Paul Holmgren

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren says goaltending not at fault for sweep

The Flyers flunking out of the playoffs in a meek four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins helped bring to light more than a few flaws the team had.

While many seem to agree that the Flyers undoing came thanks to poor goaltending from Brian Boucher there’s one important figure who doesn’t exactly agree with that assessment.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren disagrees with those saying that goaltending is the root of the problems faced by the Flyers against the Bruins.’s Mike Morreale gets the straight scoop from Holmgren that you’re probably going to snicker at.

“I don’t think we can fault our goaltending at any point in this series,” Holmgren said. “I know it looks bad when you’re taking guys out all the time. But goaltending, as I’ve said before, is a function of your team. Was (Bobrovsky) great (in Game 4), no, but he’s a young kid and under intense circumstances. But we didn’t lose the game because of our goalie. We lost the game because their team outplayed our team.”

No one is going to disagree with Holmgren on his last point. The Bruins certainly did outplay the Flyers, but the Bruins also outscored the Flyers 20-7 over the four games. Also keep in mind here that Flyers goalies made 17 appearances throughout 11 playoff games. With that kind of circus in goal, it’s tough for defensemen and forwards alike to find a comfort zone. Yes they’ve all got familiarity with Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky, but Michael Leighton getting appearances against Buffalo made the situation all the more baffling.

Coach Peter Laviolette has gambled and succeeded in the past with making sudden goalie changes. It worked last year when switching between Boucher and Leighton in getting the Flyers to the Stanley Cup final. It worked when he was the head man in Carolina leading the Hurricanes to the Cup in 2006 when he made the gutsy call to switch to Cam Ward over Martin Gerber, a move that resulted in Ward playing out of his mind on the way to winning the Conn Smythe Award.

These Flyers, however, were not at all like those teams as a host of other issues helped guarantee they wouldn’t move on. That said, the questionable goaltending from Brian Boucher is what the focus falls upon and putting up a goals against average of over 5.00 isn’t winning anyone anything ever. Trying to distract away from how bad the goaltending was is noble of Holmgren to make sure his guys don’t get trashed further, but the Flyers aren’t going to win anything next year unless Holmgren can figure out what to do at that position.

Minnesota waives Pulkkinen, just 17 days after claiming him

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23:  Teemu Pulkkinen #17 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on October 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Wild 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Teemu Pulkkinen era in Minnesota could soon be over.

Before it ever got started, really.

After scoring just once for the Wild since being claimed off waivers, Pulkkinen was placed back on the wire on Friday, per TVA.

The 24-year-old, originally a fourth-round pick by Detroit in 2010, bounced around the Wild lineup during his brief stint with the club, averaging just over nine minutes per night.

His productivity was minimal, to put it mildly — widely regarded for his cannon of a shot, which saw him post two 30-goal seasons with AHL Grand Rapids, Pulkkinen only mustered four shots on goal in eight games with Minnesota, who acquired him on Oct. 11 from Detroit.

He’ll be an interesting figure to watch moving forward.

Though some of his luster has undoubtedly worn off after getting waived twice in a month, he’s still a reasonably young player with a proven goalscoring record (in the minors, granted) on a reasonably cheap contract — one year, at $812,500.

Here’s wondering if Detroit would be interested in re-acquiring his services.

“I have an unreal amount of respect for him as a player and as a person,” head coach Jeff Blashill said of Pulkkinen earlier this month, per MLive. “Teemu has to score goals. You hate to be results-orientated, but when you’re not big and you’re not fast and your weapon is your shot you have to score goals.

“That’s what made him a difference-maker at the American League level and I still think he can be a difference-maker at this level. That time isn’t right now.”

They ‘don’t have superstars,’ but the Wild are off to a hot start

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 25:  Jonas Brodin #25 of the Minnesota Wild, Jason Zucker #16 and Joel Eriksson Ek #14 congratulate Chris Stewart #7 after he scored against Boston Bruins during the second period at TD Garden on October 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Eight games into the season, nobody on the Minnesota Wild has more than three goals, but nine players have scored at least twice, and seven more have done it once.

