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NBC Sports Group will be airing a record number of NHL games during the 2016-17 season (with key dates)

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The NBC Sports Group announced that they’ll be airing a record 106 games during the 2016-17 NHL season. 14 of those games will be on NBC while the other 92 games will be on NBCSN. Every game will be available via the NBC Sports Live Extra app and on NBCSports.com.

Here are some of the key dates you may want to circle on your calendar:

  • An opening night doubleheader on NBCSN on Wednesday, Oct. 12, featuring a pair of 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff rematches. The Chicago Blackhawks will host the rival St. Louis Blues at 8 p.m. ET, followed by a matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks at 10:30 p.m. ET.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins will raise their 2016 Stanley Cup Champion banner to the rafters on NBCSN on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. ET, when they open their season at home against the Washington Capitals in a rematch of their 2016 Second Round playoff series.
  • NBC will present the 2017 NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, home of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, on Jan. 2, 2017, at 1 p.m. ET.
  • NBC will air exclusive coverage of the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs from BMO Field in Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017, at 3 p.m. ET, and the 2017 NHL Stadium Series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins from Heinz Field, home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, on Feb. 25, 2017, in primetime.
  • NBCSN will present coverage of the NHL All-Star Game from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Calif., home of the Los Angeles Kings. NHL All-Star will take place Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29, and will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL All-Star Game.
  • NBC and NBCSN will combine to showcase a quadrupleheader on Hockey Day In America on Sunday, February 19. The action starts on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET, when the Capitals host the Rangers, followed by the Red Wings and Penguins at 3 p.m. ET.Hockey Day In America shifts to NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET, when the Buffalo Sabres host the Blackhawks, and concludes with the final matchup of the day at 8:30 p.m. ET, when the Sharks host the Boston Bruins.
  • The 2016-17 regular season on NBCSN will feature 24 Wednesday Night Rivalry telecasts, plus six Wednesday Nightcaps that will showcase Western Conference teams, including the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks. WNR will feature the biggest rivalries in the NHL, including Penguins-Capitals, Blues-Blackhawks, and Rangers-Islanders.
  • NBCSN will air 11 Sunday Night Hockey matchups on NBCSN, beginning on January 8. Matchups include Wild-Blackhawks, Flyers-Rangers, and Canadiens-Bruins, the most-played rivalry in NHL history.
  • The Blackhawks lead all clubs with 21 total appearances on NBC and NBCSN, followed by the Flyers with 20, and the Rangers and Bruins with 16 appearances apiece, respectively. *Note: some games are subject to local blackouts*
  • Capitals-Penguins, Kings-Sharks, and Flyers-Rangers are the most featured regular-season matchups, each appearing four times across NBC and NBCSN.
  • At least 54 of NBC and NBCSN’s 106 telecasts will feature at least one Western Conference team, and every U.S. team will appear on NBC or NBCSN in the regular season.

Here’s the full NBC Sports hockey schedule for 2016-17:

Date  

Away  

Home  

Network

Time (ET)

Wed., Oct. 12

St. Louis

Chicago

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 12

Los Angeles

San Jose

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Thur., Oct. 13

Washington

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Fri., Oct. 14

Chicago

Nashville

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Oct. 18

Philadelphia

Chicago

NBCSN

8:30 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 19

Detroit

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Oct. 25

Buffalo

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Oct. 25

Anaheim

San Jose

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 26

Boston

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

 8 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 1

Tampa Bay

N.Y. Islanders

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 1

San Jose

Arizona

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 2

Detroit

Philadelphia

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 9

Chicago

St. Louis

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 15

Tampa Bay

Detroit

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 16

Pittsburgh

Washington

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 22

St. Louis

Boston

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 23

Philadelphia

Tampa Bay

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 23

Chicago

San Jose

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Fri., Nov. 25

N.Y. Rangers

Philadelphia

NBC

1 p.m.

