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.

Lundqvist will start four of five remaining games

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Henrik Lundqvist has had two tough starts since returning from injury.

The 35-year-old allowed five goals in his first game back, a 6-3 loss to Anaheim Sunday, and five more in his second game, a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose Tuesday.

But Lundqvist is still the No. 1 in New York, and for that reason he’s scheduled to start four of the Rangers’ five remaining regular-season games, with the hope he’ll be able to play his way back into form in time for the postseason.

Lundqvist was not happy after Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, even though the point the Rangers gained earned them a playoff berth.

“I’m extremely disappointed right now,” he told reporters. “I’m glad we’re in, but I want to get the job done. I want the win. We found a way to lose this one at the end.”

With the loss, Lundqvist’s save percentage fell to .911 on the season. If it finishes at that number, it would be the lowest save percentage of his NHL career.

Antti Raanta‘s save percentage, meanwhile, sits at .922. In his last start, he shut out the Kings in Los Angeles.

The Rangers host Pittsburgh tomorrow and Philadelphia Sunday. Next week, they’re in Washington Wednesday, Ottawa Saturday, and then they close out their schedule at home to Pittsburgh Sunday.

Raanta will start one of the final two games.

The Rangers are likely to face Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.

Reinhart suggests benching him for an entire game might’ve been a stretch

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Two days after Sam Reinhart was bolted to the pine for the entirety of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Columbus — his punishment for showing up late to a team stretch — Reinhart discussed the incident, and didn’t sound overly thrilled about how it played out.

“It’s a coach’s decision. It’s a management decision,” Reinhart said, per the Buffalo News. “From my perspective, I would have rather battled it out with my teammates.

“I don’t think five minutes in the morning is going to influence my preparation for a game, but it was a team stretch and I should have been there on time.”

Reinhart also had this to say:

Discipline of this nature is pretty common, though the way Reinhart’s played out was a bit more dramatic. Rather than park him in the press box as a healthy scratch, the Sabres — who didn’t have an extra forward, as Kyle Okposo was out sick — dressed the 21-year-old, then sat him for the entire 60 minutes.

The Buffalo News said the move “would seem to send a deeper message than merely being scratch,” adding that “there has been friction between players and [Sabres head coach Dan] Bylsma throughout the season.”

In the club’s defense, Reinhart is hardly the first young player to be punished for lateness. Nikita Zadorov had repeated issues with punctuality and, after being suspended, was eventually traded to Colorado. Evander Kane was parked for a game last season after sleeping in and missing a practice.

Of course, each situation is unique and some will argue showing up five minutes late for a stretch isn’t on par with what Zadorov and Kane did. Which is fair. That could be why Bylsma said the club might consider a policy change.

And that could by why Reinhart’s teammate, Jack Eichel, tried to put things in perspective.

“We’re obviously not going to hold it over his head here,” Eichel said, per the News. “He didn’t really do too much wrong.”

North Dakota’s Poolman turns pro, signs with Jets

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Another day, another North Dakota departure.

Having already lost freshman Tyson Jost (signed with Colorado) and sophomore Brock Boeser (signed with Vancouver), the school has now learned that junior blueliner Tucker Poolman has signed an entry-level deal with the Jets.

Poolman, 23, was taken by Winnipeg in the fifth round (127th overall) at the ’13 draft. From the Free Press:

UND’s top defenceman was playing between 25 and 30 minutes per game and was the fourth-highest scoring blue-liner in the NCHC. He finished the season with seven goals, 30 points, 14 penalty minutes and a plus-18 rating in 38 games.

Poolman’s final campaign ended on a sour note. He suffered a shoulder injury during the NCHC championship game and was unable to play in North Dakota’s season-ending loss to Boston University in the NCAA championships.

Coming to America: Jackets assign Carlsson to Cleveland

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His Swedish season over, defenseman Gabriel Carlsson is coming to North America to play some hockey.

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that Carlsson, the 29th overall pick in the 2015 draft, has been assigned to AHL Cleveland.

From the press release:

Carlsson, 20, recently completed his second full season with Linköping HC in the Swedish Hockey League where he collected two goals and two assists for four points with six penalty minutes and a +8 plus/minus rating in 40 games.

Linköping was eliminated from the SHL playoffs on Tuesday.

Carlsson is listed at 6-4 and 191 pounds.