The most anticipated game of the night was the Western Conference leading Dallas Stars traveling to DC to take on the Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals. The Stars were riding a modest three game winning streak, while the Caps were a perfect 6-0 at the Verizon Center this season. Sixty minutes and an unbelievably lopsided 5-2 game later and the Stars winning streak is sitting and four games and the Caps are left wondering what happened to their perfect record at home.
Needless to say, the Dallas Stars can win anytime and anywhere.
There’s no shame in losing to the Stars this season. They’re sitting at 11-3-0 and own the best record in the league. Jamie Benn is scoring on everyone, Sheldon Souray has turned back the clock about five years, and Kari Lehtonen is playing like a former #2 overall pick.
That’s not how some guys were looking at it from the Washington Capitals’ locker room after the game though. Spirited leader Mike Knuble had some rather harsh criticism for his teammates in the wake of the 5-2 defeat.
He told a group of reporters exactly what he thought after the game:
“Maybe through the first five games I felt top to bottom it was a better commitment. Of late, I don’t know if we’re all committed. It’s sad to say and we all look bad because of the result – because we don’t all commit. We look great when we’re all committing; we look all like a bunch of clowns when we don’t. A very average team when we’re not all committed.”
Sounds like something the captain of a team would say, doesn’t it? Knuble went on to explain that the defensive breakdowns that were occurring had nothing to do with being prepared and more to do with execution and effort. Must be nice to have someone willing to step up and call out his teammates when the team is still 9-4 on the season.
Knuble understands that the Capitals have different expectations this season—they’re expected to take the next step. Comments like these in November are exactly the types of things we expect from leaders when their teammates slip in the effort department.
We have about 70 more games to see if the rest of the Caps take his words to heart.
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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.)
Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF 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.
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.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)