James Neal

Diving fine has players more ‘aware’ of NHL’s crackdown on embellishment


If you haven’t seen the play that made Predators forward James Neal the first NHLer to be fined for diving, here you go:

That was Saturday in San Jose. And according to Sharks coach Todd McLellan, it’s the publicity that the fine has received, more than the $2,000 fine itself, that has players thinking twice about embellishing.

“I do believe the players are more aware of it right now and they don’t want to show up on a list or on TV, or talked about at all. So they’re aware of it,” McLellan said, per the Mercury News.

“Some of it is habit, trying to get it out of the game. Some of it is just being honorable. I think for the most part, the majority of players are aware of it and they don’t want it to affect their game. It’s their game. They really don’t want it to part of their game, so we have to clean it up a little bit.”

Related: To ‘attack’ embellishment, NHL wants to ‘bring alive’ old rule

Preds’ Neal fined for diving


Nashville Predators forward James Neal has been fined $2,000 by the NHL for diving.

He becomes the first player to receive supplemental discipline for embellishment.

The fine stems from an incident which occurred Dec. 13. Neal received a minor penalty for embellishment during the third period of a game in San Jose.

According to the league release, Neal was warned for embellishment on Nov. 13.

Neal was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey
Operations at 3:59 of the first period during NHL Game No. 237 at St. Louis
on Nov. 13. No on-ice penalty was assessed on that play.

Under NHL Rule 64, new this season, players receive a warning for the first offense before being fined for subsequent offenses.

Here is the breakdown:


Coyotes drop eighth straight on home ice


The Arizona Coyotes have dropped eight straight on home ice and seven of their last eight overall following a 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators Thursday night.

Antoine Vermette opened the scoring with his seventh of the season just over four minutes into the first; however, it was all Nashville after that.

Mike Fisher, James Neal and Ryan Ellis scored first period goals to give the Preds a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Calle Jarnkrok and Olli Jokinen added third period goals for Nashville. The Predators have now won back to back games and both meetings with the Coyotes.

“We’ve done everything from practice hard to video to anything you can imagine trying to get us out of it,” said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. “Ultimately, we have to get on the ice and get the job done if we’re going to get the results we want. Just 1-on-1 battles that we’re losing, and that’s unacceptable. We’ll just keep trying to find people to win those battles. We’re not finding the results we want so the frustration continues to build.

“But until we turn that frustration into mental resolve and getting the job done, more frustration will pile up.”

Mike Smith stopped 33 shots in the loss while Pekka Rinne picked up the win making 31 saves.

Avs drop fourth straight as Preds’ Rinne shuts them out


The Colorado Avalanche lost netminder Semyon Varlamov again on Tuesday due to a lingering groin injury, but their goaltending wasn’t the reason they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Nashville on Tuesday.

Calvin Pickard did an admiral job filling in for Varlamov. He stopped 33 of 34 shots and Filip Forsberg’s game-winning goal would have been a tough one to stop.

Gabriel Bourque and James Neal padded the lead with empty-net goals in the final two minutes of the contest.

At the other end of the ice, Pekka Rinne earned a 26-save shutout. He’s emerged as an early contender for the Vezina Trophy with a 18-5-1 record, 1.81 GAA, and .934 save percentage in 24 games this season. Perhaps he’ll get some consideration for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy too given that he’s putting up these numbers after missing most of the 2013-14 campaign because of a hip injury.

Colorado has now lost four consecutive games to fall to 9-13-6 in 2014-15. The Avalanche have to overcome a nine-point deficit if they want to make the playoffs. The only silver lining is there’s still plenty of time for them to do that.

Video: Shaw sends Neal into Blackhawks bench


It’s a battle of two teams in an early fight for the Central Division, so naturally it’s going to be physical. Just ask James Neal.

Neal, the Nashville Predators forward, was sent into the Chicago bench by Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw in the first period of Saturday’s game. Shaw isn’t the biggest guy, listed at only 5’11 tall. Meanwhile, Neal stands about 6’2″ tall. The hit sparked a brief melee near the bench.