The work doesn’t end for NHL prospects after they are selected at the draft. In fact, that’s just when things start to heat up.
A long summer of intense workouts is kicked off by a development camp hosted by their new team. THN’s Adam Proteau takes a closer look at the Leafs' top two picks from the 2012 draft, Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn, as they wrap up their first camp in Toronto.
For the second time in one calendar year, Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen has been kicked out of a faceoff and handed an unsportsmanlike penalty for voicing his displeasure.
Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen was reminded Wednesday night that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And the reminder came in most bizarre fashion.
Johansen, 24, was lined up for a neutral zone faceoff just outside the Nashville zone during the Predators’ tilt against the Anaheim Ducks. Standing across from Antoine Vermette, Johansen seemingly pointed out to linesman Shandor Alphonso how the Ducks’ pivot was set up off center. Instead of Vermette moving, Johansen shifted away from the faceoff dot to mimic Vermette and it appeared that Alphonso didn’t take too kindly to Johansen’s actions, booting him from the dot.
After his ejection from the faceoff, Johansen set up on the wing, but his objections apparently didn’t end once he was lined up in the spot previously occupied by James Neal. Instead of dropping the puck, Alphonso turned around to address Johansen, which resulted in referee Kelly Sutherland getting involved and eventually led to Johansen taking a seat in the penalty box:
The call on the ice was unsportsmanlike conduct, though it will probably never be known exactly what went on between Johansen and Alphonso before the minor penalty was handed out by Sutherland. However, Johansen paid the price with more than just penalty minutes.
It didn’t help matters that Anaheim almost immediately rubbed salt in the wound by way of a Jakob Silfverberg power play goal a mere 10 seconds after Johansen took the penalty, but by the time the Predators center got back to the bench, he didn’t see another second of ice time until the start of the third frame. That’s a half-period benching for taking a bad penalty.
Incredibly, though, this isn’t the first time Johansen has found himself in this situation. During a game midway through the 2015-16 season against the Winnipeg Jets, Johansen was hit with an unsportsmanlike call for getting angry with a linesman for failing to drop the puck during a faceoff.
“The linesman’s job on a faceoff is to drop the puck,” Johansen said at the time, via the Tennessean’s Adam Vingan. “I didn’t say anything to hurt his feelings. I actually wish I said something else. I don’t want to get in trouble for saying anything. It’s a tough play. We’ve got our empty net, one-goal game late in the game like that, it’s pretty wild to get a penalty for getting mad at him for just not dropping the puck.”
But after getting tagged a second time for faceoff frustrations, don’t be surprised if Johansen is physically holding his tongue next time around.
Two players with duelling superstitions sometimes need to find a resolution to their problem, and Mark Scheifele and Tyler Seguin decided to play a quick game for the right to leave warmup last.
Athletes are creatures of habit. Whether it be dressing right to left, a special handshake or a must-have pre-game meal, a tradition or superstition that leads to a good game can become something a player follows for the duration of their career.
Sometimes, though, those habits can collide.
Take Thursday night’s game between Dallas and Winnipeg, for instance, which featured a cross-ice standoff between Jets center Mark Scheifele and Stars center Tyler Seguin as the pre-game warmup came to an end. Both Scheifele and Seguin wanted to be the last player to leave the ice after warmup, so as Seguin took a knee next to the Stars’ exit and Scheifele stood waiting next to the Jets’ gate, the pair decided to do the only thing that made sense: rock-paper-scissors to decide who had to leave first.
Lest you think that was a best-of-three series, take another look. It took two draws before Scheifele could shake Seguin with a lethal scissors throw, booting Seguin off the ice for good.
It wasn’t just in the game of rock-paper-scissors that Scheifele got the last laugh, though. After the Jets suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Stars on Tuesday evening, Scheifele’s Winnipeg squad got their revenge Thursday with a 4-1 victory over their Central Division foe.
That said, maybe Seguin won’t be so set on leaving the ice first next time, because though Dallas took the loss, Seguin scored the Stars’ lone goal with a blast on the power play.
