Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes

Hope in the desert? Phoenix Coyotes’ season ticket sales, renewals show promise

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As much as ownership situations are often plagued by misdirection, misinformation and mystery, there aren’t many that have dragged on as long as the Phoenix Coyotes fiasco. Joe accurately pegged it at four years, but when you consider the effects of the modern Internet-prompted news cycle, it feels like this story has been around for a generation.

Most of the recent news/scuttlebutt related to the Coyotes’ ownership woes hasn’t been particularly promising. Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs recently discussed what life would be like if the city was saddled with Jobing.com Arena but no major professional sports teams. Matt Hulsizer – far and away the franchise’s brightest hope for a possible new owner – finally got fed up with all the red tape and dropped his bid to own the Coyotes in late June, possibly focusing on buying the St. Louis Blues instead. After making the playoffs for the past two seasons, the Coyotes might have some worries on the ice as well given the departure of much-leaned-upon netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.

Despite all this negativity, the Coyotes have some reason to keep their heads held high. The cash-strapped franchise might have allowed Bryzgalov to flee, but they managed the underrated task of retaining their underrated star defenseman Keith Yandle. The best news might be at the box office, though: the Arizona Republic passes along a report that the Coyotes sold 1,000 new season ticket packages as of July 1, a boost that ranks them fifth overall in the NHL.

Naturally, there might be a few caveats to that announcement. For one thing, the top five accolade is a little misleading since many of the league’s most successful teams don’t need to sell that many extra season tickets. In addition to that asterisk, there are probably some snarky types who will say that the Coyotes’ 2010-11 sales were so close to the bottom of the barrel that 1,000 more season ticket packages isn’t as impressive as it might sound.

With those “Yeah, but … ” statements in mind, there was another promising improvement: that Arizona Republic story also reveals that the renewal rate for season tickets is at 90 percent, a Coyotes franchise record. Even if you say that 90 percent of a mediocre amount of tickets is a small victory, it’s still a promising development for a franchise that has been browbeaten by bad news for years now.

If nothing else, this development might help the team drum up some interest from a potential owner once again. The Coyotes have been a fairly successful squad the last two years, but they still haven’t won a playoff series in a long time. One can imagine them developing a solidly reinvigorated fan base if they manage more substantial playoff runs … especially if fans know that the team will still be there the following season.

Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again

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If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”

There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.

Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.

One team climbing, the other stumbling

With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.

During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.

Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.

Canadiens are facing some turbulence (and mostly passing the test)

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 6: Patrik Berglund #21 of the St. Louis Blues checks Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Scottrade Center on December 6, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens aren’t in crisis mode, but as far as this so-far outstanding 2016-17 season goes, they are finally facing some adversity.

Alex Galchenyuk, one of their most promising young players, is out indefinitely. There are murmurs that captain Max Pacioretty isn’t getting along with head coach Michel Therrien.* Tuesday presented a body blow or two to boot.

For one thing, the Canadiens gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Jaden Schwartz grabbed an assist and scored the game’s last two goals, including the OT-winner:

Losing to a contender like the Blues, especially while still grabbing a “charity point,” isn’t that big of a deal. A possible David Desharnais injury makes things a little dicey, however:

Really, though, it’s not all that bad for Montreal. They managed a 2-2-1 mark during a five-game road trip heavy on quality opponents.

Also: six of their next seven games come at home, where they’re 12-1-1. So things will look brighter soon enough.

Still, with some injuries and a big road trip to end 2016 and start 2017, there may be some moments where Montreal looks vulnerable.

Ultimately, fighting through stretches like these could very well benefit the Habs later on.

* – Ah, the old standby: “Player X isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Therrien.”

From the Blues’ side:

Ristolainen, Kane, O’Reilly push Sabres past McDavid and the Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16:  Rasmus Ristolainen #55, Matt Moulson #26, Sam Reinhart #23, Kyle Okposo #21 and Ryan OÕReilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers on October 16, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.

In particular, high-scoring defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, power forward Evander Kane and two-way center Ryan O'Reilly made the difference in Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime win.

Ristolainen’s first goal of 2016-17 was a big one, as it clinched the contest in OT:

Evander Kane scored two goals of his own, including one in the dying seconds of regulation to allow Buffalo to get a standings point (and then a second) in the first place.

Kane finished with two goals, O’Reilly generated two assists and Ristolainen managed a one-goal, two-assist performance.

It would be wrong to say that the marquee names didn’t show up at all. McDavid generated two assists and Eichel also nabbed a helper.

You’d be correct in saying that other young players stole the show, though, and the Sabres were the biggest beneficiaries.

Video: Brent Seabrook shaken up after awkward fall

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It wasn’t nearly as scary as the falls suffered by Travis Zajac or Philip Larsen, but the Chicago Blackhawks are still holding their breath when it comes to defenseman Brent Seabrook.

As you can see from the video above, Seabrook was tripped up by Jordan Martinook of the Arizona Coyotes during a simple puck battle. Seabrook was shaken up after falling awkwardly on that play.

At the moment, it’s unclear if this will be an ongoing issue or if the Blackhawks avoided a costly injury.

Martinook was not penalized.

CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes that Seabrook wasn’t out to begin the third period. So far, not so good.

The Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0, so the silver lining for Chicago is that they won.