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.
Ed Willes of The Vancouver Province has the grumpy words from the Canucks GM.
“You tell me the difference between that hit and Raffi Torres,” Gillis said, referring to the Canucks’ forward hit on Brent Seabrook in Game 3 which was penalized.
“This was one was worse. (Bickell) left his feet.”
Obviously Gillis has a bit of a slanted view on things given his position on matters. But if you’d like to compare hits, Nucks Misconduct has the videos to compare them as well as their excellent snark on the matter.
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.
When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.
Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.
“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?
Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.
Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.
It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.
Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.
On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?
It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?
* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.
If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.
The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.
After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.
If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.
Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.
If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:
“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”
The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.
Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:
With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.
Measuring stick stretch begins
Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.
This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.
It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.
In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.