According to St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, his team has a slight “problem” when it plays the Chicago Blackhawks.
This “problem” is easy enough to understand, even for the most casual of hockey fans; however, it’s a bit more difficult to solve.
“They just don’t give us the puck,” Hitchcock said today, per the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc. “It’s an issue.”
Indeed, the Blackhawks are one of the best puck-possession teams in the NHL — a big reason they won the Stanley Cup a few months ago. (And also a big reason they rank in the bottom half of the league in things like blocked shots and hits, since those are things that teams without the puck do.)
For Hitchcock and the Blues, it’s a challenge that awaits tonight in St. Louis when the ‘Hawks come for a visit.
Granted, St. Louis has its own strengths. The Blues are big, they’re strong, and if they can catch you, they can hurt you.
Whoever ends up winning tonight is likely to be the team that’s able to dictate its preferred style the best.
“I don’t think they can play the way we play and I know we can’t play the way they play,” said Hitchcock, per Mark Lazerus of the Sun-Times.
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: Bullet dodged?