Brent Sutter

Brent Sutter doesn’t sound super enthused about playing Matt Stajan tonight

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To give you an idea how far Matt Stajan’s stock has plummeted in Calgary, consider what Flames coach Brent Sutter said earlier this afternoon.

“Well, we are going to dress 12 forwards tonight so Matt’s going in to play center ice for us,” Sutter told NHL.com prior to tonight’s game against Vancouver. “We need Matt to come in and he’s got to bring us some juice and he’s got to be a real solid, competitive player for us. I’m not putting any expectations on him or anything like that.”

Is now a good time to mention Calgary signed Stajan to a four-year, $14-million extension in March of 2010? Because I feel like it is.

Stajan’s been a healthy scratch for the last two games, the low point in what’s already been a forgettable year. He’s recorded just a single point in seven contests and seen his ice time dwindle from a high of 13:56 (back on Oct. 13 vs. Montreal) to a low of 8:15 (the last game he played, Oct. 22 vs. Nashville)

What’s worse, he didn’t even get replaced by another center. Rather than roll four guys down the middle, Sutter has opted to dress an extra defenseman and play just three centers lately. Those three centers? Brendan Morrison (who Calgary signed after Vancouver cut him), Roman Horak (who hadn’t played in the NHL prior to this season) and Olli Jokinen (who is Olli Jokinen).

“I’d be lying if I said I’m not frustrated,” Stajan said about his current situation. “Obviously I’m not happy with the situation because I want to play — every player does. I get my chance tonight and go in there and do a job.”

Stajan is drawing in tonight mostly out of necessity. The Canucks are deep down the middle and one of the NHL’s top faceoff teams, so Calgary needs to counter that. Stajan will likely center the fourth line between Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman.

Regardless of how tonight turns out, Stajan can take solace in the fact he’s not the only high-priced guy routinely parked in press row. Anton Babchuk, PHT’s 2nd Dud of the week last week, looks like he’ll be a healthy scratch again tonight for the sixth time in eight games — this after signing a $2.5-million deal with Calgary back in July.

Colorado inks defensive prospect Anton Lindholm

LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 07: Anton Lindholm #5 of Team Sweden skates against Team USA during the 2013 USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 7, 2013 in Lake Placid, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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After establishing himself in the Swedish league, Anton Lindholm will head to North America.

The Colorado Avalanche announced that they have signed the 21-year-old defenseman to a three-year, entry-level contract. They selected Lindholm in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

More of a defensive defenseman, Lindholm only registered four assists in 30 Swedish league games with Skelleftea AIK in 2015-16, but he also had a team-high 85 hits despite missing a chunk of the season due to injury. During the playoffs he helped his team reach the SHL Finals by leading them in both hits and blocked shots.

That was his second full campaign with Skelleftea AIK. The next step for Lindholm will likely be for him to continue his development in the AHL.

PHT Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby eyes more history

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)

Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)

 

A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)

Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:

Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7:

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.