Morning Skate: Pens miss Orpik?


Morning Skate: Pens miss Orpik?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while tearing myself away from Hockey Hall of Fame weekend in Toronto, which is a pretty cool scene.

*Years after his departure, the impact of Brooks Orpik’s absence is still being felt in Pittsburgh. Yeah, with Orpik and Matt Cooke both gone the cheap shot ratio has dropped dramatically.

*Boy, you hope Jimmy Vesey is okay after taking a Zack Kassian skate to the face that appeared to bust him open.

*Jack Eichel is frustrated with his game and how he hasn’t been able to elevate things around him with the Buffalo Sabres.

*NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says that the Ottawa Senators need a new arena and it’s awfully hard to argue.

*A fun Q&A with Tyler Toffoli about the coaching changes, close encounters with celebrities and life as a Los Angeles King.

For something completely different: Everybody stop everything because Starbucks has added two more holiday drinks.


Source: Benning won't face league discipline for hit on Backes

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Source: Benning won't face league discipline for hit on Backes

Former Bruins draft pick Matt Benning won’t be facing any supplemental discipline for a hit in Edmonton's victory over the Bruins on Thursday night that essentially knocked B’s forward David Backes out of the game, per a hockey source.  

Benning lined Backes up in the neutral zone on his first shift of the first period and drilled the big Bruins center with a shoulder hit that appeared to mostly get him in the chest, but it also clearly caught some of his chin/head given how dazed he was in the aftermath. Benning wasn’t whistled for a penalty and Backes sat out the rest of the first period for precautionary reasons and played only six-plus minutes in the game.

Afterward, Bruce Cassidy said that Backes was “okay” and he was cleared to continue playing even if he was used sparingly.


"David was OK," Cassidy offered after the loss, his team's second in as many nights. "We didn’t use him as much because he missed some time and we want the player’s safety first. But it’s good to see he was able to be cleared to get back in the game and hopefully he’s good to go Saturday [against the Canucks]."

The sense of the hit from a league perspective was that the head was not the main point of contact on the body check and that the video replays were also fairly inconclusive that it was anything beyond a hard shoulder to Backes’ chest. Benning has no prior history with the NHL Department of Player Safety. He also had to exit the game with a separate injury suffered after the Backes hit.

The concern, of course, is that Backes, at 34, has had multiple concussions. After more than 800 games played in the league, those head hits are beginning to add up for the rugged veteran. 

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Talking Points: Bruins better, but not good enough vs. McDavid & Oilers

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Talking Points: Bruins better, but not good enough vs. McDavid & Oilers

Here are my biggest takeaways from the Bruins' 3-2 overtime loss in Edmonton on Thursday night:

GOLD STAR: Connor McDavid was held down early in this game, but made the play when it counted in overtime. McDavid picked off a Brad Marchand stretch pass from deep in the Bruins zone during the 3-on-3 overtime, and then moved into the B’s zone with speed before dishing over to Leon Draisaitl for the game-winner in overtime.

In all, McDavid finished with two assists along with eight shot attempts in 24:58 of ice time, one hit, three takeaways and a blocked shot in the home opening win for the Oilers. McDavid certainly didn’t explode on the Bruins with a massive statistical night, but it’s easy to see why putting McDavid and Draisaitl out together for the 3-on-3 overtime session eventually turns into a lot of wins for the Oilers. It took less than a minute for that duo to do their damage in OT on Thursday night.

BLACK EYE: David Backes finished with zero shots on net in 6:28 of ice time after taking a high hit from Matt Benning in the first period that sent him back to the dressing room. Backes returned to the bench for the second period, but clearly wasn’t actually on the ice much for the Bruins following the first period. It looked like there might have been contact to the head/chin area for Backes, and that’s not good for a player that’s missed time over the last few seasons with concussions. Beyond the production for Thursday night’s game, Backes still has zero goals and zero points through seven games this season and continues to look like a player that’s really not going to be able to give the Bruins what they need out of him. For now, though, it’s about Backes’ health and the hope that he comes out of the collision with Benning unscathed.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins fell down 2-1 in the third period on a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins power play goal in the third period, and it could have been one of those moments where they started to let things fall apart in the second night of back-to-back games. Instead, the B’s scratched and clawed their way to tie the game on another David Pastrnak goal midway through the third period to push things into overtime eventually. That allowed the Bruins to at least capture a point for their trouble, and salvage something amid a road trip that’s already proven to be pretty difficult for the Black and Gold. Things fell apart quickly for them in the overtime session, but by that point the one point was already in the bank for the Bruins.

HONORABLE MENTION: It was a pretty good night for David Krejci as he continues to show that he’s finding his game a few weeks into the season, and starting to give the Bruins the secondary scoring they absolutely need. Krejci scored going to the net on a sweet lead pass from Matt Grzelcyk, and has started connecting on a few more offensive plays for a team that’s going to need it from them. He finished with over 20 minutes of ice time, had the goal along with a plus-1 rating, five shot attempts and 7-of-12 face-off wins in a very good all-around effort. Perhaps the Bruins will stick with Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk with Krejci now on the second line, after seeing some good offensive results, and more importantly seeing some life out of the playmaking Krejci’s game.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 – the game-high number of registered hits for Chris Wagner, as he continues to set a tone physically for the Bruins when he’s out on the ice.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “A good rebound game. We definitely played better hockey. It wasn’t a very good second period, but the first and the third periods were good. We battled our way back in and got a point, so definitely a better game than [against Calgary].” –Brad Marchand to reporters, on the B’s playing better in an OT loss to Edmonton than they did the previous night against Calgary.  


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