Joel Quenneville, Paul MacLean

Senators officially name Red Wings assistant Paul MacLean new head coach

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As we discussed yesterday, the Ottawa Senators will indeed make Paul MacLean (and his astounding mustache) their new head coach. They announced as much in a press conference today, making strong rumors official.

This move ranks as the latest step in the period of half-change the Senators are going through. On one hand, they’ve retained GM Bryan Murray and stalwarts such as defensive defenseman Chris Phillips. That being said, they’ve flushed out some familiar faces, including the firing of former head coach Cory Clouston and some trades, most notably sending Mike Fisher to the Nashville Predators.

The biggest changes will be behind the bench and in net, though. MacLean brings lengthy experience working under Mike Babcock in Anaheim and Detroit but perhaps most importantly is familiar with Murray from their days with Ducks as well. Much of his successes or failures will be pinned on the work of Craig Anderson, a promising goalie who received what seems like an excessive contract considering his limited track record as a No. 1 netminder.

Let’s take a look at a few of the Senators’ comments about hiring their new coach.

“Paul brings a weath of experience as both a coach and teacher of the game,” said Murray. “He has been a winner during his coaching career and comes to Ottawa from an organization that has a history of both success on the ice and in developing players. He is a competitive person and we expect that our teams will display that same trait night-in and night-out.”

“Paul represents a big part of the change we needed to bring to our hockey club,” added Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. “The fact is we are a very different looking hockey team compared to a year ago. Bryan and I agreed it was important for him to bring in someone who is a solid communicator, can easily build a strong rapport with our players and has a proven track record of winning NHL games and Stanley Cups. Paul represents all of this, and I’m pleased to welcome him to Ottawa and the Senators organization.”

Here is a little more background regarding MacLean from yesterday’s post.

MacLean spent two seasons (2002-03 and 03-04) as Babcock’s assistant in Anaheim before working with him for six more seasons in Detroit. His only head coaching experience comes in the IHL and UHL, where he most recently won a UHL championship with the Quad City Mallards in 2000-01. Before entering coaching, MacLean had a lengthy NHL career highlighted by a 101 point season with the Winnipeg Jets in 1984-85.

He was originally born in France, although he reportedly moved to Canada when he was two years old. While Senators fans hope that MacLean can bring some of that Red Wings competence to what has been an unruly Ottawa franchise, they can delight in his wonderful mustache even in the darkest of times.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.