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Dany Heatley and Brad Marchand to have disciplinary hearings over separate cheap shots

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With what’s going on at the GM meetings regarding the burning league issue regarding concussions and the institution of a new concussion protocol, it only makes sense that last night’s action on the ice saw more than a few incidents worthy of attention from the league. Boston’s Brad Marchand and San Jose’s Dany Heatley each have hearings scheduled with the NHL tomorrow regarding their reckless and dangerous hits.

It started off with Boston’s Brad Marchand delivering a textbook blindside shot to the head of Columbus’ R.J. Umberger (video). Marchand skated in from behind Umberger as he was skating through the neutral zone, sticking out his elbow connecting with the back of Umberger’s head. If ever there was a prime example for the brand of hit that Rule 48 (and common sense) intends to eliminate it’s this one and Marchand’s date with the league shows that they intend to do something about that. Marchand’s hit should likely earn him a three-game suspension from the league as similar hits this season have done.

Heatley’s chicken wing elbow to the face of Dallas agitator Steve Ott earned Heatley a meeting with the NHL and had Ott plenty steamed after last night’s game. Today he wasn’t any happier and Working The Corners’ Mark Emmons got Ott’s thoughts on what went down in last night’s game. If you missed it, Heatley’s elbow wasn’t the only one that caught Dallas’ ire as two hits from Douglas Murray delivered to Loui Eriksson and Tomas Vincour also got the ire of the team.

On what kind of hit crosses the line: “If you’re targeting a guy’s head, that’s my big issue. There’s no room for that. But if you hit a guy with a good, clean hit and he gets a head problem from that . . . that’s part of our game. I definitely don’t want to see hitting or fighting out of the game. Our game is what it is, and it’s a tough, tough game.”

On seeing players injured: “The worst part of the game is seeing a guy laying down on the ice and getting stretchered off. And nobody wants to be in that situation. So something has to be done.”

If it sounds a little backwards having Steve Ott, a player with a checkered past of his own sounding off on these sorts of plays, Ott’s well aware of where he’s coming from on these matters.

“I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite because, yes, I do have a past myself. I’ve been suspended and everything else. But there’s still a time and place for it all. Players still have to put an onus on each other, and you gotta draw the line somewhere.”

Give Ott some respect here as he gets where he’s coming from and understands that it comes off screwy having him be the voice of reason. If nothing else, the rest of Emmons’ article shows that Ott is starting to change his tune. Whether he’s honest about it or not remains to be seen in how he plays.

These two hits give the NHL an opportunity to, again, send a message that these kinds of hits won’t be tolerated. They’ve fanned on these opportunities in the past but now with the GM meetings wrapping up and hits to the head being in such focus, as well as Colin Campbell and Mike Murphy’s ability to mete out punishment, you wonder if now they’ll find a way to act out on their power to set an example.

Ducks give Bruins first loss under Cassidy, putting … Islanders in wild card

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Korbinian Holzer #5 of the Anaheim Ducks pushes David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins during the second period of a game at Honda Center on February 22, 2017 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Wednesday was a night of futility in the Eastern Conference wild card races, so it make sense that a team that didn’t even play ended up grabbing the second spot.

To recap:

  • The Florida Panthers began the night in the second wild card spot. However, they were knocked down the totem pole when they lost in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers.
  • The Boston Bruins inherited the second wild card spot from Florida, but the Anaheim Ducks just gave them their first loss under Bruce Cassidy. With that defeat coming in regulation, it meant that the Bruins’ stay in the East’s top eight lasted mere hours.
  • So, congrats to the New York Islanders, who enjoyed the rare tiebreaker treat of climbing into playoff position even though they didn’t even play on Wednesday.

(The Philadelphia Flyers were out of reach here, but they didn’t do themselves any favors in losing to the Washington Capitals.)

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were kept off the board as Jonathan Bernier won one for the Ducks, who stay right behind the Edmonton Oilers in a battle for second in the Pacific.

