Cory Schneider

Shocker: Canucks start Cory Schneider over Roberto Luongo in Game 6

When you need to change your luck in the NHL sometimes you’ll change your sticks or a piece of your gear or shuffle the lines. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault is doing something a bit more drastic in tonight’s Game 6 by starting backup goalie Cory Schneider instead of Roberto Luongo.

The move comes on the heels of two consecutive blowouts with Luongo being the victim for six goals against in 44 minutes of play in Game 4 and four goals against on 12 shots in Game 5. Schneider relieved Luongo in both games and allowed one goal in each game as the Canucks were blown out in Game 4 8-2 and 5-0 in Game 5.

The message here is clear from Vigneault in that he needs to let Luongo breathe a bit after being victimized so badly in the last two games. The risk that he runs by making this move in the middle of the series and at the start of the playoffs is that if Vancouver wins and moves on to the second round, there will no doubt be a huge goalie controversy heading into the second round.

If Vancouver loses and the series goes to a seventh game, then you’re left wondering just who is going to get the call to start in Game 7. Do they go with Vezina Trophy finalist Luongo who apparently needed a break after being lit up in back to back games, or do they opt for Schneider who they felt was good enough to sit down the five time All-Star goalie to get them back on the winning side of things in Game 6? It sets up for a fascinating debate either way things work out and puts Vigneault in a very tough spot from here on forward.

It also makes you wonder just how badly the Blackhawks have gotten into Luongo’s head. After looking stellar in a shutout in Game 1, the Blackhawks kept whittling away at him and finding ways to score goals the rest of the way through the series. If it’s a case where Luongo is mentally exhausted in dealing with Chicago in the playoffs, that makes us wonder just how potential future opponents in the playoffs are going to treat him. Chances are they’ll be watching a lot of tape to see what it is Chicago does to make him so batty.

Flyers staff give Gudas a talking to as questionable hits pile up

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1The list of questionable Radko Gudas hits — some of which he’s been suspended for and others he has escaped discipline — has grown again, prompting Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to apparently have a chat with the 25-year-old defenseman.

There was no hearing for Gudas from his latest infraction, a major penalty for charging called against him for a hit on Buffalo Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci on Thursday.

Catenacci has since been put on injured reserve, after he went through concussion protocol, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

The NHL didn’t hand out supplemental discipline in this case, but the Flyers brass held a meeting of their own with Gudas, because hits like this could end costing Philadelphia results and precious points in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot.

“There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern,” Hakstol told CSN Philadelphia. “Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.

“In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”

In December, Gudas was suspended three games for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad. Earlier this month, he was given a major penalty and game misconduct for clipping in a game against the Habs, but escaped discipline for that, as well.

Gudas, who didn’t want to comment on the hit on Catenacci, also spoke with Flyers GM Ron Hextall about this latest incident.

Asked about that conversation, Gudas told reporters, “Just making sure I pay attention and not get suspended again and make a good hockey play or make a good hit.”

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

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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’