While Bettman could conceivably alter the punishment to a satisfactory level, the natural question is: how long might it take if Thornton wants to appeal further to an independent arbitrator?
The 36-year-old has already missed six games since that Dec. 7 incident with Brooks Orpik. It seems certain that he’ll miss Saturday’s game and maybe Monday’s contest while awaiting Bettman’s announcement.
The Bruins get a holiday break between that Monday (Dec. 23) contest and their next game on Friday, Dec. 27, but that same winter break might make it difficult to line up an independent arbitrator quickly.
Here’s the remaining nine games Thornton might sit out, just to give an idea of how much time he may miss before being able to appeal to that last level:
Already missed: six games (Dec. 8 – 19)
Game 7: Dec. 21
Game 8: Dec. 23
Game 9: Dec. 27
Game 10: Dec. 28
Game 11: Dec. 31
Game 12: Jan. 2
Game 13: Jan. 4
Game 14: Jan. 7
Game 15: Jan. 9
It all makes you wonder if it will really be worth it for the rugged forward to take this process that far. As it currently stands, he’s eligible to return against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 11.
There are still some variables to work out, as Bettman’s announcement could provide another twist or two.
McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.
With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:
1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP
As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.
Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.
The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.
Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style