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Yzerman on Lightning: “We’re not as deep as we were last year”

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There was plenty of furor following Tampa Bay’s 7-1 loss to Toronto on Tuesday. It was the Bolts’ fourth loss in their last five games, pushing their record to 9-9-2 — not exactly where they wanted to be at the season’s quarter-pole.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman spoke with the Tampa Tribune about the slow start. While he mentioned that trades and recalls are potential options, he also stated there would be no panic moves.

“I never believe you do something just to do something,” Yzerman said. “You just try to make the team better, whether that’s through recalling somebody or a trade. I’m not going to react. You just have to assess your team.”

Not a huge revelation, though it was interesting to hear Yzerman address his team’s lack of depth compared with last season.

“We have higher expectations and some of our players are not playing at the level they were at last year,” he said. “We are not as deep as we were last year, and we are hoping that within, our players will elevate their play.”

Not as deep, hey? Hmm. I tagged three key losses from last year’s team:

— Simon Gagne (now with LA):  Fifth on the team in scoring, fourth in PP goals.

— Sean Bergenheim (now with FLA): Scored 14 goals, third in takeaways, huge playoffs.

— Mattias Ohlund (still with TB): Top-four defenseman. Hasn’t played this year (knees).

Those losses are concerning, but so too is the dropoff in production. Dominic Moore scored a career-high 18 goals last year but has just one so far. Brett Clark led all defensemen in goals (nine) and points (31), but has just 2G-2A-4PTS through 20 games. Steve Downie’s numbers are way down across the board.

Last year, the Lightning surprised on several fronts — rookie head coach Guy Boucher exceeded expectations, the team stayed quite healthy, several guys had career years and almost every Yzerman transaction worked out beautifully.

Makes you wonder if his “we’re not as deep as we were last year” comment should’ve been “we’re not overachieving like we did last year.”

Ulf Samuelsson leaves Rangers, takes Carolina’s AHL gig

Ulf Samuelsson, Alain Vigneault
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The ‘Canes made a fairly big coaching splash on Tuesday, announcing they hired New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson to become the new bench boss in AHL Charlotte.

“Ulf has built a very strong coaching resume during a decade behind the bench in the AHL, NHL and Swedish league,” Carolina GM Ron Francis said in a release. “He has a proven history of helping to develop young players and understands the organizational culture that we are building here.”

Samuelsson, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Francis in Pittsburgh during the 90s, has spent the last three seasons as Alain Vigneault’s right-hand man in New York, helping the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final in ’14 and the Eastern Conference Final last season.

Prior to joining the Rangers, he spent two seasons as head coach for Modo of the Swedish Hockey League.

Samuelsson will replace Mark Morris in Charlotte, after Morris accepted the head coaching gig at St. Lawrence University. Morris had only been on the job for one year, having inherited the position from former ‘Cane Jeff Daniels.

Report: Marleau won’t face supplemental discipline for hit on Rust

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It sounds like Patrick Marleau won’t be suspended for his hit on Penguins forward Bryan Rust (top) in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After the game, Marleau told reporters that he was pretty confident he wouldn’t be suspended and it sounds like he’s right.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t see things the same way.

“It’s a blindside hit to the head,” he said. “[Marleau] gets a penalty and I’m sure the league will look at it.”

Marleau was given a two-minute penalty for an illegal hit to the head on the play.

Rust played a single shift after taking the hit, but he went to the locker room after that and didn’t return. Sullivan said he’s day-to-day. It’s unclear if Rust will practice with the team on Tuesday.

Former Flyer Rick MacLeish passes away at age 66

MacLeish
Flyers.nhl.com
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Former Philadelphia Flyers forward Rick MacLeish passed away on Monday night. He was 66-years-old. The organization confirmed the news early Tuesday morning. MacLeish was battling meningitis as well as kidney and liver problems, per Philly.com.

“With the passing of Rick MacLeish, the Flyers have lost one of their legends,” Flyers President Paul Holmgren said in a release. “A good father, grandfather, teammate and friend, Rick will be missed by all who were fortunate to come and know him over the years. His happy and friendly demeanor was front and center everywhere Rick went. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Rick’s wife, Charlene, his daughters, Danielle and Brianna along with his grandchildren. May he rest in peace.”

MacLeish first put on a Flyers jersey during the 1970-71 season. He would go on to score 349 goals and 759 points in 846 NHL games with Philadelphia, Hartford, Pittsburgh and Detroit. MacLeish also scored what is considered to be the most important goal in Flyers history when he netted the opening goal in Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final against Boston. The Flyers would clinch their first Stanley Cup that night.

He won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Flyers and was named an NHL All-Star three times in his career.

PHT Morning Skate: Nick Bonino has been pretty clutch this postseason

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Pascal Dupuis wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune.

Matt Cullen also wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune called “Hockey Dad”.

Dainius Zubrus is making his third trip to the cup final, but he still hasn’t won one. (Puck Daddy)

–Watch the highlights from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Top)

–Here’s the Punjabi call of Nick Bonino‘s game-winning goal. (Streamable)

–Speaking of Bonino, he’s been pretty clutch this postseason:

–The NHL still wants to play an outdoor game on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Ottawa Sun)