David Booth

Canucks hope Booth can boost second line

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David Booth will make his Vancouver Canucks debut tonight in Edmonton. All eyes will be on the newcomer that came over in a trade from the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Booth is expected to play left wing on a second line with fellow Americans Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins.

Vancouver’s second line, centered by Kesler, has been cause for concern for some time. It’s often been referred to as the “helicopter line,” as in it flies with no wings.

All summer long there were calls for general manager Mike Gillis to go out and get someone to play with Kesler – specifically a power forward that can put the puck in the net. And while Booth might not be the most powerful of power forwards, he’s certainly bigger and stronger than speedy-but-slight Mason Raymond, who’s currently out with a serious back injury. Raymond was one of the more maligned Canucks last season. After breaking out in 2009-10 with 25 goals, he scored just 15 times in 2010-11. His tendency to operate on the perimeter of the play was a major criticism.

Thus, the acquisition of Booth.

“[Booth’s] got good size and obviously a real good skater that doesn’t mind going to those areas you need to go,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said, as reported by NHL.com. “We’re giving him an opportunity to get his game to where he wants it to be, and where we need it to be.”

The Booth-Kesler-Higgins combo is a solid one on paper, though you never know how these things will turn out.

Higgins isn’t just a throw-in either. The 28-year-old who came to the Canucks last season at the deadline in a trade with – yep – the Florida Panthers has impressed with his work ethic and physical play. After bouncing around the league for a couple of seasons, his gritty performance in the postseason earned him a two-year, $3.8-million contract.

For the Canucks, the hope now is that they can get consistent production from the second line, thereby complementing the top line that’s made up of the Sedins and Alex Burrows.

The Sedins were blasted for their lack of production in the Stanley Cup final (and rightly so); however, with Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara (arguably the top shutdown man in the NHL) focusing most of his energy on stopping the twins, the rest of the Canucks team needed to step up and score. But that didn’t happen. Not even close. Kesler had just one assist in seven games versus the Bruins.

True, Kesler was playing hurt. So much so that he required offseason hip surgery. And yes, Tim Thomas played rather well. But the second line’s failure to contribute offensively dated back to the second half of the regular season.

Do the Canucks have a solution in Booth? They’d better. Because they’ve got him until 2015 with an annual cap hit of $4.25 million.

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.