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Goalie Nods: Carey Price looks to bounce back against Capitals

It has been a pretty wild week for Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price.

First, he avoided supplemental discipline from the league when he lost his cool and started to beat up New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri following an encounter in the goal crease.

Then, on Friday night, he was pulled from a game for the first time since 2014 when he was benched after giving up four goals on only 18 shots in a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks. His reaction on the way to the bench received a little bit of attention.

As should be expected, the Canadiens are going right back to their best player on Saturday night when the team takes on the Washington Capitals. If recent history is any indicator, you should expect a big bounce back game from Price.

Friday’s game was only the 10th time since the start of the 2014-15 season that Price faced at least 18 shots in a game and finished with a save percentage lower than .850. He has a combined .940 save percentage (251 saves on 267 shots) in the starts that have followed those performances. He is the best goalie in hockey, but he is still human and can still have an off night from time to time.

It is very rare for him to have two in a row.

The Canadiens are probably going to need him to be strong on Saturday against a Capitals team that has won six games in a row.

The Capitals will be starting Braden Holtby in net, making this a matchup of the past two Vezina Trophy winners.

Elsewhere…

— In the afternoon games Steve Mason went for the Flyers on Saturday afternoon as he tried to help the team extend its winning streak to 11 games. He was opposed by Antti Niemi in the Dallas crease. Mike Smith and Darcy Kuemper went for the Coyotes and Wild.

Cam Ward goes again for the Hurricanes after he started on Friday night in a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals, stopping 23 out of 26 shots. Look for Robin Lehner to go at the other end of the ice for the Buffalo Sabres.

— After stopping 31 shots on Thursday in a win over the Boston Bruins, Jonathan Bernier gets the call again for the Anaheim Ducks when they visit the slumping Detroit Red Wings. Petr Mrazek gets the start for a Detroit team that is just 8-12-4 in its past 24 games and has won only two games in regulation during that stretch.

— With Cory Schneider going through a little bit of a slump and the Devils playing again on Sunday against the New York Rangers Keith Kinkaid goes for them on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. Kinkaid has a .920 save percentage in his seven appearances for the Devils this season. Mike Condon goes for the Senators. He has given up 10 goals in his past three appearances on just 61 shots (only an .836 save percentage).

Frederik Andersen gets the start for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they host the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have yet to announce their starter for Saturday night, but with Matt Murray starting five consecutive games, including their 1-0 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night, you should expect to see Marc-Andre Fleury get the start in this one.

Corey Crawford is back skating for the Chicago Blackhawks, but he is still not quite yet ready to play. That means Scott Darling gets another start when the Blackhawks visit the St. Louis Blues. He has won four of his past five starts, helping the team get nine out of a possible 10 points during that stretch. The Blues are going with Jake Allen.

— Nashville goes with Juuse Saros when the Predators host Jimmy Vesey (originally drafted by the Predators but did not sign) and the New York Rangers. No word yet from the Rangers, but Henrik Lundqvist seems to be the likely starter.

Ben Bishop is expected to get the start for the Tampa Bay Lightning when they visit the Edmonton Oilers. Cam Talbot, as he has done for almost the entire season, goes for the Oilers. Talbot is facing a massive workload this season and is already playing in his 29th game. Talbot leads all NHL goalies in appearances, shots faced, and minutes played.

Canucks’ Horvat out a week with upper-body injury

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The Canucks will resume their preseason schedule on Thursday, although it appears right now that Bo Horvat will likely not be in the lineup.

Just prior to puck drop against the L.A. Kings on Saturday, the Canucks announced that Horvat is expected to be out a week with an upper-body injury.

Per Dan Murphy of Sportsnet, the injury occurred on a hit from Drew Doughty during the first game of the two-game exhibition series between the Canucks and Kings in China.

The good news for the Canucks is that their regular season schedule begins on Oct. 7, which would give Horvat two weeks to get fully healthy and ready for the opener against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.

