Almost nothing generates more discussion than a big hit that knocks a player out of game, and the hit by Eric Nystrom on Kris Letang in Wednesday's Dallas Stars 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins is no exception.
Here's what Nystrom had to say about the hit:
"I’m coming in on the forecheck, I am going in to play the man and he is reaching in for the puck. I didn’t even touch his head, I hit him shoulder-to-shoulder," Nystrom said of the hit. "I had four minor penalties coming into this game, I am not a headhunter."
And here's what Penguins coach Dan Bylsma had to say about it:
"Kris Letang is upper body and day-to-day at this point," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "It’s a hit along the boards, reaching for the puck. I have not seen the replay on it. I know 24 traveled the distance to go into make the hit."
I think Bylsma is trying to imply it should have been charging, but I've never seen a charging called on distance traveled unless it's an absurd thing like halfway across the rink. I assume we'll see what Brendan Shanahan has to say about all this today, since the Stars play on Friday.
After the jump, more on the Stars shootout loss to the Penguins, including reaction to the Nystrom hit, a nice piece on Stars contract management and name the NHL goalie by his mask.
- The Stars winning streak was snapped at four games, but they have points in the last five, including taking three of four points from two of the better teams in the NHL. In this paywalled gamer, Mike Heika writes about how even only picking up one point is still a good sign. [DallasNews.com]
- It felt a little bit like a playoff game, especially for those of us who have been deprived of that wonderful time of year for way too long. [ESPN Dallas]
- From a Pittsburgh perspective, the fourth win in a row was marred by the injury to Letang. Stars fans know exactly how that feels after going through beating the Flames but losing Jamie Benn a few weeks ago. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
- Steve Sullivan also suffered the mysterious lower-body injury and did not return, leaving Pittsburgh fans to wonder about the cost of this win. I do want to add this to their thoughts about the Nystrom hit - a hit is not about the person who makes the hit gaining possession of the puck. It is about separating the player on the opposing team from the puck so you or a teammate can win it in the ensuing battle. Nystrom might not win the puck directly, but by eliminating the player with possession, he makes it much more likely that his teammate will win it and keep the play in the zone. Also, Nystrom is smart to try and take the body and not the man. How many times have we railed on Stars for trying to make the fancy play with the stick and getting beat? Playing the man is the smartest play he could make. [PensBurgh]
- Okay, rant over.
- Tim Cowlishaw was back at the American Airlines Center and was pleased with what he saw, even if it didn't end up in two points for Dallas. Why does every game between Dallas and Pittsburgh always end up being epic in some way, at least recently? [DallasNews.com]
- Puck Daddy gives their take on the Nystrom hit and don't expect a suspension. [Puck Daddy]
- The Penguins, for what it's worth, didn't seem too worked up about the whole thing. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
- Chiming in from way out west are the fine folks in Edmonton, who I think haven't gotten over the hit on Taylor Fedun in the preseason. See if you can find any lingering resentment in this blog. [Edmonton Journal]
- With all the financial problems that Tom Hicks heaped upon his team at the end of his ownership turn, it's nice to have someone recognize that the Stars have done a much better job than most of locking up solid talent for decent prices. [ProHockeyTalk]
- I'm oddly sad there was an entire well-written and interesting article on the decline of smoking among NHL players without one mention of Sergei Zubov and his between-period breaks. [Sports Illustrated]
- Meet the enemy: A Western Canada roadtrip? What's that? The Stars are about to find out as they set out on their first one of the season, starting with the always-game Edmonton Oilers, who couldn't find enough offense or defense in a 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues. [Edmonton Journal]
- Around the Pacific Division: The Anaheim Ducks lost the game to the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 and then lost their minds in the final minute of play. [Buffalo News]
- Other scoreboard watching: The Toronto Maple Leafs were of exactly no help to the Stars on Wednesday as they couldn't hold on to a two-goal lead in a 5-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. [Chicago Sun-Times]
- For a fun time waster today, try to match up the goalie with what is painted on his mask. Some are obvious, and there's a pattern to the list that makes it easier, but it's still fun. [The Classical]
- Remember kids, your high school yearbook picture will haunt you for eternity. [Puck Daddy]
- There was no chip on the shoulder for Alex Goligoski, who didn't have the greatest game against his old team but has done more than enough this season to make himself a key part of the Stars.