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.

Sens win, but empty seats get the attention

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All the talk in Ottawa today should be about the Senators’ big win over the Rangers.

Instead, the city’s playoff excitement has been hijacked by a familiar topic — attendance woes.

A crowd of just 16,744 was announced at Canadian Tire Centre last night. Pictures of empty seats were all over social media. It had to be embarrassing for the home team, not to mention its combustible owner.

Read more: Plenty of tickets available for Game 1 in Ottawa

There are plenty of theories that attempt to explain the poor attendance. The suburban arena gets blamed a lot, and it’s true that the location is quite inconvenient. Some say the defensive style that coach Guy Boucher employs does not make for an entertaining enough product.

Here’s Sens reporter Ian Mendes with his take for TSN.ca:

The truth of the matter is that Ottawa simply doesn’t have a big enough season ticket base. Though the club never publicly discloses how many season tickets they have sold, it stands to reason that the number is well under 10,000. That means on a nightly basis, the Senators have to drum up enough walk-up sales to fill at least half their building – which is located well outside of the downtown core.

A better crowd is expected Saturday afternoon for Game 2. But there are still tickets available.

 

Related: Poor attendance an early story in Ottawa

Preds proving preseason hype was warranted

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They were a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup.

And then the season started.

The Nashville Predators never really got rolling during their 82-game schedule. They’d have some good stretches, followed by some bad stretches. They ended up as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Most predicted they’d lose to Chicago in the first round.

Of course, most were wrong. The Preds swept the Blackhawks, and now they’re up 1-0 on the Blues in the second round.

“We come in, we’re supposed to be this awesome, amazing team and we didn’t start so hot,” d-man Ryan Ellis said, per NHL.com. “We started to get better, and then some injuries crept into our locker room. We battled the whole year, losing guys at various times in the year and some younger guys stepped up. But overall, it’s adversity that makes you stronger. This was one of those years we faced a lot of adversity.”

A quick glance at Nashville’s roster and it’s not hard to understand the preseason hype. The Predators have a No. 1 center in Ryan Johansen, a tremendous goal-scorer in Filip Forsberg, and one of the more underrated wingers in the league in Viktor Arvidsson.

But the real jewel is their blue line. Roman Josi is the No. 1 defenseman, paired with puck-mover Ryan Ellis, a former 11th overall draft pick. On the second pair is a former Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban, who skates with the dependable Mattias Ekholm.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better top four than that. And to think, the Preds also had Seth Jones, until they traded him to Columbus for Johansen.

The wild card heading into the playoffs was Pekka Rinne, the 34-year-old goalie who was spectacularly inconsistent during the regular season. He had a .949 save percentage in November, followed by an .875 in December. It was .933 in January, down to .888 in February, then back up to .923 in March.

So far this postseason, it’s .962.

Tonight in St. Louis, the Preds can make it six straight wins in the playoffs. More importantly, they can take a 2-0 lead over the Blues back to Nashville.

“Throughout the year, I think we’re a little bit inconsistent,” winger Colin Wilson told reporters. “But when we played our game, we were always unstoppable. We have a lot of talent, great D, great goaltending, all-around strong team with a lot of depth.”

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Rangers won’t let Drury interview for Sabres GM gig

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As a former player and well-regarded young executive, there was a fit for Chris Drury in Buffalo’s front office.

Of course, there’s the exact same fit with the Rangers.

That’s why today’s news can’t come as a huge surprise. Per Sportsnet and TSN, New York has turned down Buffalo’s request to interview Drury for its vacant general manager gig.

Drury, 40, has spent the last two years climbing the Rangers’ executive depth chart. He was brought aboard in 2015 as the club’s director of player development and, a year later, was promoted to assistant GM under Jeff Gorton.

The Rangers aren’t the only ones enamored by Drury’s front office skills. Recently, USA Hockey tabbed him — along with Bill Guerin — as the braintrust responsible for building Team USA’s entry in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

As mentioned above, it was easy to see why the Sabres were interested. Drury played three seasons in Buffalo, served as team captain, and the club appears primed to make a splash with its next hire after dismissing Tim Murray.

Drury, of course, spent four seasons with the Rangers and also wore the “C.”

Should Erik Karlsson’s game-winning goal have counted?

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We’re only one game into the Sens-Rangers series, and we already have a little bit of controversy.

Ottawa won Game 1, 2-1, thanks to Erik Karlsson‘s game-winning goal from a seemingly impossible angle (seriously, he scored from the corner).

But should it have counted?

There’s no issue with the Karlsson shot going off Henrik Lundqvist‘s mask and in, but the Rangers felt that the referees missed an icing call moments before the goal happened.

Karlsson is standing near his own blue line when he sends a pass in Jean-Gabriel Pageau‘s direction. Did Pageau get a piece of it? It’s hard to tell from the angles we have at our disposal, but Alain Vigneault seemed to have had a good look at the play.

“We felt on their game-winning goal it should have been icing,” Vigneault said, per Sportsnet. “When we look at it, and look at the angles we get, I think it should have been icing. But at the end of the game you gotta play and you gotta do more than we did tonight to win.”

Challenging icing calls isn’t permitted, so when the officials decided that Pageau touched the puck, there’s nothing more the Rangers could do to reverse the call (except get the puck out of the zone when they had the chance).