James O'Brien

Sharks conquer Kings in ugly opener; suspensions coming?


Another season-opener, another game in which the San Jose Sharks crushed the Los Angeles Kings.

Heck, it was even another game in which the Sharks won by four goals, as they beat the Kings 5-1 tonight.

(They began the 2014-15 season with a 4-0 win against the Kings, who were celebrating a banner-raising night.)

At times, things were hairier for the Kings than Brent Burns‘ bushy beard.

Perhaps this second Joe Pavelski goal symbolized the struggles for Jonathan Quick & Co.:

Martin Jones was pretty fantastic against the Kings, as Los Angeles scored on its first shot, and then couldn’t beat him again. This was probably the save of the night:

There were plenty of ugly moments, from this Dustin Brown hit to Milan Lucic losing his cool at the end of the contest.

Circling back to that earlier point, Lucic rampaged across the ice after Logan Couture delivered an unexpected check on him, ultimately receiving a match penalty. The Kings might get a call or two from the Department of Player Safety due to various incidents.

Here’s a clip of Lucic’s actions, so you can decide for yourself:

In many ways, tonight’s game paralleled the Kings’ 2014-15 season and summer, as it was downright lousy.

The best thought for a team not that far removed from a title? It was just one game.

Still, there’s no doubt who came out on top this time.

Did Dustin Brown lead with his head while hitting Logan Couture?


The “new” Dustin Brown definitely seems more lean. He didn’t lose the mean part in changing his diet, it seems.

The Los Angeles Kings’ captain laid quite the hit on San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture, as you can see from the video above this post.

One question being batted around right now is: did Brown lead with his head in that hit, which left Couture bloody?

Maybe most importantly, was it a check that should have drawn a penalty or maybe more? Discuss.

Aside: The Kings seemed to celebrate the hit on Twitter.


Out of sight: Rangers spoil Blackhawks’ banner night


The Rangers won in Chicago in Wednesday’s season opener, denying the Blackhawks further celebration after raising the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters of the United Center.

Chicago seemingly tied it 3-3 with about a minute left in the third period, but it was not to be.

Instead, the Rangers held on – barely – to spoil Chicago’s championship celebration by a final score of 3-2.

(Quick aside: it seems like defending champions struggle on these types of evenings more often than not, doesn’t it?)

The box score will tell you what you need to know about a nice night for young players like Artemi Panarin, and so on.

Many will linger on what might have been a blown call, though, and understandably so.

Here’s the NHL Situation Room Blog explanation:

At 19:00 of the third period in the Rangers/Blackhawks game, the referee closest to the net informed the Situation Room that he was in the process of blowing his whistle when the puck was under Henrik Lundqvist‘s pad and before the puck crossed the New York goal line. According to Rule 78.5, apparent goals shall be disallowed “when the Referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity to stop play by blowing his whistle.” This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee’s call on the ice stands – no goal Chicago.

Aside: shall we replace bulletin board material with banner-raising material?

Close, but no cigar for Leafs in Babcock’s debut

Mike Babcock

Nobody said it would be easy for Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Through one game of this expensive marriage, the Maple Leafs looked competitive against the Montreal Canadiens, yet they ultimately lost 3-1 (with Max Pacioretty‘s empty-netter inflating the difference).

One wonders if Phil Kessel supporters may feel a little vindicated by the stream of reactions that seem to indicate that Toronto played well … but lacked finish.

That seemed to be the theme from members of the Maple Leafs:

While media members and/or fans echoed similar sentiments:

Even Pacioretty – who scored two goals, while P.K. Subban assisted on all three Montreal scores – seemed impressed by the Buds’ efforts.

Sports – not just hockey – show over and over again that it’s often extremely foolish to believe that the first game of a season tells you anything more than “this happened in a single contest.”

Many seem to think this “close, but not good enough” recap might just be the template for Toronto in year one of the Babcock era, however.

Babcock makes first-ever coach’s challenge (and succeeds)


It didn’t take Mike Babcock long to make NHL history with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

OK, this is pretty innocuous stuff … but he made the first coach’s challenge, and it worked. Huzzah.

Jeff Petry seemingly scored for the Montreal Canadiens, but the league ultimately agreed that Tomas Plekanec kept Jonathan Bernier from making the save.

With that, the goal was overturned and Babcock saved his timeout.

This gives you an idea of how much the process did or did not halt play:

Thoughts on the process, which skipped dress rehearsal altogether?

Update: Here’s the league explanation, via the NHL’s Situation Room Blog:

The Referee determined that Plekanec interfered with Bernier before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Montreal Canadiens.

Since the Coach’s Challenge resulted in the original call being overturned, the Toronto Maple Leafs retain their time-out.

Want more info on the coach’s challenge? Read the rest of that blog entry.