Jets’ Morgan Barron receives more than 75 stitches after taking skate to the face

Winnipeg Jets center Morgan Barron had his face clipped by a skate and needed more than 75 stitches as a result during Tuesday’s Game 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Somehow, Barron actually returned to the ice less than a period after sustaining the injury.

Barron’s gruesome injury occurred during a chaotic scene in front of the Golden Knights’ net in the first period. During a battle for a loose puck, Vegas goaltender Laurent Brossoit was attempting to scramble back into the crease and inadvertently cut Barron on the face with one of his skates.

Warning: the video of the injury below is graphic

Morgan Barron required 𝟳𝟱 𝗦𝗧𝗜𝗧𝗖𝗛𝗘𝗦 after being cut in the face by a skate …


Hockey players are different 😳

— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) April 19, 2023
“I was trying to figure out if the puck went in because it was pretty close,” Barron said regarding the play, via TSN. “I saw the skate coming. It was an unlucky play. The first thought was that I could see out of the (right) eye was the main thing.”

Barron was immediately escorted to the Jets’ locker room after he was cut. Upon his return, Barron wore a full cage helmet for the remainder of the game

“Looks like he got attacked by a shark,” teammate Adam Lowry added. “It’s a scary thing. We’re all so worried about the puck crossing the line, and all of the sudden we see a trail of blood all the way from the crease to the bench.”

Barron ended up logging 10:44 of ice time, registering three shots-on-goal and dishing out five hits — all despite suffering a scary injury.

The Jets produced a dominant effort throughout Game 2, as they received second-period goals from forwards Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois en route to a 5-1 to take a 1-0 lead in the opening round series.

First impressions from Game 1 of every first-round series

Now that we’ve seen Game 1 of every Stanley Cup Playoff series, teams have given us an idea of what to expect. It is just one game, but every game is critical in the NHL playoffs.

With road teams winning six of the first eight games, underdogs have gotten off to a surprisingly strong start. In particular, the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets made statement road wins to begin their playoff runs.

Other teams, like the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche encountered some issues. And, yes, even in a big win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Tampa Bay Lightning have reason to be discouraged.

Here are the first impressions from each Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series.

Islanders need to fix anemic power play
The New York Islanders’ power play was among the NHL’s worst in the regular season, and that didn’t change during Game 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Isles lost, 2-1, and they missed several chances to flip the script with the man advantage.

The Islanders failed to convert on all four of their power plays
They only generated four shots and 0.82 expected goals on them, per Natural Stat Trick.
With under five minutes remaining in the third period, the Isles got a power play with an opportunity to tie the game, and they didn’t even get a shot on goal.
This should be a low-scoring series regardless, and the Islanders have a shot to pull off the upset, but they need to get some kind of production from their power play unit. The Hurricanes are an elite defensive team, and they were first in the NHL in five-on-five expected goals against in the regular season. If the Isles can’t light the lamp with the man advantage, their postseason appearance may be brief.

Panthers missed golden opportunity against Bruins
If the Florida Panthers are going to pull off the upset against the Boston Bruins, they can ill afford to drop winnable games. That is exactly what happened in Game 1.

The Bruins were without captain Patrice Bergeron, and the Panthers outplayed Boston for stretches. According to Natural Stat Trick, Florida controlled 61.0% of the expected goals at five-on-five, and they even did a decent job of holding Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak in check.

The Panthers just couldn’t solve Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark, and Alex Lyon coughed up an inexcusable goal in his playoff debut for Florida. There was a lot to like about the Panthers’ game, and perhaps they can build on that as they try to even the series before heading back to Florida. This game, however, was there for the taking, and the Panthers failed to capitalize on a subpar effort from the Bruins. They may not get many more chances like that the rest of the series.

Joe Pavelski’s injury could tilt balance of the series
In the second period of Game 1, Dallas Stars veteran forward Joe Pavelski left the game when Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba laid a heavy hit on him. Pavelski struggled to get off the ice, even with help, and Dallas may be without him for at least a couple of games.

Matt Dumba lays a late hit on Joe Pavelski and receives a 2-minute minor penalty for roughing.

— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 18, 2023
Pavelski, 38, is still one of the most reliable forwards in the NHL, and he’s been a key cog in the Stars’ top line for the last few seasons (he just tallied 28 goals and 49 assists in the regular season). Taking him out of the Dallas lineup only tilts the odds more in favor of the Wild after their double overtime win in Game 1.

Minnesota is an excellent defensive team, but they struggle to score goals at five-on-five. In order for the Wild to win this series, they’ll probably have to win some low-scoring defensive battles. With Pavelski out of the lineup for Dallas, that becomes a much more attainable goal.

Goaltending remains a giant question mark for Oilers
Stuart Skinner proved to be a solid starting netminder for the Oilers in the regular season, but there were still questions about his lack of experience coming into those playoffs. After Game 1, those questions remain.

To be clear, Skinner was not the only reason the Oilers dropped Game 1 at home to the Los Angeles Kings. It’s just that Skinner didn’t do much to help his team lock up a victory after Edmonton went up 2-0 in the first period.

He surrendered a somewhat soft goal to Adrian Kempe to start the second period.
In total, he wound up allowing 0.65 goals above average, per Natural Stat Trick.
The Oilers’ goalie faced 35 shots in nearly 70 minutes of game time and allowed four goals.
That won’t do it, especially when Joonas Korpisalo was on top of his game for the Kings. The good news for Skinner is that Edmonton played fairly well overall in Game 1, and he should have a decent shot to redeem himself and get back on track with a win in Game 2.

Devils cannot let Rangers win special teams battle
The New Jersey Devils have been a better five-on-five team than the New York Rangers all season, but that edge was erased — and then some — in Game 1 because the Rangers dominated the special teams battle.

In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Devils got two power plays and failed to score on both. New Jersey didn’t even put a shot on Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin. New Jersey had a chance to seize the momentum early, but instead New York gained a lot of confidence on the road.


— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 19, 2023
Then, on their own first power play of the game, which came with just over 10 minutes remaining in the opening frame, the Rangers cashed in and took a 1-0 lead. Things wouldn’t get any better for the Devils after that.

New Jersey finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play as the New York penalty kill was completely stifling. On the flip side, the Rangers capitalized on two of their three power plays and cruised to a 5-1 win. As good as the Devils are at five-on-five, they simply cannot afford to get torched on special teams and expect to beat this loaded Rangers team.

Lightning win big, but at an even bigger cost
Just from looking at the scoreboard, you would think everything went right for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their Game 1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The injury report tells a very different story.

While the Bolts rolled to a 7-3 win over the Leafs in Toronto, they lost a pair of key defenders.

Victor Hedman left the game with an undisclosed injury after the first period.
Erik Cernak appeared to suffer a head injury after taking a high hit from Toronto’s Michael Bunting in the second period.
If those two can’t return to the series, it presents a steep mountain to climb for the Lightning, even with a 1-0 lead.
Although he’s had a down year in 2022-23, Hedman is still one of the best defensemen in the NHL when he’s at his best, and Cernak eats up tough minutes while playing a huge role on the penalty kill.

Losing those two against a Maple Leafs team loaded with firepower up front is a worst-case scenario for Tampa. Mikhail Sergachev can play the role of No. 1 defenseman for the Bolts, but he doesn’t have much help around him. Rookie Nick Perbix will likely play a larger role, and Zach Bogosian and Haydn Fleury will now slot into the lineup after tough regular seasons for both.

As long as Hedman and Cernak are out, it is the Maple Leafs’ series to lose — regardless of the final score of Game 1.

Jets send a message in domination of Golden Knights
It wasn’t surprising to see the Winnipeg Jets take Game 1 against the Vegas Golden Knight, but the way in which they won was shocking. The Jets simply dismantled the Golden Knights in their own barn, 5-1.

This wasn’t a case of the game being closer that it appeared on the scoreboard. Outside of a short stint in the second period, Winnipeg was in full control of this matchup. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Jets limited the Golden Knights to just 1.2 expected goals at five-on-five. Vegas couldn’t get any kind of sustained possession in the offensive zone.

