Ruff challenges Stars: ‘If you have to take a penalty to protect your goaltender, you take a penalty’


The Dallas Stars didn’t react much after Nicklas Backstrom collided with Kari Lehtonen during Saturday’s 2-1 win at the American Airlines Center.

The next time someone contacts Lehtonen, though, it’ll likely draw a response.

That’s what Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff suggested in the wake of Saturday’s game, saying that while the hit on Lehtonen was blatant — “I put that one on the low end,” he explained — the Stars will need to do whatever it takes to protect him in the future.

“First and foremost, if you have to take a penalty to protect your goaltender, you take a penalty,” Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “That’s really what it amounts to.

“Nobody takes liberties with your goaltender.”

Here’s the Lehtonen-Backstrom collision:

Ruff’s insight into this topic is interesting. Two seasons ago, while coaching in Buffalo, Ruff watched as Boston’s Milan Lucic bowled over Ryan Miller and wasn’t challenged by any Sabres skaters.

That incident seemed to unravel the team. Paul Gaustad said he was “embarrassed” by the club’s response while Ruff said “I didn’t feel we reacted well to it,” before suggesting if it was open season on goalies, “then let’s get at it.”

On Monday, he said much of the same to the Morning News.

“It doesn’t matter to me who is on the ice,” Ruff said, delivering maybe the most important message of the discussion. “If someone is taking advantage of your goaltender, you all respond…all five guys respond.”

Old school? Ruff was asked.

“Old school,” he said. “Everybody ropes, everybody rides.”

Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

Frank Vatrano David Krejci
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The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

Here’s his first goal of the night:

While this is his overtime game-winner:

It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy

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Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.

Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.

Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:

Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.

If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.

Check out this incredible shot of that moment:

Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.