Bad blood brewing

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

If the NHL's goal, in creating a schedule overloaded with conference and divisional games, was to foster animosity and rivalries, it's working - there is bad blood brewing all across the league.

The latest hot spots are Phoenix-Anaheim where Ducks' enforcer Todd Fedoruk received a three-game suspension for his blindside charge on Petr Nedved, and Nashville-Los Angeles, where things got ugly after Darcy Hordichuk jumped Sean (The Turtle) Avery.

In both cases, situations escalated when agitators ran and hid after dishing out dangerous hits. Denis Gauthier wouldn't answer for a kill shot that injured Joffrey Lupul, so Fedoruk exacted his revenge on Petr Nedved instead.

In Nashville, Avery hit Paul Kariya from behind, then dropped into the fetal position when Hordichuk came calling, so Hordichuk pounded on his kidney another King jumped in.

It's all well and good that teams are getting a hate on for each other, but by cultivating that environment, and then letting agitators hide behind the instigator penalty, the NHL is setting itself up for another Bertuzzi incident.

"We definitely need fighting,'' said San Jose's Scott Thornton. "Not staged events, like it had become, but fights that happen out of situations on the ice, like it was in the old days. We need it as a way to police things. It keeps things safer and cleaner for all of us and that's important.''

POT CALLS KETTLE BLACK

After the game Avery told post-game reporters that "(Hordichuk) is an embarrassment to the league.''

This is the same Sean Avery who ripped Europeans and French Canadians, then chickened out of challenges from French Canadians Gauthier and Ian Laperriere, was fined $1,000 for diving, another $1,000 for ripping the league and may or may not have called Georges Laraque a monkey.

And he's calling Hordichuk an embarrassment?

Meanwhile, Fedoruk's three-game suspension ends Wednesday when, guess what, Anaheim hosts Phoenix.

"Nobody's going to forget what happened,'' vowed Gauthier.

What's he going to do? Hide even harder next time?

SHOOT TO THRILL

Two very different views on NHL shootouts. Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, after losing in one to Edmonton: "Yeah, I am a big fan. I'm 0-3 in them, so I love every second of it. Nothing seems to go right. I guess the good thing is we don't have this crap in the playoffs.''

Ales Hemsky, who scored on his shot: "It's fun for the people, and if the people like it, that's why you play the game.''

GOALIE TROUBLE

The Oilers aren't the only team with question marks in their net. Half the league is having trouble. Colorado is said to be in the market for help after David Aebischer's extended slump. They thought backup Peter Budaj could take over, but he collapsed against the Wings on Wednesday, allowing six goals on 28 shots.

In St. Louis, Patrick Lalime has been terrible, so they gave the job to youngster Curtis Sanford. Then he allowed five goals on 27 shots against the Kings.

ZHOLTOK REMEMBERED

Prior to last Saturday's game in Minnesota between the Wild and Predators, both teams paid tribute to the late Sergei Zholtok, who played for both clubs, as well as the Edmonton Oilers.

Zholtok died last November, while playing in latvia during the lockout, of heart failure.

In addition to a display on the concourse at X-Cel Energy Centre, they played a video tribute and both clubs wore SZ stickers on their helmets.

Zholtok's wife, Anna, and his sons, Edgar and Nikita, still live in Minnesota. Sixteen-year-old Edgar wiped away tears to drop the ceremonial first puck.

THIS AND THAT

Anaheim continues to lean on its underachieving stars. Sandis Ozolinsh was benched for the third period in Dallas Tuesday and made a healthy scratch the next night ... Ed Johnston is seldom far from greatness: He played with Bobby Orr, coached Wayne Gretzky in the World Cup, drafted Mario Lemieux and is now an assistant GM in Pittsburgh, where Sidney Crosby is taking flight ... In a 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal, the Thrashers, third best power play in the NHL, went an amazing 0-for-13 with the man advantage.

MONEY TROUBLES

Because they're running into cap trouble and they don't want his salary counting against them on off days, the Canucks have demoted and recalled Josh Green from Manitoba four times this season ... When San Jose called up Spruce Grove's Grant Stevenson for their game in Calgary, 17 of his relatives drove in for the game. Included among them were his grandfather, Hall of Fame netminder Glenn Hall.

DAZE AND CONFUSED

Oft-injured Eric Daze only played 19 games in 2003-04 and has played all of 11 minutes this season. He's had three surgeries on herniated disks in the last five years and GM Dale Tallon isn't sure if he'll play again.

"That''s a $1 million question,'' he said. "I can't give an answer.''

DIVER DOWN

After Sidney Crosby hit the ice from a Derian Hatcher hack, Flyers GM Bob Clarke went on a rant about diving: "It's an awful thing to do to the game,'' said Bill Barber's former teammate. "It's a lack of respect for the game, going down easy.''

They forgot to put it in the CBA, but there should be a rule that any team with Peter Forsberg on it is not allowed to cry about diving.

FLEURY OF ACTIVITY

Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury negotiated a sweetheart contract under the old CBA, and it's costing him big time.

Despite the best save percentage and GAA on the team, he's been to the minors twice, the last time after making 45 saves in a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh. Problem is, he has about $3 million in achievable bonuses in his deal if he becomes an NHL regular.

AND ANOTHER THING ...

Ty Conklin should keep his head up if he plays the Kings again. Luc Robitaille traded punches with Preds goalie Tomas Vokoun when the Nashville goalie got a little too possessive about his crease. "I just spent two weeks out after a goaltender (Conklin) slashed me in the leg,'' said Robitaille. "I'm not going to let that happen again.''... The Bruins have signed Natick native Dan LaCouture to a two-way deal for the remainder of the season. LaCouture, 28, had been playing for Joe Thornton's old club in Davos this year.

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BIG GAMES THIS WEEK

TODAY

Capitals at Rangers: Jaromir Jagr versus Alexander Ovechkin in Madison Square Garden.

TOMORROW

Canucks at Avalanche: Tensions are always high when Bertuzzi visits his division rival in Denver.

TUESDAY, NOV. 29

Canadiens at Senators: A couple of Canadian powerhouses square off for first in the Northeast.

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 30

Coyotes at Ducks: Todd Fedoruk will be back from his suspension in time for the rematch.


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