Three (News) Stars of the Week: Torts, Ovi on the bench, Raffi as Jay-Z

“Three (News) Stars of the Week” will run every Friday. It’s our way of acknowledging the week’s big NHL stories that gave us lots of page views, thereby increasing PHT’s attractiveness to advertisers.

Third star: Busy John Tortorella

The fiery coach’s frustration with his sluggish team peaked Saturday when the Rangers blew a three-goal, third-period lead at home to the Senators. Soon after came news Sean Avery was being recalled from the AHL. Yes, the same Sean Avery that Tortorella cut after training camp. But with Mike Rupp on the shelf, Torts had no other choice but to bring back Avery, who will make his debut Saturday at MSG. Tortorella also had strong words for San Jose captain Joe Thornton, who opined that the Rangers were soft after losing to said soft team on Monday. Tortorella in turn raised the fact Thornton hasn’t won a Stanley Cup, so maybe he should keep his mouth shut. Upon further reflection, Thornton agreed.

Second star: Bruce Boudreau doesn’t choose Alex Ovechkin

When the Capitals were trailing the Ducks by a goal late in Tuesday’s game, Bruce Boudreau played a hunch and didn’t send Ovechkin over the boards. This displeased Ovechkin, who was caught on camera saying something disparaging about his coach. Even though Boudreau’s hunch was correct and the Caps tied it up and won in overtime, the decision to leave one of the NHL’s most prolific scorers on the bench at such a crucial moment caught the attention of reporters, who asked the coach why he benched the superstar. But did he really “bench” Ovechkin? Boudreau doesn’t think he did. He simply chose to use other players at that particular moment. No big deal. Let’s move on.

First star: Raffi Torres is Jay-Z

The Phoenix forward went to a team Halloween party dressed as rapper Jay-Z. Not being a black man, Torres painted his face to look the part, and when teammate Paul Bissonnette tweeted a picture of Torres as Jay-Z, opinions were shared. Some said it was racist. Others said it wasn’t racist, but it was insensitive. Most said it was a great costume. People argued about morality on the internet for a while, then everyone forgot about it because there were games to be watched.

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    Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

    Niklas Kronwall
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    When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

    (His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

    It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

    He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

    First, the Kronwalling:

    Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

    It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

    Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

    Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

    Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

    Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

    It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

    To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

    The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

    That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

    They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

    Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


    More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

    In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

    Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

    Jack Eichel
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    The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

    You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

    That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

    Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

    Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


    Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

    While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

    In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

    The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?