Kukla's Korner Hockey
From the San Jose Sharks:
Statement from Raffi Torres
San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres today released the following statement:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
Also, from Sharks GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will not be in the lineup against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
Bruins coach Claude Julien made the announcement after the morning skate Thursday.
Chara is on injured reserve because of an upper-body injury sustained Sept. 24 during a preseason game against the New York Rangers. He had practiced Wednesday and served as a substitute on the second power-play unit.
Last season Chara, 38, had eight goals and 20 points in 63 games. He missed two months because of a knee injury.
from Tim Wharnsby at NHL.com,
O'Rourke was the official down low and signaled a goal, but Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock decided to challenge the call on the ice after his assistant in the press box, Andrew Brewer, notified the bench there was goaltender interference on the play.
"I didn't challenge nothing," Babcock said. "[Brewer] yelled in [assistant coach] Jim Hiller's ear and Jim said, 'We're challenging.' Then they were good enough to put it up on the screen, so I knew by time the ref got over there we'd win it."
The Maple Leafs won the challenge but lost Babcock's debut as Maple Leafs coach, 3-1 at Air Canada Centre.
A team is allowed to challenge only if it hasn't used its timeout. If the challenge is unsuccessful, the team is charged its timeout.
O'Rourke said after the game he knew there was contact with Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier but thought the skate of Toronto defenseman Matt Hunwick ran into the goalie, not the stick of Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec as the replay showed.
So after the goal was scored, O'Rourke skated to the penalty box to report the scoring play to the official scorer. Referee Frederick L'Ecuyer stopped in front of the benches to supervise the next line change.
That's when the Maple Leafs made their decision to challenge. L'Ecuyer informed O'Rourke, and L'Ecuyer made an announcement to the fans.
O'Rourke then was handed the 4-G video monitor and was put in touch on a headset with the NHL Situation Room in Toronto. He viewed "two or three" replays and overturned his call.
"We had what we thought we saw on the ice," O'Rourke said. "[The situation room] said, 'Here's the replay, take a look at it.' Once you saw the overhead replay, it was pretty cut and dry.
ROAD TEAMS DOMINATE OPENING NIGHT . . .
Road clubs spoiled opening night of the 2015-16 season, with the Canadiens, Rangers, Canucks and Sharks picking up victories in Toronto, Chicago, Calgary and Los Angeles, respectively.
Last season, road teams won three of the four games contested on opening night(including victories by the Canadiens, Canucks and Sharks). Overall, they posted a combined 564-505-161 record (.524 points percentage) during the regular season.
. . . AS NEW CAPTAINS LEAD THE WAY
A pair of newly named captains led their clubs to victories in their first games with the “C.”
* Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty (2-0—2), who was named the 29th captain in franchise history, scored the first goal of the NHL season just 3:09 after the opening face-off and added an insurance marker in the final minute of regulation.
* Sharks forward Joe Pavelski (1-2—3), who was named the ninth captain in franchise history, recorded the go-ahead goal late in the first period and collected a pair of assists, including the primary helper on Brent Burns’ insurance goal at the start of the second frame.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
There are all kinds of fresh faces around the Buffalo Sabres’ lineup and even behind the bench. Optimism is flowing about as much as it can be for a team coming off back-to-back visits to the netherworld of 30th place in the NHL standings.
After months of hype, the big unveiling is here. It’s the season opener Thursday night in First Niagara Center against the Ottawa Senators. And there’s no way for the team to downplay it: This one is all about Jack Eichel.
The likeness of the No. 2 overall pick is one of four giant posters erected this week in the FNC atrium with its “Next Chapter” marketing slogan plastered on it.
Connor McDavid and Eichel will be forever linked by going 1-2 in the 2015 draft and this is their night, with Eichel skating in Buffalo and McDavid officially suiting up for the Edmonton Oilers for the first time in their game at St. Louis.
“You don’t focus on that too much anymore but it was all part of the experience to get here,” Eichel said after practice Wednesday on the eve of Buffalo’s 45th NHL opener. “There were great times but they’re over with now and it’s time to play hockey.”
Eichel said he expects plenty of electricity in a building that’s been mostly devoid of any juice for several years.
