James O'Brien

NHL suspends Nesterov two games for hit that hospitalized McKenzie


The NHL handed Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov a two-game suspension for a hit from behind on Curtis McKenzie of the Dallas Stars from Thursday’s game.

You can see the league explanation and video of the hit above. It’s the first suspension of Nesterov’s young career.

McKenzie was hospitalized after that hit, and the Stars placed him on IR today. Radek Faksa was called up from the AHL in his absence.

The suspension will cost Nesterov $7,983.88.

The Lightning were already making moves in advance of Nesterov’s suspension and Victor Hedman‘s possible absence, bringing up Slater Koekkoek.

This is Nesterov’s first suspension, but he hasn’t logged much NHL time, as one might note.

Bolts recall Koekkoek with Hedman banged up


The Tampa Bay Lightning may need some help on defense this weekend, which explains why they recalled Slater Koekkoek.

It’s unclear how hurt Victor Hedman is, but there’s definitely a risk that he won’t be able to play on Saturday, as NHL.com notes.

While Hedman was obviously able to make a huge impression during the 2015 postseason, his Norris hopes were quickly dashed due to injury issues in 2014-15. It would be a big shame for that to happen again, as he drew some serious hype from the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom heading into this season.

Hedman isn’t the only guy who may be unavailable, either, as Nikita Nesterov may face a suspension for his hit from behind from Thursday (which hospitalized Curtis McKenzie).

Speaking of McKenzie:

Update: Nesterov received a two-game suspension for that hit.

At 21, Koekkoek is an interesting moment in his development.

He’s one of the Lightning’s many promising young players as the 10th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, so perhaps getting him another cup of coffee at the highest level – he’s played in three games with the Lightning – would be a good progress report of sorts.

Coyotes’ kids are beyond alright: Duclair notches first hat trick


It’s early, but the Arizona Coyotes look more like a tank than a team that’s going to do any tanking.

Improved play from embattled goalie Mike Smith has certainly played a role in this early turnaround. Still, the team’s young guns are the more exhilarating end of that surge, and they really are leaving the allegedly mighty Anaheim Ducks huffing and puffing tonight.

After booting Anton Khudobin from the Ducks’ net, Anthony Duclair completed his first career hat trick against Frederik Andersen to give Arizona a 4-0 lead (and eventual win.)

Duclair – “The Duke” – grabs the headlines …

… Yet Max Domi has been a big part of the strong start, too. Domi scored a goal and did most of the work on Duclair’s second tally, for instance.

The book on the Coyotes was supposed to be that, for as bleak as the present may be, the future looks bright. Maybe their fans won’t need to wait.

Update: The Coyotes ended up holding on for a 4-0 shutout win. Should we enter the Ducks into the “surprisingly bad start” club, then?

Related: Coyotes have been more than a red-hot goalie

Bruins chase Varlamov, win first game of 2015-16


One strong outing doesn’t signify that the Bruins are out of the woods yet – and this one’s not even over – but this was the type of response fans were clamoring for.

There are a few minutes left in the second period, yet Boston already hammered five goals home against the Avalanche, chasing Semyon Varlamov from Colorado’s net.

Every scorer registered his first tally of the season in the process, with Jimmy Hayes standing out thanks to a one-goal, two-assist night (and counting?).

Again, the video above still applies; the Bruins still have some problems to work out.

This may be a reminder that there are still some useful pieces on this roster, however.

Update: The Bruins didn’t struggle with that lead, ultimately winning 6-2.

Patrick Roy was … not happy.

Neuvirth neutralizes Blackhawks for Flyers win


Steve Mason missed a recent Philadelphia Flyers start for “personal reasons.” If Michal Neuvirth keeps this up, he’ll be the reason we don’t see much of Mason.

It’s one thing to shut out a quality team that nonetheless tends to be low-octane like the Florida Panthers, which Neuvirth did on Monday.

It’s another thing entirely to blank the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, as Neuvirth and the Flyers accomplished in a 3-0 win tonight.

NBCSN flashed an interesting stat after the contest: Neuvirth is the second goalie in Flyers history to generated two shutouts in first two starts (Jeff Hackett did so in 2003).

As with just about every shutout, there were moments where the Blackhawks could have taken advantage of opportunities.

Still, Neuvirth was brilliant at times, with his stop on a shorthanded breakaway for Marian Hossa standing as one of his shining moments:

While there’s elation for Neuvirth, there’s relief for some big Flyers names. Jakub Voracek got his first point of the season, lifting that pressure off of his shoulders after grabbing a big new deal from management.

Neuvirth’s likely been around long enough to know that a small streak only means so much. Still, he’s already taken some big strides away from some low moments in Buffalo.

Aside: maybe we should have seen this coming?