You had to figure it was going to happen at some point in the near future that Raffi Torres’ wicked hit to Chicago’s Brent Seabrook in Game 3 would find a way to come back around again to bite the Canucks in the rear end. While that hit may have awakened the sleeping giant in Chicago as the Blackhawks have rallied from down 3-0 in the series to force a Game 7, the effects of that play have found a roundabout way to upset Vancouver.
In yesterday’s Game 6 win by Chicago. Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell caught Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa with a hit eerily similar to that of the one delivered by Torres in Game 3. The difference here is that Bickell’s hit went unpenalized and didn’t get on the radar of the NHL offices while Torres’ hit earned him a minor penalty and a hearing with the NHL. Canucks GM Mike Gillis isn’t too happy about the apparent double standard as he perceives it.
The hits are as similar as they ever could be, the one difference being that the puck was actually in play for the hit on Bieksa whereas with Torres’ hit on Seabrook it was long gone. All of that aside, both hits are head shots and both teams have a right to be angry about their guy getting rung up with a bad hit.
The NHL opened Pandora’s Box when they designated the area behind the net as a “hitting zone” and thus introducing one big loophole to their Rule 48 on head shots and it almost seems fair to the teams that they’ve both had to suffer because of it. Of course, it’s not fair at all to the players that have seen their health and well being put in danger because of some insane designation, but this is the world they’re living in now.
What remains to be seen is if the Canucks can use this perceived injustice to motivate them to snap their losing skid and win Game 7. Of course, we’ve seen no other kind of motivation out of them in the last three games so we’re not ready to say we’ll see that out of the Canucks in Game 7. The Canucks need a killer instinct and if this is what causes it to come out, so be it. But if this is what they need, they’ve got bigger problems to deal with.
Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers
McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.
With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:
1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP
As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.
Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.
The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.
Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style