Bolts coach Boucher: Salo, Carle have made “huge impact” on team


The Tampa Bay Lightning have won four straight and are off to one of the best starts in franchise history.

Most will point to the play of the “Big Three” — Steve Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, recently named the NHL’s third star of the week — as the reason for said success.

But according to head coach Guy Boucher, it’s a pair of free agent defensemen: Matt Carle and Sami Salo.

“A huge impact,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in describing the additions of Salo and Carle. “What they do is solidify pairings, not what they do individually.

The two were acquired by GM Steve Yzerman in July, and cost a pretty penny.

Carle, 28, inked a six-year, $33 million deal while Salo, 38, signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal — one that comes with additional risk of being a guaranteed cap hit, because of his over-35 designation.

Salo currently leads the NHL in plus-minus (+10) and all Tampa blueliners with five points through six games.

Carle leads the team in time on ice (23:01) and has 1G-2A-3PTS through six games.

Yet individual statistics don’t tell the whole story. By bringing the two aboard, other defensemen have been put in positions to succeed — most notably Victor Hedman.

Salo is Hedman’s new defense partner, providing the young Swede with a veteran presence on the back end. As a result, Hedman is now second to Salo in d-man scoring.

“When you look at Heddy,” Boucher said, “he needed an older guy to give him a chance to go on offense without having to worry what’s going to happen back [on defense.]”

Tampa can now confidently go eight deep on defense — Keith Aulie, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Brendan Mikkelson and Brian Lee have all played this season — and primed to replicate its success of two years ago, when the Bolts were one win away from the Stanley Cup final.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.