Tue., Nov. 29

Boston

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 30

Pittsburgh

N.Y. Islanders

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Nov. 30

San Jose

Los Angeles

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 7

Boston

Washington

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Dec. 13

Chicago

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 14

Boston

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 14

Philadelphia

Colorado

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 16

Los Angeles

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 21

Washington

Philadelphia

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 28

Philadelphia

St. Louis

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Dec. 29

New Jersey

Washington

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 1

Detroit

Toronto

NBC

3 p.m.

Mon., Jan 2

Chicago

St. Louis

NBC

1 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 3

Buffalo

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 3

Los Angeles

San Jose

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 4

N.Y. Rangers

Philadelphia

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 5

Buffalo

Chicago

NBCSN

8:30 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 8

Minnesota

Anaheim

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 10

Boston

St. Louis

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 11

Pittsburgh

Washington

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 12

Montreal

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 15

Minnesota

Chicago

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Mon., Jan. 16

Washington

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 17

Chicago

Colorado

NBCSN

9 p.m.

Wed., Jan 18

Boston

Detroit

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 18

San Jose

Los Angeles

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 22

Boston

Pittsburgh

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Mon., Jan. 23

San Jose

Colorado

NBCSN

9 p.m.

Tue., Jan. 24

St. Louis

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Jan. 25

Philadelphia

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 26

St. Louis

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 1

Boston

Washington

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 1

Colorado

Los Angeles

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 2

N.Y. Rangers

Buffalo

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 5

Los Angeles

Washington

NBC

12 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 6

St. Louis

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Tue., Feb. 7

Los Angeles

Tampa Bay

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 8

Chicago

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 9

N.Y. Islanders

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Fri., Feb. 10

Tampa Bay

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 12

Detroit

Minnesota

NBC

3 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 12

Montreal

Boston

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 13

N.Y. Rangers

Columbus

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 15

St. Louis

Detroit

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 15

Florida

San Jose

NBCSN

10:30 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 16

Colorado

Buffalo

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 19

Washington

N.Y. Rangers

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 19

Detroit

Pittsburgh

NBC

3 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 19

Chicago

Buffalo

NBCSN

6 p.m.

Sun. Feb. 19

Boston

San Jose

NBCSN

8:30 p.m.

Tue., Feb. 21

Chicago

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 22

Washington

Philadelphia

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Feb. 23

N.Y. Islanders

Montreal

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sat., Feb. 25

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

NBC

8 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 26

Boston

Dallas

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 26

St. Louis

Chicago

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 27

Los Angeles

Minnesota

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Tue., Feb. 28

Colorado

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 1

Pittsburgh

Chicago

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Mar. 2

N.Y. Rangers

Boston

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 5

St. Louis

Colorado

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 6

Dallas

Washington

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Mar. 7

Philadelphia

Buffalo

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 8

Detroit

Boston

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 12

N.Y. Rangers

Detroit

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 12

Minnesota

Chicago

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 13

Carolina

N.Y. Islanders

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Mar. 14

Chicago

Montreal

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 15

Pittsburgh

Philadelphia

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 15

Detroit

Colorado

NBCSN

10 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 20

Buffalo

Detroit

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Mar. 21

San Jose

Minnesota

NBCSN

8:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 22

N.Y. Islanders

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 26

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Mar. 26

Minnesota

Detroit

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Mon., Mar. 27

Chicago

Tampa Bay

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Wed., Mar. 29

Chicago

Pittsburgh

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Mar. 30

Dallas

Boston

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sun., Apr. 2

Boston

Chicago

NBC

12:30 p.m.

Sun., Apr. 2

Philadelphia

N.Y. Rangers

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Tue., Apr. 4

Chicago

Colorado

NBCSN

9 p.m.

Wed., Apr. 5

N.Y. Rangers

Washington

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Thur., Apr. 6

Nashville

Dallas

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Fri., Apr. 7

Tampa Bay

Montreal

NBCSN

7:30 p.m.

Sat., Apr. 8

Washington

Boston

NBC

3 p.m.

