Steve Yzerman departed the Detroit Red Wings organization to become the Tampa Bay Lightning GM starting in 2010-11, but the team and its fans still revere Stevie Y. (It probably helps that Yzerman’s Lightning are in the Eastern Conference, so the blood doesn’t have to boil that often.) Check out this video tribute to the great former captain and the crowd’s standing ovation.
Hyman received a major penalty and game misconduct for the hit, which was considered interference. He also fought with Matt Grzelcyk following that check on McAvoy. It’s plausible that Hyman lost his cool as the Maple Leafs were on their way to a 6-3 loss to the Bruins on Saturday.
The league notes that the check came well after McAvoy released the puck, describing Hyman’s infraction as a “late, forceful, high hit.” The “predatory nature” of the hit also factored into Hyman being suspended.
Here’s video of the hit, along with the NHL Department of Player Safety’s explanation for the suspension:
This counts as Hyman’s first NHL suspension, something that was mentioned in the league’s video. So far, it seems like McAvoy wasn’t injured by the check, but sometimes players realize they’ve been injured more than a day following a collision. (It would certainly be crucial if McAvoy avoids missing time, as the Bruins are very banged-up right now.)
You can see the fight in this Sportsnet clip:
If McAvoy ends up being OK (or mostly OK), this could go down as a nice weekend for the Bruins, as Boston also beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 in OT on Sunday.
The Philadelphia Flyers did not have a very pleasant start to their Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg.
Here is a look at the play.
Connor went straight to the Jets’ locker room for the remainder of the second period but was back on the bench for the start of the third period.
That play resulted in a little scrum after the fact that also saw Jets defender Dustin Byfuglien get a two-minute minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
Given that Hagg was ejected from the game you can be sure the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will take an extra look at it. We will likely find out later on Sunday or Monday if it is worthy of any additional discipline.
Given all of the late hits that have happened around the NHL over the past couple of weeks that did not result in a disciplinary hearing, it was easy to think Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman was going to avoid any supplemental discipline for his hit on Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy on Saturday night.
But this one may have been too late to ignore.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Sunday that Hyman will have a disciplinary hearing for interference.
Hyman was ejected from the game for the hit, while McAvoy, who just recently returned to the lineup, was injured as a result.
You can see the play in the video above.
There have been a number of controversial, late hits around the NHL in recent weeks from Ryan Reaves‘ hit on Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson (that left Wilson concussed and still sidelined), to Tom Wilson’s hit on New Jersey Devils forward Brett Seney, to this hit by Dallas Stars forward Brett Ritchie on Pittsburgh Penguins defender Jusso Riikkola.
All were clearly late hits that were initiated long after their opponents had moved the puck.
While Reaves and Wilson were ejected for their hits, they did not rise to the level of supplemental discipline because they did not target the head or result in significant head contact. That is usually the line the NHL draws for late hits unless it is an egregiously late hit. This one did not appear to contact the head, but it was definitely late and sent McAvoy dangerously into the boards.
None of these hits are acceptable or examples of good clean hockey. They are not even examples of a player “finishing their check.” They are reckless hits on players that are not eligible to be hit, and in some cases are resulting in injuries. If those types of hits continue the NHL will have to start doing more than just ejecting and penalizing the players that distribute them.
When he joined the Minnesota Wild during the 2014-15 season Devan Dubnyk helped turn around what was quickly becoming a lost season. At the time of his acquisition the Wild were going through a brutal six-game losing streak, were under .500 for the season, and pretty much everyone around the NHL was waiting for then-coach Mike Yeo to take the fall for the struggles.
Instead of firing the coach, the Wild attempted to address what was at the time their single biggest issue — goaltending.
So they sent a draft pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Dubnyk, and in his first start with the team stopped all 18 shots he faced in a shutout win over the Buffalo Sabres.
From that point on the Wild were fine for the remainder of the season.
Dubnyk more than solidified the goaltending position, recorded a .936 save percentage in his 39 starts after the trade, finished in the top-five in Hart Trophy and Vezina Trophy voting, and even won the Masterton Trophy.
In the three full seasons that followed he has been one of the most consistent and durable goalies in the league. He played at least 60 games each season, he never had a save percentage lower than .918, while his overall mark of .920 was sixth best in the league. His even-strength number of .929 was fourth best in the league.
He has been, by pretty much every objective measurement, one of the best goalies in the league.
That is what makes his current struggles for a suddenly-slumping Wild team so surprising.
After getting benched early in Minnesota’s blowout loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night (he gave up three goals on the first six shots he faced) his season save percentage is down to .907, while he is currently mired in the worst extended slump of his Minnesota tenure.
Following that game Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said it would be sitting there and lying to say he isn’t concerned about Dubnyk. He also added he was concerned about a lot of players on the team, but that his goalie is definitely one of them.
Just how bad has it been for Dubnyk lately?
In his past nine appearances he has managed only an .857 save percentage, a level of play that has been unheard of for Dubnyk in Minnesota. It is not only his worst nine-game stretch since joining the Wild, it is rare for him to have a stretch of play where his save percentage dips under .900.
If you break the past four seasons down to nine-game stretches he has only been under .900 over nine games just 10 percent of the time.
He has been under .910 just 20 percent of the time.
That performance has played a big role in the team’s recent struggles.
The question is how much of a concern this should really be for the Wild?
On one hand, his recent track record is what it is. He’s been outstanding for more than three full years with the Wild, and he was probably a lot better than he got credit for when he was getting crushed behind some abysmal Edmonton teams.
But he’s also 32 years old, and there are a lot of miles on those tires, especially since becoming the starter in Minnesota.
Since Jan. 14, 2015 (when he was acquired) Dubnyk’s 253 games played are 14 more than any other goalie in the league, while only four others have appeared in more than 230. He has played more than 800 more minutes than any other goalie in the league and is one of only three goalies to face more than 6,800 shots (Cam Talbot and Henrik Lundqvist are the other two).
He’s faced 7,137.
That is a huge workload.
Given how good he’s been for so long it’s probably more than a little premature to suggest he is starting to break down. Especially when goalies are just like any other position in the league where players are prone to hot streaks and cold streaks. The NHL season isn’t about consistency for anyone; it’s about peaks and valleys where even the best players go through extended slumps. This is just one of the first times we have seen this extended level of play from Dubnyk in a few years.
But he is also not getting any younger and the Wild are still leaning on him pretty heavily.
If nothing else it is something to watch for the Wild as the season progresses because when he is at his best he is going to give them a chance every night. Lately, though, he hasn’t been at that level and it’s been one of the problems plaguing the Wild.