Avalanche fans not exactly enamored with Matt Hunwick on defense

Back in November, the Colorado Avalanche helped the Boston Bruins out of their salary cap hell by trading for mobile defenseman Matt Hunwick. Hunwick’s price tag was getting to be a bit much for the Bruins who had to make room for Marc Savard’s return to the lineup. Hunwick’s arrival in Denver was seen to be a positive one in a desperate moment with injuries littering their blue line corps.

Now that the injuries are healing and Hunwick is seeing more ice time, the warts on his game are showing and Avalanche fans are taking notice. Through 18 games with Colorado, Hunwick has no goals and two assists and is a -7. On a team that scores as often as the Avs do and how much they give up goal-wise, both his offensive and defensive are frustrating and people want to see a change made in favor of Jonas Holos. Adrian Dater of The Denver Post speaks for the people.

I and other media members have asked Sacco why he prefers to scratch Holos. He’s said, in essence, he thought he was looking tired or just not playing all that well. I thought he was playing very well myself. But what do I know? And what do you know?

Hunwick, Sacco said just the other day, has been playing better of late, and doing a lot of good things. I think a few of you beg to differ.

Oh yeah, one other thing: the only game Holos has played in of late, the other night against Buffalo, was the only game the Avs have won in the past 10 days.

The last part may be just coincidental as the Avs have been poor with stopping opposing offenses both on defense and in goal. The key point here, however, may be that the Avs need any change at all to get their consistency back. Hunwick is the team pariah right now but think of where they’d be without Kevin Shattenkirk emerging along with John-Michael Liles hot start to his season.

As for Holos being the answer, through 15 games this season he’s got no goals, three assists and a +4 rating. His numbers are better than Hunwick’s so the case can be made he should get more of a chance, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision in the long run.

Things could be worse for the Avs, but for now as long as the team is giving away goals like candy, someone’s going to hear it and for now it’s Hunwick and coach Joe Sacco. You can’t help but feel like the Bruins are feeling like they got away with one by adding to their team by subtracting Hunwick.

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

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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.