Sat., Apr. 8

TBD

TBD

NBCSN

TBD

Sun., Apr. 9

TBD

TBD

NBCSN

TBD

Game 7, and the next career-defining moment for Tuukka Rask

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One of my favorite NHL things to watch from a distance right now is the way the city of Boston collectively eats itself alive arguing about whether or not Tuukka Rask is a good big game goalie, or a good goalie, or a bad goalie, or a bad big game goalie, or just some kind of a goalie.

Just doing a quick browse around the city’s sports hub to get a vibe for what the mindset is heading into Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, live streamand you see him described as “divisive.” You see references to his poor (and to be fair, they are not great) numbers when the Bruins are facing elimination on home ice. And it even goes back before this game, like when he “again” left “a lot to be desired in a big game in Tampa.”

All of this matters, of course, because Rask hasn’t yet won a championship, and if a player hasn’t yet won a championship all of their postseason and big game shortcomings get magnified because, you know, they just can’t get it done when it matters, or something. Win one or two and nobody ever forgets it no matter how little you do after it.

You also had Bruins play-by-play man Jack Edwards taking the other side and calling out the Rask critics for not going to games and needing somebody to throw under the bus in a city that has had an embarrassment of riches in recent years when it comes to winning.

All of this makes Game 7 on Wednesday one of the defining moments of Rask’s career.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

At least until the next big game that will be the next defining moment of his career, with the result from that game — no matter what it is — making us forget about the result from this defining moment — no matter what it is.

If he wins, he came through in the clutch with a big game and rewrites the narrative of his career. At least temporarily.

If he loses, it is just another game where Rask came up small.

As an uninterested third party observer, it is all tremendous theatre, especially when you consider the reality that over the past 10 years Rask has been one of the best and most productive goalies in the NHL.

A goalie that probably 25 or 26 general managers and coaches in the NHL would have sold their souls to get.

That production is not just limited to regular season success, either. Among goalies with at least 50 playoff games played, Rask has the third-best postseason save percentage in NHL history.

That is worth something.

Every playoff game is a big game. And while the critics are not necessarily wrong to point out his record and struggles in games (the numbers are what they are,  you can not hide from them), there is also something to be said for the fact he has only had to play in six games in his career where the Bruins were even facing elimination. They’ve won five series in his career where they never once had to face elimination, including two on their way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013.

Comebacks make for compelling viewing and high drama, but there’s a lot to be said for blowing a team away early and not needing to rely on a comeback.

In one of those postseason series wins — a Conference Final, no less — he allowed just two goals in a four-game sweep against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Are those not big games, too? Of course they are. Did he not come through for the Bruins against a team that had lit up the rest of the Eastern Conference before running into him and the Bruins? Of course he did. But because he and the Bruins lost to a buzzsaw of mini-dynasty in the Cup Final it gets forgotten (as does the fact he had a .931 save percentage it that series — maybe the guys in front of him should have scored more than a combined three goals in Games 5 and 6).

But this isn’t necessarily about just Tuukka Rask.

This is about the way we watch and analyze sports. We selectively pick and choose what is important based on what our preconceived ideas of a player or team are. We also observe these things from a bubble that is limited to what is happening in our immediate area. And that’s where Edwards kind of touched on something important when he remarked about Boston’s “embarrassment of riches” in recent years and needing to find something to be controversial.

Cities whose teams win a lot of championships — Boston and Pittsburgh come to mind here immediately — lose all perspective for how rare championships actually are. And they get greedy. They get spoiled. They get an unquenchable thirst for more and a belief that they deserve that next championship more than the other city because they’ve experienced it and winning is what they do. When the local teams inevitably fall short — and they always do eventually — somebody has to be the fall guy. Somebody has to take the blame for the missed opportunity. The city needs its pound of flesh to make itself feel better for losing.

Sometimes that pound of flesh comes from the best player for not scoring in the big game that the team happened to lose. Other times it is the goalie. But we always come for it.

Has Rask struggled in games where the Bruins are facing elimination? The numbers are what they are. But here’s the thing we lose sight of: Most goalies end up with poor records in elimination games because most teams end their season with a loss. Only one team ends its postseason with a win. This is true in every sport. There are 123 professional sports teams in the four major North American men’s sports leagues. Do you know how many of them have won a championship — just one — over the past 15 years? Only 37 of them. Roughly 30 percent. That means over the past 15 years 70 percent of the sports watching population has had their season end with bitter disappointment.

