Author: Matt Reitz

Max Pacioretty

Pacioretty responds to the Shanahammer


Last night, Brendan Shanahan told the hockey world what he thought of Max Pacioretty’s hit on Kris Letang when he handed down a three-game suspension to the Canadiens’ forward. Today, Pacioretty responded to the punishment. To make a long story, short: he isn’t happy with the three-game mandatory unpaid vacation.

“It’s tough to agree with (the decision) when you see a lot of other things that have happened, but I’ve obviously got to just keep my mouth shut and take it right now,” Pacioretty said at Habs’ practice this afternoon. All players ever ask for is consistency and Patches thinks Shanahan missed the mark on this one. It’s an understandable reaction.

He also took issue to the league’s disciplinarian comparing the hit to Matt Cooke’s hit that ruined Marc Savard’s career. “I felt he put himself in a vulnerable position,” Pacioretty said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have even thought about hitting him because of the way the wind is blowing right with head shots, but I’d like to see a little bit of consistency. If the onus is on the hitter every single time I’d be fine with a suspension, but you’ve seen instances where they’ve placed the onus on the person receiving the hit as well so I’m confused and a lot of other players are confused right now.”

No wonder Pacioretty said he should keep his mouth shut. It’s understandable that Pacioretty is upset, but he may be off base with his comments. Off the record, most NHL players we’ve talked to shared they aren’t afraid of the suspensions eliminating hitting because they know what to expect now. We’ve heard that players are MORE comfortable hitting this season because they understand what is allowed and what will not be permitted because of the transparent nature of Shanahan’s rulings (explanations, videos, etc.).  Even last season, players wondered what kind of hits would be permitted and which hits would be punished.  Shanahan has done his best to eliminate any confusion.

Pacioretty may be confused where the line between right and wrong falls these days, but his concerns are not as widespread as he may think. Then again, as more people get suspended—we may here more of these comments.

PHT Morning Skate: Dallas fans should thank Canada?

Jim Lites, Tom Gaglardi

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Leave it to Toronto to deliver one of the more condescending headlines of the season. Apparently, the Dallas Stars success over the last week is thanks to a Canadian. (The Globe and Mail)

It’s not just veteran NHL players that have to deal with concussions. Check out the story of a 19-year-old player from the WHL who had to call it quits after five concussions (Ottawa Citizen)

First the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan said the Maple Leafs (um, MLSE) were for sale. Then last week they said they were NOT for sale. But Michael Grange says they’re still on the market—for the right price (Sportsnet)

Nino Niederreiter has been a healthy scratch for three straight games in Long Island. But don’t expect the Islanders to send him back down to his junior team in Portland (ESPN New York)

Dave Tippett on his team’s effort against the Canucks: “We didn’t start very good, we didn’t have a good middle and we didn’t end very good. So that pretty much sums it up right there.” Ouch. (Arizona Republic)

Did anyone really doubt that Pavel Datsyuk was going to figure things out this season? (Detroit News)

Should Alex Pietrangelo be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, Kris Letang, and Drew Doughty? New head coach Ken Hitchcock certainly thinks so. (Post-Dispatch)

Sergei Gonchar says that Evgeni Malkin was much more focused over the summer as he was rehabbing his injured knee; adding that Malkin felt he had something to prove after a season that wasn’t as successful as some people expected. Just what the other 29 teams need: a motivated Malkin (Post-Gazette)

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco says the team plays better when they play with enthusiasm. His goal: find a way to bring that out in his young team. (All Things Avs)

Eric Stephen from the OC Register and Lisa Dillman from the LA Times both follow the Ducks on an everyday basis and agree: it’s time for the Ducks to make a trade. (OC Register)

Finally, who says that a 1-0 game doesn’t have fireworks? (NHL)

Break up the streaking Blue Jackets!

Rick Nash, Vinny Prospal, Jason Pominville

The Columbus Blue Jackets have officially climbed out of the NHL basement and passed the title of “cellar dweller” to the New York Islanders with a 5-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. The goals came quick and often as the Blue Jackets jumped out to a four-goal lead before the Sabres were able to put a puck past Curtis Sanford. By that time, it was too late. But just in case the Sabres had their hopes set on a memorable comeback, Rick Nash scored his second goal of the game near the end of the 2nd period to put the final nail in the coffin.

