A series that many expect to be full of physicality — and bad blood — will be ratcheted up a notch tonight.
San Jose forward Raffi Torres will play against the Kings in Game 1 of their first-round series on Thursday, marking the first time he’ll suit up after missing the final 17 games of the regular season.
Torres missed virtually the entire campaign after tearing up his knee in an exhibition game against Anaheim. He initially returned to the Sharks lineup on Feb. 27, but only played five games before shutting it down again to re-strengthen the ligaments in preparation for the playoffs.
Ah yes, the playoffs. The place where Torres has established his reputation.
Known as one of the most feared hitters in the NHL, Torres has twice been suspended during the postseason for delivering big blows: One for drilling Chicago forward Marian Hossa and, most recently, for hitting Kings forward Jarret Stoll during last year’s second-round series:
The Stoll hit was just one of the many that’s led to serious animosity between L.A. and San Jose.
Earlier this season, Kings captain Dustin Brown sidelined Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl for 45 games with this hit:
The Sharks were irate following the incident, and not just because they lost the services of their rookie sensation, who had 10 goals and 25 points in his first 35 games. GM Doug Wilson said he was “disappointed” in Brown’s lack of concern for Hertl — following the game, Brown said the refs got the call wrong — and in the first rematch between L.A. and San Jose, Tommy Wingels blasted Brown for declining his invite to fight, saying the Kings captain “doesn’t want to own up” for what he did to Hertl.
The series gets underway tonight from the SAP Center in San Jose. You can catch it live on NBSN starting at 10:30 p.m. ET.
It’s been one development after another in goal for Ottawa this season, and that narrative continued on Monday.
The Sens announced that third-stringer Andrew Hammond, who’s only appeared in six games this year, will require surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip and miss the next three months of action. It’ll be a season-ending procedure.
It’s been a tumultuous season for Hammond, to say the least.
Two years removed from being the darling of Ottawa’s miraculous playoff push, Hammond was soundly beaten out for the No. 2 gig by Mike Condon, who arrived via trade from Pittsburgh early in the season. There were minutes up for grabs after No. 1 Craig Anderson took a leave while his wife went through cancer treatment, but Hammond was unable to provide consistent netminding and, as a result, Condon got a lion’s share of the playing time.
At that point, Hammond’s future with the organization seemed in doubt. There were rumblings Ottawa was trying to trade him before waiving him in November (and again in February).
Around the same time of that second waiving, it was learned the Sens had began contract extension talks with Condon.
Hammond, 29, has one year left on the three-year, $4.05 million extension signed back in ’15. He carries a $1.35M cap hit.
This morning on Buffalo radio, former Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters offered a mea culpa of sorts regarding his role in a youth hockey brawl on Saturday.
Peters admitted that he did “not do a good job this weekend communicating” with his team that fighting is “unacceptable” in youth sports.
“I can’t discuss anything in regard to the altercation,” Peters added, per the Buffalo News. “I have to move on from that.”
From the Associated Press’ story on the brawl:
Former NHL enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended indefinitely as coach of a youth hockey team pending a Buffalo police investigation into his role in an on-ice brawl.
Buffalo Junior Sabres president Kevyn Adams announced the suspension Sunday, a day after the melee occurred during a game between the Peters-coached 15-and-Under team and the Ontario-based Hamilton Junior Bulldogs.
A video posted on YouTube shows the fight escalating into the Sabres’ bench, when Peters becomes involved in attempting to separate the players. At one point, the 36-year-old appears to shove a Hamilton player backward onto the ice.
According to a person familiar with the situation, Peters told Junior Sabres officials that he slipped while attempting to get one of the Hamilton players away from Buffalo’s bench. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conversation was to remain private.
Peters played 229 NHL games for the Sabres and Devils, racking up 650 PIM with just four goals and three assists.
With back-to-back hat tricks, plus two more goals to boot, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg was today named the NHL’s first star of the week.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were the second and third stars, respectively.
But Forsberg was a slam dunk for the top honor. After getting off to a slow start this season, the 22-year-old winger now has 24 goals — and, more importantly, his Predators have a seven-point playoff cushion.
The Preds went 3-0-1 last week, which included back-to-back wins over two tough opponents, Washington and Edmonton, over the weekend.
With three goals Thursday against Colorado, Forsberg became the first player since Alex Burrows in 2010 to register back-to-back hat tricks.
A pair of forwards were scooped off waivers on Monday morning.
The Lightning snared Greg McKegg from in-state rival Florida, while the Blue Jackets picked up journeyman Zac Dalpe from Minnesota, per ESPN.
McKegg, 24, was originally a Maple Leafs draftee (third round, ’10) that Florida acquired via trade two years ago. He appeared in 31 games for the Panthers this year, scoring six points, but also spent time with the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Dalpe, 27, has bounced around the league throughout his professional career, though he has spent the last two campaigns with the Wild organization. He’s appeared in more games for Iowa than Minnesota, scoring a goal and three points in nine NHL games this year.
There is a connection between Dalpe and Columbus. The former had a career year under Jackets head coach John Tortorella in Vancouver during the ’13-14 campaign — that season, Dalpe played 55 games and finished with four goals and seven points.