Did Fisher's hit on Kaleta warrant a misconduct?

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Last night against the Buffalo Sabres late in the first period, Mike Fisher was given a five
minute major for boarding on Patrick Kaleta and then given a game
misconduct as well. It was similar to the hit by Alex Ovechkin on Brian
Campbell (of course, it’s not getting as much attention nationally) but
at the same time it wasn’t. It certainly didn’t appear on replays that
Fisher had shoved Kaleta to the boards; in fact, Fisher claims Kaleta
embellished the fall just a bit
:

“I didn’t touch him. He should be
playing soccer. I’m not going to
criticize. It’s a tough call to make if you’re a ways away. I saw the
replay and it was definitely a dive. He embarrassed himself.”

I’m
not one to completely discredit someone who falls into the boards that
hard. If Kaleta did a take dive there, it was an incredibly dumb thing to
do; he was hurt on the play and didn’t return to the game didn’t return to the game until the third period. But was this
truly a case of Fisher dangerously shoving Kaleta into the boards? Since
NHL.com doesn’t have the play on video, after the jump we go through a
series of photos to try to make the determination.

Kaleta and
Fisher were racing for the puck on an icing call, with Kaleta slowing
down directly in front of Fisher. Fisher has his hands up in a natural
position as he gets ready for what is most likely a violent crash into
the boards.

Fisher1.jpg

It’s something you see all the time, especially as two
players race to the puck. You can also see that Kaleta has the brakes
on in full, while Fisher does not. This is similar in car race, where
the car in front brakes quicker that the car on his bumper, creating a
bump and spin out.

Fisher2.jpg

So the issue at hand is whether Fisher extended
his hands out, and aided Kaleta to lose his balance and hit the boards.
This is just a split second after the first picture, as Fisher’s left
arm seems to be in almost the exact same position as before. Kaleta is
already starting to brace himself, leaning forward.

Fisher3.jpg

Kaleta loses
his balance and falls forward. He’s a good distance away from the
boards, and it’s a violent collision. It’s not something you want to
see. But Fishers left arm is still in almost the exact same position as
before. We can’t get a good look at his right, but how much of a shove
could he give him?

This really isn’t all that similar to
Ovechkin’s hit, as the players involved were in two separate positions.
Campbell and Ovechkin were racing for the puck, but Campbell came back
around and in front of Ovechkin and was then hit. Kaleta and Fisher were
racing side by side for the puck, with Kaleta getting front position on
Fisher as they braced to touch up the puck.

Fisher certainly
didn’t “hit” Kaleta, though there’s no doubt he had position directly
behind him. Should Fisher be at fault for having his hand on Kaleta’s
back, who then loses his balance and goes head first into the boards?

How
about the NHL enforce no-touch icing, like everyone wants, so that we
don’t have these type of ‘hits’ or falls any longer?

The Buzzer: History for Lundqvist; Blood from McDavid

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Three Stars

1. Jonathan Marchessault

The Golden Knights have been pretty hot lately (now eight wins in their last 10 games), but Marchessault isn’t having the easiest time. Heading into Saturday, he only had a goal and an assist in his last 10 contests.

Marchessault broke out during Vegas’ lopsided win against the Penguins, generated his second career hat trick. He’s the second Golden Knights player to generate a hat trick, with William Karlsson providing the other two.

This gives Marchessault 17 goals and 34 points in 50 games this season.

2. Steven Stamkos

Stamkos extended his point streak to six games with two goals and an assist, giving him three goals and seven assists for 10 points during that span.

This gives Stamkos 26 goals in 2018-19, one short of last season’s total.

3. Tyson Barrie

The Avalanche lit up the Kings on Saturday, and Barrie played into that, collecting three assists. Barrie now has five assists in his last three games.

It’s quite the season so far for the underrated offensive defenseman, as he has 37 points in 44 games. The Avs blueliner was quite impressive last season, too, as his 57 points came in just 68 contests last season.

Barrie’s 37 points ties him for eighth among defensemen with Keith Yandle, even though Barrie’s missed some time with injuries.

Rough, eventful night for the Oilers

Connor McDavid wasn’t just on the losing end of a game against the Flames, he was also left bloodied on Saturday.

