Is John MacLean the right coach for the Devils?

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MacLean.jpgThe Devils took a route most expected was coming, promoting John
MacLean from coach of the Lowell (Albany) Devils to be the next head
coach in New Jersey. MacLean is young and should have a new approach
that will do the team good, after a number of years of coming up
disappointingly short in the postseason.

John
Fischer of In Lou We Trust
, as he always does, as a very lengthy
breakdown of the hiring as he goes over various pros and cons of John
MacLean being named the next coach of the Devils. Fischer is lukewarm on
the hiring, as he’s worried the move was made perhaps more out of
loyalty to arguably the greatest Devils player in franchise history
after he had just one season under his best of coaching at the
professional level. Says John, speaking of one of his “cons” of the
hiring:

When things go south for some period of time
for this team – and it will
happen at some point – what will MacLean fall back on?  When a player
comes to him with an issue, will MacLean have the acumen to handle the
issue well for both sides?   These are questions I’m sure were raised,
but his inexperience doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence at this
juncture.  MacLean has been a head coach for Lowell last season and that
was his only season of being a head coach in pro hockey.    He’s still
relatively new and still learning.  Fortunately, the promotion of
Robinson, who has been a head coach for several years in LA and NJ, to
be an assistant can help and teach MacLean further.

The
initial reaction by Fischer is one of cautious optimism, especially in
light of the news that MacLean isn’t expected to make sweeping changes
on the team and that the one issue that might have been at the heart of
the matter — Lou Lamoriello — is still in charge and likely picked a
coach he’s certain will be a company man.

Fischer also
acknowledges that hiring MacLean from within the organization could be a
good thing, as the three previous hires were from outside the Devils’
organization. MacLean is familiar with the players and the system, and
there shouldn’t be much — if any — of a rough transition from Lemaire
to MacLean. In fact, even if MacLean doesn’t change much overall, you
would hope that the team and the players will respond to a coach like
MacLean much more favorably.

He might not be making sweeping
changes, but it’s not as if the Devils need complete rebuilding. What
needs to be done is for the coach to find a way for the players to
believe in what they are trying to do on the ice, something that wasn’t
in place last season. MacLean may be young and relatively new, but
Lamoriello is confident in him as a coach.

Too confident? Well, he
didn’t seem to be looking elsewhere for a coach and didn’t go on a
long, drawn out search for coaches. MacLean was his first choice and
that’s who will be behind the bench next season in New Jersey.

After 11-game absence, Savard (oblique) back for Columbus

David Savard
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These are pretty decent times for the Blue Jackets.

The team is 7-3-2 in its last 12, recently re-upped with Ryan Murray on a two-year deal and, on Friday, announced that blueliner David Savard has been activated from IR after missing the last 11 games to an oblique strain.

Savard, 25, was a pretty integral part of John Tortorella’s defense when healthy. He averaged over 24 minutes per night and had 15 points through 39 games prior to being sidelined by the ailment.

He’ll presumably draw back into the lineup when the Jackets take on Ottawa on Saturday. No word yet on a corresponding roster move.

Who’s got the best/worst combined special teams?

The Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, (8), of Russia, leaps in the air in celebration after scoring his 500th career NHL goal during the second period of a hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Recently, the Washington Capitals went five whole games without scoring a power-play goal.

It was a real nightmare for those guys.

Despite the fact Washington went 3-1-1 over those five games, one headline called it a “troubling power-play drought” — which tells you how few “troubling” things the Caps have had to deal with this season.

Overall, special teams have been a boon for Washington, which ranks first on the power play and fifth on the penalty kill.

Compare that to, say, Calgary, which ranks 29th and 29th, respectively. Now that’s troubling.

Anyway, here’s how all 30 teams rank when their special teams are combined:

Rankings

Not surprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between good special teams and winning hockey games.

In the left column, 12 of the 15 teams are currently in a playoff spot. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Montreal are the exceptions.

On the right, only four teams — Colorado, Detroit, Nashville and the Rangers — are in a playoff spot.

John Scott to return to Habs’ AHL team this weekend

Pacific Division forward John Scott (28) is lifted up by teammates Mark Giordano (5), of the Calgary Flames, Joe Pavelski (8), and Brent Burns (88), of the San Jose Sharks after they defeated the Atlantic Division team 1-0 at an NHL hockey All-Star championship game, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Pacific Division won 1-0. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
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John Scott’s had enough time off following his All-Star Game MVP award.

Now, he wants to get back to work.

Scott, who made major headlines at the end of January thanks to his unforgettable All-Star performance in Nashville, will return to Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s this weekend, as the IceCaps play a pair of games against the Toronto Marlies.

“It’ll be nice to [be] back playing hockey and doing my thing. I’m actually really excited for it,” Scott said, per ESPN. “This has been the longest break I’ve had, ever. But I play like 7-8 minutes, I won’t be too out of shape, I’ll be able to keep up.”

Scott, 33, hasn’t played since his Pacific Division team won the annual ASG 3-on-3 tournament on Jan. 31. Following that whirlwind weekend, the Montreal organization allowed him to take a leave to be with his wife, Danielle, who gave birth to twin girls on Feb. 5.

Scott only appeared in four games for St. John’s prior to the All-Star Game, going pointless with six penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.

Related:

The John Scott story, coming to a theater near you?

Therrien on Habs recalling Scott: ‘You never know’

 

Goalie nods: Budaj set to make Kings debut

during a preseason game at Staples Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
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Journeyman Peter Budaj looks as though he’ll make his first regular-season NHL appearance since April of 2014, when the Kings take on the Rangers at MSG.

Recalled from AHL Ontario due to an injury to Jonathan Quick, Budaj gets the nod tonight after Quick’s backup, Jhonas Enroth, was beat for four goals on 29 shots in last night’s loss to the Islanders.

Budaj, 33, has certainly earned another crack at the big leagues. After catching on with the Kings through a PTO in training camp, he’s been terrific in Ontario, going 26-9-3 with a 1.58 GAA and .935 save percentage. The Slovakian netminder also has eight shutouts this year.

For the Rangers, Antti Raanta gets the start in goal, giving Henrik Lundqvist a night off.

Elsewhere…

Ben Scrivens, who appears to be the new No. 1 in Montreal, will go for his fourth straight win when the Habs visit Buffalo. Chad Johnson is in goal for the Sabres, who’ve really struggled of late.

Marc-Andre Fleury goes for the Penguins, while it looks like Cam Ward is in for Carolina.

— Really good matchup in Detroit as Semyon Varlamov goes up against Petr Mrazek who, according to Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, has “crashed Braden Holtby’s Vezina party.”

— Battle of All-Star netminders in Tampa Bay, as Ben Bishop goes for the Bolts while Pekka Rinne starts for Nashville.

The red-hot Brian Elliott will continue to roll as St. Louis’ No. 1 in Florida. The Panthers will go with their old reliable, Roberto Luongo.

Now that Karri Ramo’s on IR, it’s Jonas Hiller time for the Flames. He’ll start tonight in Arizona, against Louis Domingue.