Staubitz Fight

The Montreal Canadiens have a new approach to fighting

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Interesting piece from the Globe and Mail on what Brad Staubitz represents for the Montreal Canadiens.

Staubitz, 27, was claimed off waivers from Minnesota at the trade deadline. Prior to joining the Habs, Staubitz had eight goals, 10 assists and 432 penalty minutes in 196 career games — and upon donning the bleu, blanc et rouge, he racked up 17 more PIM in his first game against Tampa Bay.

In case you were wondering, those penalties weren’t for hooking and/or interference. Staubitz likes to chuck knuckles — he’s fought 45 times since making his NHL debut in 2008-09 — and his Habs debut featured him defending teammate Alexei Emelin (who was jumped by Tampa’s Ryan Malone) and a spirited tilt with Lightning tough guy Pierre-Cedric Labrie.

“That’s a big part of my game,” Staubitz said. “I’m going to stick up for my teammates.”

The Staubitz acquisition represents a change in Montreal’s approach to on-ice retribution. The team hasn’t employed a legitimate enforcer since Georges Laraque was released midway through his three-year, $4.5 million deal — Travis Moen has been the de facto fighter ever since, but he’s a middleweight at best.

Head coach Randy Cunneyworth sees the value in retaining a heavyweight.

“Nobody will admit it openly, but I think I can admit it makes a team more cohesive when you’ve got that element,” he explained. “Players can back up certain actions on the ice. The other team knows, players of that nature can even out things or just not allow things of that nature to go on.

“It makes everybody a little bit more physical, a little bit braver to some extent. Nobody’s going to admit that personally, but I think I’m allowed to, and that’s the element we’re trying to create, but it’s more about a team toughness.”

GM Pierre Gauthier wouldn’t go as far as Cunneyworth (calling it “an adjustment” rather than a philosophy change) but several Habs players were on board with the increase in team toughness.

“I love it, I think [Staubitz is] a great acquisition,” said RW Ryan White. “He does his job well.”

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.