Indeed, it’s been a very balanced attack that’s helped the Wild to a 5-2-1 start. They smoked the Sabres, 4-0, last night in Buffalo. Four different players got goals, including defenseman Ryan Suter.

“That’s how we have to win,” Suter told reporters. “We don’t have the superstars. We need everybody on the team participating.”

It’s interesting that Suter would mention the lack of superstars, because that’s the exact same message head coach Bruce Boudreau was pushing when he took the job in May.

“As much as I like Ovechkin and Getzlaf and Perry, you don’t need those guys to win,” Boudreau said. “You can do it the old-fashioned way. You do it as a team.”

It’s only been eight games, so the Wild still have a lot to prove. They were outshot, 38-22, last night, and their possession stats propose the possibility that an unsustainably high shooting percentage and great goaltending from Devan Dubnyk (4-1-1, .944) have been the real keys to their winning start.

“He’s carrying us right now,” d-man Matt Dumba said of Dubnyk, “so we’ll ride that wave.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with getting great goaltending, and the Wild shouldn’t have to apologize for burying their scoring chances either. Puck possession isn’t everything in hockey, and at any rate, possession stats don’t have the greatest predictive power so early in the season.

For now, Boudreau’s superstar-less group gets the benefit of the doubt.

The Wild host Dallas Saturday and Buffalo Tuesday before hitting the road for games in Denver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Ottawa.

‘It’s outstanding to be at home’ — ‘Canes to play their opener, finally

RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 22:  Fans welcome the players to the ice before a game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes during play at PNC Arena on January 22, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Tonight, the Carolina Hurricanes will get to do what every other NHL team has already done this season — play a game at home.

And they’re pretty stoked about it.

“Outstanding,” head coach Bill Peters said about finally getting to their home opener, per the Raleigh News & Obsever. “It’s outstanding to be at home.”

The ‘Canes opened the year with a six-game road trip, in which they went 1-3-2 (culminating with Tuesday’s 4-2 loss in Detroit.) At first glance, that might seem like a disappointment — securing just four of a possible 12 points — but there were some positives.

For one, Carolina knows it could’ve, and should’ve, snagged a few more points. The club had 3-0 leads on Winnipeg and Vancouver to start the trip but blew both, and ended up losing in overtime.

In Philly on Saturday, the ‘Canes had a 2-0 lead early in the second period before the Flyers scored four unanswered goals, and went on to a 6-3 win.

Offensively, the club has looked good, paced by the trio of Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner and Lee Stempniak. Those three often played on the club’s top line during the trip, and Rask emerged as the club’s leader with seven points through the first six games.

Of course, the club does have its issues. The ‘Canes currently sit 29th in the NHL in goals against, with neither netminder — Cam Ward or Eddie Lack — having shown consistent form early in the year.

The hope for Peters and company is that the return to PNC Arena will change the negatives around. Tonight’s game against the Rangers is the first in a stretch where Carolina will play eight of 11 at home.

After Vancouver release, Tuomo Ruutu signs in Switzerland

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 21:  Tuomo Ruutu #15 of the New Jersey Devils prepares to play against the Ottawa Senators at the Prudential Center on January 21, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Senators 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Tuomo Ruutu has found work.

After spending training camp and the exhibition campaign in Vancouver on a professional tryout, the veteran Finn has agreed to join Swiss National League A side HC Davos, the team announced on Friday.

Ruutu, 33, caught on with the Canucks after a 13-year career in which he played 735 games for three different teams — Chicago, Carolina and New Jersey. Injuries limited him to just 33 games for the Devils last season and, to be fair, several seasons prior as well.

Ruutu had only appeared in 186  of a possible 246 games over the last three years.

In his prime, Ruutu was an energetic winger that could bang and crash, as well as score goals. He netted a career-high 26 with the ‘Canes in ’08-09, and scored 15 or more five times in his career.

Though he lasted nearly the entire preseason with the Canucks, Ruutu was dropped just prior to the start of the regular season. Another veteran forward that attended camp on a PTO — Jack Skille — did manage to score a one-way deal from the Canucks, however.