I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Flames win eighth in a row, but injuries ruin the party


Is Thursday becoming the night of mixed blessings?

OK, two instances – one that can still go the other way – fail to really make a “pattern,” but the Calgary Flames are feeling the Tampa Bay Lightning’s pain right now.

While the Bolts lost three forwards to injury in cruising to a win against the Minnesota Wild, the Flames are likely less focused on their 4-0 lead against the Montreal Canadiens than they are two worrisome issues for their defensemen.

Dougie Hamilton‘s night has already been confirmed to be finished thanks to an awkward-looking lower-body injury from the second period. Recent trade acquisition Michael Stone took a very labored exit from the ice during the final frame, however, giving the impression that he might have suffered a shoulder/upper-body injury.

The Flames lead 4-0 as of this writing, but even if they manage to win, this could be a costly game for Calgary. Montreal might not feel a ton of sympathy after Carey Price missed the game thanks to flu symptoms.

Update: Calgary won 5-0, extending its winning streak to eight games and putting the Flames a stride or two behind the races for second and third in the Pacific.

Video: Getzlaf loses his head, covers Panik’s; Stick caught in Tkachuk’s visor


With players suffering injuries and coaches getting angry, Thursday night might need a little comic relief.

Consider this a combo boost of amusing moments, though your mileage may vary with Ryan Getzlaf‘s mini-bout with Richard Panik. The Ducks ended up shutting out the Blackhawks thanks to a strong performance by Jonathan Bernier.

You can watch that fight in the video above, while Alex Galchenyuk‘s stick got caught in Matthew Tkachuk‘s helmet/visor from what’s so far been a blowout game for the Flames against the Canadiens:

Calgary ended up handling the Habs 5-0, but injuries marred the night. Also, Kris Versteeg fought Paul Byron:

This Getty Images shot explains some of the comic elements of that moment:

via Getty

Also, check out Getzlaf getting in the extra shot. That’s bad fighting etiquette, folks.

Finally, there is this comparison:

Whoa, Vigneault really roasted the NHL after failed challenge


It’s one thing for Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault to deem the 3-3 goal from Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes as “the wrong call” (which he did). Eyebrows might raise due to the way he said it, though.

“Ask the league, they’re going to spin it anyway so they look alright and that’s the way it always is,” Vigneault said, according to Newsday’s Steve Zipay.

Well, wow.

The 3-3 goal was the first of two third-period power-play goals for Sebastian Aho, who’s become quite the story in hitting 20 goals as a rookie. The league’s Situation Room blog provided the following explanation of a goal you can see below:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line.

(Bolded by the league.)

The league explanation was short on details, while Vigneault got more specific with his gripes:

Could a fine be coming for AV?

However he feels, the Rangers lost in regulation, hurting their chances of winning the three-time slugfest for the second and third spots in the Metro with the Penguins and Blue Jackets.

Bozak’s one-versus-all goal highlights Leafs’ big regulation win vs. Flyers


There’s something special about Tyler Bozak scoring a huge, highlight reel goal in such a significant game for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If you frequented Twitter during some of the franchise’s darker days, Bozak was a polarizing figure, drawing the ire of some stats-minded people who believed that he was placed in too much of an elevated role.

Even if such a thought was agreeable, the bile directed at Bozak was at times jarring, especially since it was a coach’s decision.

While a lot of key figures from that time are gone now, Bozak’s still around, but it’s a happier situation. So there he was on Thursday, scoring a fantastic all-versus-one goal against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Some late drama meant that Bozak’s marker wasn’t the game-winner, but the Leafs held on for a crucial 4-2 win tonight, managing to do so in regulation. You may notice from that Bozak clip that Frederik Andersen began the sequence making some tough saves, holding the pattern of his recent strong play:

With the Islanders in action tonight, it’s possible that this could change, but at the moment the Maple Leafs climbed back into the East’s second wild card spot at 74 standings points. Beating the Flyers without even handing them a charity point also means keeping Philly locked in at 70.

Update: The Lightning and Islanders won their respective games, so the Isles move back ahead of the Leafs.

About a month remains in the 2016-17 season, so there could be more twists and turns. At the moment, this seems like a big win, and Bozak scored a key goal.

As much as this breakthrough campaign is about ahead-of-schedule rookies like Auston Matthews, it must be a treat for Bozak and other guys who spent their formative years languishing on mediocre or even lousy teams.

(And, hey, Nazem Kadri pitched in the empty-netter.)

Rash of injuries ruins Lightning’s win against Wild


On the scoreboard, the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking sharp so far against the Minnesota Wild. Heck, even Andrej Sustr has a goal.

We’ve seen some big comebacks lately, so it’s not safe to assume that the Bolts will just cruise to victory. Yet, even if they do, Thursday could pose some problems.

The Lightning are crossing their fingers about injury situations for forwards Tyler Johnson and Vladislav Namestnikov after separate moments of concern.

Johnson needed help off the ice after a collision (possibly knee-to-knee) with Wild forward Nino Niederreiter while Namestnikov also needed help off the ice following an awkward fall, which you can watch below. The Johnson injury is included in the clip above this post’s headline.

With Steven Stamkos injured and Brian Boyle shuttled off to Toronto, these injuries could make the Lightning especially thin at center. It’s unclear how bad either ailment is at this time, however, so we’ll see.

We do know that neither will return tonight, though:

Update: The good news for Tampa Bay is that they won 4-1. The bad news is that ANOTHER Lightning forward got hurt, as Cedric Paquette also left Thursday’s game.