NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 14, 2011.

In today’s collection of notable NHL morning headlines: Ryan Miller suffers concussion, Milan Lucic to face NHL disciplinarian today…Ilya Kovalchuk still plagued by nagging injury…Blackhawks lose Brent Seabrook to injury…Ilya Brzgalov bouncing back…Islanders coach unhappy with team’s performance…Blue showing improvement already under new head coach Ken Hitchcock…Rangers won’t allow Mats Zuccarello to return to Europe.


Lucic to meet with NHL disciplinarian Shanahan today.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is sidelined indefinitely by a concussion, the result of a collision with Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who deliberately ran Miller when he left his crease to play a loose puck. Sabres GM Darcy Regier is furious over the incident, and is calling on the league to discipline Lucic, who has a meeting today with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff reportedly also weren’t pleased with the meek reaction by Miller’s teammates on the ice at the time of the incident, as they “heard about it in strong terms” during a team meeting Sunday in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Though Miller put himself in a vulnerable position by leaving his crease to play the puck, Lucic took advantage of the situation by deliberately running over the Sabres goalie, even though he had plenty of time to avoid a collision, and showed no remorse for his actions. He was assessed a minor penalty during the game for charging (as per the NHL rulebook), but he could be facing stiffer punishment from the league, especially given Miller’s injury. Lucic was previously suspended for one game back in April 2009, for crosschecking then-Montreal Canadiens forward  Maxim Lapierre in the head during a playoff game, and received a game misconduct in last spring’s playoff serieS against the Habs for boarding Montreal defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, which could work against him in today’s hearing.

NEW YORK POST: New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk remains plagued by a “lower body injury” – believed to be a groin injury – which has sidelined him since November 3, when he was hurt playing against the Philadelphia Flyers.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook is out day-to-day with a lower body injury, suffered when he slid skates-first into the end boards during Sunday’s 6-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks struggled without Duncan Keith when he was sidelined, so it’ll be interesting to see how they perform if Seabrook is out for any length of time.

PHILLY.COM: In the three weeks since struggling through a 9-8 debacle loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has rounded back into form in recent games, going 4-0-1 with a .939 save percentage during that period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers management and coaching staff appeared shocked by Bryzgalov’s comments following that 9-8 loss, even going to the point of trying to restrict media access to him. I think they’re learning that Bryzgalov’s refreshing candor in no way was going to adversely affect his future performance. He’s not a guy with a fragile ego, just one who speaks honestly.

NEWSDAY: NY Islanders head coach Jack Capuano isn’t pleased with his struggling team’s recent performance, calling out some of his regulars (though not by name) who “talk a good game to the media”, but fail to play up to their words on the ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After showing so much potential in the second half of last season, the Isles are in danger of falling into another season-killing free fall. Put simply: this team is better than their record, but they’re not putting it together consistently for a full game. They’d better do something soon, or join the Columbus Blue Jackets at the bottom of the standings, with their playoff hopes all but dashed before December.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have shown significant improvement in their first three games under new head coach Ken Hitchcock, going 2-0-1 by improving their puck possession and transition game.

NEW YORK POST: There is no “out clause” which would allow Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello to return to Europe if he plays a certain number of games in the AHL. Zuccarello is currently toiling with the Rangers farm team in Hartford.


  1. I will be very surprised if Lucic is suspended. I have noticed a trend in the suspensions in the last couple of weeks. At first, Shanahan was harsh and I said, if he is unbiased with everybody, then I think this might work, but he has let several cheap hits slide recently. Think of Malone’s hit on Campoli, and Wolski’s hit. No suspsensions. Shanahan has shown where his loyalties lie, with former friends and places he has played. Things won’T be different here because Lucic is from Boston with COlin Campbell’s kid. If Lucic gets suspended, it will be one game at most, as compared to Wisnieski’s eight games.

  2. Coof,
    I agree. I would be shocked if Lucic gets more than one game.

  3. Looch did NOT have plenty of time to avoid the hit. Moreover, it was a free puck and he was entitled to go after it. What he DID, was to take advatage of the situation and unload on Miller. But the hit was shoulder to shoulder, and it wasn’t dirty. I have to wonder if Miller was injured earlier and the hit exacerbated an earlier mild concussion. The concussion was diagnosed by Bruins’ team physicians, not Buffalo’s.

    Miller wildly swung his stick at Lucic and got no call for that.

    Regarding Looch’s suspension against Montreal, the replays CLEARLY showed that Looch hit the Montreal player with his fist and it was NOT a cross check to the face. Moreover, in Game 4 of that series, Komasarik clearly cross-checked Looch in the face drawing blood and got 5 and a game, but NO suspension. So, yes, Campbell certainly favored the Bruins, such as the long suspension Matt Cooke got for effectively ending Savard’s career. Oh wait, that was a hockey play.

    The hit you had to love was little Zach Hamill smacking Katela, who is clearly afraid of Looch.

  4. Despite what you think, the rulebook clearly states that it is never ok to hit a goalie regardless of whether or not he is out of the crease. A player is always supposed to do everything possible to avoid contact with the goaltender which Lucic did not do. He even seemed happy to injure Buffalo’s star player, but he bithed a lot when Savard got hit and was out. Lucic is a hippocrite.

