We focus mainly on the NHL here at PHT (hence Pro Hockey Talk), but there are a lot of potential professional hockey players appearing in the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships, so let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories.
(Note: The United States-Slovakia game is taking place on the U.S. version of NHL Network right now, by the way.)
- While the Canadian team clobbered the Czech Republic by a score of 7-2 today, one member of that team won’t be celebrating. Buffalo Sabres prospect Zack Kassian nailed Petr Senkerik while the Czech forward had his head down, forcing him to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. Kassian received a penalty for a hit to the head and should be suspended for one game, pending a possible appeal. (Source: WGR 550.)
To his credit, Etem’s self-defense is semi-plausible. The young forward explained that he was talking more about Buffalo in the context of its current weather conditions keeping people from going out, rather than a uniform slam on Buffalo itself. Here’s how he tried to backpedal, via John Vogl of the Buffalo News.
“I think it’s a great host city, and I’m definitely happy to be here,” Etem said after the morning skate. “I think it was interpreted in many different ways. My point to get across was not to put down a great host city like this. I know a lot of people put in time and effort to make this thing possible. For me, it’s the middle of winter. People aren’t out. It’s really cold outside. Like I said, the point for me was not to put down Buffalo.
“It’s a poorly written Tweet by me. I meant bad conditions. I came from Medicine Hat, from a Midwestern city, it was warm out, then I come here and not a lot of people are out, like I said. It’s expected. It’s the middle of winter. I was here three, four years ago. I won a national championship here, and that was in springtime. That was an energetic city. I know what it’s like to be here when everyone is out and about. That was the point.
“It’s a great, historic town for sports, and I realize that. Like I said, it’s a poorly written Tweet by me, and I’m sorry for the confusion. I just kind of want to move on.”
Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.
For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.
So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.
Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.
As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:
The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.
Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.
As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.
It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:
We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.
The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.
Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?
It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.
You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.
Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.
The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.
Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:
When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:
Maybe it’s just a minor setback?
Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.