The 22-year-old Horvat enjoyed a 20-goal, 52-point season in 2016-17, emerging as the team’s leading scorer and one of the few bright spots during another disappointing season for the Canucks. As a result, he signed a six-year, $33 million contract extension earlier this month.

Related: Horvat believes he is ‘just scratching the surface’

Report: NHL has already made adjustment on slashing, faceoff calls

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The NHL preseason began with the league trying to crackdown on slashing and faceoff violations.

The early results were a lot of confusion, a ton of penalties, and a lot of griping from players, former referees and media about the confusion and the number of penalties.

Former NHL referee Paul Stewart griped on Twitter that it was taking away from the officials ability to call a game by feel and hockey sense. The Winnipeg Jets brought in retired referee Paul Devorski to work with their players in an effort to help them gain an understanding of what the league was looking for and to cut down on penalties.

It was obvious that something was going to have to give.

Either the players would have to adjust to the new standard implemented by the league, or the league would make its own adjustment and scale things back a bit.

In most matters like this in the NHL, it usually tends to be the latter.

That also seems to be the case here as Sportsnet’s John Shannon Tweeted on Saturday morning that the league has already sent a note to its officials to “dial it back” a bit when it comes slashing and faceoff violation calls.

Well, that was fast.

The enforcement of the faceoff rule seemed like a minor thing that really wasn’t going to make much of a difference, but the emphasis on slashing is one that needs to be kept (and extended to interference, holding, hooking or any other sort of obstruction), especially given the way some of the league’s star players are defended where slashing down on their hands or stick seems to be the preferred way of playing them. Not only from a player safety standpoint to help reduce injuries (getting hit with a stick can break bones … or fingers) but because the drop in power plays over the past decade (the “let them play” mindset) has been one of the many factors in the continued decline in goal scoring across the league.

If the NHL is serious about changing this stuff the onus needs to be on the players to adjust, not the officials. Set the standard. Call it consistently. The players will figure out what they can and can not do.

Anything less than that basically just amounts to the league saying, “hey guys, we would really like you to cut down on the slashes” and hoping that the players listen. But as long as they can get away with it, they will not listen.

Capitals’ Tom Wilson has a discipline hearing today for interference

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The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Saturday morning that it has scheduled a disciplinary hearing with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson as a result of his late hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas on Friday night.

It will be the first hearing for the department under the direction of its new leader, George Parros.

This particular incident happened early in the third period of the Blues’ 4-0 win on Friday night.

Here is a look at the entire sequence, including the fight that Wilson found himself in with Dmitri Jaskin in response to the hit.

It is clear that Wilson delivered his hit long after Thomas was in possession of the puck.

Even though Wilson always seems to be getting attention for some of his hits and physical play he has never been suspended in his career. His only punishment from the league has been in the form of two fines — one for diving/embellishment, and another for kneeing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary during the 2015-16 playoffs.

The fact that he has a hearing for his hit would seem to indicate a suspension might be on the horizon. The only question is whether or not it will just end his preseason (the Capitals still have four more games) or if it will carry over into the regular season.

Antti Niemi had to make a save with his bare hand

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Antti Niemi made 31 saves in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, and 30 of them were pretty standard.

The one that wasn’t came in the third period when he lost his glove during a scramble around the net and still managed to instinctively make a save on the puck. With his bare hand.

Niemi said after the game, via the Tribune Review, that he thought the referees would stop the play after his glove came off, and when they didn’t “I just kept playing.”

You can watch the play by clicking here.

Probably not the type of thing you want to see happening because that looks like a great way to break a bone (or the entire hand) and get sidelined for extended period of time. Niemi said the officials told him there will no longer be an automatic whistle for goalies losing a glove or a blocker, but that one will remain for when they lose their helmet.

The Penguins signed Niemi to a one-year contract this summer as a replacement for Marc-Andre Fleury after they lost him in the expansion draft to the Vegas Golden Knights. Niemi is looking to rebound from a tough year in Dallas. He will serve as Matt Murray‘s backup for the season.