* The Colorado Avalanche steamrolled the Dallas Stars, thanks in no small part to Paul Stastny’s two goals and two assists for four points. He’s a pending UFA making $6.6M a year at 27 years old, and has 21 points (10 and 11) in 30 games…think the Avs let him walk for nothin’? Nu-uh. Point is, he just upped his trade value for Colorado (cause I don’t think they wanna give him near what he’ll get on the open market).
* Stastny’s teammates Parenteau (three assists) and Duchene (two assists) did just fine for themselves too. Meanwhile, their opponent Tyler Seguin limped along with a sad one and one for two, giving him 33 points in 30 games (11th in NHL points).
* Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner while while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 of 26 en route to the Penguins – essentially the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins-plus-Crosby – beating the Leafs 3-1 with an empty-netter. (Not sure why Kulemin’s rushing out to the point while his d-men are clearly going to be occupado for a sec and the puck’s on the wall).
* Evander Kane had a goal and an assist for the Jets as they snuck by the Blue Jackets 3-2.
* Chris Stewart scored twice for the St. Louis Blues, but the Ottawa Senators prevailed thanks to Bobby Ryan’s one-and-one for two, and Cody Ceci’s first NHL goal. More on that below.
Sens win in OT
Cody Ceci scored his first NHL goal, which has to be a pretty cool day for a young player. OH, it was also an overtime winner at home versus a good opponent.
Yeah, it was most definitely a cool moment.
Speaking of NHL firsts…
The Leafs promising young defenseman Morgan Rielly also tallied his first NHL goal ever. And while it wasn’t in overtime, it did showcase his skill set nicely. Great skating, great wrister.
There was a (rightfully) unpunished “head shot”
Pens d-man Robert Bortuzzo stepped up on Leafs forward Jerry D’Amigo, and treated him like he would anyone with his head down near the puck who was trying to get by him – he body-checked him. Some head gets hit, but man – what’s a d-man supposed to do, get on his knees? Let him by?
Anyway, he’s not in any trouble for the play, the league recognized it for what it was.
In looking at Bortuzzo/D’Amigo, we see unavoidable head contact on an otherwise full body hit. Will not be pursuing supplemental discipline.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 17, 2013
The biggest shame? Toronto let D’Amigo back in the game, and he gets rocked a shift later…by Bortuzzo. He left the game with what appears to be a smashed rib and bruised brain, but that’s total observer speculation, devoid of true fact. Could just be a little shoulder twinge, we’ll see.
At least tough guy Jonathan Bernier exacted some revenge on the Pens Jayson Megna later on. (Via Redditor)
If you like big hits and have no sympathy for 16-year-olds getting hurt by 19-year-olds (who narrowly missed making Canada’s World Junior team), here’s Brendan Leipsic coming from an odd place on the ice to destroy Keegan Kolesar in the neutral zone. (You’re not a bad person for watching it, it’s okay.)
Making the transition to a new league is tough. Younger players are all coming from somewhere that they were The Guy. If they had full possession before, they never really had trouble going where they wanted.
Now, think about the NHL’s shiftiest players who aren’t pure meat – Pavel Datsyuk, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby even. These guys never carry the puck for that long up the ice without basically having to strafe to avoid getting plowed, or moving the puck. You used to learn that before getting plowed meant getting a concussion, but hockey is full of big, fast people these days, so the lessons learned are harsher.
In a sense, young Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild is learning these lessons – head up quicker, move it quicker, or learn to be shiftier – at the NHL level. Here’s what Mike Yeo said about learning to protect himself yesterday:
“There’s certain situations where you can learn to protect yourself in and there’s times where, especially in this league, that you can’t get away with some of the things that you were getting away with in other leagues. You have to be careful, too. One of the things that makes [Granlund] great is the way he competes, and I think he’s done a great job going to the middle of the ice and creating a lot more offense because of that.”
I was a less-than-tough junior kid, and my coach used to tell me to get my stick up and crosscheck people that tried to run me in the mouth because I was relatively talented and he didn’t want me to get hurt. Obviously that’s not remotely the point (or great advice) today, but the reality is, it’s a tough game, and you do need to be aware of the danger zones. You need to do to keep yourself safe. In Kolesar’s case maybe that means realize that getting up to top speed isn’t possible while carrying the puck across multiple zones anymore. Whatever. The point is, at some point, you gotta look out for yourself in hockey.
Mikael Granlund agreed with his coach’s assessment:
“You need to be smart. I feel that’s part of my game to go to those little holes and try to make tough plays. I really don’t want to get away from that. But I need to be smart and that’s something I should learn more.”
Every player goes through it.
* As you probably heard, Milan Lucic got in a bar fight over the weekend. He didn’t actually fight so much as he (apparently) just got hit, but still, the whole thing is kind of second-hand embarrassing to watch. Anyway. HE’S OVER YOU, VANCOUVER.
Lucic: “I have no reason left to defend my city and the people in my city. I’m disgusted and outraged.”
— Joe McDonald (@ESPNJoeyMac) December 16, 2013
* Speaking of Boston, Shawn Thornton is appealing his 15 game suspension, as I think he should.
Shawn Thornton has decided to appeal the League’s decision to suspend him for 15 games, and on his behalf the NHLPA has notified the NHL.
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) December 16, 2013
…Agreeing 15 games seems a bit much is not the same as approving of his actions, obviously. But I really believe the injury optics (the stretcher) are why the number was so high. It’s not too uncommon for a guy to pop up from a couple punches. That doesn’t make the punches right, so he should be suspended. But 15 is pretty huge.
* Corey Potter got two games for his hit on Nick Bonino.
* And finally, Evander Kane is still as cool as the other side of the pillow: