74756_evgeni_malkin

Around the rink – Wednesday, February 2

7:00 p.m.

Detroit @ Ottawa

The Wings get a bit of good news for tonight’s game as Dan Cleary will play. There was the outside chance that Pavel Datsyuk might also be back for this game, but it doesn’t appear likely at the moment. That might change though. For Detroit getting healthy is a great thing because they’ve been treading water winning three of their last seven games. In Ottawa, times are miserable. They dropped a bad game to New Jersey last night and they’ve lost seven straight and 13 of their last 14. The last time we saw a team on a run like that, the Islanders fired Scott Gordon. They keep saying changes aren’t coming in Ottawa this season but it’s hard to believe that with such a horrible go of things lately.

7:30 p.m.

Florida @ Montreal

Both teams are coming off tough games last night with different outcomes. Florida stormed back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to tie Toronto only to lose in the shootout. Montreal was down 2-0 after the first period but Brian Gionta’s two second period goals sent the game to overtime and the shootout where Gionta once again would cast the dagger as the Habs beat Washington. Florida has lost six of their last seven, meanwhile Montreal is busy helping hand out free points by going to overtime in four of their last six games going 2-0-2 in those games. Winning in regulation would be a good idea for the Habs for once.

NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh

The Penguins get some help back tonight as Evgeni Malkin is slated to return tonight after dealing with knee and sinus infection issues. Whether or not Jordan Staal will be joining him is unknown right now as Staal could be serving a one-game suspension for his match penalty for punching Brandon Prust last night. Sidney Crosby won’t be in the lineup yet again but the Penguins are doing OK without him as they’re now 6-4-0 with their captain out with a concussion. The Islanders are coming off an inspiring win over Atlanta last night that saw Kyle Okposo finally break out with two goals and an assist. They’re not a playoff team, but seeing steadier play from the Isles would be the sort of boost the fans could use.

Update: So much for early reports. Evgeni Malkin is retroactively being placed on IR and will not play tonight.

9:30 p.m.

Los Angeles @ Edmonton

The Kings got off to a rough start on their 10-game road trip last night getting a shutout from Jon Quick but still losing the game in the shootout to Minnesota. It’s a fun hockey anomaly to be able to get a shutout but lose the game, it’s like getting a losing no-hitter in baseball. Taking on an Oilers team that’s played some pretty bad hockey of late (2-7-1 in their last ten) might be the slump buster they’re hoping for. Still, the Kings are going to need the offense to start showing up consistently to make that happen.

Vancouver @ Phoenix

Vancouver rolls into the desert high off a 4-1 beating of the Stars in Dallas last night and tonight they’ll have Roberto Luongo looking to stymie the Coyotes. Phoenix is coming off a game they’d rather forget against San Jose that saw them blow a 3-0 lead and lose 5-3 to the Sharks. The Sharks rolled all over Phoenix in the third period of last night’s game and that sort of intensity can be expected out of Vancouver all throughout in tonight’s game.

10:00 p.m.

San Jose @ Anaheim

Can the Sharks capitalize on their monumental comeback win last night? If they can play the way they did in the third period of last night’s game they’re going to be a really tough team to deal with in the second half of the season. Joe Pavelski snapped out of his offensive funk and all four lines played hard for the final 30 minutes. They’ll need that effort to keep up with the Ducks tonight who make life miserable for teams thanks to goalie Jonas Hiller. Hiller’s work this season has been outstanding and on a team that finds defense difficult to play at times, his work in goal is helping to buoy the team in their race for the playoffs.

Flames see a ‘style fit’ with Stone

Michael Stone #26 of the Arizona Coyotes passes the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on February 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

The Calgary Flames wanted to add depth to their defense, and they didn’t want to wait until the last minute to get it done.

So, after signing Matt Bartkowski last week, they added Michael Stone yesterday in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes.

The trade deadline isn’t until next Wednesday.

“We have five games before the deadline, so we tried to get out ahead of it a bit,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said, per the Calgary Herald. “We’re deeper than we were a week ago, so we’re happy with it.”

Stone, a right shot, is expected to skate on the Flames’ second or third pairing with T.J. Brodie or Bartkowski, respectively. He may replace Dennis Wideman, who logged just 13:35 in Saturday’s OT loss at Vancouver.

“T.J. has some tempo to him so that could be a good fit. Whether it’s him or Bartkowski, we feel there’s a style fit,” Treliving said, per Arizona Sports. “We have some left-side guys who can skate and when Stony is at his best he’s playing with a partner who can skate and retrieve pucks so he can stabilize.”

The Flames play tonight in Nashville.

Stamkos resumes skating, but still no date for return

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on against the New York Rangers during the first period in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 29, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

Pleasant sight for the Bolts this week, as captain Steve Stamkos returned to the ice.

Stamkos, who has been out since undergoing major knee surgery in mid-November, took to the ice ahead of the team skate this morning, per the Times. He did stickhandling, shooting and fired some one-timers with assistant coach Brad Lauer but, according to GM Steve Yzerman, there’s still no set date for Stamkos’ return.

The 27-year-old was initially put on a 4-6 month timetable. If Stamkos’ recovery is closer to the four month estimate, there’s a chance he returns this season. If it’s closer to six, he could be done for the year.

