Barry Trotz, Marc Joannette

Barry Trotz critical of officiating with kindness, Canucks deny diving allegations

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During these playoffs we’ve seen plenty of coaches try to work their verbal magic to get referees to make calls bend more to their team’s will. We saw both John Tortorella and Bruce Boudreau do it in the first round against each other. We saw Lindy Ruff get a bit uptight about things in dealing with the Flyers and now we’ve got a new challenger with a different approach.

Predators coach Barry Trotz is still a bit steamed over a couple of calls that went against his team in Game 3. Jerred Smithson drew a high sticking call against him after he seemingly caught Roberto Luongo in the head with his stick (it certainly didn’t look that way). Meanwhile, Shea Weber’s hooking penalty to Ryan Kesler in overtime led to Vancouver cashing in on the power play and winning the game. In each case it was thought to be a bit embellished (Luongo’s certainly seemed that way) and Trotz isn’t too pleased with that.

Instead of raising a huge stink and lambasting the officiating, he’s trying to take them out a whole new door by killing both the referees and Canucks with kindness.

“That’s gamesmanship, and I understand that,” Trotz said Wednesday. “It’s also a little bit putting the referee in a tough spot. We have the best referees. If you’re going to make them look bad, I don’t think that’s needed in the game.”

Well that’s a new way to go at it. Nice reverse psychology there.

The Canucks, of course, are denying any and all allegations right away with Luongo’s theory appearing to be quite silly.

Luongo said the complaints are part of hockey. The goalie said there was contact with his mask, even though the stick doesn’t appear to hit Luongo’s mask on replays.

“I just turned my head. I mean I didn’t throw myself on the floor or anything like that,” Luongo said. “You can ask Smithson. He did make contact with my head.”

Kesler denied any acting on his part to draw the hooking call.

“That’s the rule. I mean, you get your stick parallel to the ice, and it was in my gut. Obviously, he was impeding my progress. That’s the right call. I don’t make the calls, so it’s not my job,” Kesler said.

Oh the drama. Getting this sort of excitement off the ice should help make Game 4 much more difficult to play on it. You know the Predators and Shea Weber are going to come at you with everything they have to make Game 4 a winner for the Predators. Vancouver had best prepare for anything in Nashville but the Predators want the game to be 60 minutes of hell. Of course, Vancouver has been doing irksome things like this all throughout the playoffs. Whether its’ one of the Sedin twins dropping to the ice to draw a call or Luongo’s theatrics, the Canucks are happy to keep trying to get the calls in loathsome ways.

Trotz has to fight fire with fire here which means going through the media. It’s a smart move and it gets officials to keep an eye out for it, all teh better. Getting the benefit of the calls from the referees never hurts. Maybe if this didn’t work out Trotz can leave a fruit basket in the officials’ locker room.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.