NHL competition committee will focus on offside reviews and slashing

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When the NHL’s competition committee meets this week the topic of discussion will focus on two main areas according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.

Those two areas: video reviews of offside plays, and the way slashing is enforced by the on-ice officials during games.

Let’s start with the former because that subject has received quite a bit of attention this postseason, especially after the Nashville Predators had a goal taken away early in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final due to an offside review that was decided by the narrowest of margins.

Said Kypreos, “the conversation can range from eliminating it altogether to changing the way you challenge it.”

The criticism of the replay review often ranges from the fact it can take too long, to that some of the reviews are so close that it is almost impossible to tell if a player had his skate off the ice or cross the line before the puck. The argument from the anti-review crowd is that the rule wasn’t put into place to analyze goals down to the very last inch and was only there to correct glaring mistakes. But at his annual state of the league press conference before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the replay review system is working exactly as it was intended to work, and that the league will continue to enforce the offside rule.

Speaking of enforcing rules, that brings us to the topic of slashing which will also apparently be a focal point for the committee.

Kypreos mentions that the NHL has been monitoring slashing this season and figures that there are as many as 80 slashes per game. That, obviously, is a lot, especially when you consider it is only a 60 minute game. That is more than a slash per minute.

It is also something that has been noticed quite a bit this season given some very specific incidents, including Sidney Crosby‘s slash on Marc Methot that ended with the latter having his finger busted open, as well as Johnny Gaudreau being injured after he was the target of repeated slashes from the Minnesota Wild.

It’s almost as if teams have taken the “they can’t call everything” approach and just gone all in with the stick work.

Given the number of slashes that do happen it is unlikely that will ever happen, but it is still something that can — and should — be enforced more than it is.

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.