Marc Crawford's positivity in the face of panic

The Marc Crawford that is currently coaching the Dallas Stars is not
the Marc Crawford  we all know and love. This is not the fiery, angry
and explosive coach that won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche
and helped turn the Vancouver Canucks into a respectable team. This
isn’t even the same Marc Crawford that stumbled mightily in Los Angeles.

Instead,
we have a Marc Crawford who seems oblivious to his team’s issues and is
focused on positivity, consistently driving fans mad as he spins each
loss towards the positive instead of blowing up and going nuts in front
of the press like so many seemingly want him to be. After yesterday’s
practice, as the Stars prepare for what should be an entertaining
thrashing at the hands of the Washington Capitals, he
maintained his positive outlook.

“I’ve been
through this before, and I know that you can’t panic, that’s
not the right response,” Crawford said after his team went through an
optional practice and some film work Sunday. “This was a good time for
us to get some rest, to refocus and reenergize, and I think that will
show going forward.”

“I believe we do have the talent and I
believe we can beat these
teams,” Crawford said. “It’s just a matter of making the right plays
at the right time. If you go back and look at the film of these games,
we are right there and we have great scoring chances, and we can’t get
the puck in the net. Then, we play great defense, or play great on the
penalty kill like we did against Pittsburgh,
and we make one mistake and we pay for it.”

Can we
get one outburst? Something? Some form of emotion that speaks to the
inner turmoil he is working through as his team falls to pieces at the
most important part of the season?

For those that follow the Stars
on a daily basis, it’s been painfully obvious that Crawford is not
doing any of these things anytime soon. After every loss, he spins it as
it’s just a “matter of time” and working on some “issues and
improving”, like he expects these issues to magically repair themselves
just by talking about them. It certainly doesn’t appear that he’s
coaching the team to correct the “issues”.

Crawford was supposed
to make this a harder, more focused and much more exciting team to
watch. Perhaps its the actual players on the ice that are causing the
team to falter — the success Dave Tippett is having in Phoenix could
point in that direction — but the coach is supposed to be able adjust
to his players and put them in the right position to succeed.

Is
he doing the best he can with the players he has? Perhaps, but you’d
like to at least hear his frustration every now and then.

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    Bruins go from Nash trade rumors to loss, Bergeron injury

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    There are times when the Boston Bruins have looked downright unstoppable. Saturday serves as a harsh reminder that things can change in a heartbeat, or at least that the threat is basically always hovering.

    Consider this: earlier today, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Bruins were becoming frontrunners to trade for Rick Nash. Such a deal is still plausible, although John Shannon (also of Sportsnet) reports that Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit could cause some challenges, even this late in the season.

    Either way, the Bruins’ outlook seemed shiny: they’re already a tough team to deal with thanks to an absolutely bear (sorry) of a top line in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. The B’s have been so impressive, they even seem to be a threat to win the Atlantic.

    Things went sour in multiple categories hours later.

    The Bruins lost to their hated rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 4-3. That game ended in regulation, and the decisive goal brought about everyone’s favorite hockey thing: a goalie interference review. This didn’t go in Boston’s favor, and while some shrugged their shoulders, Tuukka Rask wasn’t thrilled:

    With that, the Atlantic Division thing seems far less promising. To start, the Lightning managed a 4-3 shootout win. Even worse, the Maple Leafs took second place in the Atlantic by beating Boston.

    If that wasn’t enough, the most integral part of the Bruins’ dominance is in danger. Reporters including NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty noted that Patrice Bergeron was seen in a walking boot:

    On the bright side, all three situations could still turn out nicely for the Bruins.

    • The Bruins might actually be more justified in going after Nash if Bergeron’s a little banged up. Granted, a more severe injury might leave them more conservative at the deadline.
    • Games in hand make optimism easier to come by in the Atlantic positioning races. The Lightning have 87 points in 62 games played while the Maple Leafs are at 83 in 64. The Bruins are at 82, yet with only 59 games played, there’s plenty of time for the B’s to either regain home-ice advantage over Toronto or even push for the top spot in the division.
    • As you can see from Haggerty’s tweet, Bergeron’s issue might not be too bad, either.

    So, this isn’t a doom and gloom situation for the Bruins, but it still stands to mention how bumpy things became for at least a while there. The B’s have to hope that most of this stuff sorts itself out, Nash or not.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Panthers boost playoff hopes, end Penguins’ streak

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    For quite some time, it seemed like the Metropolitan Division would send five teams to the playoffs while the top-heavy Atlantic would only generate three.

    The Metro still dominates the wild-card picture, but with all apologies to the scrappy Red Wings, the Florida Panthers stand as the one Atlantic team with a shot at crashing the party. For all of the front office upheaval, the past few nights provide evidence that they could do some damage if they walk in that door.

