Martin St. Louis

TGIF: Why Lightning fans can be upset with St. Louis

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Saturday: Boston at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. ET)

If I were a Lightning fan, I’m not sure which Martin St. Louis quote would bother me the most. Would it be this? “I felt it was time to look out for me” (after Steve Yzerman didn’t originally name St. Louis to Team Canada, as if it was some sort of egregious oversight, which it wasn’t.) Or, would it be this? “It’s not like I’ve played a ton of playoff hockey in the last little while, and as you get older you want to get more kicks at the can.” Tough call there. As much as the woe-is-me routine really rubs the wrong way, I think I’d have to go with the second one. Because newsflash, Marty: YOU’D HAVE HAD A KICK AT THE CAN IF YOU’D STAYED IN TAMPA BAY. It’s unfortunate the Lightning and Rangers don’t have a very good chance at meeting in the playoffs, because that would be something. It could still happen, but just looking at the standings, there’d need to be an upset or two.

Saturday: Phoenix at Washington (7 p.m. ET)

The only reason I picked this game is because I wanted to show the empty-net goal from the Capitals’ 6-4 loss to the Flyers on Wednesday:

What you just saw was a 6-on-5 for Washington, which somehow allowed itself to get outnumbered 3 to 2 in the corner, with a predictable result.

source:

In case you’re wondering who to blame there, no, it wasn’t Alex Ovechkin’s fault. That was Joel Ward’s responsibility to recognize the situation, and he was way too late to wake up.

Why does it always seem to be the Capitals that make these kinds of mistakes?

Saturday: Minnesota at Dallas (8:30 p.m. ET)

Everyone knew it was going to take time for the Stars to climb their way back up the Dallas sports hierarchy, but there sure were a lot of empty seats for last night’s 6-1 win over Vancouver. I wonder if that was kind of disappointing for the players considering the importance of the game, and how well they performed in it. The Stars’ average attendance this season is just 13,978, which is higher than only one team in the entire NHL, the Phoenix Coyotes (13,357). Making the playoffs for the first time since 2008 would help generate some buzz in Big D, obviously. I wouldn’t even put it past the Stars to pull a first-round upset. This is a good, exciting team. Hopefully it translates into better crowds soon.

Saturday: Calgary at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET)

Why do you need to watch this game between two non-playoff teams? Because if the Canucks lose to the Flames, at home and on national TV, Kevin Bieksa and company are going to experience a brand new “rock bottom.” By the way, here’s something that rarely gets mentioned when Vancouver’s management team is taken to task: when the Canucks gave Roberto Luongo that 12-year, $64 million contract in 2009, it was basically a big middle finger to the powers that be in the NHL head office. Gary Bettman hated those front-loaded structures, and he didn’t make that a secret. While the Luongo contract didn’t technically violate the terms of the CBA, it definitely violated the spirit, and Mike Gillis, along with ownership, were naïve to think there wouldn’t be consequences. Enter the cap-recapture penalty in the new CBA, a.k.a. Bettman’s Revenge, which was a huge barrier to trading Luongo last summer, and could still hurt the Canucks down the line.

Sunday: Detroit at NY Rangers (12:30 p.m. ET)

On NBC. Streaming live, too. When I read the story about the weak Canadian dollar possibly resulting in a lower-than-expected salary cap for next season, the first player that came to mind was Brad Richards. I’ve written about this before. The way their cap situation looks right now, and especially if the cap doesn’t go up as much as originally expected, the Rangers will almost certainly have to use their remaining compliance buyout on the 33-year-old center. But here’s the thing: Richards is also New York’s leading scorer, with 44 points in 63 games. If he does become an unrestricted free agent, there won’t be any shortage of suitors for his services.

Mike Yeo gets a vote of confidence; Wild will scratch Vanek, Zucker vs. STL

Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo talks to Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Associated Press
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Things haven’t been going well with Minnesota’s hockey team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean changes are coming via firings or trades.

On Saturday, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher reiterated his confidence in his team and his coaching staff going forward.

The Wild have won just three of 15 games since Jan. 1 and they’re currently riding a four-game losing streak.

The Wild have been through mid-season slumps before.

Last year, Yeo lost it during a team practice and that seemed to spark his team, as they were able to turn things around and make it to the postseason.

Will a similar tactic work, again? Probably not.

As PHT pointed out earlier this week, this slump might not be like the previous ones.

The Wild are just one point behind Nashville (with a game in a hand) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but will their top guns be able to get them out of this funk?

The numbers aren’t pretty:

Zach Parise has no points in his last four games and just one goal in his last nine contests.

Thomas Vanek hasn’t scored in eight games. He has just one assist during that span.

Mikko Koivu has four assists in 15 games since the new year began.

Mikael Granlund has two assists since Jan. 7 and he has a a minus-11 rating since then.

Jason Zucker has one assist in 11 games. He hasn’t scored since Jan. 7.

How will Yeo get his team’s attention this time around?

Here’s your answer:

Hossa doesn’t think the coach’s challenge is “good for the league”

Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, left, Marian Hossa (81) and Bryan Bickell (29) react after Los Angeles Kings' Jake Muzzin scored a goal  during the third period in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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Marian Hossa isn’t a fan of the coach’s challenge.

The veteran winger ripped the NHL’s new challenge system after he had a goal called back in Thursday’s game against Arizona.

–To watch the overturned goal, click here

“I thought that was [a] joke,” Hossa said, per the Sun-Times. “I tried to battle in front of the net and I don’t have any intention to touch the goalie, just try to battle through two guys and put the puck in the net. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the playoffs, if there’s going to be calls after calls after calls. But I don’t think it’s good for the league.”

The goal was called back because as Hossa was battling in front, he got tangled up with goaltender Louis Domingue‘s stick.

It’s safe to say that Joel Quenneville wasn’t pleased with the decision:

One of the main criticisms of the challenge system is that the review is conducted on a small tablet by the referees on the ice instead of someone in a war room in Toronto or New York.

Every time a goal is disallowed, the NHL writes a blog explaining why the decision was made.

Here’s what they said about the call on Hossa:

The Referee determined that Hossa interfered with Domingue before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Chicago Blackhawks.

Do you think the referee got the call right?

Report: Penguins will host Flyers in an outdoor game in 2017

In this photo made with a fisheye lens, fireworks go off above Heinz Field as fans hold cards with a message honoring veterans before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Associated Press
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It looks like the battle of Pennsylvania will head outdoors in 2017, according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to host the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field next year. It’s still unclear if the game will be a Stadium Series tilt or the NHL’s annual Winter Classic game on Jan. 1.

Here’s an excerpt from Burnside’s story:

The two state rivals have been talking for months about a plan for an outdoor game or series of outdoor games. There was discussion about playing an outdoor game at Penn State, but it’s believed financial demands by the university soured the teams on the neutral site as an option, so the two franchises have been looking at a reciprocal arrangement with an outdoor game played one year in Pittsburgh and a second game in Philadelphia perhaps the next year.

Although the Steelers and Penguins have a good working relationship, there could be a scheduling conflict if the NHL wants to make this game the Winter Classic.

Jan. 1 will be the final day of the NFL’s regular season . Should the Steelers host a Wild Card game the following week, they’d likely decide that a hockey game on their field isn’t the wisest decision.

To avoid this dilemma, the league would just have to move the game to Dec. 31.

This would be the second time Heinz Field hosts an outdoor game (2011).

Islanders officially activate Johnny Boychuk (upper body) off IR

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The New York Islanders got some good news on the injury front, as they’ve activated Johnny Boychuk off injured reserve.

The 32-year-old missed a total of 11 games because of an upper-body injury he suffered in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 31 (above).

New York went 5-5-1 without Boychuk, and they conceded four goals or more in five of those contests.

In 38 games with Boychuk, the Islanders had allowed four goals or more just six times.

The Islanders currently sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division. They’re three points behind the Rangers (two games in hand) and 18 points behind the first place Capitals.

In a corresponding move, they assigned defenseman Scott Mayfield to the AHL.