Anaheim Ducks' coach Carlyle shouts during their NHL hockey opening game against New York Rangers at Globen Arena in Stockholm

Carlyle says Anaheim needs to cheat better

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The Anaheim Ducks are in free-fall mode. They’ve lost six straight and nine of 10. They’re last in the Pacific Division, second from last in the Western Conference and fifth from last in the league.

The reasons for this are plenty. The Ducks aren’t scoring goals (only the Islanders have fewer), rank dead last in shots on goal and are the league’s second-worst faceoff team.

Head coach Randy Carlyle has a solution, though.

Cheat.

“It’s an area we can improve on, improve our compete level for the puck,” Carlyle told the OC Register. “To tell you the truth the opposition is doing a better job cheating, and when our young guys say anything they seem to be having their P’s and Q’s straightened out by the referees. But some of our veteran guys simply have to get better at it, simple as that.”

That faceoff stat is troubling for a team with good depth down the middle in Ryan Getzlaf, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano. All three are veterans, yet Koivu’s the only player over the .500 mark with 142 faceoff wins to 130 losses. Getzlaf ? He’s at 46.6 percent. Cogliano’s at 32.9. Rookie Maxime Macenauer has been somewhat adept by going 48.4 percent in the circle, but he’s still losing more than he’s winning.

And herein lies the problem with Carlyle’s curious explanation — his young guys might be getting straightened out, but his young guys aren’t taking many draws. Macenauer is third on the team in total faceoffs, but he’s not main culprit. Four of Anaheim’s five most active faceoff men (Koivu, Getzlaf, Cogliano and Teemu Selanne) all have at least five years of NHL experience, and they’re all losing a ton of draws.

One has to wonder if Carlyle could become the league’s second coaching casualty of the year. He’s been in Anaheim since 2005 — the NHL’s fourth-longest tenured bench boss — and players might’ve finally tired of/tuned out his grumpy, occasionally grouchy style.

Things don’t get any easier for the Ducks in coming weeks, either. While eight of their next 10 are at home, they host Vancouver, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal and Philadelphia…and the Ducks are only .500 at the Honda Center this season.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”