The win is just the latest positive result in an impressive run as the Blue Jackets look to turn around their season. They’ve earned at least a point in six of their last seven games, including points in points in each of their last five. Their 4-1-2 record over the last seven games is impressive on its own, but even more impressive when put in its proper context after Columbus’ historically bad start.

How bad was the Blue Jackets start? It took them until their ninth game to get their first win of the season. They could only manage two pathetic victories in their first 15 games. Not only were they losing, they were losing the vast majority of their games in regulation. The 2-12-1 record was not the kind of start the Blue Jackets’ ownership had in mind when they signed James Wisniewski to a $33 million contract and acquired Jeff Carter (who is starting an 11-year, $58 million contract this season).

The Blue Jackets play over the last two weeks? This is more like what they expected. With six wins and 15 points, the Blue Jackets are only a point away from Anaheim in hopes of climbing out of last place in the Western Conference.

Columbus now sits at 6-13-3 through the first quarter of the season. The record still looks bad, but it’s not nearly as bad as it did two weeks ago. Up next, the Blue Jackets will get to face off against another hot Western Conference team: the St. Louis Blues. Curiously, the Blues exploded on their current streak when they hired Ken Hitchcock away from the Blue Jackets—a man who was heavily rumored to be in line to take over for Scott Arniel behind the Blue Jackets’ bench.

Much has been made of Hitchcock’s ability to turn around the Blues—but his departure may have helped Columbus get back to business as well. After losing their first game after St. Louis’ announcement, Columbus went on their current 4-1-2 streak.

Now if they can only continue this pace for the rest of the season, they may be able to get themselves back into the playoff hunt by the all-star break.

Crosby scores three more points, Pens dismantle Sens

Sidney Crosby, David Backes

The Pittsburgh Penguins jumped all over the Ottawa Senators early in the first period and cruised to a dominating 6-3 victory at CONSOL Energy Center. It only took about a minute into the game for the Sens to break the seal on the scoring against the Pens. Unfortunately, they had to play the remaining 59 minutes of the game.

It only took 27 seconds for the Penguins to even the score. They were only getting started as they scored four goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby continued his ridiculous return by earning assists on three of the four goals in the first period. Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson gave up the four goals on eight shots before he was sent to the bench for the rest of the game.

The three assists bring Crosby’s season totals to two goals and five assists in only three games since his comeback. The seven points means he has as many points as guys like Patrik Berglund, Rene Bourque, Brett Connolly, Drew Doughty, and RJ Umberger. On top of the points, he has a plus five rating in the early going, he’s winning 65% of his face-offs, and he’s earned four penalties. He even had Sens forward Mike Foligno call him out for delivering an elbow.

Needless to say, he’s been “involved.”

The Penguins will now take their act on the road for the next four games. If the Pens were hoping to lay low, they couldn’t have picked a worse stretch in the schedule over the next week. There will be a fanatical media circus on Saturday night as Crosby and the Pens head to hockey crazed Montreal. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll head from Montreal to Broadway for Tuesday night date against the Rangers in New York.

We wonder if Montreal and New York will have any questions for/about Crosby…

John Tavares fined for slash on Zach Parise

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders

John Tavares and Zach Parise aren’t the type of names that NHL fans have grown accustomed to seeing what the league’s disciplinarian hands down a punishment—but they were both in the middle of a player that will cost Tavares a little cash. Tavares was fined $2,500 for his slash in the second period of the Devils 1-0 victory over the Islanders on Friday afternoon.

The two-hand chop wasn’t penalized by the two on-ice officials, but that doesn’t mean Tavares was going to escape the wrath of Brendan Shanahan. Since Tavares could possible make $3.75 million with bonuses this season, the $2,500 fine represents means he’ll lose this salary for about three minutes of play. Seriously—it’s the $2500 fine doesn’t even represent .01% of his salary this season.

That should teach him.