Dale Hunter

What Dale Hunter can expect against St. Louis tonight


The Caps face off at home against the St. Louis Blues in an odd sort of “new coaches battle.” For Caps coach Dale Hunter going up against the reinvigorated Blues and coach Ken Hitchcock provides them with a curious way to start their new life with a new bench boss.

With the Caps struggling to reclaim their identity, having to do it in their first game under Hunter against a team that will come after them and defend to the death will make life difficult. Hunter is noted from his time coaching the London Knights for relying heavily upon his offensive stars to push the game. If Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom want to impress the new boss tonight, they’ll have their work cut out for them. Lord knows there’s no more excuses for Ovechkin now.

Making matters more difficult will be how well the Blues goalies have both played of late. While Brian Elliott has been getting league-wide accolades, old nemesis Jaroslav Halak has been lights out since Hitchcock’s arrival in town as well. Just what the Caps want to have happen, find their old pace and ability to push the game only to have Halak there to stand on his head. Talk about reliving a nightmare.

Then again, it could prove to be rather “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” like in that they’ve got to beat that evil ex-boyfriend to be able to get through things. That might be exaggerating the point though. For now, Hunter has to be prepared for his team to have an uphill battle against a team that plays their tails off, defends very well, and has stellar goaltending of late to top it all off.

Having a tough task right off the bat might prove to be the best thing for the Caps to kick off the Dale Hunter era.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.