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Suddenly streaking Kings pass ‘big test’


The Los Angeles Kings’ early season woes began with a 5-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks, so it seems appropriate that they climbed back to .500 with a decisive victory against their California rivals last night.

“I think it was big for us to come in and prove ourselves, I guess,” Kings forward Jeff Carter said, per LA Kings Insider. “I don’t know if that’s the right word, but we pretty much had to. They pretty much ran over us in Game 1 and this was a big game for us. It was a big test to come in here.”

The Kings opened the season with a three-game losing streak and has followed it up with three straight victories. However, even in the context of their improved results as of late, this game was an encouraging sign.

It was the first time that their offense really showed much life as Los Angeles had just six goals over its first five games. Before Thursday night, half of their markers had been scored by Tyler Toffoli, but key forwards Jeff Carter and Milan Lucic‘s goal scoring droughts are now behind them.

Jhonas Enroth also can hold his head high after making a strong Los Angeles Kings debut. While Jonathan Quick remains the Kings’ undisputed starter, having a backup netminder that the team can feel comfortable utilizing is important over the course of the campaign.

Even still, it’s too early to say where the Kings recently showings will fit in the larger scheme of things. Is the worst already behind them? Should these six games be taken as a whole as an indication that the Kings are in for another roller coaster season that features both stretches of dominance and enough struggles sprinkled in to potentially sour the whole campaign.

We’ll only be able to appreciate the full context in hindsight, but while this was just one early season game, it was an important win.

Demers will have hearing for elbowing Bonino

With less than four minutes left in Thursday’s contest, Dallas Stars defenseman Jason Demers elbowed Pittsburgh Penguins forward Nick Bonino in the face and for that Demers might be handed a fine or suspension.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that it has a hearing scheduled for today with Demers over the incident. He already received a five-minute elbowing penalty and a game misconduct for his actions.

If you missed what happened, you can see it below:

Bonino didn’t return to the game, although obviously the contest was almost over at that point anyways. He was on the ice for the Friday morning skate, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari

After the contest, Demers said that he didn’t mean to hit Bonino in the head, per NHL.com’s Wes Crosby.

Demers, 27, hasn’t previously been fined or suspended.

Unbeaten at home, Preds off to another hot start

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The Anaheim Ducks went into Thursday’s game sorely needing two points. Unfortunately they were in Nashville.

Teams that visit the Bridgestone Arena haven’t enjoyed their stay more often than not. With a 5-1 victory over Anaheim last night, the Predators are 4-0-0 at home this season after posting a 28-9-4 record in Nashville in 2014-15.

So far this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have come to closest to beating Nashville at home as they took three one-goal leads before ultimately falling in a shootout. The Predators other opponents have combined to score just two goals in three games in the Bridgestone Arena.

Of course, Nashville has been fairly effective on the road too thus far and is tied for first place in the Western Conference with a 6-1-0 record. A lot of that success can be attributed to Pekka Rinne‘s early season dominance and James Neal rebounding from his less than stellar 2014-15 campaign. Meanwhile, Filip Forsberg has avoided a sophomore slump thus far.

Still, Nashville has to be careful not to get ahead of itself. The Predators were 5-0-2 at this point last season, but they took a step back in the second half of that campaign and ultimately fell to Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. So they have a recent first hand example to look back on when the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” saying is thrown around.

Nashville will look to extend its perfect home record on Saturday against Pittsburgh.

Torts sees positives in loss, uses Johansen sparingly

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New Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella doesn’t think moral victories are going to help his squad when their record stands at 0-8-0, but you can still chalk Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Minnesota up as one.

“I thought we played hard, won battles,” Tortorella told the Columbus Dispatch. “We played the way I think we’re going to have to play to get us out of this.”

In the midst of a literally historic season-opening losing streak, any reason for positive thinking needs to be latched upon. That’s not to say that Tortorella’s debut went swimmingly for every Blue Jackets player though.

One point of intrigue was Ryan Johansen, who was taken off the first line as the game progressed and didn’t play at all in the final 6:10 minutes of the tight contest. The Blue Jackets star forward logged just 13:57 minutes, which was the fifth lowest total on the team.

“With Joey in the middle of that line, I didn’t think it was that effective,” Tortorella said. “I tried to stay with it during the game … (but) we switched the centers. When Dubi went and played there, I thought it was much more effective as far as getting pucks to the net and spending more time in the end zone.”

That’s right, Brandon Dubinsky, who has a storied past with Tortorella, was moved to the top line and led all forwards in ice time in the first game with the bench boss.

Of course, Tortorella did say that he needs to lean on Dubinsky.

PHT Morning Skate: Canadians no longer majority of NHL players

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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.

Canadians no longer make up the majority of NHL players, which is a first in the league’s history. (TSN)

Nail Yakupov has started the season on a high note. (Edmonton Sun)

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk would love to see an outdoor game played on Parliament Hill. (Parliament Hill)

Seems fair to say that Jaromir Jagr has been impressed by Connor McDavid:

NHL players weigh in on whether or not a hotdog is a sandwich. (Sportsnet)

Jeremy Roenick discusses what kind of football player Alex Ovechkin would be. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

Of course, that subject can’t be raised without linking back to this 2008 Onion video: