Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovalchuk insists he’s not behind KHL coach’s firing


Ilya Kovalchuk told R Sport that he isn’t responsible for Sunday’s firing of his KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s head coach Milos Riha.

“All the rumors about some problems between me and Riha are nonsense,” Kovalchuk said. “We had a good personal relationship, and I want to wish good luck to him and [assistant coach Andrey] Potaychuk in wherever they will work next.”

It’s tough not to wonder what prompted the team to fire Riha, then.

The squad is currently on top of the KHL’s Western Conference with 61 points, tied for most in the league, so it’s hard to imagine the issue being about team performance.

Kovalchuk is also enjoying great personal success – he’s tied for fourth place in scoring with 29 points in 22 games – so the answer probably cannot be found in the standings or box scores.

If there indeed was a rift, Kovalchuk is certainly playing things closer to the vest than he did with short-lived New Jersey Devils bench boss John MacLean in 2010-11.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?