Jack Eichel

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Sabres’ Scandella fined, not suspended, for slashing Penguins’ Hornqvist

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The NHL is cracking down on slashing with more penalties – at times to almost an extreme – but suspensions might not come from them. At least not yet.

That point seems clear enough based on the league’s latest decision, as Buffalo Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella was fined (but not suspended) for a pretty gnarly slash on Patric Hornqvist of the Pittsburgh Penguins. To be precise, Scandella received a $5K fine, while the league didn’t provide an explanation for the decision.

(Generally, slashes don’t get a video, and the league is most likely to produce a full-fledged explanation when a suspension occurs. There are exceptions, but that’s usually how it goes.)

Video of the slash isn’t easy to find, but here it is in GIF form, if you feel like cringing:

Also:

The Sabres have to be relieved that Scandella avoided sitting out a game or more, as their defense is already dilapidated with Rasmus Ristolainen among those injured. It doesn’t seem like Hornqvist suffered an injury from the slash.

Again, the lack of a suspension follows the general pattern of NHL decisions, but it was worth noting.

There were some testy moments from last night’s game, with the most memorable moment coming when Jack Eichel was eager to drop his gloves after Ian Cole landed a huge hit on Sam Reinhart. The Penguins ultimately got the last laugh by rallying for a 5-4 overtime win against Buffalo.

The Sabres’ next game comes against the Red Wings in Detroit on Friday. After that, they get an opportunity to make some gains, as they play six of their next seven games in Buffalo.

After Thursday’s game in Ottawa, the Penguins also enjoy a home-heavy schedule going forward.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Vincent Trocheck shares classic stories about Jaromir Jagr

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

–Check out the highlights from last night’s game between the Capitals and Predators. T.J. Oshie scored twice, but it simply wasn’t enough to propel Washington to a win. (top)

–The Sabres had high hopes for Jack Eichel, but he’s struggling to meet those expectations right now. “I feel like people are judged based off statistics so frequently, and so is the case with our league for a reason,” Eichel said. “That’s my job, my job is to produce. (Buffalohockeybeat.com)

–NHL hockey will be one of the sports featured on the new ESPN+ app which is set to launch next year. (Forbes)

–Bruce Boudreau’s Minnesota Wild are off to a slow start this year, but there’s reason for optimism. Two years ago, when Broudreau was coaching the Anaheim Ducks, he got off to a horrible start before turning things around. (Twincities.com)

–It’s been a tough month for the Chicago Blackhawks, as their special teams has struggled and they haven’t been able to score much. The problem is, there probably won’t be any outside help coming in the near future. They’ll have to play themselves out of this funk. (Chicago Sun-Times)

–The Surrey Knights of the Pacific Junior Hockey League haven’t won a hockey game in nearly two years. This horrible streak started after a bench-clearing brawl got their coach and co-owner suspended for six years. It was all downhill from there. (Globe and Mail)

–Here’s a bunch of interesting nuggets from Brian Burke. He admitted that the Flames thought about bringing back Jarome Iginla. Burke also touched on the red flag Jaromir Jagr had coming out of the draft, and how Sam Bennett would have been torn to shreds if he played in Toronto. (Sportsnet)

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have put up some strong numbers playing together this season, but the team remains last in goals scored. Is it time to separate them in an attempt to balance their lineup? (Oilersnation.com)

–George Gosbee, who was instrumental in keeping the Coyotes in Arizona, passed away at the age of 48 on Sunday. “It was shocking, it was sad and it was tragic,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “I don’t know how else to describe it. He was smart, he was affable, he was friendly and he just struck me as being an all-around good guy. Obviously, our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.” (arizonasports.com)

Travis Zajac is close to returning to the Devils lineup, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team’s lines will change when he gets back. There’s a good chance he’ll slot in on the first line with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. (NJ.com)

Mathew Barzal has been an incredible playmaking center throughout his hockey career. That hasn’t changed in his first full NHL season. “One of my best attributes is my passing and head-up vision,” Barzal said. “I think guys like Nicklas Backstrom and Patrick Kane are pass-first guys and they’re both very good.” (NHL.com)

–For the last few seasons, the Washington Capitals have been the dominant team in the NHL during the regular season. This year, they’ve really struggled to find any kind of consistency. As we saw in last night’s loss to Nashville, the Caps are struggling to put three good periods together. (dcpuckdrop.com)

–If the Florida Panthers want to get back in the playoff hunt, they’ll have to find a way to go on a strong run over the next two months. It won’t be easy, but it’s been done before. (therattrick)

–Speaking of the Panthers, Vincent Trocheck wrote a great piece for The Players’ Tribune. In the story, Trocheck shares a number of classic stories about former teammate Jaromir Jagr, including his poor choice of music in the locker room. He also touched on his experience at the World Cup of Hockey and his family’s move from Pittsburgh to Detroit. (Players’ Tribune)

–The Four Nations Cup just concluded in the Florida area, and it went exactly how many expected. Sweden struggled, while Canada and the USA battled hard against each other. (victorypress.org)

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.

