St Louis Blues v Washington Capitals

Hunter rips Vokoun: “He wasn’t as sharp as he should have been…we need good goaltending”


For the second straight game — this time, in a 5-2 loss to Ottawa — Washington head coach Dale Hunter yanked his starting goalie, Tomas Vokoun, before the second period had let out.

But this time Hunter took things a step further, ripping his goalie’s play in the postgame presser.

“Tomas would like a few of them back,” Hunter said of Vokoun, who allowed four goals on 11 shots. “He wasn’t as sharp as he should have been, and it’s in the back of our net.”

“We need some big stops early that’s part of the game and tonight we played a good, solid road game and we lose. Goaltending is a big part of the game and we need good goaltending.”

While the 35-year-old netminder has struggled over his last two starts, it’s not entirely indicative of his play this year. Heck, it’s not even indicative of his play in February.

In eight games this month Vokoun is 3-4-1, but has posted two shutouts and boasts a .927 save percentage. Outside of the two latest debacles against Carolina and Tampa Bay you could argue he’s been one of Washington’s better performers this month — he hasn’t allowed more than three goals in a single contest (save the Sens game) and posted 30-save and 42-save shutouts in Montreal and Florida.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, Vokoun is represented by player agent Alan Walsh.

And just in case you’re wondering some more — yes, Walsh responded to Hunter’s criticisms.

“I’m not going to comment directly on what someone may have said after a game,” Walsh said in a text to the Washington Post. “I will point out though that hockey’s great coaches throughout history never resorted to publicly singling out a particular player, blaming him for a loss.

“Where I come from, you win as a team and lose as a team. The oldest, most tired excuse in the book is to blame the goalie.”

Good times in Washington, hey?

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
Leave a comment

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.