Should Pronger, Richards play good cop-bad cop?

prongerichards.jpgIt always amuses me when writers come up with a cockamamie excuse to explain a team’s struggles. The Philadelphia Flyers, in particular, have dealt with strange (but sometimes one must wonder, truthful) rumors about infidelity and in-fighting in their locker room. Perhaps more down-to-earth excuses like “shabby goaltending” and “talent just a few strides behind New Jersey, Washington and Pittsburgh” can only be used so many times.

Either way, the laptop psychology comes from many areas, but one of the more reasonable takes is from Delaware County Daily Times columnist Anthony Sanfilippo. Instead of depicting a fractured,conflict-filled locker room, he looks at their group as more fragmented than anything else. Simply put, the team might be lacking a unified puck-based vision since Mike Richards is the captain but Chris Pronger seems to wear the pants in the Flyers family.

When Pronger arrived, he brought a different mentality to the locker room than existed with Mike Richards running the show. He had no qualms about calling a teammate on the carpet in front of the whole room. His approach was more brash and in-your-face. It was like bringing Metallica to the Academy of Music.

Yet it still hasn’t sunk in, despite the pangs of late-season success being shown … Maybe it’s because Richards hasn’t figured out how to be the good cop to Pronger’s bad cop … The safer bet is that once the team is retooled in the offseason and a second go-round with Laviolette and Pronger proves that nothing is different in the room, then the players will buy into the style and have the success many expected.

Just not now. Not this year.

I still think there might be an excessive amount of attention paid to the “personalties” of athletes and how they affect a team. Sure, hockey is far more of a team sport than baseball, but in any case it seems hard to believe that motivation is always the largest factor in a team’s success (or lack thereof). Really, if you want to look for what pushes players to achieve beyond their normal levels, don’t look to a locker room that seems like a utopia; instead, check and see if a player is in a contract year.

Nope, most of the time, it’s a matter of luck, coaching and talent. The Flyers don’t really need much in terms of leadership, they just need better players. Especially in net.

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    Video: Tempers flare between Oilers and Predators, as Lucic and McLeod drop the gloves

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    Things got feisty between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators on Friday.

    It started in the second period after P.K. Subban took an elbow from Matt Hendricks along the end boards. Hendricks was immediately grabbed by Anthony Bitetto. Nothing really materialized from that, however the main event broke out between Milan Lucic and Nashville newcomer Cody McLeod.

    Lucic landed some pretty heavy punches before the two players fell to the ice.

    Video: Cam Ward loses it on Hornqvist, Hurricanes suffer ’embarrassing’ loss to Penguins

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    Cam Ward had enough.

    The Carolina Hurricanes goalie seemed particularly ticked off with Patric Hornqvist on Friday, twice taking out his frustrations in front of the net on the Pittsburgh Penguins forward.

    Earlier in the game, Ward delivered a slash to the back of Hornqvist’s leg. In the third period, with the Hurricanes down five goals — that should give you an indication of what kind of night this was for Carolina — Ward snapped, delivering a punch with the blocker to Hornqvist after he slid into the Hurricanes puck stopper a split second after Evgeni Malkin jammed the puck in for a goal.

    The final score? A 7-1 disaster of a loss to the Penguins, highlighted by Pittsburgh’s second-period offensive outburst. Ward played the entire game, allowing seven goals on 41 shots.

    Carolina’s night also included star forward Jeff Skinner getting benched for the third period, after he took a pair of minor penalties — embellishment and unsportsmanlike conduct — in the second period.

    “That’s pretty embarrassing. You don’t want to suffer a loss like that, especially in your home building,” Skinner told reporters.

    The Hurricanes entered this game with a chance to jump into a wild card spot in the East.

    Last week, the Hurricanes won four in a row, including a victory over Columbus, and continued their steady rise into the playoff hunt in the East. This week? It’s included losses to the Blue Jackets and Penguins.

    The Hurricanes won’t have much time to think about this one. They travel to Columbus for a game Saturday evening.

    With Claude Julien on the hot seat, Bruins lose late heartbreaker to Blackhawks

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    The Boston Bruins have now lost three in a row, a losing streak that coincides with reports circulating that head coach Claude Julien’s job security is in jeopardy.

    The bad news just keeps piling up for the Bruins: They’ve been shut out twice this week, as scoring continues to be an issue in Boston. They’re 22nd in the league in that category.

    On Friday, the Bruins had their chances and once again held the edge in puck possession against the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing the game with 19 more shot attempts then the visitors, per hockeystats.ca.

    But they couldn’t beat Scott Darling, who made 30 saves, and the real dagger came late in the third period when Marian Hossa scored off the rush with just over one minute remaining in regulation. Boston couldn’t even salvage a point out of this contest, losing 1-0.

    The Bruins were all over the Blackhawks in the first period. They held a wide edge in shots on goal, but the Blackhawks were able to escape on the strength of some solid goaltending. They just hung around, and were able to break through in the third period.

    The Bruins are still in a playoff position in the Atlantic Division. They are the top puck possession team in the league (although they have the second lowest shooting percentage at five-on-five) and Julien has had plenty of success behind that bench, helping guide the organization to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and a run to the Final in the lockout shortened campaign.

    It would seem unfair to pin this roster’s shortcomings on the coach, especially given the offseason plans initially set out by Bruins management.

    Though this loss likely puts Claude Julien Watch on high alert.

    Sabres’ McCabe suffers shoulder injury, will not return versus Red Wings

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    The Buffalo Sabres will be down a defenseman for the remainder of Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

    Jake McCabe has left the game due to a shoulder injury suffered during the first period and will not return, the club stated during the second period.

    Signed to a three-year, $4.8 million contract extension last summer, the 23-year-old McCabe has one goal and 10 points in 44 games this season for Buffalo

    More recently, McCabe drew the immediate ire of the Winnipeg Jets after he delivered an open-ice hit on rookie Patrik Laine, who suffered a concussion on the play.