New Jersey Devils expected to choose between Therrien, MacLean for head coaching job

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lamoriellopresser.jpgWhile we discussed the Columbus Blue Jackets hopes of landing AHL coach Guy Boucher, it looks like the New Jersey Devils have narrowed down their search to either former Penguins coach Michel Therrien or John MacLean, the coach of the Devils’ AHL Lowell affiliate. The New York Post reports that those two coaches are the strongest candidates while Mike Keenan and Craig MacTavish are out of the mix.

Therrien, the former Canadiens and Penguins coach, is the likely choice if general manager Lou Lamoriello goes outside the organization. MacLean, the coach of the Devils’ AHL Lowell affiliate, is the promote-from-within candidate. Other possible candidates have included Ken Hitchcock, Kirk Muller and AHL coach Guy Boucher.

Passing over MacLean would devalue organizational loyalty, particularly if it was for another AHL coach, and especially since MacLean went to the bushes to get head coaching experience and gave the Devils’ farm team its first playoff berth in ages.

Personally, I’d probably choose between either MacLean (because of the aforementioned “organizational loyalty”) or Hitchcock. Therrien helped bring the Pittsburgh Penguins from cellar dweller to contender, but was fired after he seemed to wear the young team down. Now, I know Hitchcock was canned for similar reasons, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Therrien was working with slightly better talent.

I’d take Hitchcock over Therrien because he’s proven himself in a variety of different coaching jobs. He’s won a Cup, made the playoffs with every team he coached and also helped the Columbus Blue Jackets make their only playoff appearance.

Of course, any New Jersey Devils head coach must realize that his job is far from safe. Venerable Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has pulled the “late season coaching change” more than a few times during his reign with the New Jersey team, so anyone taking over the job cannot rest on their laurels.

The Post mentions that Lamoriello prefers to make announcements after the playoffs are over, so we’ll stay tuned for official news. The newspaper mentioned that Therrien is the frontrunner, but which coach would be the best fit for a team that keeps winning the Atlantic division but can’t seem to make it happen in the playoffs?

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.