With the Golden Knights trailing 2-1 to start the third period, everyone watching the game expected a big push from the Pacific Division champs, but it never came. Instead, the Jets came out swinging, and Blake Wheeler doubled his team’s lead less than five minutes into the period. Defensively, Winnipeg held Vegas to 10 shots on goal in the final frame, and many of those came with the net empty at the other end.

The Jets sent a message in Game 1, and the Golden Knights must find an answer before they head up to Winnipeg down 2-0 in the series.

Philipp Grubauer, Kraken silence doubters
Coming into this postseason, I was very skeptical about Philipp Grubauer’s ability to hold up against a Colorado Avalanche offense that can fill the net when they’re rolling. After Game 1, Grubauer is well on his way to proving me wrong.

In the process of leading the Seattle Kraken to a Game 1 win over the defending champs, Grubauer stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced and saved 2.52 goals above average. The Kraken netminder did get support from a tremendous defensive effort in front of him, but Grubauer alson came up with some huge saves at key points in the game.

By the time the final buzzer sounded to end the third period, Grubauer’s detractors and the sellout crowd in Ball Arena were dead silent. If Seattle is going to pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent Stanley Cup Playoff history, Grubauer will have to turn in a couple more performances like this. It is just one game, and that’s important to remember, but it’s hard not to be encouraged by what Grubauer did in Game 1.

Maple Leafs’ Michael Bunting suspended three games for illegal hit on Lightning’s Erik Cernak

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting has been suspended three playoff games for an illegal hit to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Eric Cernak in the second period of Game 1. The NHL Department of Player Safety announced its decision on Wednesday, and the Leafs will be without Bunting through Game 4.

Late in the second period, Bunting and Cernak were going for a loose puck when Bunting launched into Cernak’s head. The Tampa defenseman left the game with a head injury and did not return, and Bunting was assessed a five-minute major.

Michael Bunting has received a 5-minute match penalty for an illegal check to the head on Erik Cernak.

— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 19, 2023
In its video explaining decision, the NHL said that both criteria for an illegal hit to the head were met on the play.

“First, the head is clearly the main point of contact,” the NHL said in its explanation. “Bunting’s arm and elbow make direct and forceful contact with the head of Cernak, and it is the head that absorbs nearly all of the force of the check.

“Second, the head contact on this play is avoidable. Bunting unnecessarily extends his body upward into Cernak’s head to deliver this check, missing his core completely and picking his head.”

The league also noted that Cernak was “particularly vulnerable” because there was clear interference on Bunting’s part. The puck was still far away when Bunting initiated the contact.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper has already ruled Cernak out for Game 2, and Toronto will be without Bunting while facing a 1-0 deficit in the series.

Bunting is coming off a 2022-23 season in which he tallied 23 goals and 26 assists in 82 games. His absence will make the Maple Leafs’ attempt to get out of the first round for the first time since 2004 an even more difficult task.

Five-star C Flory Bidunga, 2024’s No. 4 recruit in nation, commits

Five-star center Flory Bidunga committed to Kansas on Saturday, giving the Jayhawks a major start to their 2024 class. Bidunga ranks as the No. 4 overall prospect and the top-ranked center in the 247Sports Player Rankings. The announcement was made during the UAA Elite 24 game, which was delayed due to weather.

The 6-foot-8 Kokomo (Indiana) High School star committed to Kansas over finalists Auburn, Duke and Michigan. Bidunga took an official visit to Kansas in May and Duke in June before making a final decision. Bidunga is the Jayhawks’ first commitment of the clycle after they reeled in the No. 12 class — and no. 1 transfer class — nationally in 2023.

Duke and Auburn also had strong chances to land Bidunga, the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior. That season, he averaged a double-double with 20.2 points and 13.8 rebounds per game to go along with 4.5 shots blocked per game. As a sophomore, Bidunga averaged 17.5 points, 13 rebounds and 5.3 blocks per game.


— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) August 13, 2023
Though the Blue Devils probably feel as if they missed out on a blue-chip big, they are also pursuing Cooper Flagg, the top player in the 2024 class after reclassifying.

Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards fined $50K for recklessly swinging chair after playoff game in Denver

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards has been fined $50,000 for recklessly swinging a chair after a playoff game in Denver earlier this year, the NBA announced on Wednesday. Per the collective bargaining agreement, the league could not end its review into the matter until the criminal investigation into the incident was concluded; charges against Edwards were dropped in July.

After missing a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer of the Timberwolves’ Game 5 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs last season, Edwards sprinted off the floor and down the tunnel toward the locker room. As he left the court, he picked up a chair and tossed it aside, hitting multiple bystanders.

Video shows Anthony Edwards throwing chair at security guard

— MadstrosityYT (@MadstrosityYT) April 26, 2023
Denver police spokesman Jay Casillas said that the two women struck by the chair sustained minor injuries and Edwards was charged with third-degree assault for “knowingly or recklessly” causing bodily injury. Edwards was cited at the arena, and given a court date of June 9.

Edwards’ lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, issued a statement in the immediate aftermath:

“With the game over, Anthony’s exit from the court was partially obstructed by a chair, which he moved and set down three steps later. As video of the incident confirms, Anthony did not swing the chair at anyone and of course did not intend to hurt anyone,” Steinberg said. “Anthony intends to vigorously defend against these baseless charges.”

The charges against Edwards were later dropped.

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Ahead of his fourth season with the Timberwolves, Edwards has spent his summer with Team USA, and will participate in the FIBA World Cup later this month. He was inserted into the starting lineup for the team’s tune-up game against Puerto Rico and was one of the stand-out players. He finished with a team-high 15 points and four steals in the Americans’ 117-74 win.

Team USA will play four more friendlies in the coming weeks before beginning World Cup action on Aug. 26 against New Zealand. The Americans are looking to bounce back from an embarrassing seventh-place finish in 2019 and win their sixth gold medal in the event.

2023 NBA opening night schedule to feature Lakers vs. Nuggets and Suns vs. Warriors, per report

The schedule for opening night of the 2023-24 NBA season has arrived, and will feature four of the best teams in the Western Conference on Oct. 24. The defending champion Denver Nuggets will host the Los Angeles Lakers in a Western Conference Finals rematch, while the new-look Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors square off, according to Shams Charania.

In addition, No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama is set to make his official debut for the San Antonio Spurs the following night on Oct. 25 against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, according to Marc Stein.

Nikola Jokic missed out on MVP last season, but he got the ultimate reward when he led the Nuggets to their first title in franchise history, and was named Finals MVP. On opening night, he will finally get his first ring, and get to see the banner raised to the rafters of Ball Arena with all of his teammates. Then, he’ll try to beat the Lakers again after sweeping them out of the playoffs last season.

Knowing Jokic, he won’t care much for the pomp and circumstance of ring night, but that will be a special moment for him, the franchise and the city. The Nuggets have been around since 1967, and have never had a player like Jokic or won a championship prior to last season. This will be a chance to celebrate that accomplishment one more time together before starting their title defense.

The other game will, in large part, center around veteran point guard Chris Paul. After three seasons with the Suns, Paul was traded to the Washington Wizards this summer in the Bradley Beal blockbuster, then later re-routed to the Warriors in exchange for Jordan Poole. This outing will double as his debut with the Warriors and first chance at getting some revenge on the Suns.

Zooming out, it will be a chance for both teams to show where they stand in the West after shorter playoff runs than they may have hoped and big offseason changes. Can the Suns make the perimeter-heavy trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Beal work with limited depth? And how will the Warriors, now all a year older, integrate Paul as they try to cling to contender status?

Another interesting aspect of opening night is that it does not feature a single Eastern Conference team. The defending champion is always in action, but the league usally splits the night up with one marquee game for each conference. Perhaps the uncertainty surrounding the defending East champs, the Miami Heat, is to blame. If they had already acquired Damian Lillard, it would be a no-brainer to showcase them, but that hasn’t happened yet, and the league doesn’t seem to thrilled about how that whole process is playing out. Regardless, it’s still strange there’s no East team playing.