Jack Eichel eager to fight for teammate (Video)

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Update: The Penguins ended up winning 5-4 in overtime. Click here for a full recap.

***

The Buffalo Sabres aren’t making the strides they were hoping for this season, but don’t blame Jack Eichel.

At least, don’t bury Eichel for a lack of scoring or a lack of emotion.

The soon-to-be $10 million man has been showing his frustration as the Sabres begin 2017-18 up-and-down, so maybe it wasn’t that surprising to see the talented center channel his rage into a near-fight on Tuesday.

As you can see in the video above, Eichel did not hesitate to drop his gloves after Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Cole landed an enormous check on Sam Reinhart. Things got broken up before Eichel could do (or receive) much damage, although it did look like number 15 might have connected for at least one impressive punch.

This isn’t the only time Eichel’s shown some brawny rage this season. You may recall that, after losing a game on his 21st birthday, he broke his stick over his knee:

That prompted a comparison to a great Bo Jackson moment:

As of this writing, the Sabres lead the Penguins 4-3, while Eichel’s scored a goal and an assist.

Not sure if this qualifies as a Gordie Howe hat trick, but it’s close enough to be pretty cool to watch.

For a look at the lighter side of Eichel, check out this “Behind the Bench” segment from last week.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Penguins, Crosby, Kessel rally vs. Sabres

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Despite all of Jack Eichel‘s rage, the Buffalo Sabres still can’t seem to get it done against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Eichel, Evander Kane, and Sam Reinhart helped Buffalo generate some nice leads on Tuesday, as the Sabres were up 2-0 and 3-1 early on. Benoit Pouliot gave them another lead at 4-3, to boot.

It didn’t matter, aside from securing a “loser point” for the Sabres, as the Penguins ultimately won 5-4 in OT, with Sidney Crosby setting up Conor Sheary for his eighth goal of the season (and third game-winner). To turn the knife in a little bit, Eichel probably could have done a better job against Sheary on that overtime-clincher:

Really, the Sabres might not want to complain too loudly about loser points, as the Penguins have really taken it to them lately.

Sheary’s been deadly against Buffalo, with six points in his last six games against the Sabres after tonight’s two-goal performance.

Crosby’s been quiet – by his lofty standards – as tonight’s goal and assist pushes him to 15 points in 20 games.

Phil Kessel‘s deserving of a lot of credit for the Penguins finding ways to win games and/or at least claim standings points lately. Tonight was a nice example. He helped the Penguins tie things up twice: setting up Crosby on the power play and scoring the 4-4 goal that sent the game to OT:

Kessel continues to lead the Penguins with 24 points in 20 games this season. He extended a five-game point streak that includes three multi-point games (four goals, five assists during that span). Such strong work makes you wonder why the alleged hot dog lover continues to find himself in trade rumors, even after helping the Penguins to two straight Stanley Cups with strong postseason performances.

For the Sabres, it’s yet another reminder that they still need to close some distance to catch up with contenders like Pittsburgh.

While Eichel must be flustered, Robin Lehner might be the angriest member of the team tonight, as he took the L despite saves like these:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sabres end Capitals’ streak on strength of Pouliot’s video-game goal

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The Buffalo Sabres haven’t made as much progress as they were hoping for so far in 2017-18, but that doesn’t mean that they lack some nice pieces.

On most nights, the best moments have come from the most obvious sources, as Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, and Jason Pominville have carried much of the offense.

Buffalo’s top guys certainly made an impact in tonight’s 3-1 win (Kane collected the 27th multi-goal game of his career, with the first coming thanks to a nice play by Eichel), yet management must feel nice to see a subtler addition scoring the game-winner.

After the Oilers bought out Benoit Pouliot, the Sabres snatched him up for cheap, and Pouliot showed why he was a nice value with his fifth goal of the season. If this kind of tally happened in “NHL 18,” less patient gamers might throw a controller:

Tremendous stuff. Alex Ovechkin‘s 13th goal of the season ended up being the only one that beat Robin Lehner on Tuesday. This improves Buffalo to 5-8-2, marking just its second win at home.

It sure seemed like the Capitals were a little sleepy in closing out a back-to-back set here. Barry Trotz can’t be happy about another significant penalty disparity, even if both teams failed to score on the PP (Washington went 0-for-1 while Buffalo failed on four opportunities).

[Trotz has complained about the Capitals’ discipline and officials’ calls before this season]

They’re now at 8-7-1 as a three-game winning streak comes to the end. They’ll get a few days off before two interesting home games: against the Penguins on Friday and the Oilers on Sunday.

They’ll need to bring a lot more energy into those efforts if they want to avoid slipping under .500.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.