Ryan Kesler

Canucks don’t want to make excuses for mediocrity

Many expected the Vancouver Canucks to get out of the gate in a sluggish way. For a while, it seemed OK too, as the Boston Bruins stumbled a bit too. Yet as the Bruins surge, the Canucks continue to sleepwalk through the first quarter of the season, producing a record that is the definition of mediocre: 9-9-1.* The Canucks won’t take the bait in making any excuses about their lame start, though, as they told Kevin Woodley of NHL.com.

“I don’t even remember the playoffs last year. Nobody remembers,” Kevin Bieksa said. “There are no more excuses like that. We’re well into our schedule right now. We’re thinking about this year, and that’s not even on our minds right now.”

Bieksa ranks among the Canucks whose results have been very disappointing this season. The Sedin twins are producing like usual and Alexander Edler is making everyone forget about Christian Ehrhoff, but the depth guys need to step up. Ryan Kesler might not be 100 percent right now, but Vancouver needs more than seven points in 14 games from the reigning Selke Trophy winner.

So will the Canucks bounce back? It depends on how far you’re expecting them to go. A playoff spot is reasonably in reach, as they’re only currently three points behind the seventh-ranked St. Louis Blues and eighth place Edmonton Oilers. It might be a little too much to ask them to pillage their way through the NHL’s regular season again, though.

* – Going into tonight’s game, the Canucks were also dead even in goal differential: 56 scored and allowed.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.