Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo has a rather toxic relationship with Canucks fans

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Roberto Luongo has to start making some saves. He admits as much himself. Whether or not it’ll make a difference with Vancouver Canucks fans is the question.

Luongo heard the jeers last night in a 4-0 home loss to the Rangers in which the goalie at the other end, Henrik Lundqvist, was perfect. None of the goals Luongo surrendered were of the horrendous variety, unless you’re talking about the other Canucks on the ice.

So why the jeers?

Ed Willes of The Province sums it up perfectly.

The dissatisfaction expressed at Luongo on Tuesday night wasn’t because of a so-so outing against the Rangers. It’s not even about the first four games which has left him with a 1-2-1 start, a 3.70 GAA and an .856 save percentage.

It’s about last year’s Stanley Cup final. It’s about almost blowing a 3-0 lead to Chicago in the first round. It’s about back-to-back meltdowns against the Blackhawks the previous two post-seasons.

It’s about the accumulated baggage of the last three years. And that baggage looks like it’s starting to weigh him down.

Luongo’s advocates will be quick to note he’s a perennial slow starter. However, that doesn’t change the fact he could string together 82 straight shutouts in the regular season and many Canucks fans would still doubt his ability to perform in the playoffs. And it’s tough to say they’re wrong to doubt him. Luongo has had some great playoff performances (think Game 5 of the Cup final), but his bad outings have been downright nightmarish.

If there’s a professional athlete whose story is most similar to Luongo’s, it might be former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Great numbers in the regular season. Almost always led his team to the playoffs. Even came within a game of winning a title. But it was the disastrous playoff outings that made his relationship with Philly fans toxic. The three consecutive defeats in the conference championships, the worst coming in 2003 when the Eagles lost at home to the Carolina Panthers and McNabb threw three interceptions. Then, when the Eagles finally broke through the next year and made it to the Super Bowl against the Patriots, McNabb again threw three picks in a losing effort, after which he had to deny throwing up in the huddle late in the game. Philly fans still debate whether he did or not.

That Cory Schneider is the back-up in Vancouver only gives Luongo’s detractors more ammunition. This despite the fact Schneider has just one postseason start to his résumé – Game 6 against the Blackhawks in last year’s first round – and he cramped up in it and had to be replaced by Luongo.

Stay tuned on this one.

No hearing scheduled for Abdelkader after Barkov hit

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There’s no disciplinary hearing scheduled for Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader following his big check on Florida’s Aleksander Barkov last night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

The incident, which occurred early in the second period, left Barkov woozy and forced him from the game entirely. Abdelkader wasn’t penalized on the play — that, along with the hit itself, infuriated the Panthers and head coach Gerard Gallant.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald.

“I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way,” Gallant added, noting that Abdelkader “left his feet a little and got [Barkov] in the jaw.”

Abdelkader has run afoul of the Department of Player Safety before. He was suspended two games during the ’13 playoffs for a hit on then-Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman.

The Panthers are back in action tonight, as they take on the Sabres in Buffalo.

Detroit doesn’t play again until Wednesday, when it hosts the Sens at Joe Louis.

BREAKING: Phaneuf traded to Senators

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 07:  Jordan Nolan #71 of the Los Angeles Kings is knocked off balance by Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Staples Center on January 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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And this is why we listen when Bob McKenzie says something.

The Ottawa Senators have acquired defenceman Dion Phaneuf, forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, and Ryan Rupert and defenseman Cody Donaghey from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg, plus Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft.

No salary will be retained by either team.

More to come.

Report: ‘Lots of Dion Phaneuf trade chatter’

Dion Phaneuf
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This isn’t the first time Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf has come up in trade rumors — far from it — but since it’s TSN’s Bob McKenzie putting it out there, we should probably listen.

“Hearing lots of Dion Phaneuf trade chatter,” McKenzie tweeted this morning. “Starting to think he could actually be dealt before the deadline.”

Phaneuf has three goals and 21 assists in 51 games this season, while logging an average of 22:02 in ice time. The big factor in trading the 30-year-old is his contract — he’s signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $7 million. 

Responding to McKenzie on Twitter, TSN’s Darren Dreger seemed to suggest Ottawa as a potential landing spot. The Sens, as we’ve noted recently, have had all sorts of defensive issues this season.

In the past, Detroit has come up as a potential destination for Phaneuf, though the Wings reportedly withdrew their interest in June.

NHL on NBCSN: Slumping Wild look to get back on track against Stars

Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel (21), from France, scores a goal past Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn. The Stars won 6-3. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the Dallas Stars at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

If you’re a fan of the Minnesota Wild, the last few weeks probably haven’t been pleasant.

The team has been slumping badly since the beginning of the new year, and late January/early February has been no different.

The Wild come into tonight’s game having dropped five straight decisions to the Sharks, Coyotes, Islanders, Rangers and Blues.

Minnesota has just 10 goals during the losing streak, which means their top offensive players aren’t producing.

Head coach Mike Yeo tried to shake things up on Saturday night by scratching Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker, but that didn’t work. The Wild were thumped, 4-1, by the St. Louis Blues.

After playing their last three games on the road, Minnesota hopes to get a boost from their home crowd.

“One thing for sure, [there are] mixed feelings about coming back home,” Yeo said on Monday, per the Star-Tribune. “Right now, obviously, a little home cooking would be nice for us. But I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little nervous for tomorrow. Certainly I think our fan base is a little restless — more than a little restless right now. And they expect more from us. And they deserve more of us.”

Things haven’t been as bad in Dallas, but the Stars are coming off an embarrassing 5-1 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It was a huge game,” forward Vernon Fiddler said, per the Morning News. “We talked about it before the game, what it means, and then we lay an egg. It’s unacceptable. There’s a lot of disappointed guys in here.

“After a big loss like that, you want to respond. We all have to be better and take a look in the mirror and expect more of ourselves.”

Prior to Saturday’s loss, the Stars had won three straight games.

Could this be a trap game for Dallas?

They won’t have to wait long to get another crack at the Blackhawks, as they’ll be shipping out to the United Center on Thursday, but they have to take care of business in Minnesota first.

The Stars are five points behind Chicago for top spot in the Central Division. Dallas has three games in hand.