Torres suspended for remainder of Western Conference semifinals

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San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended a minimum of three and maximum of six games for his hit on Los Angeles’ Jarret Stoll during Game 1 of the Sharks-Kings Western Conference semifinal.

In an unique ruling, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety chose to suspend Torres for the remainder of the second playoff round, rather than a fixed number of games.

(Unique, but not precedent-setting: Matt Cooke was suspended for the first round of the 2011 playoffs.)

As for the reasoning behind the decision?

“Rather than hit Stoll through the core of his body, Torres take a route that makes Stoll’s head the principal point of contact,” discipline czar Brendan Shanahan explained. “Although we agree that Torres might make initial contact with Stoll’s shoulder, that is a glancing blow.

“In fact, the head is the principal point of contact.”

Shanahan also noted that, if Torres wants to make a hit in this situation, he needs to “take a route that ensures he hits through the core of [Stoll’s] body.” Torres’ history as a repeat offender also played into the decision.

Here’s the full video explanation:

The hit, which occurred with less than a minute remaining in the second period, netted Torres a two-minute charging minor.

After the game, San Jose head coach Todd McLellan disagreed with the call, saying Torres’ hit wasn’t illegal.

“Clean hit,” McLellan told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. “Wasn’t even a charging penalty, in my opinion.”

Stoll left the game after the hit and didn’t return for the third period. He was held out of Thursday’s Game 2.

As for Torres, he was of the same mindset as McLellan.

“I didn’t really think it was even going to be a penalty,” he said to CSN Bay Area. “They called it charging, I don’t think I launched myself. I took a step and a half, and glided into him.

“Obviously he was leaning over, and I still feel like I got a shoulder to his shoulder, and then it kind of looked because he was leaning over that I came up a little high. I didn’t even think it was going to be a penalty, but I hope he’s alright.”

Torres’ disciplinary history is well documented.

He was suspended 25 games (reduced to 21) for hitting Chicago’s Marian Hossa during last year’s playoffs and, prior to that, suspended for charging Minnesota’s Nate Prosser (two games) and elbowing Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle (four games).

UPDATE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie points out that, if the series goes seven games, Torres will have served a six game suspension — and under the new CBA, suspensions of six games or more can be appealed to an independent arbitrator.

Related

On hitting players with their heads down

Kings coach Sutter calls Torres hit ‘careless’

Dustin Brown: Winning is best revenge for Raffi Torres hit

PHT’s second-round playoff predictions, featuring the red-hot Random Thing Picker

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It was a tough first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for many of the so-called experts of the world.

Upsets included the Predators over the Blackhawks and the Blues over the Wild. The Rangers over the Canadiens was a quasi-upset, too.

Here at PHT, it was a mixed bag. Mike Halford and Cam Tucker each went an impressive 6-2. And so too did the Random Thing Picker, which as its name suggests, picks random things. (And picks them rather well, apparently.)

Of note, the Random Thing Picker and James O’Brien were the only ones to pick the Preds over the ‘Hawks. So congratulations to both robotic lifeforms on that bit of soothsaying.

Rounding out the rest of the first-round results, Adam Gretz and Joey Alfieri went 4-4, while at 3-5, O’Brien and yours truly couldn’t even crack .500. (Stupid Jake Allen.)

On to the second round!

Washington versus Pittsburgh (Stream Capitals-Penguins)

Brough: Capitals in 7
Halford: Penguins in 6
O’Brien: Capitals in 7
Gretz: Capitals in 7
Tucker: Capitals in 6
Alfieri: Capitals in 7
Random Thing Picker: Capitals

New York versus Ottawa (Stream Rangers-Senators)

Brough: Senators in 6
Halford: Senators in 7
O’Brien: Rangers in 7
Gretz: Rangers in 6
Tucker: Rangers in 6
Alfieri: Senators in 6
Random Thing Picker: Senators

St. Louis versus Nashville (Stream Blues-Predators)

Brough: Predators in 6
Halford: Blues in 7
O’Brien: Predators in 6
Gretz: Predators in 6
Tucker: Predators in 7
Alfieri: Predators in 6
Random Thing Picker: Blues

Anaheim versus Edmonton (Stream Ducks-Oilers)

Brough: Ducks in 7
Halford: Ducks in 6
O’Brien: Ducks in 6
Gretz: Oilers in 7
Tucker: Oilers in 6
Alfieri: Ducks in 6
Random Thing Picker: Ducks

Feel free to add your picks below…

Auston Matthews to skip Worlds

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Auston Matthews is going to take some time off.

As such, the 19-year-old star forward won’t be heading overseas to represent the United States in the upcoming World Championship.

You can hardly blame him. Matthews just finished his rookie season in the NHL, playing all 82 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, plus six more in the playoffs.

Oh, and he also played in the World Cup for Team North America.

Matthews did participate in last year’s Worlds. He had six goals and three assists in 10 games on the way to a fourth-place finish.

Related: Gaudreau, Eichel commit to USA Worlds roster

Blackhawks fire their AHL head coach

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Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks fired longtime assistant coach Mike Kitchen.

Today, it was longtime AHL coach Ted Dent who got the ax.

Dent has been the head coach of the Rockford IceHogs the past six seasons, and he was an assistant coach for Chicago’s AHL affiliate the previous five seasons.

“The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization,” GM Stan Bowman said. “He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best.”

The IceHogs missed the playoffs this season, finishing last in the AHL’s Central Division with a record of 25-39-12.

Related: A furious Bowman addressed the Blackhawks’ postseason failure

Report: Canucks close to naming Travis Green head coach

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The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly set to announce Travis Green as their next head coach.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the announcement will be made in the next couple of days.

Green, who played over 1,000 games in the NHL including the playoffs, has been the head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica the past four seasons. Under his watch, the Comets have played mostly winning hockey in spite of some rather depleted lineups.

Ever since Willie Desjardins was fired at the end of the season, Green has been the leading candidate to take over in Vancouver. The only question, really, was whether he’d be a candidate for another NHL head-coaching vacancy, perhaps with the Florida Panthers.

Assuming no last-minute hiccups, Green will take over a transitioning Canucks team that has finished 28th and 29th overall in its last two seasons, respectively.

“We’re going to be young,” president of hockey ops Trevor Linden said. “Young players make mistakes. There’s going to be some growing pains. We need a coach that understands exactly where we are.”

Related: In farewell to Vancouver, Desjardins defends his approach to young players