Edmonton Oilers v Los Angeles Kings

Kings Wayne Simmonds hurts knee in silly post-hit scrum

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In last night’s game between the Oilers and Kings, L.A.’s Drew Doughty delivered one of the biggest hits of the season on Oilers rookie Taylor Hall. As per the norm in the league of late, a scrum erupted after the hit because the Oilers were upset about their guy getting hit.

That foolish on-ice eruption led to Kings forward Wayne Simmonds getting pulled down from behind by Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky and coming away from the fracas as the only player to be injured.

Simmonds appeared to injure his knee and he’ll be out for at least the next two games for L.A. If you think it sounds colossally stupid that a player that had nothing to do with the hit that started everything came away as the only player injured because players freak out after any big hit, then Kings coach Terry Murray would say you’re on his side of the argument as he went into a tirade over the whole thing.

Rich Hammond of Kings Insider gets the rant from the Kings bench boss:

“These things are ridiculous. This whole scrum thing is so wrong. That’s a great hit by Doughty. This happens around the league now. This is prevalent everywhere. To me, this is an issue that somebody needs to address. You’ve got Simmonds getting jumped from behind and pulled backwards, and we’ve now lost a player, for certainly these two games.

I’ve seen this around the league. It’s a good hockey hit, and now everybody responds to a hockey hit. We’re going to end up taking hits right out of the game, the way things are going right now. It’s a concern for me. There has to be more (punishment), to me, out of that than just a two-minute minor.

Something has to be done to stop this kind of a reaction by the teams. The reaction by the teams, it doesn’t make any sense to me. You’re just playing the game of hockey, and it’s a clean hit. It’s one thing if a guy gets run from behind into the boards, and all that, but this is out of control, almost, at times.”

Murray is understandably angry over losing a player for at least a couple of games, but his anger is more than justified at what’s become a bad trend in the NHL. We’ve seen it happen more often than not when a big hit happens, a big scrum erupts and then some piddling penalties are handed out to both teams.

It’s ridiculous that these things happen but Murray has a good idea to dish out penalties to teams that start these unnecessary battles because they’re mad over a teammate taking a hit. In a lot of situations, the hit happens because the player getting dinged is either playing recklessly or trudges ahead completely unaware of their surroundings. In this case last night in Los Angeles, Dustin Penner is first man on the scene and looking to stir things up to “stick up” for his teammate.

Taking hits out of the game is not going to happen but taking stupid scrums can happen if you toss a guy in the box for instigating a situation after a big body check. More penalties in the game isn’t generally a good way to solve problems like this, but in cases like these it’d be a great way to keep teams from needlessly freaking out after a big hit.

The problem here is making a judgment call on when it’s “justifiable” to go out of your mind and go after someone for a hit. Bringing a moral code to the ice is a dicey thing to dare try to do and it’s doubtful the NHL would even consider giving it a shot. As it is, we’ll have to hope that teams can get smarter about these things all around. I’d also love to find a bag filled with money on the street.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.