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Predators activate Josi from IR, assign Ribeiro to AHL

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The Nashville Predators announced on Saturday afternoon that veteran forward Mike Ribeiro has been assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League, just one day after the team placed him on waivers after he had been a healthy scratch the past three games and requested a trade from the team.

None of the NHL’s 29 other teams put in a waiver claim for him on Saturday

In 46 games this season he has four goals and 21 assists.

While Ribeiro is on his way to the AHL, the Predators are getting one of their top defenseman back after activating Roman Josi from injured reserve.

Josi has been sidelined since the middle of January due to an injury he suffered as the result of a late hit from Boston Bruins forward Anton Blidh.

Blidh received a five-minute major for interference on the play.

Josi’s offensive production has dropped a bit this season with 22 points in 42 games, but he remains one of the better all-around blueliners in the NHL. His injury also happened to coincide with an injury to P.K. Subban that kept Nashville’s two top defenders out of the lineup for several games. Not only are both back in the lineup, but the Predators are starting to stack some wins together and enter Saturday back in one of the top three spots in the Central Division.

The Predators play a Red Wings team on Saturday night that will be dealing with a couple of injuries to Frans Nielsen and Nicklas Kronwall.

The dangerous line Brad Marchand sometimes skates with the NHL

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On Tuesday night Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand made some headlines again when he tripped Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman in the neutral zone with his skate. He did not receive any additional punishment from the league for the play.

As an isolated incident involving two nameless, faceless players it probably wouldn’t have been a play that received anywhere near as much attention as it did. It would be easy, and perhaps somewhat reasonable, to conclude that it was simply a hockey play that involved a player turning to move in the direction of the puck, and at the very least, being guilty of a tripping penalty.

But the play did not involve nameless, faceless players.

It involved Brad Marchand.

On one hand, he is a tremendous player that over the past two years has blossomed into one of the game’s best forwards after getting an increased role in the team’s offense. He is a player that the 29 other general managers outside of Boston would absolutely love to have on their team.

If one of them said they would not want him on their team, you can just assume they are lying. Or are really, really bad at their job.

But he is also player that skates a very dangerous line with the league.

He is a player that had just been fined $10,000 in his previous game before the Stralman incident for a dangerous trip on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Kronwall. He is a player that has an extensive history of plays in his career that involve him taking out his opponent’s legs.

He was already warned once this season for slew-footing (a play that is very different than a trip), an act that has earned him a suspension (two games in 2014-15) and a fine ($2,500 in 2011-12) previously in his career.

He has been suspended twice for clipping (three games in 2015-16 and five games in 2011-12).

In total, those five incidents, all plays that targeted the legs of an opponent, have cost him 10 games and more than $377,000 in lost salary (between fines and forfeited salary during suspensions) since the start of the 2011-12 season.

That is a lot, and still, the message does not seem to be getting through.

If the NHL’s department of player safety has shown us anything in its existence, it is that players with a history tend to get hammered when the message does not get through. When Matt Cooke kept getting called in for hearings and getting suspended for hits to the head, he eventually ended up crossing the line so many times that he finally got hit with a 17-game ban during the 2010-11 season (10 regular season games and the entire first round of the playoffs, which turned out to be a seven-game series).

When Raffi Torres couldn’t control himself from hitting his opponents in the head, he ended up losing half of a season.

Now, Marchand’s history of incidents aren’t quite on the same scale as those two, but the point remains: He has an extensive track record of a certain type of play, and it would seem reasonable to assume that at least one of these latest incidents would have warranted more than just a fine.

But this is where the NHL is in a tough spot with Marchand.

A player’s history does not become a factor until it is determined that a particular play is worthy of a suspension, and if there is another thing we have learned about the DoPS at this point it is that there are certain plays they do not tend to suspend for. Those are typically the plays that Marchand is involved in.

During the playoffs last year I went back through every suspension and fine the DoPS has issued since the department was formed at the start of the 2011-12 season and compiled a list of what does — and does not — tend to result in a suspension. I updated it to include this season’s 10 suspensions and five fines.

This does not include fines for embellishment or incidents not handled by the DoPS.

Notice where slew-footing and tripping, highlighted in yellow, sit.

suspensionsfines

Marchand’s borderline acts tend to be those that do not typically result in suspensions, mainly because one of the biggest goals of the DoPS in its development was to focus on direct hits to the head, or plays that could involve the head (boarding, elbowing, etc.).

Of the eight slew-footing incidents that have risen to the level of player safety, only two, including one for Marchand, warranted a suspension (and they were just a few weeks apart during the 2013-14 season). Six resulted in fines.

Astonishingly, two of the three clipping suspensions the league has handed out belong to Marchand.

The NHL, under the DoPS, has never suspended a player for tripping, and that is a precedent they are probably not going to break in the middle of a season unless it is an extremely egregious incident. Had the NHL suspended him for one of these past two plays (specifically the Kronwall one) he probably would have had a reason to appeal based on that, and would have stood a good chance of winning it.

There are two things that maybe the NHL as a league needs to consider here during the offseason.

The first is that maybe it should take into account a player’s history as soon as it looks at an incident. It might not be entirely fair, it might create the mindset that a particular player is getting picked on or targeted, but if it’s a player that has an extensive track record of similar plays it is probably a player that needs to be targeted.

The other is that the league — including the 30 general managers — need to set a new standard for what should happen on plays that target player’s legs like the ones we’ve talked about here. At this point it doesn’t seem to be a primary concern, perhaps because a slew foot or a trip (like the one involving Marchand and Kronwall) has not really resulted in a serious injury, whether it be to their leg or something worse after falling to the ice.

If it eventually did, you could bet that it would start to get more attention. Take, for example, the aforementioned Matt Cooke. When he wrecked Marc Savard‘s career with that horrendous hit a few years ago he did not receive a suspension for a play that everybody in the league — including his own team — wanted to see him suspended for because the league had a long-standing precedent that it was a legal play. Dirty. But legal.

When there was enough of an uproar, specifically because of that hit by Cooke a couple of other similar hits that season, it finally led to the creation of rule 48 and the development of the DoPS.

In the end, this is the fine line that you get with Marchand.

He is a great player. A top-line, possession driving scorer whose on-ice performance appeals to be the analytical and eye-test senses.

But he also skates a fine — and in certain areas reckless — line that makes him a thorn in the side of the NHL as much as it does his opponents.

NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings won’t have Kronwall, Ericsson in matchup with Pens

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Detroit Red Wings at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

Two teams jockeying for playoff positioning will go head-to-head on Thursday night, when the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins face-off at the Consol Energy Center.

For the third straight game, the Wings will be without two key defensemen, as Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson will be sidelined with injuries.

Kronwall has been out since Jan. 20 after getting his knee scoped.

The 35-year-old says he’s feeling better, but he’s still considered day-to-day at this point.

As for Ericsson, he’s also considered day-to-day. It seems unlikely that he’ll be able to play this weekend.

The Wings have dropped two of their last three games, and they allowed five goals to Boston in a 6-5 win on Sunday afternoon.

On a positive note, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have combined for 16 points since being reunited six games ago.

The Penguins will have to overcome injuries of their own, as they’ll be without Evgeni Malkin in this one. He’ll miss his seventh straight game because of a lower-body injury.

These two teams last played each other on Dec.31.

The Wings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in that game before the Penguins scored five unanswered goals.

That win could be seen as the turning point in Pittsburgh’s season.

They were 17-15-4 before that contest and are 11-4-4 since the win over Detroit.

“It might have been a turning point for sure,” Pens forward Porter said, per The Pittsburgh Tribune. “To battle back against a team like Detroit was huge for us. I think that jump-started a lot of guys’ games, and we started scoring a lot of goals. And even when we’re not scoring, we’re creating more chances.”

The Penguins currently own the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference by a slim margin.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh both have 64 points, but the Pens have a game in hand.

Zetterberg picks up 500th assist and 800th point in win over Sens

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Henrik Zetterberg reached not one, but two milestones in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.

His first assist on Tomas Tatar‘s power play goal was the 500th of his career.

His second period assist on Gustav Nyquist‘s goal was his 800th point.

Detroit never trailed in this game, as they led 1-0 after one and 3-1 after two. They got multi-point efforts from five players including Zetterberg, Tatar, Nyquist, Nicklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser.

The Wings’ Twitter account had a lot of reminding people that their captain reached two important milestones:

Senators center Kyle Turris reached a milestone of his own in the loss. His second period goal was the 100th of his NHL career.