Author: Matt Reitz

Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins

Lucic game misconduct penalty rescinded


The NHL has rescinded the game-misconduct penalty that was assessed to Milan Lucic in the wild first period of the Bruins/Canucks game Saturday afternoon. Initially, the on-ice officials ruled that Lucic left the bench to join an altercation. With the benefit of replay, league officials saw that Lucic had initially jumped on the ice during a normal line change, then was starting step back onto the bench before getting involved in the scrum.

Here’s the explanation from the National Hockey League Senior Vice President and
Director of Officiating Terry Gregson:

“The referees reacted to what they saw,” Gregson said. “The only player they saw coming from the bench area from either team was Lucic. But with the benefit of replay, we can see that Lucic had previously entered the ice over the boards legally to join the play and actually was contemplating stepping back onto the bench through the door when the altercation ensued.

“It should be further noted that a review of the video confirmed that all players on both teams involved in the altercation had entered the ice legally for the purpose of joining the play. None entered the ice for the purpose of joining or starting an altercation, which is prohibited by Rule

NHL Rule 70.1 – Leaving the Bench reads: “No player may leave the players’ or penalty bench at any time during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation.”

Yeah, we could watch these two teams go at it for seven games in June again.

No Lehtonen, no problem for Stars

Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars

Jaime Benn and Mike Ribeiro each had a pair of goals against the Edmonton Oilers as the Stars earned the 4-1 victory. The win was their second straight game and third in four contests. But despite the goal scoring, the most impressive part of the victory yet another stellar effort by rookie goaltender Richard Bachman.

Bachman’s victory was the sixth win in only eight decisions for the first-year netminder.; his remarkable play has earned him the back-up role over veteran Andrew Raycroft. Even though this is unquestionably Kari Lehtonen’s team, the organization must feel good about having a strong, young netminder grow into his potential.

The perfect example was Saturday afternoon. The team expected Lehtonen to get the start until he feel ill before the game. Bachmann proved once again that he was up to the challenge.

“I felt good. I had some pretty good practices, I felt the last few days,” the rookie Bachman said. “I am just trying to stay ready so when stuff like this happens I can go out there, feel comfortable and confident and give the team a chance to win. I felt good.”

Even without their workhorse goaltender, it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Stars were able to beat the Oilers at home. The Stars’ victory pushes their record to 10-0-1 at home since 2006 against Edmonton. Now if they could just play the Oilers at home 82 times per season, they’d be guaranteed playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Tampa’s Connolly set to return after WJC

Brett Connolly
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The Tampa Bay Lightning are set to receive a late Christmas gift as winger Brett Connolly returns from Team Canada’s World Junior Championship squad to join his NHL team for tonight’s game in Montreal. The 19-year-old was able to score five goals in six games for the Canadians in the prestigious under-20 tournament over the last two weeks.

The player the Lightning are getting back should be a more mature player more than one area. Coaches for Team Canada asked the talented sniper to play with a physical edge while taking a leadership position with the team. He proudly wore the “A” and was one of Canada’s better players throughout the tournament.

The performance wasn’t lost on Lightning head coach Guy Boucher—specifically the leadership Connolly showed in Canada’s exciting 6-5 loss to Russia. “I thought he showed incredible character,” Boucher said. “I was told that when it was 6-1, he was one of the first guys to stand up and say it wasn’t over, and we know what happened after.”

“He scored in almost every game he played, but what I liked was his drive and dedication to doing the details of a winner and that’s what we’re asking of him,” the Lightning coach continued. “Coming back, we don’t want to change him or put pressure on him. Right now, he’ll replace (J.T.) Wyman, because he’s a right-hander and he’s got speed like him.”

If the Lightning get a player back who is a better teammate in the locker room and a more physical presence on the ice, then the decision to release Connolly to Team Canada will prove to be a wise one. So far so good.

Leafs trade Luca Caputi to Ducks

Tom Sesito; Luca Caputi

In a lead that we could have repeatedly recycled over the last few years, the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs made yet another trade. This time, the Leafs sent oft-injured prospect Luca Caputi to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for disappointing youngster Nicolas Deschamps. What are the odds that Brian Burke and Bob Murray have each other on speed dial?

Both prospects have had a tough 2011-12 season in the AHL this year. Deschamps, who was a highly-touted 2nd round pick from the 2008 draft, has struggled with only seven points in 31 games this season. Likewise, Caputi has struggled with injuries and only has three points in 21 points. Both teams will hope the left wing swap will light a fire under the pair of prospects that have been underwhelming through their professional careers thus far.

Hopefully for Ducks fans sanity, this trade goes a little better than that Francois Beauchemin for Jake Gardiner and Joffrey Lupul trade in February. That isn’t really working out so well for the struggling Ducks.

The best part about the trade? They both get to play against their former teams as the Syracuse Crunch and Toronto Marlies faceoff tonight. Awkward.

Mike Smith activated from injured reserve

Phoenix Coyotes v Florida Panthers
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Things are moving quickly for Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith today. Not only was Smith activated by the team from injured reserve, but he was immediately put into the lineup to start against the Blues in St. Louis. The Coyotes aren’t exactly easing him back into the fold, are they?

Mike Smith hasn’t played since December 20th when he hurt his groin in the 3rd period of a game against the Florida Panthers. After winning the first game without Smith, the Coyotes have limped to a 1-3-1 record over their last five games. Nothing against Jason LaBarbara or Curtis McElhinney, but the team that is built on strong team defense and solid goaltending could use Smith back between the pipes.

Smith had been one of the good stories of the early season before falling to the injury bug. His strong play behind one of the best defensive systems in the league has helped the Coyotes raise a few eyebrows in the early going. After the mini-slump with Smith out of the lineup, they need to put their foot back on the gas if they want to compete for one of those last playoff spots in the Western Conference.