Marc-Andre Gragnani is playing on the second PP unit tonight for the Canucks. Chris Tanev is coming out of the lineup.

 

My weekly Canucks Army piece is up - I spoke with  Merrimack reporter who gave me some great stuff on Joe Cannata, one of the best goalies in the NCAA.

 

I didn't catch the end of the Buffalo/Anaheim game, but a ton of penalty minutes were assessed at the 20 minute mark of period three. I am going to guess that Patrick Kaleta had something to do with it...

 

Ryan Miller played great for the Sabres - arguably his best game of the season, as he posted a 43 save shutout.

 

Cody Hodgson had no points, but he played over 16 minutes, including four on the power play. He also won five of eight faceoffs.

 

The Nuge has points in three straight since returning from injury. Gagner has no points over that span.

 

Shattenkirk had three points and five shots on goal for the Blues. Such a good young defenseman.

 

McDonald scored twice and played over 20 minutes - great to see, as he's had a tough road back from his concussion. A great buy low (probably not as much as he was last week) for the rest of the season.

 

Chris Stewart has three goals in his last five games. Turning a corner, perhaps?

 

Watched most of the Dallas/Pittsburgh game – was a great contest, both teams were skating really hard.

 

Amazing what Pittsburgh continues to do without Crosby. Staal is looking dominant also every shift, and Malkin and Neal continued their strong play, combining for nine shots on goal.

 

Dallas liked Souray’s size and physical presence last night – he played over 25 minutes, scoring a goal and adding four shots on goal.

 

Kris Letang left the game with a likely concussion after a very suspect hit from Eric Nystrom.

 

What’s wrong with Toronto? Lack of confidence in goaltending, which leads to players not playing their proper roles.

 

Lupul was one of the few good Leafs in Chicago, finishing with two points and three shots on goal.

 

Jake Gardiner has been really solid all season, but he was far from it last night. One of his worst games in the NHL.

 

Marian Hossa had two goals and could have had another few. One of those games where he goes into “beast mode” when he has the puck.

 

Nick Leddy looks more and more like Keith – skating, passing, etc – every time I watch Chicago play.

 

Pat Kane had his best game in a long time – two points, six shots on goal. Took a few faceoffs, too, with Toews still out.

 

Another awful start from Crawford - Emery got the win in relief and will be given a chance to run with the starting gig (once again).

 

Oduya was pointless in 20 minutes of ice time, and he saw time on both the PP and PK.

 

I thought both Vancouver and San Jose did excellent jobs at the deadline at creating more defined roles for their clubs. The Canucks added defensive stalwart Sami Pahlsson, while the Sharks picked up an elite checking winger in Daniel Winnik, and a very good one in TJ Galiardi. Fantasy relevance is indirect, but it is worth noting.

 

Ryan Kesler is the big winner of the trade, as Pahlsson takes a lot of his defensive responsibilities away (won’t happen overnight, though). In San Jose, the team now has two clear scoring lines and two clear checking lines.

 

Bryzgalov allowed a goal about a minute into his start on Tuesday night, but he played great the rest of the way – an encouraging sign for all of the frustrated poolies out there who own him.

 

Defending Big D takes a look at the James Neal-for-Alex Goligoski swap from last season.

 

For Neal, he found the perfect situation for his offensive abilities. Playing with the best player in the NHL and finally getting significant power play time, Neal has 30 goals in 62 games and will likely finish with nearly a point per game this season. He's scored 13 goals on the power play and with a Pittsburgh system that allows Neal to flourish offensively, he's shaken off the inconsistency of last season and found the scoring touch we new he'd always had.


Goligoski, on the other hand, recovered from a slow start to the season and now has 26 points in 52 games. He has 16 points in the last 26 games for the Stars, however, and has quickly become the cornerstone on defense that the Stars needed him to be. He leads the Stars in ice time per game and sees significant time on the power play and nearly every situation during games, showing better defensive capability than he was given credit for coming out of Pittsburgh.”


Just as it did at the time, the deal looks like a potential win-win for both clubs. Neal is the big sniper that the Penguins have coveted for a while, and Goligoski is looking like the puck mover the Stars have missed since Sergei Zubov retired.

 

I was really impressed with how Robin Lehner responded to the Ben Bishop a trade (a direct challenge to his game, in my estimation). Shutting out the Bruins (struggling or not, still impressive) on the road as a rookie goalie is no easy feat. The Sens are set up quite nicely for the future, as Bishop will push Lehner for the ice time for both this season and next.

