With Ken Hitchcock now in charge in St. Louis, the Blues aren’t quite the maddening team to be a fan of anymore. Instead, as the Los Angeles Kings will find out tonight (7:30 p.m. ET on Versus) they’re more of a maddening team to face off against.
The Blues were already a talented team but having Hitchcock and his new more defensively focused system in place, it’s made the Blues a much more formidable team to deal with. In the six game since he’s taken over, the Blues have give up just six goals leading them to a 4-0-2 record. Losing twice in the shootout is no big deal because you’re still getting points and for the Blues that’s important.
Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott each have a shutout while the Blues are looking a lot more nasty to deal with. The goals aren’t exactly piling on but the defense is playing tighter and the goalies are playing better. That’s all the Blues were really in need of and it’s paying off right now.
Dealing with the L.A. Kings, however, won’t be easy. Anze Kopitar is their offensive champion while Jonathan Quick has been showing why he’s one of the up and coming goalies in the NHL. Adding in guys like Mike Richards and Drew Doughty helps add a lot of sexy highlights to the Kings lineup. They’re a well-rounded team with a lot of weapons and taking the Kings lightly means you’d likely take a vicious beating.
While there’s a lot of offense to go around with St. Louis having T.J. Oshie and David Backes and L.A. rolling out Kopitar, Doughty, Richards, and more expect both teams to clamp things down in a big way and try to show off their defensive skills. While that might not sound exciting, the kind of pace these teams push makes it makes tonight’s game worth watching more than you’d think.
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.