James O'Brien

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres
AP
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With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?

NHL reportedly won’t ‘test drive’ coach’s challenge

Mike Babcock
AP
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A lack of coach’s challenges opened the door for controversial calls. Could a lack of preparedness create different types of controversy?

In Saturday’s edition of TSN Insider Trading, Darren Dreger revealed that the NHL won’t give the coach’s challenge a “test drive.”

He noted that some arenas haven’t “officially gone through the facilities test yet,” so the league is worried that rolling it out in the pre-season would allow some teams to develop a competitive advantage.

The “solution” is … to roll it out during the first night of the regular season. Coaches will get their first taste of the procedure when the games matter.

Do recall that playoff races sometimes come down to the last day of the season, so tempers could be short if things don’t run smoothly.

Oh boy.

Look, it’s always possible that things will run smoothly and everyone will happily give “thumbs up.” Various hockey players scorned by shaky calls from the past may shed tears.

Still, one cannot help but picture the worst moments of the NFL’s own misadventures with instant replay when thinking of the NHL’s plan to skip the dress rehearsal entirely.

Via AP
Via AP

Buckle up.

Lidstrom, Stamkos pump up Hedman’s Norris credentials

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six
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Even Victor Hedman agrees: we saw the towering Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman at his “peak” during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

It’s one thing for teammate Steven Stamkos to pump his tires, which he did by calling him “an absolute beast” and wagering that the Swede will be the next Norris Trophy winner.

(“No pressure,” Stamkos joked to the Tampa Bay Times.)

It’s another for an all-time great with no affiliation – aside from being a fellow countryman – to sing Hedman’s praises, as Nicklas Lidstrom also did to the Tampa Bay Times.

“I think he has those qualities to win it,” Lidstrom said. ” …It’ll be the next step in his career to play at a high level consistently.”

Let’s face it; to some extent, these awards can boil down to popularity contests.

Erik Karlsson seems to indicate that part of Hedman’s rise comes from increased awareness alone, as he believes Hedman “has always been there.”

If the past postseason really stands as the crescendo of Hedman’s career, then he’ll need to hold that note a little longer to get an individual trophy for his troubles.

Couturier, Raffl primed for Flyers opener; Gagner to be scratched?

Michael Raffl, Sean Couturier
AP
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The Philadelphia Flyers’ roster is shaping up as the season approaches, and it sounds like Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl will be able to suit up.

That’s the word from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi, yet things get more interesting from there.

Perhaps it’s not that much of a shock, but Carchidi also believes that Sam Gagner will be watching Thursday’s season-opening contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning from the press box.

One other intriguing question: what about Scott Laughton? At the moment, it appears as if he’s sticking with the Flyers.

CSNPhilly.com points out that Laughton might make things a bit of a crowd at center, yet his gains might be too much to ignore.

“He’s consistently added a little bit of pace and he has battled hard,” Dave Hakstol said. “There’s little areas of the game where he has to complete some things. But his compete level is good.”

What alignment gives the Flyers the best chance to compete?