Championships are rare. Extremely rare. They are extraordinarily hard to win and there is never any one particular thing or player that is responsible for why a team won or lost one. More often than not your team is going to lose the next big game. That is just the nature of the beast that is professional sports.

So, back to Rask and Wednesday’s Game 7 against Boston.

What’s going to happen? No idea. He might play great and win. He might play so-s0 and lose. He might get pulled in the first period. He might play really well and lose to a goalie that just so happens to be a little bit better at the other end of the ice (which is exactly what happened in Game 6 in Toronto).

No matter what happens Rask is going to be the same goalie — one of the best in the league over the past decade — that he was coming into the game. We’ll just use this one game to largely define him and his career.

Until the next one.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Penguins will be without Malkin, Hagelin for Game 1 vs. Capitals

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When the Pittsburgh Penguins open their second-round series against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night they will be doing so without two of their top forwards.

Coach Mike Sullivan announced on Wednesday that even though both players skated on their own before practice, neither player will be available for the series opener. It is possible that Malkin will be ready for Game 2, but Hagelin will not even travel with the team to Washington.

Malkin was injured in Game 5 of the Penguins’ opening round series against the Philadelphia Flyers when he was involved in a collision with Jakub Voracek. He returned to the game but did not play in the team’s Game 6 series-clinching win.

It was in that game that Hagelin was injured when he was hit by Flyers forward Claude Giroux.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Even with the two injuries the Penguins were still able to score six goals over the final 25 minutes of regulation, including four from Jake Guentzel, to leave Philadelphia with an 8-5 win, winning the series in six games.

Still, this is not a great way for the Penguins to be starting the second round against a better team. One of the big advantages the Penguins have had over the Capitals in the past two years has been their depth as the second-and third-lines did a lot of the damage in each series. Without Malkin and Hagelin, even if it is just for one or two games, they lose a lot of that advantage.

In Malkin’s absence on Sunday the Penguins elevated Riley Sheahan to the second line so they could keep the Derick Brassard, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary line together. That line has been excellent for them since it was put together.

Based on their practice lines from Wednesday that seems to be the way the Penguins will be approaching Game 1 as Sheahan and Dominik Simon skated on the second line next to Phil Kessel, while the Brassard-Rust-Sheary line remained together. Sidney Crosby will continue to center the top line between Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist, while Zach Aston-Reese, Carter Rowney, and Tom Kuhnhackl made up the fourth line.

Related: NHL announces second round opening games.

————

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Heinen over Wingels right choice for Bruins in Game 7

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The Boston Bruins will make one change to their lineup heading into Game 7 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, live stream) against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Danton Heinen, who was a healthy scratch in Game 6, will be back in the lineup, while Tommy Wingels, who’s played in three of the six games during the series, will watch from the press box again on Wednesday. On paper, this doesn’t seem to be a significant change, but head coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t just making changes for the sake of making changes.

Neither player has made an offensive impact in the series. Wingels has no points and a plus-1 rating in three games, while Heinen has no points and a minus-1 rating in five contests. Even though neither player has popped up on the scoresheet, there’s a significant gap when it comes to their advanced stats. Heinen has a CF% of 49.49, which doesn’t jump off the page, but when you compare it to Wingels’ CF% (39.34), you realize that there’s a significant difference. To further point the arrow in Heinen’s direction, the 22-year-old has zone starts in the offensive zone just 37.5 percent of the time compared to 47.62 percent for Wingels.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

So, in terms of offense, neither player has really contributed, but it appears to be pretty clear that the odds are on Heinen’s side when it comes to the way they’ve played this postseason.

If we take a look at the standard numbers during the regular season, it’s obvious that Heinen was the more productive player. The rookie had 16 goals and 47 points in 77 games, which is far from terrible for his first year in the NHL. Wingels, 30, had nine goals and 18 points in 75 games with the ‘Hawks and Bruins.

