The East Divison is a powder keg. Full stop. If it seems to you that the Washington Capitals are about to come apart at the seams, I see the same thing. Tom Wilson is out of control, again. Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had serious past issues, including being photographed with a pile of narcotics in a Vegas hotel room, has recently missed team meetings, and multiple reports indicate the organization is ready to move on. The Pittsburgh Penguins split in Philadelphia but lacked their hallmark speedy oppression, and the New York Islanders can’t beat anybody.
And the New York Rangers just cleaned house.
The soap opera that was the Boston Bruins suddenly seems stable, including Jaroslav Halak’s epic meltdown after losing in OT on Tuesday night.
The NHL finds itself in a big pickle of its own fermentation. There is little question to many hockey people, most media and fans, that Tom Wilson attempted to injure Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin. Wilson could have popped each and been done–you know, the usual hockey scrum–but instead, he tried to bury their heads below the toonie in the ice.
Though the Capitals disagree and tried to draw an equivalency to Sidney Crosby.
“I was watching Pittsburgh and Philly play, and Crosby and Konecny got tangled up, and one guy jumps on the other guy’s back and puts him in a headlock,” Washington center Lars Eller said. “And the (Crosby) retaliates and does a similar, slams him into the ice and gives him a couple of jabs into the back of the head. That was a penalty. That’s what the refs assessed in the situation–the same thing happened the night before (with Wilson). Very similar situations, just different players.”
Most can and should see past the false equivalence.
I like this video from the Tough Call blog. It explained the difference between Connor McDavid’s head push, Sidney Crosby’s wrestling match, and Tom Wilson doing everything but a Stone Cold Stunner.
Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stunner!
Josh at Tough Call did a nice job. His passion is calling out dirtiness in hockey.
When Sidney Crosby is engaged to that level and with that intensity, the Pittsburgh Penguins usually win. Ask P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators. Perhaps it’s time we stop worrying about Crosby doing his own dirty work and start appreciating an old-school captain who can.
It’s vintage, Gordie Howe, Mark Messier captaining.
But Wilson’s antics, combined with the NHL’s feckless response, have created a no-win situation. Fans are hot. Players are hot. The New York Rangers absolutely smoked the NHL with a statement that called the head of NHL Department of Player Safety George Parros “unfit” and demanded that he be removed.
Oh, and there was a damning report in the Athletic that Parros didn’t want to suspend Wilson, at all, back in March when Wilson hospitalized Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo but Gary Bettman stepped in and overruled Parros to deliver a seven-game suspension.
Wednesday morning, the DoPS announced Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere would have a hearing for boarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman on Tuesday night.
“Ghost” deserves a suspension. You can’t have players getting tossed into the boards while not in a competitive position. The league must send a message and must draw a line, but how in the hell can the NHL suspend Gostisbehere and only fine Wilson?
The comparison would make the goalie interference reviews look consistent.
The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 7-3, but they didn’t have that “step,” did they? Back in October, who would have guessed Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson would be such a catalyst to their success?
His quick step forward and his quick bolt to loose pucks change this Penguins breakout. Suddenly, what would be a contested breakout is a Penguins rush.
Without Matheson, those breakouts were contested. The Penguins had to work a lot harder to get off their own dots.
For the Penguins to have real success in the postseason, they will need Matheson. Mark Friedman appears to be a great seventh d-man, but he’s not Matheson.
You’ll find nothing but praise for Matheson in these quarters. He has not only resurrected his career, but he may be playing the best puck of his life.
The New York Islanders are 5-7-1 in their last 13 games, which just about coincides with their acquisition of Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac.
The Islanders look like they’re dead in the water.
During writing this blog post, the New York Rangers cleaned house. President John Davidson and GM Jeff Gorton–gone. Team President James Dolan, who isn’t exactly loved in New York, reportedly wanted to be more aggressive with the Rangers rebuild, while Davidson and Gorton wanted patience.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli also reported Davidson and Gorton reached out to other execs to distance themselves from the blistering statement that the Rangers released yesterday calling for DoPS head George Parros “unfit” to head the department.
Hockey people preach patience. Outsider wants, “NOW!” Ask Philadelphia how things have gone since they wanted “NOW!” and fired Ron Hextall.
That should add another layer to the Capitals-Rangers battle on Wednesday night, huh?
The Metro/East Division is never boring.