NHL Seattle Expansion News and Game Notes from Last Night

It’s official Seattle is getting an NHL franchise starting in the 2021 season. I Love it. Ladies and gentlemen your 2022 Stanley Cup Runners Up! The Seattle ____ !

They still haven’t picked a name yet, let’s look at some of the favorites…

Eh, I dunno about yinz guys, but I’m not sold on any of these. I have a few suggestions myself…

https://twitter.com/nickmaraldo/status/1070028479968800768

They actually made a few other decision’s though that deserve some praise. For one this levels out the league to an even 32 teams and coming off of the heels of the success of the Vegas team this has fans eager and excited that winning is possible and should help build a good base. The second important thing the NHL didn’t fuck up here is rushing this team. There was an option on the table to have the team start playing in the 20-21 season, which would have required starting the team on the road until the arena in Seattle would be ‘allegedly’ ready in November of that season. There’s 0% chance that arena will be ready by that date and this team would have been playing 67 road games, 13 outdoor games, and playing their “home” games in Vancouver’s barn. A classic NHL clusterfuck, thankfully crisis avoided. 

Interesting night around the rest of the league as well…

Pittsburgh and Colorado went at it again for the second time in as many weeks in a weird bizzarro universe version of the game last week. Both games featured a team jump out to a big lead, a hat trick, and a comeback.  Weird right? It get’s weirder; all 9 goals in this game were scored into the same net on the same side of the ice. Whaaaat? This time it was the Pens who benefited with Patric Hornqvist scored the fastest most casual random sloppy natural hatty in Penguins team history. Pretty impressive feat for a team that’s featured a few of the greatest players the league has ever seen.

https://twitter.com/NHLGIFs/status/1070140702259142656

Things managed to get even more weird after the game

https://twitter.com/CJAY92/status/1070338018261786625

Auston Matthews put on a show last night for the Leafs as they took down the surprisingly dominant Sabres 4-3 in OT. First this little dandy where he looks like a dad toying with a few of his kids in the backyard…

https://twitter.com/BarSouthNCelly/status/1070138181792653312

Matthews is daddy.

Then he ends the game with this OT snipe so pure it would make Frank Lucas all warm and fuzzy inside.

https://twitter.com/PeteBlackburn/status/1070155677878902784
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Tough night for Jimmy Howard who’s been tossed around in some trade rumours lately. This performance isn’t going to help.

https://twitter.com/tblightning/status/1070136100189073409?s=21
https://twitter.com/tblightning/status/1070141471024734208?s=21

Wings lost in the shootout 6-5.

Montreal took down Ottawa 5-2, maybe not so surprising, however Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin are enjoying their mini resurgence in Montreal. Both guys had a goal and 2 assists EACH!  Tampa doesn’t really miss Drouin, but Arizona has to have a little regret giving up on Domi so soon. He’s got 30 points on the year and 13 goals already, while Galchenyuk has just 10 points total. Woof.

The Blue Jackets fell to the Flames by a score of 6 – 9 (NICE!) in an absurd game. If you’ve got the time you can watch all of those goals here:

Somehow James Neal didn’t get a point. Problematic.

“That’s what happens when you run into a lion in the jungle.”

Those are the words of Ryan Reaves after his run in with Tom Wilson last night in a 5-3 VGK win. For some reason these guys won’t just fight and get it over with, they buy each other drinks all night but never take each other home, it’s all the foreplay without insertion, they just love to take runs at each other.

https://twitter.com/TSNBobMcKenzie/status/1070335167775076352
https://twitter.com/RP_Quigs/status/1070160887086931968

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Pens/Caps in the Nation’s Capital… Malkin Suspension?

Division rivals, arch nemesis, and the past two Stanley Cup winning franchises squared off for the 2nd time this season last night and did not disappoint. Pittsburgh and Washington is appointment viewing hockey, there’s no shortage of adjectives, cliches, and hype when you get a handful of the best players in the world squaring off, especially when both teams have been getting subpar goaltending from their Cup winning goalies.

Holtbeast thinks your dive is pathetic and will show you perfect form.

Braden Holtby currently sitting at .899 sv% and 3.37 GAA in 11 games compared to Matt Murray and his troublesome .886 sv% and 3.87 GAA. Murray has struggled so much he didn’t even get the start and was spelled by Pens backup Casey DeSmith who played as well as could be asked in the situation. 

