Darryl Sutter

It’s all about “game day” for Kings under Sutter


When Dean Lombardi tapped Darryl Sutter to replace Terry Murray in December, the reviews weren’t overwhelmingly positive.

Many felt the Kings needed a fresher, more dynamic head coach to bring out the best of a talented group that inexplicably couldn’t put the puck in the net. Not Sutter, the GM’s buddy and epitome of old school.

Fast forward to the present and the Kings are two wins from their first Stanley Cup championship. Not surprisingly, it’s hard to find someone with anything bad to say about the guy behind the bench.

Los Angeles players were especially complimentary of their head coach this morning.

“His intensity is an intensity I haven’t encountered yet from a coaching standpoint,” said Dustin Penner. “It’s game time. The way he talks makes its way to the rest of the team, the way he talks, the way he teaches it, during practice, during the game.”

Willie Mitchell concurred.

“He’s been the ultimate as far as preparing the team,” said the veteran d-man. “I think that’s what we need. We’re quite a young team. We’re a young team. Being in L.A., being in the sun, walk outside, 75 degrees, sunny, nice. Sometimes it’s human nature to forget about what’s at hand.

“Like I said, he’s done a great job with the young guys, preparing them to play.  That’s been a great reason for more consistency in our game.”

Looking back, Sutter’s reputation really took a hit for the decisions he made as general manager of the Flames. The Dion Phaneuf trade with Toronto that failed to return much of anything. Signing Matt Stajan to a four-year, $14 million contract. Jay Bouwmeester was a big free-agent acquisition that didn’t pan out as hoped. Calgary didn’t draft particularly well on his watch.

But as coach of the Flames, he went 107–73–26 and took them to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004. He left the bench in 2006 to focus on his duties as GM.

Sutter was asked today what he liked most about coaching.

“Game day, no question,” he answered. “I said that when I wasn’t coaching. Just like a player, best part’s game day. What is that line that Junior Seau said? Plays the game for nothing, gets paid to practice.”

It’s obvious his message has been received and taken to heart.

“Day one when he got here, the preparation, the mindset, how we need to be, where our attitude and heads need to be on game day when he came in,” said Jarret Stoll. “That was a big change for some guys.

“Not to say we weren’t prepared at all, but it just made us that much more of a prepared team throughout. We were ready to start games.”

Video: Pastrnak scores 10 seconds into game vs. Rangers

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After getting blown out on Tuesday night and having to go with a rookie goalie making his first career start in New York on Wednesday, the Boston Bruins really needed a strong start against the Rangers.

That is exactly what they got when David Pastrnak gave them an early lead just 10 seconds into the game when he capitalized on a Nick Holden giveaway.

The play all started right off the opening faceoff when Holden gave the puck away to Zdeno Chara in the neutral zone. Chara quickly moved it along to Marchand who drew both Rangers defenders leaving Pastrnak wide open for a one-on-one chance against Henrik Lundqvist.

The result: Pastrnak’s fifth goal of the season and an early 1-0 lead.

Ducks, Lindholm don’t seem to be budging on contract

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Hampus Lindholm is one of the two restricted free agents still without a contract (Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba being the other) and his absence is having a pretty big impact on the Anaheim Ducks early in the season because they clearly miss his presence on the blue line.

On Wednesday, Bob McKenzie appeared on NBCSN with Liam McHugh  and offered an update on the situation.

McKenzie reports that at this point the two sides have not really closed the gap in their current talks, with the Ducks trying to get Lindholm signed to a slighter smaller contract than the six-year, $32.4 million deal Buffalo recently gave to defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

Lindholm wants a slightly larger average annual salary because he would be giving up an additional year of unrestricted free agency than Ristolainen did.

According to McKenzie, the two sides are about $250,000 apart when it comes to yearly salary.

The 22-year-old Lindholm has 23 goals and 69 assists in 236 games over his first three seasons in the league, including 10 goals and 28 points a year ago.

In terms of salary the two sides obviously aren’t that far apart, and as McKenzie mentioned with the lines of communication still remaining open it only takes one phone call to change everything. Even with that, it still seems like it’s going to be a tough deal to complete given how long this has gone on and how close to the league’s salary cap the Ducks currently are.

That is going to be a problem for a Ducks team that has won only two of its first seven games and needs its best defenseman back on the ice.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Rangers

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 27:  Ryan Spooner #51 of the Boston Bruins scores a goal against Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers during the third period at TD Garden on November 27, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Rangers 4-3.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Original Six rivals face off at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night when the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins.

The Rangers come into the game having won two in a row and three out of their past four, while the Bruins were blown out just 24 hours earlier at home against the Minnesota Wild.

Making matters worse for the Bruins is the fact they are also dealing with some major injury issues  having lost their top two goalies (Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin) to injury. That means they will be giving rookie Zane McIntyre his first NHL start after Malcolm Subban was benched on Tuesday.

The Bruins will also be without veteran forward David Backes.

You can catch tonight’s game (8 p.m. ET) on NBCSN or with our NHL Extra live stream.


More links to get you ready for tonight’s game

Bruins need a rookie goalie to step up

Backes undergoes elbow procedure

Rakell back skating in Anaheim, but no timetable for return

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: Rickard Rakell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 21, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Ducks 5-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The contract’s signed, the visa issues are sorted and he’s already taken a morning skate.

Now, all Rickard Rakell needs to do is get clearance.

Rakell, who 12 days ago signed a six-year, $22.8 million extension, was back on the ice this morning ahead of Anaheim’s game against the visiting Nashville Predators this evening.

The 23-year-old’s return was hung up by a variety of issues. First, there was the obvious one — he had no contract — and once that was signed, Rakell was in limbo awaiting his visa.

And he’s still not in the clear.

Rakell is dealing with the ramifications from offseason abdominal surgery — a procedure related to an earlier appendectomy, that kept him out of the World Cup of Hockey — and is unclear as to when he can make his season debut.

“I’m just anxious to get back and at least try,” he said, per NHL.com.

Prior to rejoining the Ducks, Rakell had been working out and skating in his native Sweden, though none of his activity included contact. That will be the next step in his progression.

Following a lengthy road trip to start the year, the Ducks are now locked into the state of California for quite some time. Tonight’s home tilt is followed by another Friday against the Jackets, followed by a “road” game in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

From there, the team plays three more times at Honda: Nov. 2 against the Penguins, Nov. 4 against the Coyotes, and No. 6 against the Flames.

So, there’s a pretty good chance Rakell’s debut will come at home.