Opinion: Torres suspension changes nothing.

The NHL has come under a lot of fire for not being tough enough on the post season violence which seems to be spiraling out of control. This suspension to Raffi Torres could be seen as a response from the NHL to it’s critics that it is putting it’s foot down. That would be wrong, however.

The NHL is not making a statement here to anyone other than Torres himself. He has been suspended five times in as many years, all for hits involving the head of his opponent. This suspension is for Raffi Torres being Raffi Torres and for simply not getting the message yet that you can’t hit guys in the head anymore.

The hit that Torres laid on Marian Hossa, ten years ago, would have been deemed a good clean hockey hit. Poor Hossa, shoulda kept his head up. Scott Stevens is often referenced as a player who received much acclamation for delivering this type of hit. Those days are simply past.

Having said all that, I feel that 25 games is too much. While this was not in any way a legal hit, it is very close to one that is. If Torres stays on his feet, hits Hossa .3 seconds sooner and three inches lower, this is a great hockey hit. And that is the main problem the NHL has right now. A good hit and a dirty hit are separated by a very fine line. Torres’ main fault is repeatedly just crossing the line. Ten games would have sent the message that predatory hits are unacceptable and been sufficient to factor in Torres as a repeat offender. 25 games adds in an attempt to prove that the league is taking hockey violence seriously at a time when sponsors are growing concerned. Essentially, through his own actions, Raffi Torres has become the scapegoat. For now.

The problem I have with this suspension is not that I don’t think Torres deserves it (he does, mostly), but that it provides zero deterrent for other players who play close to the same line. Any player viewing the leagues response immediately knows that the severity of the suspension has nothing to do with the hit, a little to do with the resulting injury and almost everything to do with Torres. 25 games for being Raffi. It’s such a long suspension that only Raffi Torres could receive it, which in effect nullifies its value as anything other than a reactionary punishment.

If the league were really serious about preventing head injuries and escalating levels of violence; if they wanted to send a message to all the players that they are watching and willing to act, they would have suspended Shea Weber for his head smashing of Henrik Zetterberg. Even one game to Weber would have been far more of a message to the players than what Torres got.


On the Sked tonight: Five squared (get it? Five game fives? Nevermind.)

Sorry everyone, I’ve had some computer problems over the last few days and I wasn’t able to make any blog posts. The problem has been solved (thanks, Jeremy), and we are back under way.

There are five games on the schedule tonight. Three of them will split a tied series and the other two are possible eliminations. All-in-all it will be a very pivotal night in the NHL.

Boston vs Washington
Game 5: 3:00 EST

This game has already started at the time of this writing. The story of the series so far has been the play of Caps goalie Braden Holtby. He’s only allowed seven goals in four games and has Washington right in this thing. Boston needs more out of their top six. Patrice BergeronDavid KrejciBrad MarchandMilan Lucic and Tyler Seguin have combined for a total of one assist (Bergeron) in the four games thus far.

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Morning Skate: Is that a weenie in your hat?

Morning skate is a feature that will look at the stories developing each day in these 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and a look ahead to the games on the schedule.

There were three game-three’s on the schedule last night and in each case the road team won by a goal.

Rangers 1 Senators 0

Henrik Lundqvist held off the Ottawa Senators, making 39 saves, and Brian Boyle scored the only goal in a 1-0 Rangers win. Lundqvist made his best save on Kyle Turris, point blank and alone in the slot, with less than a minute to go. Despite speculation he could play, Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson sat the game out with concussion symptoms.

Game 4 Wednesday 7:30 EST

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Morning Skate: Crossing the line – Weber, Bitz, Briere… and Twitter?

Morning skate is a feature that will look at the stories developing each day in these 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and a look ahead to the games on the schedule.

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Playoff Previews: Coyotes vs Blackhawks

3 Phoenix Coyotes vs 6 Chicago Blackhawks

These are exciting times for the Phoenix Coyotes, even if they are being rumored to play next year in any of six different locations. The Desert Dogs earned their first division title in… ever. Even going back to their days as the Winnipeg Jets, this franchise has never won a division. Wow. I had to look it up to be sure it was true. Can they now also win their first playoff series in Phoenix?

Imagine how great the Blackhawks could have been had Dale Tallon not missed that one teeny-tiny deadline? Instead, they have to settle for backdooring into a playoff spot and hoping their stars can catch fire.

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Playoff Previews: Blues vs Sharks

2 St Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks

What a difference a coach makes. Under Davis Payne, the St Louis Blues began this season with a 5-7-1 record. Not terrible, but certainly below expectation for a young, up and coming team. Payne was fired after a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on November 5, 2011. He was replaced by Ken Hitchcock who guided the Blues to a 44-15-10 record the rest of the way.

Maybe San Jose should have taken note. They too had high expectations coming into this season. Exchanging forwards Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat and sending F Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota for D Brent Burns was supposed to shake things up and add defensive depth. The result was the Sharks not even entering into the playoff picture until March and April. He may have held his job to this point, but coach Todd McLellan is likely on a short leash depending on the outcome of these playoffs.

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Playoff Previews: Canucks vs Kings

1 Vancouver Canucks vs 8 Los Angeles Kings

The Vancouver Canucks enter this years playoffs with one goal in mind. To win one more game than last year. It took game 82 of the regular season to clinch their second straight Presidents Trophy, but the Canucks are maybe an even better team than they were last season when they got to game seven of the finals. But you have to start at round one, and nothing is guaranteed.

That is the sentiment that the LA Kings are hoping to capitalize on. Vancouver may be the favorites, but this is an LA team that has underachieved and they, more than anyone, realize they have the depth and talent to compete with anyone, including Vancouver.

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