Washington’s poor regular season start — zero wins, two losses, 10 goals allowed — has defenseman Karl Alzner feeling out of his element.
“I almost feel like a fish out of water right now,” Alzner told CSN Washington. “I’m too busy trying to be in the right position mentally instead of just being there. I know where to be. I’m over-thinking it.
“I think a lot of guys are probably in the same boat.”
That these words are coming from Alzner says a lot. He’s been relatively error-free through his first two games, posting an even plus-minus rating and committing zero giveaways while averaging over 21 minutes a night.
(A far cry from, say, Marcus Johansson, who has a minus-3 rating through two games and leads the team with three giveaways.)
To be fair, the Caps are in the midst of a big undertaking. They’re switching their style of play to head coach Adam Oates’ preferred style — where the emphasis is on skating, pressure and forcing turnovers — but haven’t had much time to learn it.
A brief training camp and two regular season games seemingly haven’t given Washington enough time to adjust to the new style.
“When you get tired your decision making goes — that’s the first thing,” winger Troy Brouwer explained. “Your brain starts to get lazy and then everything else follows. We’re having a tough time with just being crisp, being sharp.
“Whether that’s just practice, whether that’s out of practice, whether that’s just us not paying attention to details, we gotta crack that and we gotta crack it fast.”
One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.
On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.
The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.
“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”
The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”
“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”
As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:
Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.
Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.
Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.
Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.
The St. Louis Blues have assigned two forwards, Magnus Paajarvi and Ty Rattie, and two defensemen, Chris Butler and Petteri Lindbohm, to AHL Chicago.
The moves mean that the Blues will have two young d-men, Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko, on the opening-day roster, after both impressed in camp.
From the Post-Dispatch:
Lindbohm and Butler looked to be the sixth and seventh defensemen, in that order, at the start of camp, but the play of Edmundson and Parayko won them spots. Parayko had six assists in the preseason, putting him among the NHL leaders.
Forward Robby Fabbri will also be on the opening-day roster. The 19-year-old is not eligible for the AHL; he can only be returned to junior.
Earlier today, the Blues announced the signing of forward Scottie Upshall.