Mike Smith, Viktor Stalberg

Tonight on Versus: Blackhawks seek redemption against Coyotes


It’s the second week in a row that the Blackhawks and Coyotes get to face off against each other, but when they face off tonight in Chicago (8 p.m. ET on Versus), it’ll be the Blackhawks seeking redemption.

Last week we saw Coyotes goalie Mike Smith stand tall while Corey Crawford was chased out of the net in a 4-1 loss. Crawford’s had his ups and downs this season coming off a year that saw him rise to the top and become one of the better goalies in the league. It hasn’t been nearly as easy this season as his numbers are down. Yet through all this, Chicago still sits atop the Central Division and Western Conference with the Minnesota Wild. Go figure.

Meanwhile, Mike Smith has looked like a revelation in Dave Tippett’s system in Phoenix. While we were all highly skeptical of the way the Coyotes fixed their goaltending situation after seeing Ilya Bryzgalov go to Philly, Smith has seized the day and looked just as good as Bryzgalov always used to. Give credit to Smith for playing strong, but also to Tippett for having the brand of hockey that can allow a goalie to settle in and just do their job.

While the Blackhawks bring all the big name offense to this game with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp, the Coyotes have a foursome of their own doing some great work. Led by Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata, the Coyotes also have captain Shane Doan and Keith Yandle pumping in the points themselves. The Coyotes might not strike you as a team that can be dangerous with scoring, yet here they are in the middle of things in the Pacific Division.

Chicago has bounced back nicely from their loss to Phoenix last week winning two in a row, but knocking off the Coyotes at home after getting thumped would help give them that swagger back. Phoenix would be happy to just frustrate them all over again.

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.