 

A big loss for the Devils – Henrik Tallinder is out for up to two months with a blood clot that has affected him since late January.

 

I was surprised the Leafs were able to land a prospect like Carter Ashton for Keith Aulie. At this point, Aulie isn’t looking all too promising as a prospect. Great size, and that is about it. The knock on Ashton has been compete level/effort and consistency, but he possesses a great combination of skill and size. I saw him a few times in the WHL and was impressed with how good he could be when he was giving a full effort. An astute move by Burke.

 

Ryan Miller complaining again, this time about Paul Gaustad being traded away. Hey Ryan, your GM just nabbed a 1st round pick for a checking line player who wasn’t going to re-sign. In some circles that is called “good asset management.”

 

Colorado picked up a few interesting prospects in the trade with San Jose – one of them is Mike Connolly.

 

Connolly was an offensive star while at University, and he is having a very strong rookie season in the AHL. He’s on the small side, and will likely have to play in a scoring role to contribute at the NHL level.

 

The other prospect acquired by Colorado,  Michael Sgarbossa, is having a fantastic season in the OHL. San Jose has good depth among forward prospects, and they used it to shore up a few weaknesses on the roster.

 

Zack Kassian displaced David Booth on the second line by the end of the game in Phoenix. The Canucks were skating in mud for much of the game – a brutal road trip in terms of travel, and it had affected them. I liked Kassian’s game – physical, good speed, made some good plays with the puck. He even saw a shift with the Sedin twins.

 

I’d expect him to be on the roster come playoffs, and to bounce around from line two to line four, depending on the play of Booth (who is struggling a bit lately) and Raymond (who is struggling a lot lately).

 

The trade stunned me a lot, and I still haven’t really formed a solid opinion on it. Rare to see two so highly touted prospects traded for each other. I wouldn’t sleep on Gragnani either – there area few in the Canucks organization who are really high on him. He has had a really poor season for Buffalo – turnovers, lack of physical play, and so on, but Vancouver (on paper) could be a great fit for him for the next few years.

 

For Hodgson, Buffalo will give him a look centering the second line. In the long term, he could become the top center, there. Lots of parallels to both Derek Roy (slower, better shot) and Chris Drury, both successful and undersized Sabre centers. Hodgson’s a lot quicker than he was last season, but his foot speed still affects him from time to time.

 

Why did the Oilers trade Tom Gilbert? Jim Matheson asks the question. Schultz is a good defenseman and will bring a calming presence on a back end that desperately needs one, but who does Edmonton expect will step in and take Gilbert’s offensive minutes? Is Jeff Petry ready? Perhaps the Oilers have something in the works for the summer, moving someone like Gagner or Paajarvi for a young defenseman…

 

The hit reminds me of Moore on Naslund – leaning in for the puck and vulnerable:


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Comments (25)add comment

Anze said:

Anze
@SeaDawg No I'm not wrong. Hit to the head aren't always illegal. They're OK if you're not coming from the blindside, and obviously if you don't do the other no-nos, like elbowing or jumping. Check your rulebook, man, you're embarassing yourself.

Now if you say they SHOULD be illegal, I would agree. The game is too fast, and there are too many concussions. I too want to see the skilled players. I had tickets for Habs games against Pit and Dal, and I was pissed of that Crosby and Benn, 2 of my favorites players were not there.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Rob said:

elTIGREblanc
No suspension = + Goons - Skill Not suspending Nystrom sends the message to all other marginal 2nd liners and 3rd and 4th liners: "if you have the choice, forget the puck, go for the body." To the rest of the world they are saying: "We want an NHL full of reckless bodychecking / fighting goons on the ice instead of players who play the puck and try to score goals with skill."

This is about the selling of the game to lowest common demonator, not protecting the actual people who play the game.

The NHL wants to promote an entertainment package that focuses on bone (brain) crushing hits and fighting. They are selling to our base emotions such as our lust for violence instead of our more noble desire to appreciate skill.

The problem is that real life people are getting real life-long injuries to appease the NHL fan's base desires for violence etc...

If I want to watch guys skating full speed into each other and watch them get messed up, I'll watch Jackass.

If I want to watch to two guys fight each other I'll watch MMA or boxing.

If I want to watch a good hockey game where there are passing plays and scoring chances made with skill, I'll watch Crosby, Malkin and Letang. I am not going to watch Nystrom or Neil or Parros.

