Jason Brough

NHL ‘exploring’ penalty for opening bench doors during play


The NHL may make it a penalty for opening the bench door during play, a league source confirmed to PHT today.

On Tuesday, Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was injured after being shoved into an open door by Wild forward Nino Niederreiter.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported last night that the NHL was considering the rule change, and that the topic could be broached during the general managers meetings in March.

Obviously, the new rule would require players to climb over the boards to enter and exit the ice while changing on the fly.

The league has to yet draft the new rule, but the source said it’s “something we are definitely exploring.”

The Flyers have dropped to dead last in scoring

Steve Mason, Michael Del Zotto

Last night’s 1-0 overtime loss to San Jose, combined with Anaheim’s 3-1 win in Florida, means the Philadelphia Flyers officially have the worst offense in the NHL.

Almost a quarter of the way through the season, the Flyers are averaging just 1.79 goals per game. The Ducks have inched up to 1.85.

Last night, the Flyers were left frustrated, but in a way encouraged, after Martin Jones turned aside all 34 of their shots.

“We played a good game but we didn’t score goals,” forward Wayne Simmonds told CSN Philly.

“We just have to work harder and keep up our competitive attitude. Keep getting to the net and getting shots through. They’re going to go in eventually.”

So far, they’ve only gone in for a couple of guys. Claude Giroux has six goals; Brayden Schenn five. No other Flyer has more than three.

There are 56 NHLers with seven or more goals.

There are 329 with more goals than Jakub Voracek, who has just one.

Desjardins sticks up for Horvat — ‘You’ve got to remember, Bo’s 20’

Winnipeg Jets vs Vancouver Canucks

With all the talk about the recent struggles of the Vancouver Canucks, it’s interesting how little Brandon Sutter‘s name has come up.

Sutter has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury. The Canucks are 0-3-1 in the 26-year-old center’s absence. Before then, he’d been one of the team’s most reliable defensive players.

In a related story, young Bo Horvat is a combined minus-6 in the past four games.

Coach Willie Desjardins knows full well that Horvat is being asked to do a lot for a second-year NHLer.

“You’ve got to recognize that he’s anchoring sometimes with two young players,” Desjardins told TSN 1040 yesterday, referring to Horvat’s occasional wingers, Sven Baertschi and Jake Virtanen.

“You put a centerman there to kind of anchor the line. You’ve got to remember, Bo’s 20.”

Without Sutter, Desjardins has limited options at center. Henrik Sedin, obviously, gets the first-line spot. That leaves Horvat, plus two guys who weren’t even supposed to make the team this season, rookie Jared McCann and career bottom-six forward Adam Cracknell.

This is the lineup the Canucks had Wednesday in Winnipeg:

So let’s see here:

— A 19-year-old rookie center (McCann)
— A 20-year-old sophomore center (Horvat)
— A 19-year-old rookie winger (Virtanen)
— A winger playing his first NHL game (Grenier)
— A d-man who was playing college hockey last year (Hutton)

Shockingly, Vancouver lost.

Stastny will wear ‘Shotblockers’ when he returns

Paul Stastny

Paul Stastny hasn’t played since Oct. 16 when he blocked a shot in Vancouver and broke his foot.

The Blues’ center is back skating, but there’s still no timeline for his return to game action.

When he does return, he’ll wear special guards on his skates called Shotblockers.

“I’ll wear them,” Stastny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “They’ve got these new ones now, they’re pretty good, a little lighter than the ones in the past. Ever since I’ve been out here, I’ve been wearing them. At first, it felt a little different, but that’s more because I was still uncomfortable in my skate. I don’t really feel it, so I’ll just keep it on.”

Click here to read about the company that makes the guards. According to the Post-Dispatch, since Stastny was hurt, every Blues player has had to wear them in practice. However, they remain optional for games.

Boston’s fourth-liners have been breaking the first rule of the fourth line

Tyler Randell, Mike Brown

The number-one rule for any fourth line is a simple one:

Don’t get scored on.

That rule again?

Don’t get scored on.

Yes, it’s also important to create energy and wear down the opposition with a few hits. Maybe even chip in with a goal now and then.

But never forget:

Don’t get scored on.

Bruins coach Claude Julien would like Zac Rinaldo, Joonas Kemppainen, and Tyler Randell to start abiding by that rule.

“Randell has three goals in 10 games, but when you look at the defensive side of it they’re getting scored [on] too much,” said Julien, per CSN New England. “They need to have a better balance. With the fourth line the first thing is not to get scored on.”

The Bruins, of course, no longer have a fourth line of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, and Dan Paille, a.k.a. the Merlot Line.

In 2010-11, the season Boston won the Stanley Cup, Thornton led all Bruins forwards with a goals-against-per-60 of 1.38. Campbell wasn’t much worse at 1.61; Paille’s was 1.97.

It was a good defensive line that Julien could trust.

This year, Randell is a team-worst 4.42, Rinaldo is next at 3.83, and Kemppainen is third-worst at 3.19.

Not that Julien doesn’t appreciate what they’ve contributed offensively.

“Anytime they score it adds to your depth and is a great thing,” he said.

“But you need to end up on the positive side of the equation, and that’s what they’ve got to work on right now. They need to be a little more conscientious about what they need to do in the D-zone.”