Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders

Karlsson shines, Vokoun flops as Sens and Caps move in opposite directions

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The hockey world can debate the merits of blowing the Washington Capitals up, but the team probably feels like Wile E. Coyote after a typical failed detonation right now.

The Capitals had their chances, but the Ottawa Senators took advantage of some great work by Erik Karlsson and another lousy outing by Tomas Vokoun to take a 4-0 lead that made life rather glum for Alex Ovechkin-less Washington. Vokoun was pulled for the second consecutive game and while Michal Neuvirth looked good and Washington saved some face (the final score ended up 5-2), it’s hard to find many positives for the decrepit D.C. denizens.

While Dale Hunter spoke of the need to “cover up” for Vokoun, the Senators are rejoicing in Karlsson’s explosive offensive season. The splendid sophomore Swede scored three points including two assists, setting a new franchise mark with 47 on the season. His 60 points leads NHL defensemen by a huge margin and Karlsson’s been particularly hot lately, with a dizzying five goals and seven assists in his last five contests.

Karlsson likely has a lot to learn in his own end, but his offensive production might just make him the new Mike Green (without all the baggage of blame, at least right now).

Standings update

This marks Ottawa’s fourth win in a row, placing them comfortably in seventh place in the East with 72 points. In fact, they’re currently tied with the Northeast Division-leading Boston Bruins with those 72 points and are only two points behind the New Jersey Devils for the fourth seed.

Of course, they’ve played five more games than Boston (62 GP to 57) and three more than New Jersey – so they appear larger in those squads’ rear-view mirrors than they actually are – but Ottawa is making some serious noise either way.

Washington, meanwhile, is uttering a mere whimper. They’ve lost three games in a row and now find themselves two points behind the Winnipeg Jets (65 to 63) for ninth place, although they do have two games in hand. They also trail the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs by two points but don’t have those games in hand, so this was yet another missed opportunity for Washington.

Here are highlights of the contest:

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Report: Wild will tab John Torchetti as interim head coach

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via Iowa Wild
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As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)

The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.

Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.

As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.

More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.

That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.

(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)

Kings put Gaborik on IR because of lower-body injury

Los Angeles Kings' Marian Gaborik celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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By Marian Gaborik‘s often-fragile standards, he’s been relatively sturdy as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

Still, few should be shocked when they hear of a lower-body injury for the veteran winger. In this case, it’s serious enough to land him on injured reserve, as the team announced on Saturday.

Gaborik had a bumpy time with zero points from Jan. 9-23, but he’s been more productive lately, scoring five points in his past seven contests.

And, again, it was an unusually healthy run for Gaborik:

LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen indicates that Gaborik was placed on IR in part so that the Kings could make room for Peter Budaj.

Minnesota Wild fire Mike Yeo

Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo talks to Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.

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It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:

The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.

Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.

One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?

Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …

Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.

/paging Jacques Lemaire …

Cold for Clutterbuck? Illness sidelines Isles’ heavy-hitter

New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) goes flying after tripping over Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson (88) in the third period of an NHL hockey game in New York, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The Islanders defeated the Oilers 8-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.

The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.

According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).

Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.

Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines: