Scapegoats provide cruel comfort in an insecure world. Rather than discussing the problems that truly plague our existences, why not pass the buck to some poor sap instead? Vancouver Canucks fans clutch to Roberto Luongo as a big, expensive and easy target when the team falls – particularly when that takes place against the Chicago Blackhawks – but what happens during a meltdown with Bobby Lou on the sidelines thanks to an upper-body injury?
If Luongo being planted on the bench wasn’t enough to shoot a hole in that scapegoating tendency, the completeness of the loss should be. Five different Blackhawks scored goals in that game and the Canucks actually opened up a 1-0 lead early in the second period.
With that, Chicago moves to 27 points (topping all NHL teams) while Vancouver is a decidedly mediocre 9-9-1 for 19 points. Ignoring tiebreakers that place three other teams ahead of them (assuming Los Angeles doesn’t earn a point against Anaheim), the Blackhawks would host the Canucks in a first versus eight seed match if the playoffs began today.
To recap: Luongo isn’t easy to blame, the Blackhawks are running away with the West and the Canucks might be in a dogfight just to make the playoffs. In other words, for Vancouver fans, the hockey world is flipping upside down like a car during a riot.
But according to head coach Dave Tippett, the Coyotes probably shouldn’t be mired in a winless streak.
“Louis [Domingue] is a little like our team,” Tippett said, per the Arizona Republic. “He’s had stretches where he made some good saves but at the end of the day, the two winning goals — the Islanders and New York [Rangers] — were both stoppable goals.”
Here’s the Isles goal Tippett was referring to, a shorthanded marker by Johnny Boychuk:
And here’s the Rangers goal, scored by Dan Girardi (FF to 1:45)
Both, you’ll notice, have some similarities — long-range shots, third-period markers, scored by defensemen (and their first goals of the season, coincidentally).
The Domingue storyline has become a compelling one in the desert. Signed to a two-year extension this summer, the 24-year-old was expected to “take that next step” in his progression this season.
“He’s been solid,” GM John Chayka said of Domingue. “It looked like he had a good summer and came in in good shape.
“Louis’ got the talent to do it. It’s now doing it.”
The Coyotes are in Philly tonight to close out their six-game roadie, and Domingue will get the start. He’ll look to improve on his dreadful numbers — 5.03 GAA, .851 save percentage — and hopefully backstop his club to just its second win of the season.
After reportedly trying to trade him, Rangers put McIlrath on waivers
McIlrath was the 10th overall draft pick in 2010, a selection that many felt was a reach by the Rangers. Six years later, he’s yet to establish himself as a regular in head coach Alain Vigneault’s lineup.
Despite the Rangers’ inability to trade him, it would not be a huge surprise if McIlrath gets claimed. His possession stats were solid last season, and defensemen with size and toughness are still coveted in today’s faster NHL.
McIlrath’s cap hit is $800,000. He can become a restricted free agent this summer.
With the Blues needing to clear a roster spot for Lehtera, Paajarvi was placed on waivers on Thursday, per Sportsnet.
The decision comes after Paajarvi appeared in three games for St. Louis this season, scoring once while averaging just over nine minutes per game.
He has not dressed since an OT loss in Vancouver back on Oct. 18, though, as the team has recently opted to play Dmitrij Jaskin up front.
(Ty Rattie, who’s also been out of the lineup since the Vancouver game, is apparently sticking around St. Louis for the time being.)
Paajarvi has been down the waiver road before, getting exposed by the Blues on a few occasions. Even though he’s still relatively young (25 years old), on a cap-friendly contract ($700,000) and has nearly 300 games of NHL experience, it’s hard to envision a scenario where he gets claimed — especially since teams have had the opportunity to snag him before, and passed.
Not long after news of the Paajarvi waiving broke, the Blues announced Lehtera was officially activated from IR. He’ll be available for selection tonight when St. Louis hosts the streaking Red Wings, who’ve won five straight.
A group wants to build an arena in Scottsdale, but the Coyotes don’t seem interested
Multiple sources said the developer group working with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community had a meeting scheduled with the Coyotes the day after the team’s Faceoff Luncheon and the day before the season opener on Oct. 15 to discuss the possibility of the Coyotes playing there, but the Coyotes cancelled the meeting at the last minute for unspecified reasons. No make-up date has been scheduled.
When reached Wednesday evening, Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc had this to say: “Throughout this process we have had a number of groups solicit our involvement. This particular group and site are not one with which the Coyotes are working.”
Why the Coyotes don’t have interest in this particular project isn’t clear. It may be they’re 100 percent focused on another site, or it may be the deal just isn’t right for them.
But they’ll need to figure something out soon. Their lease at Gila River Arena expires after this season, and while they could probably extend that for a few years while a new arena gets built, they’ve been adamant that they’ll be leaving Glendale as soon as possible.
Certainly, this week’s news out of Seattle won’t quell the speculation that the Coyotes could be on the move, even if ownership has insisted over and over that the team has a bright future in the desert.