It is time for NHL customers (fans) to stop enabling archaic violence in the NHL workplace and DEMAND that the NHL protect the skilled players they are PAYING to watch.

The NHL will never change the rules if they think it they will lose money. NHL fans who actual want to see a skilled game and who want to see players protected from unnecessary violence (like fans are at their workplace) then these fans need to keep their wallets shut to force the NHL to make healthy choice for the game.

Until then, NHL hockey will remain a thinly veiled "Roman Colosseum" sport, without the tigers.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +1

Craig K said:

csk_17
Letang @Chris: You say Naslund got hurt because he stopped playing the puck and tried to avoid the hit and Letang got hurt for not avoiding the hit and continuing to play the puck? So the only option is to get creamed and giver the hitter exactly what his goal is, to give his team puck possession? Attitudes like this are why it's so difficult to change the culture in hockey to protect the next 50 years of a players life. You basically say the hitter has no blame in either of these situations. Somewhere along the line it became a necessary sign of toughness to just take the hit every time, at all costs. That's BS.

I love hitting in hockey and I 100% agree hittees need to be responsible for their vulnerability as well, but I have NO problem if a skill/puck possession player wants to attempt to avoid a hit because some players are only looking for the hit and don't care about the puck. Sometimes it's the smart play: let the hitter fly wildly out of the play, avoid the hit, pick up the puck again. In both hits, the hitter's original target changes position because they lost full-puck control, and in both hits, the only adjustment the hitter makes is lunge in a desperate attempt to still make contact, which almost always seem to result in a head or knee injury. To say this can't be minimized in hockey is ridiculous. NHL players are expected to be able to react quickly enough to avoid this.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +1

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
Players need to be accountable! I don't get why people are defending Nystrom and saying that the hit was part of the game and that it happened too fast for Nystrom to react any differently. Players need to be accountable for ALL hits to the head, just like they are accountable for all high-sticks to the head, even those that are accidental. The league needs to come down hard on all hits to the head or they will never stop. Concussions are ruining the game of hockey and until hits to the head are less frequent, more and more players are going to miss games and ultimately be forced to retire early.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +1

duducks said:

duducks
Letang It hurts me, as I'm depending on Letang in a few leagues, and he could miss the rest of the regular season (no source, just speculating). But this is the SECOND time this season that Letang has put himself in such a vulnerable position. I put the blame on Letang for the Pac hit, and I put the blame on him again here. Learn from your mistakes, you're too valuable to miss time!
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
@Anze You are incorrect, Anze. ALL hits to the head are suspend-able, not just blind-sided hits to the head.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Hit Agree w/Bender's argument 100%.
It is an unfortunate hit... that will happen again.
Players can't be lunging for pucks.

For anybody saying "watch it again in slow-mo"... well, guess what... players don't get to make decisions in slow-mo.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Anze said:

Anze
Comparisons for Nystrom hit I was watching the Dal-Pit game last night and wasn't upset by the hit. As a Habs fan (yes it's a tough year...) I saw 2 similar hits this year.

Malone on Campoli in a preseason game : Hit from the front, player in a vulnerable position, taller player using his shoulder, contact with the head. I tought he would be suspended, and he was not. I think it's very similar to the Nystrom hit.

Pacioretty on Letang : hit from the blind side, again player in a vulnerable position, shoulder to head. The main difference was that he was coming from the side, resulting in a 3 game suspension.

I don't think Nystrom should be suspended. He was not coming from the side. There is no rule banning all hits to the head. But the league in unpedictable in its suspensions, and Nystrom being a 3rd line player, he might get suspended.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

sentium said:

Dakkster
Compete level The reason "compete level" sounds completely retarded is because it's improper English. The proper way would be to say "competition level" as "compete" is a verb and "competition" is a noun. But then Mike Babcock popularized the term, which is just about the only thing I don't like about him, but that's because I'm a language nerd smilies/smiley.gif
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Maximus said:

Mr Zizzla
Letang's head and Malkin reaction I don't like the Nystrom hit at all. The replay above does not show all of the details in the play.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...e=related

Letang, as you can see, was playing the puck behind the net and batteld against Fiddler. Letang directed to puck to the corner and changed the direction of the play and reached for the puck in an attempt to control it. Nystrom skates as fast and hard as he could into the corner to play the puck on the boards, which is clear from other vantage points (especially the view from behind him). Nystrom LOOKS DIRECTLY at Letang and sees he beat him to the puck and that Letang is reaching (yes i know this is all happening quickly but Nystrom looks right at him) and changes his angle from the boards to taking the body. Then, [THIS IS WHY HE SHOULD BE SUSPENDED] Nystrom extends him elbow and connects DIRECTLY with Letang's chin. (Go to 0:44 of the video) Nystrom's elbow comes out just before the hit and it's his elbow connecting with this chin.