Son of a…

Before we get into the action shoutout to the Capitals organization who I will often criticize as I think Ted Leonsis is a huge goober, HOWEVA they did a great thing tonight. 

https://twitter.com/HeyJayJRogers/status/1060365391933902849
STRONGER THAN HATE

It was a low scoring game, but not for lack of chances as each team had multiple frenzies in front of the others crease. Crosby got the scoring started in the first, absolutely burying a snipeshow on the PP. Only one spot to put it and he didn’t miss on a great pass from his BFF Jack Johnson

https://twitter.com/penguins/status/1060342217737416704

Not to be outdone the Great 8 equaled the score and wow factor with a Power Play rocket of his own we’ve seen so many times from the Russian Machine. 

https://twitter.com/Capitals/status/1060349589772029952

With the game tied up in the 3rd you got the feeling this was going to a classic finish one way or the other. Entering the zone halfway through the period Geno Malkin laid a hit on TJ Oshie that changed the game. 

https://twitter.com/NBCSCapitals/status/1060363005928632320

The officials wasted no time hitting Geno with a 5 minute major and Game Misconduct ending his night in Washington (MUCH more on this below). Oshie was already banged up after taking high stick from Olli Maatta earlier in the game that was missed by the officials and left a wicked gash on his nose near his eye. To the Penguins credit they didn’t fall to pieces and kept coming with several more chances to win the game after the 5 minute kill.

Yikes

After going to the locker room for the 2nd time in the night (clearing the concussion protocols) Oshie would return with a vengeance and put the nail in the coffin with for the Pens with just over a minute left slamming home this perfect dish from Carlson. 

https://twitter.com/Capitals/status/1060369495984930818
This still hurts to watch

Caps win 2-1, even the season series at 1 game a piece. The Pens have now lost 5 straight games for the first time under Mike Sullivan. You can rest assured GMJR is contemplating a roster move as we speak for a spark.

Now let’s dive into this Malkin hit, buckle up. My initial reaction at game speed was “oh shit, that’s a bad Geno penalty right there.” He has a reputation for poorly timed offensive zone penalties. Upon watching it a few times over and seeing the slow mo my line of thinking changed to “HOW IN THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO THROW HIM OUT! HE’S BRACING FOR CONTACT! GET YOUR HEAD UP OSHIE, GET YOUR BIG DUMB PERFECT JAW LINE OUT OF GENO’S SHOULDER IDIOT!” 

https://twitter.com/nickmaraldo/status/1060363778288766977

Interference? Sure… Fine. 2 minutes have a seat. A game misconduct? Still not sure… but here’s the thing, above all it’s a hit to the head. This is what matters now to the league (at least this month it does). Malkin is for sure bracing for contact but he’s definitely throwing his weight into it and the principle point of contact is the head, plus the way Oshie went down I see why the refs made the call they did in real time. 

Oshie didn’t seem bothered and even related as he often does a similar tactic. 

https://twitter.com/ikhurshudyan/status/1060380057431089152

Because of the severity of the calls on the ice and the fact that Oshie came back into the game to play (which matters to the league whether we think it should or shouldn’t) I don’t think there will be a suspension involved. It wasn’t one of those predatory head hunting hits (like this hit from Brendan Lemieux which got him 2 games where the head contact was most definitely avoidable). The NHL hands out suspensions from a plinko board though so you can never really be certain.

UPDATE: I was right, he won’t. 

https://twitter.com/wyshynski/status/1060557136298733568

That being said it’s time the NHL decided if they’re all in or all out on hits to the head. Call it soft, but body checks in this game are meant to separate player from puck, not injure. Here is the current ruling on NHL hits to the head:

  • Rule 48.1: Illegal Check to the Head: A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted.
  • In determining whether contact with an opponent’s head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered:
  • (i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not “picked” as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.
  • (ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.
  • (iii) Whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact.

Still a lot of gray area as you can see, especially in this case. Malkin has a height advantage on Oshie naturally placing his shoulder at head level when Oshie “assumes a posture that made head contact unavoidable.” To save the NHL and the officials from themselves the time has to come to just adopt the IIHF rules on hits to the head:

All of them. Penalize all of them. Make it consistent across the board. It’s the only way guys will stop ramming their shoulders and elbows into each others faces. 

What do you think? Suspension worthy? Fine as it is? Let me know on social til we get the comment section up and running.

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Brian Boyle Battled Leukemia, Scored First Career Hat Trick on Hockey Fights Cancer Night

Brian Boyle is a guy you want on your team. I know this because he has played big games against my favorite team the Pittsburgh Penguins for years now. He is the prototypical bottom 6 forward in the NHL with a combination of size and skill every team covets. He kills penalties, he blocks shots, he takes faceoffs, he’s got all the grit, all the sandpaper, all the jam, all the cliches. He beat freaking Leukemia and pounded it into remission. After missing time in 2017 due to the treatment he returned to the show and didn’t miss a beat potting 13 goals last year.

Boyle and the New Jersey Devils faced the Penguins last night and while it was an ugly night for Pittsburgh, it was an ever so beautiful night to remember for #11. Every team in the league has a night during October or November where they celebrate the “Hockey Fights Cancer” initiative and try to raise awareness. While November 5th was Pittsburgh’s day to host, it was Brian Boyle’s night to celly as he put up 3 goals for his first career hatty. Two deflections from the big man in front and a one time snipe to bury it for the 3rd. Good for Boyle, amazing to see him healthy and still playing at a high level. 

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