NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 4, 2011.

Ryan Miller run over again in return…Current Bruins team drawing comparisons to past Bruins greats…Rangers win fifth straight…Matt Moulson pots four goals in Islanders win over Stars…Stars Mark Fistric’s questionable hit on Isles Nino Niederreiter…Blackhawks spoils David Perron’s return to Blues…Wild buying into coach’s plan…Randy Carlyle ponders his future…Hurricanes drop third straight under coach Muller…Lightning’s Mattias Ohlund suffers setback…Flyers blueline getting help from youth…Blackhawks Dave Bolland playing through pain…Enforcers on the way out of NHL?

BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was run again in his first game back since being steamrollered by Boston’s Milan Lucic, this time by Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo. Miller, however, took matters into his own hands, leaping on Tootoo and raining punches upon the prone Predator, joined by several of his fellow Sabres. Miller was unhurt, backstopping the Sabres to a 3-2 victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff was furious over Tootoo’s actions, saying he wanted to see what the league’s reaction would be. So does the rest of the league, Lindy.

BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins current 13-0-1 record since early November is drawing favorable comparisons to the great Bruins teams of the early 1970s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A month ago, when they were 3-7-0 to start the season, they were drawing unflattering comparisons to some of the worst teams in Bruins history. What a difference a month and a fourteen game unbeaten streak can make. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 for their fifth straight win, their 12th in their last 14 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: OK, so 12-2 isn’t quite as sexy as the Bruins 13-0-1, but it is deserving of notice. These two teams are among the best teams in the East, which could possibly inject some new life into what was once an intense rivalry between these two “Original Six” franchises.

Moulson leads Isles with four-goal effort over Stars.

NEW YORK POST: Matt Moulson potted four goals, and linemates John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau had three assists each, as the Islanders downed the Dallas Stars 5-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Isles, as Dallas’ Mark Fistric leveled Isles forward Nino Niederreiter with a questionable hit to the head, knocking the young Isle out of the game and raising speculation Fistric could face suspension. Judging by the video, I’d say it was an illegal hit to the head, which will cost Fistric some games.

BND.COM: Blues forward David Perron scored in his first game back from a concussion, but the Chicago Blackhawks came away with the win, defeating the Blues 5-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It may have been a loss for the Blues, but it was good to see Perron get that goal, and to see him back following that career-threatening concussion.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The secret of the Minnesota Wild’s success so far this season? Clearer communication from their coach.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Former Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle will take some time to ponder his future in the wake of his firing last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carlyle has a unflattering reputation as an inflexible, hard-nosed coach, but he also has a Stanley Cup on his resume, meaning he’ll be coaching in the NHL again soon. Perhaps the Colorado Avalanche, NY Islanders, or Columbus Blue Jackets could make use of his talents. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Defenseman Jamie McBain’s two goals weren’t enough for the Carolina Hurricanes to get their first win under new head coach Kirk Muller, as they fell 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: From what I’ve seen, the Hurricanes are showing improvement under Muller, but given their lack of depth, those wins are going to be hard to come by.

PHILLY.COM: Call-ups Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall are giving the Flyers depleted defense corps some much-needed help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their presence could bode well for the Flyers in the next couple of years, when they might lose Kimmo Timonen and Andreas Lilja to free agency, and Chris Pronger possibly retires if his injury woes continue.

SUN-TIMES.COM: Blackhawks center Dave Bolland is playing through a painful right foot injury suffered nearly a month ago.

TAMPABAY.COM: Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund has suffered a setback in his recovery from knee surgeries, and it’s now unknown when he might return to action.

DENVER POST: Adrian Dater on how the role of enforcer is being slowly phased out in the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe it’s not becoming a thing of the past, but rather it is changing. It’s not enough now simply to be able to fight, but now enforcers have to be able to play the game, to where they’re not benched in critical situations, or healthy scratches in the playoffs.  