    Maybe it’s fitting for an up-and-down team to see some extreme highs and lows in an eventual 6-5 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Despite some strong work from Evgeni Malkin, the Panthers went into the third period with a 4-2 lead. That wouldn’t end up being enough, as the two teams traded blows during a frantic, five-goal final frame. The Penguins briefly tied the contest up at 5-5, pushing for a seventh straight win, but it was not to be.

    Ultimately, Evgenii Dadonov (first career hat trick) trumped Evgeni Malkin (two goals, one assist) in getting the late game-winner. Perhaps the Panthers will try to lift up a community rattled by tragic shootings, as this is the second straight game where they’ve notched decisive goals late in front of home fans.

    (Thursday’s win against the Capitals was even more dramatic, as they rallied late after Roberto Luongo‘s stirring speech before the game.)

    Now, the Panthers might not seem like much of a threat with 62 points, as the Columbus Blue Jackets currently hold the East’s final wild-card spot with 67. Games played paint a brighter picture, though.

    Here’s how the wild-card races look, updated following the Devils’ win against the Islanders, which is a nice boost for Florida overall:

    Devils (beat Islanders in regulation): 72 points in 62 games played, first WC
    Blue Jackets (won tonight): 67 points in 62 GP, second WC

    Islanders (lost to Devils): 65 points in 63GP
    Hurricanes (lost tonight): 64 points in 62 GP
    Panthers: 62 points in 59 GP
    Red Wings (beat Canes): 61 points in 60 GP
    Rangers: 59 points in 62 GP

    On one hand, the Panthers’ situation isn’t that different from the Red Wings,’ at least if Florida doesn’t get hot. On the other hand, consider that the Panthers have a few games in hand on everyone ahead of them. The margin could close rapidly … or they could fade.

    Credit the Panthers for making things interesting, and if things go well, making their competition sweat.

    That’s the power of “Dadonov Strength.”

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Devils retire Patrik Elias’ jersey

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    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The New Jersey Devils retired career scoring leader Patrik Elias’ No. 26 jersey in a ceremony before their game against the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

    The 41-year-old former Czech forward played his final game in 2016, finishing a 20-year career in New Jersey with two Stanley Cup championships and most of the team’s scoring records.

    “For someone growing up in Eastern Europe, in a communist country, there’s no way I could have ever dreamed of this day,” said Elias, whose eyes welled with tears during his speech that was interrupted several times by chants of “Paddy! Paddy!”

    Always a fan favorite, Elias walked through a section of the stands at the Prudential Center before taking his place on the ice with his wife, two daughters, former and current teammates and the franchise’s owners and management.

    The podium on the ice was shaped as a puck with the No. 26 on it, and it was by surrounded by other super-sized pucks with the same number and two trophies, the Stanley Cup and The Prince of Wales trophy, presented to the Eastern Conference winner.

    Elias played on four conference champions, scoring the winning goal in Game 7 against Philadelphia in 2000.

    Elias is the first European player to have his number retired by the Devils, and the first forward. Defensemen Scott Stevens (No. 4), Scott Niedermayer (No. 27) and Ken Daneyko (No. 3) and goaltender Martin Brodeur (No. 30) also had their jerseys retired. All four were in attendance with Brodeur, of course, getting the biggest ovation.

    It was appropriate that Elias’ No. 26 was raised to the rafters at the Prudential Center against the Islanders, the team he played his most games against, 91, and had his most points, 86.

    Elias is the Devils’ leader in points (1025), goals (408), assists (617), points in one season (96), points in a playoff season (23) and game-winning goals (80), .

    More AP NHL: http://www.apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

    Stamkos, Hedman fight for Lightning during same period

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    Your results may vary, but from here, novelty carries a lot of weight when it comes to noting an NHL fight.

    Two superstar Tampa Bay Lightning players dropped the gloves in the same period against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, and while neither showing was especially boisterous or violent, the rarity really drives the point home.

    As that tweet spoils, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman were the Bolts players who got a little testy in this one.

    First, Stamkos went after Karl Alzner in defense of running mate Nikita Kucherov (see the video above this post’s headline). Some might argue that this was less of a fight and more of an aggressive hugging, but it’s still an unusual sight. According to Hockey Fights’ listings, Stamkos has only fought on two other occasions in the NHL: against Brad Marchand (2014-15) and Nik Zherdev (2008-09).

    Hedman, meanwhile, dropped the gloves despite a considerable height advantage over Brendan Gallagher. You can see a portion of that fight in this GIF:

    While this might explain the anger:

    This would be Hedman’s sixth fight.

    Theory: Lightning players are just as anxious as the rest of us to see if they’re going to land Erik Karlsson.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.