Despite the loss, Mikko Koskinen made some impressive saves. This behind-the-back bit was the odder one, while this one was more … traditional?

Consider this a 3b (or maybe 2b?) for the three stars: Mark Giordano generated a goal and two assists for three points in this one. Giordano now has an outstanding 52 points in 48 games this season, leaving him just four points behind his career-high of 56 from 2015-16.

Hey, at least Milan Lucic is heating up for the Oilers, right bummed out fans?

Oh yeah, the Zamboni also broke down, playing into the night of comic relief.

Highlights of the Night

Here’s that behind-the-back Koskinen save, to spare you a click:

Nolan Patrick really did pull a move straight out of “NHL 19,” didn’t he?

This Stamkos to Yanni Gourde goal is a lot of fun to watch.

Factoids

Up next at fifth place is Curtis “Cujo” Joseph, who’s at 454 wins. After that, it’s a steeper climb to fourth place (Roberto Luongo at 480 and counting).

Scores

ANA 3 – NJD 2
COL 7 – LAK 1
STL 3 – OTT 2
DAL 4 – WPG 2
NYR 3 – BOS 2
PHI 5 – MTL 2
TBL 6 – SJS 3
FLA 4 – NSH 2
MIN 2 – CBJ 1
VGK 7 – PIT 3
CGY 5 – EDM 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Trocheck hasn’t missed a beat for Panthers

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Vincent Trocheck wasn’t even supposed to be playing for the Florida Panthers this soon, let alone seemingly jumping right back to full-strength, as if his ankle was never fractured.

Heading into Friday, the Panthers were on a seven-game losing streak, facing a weekend that sure looked like it would set the stage for one or two additional losses.

Instead, the Panthers now have back-to-back wins, and they’ve done so against two legitimate NHL contenders.

On Friday, the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Trocheck assisted on Mike Matheson‘s game-winning goal, posted highly impressive possession stats, three shots on goal, and seven (!) hits.

That would have already been a highly impressive effort for a player coming off a pretty traumatic injury, but Trocheck was arguably even better during Saturday’s 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators.

While his fancy stats were a little choppier, Trocheck showed up on the scoreboard even more, generating a goal and an assist. He looked awfully spry on that goal, by the way:

That breakaway score ended up being the game-winner, actually.

After generating three points in his two games back, Trocheck now has 17 points in 20 games this season.

Now, the Panthers points as a team? They’re now at 46 points in 47 games played, leaving them at least 12 points behind the Penguins (who have 58 points, and could add more against the Golden Knights during a Saturday game that’s in progress). To put things mildly, the odds are stacked high against the Panthers for a credible push toward a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Then again, the odds were also against Trocheck returning as soon as mid-January, and he’s instead making a big impact for Florida.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Ref pushing Blues’ Barbashev gives us some comic relief

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In these trying times, sometimes you just need to see a zany mishap where a hockey player loses a skate blade, and hilarity ensues.

OK, that might be highly specific, but such bits of bad luck usually do provide some real comedy. Even by those standards, this was some good stuff, as Blues forward Ivan Barbashev got a boost from an on-ice official, and it was quite a boost down the ice.

You can watch that moment in the video above this post’s headline, and likely have a nice chuckle.

The Blues ended up beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Saturday, so Barbashev & Co. can share a bigger laugh after the game.

***

Speaking of comic relief and needing a push, enjoy the Zamboni from Saturday’s Oilers game:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins’ Rask helped off ice after huge collision

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Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask needed help off of the ice – and took quite a while to leave the ice – after a frightening collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil.

Moments after this post went up on Saturday, the Bruins provided an unsettling – if, sadly, not surprising – update that Rask suffered a concussion and will not return to the game.

You can see the collision (and get an idea of how long it took Rask to leave the ice) in the video above this post’s headline.

This is the Bruins’ final game before the All-Star break, and they won’t play again until they host the Winnipeg Jets in Boston on Jan. 29, so at least there isn’t much pressure for Rask to rush back to action too soon.

Rask began the game tied with Tiny Thompson at 252 wins, the most in Bruins’ franchise history.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.