It's Monday morning, and a weird one at that.
The Pens are 4 games into their preseason and the team is taking shape. Eight more players were cut from camp, bringing the group to 35 players. Dave Molinari offers a good analysis of salary decisions that await. The fifth game of the preseason is tonight against Chicago, and the lineup is here. Jokinen's not playing, which probably means Bennett would be on Malkin's left wing. Here's hoping the Pens represent better against Chicago than the Steelers did on Sunday night. That was not pretty.
While watching the Steelers pain fest, I missed the fight night in Toronto. Who says no one takes preseason games seriously? Violence erupted during the Leafs-Sabres game, 16 fighting majors were dished out, and Ryan Miller got the living daylights beaten out of him by Jonathan Bernier, probably to the delight of Randy Carlyle who will promptly make him starter. I don't remember the last time I saw two starting goalies fight each other. Oh, and David Clarkson stupidly left the bench for no good reason, meaning his Toronto debut will start 10 games later. Here is the video of the whole debacle. No one knows what the score was.
Tempers are flaring in other corners of Canada as well. Things didn't go well in the Oilers-Canucks game either, and an utterly reckless high stick by Zack Kassian broke Sam Gagner's jaw, and he will be out indefinitely. I wonder if this will speed up the return of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, currently scheduled for November. Kassian and Dale Weise both have disciplinary hearings on Monday, former in person (allowing for more than 5 games) and the latter by phone. Canucks fans are at near-riot point as they don't feel the incident was hearing-worthy, but everyone else begs to differ. It was foolhardy and dangerous.
Following Tomas Vokoun's emergency procedure for blood clot dissolution, he will be hospitalized for 3-4 days to be followed, presumably, by a course of therapy of unknown duration. Sending warm thoughts and good wishes his way. Pens' situation in goal is not looking good. Can we utilize the LTIR for some cap relief? Yes, absolutely. Will we be OK? No idea. I want to think yes, but this suddenly feels like walking the tightrope, looking down and the net isn't there.
This has been a strange and weird hockey weekend without too many good stories, but here's a really uplifting tale of a guy beating incredible odds. When ECHL player Chris Kushneriuk got diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer at the age of 25 and couldn't afford treatments needed to save his life, hockey players from around North America stepped up to support him. Following many rounds of chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant and other treatments, he announced in August that he was cancer-free and returning to hockey.
Thanks to my children I can't get this out of my head and now you won't be able to either. Dumb Ways to Die. Happy Monday.