Anaheim Ducks v Phoenix Coyotes

The one ref Vancouver probably didn’t want reffing tonight’s game is reffing tonight’s game


The officiating crew for tonight’s Canucks-Blackhawks game is in, and it’s an eyebrow raiser.

The linesmen will be Shane Heyer and Thor Nelson, while the referees are Eric Furlatt and…

Dan O’Halloran.

O’Halloran — No. 13 in your lucky number programs — is a pretty curious assignment, given his lengthy history with the Canucks.

First and foremost, O’Halloran was one of the two officials working the last time Vancouver and Chicago met, when Duncan Keith was whistled for a two-minute elbowing minor on Daniel Sedin:

That incident set off a hailstorm of controversy.

Sedin missed the remaining nine games of the regular season and first three games of the playoffs with a concussion, while Keith was tagged with a five-game suspension from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was incensed the call on the ice didn’t reflect the severity of the hit or subsequent punishment from the league.

“We got a big two-minute power play off that hit from the same referee — remember last year when Daniel got punched six times in the face in the Boston series?” Vigneault said. “I seem to remember it was the same guy.”

That guy was none other than O’Halloran, one of two referees working Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final, during which Boston’s Brad Marchand repeatedly punched Sedin in the face.

Sedin received a 10-minute misconduct, as did Marchand — though Marchand got an extra two for roughing.

(And to be fair, it was Kelly Sutherland who was directly involved with trying to stop the altercation.)

Earlier in that same postseason, O’Halloran was working Game 2 of the Western Conference final between Vancouver and San Jose, in which Ben Eager hammered Sedin with this hit:

Eager was given a two-minute boarding minor on the play, a decision the Canucks were displeased with.

The two-minute penalty also came under scrutiny when, shortly after the playoffs ended, the NHL sent out a player safety video (FF to 8:01) in which the Eager-Sedin hit was used to illustrate illegal action under the new boarding rules.


Blackhawks and Canucks: ‘bitterness’ lingers about Keith elbow on Sedin

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.