Red Wings unhappy with Brooks Orpik's knee-on-knee hit on Johan Franzen

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orpik-franzen-9-22.jpgConsider tensions escalated between the seemingly bitter rivals in Detroit and Pittsburgh. Familiarity breeds contempt for sure, but the two teams saw business pick up a bit in their pre-season game last night when Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik connected with a knee-on-knee collision with Red Wings forward Johan Franzen. The hit resulted in Franzen getting a “charley horse” and leaving the game, meanwhile Orpik got in a fight with Todd Bertuzzi after the hit and received a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct.

Understandably, the Red Wings are a bit upset in the wake of things as the hit came on the same knee Franzen had operated on last year and Johan Franzen is speaking out the loudest.

“It’s terrible,” Franzen said. “Stupidest play I ever seen. He lifted his foot up and put his knee inside of my leg…. I just put the puck back down deep and was trying to go get it, and he threw his knee out.”

Franzen, 30, didn’t skate today. He said he hoped to skate in the next day or two.

Does Orpik deserve to be suspended?

“Yeah,” Franzen said.

To be fair to Brooks Orpik, he doesn’t have a history of knee-hunting plays the way some players in the past have had (Derian Hatcher and Bryan Marchment come to mind immediately). Orpik does have one black mark on his record when back in 2006 he had an ugly hit from behind on Hurricanes forward Erik Cole, a hit that broke Cole’s neck.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock put things in a little bit or perspective, one that will likely drive Pens fans crazy.

“It’s one of those things in the league we’d like to look after each other’s knees. To me, that’s uncalled for,” Babcock said. “Obviously, I didn’t think it was a very good hit. I don’t think they’d be happy if one of our guys did that to Sid (Crosby) or (Evgeni) Malkin.” 

The Penguins have been on the wrong side of knee-on-knee hits before, most notably with former defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Orpik’s hit wasn’t the only knee-on-knee incident last night and it won’t be the last. If Franzen’s only going to be off his skates for a day or two, the reaction comes off looking hyperbolic, but the action is what should be punished.

The only problem with doing that is that there was no TV coverage of last night’s game. Good luck getting anyone from the NHL to make a decision based on wildly biased reports from each side. Don’t expect the fans to keep it civil either. Asking for peace amongst fans of the Penguins and Red Wings, however, might be like asking for cats and dogs to knock it off, however.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.