Video: Marc Staal crushes Matt Stajan but does it violate Rule 48?

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Expect the debates over the NHL’s Rule 48 about blindside shots and blows to the head to be fired up tonight.

During the third period of tonight’s Rangers-Flames game in Madison Square Garden, Calgary’s Matt Stajan carried the puck across the blue line and passed to a teammate as he entered the Rangers zone. While watching to see where his pass was headed, Stajan was annihilated by Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. Stajan hit the ice in a heap and needed assistance to get back to the bench. Staal was not penalized for the hit but Calgary was certainly upset by it and attempted to take out their frustrations on Staal throughout the remainder of the game to no avail. The Rangers won the game 3-2. As for the hit itself, judge for yourself to see what your instant reaction is.

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Our thought on the hit is simple. It’s a clean, very hard, and punishing hit. It’s not a blindside hit because Staal is approaching Stajan from the front. Just because Stajan has his head turned doesn’t absolve him from being able to skate unaware of his surroundings. Had Staal hit him from the side we’d be having a different discussion, but Staal came at him from the front. Staal’s elbows are in and it’s a punishing blow delivered from the shoulders. Stajan put himself at most risk for not keeping his eyes forward after making the pass. It’s not as if Staal came out of nowhere to make the hit, it’s just bad fortune for Stajan that Staal is a huge player that skates fast. The lesson here, as always, should be to keep your head up.

While Staal wasn’t penalized on the play, that certainly doesn’t mean the league can’t touch him if they feel he violated Rule 48. We’ve seen other players already get stung this year for hits that didn’t earn them penalties. While Staal could be punished, the NHL would be setting a bad example if they punish Staal for this hit. After all, if you take hits like this out of hockey, you’re not exactly playing hockey anymore.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.