Luca Sbisa

Anaheim defenseman says Ducks are scared of winning

The Anaheim Ducks lost 4-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes last night. It was their 14th defeat in 16 games, pushing them to 6-11-4 and second from bottom in the Western Conference.

Needless to say, the team has problems. But Luca Sbisa thinks he knows what’s wrong.

“It seems like we’re scared of winning,” the Ducks defenseman told the OC Register. “We kind of forgot how to win. We have stretches were we play good hockey and we’re the team we’re supposed to be with the players in this room.

“As soon as we get a bad bounce or something or fall behind on the score, we kind of get scared. We stray away from the game plan.”

Before analyzing that quote, a quick note on Sbisa. His honesty is admirable, but should he really be the one to publicly opine about Anaheim’s fear of victory?

At 22, he’s one of the youngest players on the roster. Sure, there are youngsters in leadership roles throughout the NHL (Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Andrew Ladd) but come on — Sbisa is not one of those guys. It also seems really odd that a team featuring Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Toni Lydman, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry has been labeled as scared to win…by a 22-year-old Swiss kid with 136 games of NHL experience.

Anyway, back to Sbisa’s quote. One thing you can take from it is the sentiment that Anaheim’s struggles are about the players — not head coach Randy Carlyle. That’s something the Register’s Jeff Miller touched on earlier this week.

“Last spring, this same core group of players authored a staggering stretch to climb from out of the playoffs to the No. 4 seed in a deep, difficult Western Conference,” Miller writes. “And the Ducks did so without their All-Star goaltender. Know who else was there for that impressive surge? Carlyle, along with the same assistants he employs today.

“He wasn’t a detriment then, why is he suddenly one now?”

It’s a salient point. In August, the Ducks extended Carlyle’s contract through 2013-14 — which suggests he’s in for the long haul. I mean, nobody fires their coach just a few months after giving him a deal, right?

*cough* Tampa Bay Lightning *cough* Barry Melrose *cough*

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.