There is a complicated and potentially ugly story brewing in the hockey universe that crosses lines of sports and politics, of freedom and dictatorships. And Artemi Panarin is squarely in the eye of the storm. We’ll get to that, but on the ice, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury padded his Vezina Trophy talk with another spectacular performance on Monday night just as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry is rounding into shape.
We’ll start with the Penguins and Fleury before the wickedly complex Panarin story.
Vegas Hockey Now: Marc-Andre Fleury lowered his GAA (1.55) and his save percentage (.943) with his second shutout in a week with a 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Here are some highlights, including Fleury’s diving stop and the full story. Fleury has earned more Vezina talk.
A 1.55 goals against average. Unbelievable.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry has a .937 save percentage in his last three games. And what are the differences between playing with Kris Letang on the top pair or Cody Ceci on the third pair? Marcus Pettersson broke down the differences.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Here is the Jared McCann and Brian Dumoulin Penguins injury update.
So, here’s the short story: A Russian coach and apparently political wanna-be political made international waves by accusing New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin of beating up an 18-year-old girl in 2011.
Ordinarily, Panarin would immediately be in hot water. However, that’s only the first layer of the onion.
The public accusation comes on the heels of Panarin backing Vladimir Putin’s chief critic and opponent. Doing that usually earns dire consequences. Panarin made a bold social media post on Jan. 21, which supported Putin’s opponent.
Oh, by the way, the Russian Olympic team selection is coming up, too.
And…does anyone trust Russia? From poisoning Putin opponents to disinformation campaigns in U.S. politics to the discredited Steele Dossier, which sparked a partisan brawl in the U.S. for two years, Russia behaves as if the country is controlled by a KGB intelligence officer…and it is (Apologies to my younger readers who don’t remember just how destructive and evil the KGB and the Soviet Union truly were).
NY Post: Larry Brooks dismantled the Artemi Panarin situation.
Panarin has stepped away not out of shame but because the situation and fears for his safety have rattled him. The allegations are currently unsubstantiated, nor has an accuser come forward.
NHL Trade Talk
The last one out of Buffalo, turn off the lights. On Monday, we detailed the growing Jack Eichel concern. Now, there’s more NHL trade talk about Eric Staal, too.
TVA: If / when he becomes available, the Montreal Canadiens should go after Eric Staal.
Stick tap to our man Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey for finding that one.
National Hockey Now
Florida Hockey Now: The Florida Panthers fired 51 shots at Dallas. They zipped 29 shots in the second period en route to a comfy win.
NYI Hockey Now: Bad news for the Penguins. New York is winning again. Mathew Barzal was the turning point in the Islanders’ win over Buffalo.
Philly Hockey Now: Carter Hart was uncharacteristically bad in Lake Tahoe. Ryan Gilbert hits the Flyers film room.
San Jose Hockey Now: The Minnesota Wild pasted the San Jose Sharks. And it wasn’t that close.
The Boston Bruins had way too much fun in Lake Tahoe. Actually, Gritty and the Bruins had fun, but David Pastrnak stole the show.
Tomorrow, more Marc-Andre Fleury…