The Battle of Ontario is alive and well. In Ottawa’s game in Toronto, Senators forward Nick Foligno delivered a low check to Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf in the same mold of Brad Marchand’s check on Sami Salo and Evgeni Malkin’s low check on Vinny Lecavalier. We can debate the legality of all three hits, but the fact remains that the hip check is returning to the game. In some cases, the low hip check.
For the record, Foligno received a two-minute penalty on the play.
How long before the new buzzword in the NHL is “low bridge?” Take a look for yourself at Foligno’s handiwork:
Whether any of these are legal hits or not, the reaction from the opponent was the same: anger. The Canucks were upset with Marchand’s low check on Salo that earned the Bruins’ forward a five-game suspension. Vinny Lecavalier was fuming after Malkin up-ended him with a low hit late in the Pens victory over the Lightning over the weekend. And Dion Phaneuf? He wasn’t happy about an opponent going low either.
So what did Phaneuf do? He waited until the right opportunity, lined Foligno up for a check of his own, and then dropped the gloves with the willing combatant. For fans who want the players to police themselves and “handle it on the ice,” this is exactly the kind of response they’d expect.
Take a look at the response:
Mike Milbury: Not a fan of the shootout spin-o-rama
The shootout is a lot of things to a lot of people, but when it comes to hockey fanatics, most are down on it deciding so much in the standings. Mike Milbury certainly doesn’t seem to be a fan, but he’s irked the most by the trend of forwards befuddling goalies with a spin-o-rama. Does he have a point?
Early on in the season, it seemed like some tough playoff moments might have broken Roberto Luongo’s psyche. The Vancouver Canucks didn’t seem so hot, either, beyond the clockwork reliability of the Sedin twins.
Much like their fellow 2011 Stanley Cup finalists in Boston, the Canucks have straightened things out to the point that they’re back alongside the league’s elites. Vancouver widened their Northwest Division lead over the Minnesota Wild by five points thanks to Luongo’s 3-0 shutout and rose to the No. 1 spot in the NHL’s standings in the process.
Naturally, the standings can be deceiving given imbalanced amounts of games played at this point. Here’s a quick-and-dirty look at the league’s top five teams based on points:
Vancouver: 25-13-3 for 53 points (41 games played) Rangers: 24-9-4 for 52 points (37 GP) Chicago: 24-11-4 for 52 points (39 GP) Boston: 25-10-1 for 51 points (36 GP) Detroit: 25-13-1 for 51 points (39 GP)
As you can see, the four teams “below” the Canucks have at least two games to vault over them. At this point in the season, it’s doubtful that these teams are doing much scoreboard watching, although the Blackhawks and Red Wings might be the exception since they’re in the same Central Division.
The big picture takeaway is still very positive for the Canucks, though. Luongo is playing well enough to (temporarily) silence his critics and support players are easing some of the scoring burden on the Sedins.
After those early hiccups, it seems likely that the Canucks are going to be fixtures once the playoffs roll around.
The 66-year-old Bernie Parent may have said it best. After stopping all six shots he faced in about four minutes of play in the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game, the Flyers legend exited stage right for the last time to a memorable standing ovation. Always a man who was quick with a joke, Bernie Parent had this to say about his afternoon in the sun: “I’m still in my prime.”
The 45,000+ fans took full advantage of their opportunity to salute the man that brought a pair of Vezinas, a pair of Conn Smythes, and a pair of Stanley Cups to the City of Brotherly Love. The only thing that was missing was a sign that said: “Only Jesus saves more than Bernie Parent.”
Starting a fight in the final five minutes is a big no-no in the NHL. That’s the lesson Tomas Kopecky should have learned when he received a match penalty for his punch to Michael Del Zotto’s face with only seven seconds left in New York’s 4-1 win over Florida on Friday night. It’s a lesson that should have been reinforced when Mike Rupp took exception and returned the favor with his fists to Kopecky’s face afterwards. It’s a lesson that may conclude with a call from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. His attendance for Saturday night’s game against Montreal hangs in the balance.
Right now, Rangers fans are probably convinced that the “A” on the front of Kopecky’s sweater doesn’t stand for “alternate captain.”