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.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.