Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders

Celebrating madness? Islanders holding watch party for replay of fight-filled February game vs. Pittsburgh

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Life for Islanders fans this summer hasn’t exactly been too fun. They’ve seen a referendum for a new arena get voted down by Nassau County voters, the team hasn’t made a big splash in free agency to make a big move towards improving in the Eastern Conference, and they’ve still got the Evgeni Nabokov situation to deal with. With that kind of action going on, you might get a little anxious for the season to start too.

The Isles are doing something good for their fans and hosting a watch party for the re-airing of one of their more notorious games from the past season: the February 11 9-3 win over Pittsburgh.

Wait… The Islanders are hosting a watch party for this game?

In case you’d forgotten, that game featured 342 combined penalty minutes including seeing Islanders goon forward Trevor Gillies fighting once early in the game and later elbowing Pens forward Eric Tangradi into oblivion. There was also the matter of Isles forward Micheal Haley dropping the gloves with Pens goalie Brent Johnson only to get interrupted by Pens forward Eric Godard who came off the bench to stand up for Johnson.

The end result of everything saw Gillies get suspended for nine games while Godard got the mandatory 10 game suspension for leaving the bench while the Islanders were fined $100,000 for the whole fiasco. Meanwhile, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux sounded off about the actions of the Islanders to the NHL and declared the whole thing to be its own disaster area.

Suffice to say, some Penguins fans are a bit annoyed about this whole thing. Enter the boys from The PensBlog. The PensBlog guys have made it their own mission to rip Gillies and the entire Islanders organization since this game and this Islanders watch party is in their sights as well.

Just a heads up, some of their language is a little “colorful” so if you’ve got delicate sensibilities, this is your warning.

Now, this kind of viewing-party idea is kind of cool in general.  And we’d actual tip our hats to the Isles organization for using social media to bring fans closer if it wasn’t to celebrate lunacy.  If they’re gonna circle-jerk to a run-of-the-mill 9-3 drubbing, we’d be all for it and not dip our toe into the water.

But celebrating the blatant attempts to injure in this game isn’t gonna fly.
And for the Islanders to be promoting it right on their website is beyond words.

As much as The PensBlog guys might upset you sometimes, they’re dead on about this. We understand that this game was a big, important moment for Islanders fans. They were sick of seeing their team getting pushed around and taken advantage of by the league for other, apparent misgivings and the Penguins (and officials) pushed the right buttons that night to send the team over the edge. This game was the fans’ “Network” moment where they say “they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take this anymore.

Celebrating your team taking a stand is fine and it’s not the only time we’ve seen teams and fans take pride in an all-out bloodbath. These kinds of moments can unite fans with their teams. That said, you can’t help but feel this is a 1,000 different kinds of awkward given the circumstances. Tangradi suffered a concussion thanks to Gillies’ elbow while Gillies’ reputation in the league was destroyed after this incident and Brent Johnson served notice to the Islanders that he’s not to be trifled with.

Given the Islanders’ role in the brawl and the fact they were slapped with a huge fine for what went down, it seems wrong that they’re going along with hosting a party to re-watch the game. I understand why the Islanders are doing it and I understand why Penguins fans would be really annoyed about it… But this just feels uncomfortable.

Stars put Spezza on injured reserve, recall Faksa from AHL Texas

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Sitting three points out of top spot in the Central Division and on the eve of an important divisional clash on home ice with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars have placed center Jason Spezza on injured reserve retroactive to Thursday, the club announced on Friday.

Spezza, 32, was injured during Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars can move back to within a point of Chicago for the division lead with a regulation win on Saturday.

In 52 games this season, Spezza has 18 goals and 40 points, which ties him with Patrick Sharp for fourth on the team in total points.

With Spezza out, the Stars recalled 22-year-old forward Radek Faksa from the Texas Stars in the AHL.

Faksa has 15 goals and 26 points in 28 games this season with Texas. In 18 games with the NHL Stars, he has one goal and three points.

Hitch’s recipe for more goals is a pretty simple one

Ken Hitchcock, David Backes, Dmitrij Jaskin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund
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Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.

Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.

“To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.

“When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”

According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.

The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).

Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.

The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.

St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.

Goalie nods: Lindback ‘really excited’ for first start in almost three weeks

Anders Lindback
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Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.

The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.

Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.

Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.

Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.

Elsewhere…

— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.

— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.

A ‘pretty solid two-way player,’ Sundqvist to make NHL debut for Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins' Oskar Sundqvist (49) collides with Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.

Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.

“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.

“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”

Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.

Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.

Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury