Blair Betts

Waiver news: Canadiens claim Blair Betts from Philly, Sean Avery goes unclaimed

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Waiver madness has struck and we see two moves you could call “expected” go through.

Montreal claimed Blair Betts from the Philadelphia Flyers. For Montreal it was a no-brainer move as they were in need of a fourth line center to win face-offs and play strong defensive hockey. They’ll get that with Betts as he won just over 50% of his draws last season. Betts also gives Montreal a little bit of size at forward being 6’3″. In case you hadn’t heard, the Habs have a few small-sized forwards.

Philadelphia losing Betts makes for an interesting turn of events there as it likely means that Maxime Talbot will now slot in as the fourth line center. Given that Talbot is making $1.75 million against the cap for the next five years, they’d better hope he becomes a superstar shutdown guy up the middle. It also means that Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn (once he’s recalled from the AHL) will do battle on the third line for bragging rights there. Expect Schenn to win that battle.

source:  The least surprising non-move of the day concerns Sean Avery. Avery cleared waivers and the Rangers are now free to send him to the AHL if need be. It’s also possible that Avery could be brought through on re-entry waivers to see if a team will take him at a discounted price.

With Avery being paid by both the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers, if he were to be claimed on re-entry waivers that team would be getting him at a double discount only having to pay 25% of his contract. The Stars still pay half of what Avery is owed while the Rangers would pay half of what he was owed. Having to pay Avery only 25% of what he’s worth might make him attractive to another team.

Then again, after what Rangers coach John Tortorella had to say about Avery yesterday, you wonder if anyone will want him even at that big of  a discount. At the very least, the Dallas Stars might like to see another team pick him up just to save themselves some trouble in dealing with the salary cap. With the buzz going on around the league, the chances we’ll see Avery play again in the NHL this season are slim.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

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.”