Tomas Vokoun

Vokoun won’t face Florida tonight, doesn’t sound happy about it

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Prior to getting fired, Bruce Boudreau made a number of contentious lineup decisions for the Washington Capitals.

Seems like Dale Hunter’s picked up where Boudreau left off.

Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post reports the Caps will start Michal Neuvirth in goal tonight against the Florida Panthers — a curious move, because it prevents Tomas Vokoun from facing his former team.

“I’m a paid employee and I don’t make those kinds of decisions.” Vokoun said. “I’m a hockey player and I’m here to play games.”

Pretty pointed statement from Vokoun, who sounds like he really wanted this start. Why? Well, the history between Florida and Vokoun isn’t quite tabloid material…but it was certainly acrimonious at the end.

Vokoun spent four seasons in Miami before heading to free agency, confident a big deal was on the horizon — and that’s when the problems started. Florida GM Dale Tallon held firm with his offer (believed to be $3 million annually), Vokoun opted to test the market, Tallon warned he was close to signing Jose Theodore, Vokoun continued to roll the dice and when no solid deal materialized, he signed a one-year, $1.5-million bargain with Washington.

How badly did Vokoun’s camp botch things?

“There were even rumors that Vokoun’s people came back to Florida after the Theodore signing,” George Richards of the Miami Herald wrote. “[But] the Panthers said they had already moved on.”

“The money side, it’s not great, but I think the opportunity is unbelievable,” Vokoun said upon signing with Washington. “Obviously it was disappointing day for me on July 1. For whatever reason I was in a bad spot, and Washington came in.”

As for tonight’s game, Hunter didn’t offer up much as to why he chose Neuvirth over Vokoun. “It’s just a choice, there’s not much to explain,” he told El-Bashir. “[We] thought it was a good way to go.”

Though it’s still early, Vokoun’s time in Washington hasn’t been great. He’s posted pedestrian numbers and appeared irate on a couple of occasions (he wasn’t happy about sitting in the season opener) and now he’s sitting for one of the bigger games of the season. The Caps are five points back of Florida in the Southeast, a division Washington has won four years on the trot.

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)