    By the way, Lucic is not the be all end all of players, I seem to remember him getting schooled by Gomez in the playoffs last year. He was a non-factor against Montreal. He picks on people when he thinks he can get away with it.

  5. Wow, Dabroon the sky must be a pretty colour on your planet. I’ve watched Lucic since his days as a Giant, and he’s a cheap player.
    You may not think those are suspendable offenses but no one else does. He’s lucky that’s all he got. And I doubt he’ll get more than a game here, although he should.
    As far as running Miller, according to the rulebook (69.2 and 69.4) it’s never legal to intentionally run a goalie.

  6. What was Miller even trying to accomplish? Maybe Hasek needs to teach him a thing or two, at least he knew how to protect himself.

    @ Dabroons – I am glad to see somebody else recognize Miller’s stick swing, which in my opinion has more intent to inflict injury then Lucic trying to aggressively win a 50/50 puck.

    It will be interesting to see how long Miller is actually ‘sidelined indefinitely’ for

  7. What exactly does Montreal have to do with this?

    The situation is pretty clear-cut from what I’ve seen. We can claim one way or another that Lucic did or did not do it intentionally, but it doesn’t really matter. Shannahan has said countless times, the onus is on the player not to place his opponent in a compromising position.

    Now I like contact a lot and think goalies should go back to being fair game outside the crease, which mostly comes from my disdain for the NFL’s over-protecting quarterbacks. I really don’t want to see that in the NHL, but unfortunately that’s not my decision to make. Rats!

    At any rate, the rules are the rules and Lucic made a very minimal effort to turn or stop. He’s an NHL player, remember. They’re pretty good at stopping and turning. I think in that situation, a snow shower might have been a whole lot of okay. But he’s not that kind of a player. He was trying to get something going all night, but nobody would step up and fight him. Same goes for the other tough guys on the Bruins. Thornton and Campbell tried to get fights but nobody was biting. Unfortunately, this was not the kind of incident we want to see to get a team fired up because it’s currently illegal.

    When Ryan Miller saw Lucic was coming, he got his elbow up, presumably to defend himself. I don’t really buy that he was just covering up any more than I buy Lucic couldn’t stop. Miller’s comments after the game were just sorry. I don’t like that he stuck around just to call a guy a piece of dung. That’s gutless, Ryan Miller. Totally gutless. [trollface goes here]

    Another unfortunate side-effect of his incident is it certainly tells the league “We are Mighty Buffalo, and We are Soft!” Every other team in the league would have come up swinging. My roller team has stepped up when guys run our goalies, and in a league where throwing a punch is an automatic game suspension with a potential for extra games that should tell you something about the Buffalo Sabres. It begs the question, if they make it how will they handle the tougher playoff style hockey?

  8. I agree, Buffalo’s response to Lucic’s “cheap” hit was soft and even more disappointing than Lucic’s hit itself. But throughout the early moments of the 1st – Lucic was running around and trying to get something started – remember, we all heard several times throughout the game (prior to the hit) that Lucic was talked to about his play and how he needed to step up and play more physical. So…….Lucic followed the advice and decided to be physical – even if it meant a “cheap shot”. He did have time to veer off, but didn’t. And in his little “press op” after the game seemed to relish the play.

    My disappointment comes on the fact that Gerbe, Vanek, Boyes and Leino are the ones that showed any retaliation to the hit. Reghr plays physcal to begin with, but he isn’t a cheap shot artist. On the other hand – Gaustad, Ellis, McCormick, Kaleta,Myers, Leopold, Gragnani and Stafford didn’t do a thing. I’m sure the message has been received around the league – Buffalo can be pushed around at anytime!

    I guess Buffalo now needs to bring in a player to be an enforcer.

  9. First, let me point out reports state that Lucic has a phone call with Shanahan. Most times a meeting (face-to-face) with the league disciplinarian is followed by at least a five game suspension.
    Second, in reality how is this hit any different than intentionally running a goalie when he is still in the crease. That rarely leads to anything more than a two minute penalty with no supplemental discipline. My take is that Shanny will tell Lucic that he has a history of playing on the edge and this kind of hit is bad for the league, $2500 is your fine (as limited by the CBA).

  10. All that matters here is lucic’s hit on miller, and nothing else. He should be suspended as it’s clear it was intentional. I’m shocked the sabres didn’t jump him, but maybe Miller isn’t winning the locker room over, who knows. But you can’t ever touch goalies like that and not expect something to happen. Millers stick swing is a none issue, he was seeing birds fly around his head didn’t have a clue where he was, reactionary for the goalie, at least he was trying to stick up for himself.

    P.S. not a fan of either team unless they are playing the nucks.

  11. Its official! Shanahan is doing a crap job! Lucic could have at least let up, if not avoided the collusion all together. Lucic should serve a 2 game for this. Shanahan gives him nothing? Totally ridiculous! I was a big fan of Shanny and I liked his approach going into the season, but it has become apparent that he is very bias! Time to fire his ass!

  12. I called it. YOu play for a team favored by the league, either because a father is management, or if you are friends with management you do not get suspended. I for one hope that the next time the bruins play the Sabres Ryan Miller plays like Hextall or Billie Smith.

  13. Miller did not get a call or talking too regarding the stick swing because he did not conect and he did it with one hand. It might have been a different story if he tried a two hander.