Good day from Philadelphia, which is a bit on the muggy side.
Coach Todd Richards' lineup, usually iron-clad and daunting to all opponents, is in a state of flux.
Mikko Koivu got his arm twisted during that hooking penalty at the start of the second period Tuesday against San Jose. He missed about a 10-minute span of the period but played the rest of the game. He's on the trip just to get treatment, but Koivu won't play tonight or tomorrow in Detroit. I don't even think his gear is on the trip because it wasn't in his stall, nor did he have a bag that I saw.
Also, Guillaume Latendresse is a game-time decision. He's "banged up," although after leaving the ice briefly during the morning skate, he did return and complete the skate. If Latendresse can't play, Cody Almond, recalled from Houston, will play his second NHL game. The centerman would play wing.
Casey Wellman, a natural center who's played one game of right wing and two games of left wing, will play center tonight in place of Koivu. The plan is for Andrew Ebbett to move up and take Koivu's slot in the middle of Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen. If Latendresse plays, Kyle Brodziak will center Latendresse and Marty Havlat. If Latendresse doesn't play, all bet's are off in terms of lines.
Richards said this provides James Sheppard with "another opportunity." His last "big opportunity" came when Eric Belanger was traded. He has no points in 12 games since, and has no points in 29 consecutive games. His last point was ... Dec. 11.
Cue Richards: "His last game against San Jose, he took a step backwards because I thought his play started to move in the right direction. Tonight's another opportunity for him. We're playing in a tough building, usually a hostile environment against the rough and tough Philadelphia Flyers. It's tradition here. This is a great place to play. It's a great atmosphere, but you've got to show up. You can get exposed here pretty quickly. There's no place to hide here. And for Shep, it's another opportunity. And for a young player looking for opportunity, there's none better when there's ice time available. there's ice time on the power play available."
Sheppard's best game of the season might have been the last exhibition game of the preseason here. That was a looooooooong time ago.
Derek Boogaard will return to the lineup to face the big, bad Flyers.
Niklas Backstrom will start. The plan is for Josh Harding to start tomorrow in Detroit.
This is really funny, and kudos to Fox Sports North's Kevin Gorg for noticing (I think Gorg noticed because he happened to be a goalie who probably gave up a lot of goals), but this has to be a subliminal message to opposing goalies in the visitors locker room at Wachovia Center, right? There's a red lamp right above the goalie stall.
Couple nice goals last night, starting with the Caps-Pens shootout. Check out Crosby's shootout goal here. You can fast forward to 10:30.
Also, check out this little flip on net from Daniel Sedin that Jonas Hiller never saw
Also, as far as blindside headshots -- or the Mike Richards Rule coincidentally enough since we're in Philly -- the new blindside hit rule immediately goes into place for supplemental discipline -- not as far as penalties yet because the league hasn't instructed the referees.
So, while a blindside head shot won't be a penalty, you can be suspended. Makes sense
Here's the release:
RULE PROHIBITING LATERAL, BACK-PRESSURE OR BLIND-SIDE HIT TO HEAD WILL TAKE
Implementation of Supplementary Discipline Begins Tonight
NEW YORK (March 25, 2010) -- Beginning with tonight's games, the
National Hockey League will implement a new rule prohibiting “a lateral,
back-pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted
and/or the principal point of contact.”
Under the new rule, the NHL Hockey Operations Department is empowered
to review any such hit for the purpose of Supplementary Discipline.
“We believe this is the right thing to do for the game and for the
safety of our players,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said after receiving
unanimous approval from the Board of Governors as well as the endorsement
of the NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee and the NHLPA Executive Board. “The
elimination of these types of hits should significantly reduce the number
of injuries, including concussions, without adversely affecting the level
of physicality in the game."