RaffiTorres

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

Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight

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Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.

Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:

A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:

For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.

Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Some reading to get you pumped up:

– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).

Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.