Jonathan Toews,  Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, Ty Conklin

Ty Conklin fumes over controversial goal call, NHL considers tweaking nets

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Hockey is a sport in which every little goal can be important, considering how tough they truly are to come by (unless you happen to be Corey Perry, apparently). Referee Dan O’Halloran decided that Marian Hossa’s goal was legitimate – meaning that the puck crossed the red line and that Hossa’s stick touched the puck after he kicked it – and the NHL’s review room in Toronto couldn’t find enough evidence to overturn his decision.

That goal cut the St. Louis Blues’ lead in half, making the score 2-1. Getting that tally lit a fire under the desperate Chicago Blackhawks, who ended up winning the game thanks to a Jonathan Toews overtime goal.

Ty Conklin was in net for the Blues when that controversial call was made and – to little surprise – he was more than a bit peeved by the review process. One must wonder if he might even be at risk of earning a fine from the NHL for his surprisingly candid critique of the league’s decision. Conklin almost stepped in conspiracy theory territory, as you can see from this story via CSN Chicago.

“They called it a goal on the ice, which is fine, that’s understandable.  But the reason we have video replay is to get the right call. They’re probably going to make it into the playoffs anyway, but do we really have to make it that obvious that the league wants them in?” he said. “It was a close play, but the puck never crossed the line.”

If you want a snapshot of how much the Blues and Blackhawks dislike each other, that quote is an excellent example.

While the NHL’s system of handing out suspensions and fines draws plenty of mockery and criticism, the league’s goal review process seems just as nebulous. The league’s war room almost seems like a shadowy organization, even if they aren’t do anything more nefarious than deciding for or against goals.

Many people (including myself) would like to see more transparency in the decision making process, but TSN’s Darren Dreger indicates that the league is striving to improve things with a more literal type of transparency. Simply put, they want to change nets to make it easier to see if a puck crosses the goal line or not.

Camera angles, poor video quality and obstructed views have always plagued video review.

There have multiple proposals considered to improve this process, but the league seems focused on the nets and changes that can be introduced to increase visibility.

In addition to testing a thinner mesh on the top of the nets, the National Hockey League will also be changing the ribbon that essentially protects skates from hitting the base of the net.

The existing ribbon that wraps around the base is white, but will be replaced this summer at the research and development camp by a clear band which will extend three feet back of the goal line from each post.

People want a more open process, but let’s face it, we might not get that any time soon (if ever). I’m on board with the tweaks Dreger mentioned, along with the research and development camp’s proposals of adding a plexiglass top to the net and yellow line behind the goal line to make it easier to tell when goals are scored.

These changes won’t always make the Conklins of the world happy, but then again, will a goalie ever really be happy when a goal is allowed?

Finally, here’s video of that much-debated goal, for your own debating purposes.

Streaking Blues get Stastny back tonight

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Paul Stastny #26 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 6, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. The Blues defeated the Islanders 6-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Saturday’s loss to Buffalo notwithstanding, St. Louis has been on fire lately under new head coach Mike Yeo. The Blues are 7-2 in their last nine, and will get a big piece of the lineup back this evening when they host Florida at Scottrade.

Paul Statsny, who’s missed the last four games with a lower-body injury, will draw in for the first time since Feb. 9, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac.

What’s more, Stastny will be immediately reunited on the club’s top line between Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Stastny had been on fire since the dismissal of former head coach Ken Hitchcock, racking up six points over his last five games played (in which the Blues went 4-1-0).

The 31-year-old currently sits fourth on the team in assists and points, while averaging 19:25 TOI per night, so he’s clearly a big part of the St. Louis attack. And based on his form prior to getting hurt, it was clear things were clicking with Steen and Tarasenko — which should make for an exciting test tonight against the red-hot Panthers.

Sens recall pair of forwards in wake of multiple injuries

Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone (61) lies injured on the ice after being hit hard by Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba (not shown) during third period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Sunday Feb. 19, 2017. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Ottawa Senators have called up some reinforcements from the AHL.

Forwards Casey Bailey and Max McCormick are on their way to the big club, in the wake of Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Jets that saw Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Tommy Wingels all leave with injuries.

The Sens also went into yesterday’s game without winger Bobby Ryan, who’s out indefinitely with a hand injury.

No word yet on the status of Hoffman, Stone, or Wingels, but head coach Guy Boucher wasn’t all that optimistic yesterday.

“It doesn’t look good,” Boucher told reporters. “We have to wait until tomorrow to be clear and precise but right now we could be losing quite a few guys.”

The Sens kick off a four-game road trip tomorrow in New Jersey. They currently sit second in the Atlantic Division, but not that far ahead of Boston, Toronto, and Florida.

Related: Jacob Trouba will have a hearing for head shot on Mark Stone

Kings’ Robitaille named chairman of German League club (Updated)

2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final – Game Six
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Kings legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille has added a new role to his front office portfolio.

Robitaille, currently serving as L.A.’s president of business operations, has been named as the chairman of Eisbaren Berlin, one of the most storied clubs in Germany’s top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Berlin is owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, the same outfit that owns the Kings. The two clubs have a fairly long history with each other, though this Robitaille appointment is part of what sounds like the biggest cooperative initiative to date.

UPDATE: The Kings have confirmed the development, with added information…

The Los Angeles Kings will now oversee all operations of Berlin Eisbaren Hockey, it was announced today at a news conference at Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Eisbaren Berlin of the German Ice Hockey League and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League are owned and operated by AEG Sports, a division of the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The LA Kings will now begin leading all hockey operations and administrative matters, directing the day-to-day leadership of Managing Director Peter John Lee.

“The results the last few years in Berlin have not been the championship standards that we all expect,” said Robitaille.  “It became clear that our relationship needs to go beyond collaboration and move to a complete connection to ensure the team and organization has what it needs to return this club to the type of team our fans expect and have demonstrated passionate support for.”

From the Eisbaren Berlin website (translated):

“This is an important day for the polar bears Berlin,” said Eisbären CEO Peter John Lee. We have been interacting with Luc Robitaille and LA Kings for a long time. In the new constellation we have the leadership of the LA Kings directly on board the polar bears, so we can work even more intensively to turn the polar bears Berlin into a championship team again.”

(At this time, probably worth noting the team’s nickname translates to polar bears.)

Former Kings farmhand Alex Roach currently plays for Berlin, and the team is coached by Robitaille’s former teammate in Detroit, Uwe Krupp.

Who has the best and worst special teams in the NHL?

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) celebrates with teammates after scoring a power play goal against the New York Islanders during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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If the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs, special teams will be one of the big reasons why.

Three quarters of the way through the season, the Leafs boast the NHL’s top power play, and their ninth-ranked penalty killing isn’t too bad either.

When the PP and PK are combined, Toronto has the best special teams in the league, followed closely by the Bruins, Blues, and Capitals.

Here’s how all 30 teams rank (best and worst PP and PK in bold):

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As you can see, the bottom of the list is full of teams who will miss the playoffs. The Stars’ penalty killing has been particularly dreadful. In fact, Dallas is on pace to have the worst PK of the salary-cap era.