On its face, fining a player (most recently P.K. Subban) for diving/embellishment is perfectly fine.
After all, “acting” to draw penalties is pretty obnoxious, especially in a sport that at least gives a lot of lip service to the idea of honor and “lunchpail players.”
That said, I find myself struggling to shake the notion that the NHL has some police-state tendencies. Some of its measures seem a little draconian, especially when you ponder the notion that Evander Kane might have been punished for wearing freaking sweatpants. Allegedly.*
I find my irritation at ignored obstruction has waned lately, although I’m not sure if that really just boils down to not having the energy to wage that (mental) battle for yet another season. Nonetheless, are we sure that players aren’t embellishing because it’s the only way to be certain that they’re drawing an officials’ attention to a penalty that might otherwise go unnoticed or disregarded?
Talk of a cap recapture penalty in regard to Mike Richards also really speaks to the NHL almost bullying anyone who defies it in anyway, even in ways that technically conformed to the old CBA rules.
The message is clear: don’t cross the NHL and Gary Bettman.
I get why they want to send that message, but sometimes it feels like they’re using a flamethrower when a flyswatter would suffice.
RANGERS 3, BRUINS 2
-- After playing on Monday, it sounds like Henrik Lundqvist's throat might just be an issue after all. The Rangers label him as day-to-day while admitting that he might miss at least this weekend's back-to-back games.
-- I'd give a mild endorsement to Cam Talbot if you're in a situation where you can drop him without losing much sleep if Lundqvist barely misses any time.
The 27-year-old only has a 5-4-0 record in his sparse starts in 2014-15, yet it seems like he's giving the Rangers a chance to win much like last season. He has a .924 save percentage this time around after going 12-6-1 with a remarkable .941 save percentage as a rookie.
With the Rangers generally playing quite well, and grab Talbot for some wins here or there. If you're hurting for goaltending and have a fringe roster player you were thinking about jettisoning anyway, give him a shot.
-- It looks like the Rangers might mix up their nice top two lines a bit by putting Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis together as well as Chris Kreider - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello. Both lines produced offense - not just the Nash/St. Louis reunion I'm admittedly more excited about - so it could work out for everyone involved.
-- Some strong work from Reilly Smith lately: one goal and five assists in his past five games.
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PENGUINS 2, OILERS 0
-- I'm not totally sure what to make of Pittsburgh's scoring issues (the Penguins are scoring at the lowest rate of the Sidney Crosby era).
For one thing, I'm sure some of those struggles come down merely to guys like Evgeni Malkin being injured. (Malkin came back last night.)
Still, both of their goals were a little wonky last night, and they really took their feet off the pedal in the third period, generating two SOG to Edmonton's 10.
-- Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 22 saves for a shutout, regaining sole possession of the league lead with his seventh of the season. Much has been made of his struggles as of late, but if you look at just the last few games, it seems like he's sorted things out; he's won two of three games while allowing five goals. That's a promising sign of progress even if he isn't necessarily out of the woods just yet.
FLAMES 3, SHARKS 1
-- Even with San Jose's ridiculous offseason in mind, if you told me in September that the Flames would hold a tiebreaker lead over the Sharks on Feb. 5, I would have assumed that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were traded for futures.
-- Another strong game for the Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler line, although I can only imagine how many fantasy owners were just in agony over all their close calls when San Jose emptied its net. Still, there's every sign that this trio has staying power as a reliable fantasy and reality scoring line.
-- Mason Raymond really hasn't been working out for Calgary, but he's been playing well lately, with a three-game point streak (two goals, one assist). He's not getting much ice time, so I wouldn't get too excited, but at least there's a chance he might salvage things with the Flames going forward.
-- Jonas Hiller is on fire all of a sudden, winning four of his last five games and allowing no more than two goals in any of those contests. He stopped 28 out of 29 shots for one of his better performances of that run.
* - There’s probably more to it than that, but either way, his situation with the Jets seems somewhat miserable. I’d probably act out if I was plunked on the third line with the kind of talent Kane has, too.