Tampa Bay has struggled without Stamkos in the lineup, going just 16-18-7 since he got hurt. The team has experience a bit of an upswing lately, however, and head into tonight’s action just six points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Julien: ‘My job’ is to make Galchenyuk better

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 08:  Alex Galchenyuk #27 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the warmup prior to the NHL game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on November 8, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

BROSSARD, Quebec (AP) The Montreal Canadiens skated hard, battled and worked, and that’s just how new coach Claude Julien wants the practices to be.

Julien finally got to put the Canadiens through a full workout with no distractions on Monday. It was aimed mostly at convincing his struggling team that tighter defense will lead to more scoring chances on attack.

“He wanted it to be 40 minutes of high pace, high intensity, so when it comes to game time it’s second nature,” said defenseman Jeff Petry.

Julien, who replaced Michel Therrien last week, will be seeking his first victory since returning to Montreal when the Canadiens face the Rangers in New York on Tuesday night.

His debut saw the club fall 3-1 at home to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

He had only one practice with the team before his first game and it was something of a circus, with fans jammed into the viewing areas at the team’s suburban training center and two all-sports TV stations covering the event live.

Another practice Sunday at the Bell Centre was a promotional event in front of 10,000 shrieking kids.

It added to the challenge for Julien to put into effect the changes he hopes will snap the Canadiens out of a 1-6-1 slump in which they have scored only 10 goals, four of them by captain Max Pacioretty and another two from his linemate Alexander Radulov.

Julien wants his team to spend less time in its own zone and more time harrying opposition goaltenders. That starts with getting the puck more quickly on defense and holding onto it longer in the opponent’s end.

“What we want to try to do, and what we did today, is to try to be better defensively for goals against and chances against,” he said. “But more than that, if we’re better defensively we can (get) the puck quickly.

“I want us to play with the puck, not without it. I’m looking for puck possession time. It’s not necessarily about analytics, it’s that if we have the puck more, our chances are much better of winning.”

It’s a formula that worked for most of the 10 seasons Julien spent with the Boston Bruins before he was replaced by Bruce Cassidy two weeks ago.

Boston won a Stanley Cup and reached another final during his time there, although they fell short of the playoffs the past two seasons.

The Canadiens started the season 13-1-1 and maintained a decent record despite a run of injuries through December and January, but they’ve hit a wall of late.

That prompted general manager Marc Bergevin to fire fifth-year coach Therrien and bring in Julien, whose first NHL coaching job was with the Canadiens from 2003 to 2006.

There is much that needs fixing. The Canadiens have got no goals and not even many scoring chances or sustained offensive zone pressure from their second, third or fourth lines in the past eight games.

They’ve also been lax defensively and at times had spotty goaltending, although Carey Price was sharp against the Jets.

“We’ve got enough skill here, (the offense) will come back,” said Julien. “I’m not worried about it.

“We have enough players on this team that can score goals, but we’ve got to start in the right place and that’s when we get the puck back quickly. It remains to be seen, but that’s my belief.”

What he hasn’t had enough time for yet is to work on line combinations.

Mostly, he has used the units Therrien had in place. He moved Alex Galchenyuk to center on the first line to start against Winnipeg, but had Phillip Danault back in that spot by the third period.

Now Galchenyuk is back to the second line with Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron.

“I know he’s a very talented player; my job is to make him better,” Julien said of Galchenyuk. “Now I want to work with him on the little aspects of the game that will make him even better.”

The slump has narrowed the Canadiens’ lead in the Atlantic Division to only two points ahead of Ottawa, which has two games in hand.

“It’s what happens when you don’t win games,” said Gallagher. “Everyone else in the league seems to be winning except for us and they’re gaining ground.

“If we get back to playing winning hockey, playing our style and doing all the little things Claude and his staff are trying to get across, then we’ll be where we want to be.”

With Marner out again Maple Leafs recall Frederik Gauthier from AHL

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs cuts in for a scoring attempt on Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Rangers defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

The Toronto Maple Leafs will once again be without prized rookie Mitch Marner on Tuesday night when they take on the Winnipeg Jets.

The officially placed him on injured reserve Tuesday morning retroactive to Feb. 15. He suffered an upper body injury that night against the Columbus Blue Jackets when he took an awkward fall into the boards and has not played since.

With Marner placed on IR, the Maple Leafs made a corresponding roster move to recall forward Frederik Gauthier from the the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

Gauthier, a first-round draft pick (No. 21 overall) by the Maple Leafs in 2013, has spent most of this season with the Marlies where he has one goal and five assists in 26 games. He has also played 18 games for the big club, scoring two goals and an assist. He last played for the Maple Leafs on Jan. 31. He was skating on the team’s fourth line between Matt Martin and Nikita Soshnikov at the morning skate.

With 48 points in 56 games Marner is still the second leading scorer on the Maple Leafs, just one point behind No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews. Even though he is out tonight he will still be eligible to return on Thursday night when the team takes on the New York Rangers. Toronto has briefly fallen out of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference, sitting one point behind both the Florida Panthers (third spot in Atlantic Division) and Boston Bruins (second wild card spot).