Now you are all telling me, THIS IS A CLEAN HIT? That's absolute BS and Nystrom (a player that was traded for so Dallas could hit the cap floor) should get 5 games at least for it.

Letang, i agree should not have put himself in such a vulnerable position but is he just supposed to stand there and let someone else take it? Absolutely not, he continued the play and Nystrom was going to play the puck and decided to decapitate Letang instead.

The onus is on Nystrom here and he should have more respect for the players in the league than this. Nystrom is a player that will fade out of the NHL and aside from his mother and wife, no one will even know he played in the NHL and yet he could have seriously jeopardize one of the true rising talents of the league.

In terms of Malkin's reaction, i think it was perfect. It would obviously be ridiculous for Malkin to drop the gloves so he did the next best thing and slashed the shit out of Nystrom. There is no way that the ref's will call this a penalty, ever. If Nystrom wants to run around like a moron, he's going to have to pay for that hit. I personally was disappointed that nothing more was done. Ashman tried to fight Ott but he, in typical weasel fashion, chirped and chirped but never answered the bell.

Don't mean to rant this much but this is just getting ridiculous.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +1

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
@Chris Nystrom clearly hit Letang in the head. I know Letang was reaching for the puck, but regardless of Letang's position, it is up to Nystrom to avoid hitting Letang's head, which he clearly did not do in this situation. I will be shocked if Nystrom is not suspended.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Chris said:

Dunnder
Moore on Naslund??? That hit was nothing like Moore on Naslund, unless you mean that neither of them was dirty, but both were hockey plays.

Naslund thought about playing the puck, saw a check coming, and wussed out at the last minute, trying to avoid the check, which of course ended up making it worse on himself. He put himself in that vulnerable position, and Moore followed thru, like all hockey players do. Naslund changed his position at the last minute and can only blame himself.

Letang was playing the puck, and Nystrom thought about engaging in a puck battle, and instead played the body. THAT IS LEGAL IN HOCKEY - you CAN hit the puck carrier - you dont have to play the puck.

He didnt make primary (if any) contact with Letangs head...

This is just and unfortunate result of a hockey play. In that regard, yes i agree they are similiar.

But in the regard that Letang did nothing BUT play the puck, where Naslund STOPPED playing the puck to avoid the check, they are completely different.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

DuklaNation said:

DuklaNation
... Nystrom hit was dangerous, more likely he was just trying to slow him down because Letang avoided his initial hit. But guys have to accept they cannot do that anymore. Old school retribution is needed. Too bad its out of the game today.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Bender said:

baconnol
Nystrom Hit Every player growing up is taught to to take the body when forechecking. Skilled players would likely not automatically do this and maybe make a play on the puck, but 3rd/4th line checkers like Nystrom would lose his job if he didn't take the body. His mistaken (misfortune?) is that Letang was reaching and he got him in the head. In today's NHL that is a no-no and he'll likely be suspended. But to say that he "should have played the puck" or "made no attemp to play the puck" is dumb because that is not what he was taught to do. The only way the culture changes is if all the kids in minor hockey are taught to play the puck and not the body, but most agree that this will never happen. So, let's just chalk this up as an unfortunate accident in a physical game. Isn't that one of the reasons we watch, or are we all looking for a soccer game on ice?
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Stunaman said:

Stunaman
... Watch it in slow mo... Nystrom made no attempt to play the puck - he had been clearly beaten to it. And instead of changing directions and going after the puck, he had the hit in mind all the way.

I think it was unnecessary and the result is why this type of "head-hunting" play should be severely punished. Give him 5-10 games in my opinion bc that's at least what Letang will miss.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Patrick Hall said:

pattywins
... Yes Letang put himself in a vulnerable position by reaching for the puck.
No that does not mean Nystrom gets to hit him in the head like that.
It should have been 5, the game and should be at least a couple games depending on Nystrom's history.
Also, how do the referees decide that is an illegal hit, then give 2 minutes. Is it not nothing or five and a game?
Points for Malkin for going after Nystrom for the rest of the game.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Tom said:

jack_oat67
... @elTIGREblanc - Go watch women's hockey if you don't like hits.

