If you’re a fan of bitterness between two hockey teams, then perhaps you should root for a Minnesota Wild – St. Louis Blues playoff series.
Things got a little ugly at times in what was eventually a 4-3 shootout win for the Blues. For every pretty moment from the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko (another goal, plus the shootout clincher), there was a controversial moment.
Zach Parise vented about the Wild’s loss to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo, saying it was “frustrating not winning a game they felt they deserve.”
The real bulletin board material came when Parise addressed the Blues’ punishing ways, though.
“That’s their game. That’s what they try to do,” Parise told Russo. “They try to bully you around the ice. It’s a waste of time trying to get involved with that. It’s stupid.”
Jeez, Parise’s really speaking in bland cliches there, huh? If only he spoke his mind on this subject …
The Wild play the Blues three more times this season, with the games being congested toward the end of the 2014-15 campaign (their next meeting is in St. Louis on March 14). Perhaps those hard feelings will dissipate by then. On the other hand, if significant playoff seeding is on the line, those games could be that much more interesting.
Here’s Tarasenko’s goal, in case you’re curious:
Things got heated in the later stages of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 6-2 win against the Washington Capitals on Saturday. The most costly moment might have came when Leafs defenseman Korbinian Holzer accidentally punched an official during a fight with Tom Wilson.
(Click here for video of the incident. This post will be updated if an embeddable one becomes available.)
PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban caught up with Holzer, 26, to get his prospective on that situation.
“I had my jersey in my face and I just threw one punch, accidentally hit the linesman,” Holzer said. “It was not on purpose. I’m sorry for that.”
The moment of realization sounded pretty unpleasant.
“I found out when the other linesman was screaming at me,” Holzer said. “Then I looked over. I actually thought I got Wilson there. I was like ‘oh nice’, then I pulled my jersey down and the linesman started screaming at me and I saw the other linesman down I was like ‘oh … that was the wrong guy.'”
Both Holzer and Wilson received five-minute fighting majors and game misconduct penalties during the game. Holzer hasn’t been suspended in his brief NHL career, but it’s probably an understatement to say that he’s at a significant risk for supplemental discipline considering how the league tends to handle these situations.
All of a sudden, the Toronto Maple Leafs are handing out demoralizing defeats rather than absorbing them.
They’re now 3-0-1 since they fell 9-2 to the Nashville Predators, including tonight’s 6-2 salute to the Washington Capitals.
The easiest way to summarize Washington’s lousy night? Justin Peters was cashed from the Capitals’ net only to return later in the game to relieve Braden Holtby, and the moves weren’t injury-related. Peters allowed three goals on 11 shots in two periods of work while Holtby gave up three on 12 shots in 20 minutes of play … so yeah, they were pretty much a disaster for Washington.
Goaltending wasn’t the only thing that was ugly for the Capitals, as this Alex Ovechkin hit forced Leo Komarov out of the game:
Fan 590’s Megan Robinson reports that Ovechkin tried to mend any hard feelings after the game:
It doesn’t sound like Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle is buying it, however:
Regardless, for all the negative ink spilled about the Leafs and positive thoughts about Barry Trotz’s work in Washington, the Maple Leafs have a three-point standings edge on the Capitals and would be the team that would make the playoffs if the postseason began today.
The Buffalo Sabres are blazing hot right now, and it doesn’t appear as though they’ve stepped out of a time machine.
In 48 hours, they beat the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens twice, including tonight’s 4-3 shootout win.
The Sabres have now won five of their last six games, improving their record to 8-14-2. It’s not as if they’re merely beating sad sack teams, either:
Nov. 15: 6-2 win against Toronto
Nov. 18: 4-1 vs. San Jose
Nov. 22: 2-1 win against Washington
Wednesday: 2-1 loss against Winnipeg
Friday: 2-1 win against Montreal
Saturday: 4-3 shootout win against Montreal
(Yes, some/all of these teams have their issues, but they’re all in pretty reasonable playoff contention, too.)
Not bad for a Sabres squad that, quite frankly, looks like it’s easily the worst team in the NHL by plenty of objective measures.
The common denominator in this run is the great play by Jhonas Enroth (pictured).
The 26-year-old’s appeared in Buffalo’s last five games, allowing eight goals. He was brilliant against the Canadiens tonight, stopping 41 out of 44 shots and all five of Montreal’s shootout attempts.
If Enroth & Co. keep this up, opponents truly won’t be able to chalk up the Sabres as “a gimme.”
Chris Stewart’s goal also seems worth noting:
On the same night that Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella landed a contract extension, he might land in hot water.
The NHL might have something to say about this hit on St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie, who looked dazed upon leaving the ice:
On the bright side, the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Michael Russo points out that Oshie returned in the second period. The hit drew a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal hit to the head.
Scandella hasn’t been suspended so far in his young NHL career.
Update: This was far from the only hit that drew some controversy. Ryan Reaves delivered a hit on Erik Haula that drew some controversy, but not a penalty. Kevin Shattenkirk received a game misconduct for this check on Ryan Carter:
Remarkably, all three recipients of big hits managed to return to Saturday’s game.