“I think it will be pretty wild,” he said. “I know Buffalo has been looking forward to this one and so have we. It’s going to be a great experience.”
from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The club has defined its re-conditioned look as having defensemen that don’t give up much ground in their own zone, pounce on pucks as a five-man unit and initiate quick counterattacks.“I don’t think it’ll be drastic changes to the normal fan,” captain David Backes said. “I think if you’re really looking into the game, you may see some very detailed things that are options for us if we see a read or we see something that we can capitalize on. But it’s subjective to situational play. In practice, it’s one thing. In games, you can’t really free-wheel or it’s an odd-man rush and against a potent team we’re playing (Thursday), you make too many mistakes and they put crooked numbers up in a hurry.“We’re going to have to evaluate that and judge our risk-reward level as we go. It’s not going to be end-to-end to end odd-man rushes, but we feel we’ve got a few more opportunities to hem teams in, to capitalize on those chances, to make them make mistakes and then turn those into goals. But it’s still Blues’ hockey, it’s blue-collar and we’re going out there to work our butts off.”
“More than anything,” Shattenkirk added, “it’s just a matter of keeping the offensive mindset the entire game. I think we have a tendency to play defensively, especially in Hitch’s system. He’s just pushing us now to really get into that mindset of when we get that puck, let’s go and let’s go score a goal. Not worrying as much about possession as getting pucks and creating good scoring chances. The onus is especially on the (defense) to jump in the rush every single chance we get.”
But Hitchcock readily admitted Wednesday, that it’s still a work in progress.“I think we’re in the early stages of the learning curve,” he said. “You hope you don’t get burned if you make a mistake, but I think the guys have been great at wanting the feedback and the evaluation. With the way we’re built and the way our defense is reconstructed, we can play this way. We’ve got smart guys back there, we’ve got mobility back there, we’ve got guys with great hockey sense, so I think we can really take advantage."
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
McDavid, we have learned during his first professional training camp, is the under-promise and over-deliver type. After what this franchise has been through for the past 20 years, his approach is identical to that of Nicholson, new GM Peter Chiarelli and new head coach Todd McLellan.
“I’m excited for the fans, but I want to temper it,” Nicholson, now the Oilers Chief Executive Officer, cautions. “This is a team that’s in the process of getting better, but we’ve got to keep expectations under control here.”
Like Charlie Brown in the old Peanuts cartoon, an entire Northern Alberta fan base is lining up behind that football again this fall, praying that it’s still going to be there when they go for the big kick. That it’s not a mirage — again — and they fall flat on their backs with a giant, “Ugh!”
Messier, who knows a thing or two about winning, says it’s time for change. He sees McDavid is the difference maker that will allow this franchise to get up off of its knees.
“There’s a distinct different feeling,” he said. “There’s been a lot of change in the organization, with Connor coming in to compliment all the other players who are getting well established in the league. The new arena coming… Just a lot of great things happening.
The Oilers will be playing the Blues tonight in St. Louis, will you be watching?
After being stuck in their room for nearly 40 minutes while the Blackhawks conducted a bodacious Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony in which every suit other than mayor Rahm Emanuel was on the ice, the Blueshirts responded with a three-goal first period on their way to Wednesday’s 3-2 opening victory in which they hung on for much of the final two periods.
-Larry Brooks of the New York Post where you can read more on the game.
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
It’s one game, chill you maniacs.
The Flames will be fine. I think. The Canucks, no one knows.
The start, however, could not have been better. The Canucks put up 44 shots and after the first 10 minutes spent the game making the Flames bow down before them, which is roughly the opposite of what happened in the playoffs.
The Sedins were terrific. Or better. Not every night will be like this. Their production will ebb and flow. In the slumps, people will continue to say they are not first line players. People will continue to be wrong.
So be it. But I think by now we all have a strong understanding what the Sedins are going to bring, which is mostly dominated Alberta no matter how many young superstars those teams collect.
What was really intriguing tonight is how quick and mobile Vancouver’s defence looked. We all know who is gone from last year, what we don’t know is what kind of difference it’s going to make.
Game highlights are below...
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
The Leafs may not shock the world in results this season, but if the effort in Game 1 is any indication, it will become a welcome relief to fans who suffered through the miserable, indifferent slide to end last season.
In other words, the give-a-bleep-meter in the 2015-16 opener was immeasurably higher than it was in the final 30 of the previous campaign.
At the very least, Babcock’s players appear to have received the message delivered through a high-volume, up-tempo training camp in which they were tutored in the structured system that made him such a success with the Detroit Red Wings.
The diligence and attention to detail certainly kept them in the game for much of the night on Wednesday.
“We had good structure, we played hard enough,” Babcock said. “We can still get way better, obviously. There’s no moral victories in the NHL, but the process is there and they are trying.”
Watch the game highlights below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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