NHL Saturday: What happened to 'eating a stick?'

Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin (22) his helped off the ice in the first period of his NHL...

Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin (22) his helped off the ice in the first period of his NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago, March 21, 2012. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 PM ET

MONTREAL - During conversations with a couple of NHL general managers in the aftermath of the Duncan Keith-Daniel Sedin incidents, it was interesting to hear that the GMs last week discussed allowing players to ward off oncoming hits by getting their arms up.

It used to be an accepted practice. A guy takes a run at somebody and that guy "used to have to eat a stick," one GM said. "And that made a lot of guys think twice about hitting somebody in the head."

The topic was raised at the GMs meetings, but didn't go anywhere.

"Other guys thought that would be a dirty play," one GM said.

It wouldn't have helped Keith as the Chicago Blackhawks defenceman never saw the hit from Sedin coming in a game Wednesday night. Sedin got his shoulder right into the side of Keith's head in the first of a couple of nasty hits exchanged by the two -- the latter an elbow that gave the Vancouver Canucks winger a suspected concussion.

The first one was a legal hit with the way the rules are being called, but it didn't pass the smell test.

It looked like Sedin targeted Keith's head with the hit.

We all know what happened after that.

HEAR AND THERE: Interesting story out of Minnesota where Wild forward Devin Setoguchi revealed he barely escaped serious injury last summer when -- get this -- a woman drove her car through his chiropractor's office. It sounds like a movie. The 80-year-old woman, who uses hand controls for her car because she is paralyzed from the waist down, hit the wrong lever and "she drove right through the door. But first, she hit a cement flowerpot." The flowerpot helped Setoguchi because it slowed the car a bit. "I ran and jumped and as I jumped, the front of the car hit me in the back and I got shot 10 feet down the hallway," he said. He drove himself to the emergency room to be treated for cuts (from flying glass) to his back and hands. He lost three weeks of off-season training, but it could have been a lot worse ... Detroit Red Wings fans got a look at another late-ish draft pick (121st overall in 2008) in Gustav Nyquist. The 22-year-old has been pressed into service because of all the Wings' injuries. He has points in four of his past five games. He wasn't expected to get a full-time gig until next season but played almost 17 minutes the other night.

THE BUZZ: Part of the Buffalo Sabres' late-season resurgence is the play of the line of Tyler Ennis between rookie Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford. They had 25 points in the first five games together. Foligno has been a revelation since being promoted from Rochester. He joined Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Anaheim's Teemu Selanne as the only active NHLers to have five goals in the first six games of their careers. Foligno is the son of Mike and brother of Ottawa Senator Nick ... Speaking of father/son combos and Buffalo, Travis Turnbull made his debut Wednesday. He's the son of former Blue, Canadien and Jet Perry Turnbull. That is certainly a piece of information you couldn't live without, right? ... The arrival of Jeff Carter in Los Angeles (six goals in 13 games) has taken some heat off several players and allowed others to be slotted into roles for which they are better suited. The Kings have won six in a row. Thursday night they started the night eighth in the West, dropped to 10th after some early results and wound up in the third seed with a win over St. Louis. Crazy.

JUST SAYING: Talk is the Wings will be going hard after Zach Parise if the Devils forward gets to free agency July 1. They'll have to get in line ... Everybody thought the Ottawa Senators got royally shafted by Dany Heatley's trade request and then his dictating where he would go, which wound up being San Jose. Well, Milan Michalek. coming the other way in the trade, has 30 goals this season while Heatley had one goal in a 16-game span to get him to 20 with the Wild. Heatley's cap hit is $7.5 million and Michalek's $4.33 million. Interesting to note that in real dollars, however, Heatley will make $5 million and Michalek $6 million in the 2013-14 season, the last year of their respective deals.

JUST WONDERING: What has made the St. Louis Blues successful? One rival executive loves their "pack mentality." If one Blue gets in a beef, the other four are there quickly.

THE LAST WORD: It's a quote that has made the rounds this week after the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers started their game with three fights Monday night, but it's worth repeating. Devs coach Peter DeBoer ripped a piece out of Rangers coach John Tortorella which some people no doubt found amusing. "I guess in John's world you can come into our building and start your tough guys, but we can't do the same in here. He has either got short-term memory loss or he's a hypocrite. It's one or the other." ... No NHL Saturday next week, at least not from this typist, as we take a breath before the playoff run and lose some golf balls in Myrtle Beach. See you in a couple of weeks for the season finale.

TOP 5

Now we get down to the best part of the regular season. The finish line is in sight and the races are fierce for the last couple of playoff spots in each conference. There are 114 regular-season NHL games left on the schedule and just about every one of them will have implications. There are 42 games from Saturday through next Friday night and here are our picks (as of Friday) as the Top 5 games of the next week:

1. Buffalo Sabres @ Washington Capitals, Tuesday: They're fighting for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. This has been a homer series so far this season. The Sabres won the first two games in Buffalo, while Washington won its past meeting Dec. 30 in D.C. The Sabres have outscored the Caps 10-6.

2. Nashville Predators @ Detroit Red Wings, Friday: Two of the league's elite teams are fighting for fourth place in the West and home-ice advantage in what's shaping up as an opening-round series between the two. The Wings hold a 3-2 edge in the season series.

3. Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks, Sunday: The Predators face the team that is immediately behind them in the standings (as of Saturday) in that crazy scramble for the 4-5-6 seeds in the West. The Blackhawks won the first game in overtime and the Preds have won the past three.

4. Los Angeles Kings @ Calgary Flames, Wednesday: The Flames might not be able to win themselves a playoff spot with this game but they could lose it. Same for the Kings. That sets up for a good game, huh? The Flames have won the past two meetings, both of them on the Left Coast, 1-0 and 2-1 in a shootout.

5. Ottawa Senators @ Winnipeg Jets, Monday: The Jets are running out of track for the eighth and final spot in the East. The Senators lead the season series 2-1 and won the only game so far this season at the MTS Centre between the two teams, 6-4 on Nov. 29. The Jets won the past meeting 2-0 in Ottawa Jan. 16.

GO FIGURE

16

The number of wins for New Jersey Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg, who won his 16th with a shutout Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators. That's the most wins for a backup to a healthy Martin Brodeur in Brodeur's 18 NHL seasons. Chris Terreri had 20 wins in Brodeur's rookie season in 1993-94 when they pretty much split the season.

41

Remember that slow start to the season by Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal (12 points in his first 27 games, league worst minus-18)? He has 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) in the 35 games since Jan. 1 and is plus-nine. He has moved into the top 20 in league scoring, a pretty remarkable resurgence.

18

The number of even-strength goals by Chicago Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg. That is the highest number of goals with all scored at even-strength in the NHL this season. He and Eric Nystrom of the Dallas Stars (16 goals, all even strength) are the only players among the top 60 goal scorers to not benefit from having a power-play goal.

4

The number of points needed by Phoenix Coyotes forward Ray Whitney to become the 79th player in the NHL history to score 1,000 points. The 39-year-old had his first points with the San Jose Sharks in the 1991-92 season. With his point Thursday night, he earned his fifth 70-point season (three of them within the past six years).

THE GROCERY STICK

Who is -- literally or figuratively -- heading for, or in, that comfortable spot on the bench that separates the forwards and the defencemen?

This is usually an individual award, but here at NHL Saturday we're flexible and we don't mind piling on. So we're handing out a bunch of grocery sticks this week to anybody involved with the Columbus Blue Jackets power play. The Jackets are in last place for a reason. Well, a bunch of them, really, but the power play was 0-for-35 going into Friday's game against Carolina. The Blue Jackets scored a power-play goal March 1 but were blanked with the man advantage over the next nine games. They had an 0-for-42 stretch last season, which is the franchise record for futility with the man advantage.

AMBULANCE CHASING

Injuries that are having, or could have, a big impact.

Detroit Red Wings

This is becoming the weekly Nicklas Lidstrom update, but his is one of the most significant injuries out there. The bone bruise on his right ankle, sustained when he was hit by a puck Feb. 25, continues to vex the veteran. He hadn't missed a game in either of the previous two seasons and had missed only 14 games since the 2004-05 lockout. He now has missed 11 games and is doubtful for Saturday's game against Carolina. The Wings are 3-6-2 without Lidstrom and have lost six games in a row.

 


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