Darryl Sutter

Kings win Darryl Sutter’s first game as their head coach

By the law of small sample sizes,* only old head coaches can succeed with new teams this season.

The Los Angeles Kings topped the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 via a shootout today to win Darryl Sutter’s debut. Fellow veteran bench boss Ken Hitchock was the only other replacement coach to win his first game, putting the old dogs at 2-0. Contrast that with the goose eggs from first-timers Kirk Muller and Randy Cunneyworth alongside second-time coach Bruce Boudreau and you might have an obnoxious pseudo-trend on your hands.

The Kings didn’t look like an offensive juggernaut in their first game under Sutter, but that’s not what GM Dean Lombardi was expecting with the coaching change.

Lombardi wanted to see more effort from the Kings and more production from should-be star Drew Doughty, and there were promising signs in both areas. Doughty earned assists on both of the Kings’ goals while Los Angeles out-shot Anaheim in every period aside from a 2-1 OT difference. (The Kings generated a 34-22 shot advantage.)

In other good news, Mike Richards scored in his first game back from a concussion.

One December game only means so much – and it was against the lowly Ducks – but it never hurts to get off to a good start. The Kings might not ever be the sexy, dominant team many of us were hoping to see in 2011-12, but this squad could grind their way to a deep run if they play more games like Sutter’s debut.

* Note: I’m fairly certain there isn’t a theory of small sample sizes, let alone a law.

Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

Malcolm Subban hospitalized after taking puck to throat

Malcolm Subban
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Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.

There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.

The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.

Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.


Senators get Kyle Turris back on Saturday

Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris celebrates his game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens during overtime of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.

After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.

Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.

Habs’ win was a showcase for P.K. Subban, Connor McDavid

Montreal Canadiens defensemen  P.K. Subban (76) holds off Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.

Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.

Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.

Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:

From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.

Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?

The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.

That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.

If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.