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10 in 1: Suspensions, Trades and Select Company

Welcome to the second installment of 10 in 1. It is 10 thoughts in one place. Some days it will be questions, random thoughts, non-sports topics and quotes. Let’s get to it.

1. Zack Kassian waived his right to an in-person hearing this morning, so there is a chance he could be suspended for more than five games for his kick to Erik Cernak’s chest last night. It is pretty clear he kicked him.

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Cernak’s body didn’t move on contact. He wasn’t injured. There is no debate Kassian kicked him, but what I find interesting is how the NHL will take a strong, hard stance on kicking, but can’t figure out a way to do the same for dirty crosschecks or hits from behind.

2. Kicking is illegal. Even if the kick causes no damage, everyone knows you shouldn’t do it. I’m good with that. Clearly Kassian’s kick didn’t cause any damage and wasn’t that dangerous or forceful, but there is a clear rule in place. There is no grey area. Kick and you will be suspended. So why not make it the same for other dirty plays?

3. Just yesterday, the NHL decided to only fine Zdeno Chara $5,000 for his cross check to the neck of Brandon Gallagher. There is clear contact to the throat and the force is obvious as Gallagher’s head snaps back. Here is it in real time.

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Now in slow motion. Anyone claiming there was no contact or it wasn’t in the throat is either a massively biased Bruins fan or needs to get their eyes checked.

Gallagher wasn’t injured, which I’m sure played a part of why Chara wasn’t suspended. I’m not picking on Chara. I love him as a player, but the most perplexing and frustrating aspect of NHL Player Safety is how they can take a hard stance on one action, but not another. We all agree kicking has no part in the game. Shouldn’t we feel the same about crosschecks to the face/neck and blatant dirty hits from behind?

At the bare minimum, make hits from behind an automatic minor penalty. That might have players thinking twice. NHL hockey is extremely fast, and with so many split-second decisions during a highly emotional game, I expect there will always be some bad decisions. We will never eliminate all the cheap shots, and if I’m being honest I don’t want them all gone, but I’m amazed at how the NHL can be so vigilant on one motion (kicking), but so lackadaisical on hits from behind. I hope I’m wrong, but some day a player won’t get up from a hit from behind and sadly it will be too late. The NHL needs to crack down on those hits like they did hits to the head. We don’t see those nearly as often anymore.

4. Leon Draisaitl scored his 90th point of the season last night in his 57th game. Connor McDavid did it in his 61st game (the Oilers 65th) last season. Draisaitl needs 10 points to become only the 42nd player in NHL history to have consecutive 100-point seasons. He would be only the seventh player to score 100+ points in consecutive seasons, joining Joe Thornton (2006-2007), Evgeni Malkin (2008-2009), Sidney Crosby (2006-2007 and 2009-2010) and Nikita Kucherov (2018-2019). Alex Ovechkin (2008-2010) and McDavid (2017-2019) did it three years in a row, and depending on when he returns McDavid might reach the century mark in four consecutive seasons.

5. Since 2010-2011 (past decade), only nine players have scored 100 points. McDavid, Draisaitl, Kucherov, Crosby, Malkin, Patrick Kane, Brad Marchand, Claude Giroux and Daniel Sedin. David Pastrnak, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin and Jack Eichel are on pace to join them.

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6. Scoring 100 points is rare, but scoring 50 goals is more difficult. Since 2010/2011 only five players have tallied 50 goals: Crosby, Malkin, Draisaitl and Corey Perry did it once and Ovechkin did it four times. He is on pace to score 50 again (for a record-tying ninth time), while so too are Pastrnak and Auston Matthews.

7. Pastrnak could join the exclusive club of players who tallied 50 goals and 100 points in the same season. He’d become the 53rd player all-time do it. Only 22 players have done it multiple times in their careers and the only active players to have done it once are Crosby, Malkin and Draisaitl, while Ovechkin has done it four times.

8. This is the best shootout move I’ve seen in a long time. Take a bow Matthias Tedenby. He was the ninth shooter for Davos. Pretty sure his coach will move him up the order the next time they are in a shootout.

9. Two different GMs I spoke with this week told me they think the New York Rangers will re-sign Chris Kreider. He is a solid player — big, strong, with great speed and good finish. However, I see him as a prime overpay candidate. He turns 29 this year. The Rangers, or any other team who signs him this summer if the Rangers don’t, should not give him more than a five-year deal. Very few players maintain their production into their 30s. The Rangers are in a tough spot, because he can help them, but they’d be better off to pay him more in AAV on a short-term deal, than go longer for a bit lower AAV.

10. Pastrnak is on pace to score 26 powerplay goals, which would be the second most in a season since 1997. Ilya Kovalchuk had 27 in 2006. Tim Kerr holds the NHL record for most PP goals in a season with 34 (1986), followed by Dave Andreychuk with 32 in 1993, Joe Nieuwendyk 31 in 1988 and Mario Lemieux scored 31 PP goals twice in 1989 and 1996. What makes Pastrnak’s totals so impressive is the Bruins have had 193 PP chances thus far (on pace for 272) and he’s scored 18 goals.

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When Kerr scored 34 goals the Flyers had 383 chances.
Andreychuk’s teams (Buffalo/Toronto) had 470 PP chances.
Nieuwendyk’s Flames had 383.
Lemieux’s Penguins had 486 PP chances in 1989 and 420 in 1996.
Kovalchuk’s Thrashers had a 528 PP opportunities.

11. Bonus point. Just remember the NHL doesn’t consider this a suspension, even though Oshie didn’t play again in the playoffs.

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