The Carolina Hurricanes (5-6-3) have just two wins in their last eight, and during a stretch like that, questions are naturally going to be asked about the coach.
Questions like, “How does this guy still have a job?”
Paul Maurice has been behind the bench since December of 2008 and has failed to lead Carolina to the playoffs the last two seasons. But according to GM Jim Rutherford, Maurice will be around at least a bit longer.
“The easiest thing when you’ve lost a couple of games as bad as we lost them is to start pointing at the coach or the coaches,” Rutherford told the News & Observer yesterday. “It takes everybody when it comes time to win, and it takes everybody when it comes time to lose. We need to get back to work and get back to playing the style of game our team did when we were winning games.
“Now, if we’re talking again in a six- or-seven game losing streak, I’ll probably be in a different frame of mind and answer those (coaching) questions differently. Let’s get back on track. If not, I’ll look at all the situations differently.”
Rutherford and Maurice go way back, but Rutherford’s fired his good friend before (during the 2003-04 season), so you know he’ll pull the trigger if he has to. Sort of like in the mafia. It’s only business. Except with less shiny suits.
The ‘Canes are in New Jersey tonight looking to snap a two-game losing streak that’s seen them outscored by a combined 10-3. After the Devils, they’ll take on the Rangers in New York, followed by home games against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Suffice to say Maurice has his work cut out if he doesn’t want to get clipped.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.