Raffi Torres could be a victim of his own hard-driving playing style. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Raffi Torres wasn't suspended
for his Game 3 demolition
of Brent Seabrook, but the Canucks have to deal with another question.
Can they play him?
Right now, Torres is in the Matt Cooke position with the NHL. No doubt Vancouver GM Mike Gillis called hockey operations to complain about Torres becoming a target, because it's clear he's under surveillance. He took two penalties on Sunday night, the second of which Chicago converted into a game-tying goal. And, in what is potentially a Stanley Cup season for Vancouver, that's a huge risk.
Gillis and Alain Vigneault must be weighing that heavily. Mason Raymond seems less comfortable in the middle, and putting Cody Hodgson back in allows Raymond to go back to his natural spot with Jannik Hansen on the other side.
While the lack of a suspension will certainly cause a firestorm, there is another, deeper issue here. Torres took abuse in the Twitterverse when he loudly complained about the penalty.
Islanders forward Michael Grabner, who scored 34 goals and is a legitimate rookie of the year candidate, tweeted: "It's to bad to see these kinda hits.that's just no respect.some people just won't learn what can ya do."
But, another NHLer, Krys Barch, who plays a similar role, raced to Torres's defence, tweeting, "We are Ruining the best game in the world," and followed with, "What happened about players keeping their head up? Three things people stand up for at games. Fights, hits and goals."
Good to see the two solitudes aren't just French and English.
Torres and Barch are part of a generation of players who have been told, "If you want to make it to the NHL, you aren't going to do it scoring 35 goals a year (like Grabner, for example). You're going to do it by hitting anything that moves and hitting it hard."
When he hammered Jordan Eberle
near the end of the regular season, Torres said that if he doesn't make that play he's out of the league. More than 500 NHL games proves him right. That's the way he was taught and his style was, until very recently, accepted.
In last week's 30 Thoughts, Luke Schenn said, "I was taught on that play to fake reaching for the puck and then go for the hit. If that's going to be illegal, they are going to have to change the way young players are taught hockey."
After Torres hit Seabrook, I discussed that quote with Garry Galley. Galley said that's the difference between his era and now. Players still brutalized each other in the post-season, but on plays like those ones, you went for the puck. Now it's, "Forget that. Go for the other guy."
The puck's become the most dangerous thing on the ice, even when Zdeno Chara's not shooting it. We're at the point where if you want to re-program players, you've also got to re-program coaches. And that goes well before the NHL level.
But that's not Vancouver's problem. The Canucks must deal with the present. Can Torres' style be part of it?30 Thoughts1.
No way Seabrook wanted to leave that game, even for a second. But good on referee Brad Watson to go over and check on him. Seabrook's been brutalized in the last week, first by Justin Abdelkader and then by Torres. To me, that's what an official should do - monitor the safety of the players, as best as is possible.2.
Biggest Vancouver concern: two years ago, swept St. Louis, had nine days off and were never the same. Also happened to Ottawa in 2007. Eliminated Buffalo and had eight off before the Cup. Anaheim probably would've won anyway, but the Senators were very sluggish.3.
Lots of help this week so you're not inundated with Montreal-Boston stuff. Scott Oake had an interesting one about Manny Malhotra. Normally, teams don't want guys with long-term injuries around during the playoffs. Malhotra didn't travel to Chicago, but is heavily involved with the Canucks. No headset like Sidney Crosby, but he definitely has a voice.4.
Jim Hughson with a great stat: Jonathan Toews is at 11 consecutive games over 20 minutes and 55 for the year. Henrik Sedin has played more than 20 just 21 times. Wonder if Patrick Sharp would be playing centre if his knee could handle it.5.
There is a sense around the Bruins that Chara is bothered by more than just a virus. Montreal fans who tweeted his illness was "karma" will have little sympathy, but the feeling is Chara is mentally torn by the injuries he caused to Max Pacioretty
and Ryan Callahan
. While the monstrous defenceman looks like a killer, guys who've played with him say he's very sensitive about this kind of thing. From what I've heard, the phone conversation with Pacioretty was very emotional, and seeing Callahan get hurt by a slapshot really upset Chara.6.
Watching Johan Franzen come back in Game 2
, face looking like it lost a fight with a chainsaw, was pretty incredible to most of us. What really struck me were the reactions of Galley and Glenn Healy. They looked at the Detroit bench, noticed the other players didn't seem surprised at all and said, "It's expected there. You can see how they expected he would come back. It's an organization that knows what it takes to win and that's part of it."7.
When we were doing our piece on Pavel Datsyuk
last month, Craig Simpson talked about how the Oilers coaches compared him to Wayne Gretzky in the sense that you could try to intimidate him, but he refused to cower. Kevin Weekes also brought it up Saturday, that you won't scare him no matter what you do.8.
Cassie Campbell-Pascall had a great note about Dwayne Roloson painting "TDLO" on his mask: "The Dream Lives On." Roloson's got a lot of pride, and the way he's playing, the dream isn't ending anytime soon.9.