12 Comments

  1. I blame Ehrhoff for that collision. Tootoo was cutting into the net and would have been able to cut in front if Ehrhoff was not wrapped around him so much on that side, not to mention the push off. Tootoo jumping makes it look alot worse, but it saved Millers head as Tootoo did turn his back to him and did not hit Miller square which could of caused damage. With that said. Since it is Jordan Tootoo and it is Miller coming back from Concussion it will be 5 to 8 games.

  2. Now Miller says that he didn’t suffer a concussion in the collision with Lucic (what a surprise), but rather it was a pre-existing disc condition in his neck.

    BTW, why haven’t all the Canadian policitians and big businesses made comments about Max Pac’s suspension, and whether the cheapshot hit should provoke a police investigation? They couldn’t be shameless hypocrits, could they?

  3. Didn’t the Bruins doctors diagnose the concussion? I thought that’s why Miller went to the quiet room. Maybe I missed something.

    As for Tootoo, he was cutting to the net with the puck. It was courteously removed from his posession by a really neat defensive play, which I’ll discuss in a minute. Slow-motion doesn’t really do this game any kind of justice. Things happen fast. Four feet isn’t a lot of room to make a decision when you’re chugging along at 40mph. But let’s look at the decisions he could have made. Stop? Hahahahahahaha. Not in that space. Besides, he would have gotten attacked for spraying Miller if he was successful. Turn left? This is not NASCAR, and it’s likely he would have eaten the net. Go straight into the net? Ouch! The only viable option was to keep turning and try to avoid contact with Miller. The question is did he do a good enough job, and the answer is “sort of.” I think he tried to avoid Miller, while at the same time he didn’t try particularly hard, and through it all his options were limited by the situation.

    If Tootoo is suspended, it seems unjustified for more than a game or two. But if he is not suspended, the Sabres organization and fans will pout for another decade over what they interpret as a second Brett Hull-level conspiracy. And I don’t think I can stomach the latter.

    Now, the defensive play. Ehrhoff made a good play on him, but he could have bodied up a bit too. Why would the reaction be anything but body up some on a player driving the net with the puck? If he missed the poke check, he would have surrendered one heck of a scoring chance. This is one of the big complaints I have with the Sabres. How Dare Someone Hit A Sabre! seems to be the attitude in Buffalo. But that doesn’t really matter since their reaction was adequate. Bout time.

    I liked the reaction in the Islanders Stars game too. Notice how an Islander whose name I missed stepped right in and dropped his gloves with Fistric after the hit? Proper reaction to a miserable play. But why wasn’t Fistric at least called for charging? He clearly got airborn before contact, and it was all shoulder on head. Isn’t that worth a match penalty these days?

  4. Does anyone really read Adrian Dater? We have the worst newpaper writer in hockey.

  5. According to Elliotte Friedman yesterday, The Buffalo News quoted Miller as saying he didn’t have a concussion, then he emended that by saying the Sabres say he did have a concussion. After Miller was hit by Lucic his trainer checked him out and as we all know Miller remained in the game. Supposedly between periods the Bruins doctors diagnosed a concussion. Then Miller hung around ’til the end of the game to mouth off. Never any mention of the quiet room. It would be nice to get the straight story from someone.
    Here we are again. How will the league respond? Supposedly Gionta couldn’t avoid Reimer, Lucic couldn’t avoid Miller, Cole deliberately skated thru the crease and hit Enroth and now Tootoo couldn’t avoid Miller. These are just the ones I saw in my NE division bias, I’m sure there are many others. A two minute minor is just not enough to deter running the goalie. Especially when there’s a response by the offended team resulting in consequent penalties. Buffalo ended up with a one minute power play on the whole thing.
    I’ll say it again, you hit a goalie in the crease, that should be an automatic five, depending on the violence of the hit tack on charging, unsportsmanlike conduct, whatever. Outside the crease, again depending on the violence of the hit, at least a double minor, goalie interference, charging, unsportsmanlike conduct. Make it so their is a price to pay.
    Will anything come from the BOG meetings this week to address it? Many certainly were up in arms following the Lucic/Miller affair.

