Tonight's games: New kids off the block

To extend my “trade deadline is like Christmas for hockey fans” analogy, tonight’s games are essentially the moment when you hook up that NES and start shooting fireballs at turtles in Super Mario Bros. Of course, if your team made bad trades, it might be more like receiving “E.T.” for your Atari.

Let’s take a look at tonight’s heavy schedule of nine games.
Tonight’s Best

Colorado Avalanche (36-21-6, 78 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (37-22-5, 79 pts) – 9:00 PM ET

Two of the most surprising teams in the league have plenty to play for in this one as the Coyotes hold a one point lead over the Avs for fifth place in the West. This is the second game of a back-to-back and the third game in four days for the scrappy Avalanche. It would be a great letdown for Phoenix if they don’t take advantage of this fortuitous situation.
Los Angeles Kings (38-20-4, 80 pts) at Nashville Predators (34-23-5, 73 pts) – 8:00 PM ET

The Kings are absolutely on fire right now (8-1-1 in their last 10 games) while the Predators continue to defy conventional logic by sticking around in the playoff hunt. It will be interesting to see how well new Kings Fredrik Modin and Jeff Halpern are integrated tonight.
Rest of the games after the jump


Toronto Maple Leafs (19-32-11, 49 pts) at Boston Bruins (27-23-11, 65 pts) – 7:00 PM ET


If you just look at these teams’ records, you’d think this would be a dud. However, the Phil Kessel trade means that this game has more than just playoff implications for the Bruins. The more times Boston beats Toronto, the better draft pick they’ll get. Cue the Brian Burke scowl.
Ottawa Senators (36-24-4, 76 pts) at Carolina Hurricanes (25-30-7, 57 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

Despite the Cinderella match between Phoenix and Colorado, this game receives my “head scratcher” award. The Senators are, somehow, 13-3 since January 14. Carolina’s been awful this year but now they’re on a six game winning streak. I … just don’t get these teams.
Pittsburgh Penguins (37-22-4, 78 pts) at New York Rangers (29-27-7, 65 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

Sidney Crosby has a habit of beating teams in red-white-and-blue jerseys. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Marian Gaborik injuries.
Tampa Bay Lightning (26-25-11, 63 pts) at Washington Capitals (42-13-8, 92 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

One of the perks of being the Washington Capitals is feasting on sub-standard Southeast Division fare. They are 13-2 against their division so far this season.
New York Islanders (26-29-8, 60 pts) at Atlanta Thrashers (27-24-10, 64 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

The Thrashers are still in the Eastern Conference playoff mix alongside the Habs, Bruins, Rangers and Lightning. Could they make the playoffs without Ilya Kovalchuk?
St. Louis Blues (29-25-9, 67 pts) at Dallas Stars (28-22-12, 68 pts) – 8:30 PM ET

The Stars are a very home dependent team (18-7-5) so they need to get every point they can in Dallas. They face a Blues team back in the picture because of a four game winning streak.
Montreal Canadiens (30-28-6, 66 pts) at San Jose Sharks (40-14-9, 89 pts) – 10:30 PM ET

With the Eastern Conference playoff bubble quite congested, the Habs would really benefit from upsetting the Sharks. San Jose needs to keep pace with the Blackhawks.

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    To be young: Coyotes to hire 26-year-old as GM, give Tippett more say

    Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett watches his team play the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.  (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
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    It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.

    ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.

    The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.

    Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.

    (Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)

    It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.

    Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.

    Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.

    (This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)

    Marc Crawford coaching in Detroit? Hey, could happen…

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    Former Avs bench boss Marc Crawford was one of the central figures in the legendary Detroit-Colorado rivalry of the 90s, largely remembered for his screaming match with (well, more like screaming match at) Scotty Bowman.

    With that in mind, consider what MLive wrote on Wednesday with regards to Detroit’s search for a new assistant coach.

    GM Ken Holland declined to reveal which candidates he and Jeff Blashill have contacted about replacing Tony Granato, who left the Wings for the University of Wisconsin job.

    But Holland did say “we lost a guy with a lot of experience in [Granato],” adding, “we want to replace him with someone with a lot of experience.”

    MLive then went on to publish a list of potential candidates… starting with Crawford.

    Based on the criteria Holland wants, Crawford makes a lot of sense. He’s got a truckload of experience — 15 years in the NHL, to be exact — won a Cup with the Avs, and his 549 wins put him 18th all time.

    Crawford also wants back in the NHL.

    He left Swiss League club Zurich this offseason after a successful four-year stint — which included the 2014 league title — to try and land a gig. Per the Ottawa Sun, he’s already interviewed for the vacant Sens position.

    And per MLive, Crawford said he’s willing to take an assistant’s position if he can’t become a head coach.

    That last bit of information is key. The coaching market is flush right now as Bruce Boudreau, Mike Yeo, Bob Hartley, Travis Green, Paul MacLean , Randy Carlyle and Kevin Dineen are all considered viable and quality candidates.

    Thing is, there are only a handful of jobs available.

    Calgary, Anaheim and Ottawa are entirely vacant, while Minnesota is still unclear with what it wants to do with interim bench boss John Torchetti.

    Add it all up, and Crawford’s NHL return might have to come by way of an assistant’s position.

    But in Detroit?

    Sure, it might look weird.

    It also might fit the bill.

    Report: AHL’s Portland Pirates moving to Springfield

    Portland Pirates goalie Mark Visentin makes a save during an AHL hockey game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Andrew Krech) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Looks like the AHL isn’t finished shuffling around teams.

    From the Portland Press Herald:

    The Portland Pirates are leaving Maine.

    Mitch Berkowitz, chair of the board of trustees for county-owned Cross Insurance Arena, confirmed Wednesday afternoon that “the Pirates will be headed to Springfield” Massachusetts, but that he did not know further details.

    The city of Springfield has been searching for a team to replace the AHL Falcons, sold last month – although yet to be approved – to the parent Arizona Coyotes, who announced plans to move the franchise to Tucson.

    The Pirates are the AHL affiliates of the Florida Panthers. They’ve been in Portland since 1993, when they started out as the Capitals’ farm team and were coached for a number of years by Barry Trotz.

    Travis Green: ‘I think I’m ready’ to coach in the NHL

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    Travis Green has never coached in the NHL, not even as an assistant.

    But a lengthy career as a player, followed by success as a head coach in the WHL and AHL, has left him feeling prepared to take the next step.

    “I think I’m ready,” Green told Postmedia yesterday. “Every job in the NHL is worth its weight in gold, and I would have 100 per cent interest at options with every team in the league. You hope all your qualities are enticing for one of them.”

    After the Flames fired Bob Hartley yesterday, many are wondering if Green could be a candidate to take over in Calgary. Other head-coaching vacancies exist in Anaheim and Ottawa, and potentially Minnesota.

    For the past three seasons, Green has been the head coach of the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Last year, the Comets made it all the way to the Calder Cup finals, an accomplishment that Green found particularly rewarding since “it wasn’t like we had an all-star team.”

    While some GMs won’t risk hiring a coach without any NHL experience — they’d prefer a guy who’s been there before and knows what to expect — it’s worth noting that Jon Cooper didn’t have an NHL track record before he took over in Tampa Bay, and he’s done OK. Heck, Dave Hastol hadn’t even coached professionals before he landed the job in Philadelphia, and the Flyers seem pretty happy with him.

    Green is under contract for one more season in Utica, but reportedly has an out-clause to pursue an NHL job.

    Related: Will the Sens take a run at Kevin Dineen?