There are five coaching vacancies now, with the possibility of more. It sounds like the two men with the most options will be Kevin Dineen of the AHL's Portland Pirates and Craig MacTavish. Dineen's done good work for two different organizations - Anaheim and Buffalo. The Pirates have had the last three American League rookies of the year. MacTavish lost out to Todd Richards in Minnesota, but should be a winner somewhere this time.10.
The next group includes Kirk Muller and Ken Hitchcock, but will also be determined by guys who are being targeted in certain places. For example, there is a widespread belief that Chicago assistant Mike Haviland is Florida's No. 1 choice. If that does happen, it limits possibilities for others.11.
Intrigued by the Hitchcock-to-Dallas rumblings. He was fired in 2002 and interim replacement Rick Wilson followed months later. Doug Armstrong took over as GM from Bob Gainey and talked with Hitchcock about returning to the bench. (That would have been something, coming back less than six months after being fired.) But, they decided it wouldn't work. Now? Only Brenden Morrow and Jamie Langenbrunner remain.12.
There is a sense Peter DeBoer's stock hasn't really dropped, either. Tough situation in Florida. And Jim Playfair's work with Abbotsford did not go unnoticed, even if they didn't get in the playoffs.13.
The most hotly contested coaching job? Maybe Penn State hockey. Everybody wants in with Terry Pegula.14.
As a guy looking for a huge payday, Ilya Bryzgalov could use a big playoff win or two.15.
May not be all his fault, but nothing involving Cody Hodgson happens quietly, does it? Doesn't take the morning skate before Game 1 and it's big news.16.
Entering the Boston series
, the Canadiens were pumping Andrei Kostitsyn's tires. They talked about how his effort had improved, how he was a net presence on the power play, about how he committed himself to becoming a better player. When he came back after taking that Chara slapshot off the foot in Game 1, it said everything anyone needed to know about his compete level. He was probably full of enough drugs to sedate an enraged grizzly, but it couldn't have been easy, especially since he missed Game 2.17.
Texted a Capital during Game 1. Asked if he was watching Montreal. He said it was like watching a one-year-old horror movie: "Exact same strategy."18.
Another fun text message exchange, this one with a coach. He couldn't believe the pressure Claude Julien is under. Him: "Coaches don't get paid enough." Me: "You're biased." Him: "No [bleep]."19.
There was a time Hal Gill was so concerned about his future in hockey, he considered becoming a math teacher.20.
P.K. Subban said he didn't feel too tired after playing a game-high 27 minutes Thursday night. He was the last Canadien on the ice at Saturday's morning skate, too. He says he's watched a lot of Chris Pronger video. Pronger is one of the best in the NHL at conserving energy while on the ice, so he can play a ton of effective minutes. Subban is trying to mimic that.21.
David Krejci on Tomas Plekanec: "We played together at the Olympics and world championships ... I respect him, but right now I hate him."22.
Had a chance to chat with Toronto scout Steve Kasper on Saturday. Kasper was one of the great defensive forwards, a guy who could drive the best talents, like Wayne Gretzky, absolutely crazy. Asked him what he would do if he was Krejci. "I would go into traffic often, skate in towards the D ... to create two men on one. If there are two guys beside him, it opens up someone else ... You want to create a double-team, because the great players can always find the open man. Cutting to the net as often as possible also helps."23.
The Canadiens' forecheck is designed to take away Boston's top two options on the breakout, the centre and one winger. The Bruins are having trouble dealing with that. Defencemen are reversing it to their partner, but that's led to both of Montreal's opening goals.24.
Without Chara, Boston defencemen seemed uncertain about carrying the puck. They had room to skate before all three of Montreal's Game 2 goals, but tried risky passes instead. Result: defeat.25.
Game 1 minutes: Patrice Bergeron, 15:47 - sixth among Boston forwards. Don't think that went over too well. He was up to 16:21 in Game 2, which was fifth, as Julien rode Krejci and Milan Lucic.26.
Quote of the week: "Tomas Kaberle still hasn't played in the playoffs since 2004." That's from series statistician Jeff Girodat. Ouch. 27.
If I was Peter Chiarelli, I'd still do the Phil Kessel deal. What's got to be killing him, though, is that Kessel is exactly what Boston needs right now.28.
Understand the NHL was worried about salmon tossing in Vancouver, snake-tossing in Phoenix and maybe even dwarf-tossing in Australia. But, there's got to be a better way than fining people in Detroit. Not only is it a great tradition, but Red Wings fans weren't abusing it. It's not like there were 500 a game.29.
Winnipeg: It's going to happen eventually, just a matter of when. Would anyone be surprised if the Coyotes moved after their season? No. But, even if that team is somehow saved, there will be other options. I do understand it is agonizing for the fans, but realize that every possibility will be given to keep teams in their current cities. We'd expect nothing less if it involved a Canadian city.30.
The Ottawa Senators are a little bit poorer without Phil Legault and Chad Schella. Good luck, gentlemen.Got a question for Elliotte? Drop an e-mail to email@example.com, and he could reply in his weekly mailbag column. You can also send comments to Elliotte via Twitter @friedgeHNIC.
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