Getting an extra night off during the series could help Heinen find his game. And based on his comments after Tuesday’s practice, it sounds like the coaching staff made their instructions clear. Heinen mentioned that he needs to be more assertive, stronger on the puck and he needs to win puck battles so that he can have the puck on his stick a little more often.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Amid bevy of head shots, NHL attempts to explain rationale

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Drew Doughty watched other playoff games this season and couldn’t believe that George Parros, the NHL’s discipline czar, had suspended him for a head shot.

”I saw four hits last night that deserved more than that,” the Los Angeles Kings defenseman said.

Doughty’s one-game suspension was the first of several in the first round for a hit to the head of an opponent. Toronto’s Nazem Kadri got three games and Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey and Nashville’s Ryan Hartman got one game each. Washington’s Tom Wilson and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov were among those who got off without significant punishment.

The criticism, from Columbus to Colorado and from New Jersey to Los Angeles, was loud enough that the NHL’s department of player safety put out a video last week explaining its reasoning for suspending Doughty and Hartman but not Kucherov or Predators center Ryan Johansen.

”The illegal check to the head rule is often misunderstood or misstated,” the league said in the video. ”Illegal checks to the head and legal full body hits often look similar at first glance because the difference between legal and illegal can be a matter of inches in a sport that moves fast.”

Discontent over the goalie interference rule has been grabbing headlines for weeks, but the head shot discussion carries far more serious implications for a league still grappling with how best to protect its players. What’s acceptable has evolved from the early days of hockey through Scott Stevens’ then-legal crushing blow on Eric Lindros in 2000 to today, where checks to the head are parsed frame-by-frame to determine if a line was crossed. The NHL, too, is still facing a federal class-action concussion lawsuit filed by former players alleging it failed to warn them about the health risks associated with head injuries.

Meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors last week, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman insisted there was nothing new about the subject. Asked about player safety, Bettman said Parros is off to good start in the former enforcer’s first season as vice president of player safety. He said he is proud of player safety’s transparency in the form of videos detailing the reasons for suspending a player.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

”Sometimes we get accused of splitting hairs, but that’s exactly what they have to do,” Bettman said. ”I think he’s reached the appropriate conclusion when it’s been a hockey play that doesn’t transcend the rules and I think he’s been appropriately punitive in cases where it warranted it. There’s never going to be a shortage of critics of what they do.”

Doughty, a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, said he hit Vegas forward William Carrier‘s shoulder first before his head in Game 1. Kings coach John Stevens added: ”As long as I’m on the earth, I’m going to agree to disagree with that decision.”

The league video emphasized that an illegal check to the head concerns a player’s head being the main point of contact, not the first point of contact. Based on experience, the league said, a player’s head snapping back on these kinds of hits indicates significant head contact.

Los Angeles general manager Rob Blake, who worked under Brendan Shanahan in the department of player safety from 2010-2013, said it’s a tough job while at the same time reiterating the organization was unhappy with the suspension of Doughty. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen was upset forward Josh Anderson was ejected from Game 1 against Washington for boarding Michal Kempny and called a hit to the head of Alexander Wennberg from Washington’s Tom Wilson that got only a minor penalty ”dangerous.”

Wilson was not given a hearing or suspended. Wennberg missed Games 2, 3 and 4 and the hit was not included in the NHL’s explanation video.

Columbus coach John Tortorella didn’t want to weigh in on the lack of punishment for Wilson, a common refrain across the NHL because nothing can be done after the fact. For a more specific reason, Bettman doesn’t weigh in on suspensions because any appeals go to him. He does look at suspension videos before they are issued.

”I watch as a fan to make sure they make sense,” Bettman said. ”I want to make sure the videos we send out are clear.”

”I think player safety as a whole has done an extraordinarily good job of changing the culture,” Bettman said.” We have players not making certain types of hits anymore. We have players who are more accountable for their conduct and understand it and I believe that they’ve been consistent.”

AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, and Sports Deputy Editor for Newsgathering Howie Rumberg in New York contributed.