Three Important Things That Happened In The NHL Last Week
It was a busy week in the NHL as suspensions and injuries headlined the news. While Boston’s Shawn Thornton’s suspension was the main attraction, Toronto’s David Clarkson earned his second suspension of the year and Winnipeg’s Anthony Peluso also drew a ban.
We’ve rounded up the best three nuggets of the week below:
Canucks On Fire
The window of opportunity had allegedly been closed on the Vancouver Canucks. Goaltender Roberto Luongo had supposedly checked out mentally and the team simply wasn’t supposed to have enough to really be a contender. If you’ve watched them play recently, you’ll know that preseason assessment was wrong.
The Canucks have bought into John Tortorella’s preaching as they’ve now won seven straight, which includes an impressive 6-2 romp over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. The Canucks have allowed just eight goals in those seven wins. Don’t look now but Luongo is again elite, posting a 2.19 GAA and a .921 save percentage through 29 games. The Canucks have been very streaky this season but they are the hottest team in the NHL right now.
Then you look over at the New York Rangers and see the same old story this time though Henrik Lundqvist isn’t looking as elite. Guess it wasn’t all John Tortorella’s fault after-all…..
Shawn Thornton’s 15-Game Suspension
Last week Shawn Thornton and James Neal made our weekly column of What The Puck due to a few incidents that should have never happened. It’s been a week since they have happened. James Neal was handed a five game suspension and just recently Brendan Shanahan handed Shawn Thornton a 15 game suspension.
The NHL came down hard on Boston Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton for his dirty cheap shot on Brooks Orpik and rightfully so. This isn’t the WWE or UFC. Punching a guy when he’s down on the ice is not acceptable in any form.
Thornton slewfooted Orpik in a game against Pittsburgh last weekend and then punched him a couple of times while he was down on the ice. As a result, Orpik was knocked out cold and had to be stretchered off the ice. Orpik is definitely not completely innocent as his previous dirty hit on Bruins forward Loui Eriksson did serve as motivation for Thornton’s retaliation but it’s fairly clear that Thornton had crossed the line.
The idea is for him to find a way to square up with Orpik, both of them to drop their gloves and fairly fight. Thornton’s act has no place in the game, was very cheap and definitely deserved of a 15-game ban.
Rumors have surfaced however that Thornton plans to appeal the suspension. It would be interesting to hear what he could possibly muster in defense of himself. Maybe Thornton can go see a shrink and use a mental block in his brain as his defense? Just a pucking thought.
Steve Stampkos Already Skating?
Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steve Stamkos broken his tibia on November 11th and anyone who watched the gruesome injury wondered if he’d even play again this season. The original prognosis was that he’d be out for four-to-six months. Fast forward just over a month later and Stampkos is already back on the ice – if you can believe that.
The Lightning were 12-5-0 with him in the lineup and are just 6-6-3 without him. They’ve scored just 33 goals without him (just 2.2 per game) and have been shutout four times. Seeing him back on the ice – even if he’s still weeks or months away from playing – is an encouraging sign.
The news is also good for Team Canada and their men’s Olympic hockey team. Many people had scratched Stamkos off the roster after he broke his leg but he has until February 11th to recover and make the team.
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