It's not really a surprise that Dallas Stars winger Antoine Roussel is going to have a hearing with the NHL today after the events late in the game against the San Jose Sharks. But the incident in question isn't the one that got all the attention post-game.
After Roussel delivered a high shot to Sharks goalie Alex Stalock after the latter knocked the puck into the stands in the last minutes of the third period, and the play predictably devolved into a scrum in the corner. In the scrum, the worked up Roussel delivered a punch to the face of Justin Braun while Braun was tied up by the linesman.
And that punch, not the contact with Stalock, is why Roussel has a call with the NHL set for today.
The contact with Stalock was essentially a minor for goalie interference, not much else. The contact was high but not to the head, and Stalock stayed in the game after being checked out by trainers. A comparable incident all the way around is probably the old tales of Mike Ribeiro and Chris Osgood, where the contact was stupid and dumb but not nearly as dangerous as it looked real speed. It was properly disciplined during the game.
The punch on Braun is a little interesting. Players have gotten away with sucker punches in similar situations before, particularly those who are considered stars. But Roussel won't (and shouldn't) get that benefit of the doubt. A similar incident occurred last season when Jordan Nolan received one game for this sucker punch. The biggest difference is that this scrum was still ongoing when Nolan threw his punch while the Oilers-Kings scrum was basically over (a factor mentioned in the suspension video).
Nolan was also a repeat offender (fined) while, to the best of my knowledge, Roussel has stayed on the right side of the NHL law to this point in his career. My official guess is one game, but I also know never to trust the disciplinary committee to abide by their previous standards, especially early in a season. They took some heat that Nolan's suspension was too lenient, and that could come down on Roussel even though it's a less glaring incident.
If Roussel is suspended, the Stars will likely need another forward available for at least Tuesday's game in Arizona. Cody Eakin, if he is healthy, could fill in for the injured Valeri Nichushkin, but Roussel is another hole that needs a body.
On that cheery note, here are other news and notes from around the NHL:
- Mike Heika had a really interesting piece on why the worst thing the Stars could do right now is forget all the bad habits and funks and trends and problems that have plagued them since the end of the playoffs last season. There is a school of thought, and I admit I am among their members, that says the best thing you can do is put the past in the past and not let it trick you into panicking in the future. But Heika's point is that this team needs to embrace them and learn from them to move forward. [DallasNews.com]
- Jason Spezza has brought all the offense that was advertised, though the defensive warts are also apparent during this most recent stretch. And one of the reasons he chose Dallas over other, possibly more musically inclined destinations, is the well-rounded sports scene. Heck, even the Cowboys are good this year, which is more than we can say for the woeful Titans. [Yahoo Sports]
- The Stars next opponent, the Arizona Coyotes, started the season in a rough patch, but they are playing better (if not picking up wins) as of late because of a much better Mike Smith. [Five for Howling]
- So remember all the projections about how the salary cap would increase markedly next season, allowing teams currently in a crunch all sorts of room? The possibility has been raised that no such thing will happen, that the cap will remain pretty much the same next year. That's actually not bad news for the Stars, who have a large number of high-hit contracts coming off the books, but it's certainly a problem for some of the NHL's elite. [NYPost.com]
- If there's one thing that has been made apparent in this stretch of Stars hockey, is that those darn luckdragons are often necessary to win a game. Jamie Benn is probably looking for something to sacrifice right now. But sometimes that luck works for you, such as Seguin's first goal on Saturday and Steven Stamkos' goal against the Red Wings. [SBNation]
- The Stars own Daryl "Razor" Reaugh gets a nice shoutout here from two of the three writers in a discussion about best announcers in the league. Justin Bourne is the only one not on board, but then again, he's the only one who limited himself to a single entry. [The Score]
- If we're looking for the "misery loves company" brightside, which is not really a brightside but someone to huddle with under that leaky umbrella, the Columbus Blue Jackets game recap headline from Saturday read "40 Minute Effort: 20 Minute Disaster." That sounds heartbreakingly familiar. Sorry, 'Lumbus. [The Cannon]