“I think it’s every team’s right to do what they want,” he said. “Obviously, we weren’t very good. Five-on-three you sent Kane and Toews on the ice. They have every right to do that. They did it. And that’s it.”

Vigneault was told that Quenneville said that was just the next line up and Boynton and Stalberg do not normally play on the power play.

“C’mon, be serious here, let’s go,” Vigneault shot back. “Toews and Kane, it’s 6-0 going into the third. What do you think? Let’s be serious.”

Sigh.

Last night saw the Canucks get an ounce of revenge on the Blackhawks winning 3-0 in Chicago. In a show that turnabout is fair play, leave it up to the Chicago writers to pose the question about whether or not the Canucks were being out of line with how they were doing things up 3-0 late in the game. Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago asks out loud if Vigneault was doing the same thing he’s accusing Joel Quenneville of doing.

With the Canucks leading 3-0, Jack Skille was called for a high-sticking penalty with 3:16 left in the game. Henrik and Daniel Sedin were on the ice when the penalty was called. They had already had skated a 0:26 shift but stayed on for the power play. Joining them were the top two scoring defensemen for Vancouver, Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Elder, along with Ryan Kesler, who is second on the team with 10 goals.

They played with the man-advantage for nearly a minute, then a second offensive-minded unit took the ice. It wasn’t until the penalty expired that Vigneault sent some fourth-liners on the ice — Tanner Glass and Jannik Hansen for example — to finish the game.

Is 3-0 with 3:16 left in the game enough of a lead to call off the dogs, especially when the leading team is about to begin a two-minute power play? It seems it would be, which means Vigneault was either rubbing it in, or simply a hypocrite.

Or it’s very possible we’re all making way too much out of this entire situation. Instead of getting worked up about who’s doing what and whether or not someone’s winning with class let’s just look at it a different way. These guys are professionals. They’re not middle school-aged or college kids where you keep such things in the back of your mind if a game is out of control. They’re pros, they bounce back, they get over things almost immediately.

Having Vigneault complain about having the score run up on him is hilariously bad because if your team is getting beaten that badly at this level, the highest level of hockey in the world, it’s either because the team was badly prepared or everyone conspired to play their worst game of the season on the same night. Having a writer snipe back to pose the question in return is just making a joke of the whole matter which, really, we approve of even though a 3-0 lead can be a bit dangerous in the modern NHL.

All in all here though, everyone should try to be a bit more professional and perhaps just cut out the whining completely.

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.