questionable hits

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The Buzzer: Eberle fights Konecny; Cole’s questionable hit

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Three Stars

1. Blake Wheeler

The Blue Jackets put forth a nice effort on Sunday, but they couldn’t stop Blake Wheeler. He scored four goals (a hat trick plus an empty-netter), including the game-winner as Winnipeg greatly impeded Columbus’ push toward a playoff spot.

Wheeler extended his point streak to six games (five goals, seven assists for 12 points), and he’s been especially hot lately, as he combined Sunday’s four goals with three points (one goal, two assists) from Friday.

The 32-year-old now has 80 points in 65 games this season, the second-best total of his career. He has a strong chance of meeting or passing his career-high of 91 points in 81 games from 2017-18.

2. Mark Scheifele

Wheeler was the only player to manage four points on Sunday, while Scheifele stood ahead of everyone beyond his winger with three (everyone else scored two or fewer).

Scheifele generated his three points via assists, finishing that win against Columbus with a +4 rating. The 25-year-old center now has 75 points in 65 games during the 2018-19 campaign, seven behind his career-high of 82 back in 2016-17.

3. Claude Giroux

Among the many changes over the years in Philly, there seems to be one constant when things are going well: Claude Giroux turning it up a notch.

Sure, they’ve received great goaltending from Carter Hart, and are now getting sneaky-good work from Brian Elliott after the veteran healed up from injuries, but Giroux still drives the bus.

Giroux generated two assists as the Flyers beat the Islanders on Sunday, pushing his point streak to five consecutive games (two goals, seven assists). Remarkably, Giroux’s generated multiple points in four of those five games.

Overall, the 31-year-old forward has 70 points in 66 games.

Unlikely fight

You wouldn’t expect to see a fight between Jordan Eberle and Travis Konecny, but that’s what happened on Sunday, and it was a pretty spirited affair:

Suspension coming for Ian Cole?

The Colorado Avalanche defenseman was ejected for this ugly knee-to-knee on Devin Shore:

Highlights

Filip Chytil‘s no-look assist is probably the best moment from these Caps-Rangers highlights, but you’d likely also be entertained by the way things finished (in Alex Ovechkin‘s favor):

Jakob Silfverberg has an argument for Three Stars inclusion with a goal and an assist, especially if you factor in cool points. What a great way to score his 100th goal:

Factoids

Scores

WSH 3 – NYR 2 (SO)
PHI 4 – NYI 1
VGK 3 – VAN 0
ANA 2 – COL 1
OTT 3 – FLA 2
WPG 5 – CBJ 2
NSH 3 – MIN 2 (SO)
SJS 5 – CHI 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Video: Jason Chimera’s questionable hit on Adam McQuaid

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Washington Capitals winger Jason Chimera was booted from a big game against the Boston Bruins for a questionable hit on Adam McQuaid, which you can survey below:

While Chimera got a game misconduct for his bad deeds and the Bruins received a five-minute major power play opportunity, but no goals resulted in the interchange. Boston couldn’t score on that lengthy man advantage, however, and Washington went on to win a wild 3-2 shootout, securing a crucial two points.

That being said, the obvious question is whether or not Chimera should be available for the Capitals next game (and perhaps beyond). He certainly took plenty of strides before the hit, but the suspension-worthiness is up to debate.

So debate away, then. Was a five-minute major punishment enough? If a suspension is in order, how long should it be? Let us know.

Sidney Crosby might get Shanahan’s attention for cross-check

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It’s easy to feel bad for Sidney Crosby after his year-plus issues with concussions, but the thing that makes him different from many other stars – that driven, take everything seriously nature – doesn’t always manifest itself in the best ways. When Crosby loses his cool, he sometimes bends or even breaks the rules, with this cross-check being his latest regrettable moment:

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It falls into a category of infractions that have been getting the league’s attention (checks from behind) and with Duncan Keith getting a five-game suspension, stars aren’t totally off limits.

So let me ask the obvious question: should Sid the Kid receive a suspension for this hit? Let us know if this is suspension-worthy (and if so, for how long) in the comments.

Blackhawks, Canucks react to Keith elbowing Sedin

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Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith is saying the right things about his controversial elbow on Daniel Sedin. Keith said that he wasn’t trying to hurt Sedin, providing this explanation to Adam Jahns.

“The puck was up in the air from what I remember and I’m trying to close my gap and have a good gap on him,” Keith said. “Right at the last second, he moves forward. I don’t know where the puck is. It’s fast. Like I said, I hope he’s OK. I need to see the replay. I need to see it again.”

Here’s video of the offending hit, which also includes a check by Sedin from earlier in the game, one many believe inspired Keith’s actions. (Keith, curiously, didn’t remember that blow properly either – he might not be the kind of guy you want as an eyewitness, by the way.)

While Keith’s revisionist history might need some polishing, the Canucks’ anger is quite focused. Alain Vigneault thought the elbow was major penalty material while Henrik Sedin was reportedly “livid” about the hit. (Their complaints carry extra anger because Chicago won 2-1 in overtime.)

Jahns passes along something that could get blown out of proportion: Henrik said that Keith “made comments” before the elbow.

source:

Either way, Keith created quite a mess for himself – and likely some unwanted extra attention in future games.

Hitchcock on Ruutu’s hit: “What’s wrong with our game?”

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Stingy defense and stout goaltending are what make the St. Louis Blues a dominant team, but opponents shouldn’t dismiss their diverse offense. That group took a hit – literally and figuratively – when Tuomo Ruutu sent Andy McDonald into the boards during the Blues’ 2-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The one bit of potentially decent news is that it appears that McDonald’s “upper-body injury” is related to his right shoulder rather than more concussion issues, at least from Jeremy Rutherford’s initial reports.

Speaking of which, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t quite call the hit suspension-worthy, but felt that Ruutu’s check provided another example of the NHL’s collective moral dilemma.

“I didn’t like the hit,” Hitchcock said. “I thought the hit was certainly a penalty, whether it’s a suspension or not, who knows? But that’s what’s wrong with our game? The player was in a vulnerable position. He knocked his stick to knock him off balance and then pushed him hard into the boards. It’s a real tough play in hockey.”

Losing McDonald – again

While the Blues are accustomed to playing without McDonald these days, he was a real difference-maker in his scarce appearances this season. In just 21 games, McDonald has nine goals and 19 points. He carried a six-game points streak (four goals, five assists) and had points in nine of 10 contests before tonight’s loss.

Hitchcock gave a matter-of-fact response to possibly losing McDonald, who will be re-evaluated on Friday:

“We’ve got some adversity,” Hitchcock said. “Every team has it this time of year, we’ll just have to deal with it. We’ve dealt with it all year long.”

Punishment for Ruutu?

You’ve heard Hitchcock’s take and had a chance to review the video, so share your perspective. Does Ruutu deserve a fine, suspension or nothing at all for that hit on McDonald?

Either way, it’s the kind of loss that could make the Blues’ playoff bandwagon a little bit lighter.