  6. I agree with gravitymike here. The fall back position of every forward who runs over a goalie is “the Dman pushed me into him”. When you make a direct line towards the goal crease like Tootoo did here, you do so with the full knowledge that it will likely lead to a collision with the netminder. Ehrhoff made minimal contact with Tootoo, not nearly enough to alter the path of a 200lb NHL athelete.

    I guess as a Preds fan I’m supposed to support whatever a player on my team does, but I can’t in this instance.

  7. Gee if all the Bruins had to do all year was just play the Maple Leafs, they might be able to be the first team in NHL history to go undefeated in a season

  8. @ Dabroons. the legal investigation of the Chara hit was idiotic. It was not the politicians as much as same irritated fans while hot under the collar after the game who made complaints to the police. The police are legally obligated to investigate all complaints no matter how frivolous. The cops knew it was idiotic so they pushed some papers around, pretended to look busy, let the fire over it all blow over and then officially dropped it. As for the politicians, they are all media junkies and anything to get their name in the papers/on TV to look like they are doing something useful. If kicking their grandmother suddenly became popular, they woud be out doing that on film the very next day, and giving your grandma a boot for good measure. That whole thing was as embarassing as the Boston media’s dismissal of Max’s injury and later being aghast when Horton got clocked.

  9. Hey DaBroons:
    If Lucic did nothing wrong, why did he say “our team would have done something about that”, with that “proud to be a bully” smirk?
    Yeah, your team is just a class act in a league full of divers.
    As for Tootoo, the rule says that you have to try to avoid contact, and he obviously made sure to get contact. As Chaas says, he couldn’t stop…..but if he had tried it would be pretty obvious. He could have put the breaks on instead of lowering the boom on him.

  10. be interesting to see how Shanahan handles this but no matter how he does it’s going to be a mess. make no mistake it’s completely Shanahan’s fault for not sending a clear message to the rest of the league that hitting the goalie wouldn’t be acceptable when Lucic leveled Miller. even if Tootoo gets a suspension it creates confusion as it wasn’t any worse than what Lucic did. is it ok to break the rules only when you’re a Bruins player? in the past year Boston players have broken the neck & back of opposing players as well as running a goalie and hitting numerous players from behind all WITHOUT suspension. in the playoffs last year alone Lucic hit Eller from behind into the glass, Horton crosschecked Downie headfirst into the boards, Boychuk broke Raymond’s back AWAY from the play with Raymond having never touched the puck all of this without suspension. do the Bruins have to kill someone on the ice for the league to stop favoring them?

  11. Completely different situations. Miller was in his net this time, where he should be.

  12. tux, in fairness most teams at any level will seek vengeance on you for running their goalie. I’ve been on teams as a goalie and a player. I’ve been run. As a goalie, my bench cleared. It was beautiful. As a player, I went over the boards and grabbed someone. My goalie probably thought it was beautiful. Bush league? Probably. But I’m no NHL’er. The reaction last night was appropriate, and should have been the reaction against Lucic too, but I still maintain that Buffalo is a soft team and won’t make it far in the playoffs, if at all.

    Lucic and Tootoo basically come down to this. Two guys who pitched a fit because they lost the puck, saw a goalie and said “screw it, I’mma hit him.” Two key differences between the hits. In the latter, Tootoo didn’t seem to hurt Miller, and he got his ass deservedly beat. In the former, the Sabres took the long way to Lucic, and Miller was allegedly concussed. I’d really like to know what Miller’s actual injury was since there have been conflicting reports. And I think it’s fair that if a team accuses another team’s player of injuring their own player, then make it mandatory to release the medical report diagnosing said injury to the public. Maybe that should be in the next CBA.

    gameon63, you realize that your statements are totally …
    No, you know what? Forget it. It’s not worth my time. I’m not even a Bruins fan and I’ve argued against incorrect comments like that more than thrice. Pass.