The point of the game is to score goals... and to keep goals from being scored. If a hit separates a player from the puck and provides the hitter's team with an opportunity to get the puck back then the job has been done. Good work. Neil's hit was a clean hit. I don't even like Neil, but it was a clean hit. Good for him.

Nystrom's hit is questionable. Letang wasn't totally in possession of the puck, he had it but it squirted away and he was reaching to get it back. If Nystrom was going slower he could have curled and easily taken the puck BUT Nystrom's plan of attack was probably decided 2 seconds earlier when Letang did have the puck and the game is so fast... very little time to change the focus of attack coming in. I don't think its suspendable... IMO.
March 01, 2012
Votes: -1

elTIGREblanc said:

elTIGREblanc
Nystrom / Letang = bad hit. This is a hockey play that needs to be removed from hockey.

- Hitter made zero attempt for the puck. He skated away from the puck to make the hit. He was skating into the corner way too fast to be able to stop and make a play on the puck.
- Hittee was in vulnerable position, hitter chose to hit the head. Nystrom moves his arm off his body at the last moment to target the head. Would have hit Letangs right shoulder otherwise.

The point of the game is take the puck and put in the other net. This culture of wanting to make the "big hit" is ruining hockey. We are letting guys take out the opposing players by letting them skate as fast as the can and bodycheck them into a 6 month concussion, instead of using skill to pass/skate around them.

Take the Neil on Boychuk from a couple of days ago. Clean hit, Boychuk had the puck, Neil hit him square in the chest. But what did it accomplish? Did his team get the puck back? Was his team in a better position to score? No. All it did was send some guy to a dark room for the next month. What is the value in that? The crowd gets a thrill out of it and 99000 people get to watch it on youtube, great. But is that thrill worth risking Boychuk's health like that? Is worth him having potentially lifelong brain injuries (ask Keith Primeau) for the sake of us getting a barbaric charge of seeing someone get rocked? It's mf 2012, not Ancient Rome.

Rule changes the fans must pressure hockey to do, as they refuse to make changes that might hurt their bottom line$:

Rule 1. If you are making contact with a player (bodycheck) without attempting to make a play for the the puck before or after the contact, then that is an interference penalty. Penalty ranging 2 minutes to Suspension, depending on the severity of the hit.

Rule 2. Contact to the head should be called like highsticking. Accidental or not, if the major point of contact is the head, then it's 5 minutes +. End of story.

Sorry I went on rant here but I am so pissed about this. We need to make the NHL take a page of the NFL rule book, protect the players so we can enjoy a game full of skill. Gooning takes skill out of the game. I would pay to watch Letang play, not Nystrom. I don't pay to see people get carried off the ice in stretchers. That is all.

March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... Effort, intensity, consistency, etc. All synonyms. I probably wouldn't use it in back-to-back paragraphs going forward. smilies/smiley.gif


March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

Brian said:

Skin Blues
"Compete level" Why do people say this? It sounds ridiculous. Almost as bad as adding "going forward" to the end of every sentence as if people are opining on what might happen 2 weeks ago.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +1

Brian Harling said:

kbooks
... Gilbert was expendable. Oilers see Whitney returning to his former self to provide offensive leadership and Petry has developed very well. Gilbert was weak in his own end and Schultz provides the shutdown capability that Oilers did not have. Edmonton also has some solid D prospect with good offensive upside with Klefbom, Marincin, and Musil not to mention Teubert.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

sentium said:

Dakkster
... Did you guys miss the several times Shanahan has explained that the onus is on the hitter to make sure that the head isn't the target?
March 01, 2012
Votes: +1

Guy Incognito said:

Guy Incognito
Agree with Nick I don't see anything dirty about the Nystrom hit. Looks to me like he lined up his body but Letang's body position resulted in the head contact. Letang's poke at the puck was pretty quick, too - don't think he was vulnerable long enough to really be lined up intentionally. When Moore hit Naslund it was from the side (as opposed to head-on like this case) and had no chance of catching anything but his head.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +0

DuklaNation said:

DuklaNation
... Not sure how often you've seen the Leafs play but Gardiner is below average defensively. Has been since training camp and looks the same now. He has nice potential but I just dont understand how he avoids criticism.
March 01, 2012
Votes: +1

Nick said:

slufoot
Nystrom hit Nothing suspect about that hit. If Letang wasn't reaching one-handed, it would have been a textbook shoulder on body just like Neil on Boychuk the other night.
February 29, 2012
Votes: +0
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