Losing to the Carolina Hurricanes — the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference — is never a good thing.
Losing to the ‘Canes at home — they’re the East’s worst team on the road — is also quite bad.
So, what about Carolina coming into your rink and blowing you out? Where does that rank?
Just ask Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher, who watched his Lightning lose 5-2 to the ‘Canes last night.
“This is the hardest one to take this year,” Boucher told the Tampa Tribune. “I don’t think we’re being very respectful to teams like Carolina, and we can’t have that. We’re not in a position to think we’re better than any team.”
Tampa’s effort was bad on a number of fronts. Carolina scored five goals after going 14 straight without scoring more than four. Goalie Mathieu Garon allowed three goals on eight shots before getting the hook for Dwayne Roloson, who promptly allowed a goal 68 seconds after coming in. Vincent Lecavalier was minus-3, Pavel Kubina was minus-3 and for the first time in his past seven home games, Steven Stamkos went scoreless.
The latter two expressed dismay at the Lightning’s performance.
“We lost all the battles and it’s unacceptable,” said Kubina. “We didn’t deserve any points tonight.”
“I don’t know what it is,” said Stamkos. “We play a good game against one of the best teams in the league [Vancouver] the other night and then we have this effort.”
Things don’t get much easier for the Bolts in the coming days. They’ve got the surging Caps (6-3-1 over last 10) tonight, then host the Penguins and Bruins.
Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.
“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.
“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”
(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)
Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.
The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.
McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious
It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.
The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.
Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.
On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.
The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.
Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.
“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.
Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.
Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.
With a big laugh, Murray on Friday said the only way Ristolainen could speed up contract talks is if “he got all lovey-dovey” and elected to take the Sabres’ latest offer.
Ristolainen is a restricted free agent whose rights were retained by the Sabres in June. After representing Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, Ristolainen reported to the Sabres on Thursday in what was regarded as a sign of good faith.
Though he’s not allowed to play because he’s not under contract, Ristolainen is practicing with the team and also taking part in meetings. Ristolainen is not making himself available to reporters.
Murray says he didn’t see anything wrong with allowing Ristolainen to practice, saying he’d rather the player be in Buffalo than working out elsewhere.
Murray says the two sides are still negotiating.
In three seasons, Buffalo’s 2013 first-round draft pick has established himself as the Sabres’ top defenseman. Last year, Ristolainen led the team in averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game, and led Buffalo defensemen with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists).