Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Three

Aaron Rome suspended four games for his hit on Nathan Horton

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While some debated whether or not Aaron Rome would be suspended for his wicked hit on Nathan Horton in the first period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, there was no debate amongst the NHL officials. Rome was suspended for four games for his hit meaning he’ll sit out the rest of the finals. With the Bruins ruling Nathan Horton out of the playoffs with a severe concussion, in this case, the punishment fits the crime.

Rome’s suspension is the harshest one delivered in the history of the Stanley Cup finals as previous suspensions have all been of the one game variety. The last time a player was suspended in the Stanley Cup finals came in 2007 when Anaheim’s Chris Pronger received a one game ban for elbowing Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond in the head.

Senior VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy had this to say about the hit:

“Two factors were considered in reaching this decision,” said NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy. “The hit by Rome was clearly beyond what is acceptable in terms of how late it was delivered after Horton had released the puck and it caused a significant injury.”

With Vancouver being without Aaron Rome and with a lingering injury to Dan Hamhuis, they’re going to have to fill ranks from within falling back to either Keith Ballard or Chris Tanev to take his spot on the blue line the rest of the way out. While Rome isn’t a top flight defender, he earned his spot in the lineup and earned coach Alain Vigneault’s trust. With him having to fall back on Ballard or Tanev he’s either putting his faith into a player who lost his trust and spot in the lineup in Ballard or a rookie in Tanev.

There won’t be anyone feeling too bad for Vancouver in this instance as Rome’s importance to Vancouver is dwarfed by how important Nathan Horton is for Boston. The trade off isn’t fair by any means but the punishment given to Rome fits the situation and how the league needed to take a tougher stand on questionable and dirty hits delivered to players’ heads. If this is the kind of change that could be on the way in the future, perhaps the game will be a bit safer.

Aaron Rome made a statement about the hit issued through the team.

“I want to express my concern for Nathan’s well being and wish him a quick and full recovery. I try to play this game honestly and with integrity. As someone who has experienced this type of injury I am well aware of its serious nature and have no desire for another player to experience it. I will not take away my teammates’ focus on the task at hand and intend to speak at an appropriate time in future.”

Rome doesn’t have a history at all with dirty hits delivered and he too was knocked out of action for a short while in the playoffs this year. During the Western Conference finals against San Jose he was taken out thanks to a questionable hit from Sharks forward Jamie McGinn. McGinn was not suspended for the hit.

This won’t be the last time we’ll have an instance like this, but considering how severe the punishment was to Rome in this instance without any prior record perhaps the league is finally getting serious.

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Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.