Can McPhee save the season in Washington?


As per usual, CBC’s Elliotte Friedman gave us plenty to think about in his weekly “30 thoughts” column.

One thought that stuck out for me was this one:

Apparently, no GM is burning up the phone lines more than George McPhee. The Capitals face Canadian-franchise-level pressure to succeed.

After last night’s home loss to San Jose, Washington sits one point back of Toronto for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth is peeved at coach Dale Hunter (and presumably vice versa) and veteran forward Mike Knuble is fuming in the press box as a healthy scratch.

“If you had told me on opening night that we’d be sitting here right now outside a playoff spot, I’d have been very surprised,” McPhee told The Washington Post’s John Feinstein yesterday. “I liked the team we had put together this summer.”

McPhee added: “I still think if we get our guys [Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green] back and if we can add something here in the next couple of weeks we’re good enough to win the Stanley Cup.”

But if Washington doesn’t make the playoffs, McPhee’s job could be no more. In fact, he probably needs to do better than just make the playoffs. So what could the GM do prior to the Feb. 27 trade deadline?

Writes Feinstein (after suggesting Knuble could be dealt):

McPhee has other chips he can play. If he believes Green is going to be healthy he has two young defensemen, John Carlson and Dimitry Orlov, who many teams would covet. He also has Dennis Wideman, an all-star defenseman who is a free agent this summer. What’s more, he has two first round draft picks in a draft reportedly chock full of talented defensemen.

He could also shop Alex Semin, whose expiring contract could be absorbed by a handful of teams, assuming one would take a chance on the inconsistent Russian. Then again, with no Backstrom, who’s out indefinitely with concussion symptoms, the Caps might not want to lose Semin’s offense. Underperforming or not, he’s still the team’s fourth-leading scorer.

What do you think? Can McPhee save the season with a deadline more? Any ideas? Maybe he’s a PHT reader and gets most of his ideas from the comments sections of blogs.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.