Michael Grabner has had no problem filling the net for Austria’s Olympic hockey team. However, the same can’t be said about the season he’s having back in the National Hockey League with the New York Islanders.
Grabner scored twice for Austria on Sunday, as that nation recorded a 3-1 victory over Norway for its first win of the competition in Sochi. That will go nicely with his hat trick in the Austria’s tournament-opening loss to Finland last week. Five goals totaled through three preliminary games. Not bad at all. Perspective: Austria, as a team, has only scored seven goals.
But back in the NHL, scoring has proven to be difficult this season for Grabner. The speedy 26-year-old forward has only nine goals and 20 points in 56 games this season with the Islanders. A 34-goal scorer in 2010-11, Grabner has seen his goal totals drop significantly every season since then.
Perhaps what he’s doing for Austria in Sochi can help propel him to better production with New York.
“I should have probably 20, but I didn’t score as many goals over there as I want yet,” Grabner said, as per the Associated Press. “It’s nice to get some here, and maybe get the confidence when I go back.”
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.