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.

Oilers recall D-man Oesterle from AHL Condors

EDMONTON, AB - FEBRUARY 23:  Jordan Oesterle #82 of the Edmonton Oilers warms up against the Ottawa Senators on February 23, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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The Edmonton Oilers made a move Sunday, recalling defenseman Jordan Oesterle from the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL.

In 18 games with the Condors this season, the 24-year-old Oesterle has three goals and 11 points.

The decision comes one day after Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson missed Saturday’s contest against the rival Calgary Flames because of a lower-body injury.

While he isn’t a flashy player, Larsson seems to have made a positive impression on the Oilers coaching staff during his first season in Edmonton following last summer’s blockbuster trade involving scoring winger Taylor Hall.

No surprise this development is leading to questions about the health of Larsson, with the Oilers set to begin the second half of a six-game home stand and sitting second in the Pacific Division standings.

Video: Reaves and Boll drop the gloves in heavyweight bout

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Heavyweight fighters Jared Boll and Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves during the second period of Sunday’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.

Those were some thunderous right hands thrown there, both combatants landing their fair share of punches before officials finally intervened.

The Wild sit all alone in top spot of the Central Division

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The Minnesota Wild bested the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, and now sit in sole possession of first place in the Central Division.

Playing the second half of a back-to-back situation that involved travel from Dallas, where Minnesota won Saturday, the Wild fell behind Chicago courtesy two goals from Patrick Kane. Sure, the first goal on Devan Dubnyk was fluttered off the stick of Kane and under the arm of the Minnesota goalie.

But Dubnyk played the remainder of this pivotal game the way Wild fans have become accustomed to since he was acquired. He made 33 saves and was busiest in the second period. Outside of Kane’s second goal, Dubnyk was solid in the middle period and didn’t give up anything the rest of the way. The Wild came back for a 3-2 win. On the road. In hostile territory.

Minnesota, not far removed from a franchise-best 12-game winning streak, now sits at 61 points in 42 games, two points ahead of the Blackhawks and with four fewer games played.

Jason Pominville scored the winner early in the third period.

There are many reasons for the Wild’s success through the first half under coach Bruce Boudreau. Dubnyk’s play has been Vezina caliber. He has a .940 save percentage and a 1.77 goals-against average. Minnesota is second in the league when it comes to the lowest number of goals-against per game and only Washington is better in that category.

The Wild have been scoring plenty, too, fourth in the league with 3.19 goals-for per game, with contributions throughout their lineup.

Free agent signings can always be a risk — an expensive risk — but Eric Staal has rewarded the Wild by producing at just under a point per game rate. He could have his most productive season in several years — at the age of 32 and approaching 1,000 regular season games played.

They won’t have long to enjoy their view from the top.

The Wild host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday to begin a four-game home stand.

More bad news for Bolts: Callahan out four weeks with lower-body injury

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Four points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and about to begin a six-game road trip, the Tampa Bay Lightning face a tough task trying to climb the Eastern Conference standings.

There was more bad news for the Bolts on Sunday.

Forward Ryan Callahan, who hasn’t played since Jan. 7, will miss approximately four weeks because of a lower-body injury, the club announced.

Callahan made his season debut at the end of October. The start to his season was delayed due to the recovery from hip surgery he underwent to fix an issue from last season. Based on a report from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday, Callahan is once again dealing with a hip injury, although the club didn’t elaborate, announcing it as a lower-body injury.

In 18 games this season, Callahan has two goals and four points.

The Bolts, Stanley Cup contenders that have gone deep into the post-season in each of the last two campaigns, are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Right now, Toronto, Ottawa and Florida all sit ahead of the Lightning in the battle for third in the Atlantic. Now into the second half of the season, they will have to quickly get out of this funk in order to close in the post-season race.

“The results are all that matters,” Brian Boyle told the Tampa Bay Times. “We need to change our attitude a little bit, kind of find our mojo, carry ourselves with a little bit more confidence. We can score quick goals. We can come from behind, jump out to leads and bury teams. We’ve done that in the past with this group.”

The Bolts begin this six-game road trip Monday against the L.A. Kings.