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

NHLPA will indeed appeal Vermette’s 10-game suspension


The NHLPA will “review” the 10-game suspension handed to Antoine Vermette for abuse of an official, according to a wide variety of sources including agent Allan Walsh.

TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that the appeal/review will take place sometime in the next two weeks.

The incident happened during the Anaheim Ducks’ 1-0 win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (you can watch video of it above).

As it stands, Vermette is set to lose just under $100K in salary thanks to the suspension. A March 12 home game against the Washington Capitals would mark his first game back if the NHLPA’s appeal bid is unsuccessful.

The Ducks play their first game without Vermette against the Florida Panthers tonight.

Panthers’ present to Jagr: A wild OT win vs. Sharks


The Florida Panthers twitter feed joked about needing coffee for a rare late game in San Jose against the Sharks, but their eventual 6-5 OT win could leave their fans so excited they’ll struggle to sleep.

(Or … conversely, so spent emotionally that they conk out on their coaches.)

If you want an idea of how thrilling this game was at times, consider this: the latter events of the contest probably topped the five-goal first period.

Consider some of the high points of what happened late in the contest:

  • Jaromir Jagr celebrated his 45th birthday with the 1,900th point of his distinguished, remarkable NHL career. At that point, it seemed like Florida might just put a bow on this game with a 5-3 lead.
  • Joe Pavelski had other ideas. The Sharks captain scored two goals to send this game into overtime, hitting the 20-goal mark in the process. It remains to be seen how injured Roberto Luongo is from the sequence in which Pavelski made it 5-5, but he was at least hurt enough to leave the game with about 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
  • This forced James Reimer into the net, aka the guy who very briefly joined the Sharks (watching Martin Jones during the playoffs, more or less). Reimer ended up making two saves and will probably be credited with a win.

  • The Panthers put together some exciting chances in a brief overtime period, including a thwarted semi-breakaway attempt by Michael Matheson. Eventually, Jonathan Huberdeau continued his red-hot if far-too-late start to the season with the OT winner, thanks to a ludicrous pass by Aleksander Barkov.

Oh yeah, the game also included some brilliant saves and a failed Pavelski penalty shot attempt … and that five-goal first period.

After the Blues really kept the lid on the Red Wings in a low-scoring game at Joe Louis Arena, just about everything happened at the Shark Tank.

San Jose has to be frustrated in its play lately, although grabbing a point here shows that the Sharks won’t just go easily. The Panthers, meanwhile, likely feel as optimistic as they’ve been in some time about a possible charge toward a wild card spot.

“Wild” certainly seemed to be the theme of this one.

Video: Jaromir Jagr celebrates 45th birthday with 1,900th point


On his 45th birthday, Jaromir Jagr got what just about any reasonable hockey player wouldn’t even ask for: his 1,900th career regular season point.

Fitting for a guy who just seems to wade through milestone after milestone, right?

Jagr’s 22nd assist of 2016-17 did the trick on Aleksander Barkov‘s 13th goal of the season. At the moment, it seemed like the tally would put things away at 5-3 … but that wasn’t the case. Instead, Joe Pavelski remarkably fired two goals past Roberto Luongo – who was hurt on the second one – to send this game to overtime.


But let’s focus, for the moment, on that Jagr assist. Watch it in the video above.

Flames climb into wild card spot as Flyers squander similar chance


Heading into Wednesday’s game, both the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers were essentially a win for grabbing the last wild card spot in their respective conferences.*

The Flames essentially stepped on the Flyers’ heads to go up an extra rung on the ladder today. With a 3-1 win, Calgary ends the night in the West’s wild card spot while Philly lost a step or two.

It’s fair to wonder if the Flames will last long there, but really, that just cements that this was a key win:

West wild card ranks

1. Predators – 62 points in 56 games
2. Flames – 61 in 58

Kings – 60 in 55
Canucks – 56 in 57
Jets – 56 in 59
Stars – 54 in 58

Yep, it’s easy to envision the Kings climbing ahead of the Flames with those three extra games, but Calgary’s nonetheless in a better spot than they were yesterday. They could also conceivably benefit from, say, the Predators stumbling a bit.

Meanwhile, the Flyers really soothed Toronto’s wounds from the Maple Leafs’ frustrating loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets:

Abbreviated look at race for last wild card spot

Last spot: Maple Leafs – 63 points in 56 games

Flyers – 61 points in 57 games
Islanders – 60 points in 55 games
Panthers – 58 in 54 (in action later tonight vs. San Jose)
Devils – 58 in 56
Sabres – 58 in 57

With the New York Rangers more interested in stepping into the Metro’s top three than their wild card opponents considering their 75 standings points, many of these teams are eyeing that lone wild card spot.

The New York Islanders stand as one of the big winners in seeing the Maple Leafs and Flyers lose in regulation on Wednesday. It might feel strange to see the Flames hand the Flyers a fairly costly loss, but that’s how it goes when everything is so tight in both conferences.

* Technically, the Maple Leafs would lead the Flyers thanks to games in hand, but it would have been a virtual tie. The greater point remains that Philly could have made up some serious ground.

Blues remain hot under Yeo, close off perfect five-game road trip


It was an emotional night at Joe Louis Arena as Detroit Red Wings fans paid tribute to late owner Mike Ilitch, but on the ice, the St. Louis Blues were the ones controlling all the momentum. Then again, they’ve been hogging a lot of the momentum since Mike Yeo took over for Ken Hitchcock.

Tonight’s 2-0 win continues a hot streak for Carter Hutton (back-to-back shutouts, four shutouts in his last six road starts) and the rest of the team under their new head coach.

They’ve won eight of 10 games overall, but looking a little closer makes their accomplishments even more impressive. Instead of a five-game road trip ending the “honeymoon” period for Yeo, they won all of those games. They’ve won six of seven under Yeo so far.

While it’s true that Petr Mrazek probably kicks himself for Ivan Barbashev’s 1-0 goal, the bottom line is that Detroit just couldn’t get much going against that smothering St. Louis possession game. Mike Milbury critiqued Mrazek for allowing the eventual game-winner by being off his angle:

This leaves the Blues fairly comfortably in the third spot in the Central, or failing that, seemingly in a great position to at least make the playoffs. It makes questions about what to do with Kevin Shattenkirk that much tougher, but it’s a better problem to have than all the questions they were facing when things were getting uglier under Hitch.