The Los Angeles Kings are already playing in the playoffs shorthanded thanks to an ankle injury to Anze Kopitar and losing another centerman would do nothing to help them try to beat the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. During last night’s 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose, Kings center Jarret Stoll delivered a hit from behind to Sharks defenseman Ian White that might see him getting a call from the NHL.
Stoll boarded White while he was looking to fish out the puck along the boards behind the San Jose net and ended up smashing Stoll’s head into the top of the boards where the dasher meets the glass. The ugly hit put White down and he was removed from the game and did not return. There was no penalty called on the play. (Video here)
CSN Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil reported on Twitter after the game saying that the league is looking into the hit and that White is not feeling well. Sharks players are not too happy with the lack of call on the play and the fact that White is hurt. Sharks coach Todd McLellan was able to keep it all in perspective.
“We did have a chance to look at it,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “After the game we got a really good angle from right behind the glass. There was a camera right there and the good news for us is the league is looking at these types of things. They take them very serious. The bad news is we lost a very good defenseman that we count on.”
Ian White was playing in his first career playoff game and going out like this is unpleasant. For the Kings, should they lose Stoll to a suspension of some kind, youngster Oscar Moller would likely slot into his position in the lineup. Moller was a healthy scratch in Game 1 in favor of tough guy Kevin Westgarth.
Suspensions in the playoffs in the past have always been seemingly softer compared to regular season plays because the games have a much greater immediate impact on the season. Plays like this in the past would either net no suspension or a one game ban. With a hit like this and an apparent head injury to White, it seems likely that Stoll would see some sort of action taken against him. Losing Stoll for even a game really amps up the pressure on the Kings to find ways to score and with Kopitar out, that’s already hard enough.
While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.
Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey–David Krejci–David Pastrnak
Jimmy Hayes–Ryan Spooner–Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly–Joonas Kemppainen–Zac Rinaldo
The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.
So, where is Krejci’s game now?
Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.
So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?
On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.
So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?
“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks