Jason Garrison,  Jarret Stoll

West update: Wild card teams stay alive (for now)


While the East playoff picture only grows more complicated, the West seems primed to be rather straightforward. Even so, lower conference contenders avoided mathematical elimination for at least one day. Here’s a quick look at how everything shakes out after Saturday’s action:

  • Much like current second-ranked wild card team Dallas, the Minnesota Wild strengthened their lead on one of the final two wild card spots by winning. In their case, they soundly beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0.
  • The idle Phoenix Coyotes are almost certainly the only credible threat to usurp the Stars as they’re only one point behind.
  • Still, the Nashville Predators are now on a three-game winning streak, with victories against the Capitals, Ducks and Sharks. That included a 3-0 win against San Jose on Saturday. They’re also 6-1-1 in their last eight games. At minimum, they don’t seem interested in tanking, which is interesting because their next to games come against Dallas (Tuesday) and Phoenix (Thursday).
  • The Vancouver Canucks have been sagging by comparison, but they managed a tough 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings to stay alive for at least another day. The Predators own tiebreaker advantages for 10th place in the West, however.
  • Out in the Central Division, the Colorado Avalanche defeated the St. Louis Blues to give themselves a three-point advantage over the Chicago Blackhawks for second place in the division. Pacific Division teams in action struggled on Saturday, as the San Jose Sharks failed to hop over the idle Anaheim Ducks for first in the Pacific while the Kings lost that game against Vancouver.

Here is how it all looks in the West after Saturday:


Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.