Colin Campbell on Rangers-Devils line brawl: “We put the onus on the coach and the player”

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Interesting tidbit from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun following last night’s free-for-brawl at Madison Square Garden — he reached out to NHL executive vice-president Colin Campbell for his thoughts on the melee.

Campbell was part of the competition committee that, out of the lockout, put rule 46.22 in place — where a player deemed the instigator of a fight in the final five minutes would receive a one-game suspension (in addition to an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty.)

The rule also states the coach of said offender receives a $10,000 fine.

So with the current CBA expiring in September, it’s fair to suggest the topic of staged/end of game fights could re-appear at the negotiating table. To that end, LeBrun posed a question — would the league and players consider tweaking 46.12 to include the beginning of games as well?

Campbell’s reply, from ESPN:

“What we did with the competition committee coming out of the lockout, we crafted a new rule at the end of the game. We put the onus on the coach and the player.

If the GMs find this (line brawl last night) unacceptable, maybe we’d craft it the same way at the start of the game, put the onus on both the player and the coach? Or you’d have to find a current interpretation of the rulebook.”

LeBrun went on to say that “Anyone who thinks that line brawl had any effect on the final outcome of the game is dreaming,” and, “I can tell you the NHL brass is not keen on it, either.”

To be fair, this lack of keenness could be partly due to how both coaches — Peter DeBoer and John Tortorella — handled the situation. In addition to the whole “you started all your goons, so I’m putting a defenseman at center” routine, the two engaged in a heated war of words that included Tortorella’s profanity-laced tirade.

Not to say the fights would have been more “acceptable” had they existed in a vacuum, but the whole shouting and yelling and histrionics only added to the sideshow feel. Is there any real difference between a coach sending his message at the beginning of the game, rather than the end? Sounds like the competition committee will answer that question this summer.

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.