Well, it was awfully close to being Chicago vs. Nashville in the first round of the playoffs, but (to paraphrase Dennis Green) the West’s No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed matchup is what we thought it would be. The fourth-seed Nashville Predators are set to host the fifth-seed Detroit Red Wings. Here are a few thoughts to warm you up:
- It’s no secret that the Red Wings struggle on the road. While they’re home record (31-7-3) is the best in the NHL, the Red Wings are just 17-21-3 on the road. Only the Washington Capitals (15-21-4, seriously) are worse when it comes to playoff teams. Can Detroit overcome that enough to win the series?
- The Predators are carrying the feeling of a franchise that’s ready to take the so-called “Next Step.” They won their first series last year, come in with all the Alex Radulov buzz and quietly put up a little more offense this season. Do they have the stuff for a deep run? Would this season be a huge letdown if they fall to Detroit?
This series has a lot to love. Original Six franchise takes on what might be the definition of a “non-traditional” market. Some will grumble that Shea Weber and Ryan Suter might be auditioning for a future job with Detroit while others might wonder if winning or losing this series could determine that future. A few might even look at this as a matchup between a high-powered Red Wings offense and a meticulously crafted defensive force in Nashville.
What do you think, though? Share some early thoughts on the series – we’ll have plenty more once previews and other good stuff rolls around.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.