Dmitry Kulikov has a history with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, and they may be reacquainting themselves after the Sabres defenseman plowed through Flyers winger Jakub Voracek.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, 25, has already had to miss one game this season due to injury, and he could find himself watching more action from the sidelines in the coming days thanks to a suspension.
In Tuesday’s game against the Flyers, Kulikov saw an opportunity to crunch Philadelphia winger Jakub Voracek and took it, but the Sabres blueliner may have crossed the line. After a turnover inside the Sabres’ zone, Voracek was able to corral the puck before throwing a quick backhand pass to Travis Konecny.
Voracek continued on after making his pass, but by the time he could swing his head around to see any oncoming defenders, he was caught by Kulikov, resulting in a huge open-ice collision. The hit jarred Voracek’s helmet loose and immediately drew a crowd. Take a look:
That sure looks like it could be worthy of supplemental discipline, especially on the reverse angle. Kulikov’s back skate appeared to come up off the ice as he went in for the hit on Voracek and the contact seemed to be primarily with Voracek’s head. The referees working the contest judged the play to be outside the lines of fair play, too, slapping Kulikov with a minor penalty for charging.
If the NHL’s Department of Player Safety does judge Kulikov’s hit to be worthy of supplemental discipline, it won’t be the first time they’ve spoken with the Russian rearguard. In February 2015, he was suspended four games for a low-bridge hit on Dallas Stars sniper Tyler Seguin.
Thankfully for the Flyers, Voracek was able to remain in the game after Kulikov’s hit, and he even got the last laugh. Philadelphia picked up a shootout victory over Buffalo, and it was Voracek who netted the winner.
The Bruins could be missing their top goal scorer for a game or two after David Pastrnak left his feet to deliver a high hit on Rangers blueliner Dan Girardi.
David Pastrnak, Dan Girardi and high hit. If those were the two names and one action you had to make an NHL ‘Mad Libs,’ you’d likely come out the other side with a story about how the New York Rangers defenseman had crushed the young Boston Bruins winger and was heading for a meeting with the Department of Player Safety.
But my, how wrong you’d be.
Following Wednesday’s game between the Bruins and Rangers, it’s Pastrnak who is facing a possible suspension for delivering a high hit on Girardi.
The hit came midway through the second period when Girardi went to field a puck that had been flipped high into the air and out of the Bruins’ zone. As the Rangers rearguard looked up to catch the puck, eyes focused on making the play, Pastrnak came from across the neutral zone and delivered a solid jolt that left Girardi down on the ice. Take a look:
The case can certainly be made that Pastrnak is going to find himself sitting for at least a game or two after seeing the slow-motion of his hit on Girardi, and it’s a pretty strong case, too. It’d be one thing for Pastrnak to leave his feet and make shoulder-to-shoulder contact, but he jumps into a hit that appears to make direct contact with Girardi’s head.
As a result of the hit, Pastrnak ended up with a minor penalty for checking to the head, and Girardi was forced to leave the game briefly before returning later in the second frame. It doesn’t appear the Rangers defenseman will be missing any further time, but the evaluation was necessary after he took a forceful blow to the head.
If the league does decide to suspend Pastrnak, it will help him that this is his first offense and that Girardi didn’t appear to suffer any lasting injury. Even still, it feels as though a game or two ban is heading Pastrnak’s way.
For the Bruins, losing Pastrnak right now would be incredibly disappointing, especially with how well he’s been producing early this season. Through seven games, Pastrnak has five goals and eight points while skating on the second line, and only Brad Marchand has contributed more to the attack than Pastrnak.
UPDATE: The NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Friday that Pastrnak has been suspended for two games for his hit on Girardi. NHL director of player safety Patrick Burke said that Pastrnak "unnecessarily extends up and into the head of Girardi, delivering a blow to the head and knocking him to the ice." While Girardi was eligible to be hit, it was the extension upwards instead of through the body that resulted in the suspension, especially considering Girardi's head didn't change position moments before or just as Pastrnak delivered the check.
The suspension is the first of Pastrnak's career, and it will cost him $10,277.78 in salary, all of which will go towards the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.