While it’s true that struggling in December certainly beats struggling in April, losing eight games in a row is a pretty difficult thing to spin in a positive way. Especially when this win-less streak leaves the Washington Capitals without something they’ve enjoyed for a long, long time: the top spot in the Southeast Division.
The Atlanta Thrashers pounded the New Jersey Devils by a score of 7-1 to take the spot that once seemed like it was reserved for the D.C. team, as GM Rick Dudley’s gang now has 41 points to Washington’s 40.
In fact, the Capitals aren’t even guaranteed the second spot in the Southeast by the end of Saturday. If the Tampa Bay Lightning hold on to win against the Buffalo Sabres (they currently lead 2-1 in the third), the two teams will be tied at 40 points but Tampa played in two less games so far.
Boston 3, Washington 2
The Bruins basically won the game in the first period, taking a 3-0 lead. Washington showed some fight by shrinking Boston’s lead to just one goal, but Tim Thomas did his best Jaroslav Halak impression as he stopped 39 out of 41 Capitals shots.
To add to the Capitals frustration: they out-shot Boston 41-21, including an astounding 26-2 advantage in the third period. They only managed a Karl Alzner goal in that final frame, though, as Thomas is building a season that might just top his Vezina Trophy winning 2008-09 campaign.
It’s hard to blame Alex Ovechkin – he earned an assist on Alzner’s goal and dropped the gloves during the team’s game against the New York Rangers – but certainly some will make a rash judgment that he’s not a “winner” or something. (Ugh, take it easy, reactionary hockey fans/writers.)
I think it would be hasty if the Capitals reacted by firing Bruce Boudreau or doing something else extreme … but it sure would make for some captivating material for HBO, wouldn’t it?
The Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.
Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.
Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.
“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”
A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.
But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.
As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.
The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.
The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.
Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.
Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.
Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.
But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.
Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run
There’s no way any lede I write will do this Review-Journal anecdote justice, so yeah, just read it:
[Vegas GM George] McPhee still has his superstitions like any former athlete. But don’t expect him to be rubbing a rabbit’s foot or holding a bunch of 4-leaf clovers in his pocket.
And he decided to leave Stanley the Rooster home rather than try and explain to Canadian Customs officials why the gift given to the team by the Mandarin Oriental back in February during Chinese New Year should be allowed into the country as a good luck prop.
The draft lottery goes Saturday in Toronto, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Vegas won’t drop any lower than sixth and has a 10.3 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick, behind Colorado (18 percent) and Vancouver (12.1 percent). Arizona also has a 10.3 percent chance at getting top spot.
It’s been nearly six weeks since Carl Hagelin last suited up for the Penguins.
His return sounds like it’s on the horizon.
Hagelin, out since Mar. 10 with a lower-body injury, was deemed “close” to coming back by Pens head coach Mike Sullivan, just ahead of tonight’s Game 1 against Washington.
“[Hagelin] is a day-to-day decision at this point,” Sullivan said. “He took limited contact this morning. The next step, obviously, will be the full contact approach.
“He is certainly making significant steps in the right direction here.”
The speedy Swede missed the final 16 games of the regular season with his ailment, and all five games in Pittsburgh’s opening-round win against the Blue Jackets. The end result was just six goals and 22 points in 61 games played, down from the impressive stretch he had last season after being acquired from Anaheim.
Pittsburgh is hopeful the 28-year-old can rejoin the team, and provide similar production as last year’s playoff run. Hagelin had six goals and 16 points in 24 games en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Hagelin isn’t the only veteran forward that could make his return this season. Earlier this week, the Pens announced winger Chris Kunitz had been cleared for contact, and is available for the Washington series.