Despite Pastrnak’s -3 rating in this one, Marchand probably had the toughest night thanks to Bernier and Josh Manson:

This one hurts, but it’s also a reminder that there will probably be plenty of twists and turns in the races for the lower spots in the East and Atlantic Division. With that in mind, the Bruins have to shake it off and get ready to face the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Kuznetsov, bad breaks baffle Flyers in loss to Capitals

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Here’s what went right for the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday: the Florida Panthers lost. Yep, that’s about it.

Otherwise, it was a pretty lousy time, as the Washington Capitals beat them at home 4-1 tonight.

Washington’s big names came to play here, highlighted by Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring two goals. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom enjoyed one-goal, one-assist nights while Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin both grabbed two assists.

The Capitals won their first game after a bye week (following two losses), improving their Metropolitan Division lead to five points and Presidents’ Trophy edge over Minnesota to three.

The Flyers fail to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race, staying at 63 standings points in 60 games played. The Panthers are tied with the Islanders and Bruins at 66 points, though Boston can change the picture ever so slightly against Anaheim (still in action) tonight.

The bottom line, again, is that the Flyers failed in a chance to get a little closer to that logjam for the last East spot.

Of course, plenty of Flyers fans will grumble about missed opportunities and iffy calls. Mike Milbury broke down the early setbacks that made life that much tougher for Philly:

Philly couldn’t overcome the Capitals and that bad luck, making their playoff hopes a little dimmer as the trade deadline approaches.

Oilers win on rare Russell goal, Panthers fall out of second wild card spot

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The Edmonton Oilers’ 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers might end up being costly if Andrej Sekera misses significant time.

But, hey, at least it was a win.

The two rising squads engaged in a back-and-forth game, with the Oilers winning in regulation. Maybe fittingly with Edmonton leaking defensemen lately: Kris Russell was the guy to score the game-winner, set up by Connor McDavid‘s blazing speed and a nice pass by Leon Draisaitl.

It was Russell’s first goal in more than a year.

The Oilers will remain in the second spot in the Pacific at the end of the night whether the Anaheim Ducks beat the Boston Bruins or not. Interestingly, this puts them in a reasonable position to catch the Sharks for first place in the division, too.

1. Sharks – 77 points in 60 games
2. Oilers – 74 points in 61 games
3. Ducks – 72 points in 61 games (in progress vs. Boston)

The Oilers likely had some fans out East tonight, as this loss pushes Florida down the wild card rankings. They’re actually out of the second spot thanks to tiebreakers.

Second wild card spot: Bruins – 66 points in 59 games, 30 wins and 28 ROW (in progress)

Islanders – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 27 ROW
Panthers – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 25 ROW

The Isles would move into the second spot if Boston loses in regulation, underscoring just how congested this situation is. But either way, the Panthers won’t be in the East’s top eight at the end of the night.

With Gibson out, Ducks recall interesting goalie: Enroth

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11: Jhonas Enroth #35 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity.

Considering how much the Anaheim Ducks lean on John Gibson, it’s troubling that he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Even so, it’s interesting to note that such a situation prompted the team to recall Jhonas Enroth, who will back up Jonathan Bernier during Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins.

With the way Bernier’s been playing at times, it’s not impossible that Enroth could play as soon as tonight. But if he doesn’t you have to wonder if the Ducks might feel compelled to throw a start his way in the next week.

The trade deadline is coming, and while the goalie market is really cold, some of that slow movement likely comes from how cap-unfriendly netminders like Ben Bishop might be.

But what about Enroth? His cap hit is $750K this season, and while he thoroughly unimpressed Mike Babcock with rapid speed in Toronto, he was fantastic as a backup in Los Angeles last season and has been outstanding lately for the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

All things considered, it’s almost a little surprising the Ducks aren’t throwing him right into the deep end tonight. If you’re a team with poor backup goaltending like the Edmonton Oilers or any number of other teams,* why wouldn’t you give the Ducks a call?

Maybe they need to see him in action in the NHL before doing so, making this an intriguing scenario to follow.

And, hey, maybe the Ducks themselves might decide that he’s a better option behind Gibson than Bernier. Stranger things have happened.

* – The Leafs might qualify, honestly … but again, Babs doesn’t seem to be an Enroth fan.