Ducks GM Bob Murray: “We have to start diving”

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Finding a way to get an edge in the playoffs can be tricky. Finding ways to take heat off your team after a tough loss or if they’re struggling in the series can get really creative. While Caps coach Bruce Boudreau decided to go after Madison Square Garden earlier today to get some of the heat off the Caps, Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray found a more direct way to vent his thoughts and take the heat off his team.

With the Ducks are down 2-1 in their series with Nashville and Murray feels that the Predators are getting a bit too much of the benefit of the calls and he’s got a fascinating solution for his team. Rather than have coach Randy Carlyle work more on the team’s penalty kill, he’s saying that the Ducks should be diving more to get the calls. After a pair of calls in Game 3 that went against the Ducks thanks to a high stick by Brad Winchester on Jerred Smithson and a hooking call on Saku Koivu against Jonathon Blum, Murray’s had enough.

Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register gets the word from Murray about how the Ducks should be taking more nods from Hollywood in how to win games.

“It’s become a tactic,” he told the Register, speaking at the team’s hotel. ”I’ve watched enough. First things first. We have to have less passengers. We have too many passengers right now. But when you’re playing a game and [there’s] a constant stream to the penalty box because these guys are diving left and right … we have to start diving.

“I’d never thought I’d say this to my hockey team. We’ve got to start diving because it’s working. It is working. They’re getting power plays because of the diving. I can go through the list of players. You already know who they are. You’ve seen them. It’s ridiculous.”

Well this is a curious tactic, especially coming from the GM of one of the league’s most penalized teams. Anaheim was the fifth most penalized team in the NHL this season and it’s a designation they’ve held for the last few seasons. Last year they were third most and two seasons ago they were the second most penalized team in the league.

That’s not to say that the calls Murray is taking umbrage with aren’t worthy of scrutiny, it’s just that he has to be careful when filing his complaints because the Ducks certainly do enough on the ice to warrant action. Seeing a coach lobby for more calls to be made against the opponent is nothing new, just that saying your team has to do more objectionable stuff to get the calls you want is a curious way to go about it.

We’ll find out how well this campaign for and against embellishment goes soon enough as Game 4 between these two comes up on Wednesday night. The less calls that are made might not be too helpful for Anaheim as their power play has done well against Nashville. Turning things into a slugfest might not work out too well for them either.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.