After road trip ‘from hell,’ Trotz says changes are coming in Nashville


On the heels of a 5-1 thrashing in Los Angeles and what he called “a [road] trip from hell,” Barry Trotz said the Predators could be in for a significant shakeup.

“We’re going to have to make some changes,” Nashville’s head coach said on Monday night, courtesy Mayor’s Manor. “We’re going to have to change some guys. It’s not working for us.”

Nashville has just two wins in its last nine games and has been wildly inconsistent offensively.

Beginning on Feb. 16, the Preds scored 11 goals over a three-game stretch against Anaheim, Colorado and Detroit, but were then shut out in back-to-back losses to Vancouver and Detroit.

The Preds followed that up by exploding in a 5-4 OT win over Dallas…which was followed by the aforementioned hellish road trip.

Nashville suffered three losses in which they scored just three times (a 5-1 loss at Anaheim, 2-1 loss at San Jose and Monday’s 5-1 loss at LA.)

Yeah, not good.

Overall, Nashville has the league’s worst offense and last year’s three leading scorers — Martin Erat, David Legwand and Mike Fisher — have combined for just 27 points.

The Preds have claimed forwards Bobby Butler and Zach Boychuk off waivers to try and shake things up, but Trotz suggested those aren’t the only moves Nashville plans on making.

Here’s more Trotz, from Mayor’s Manor:

“Somebody’s going to be getting knocked out of the lineup. We’ve only had 20 guys. So there’s no backside pressure by anybody. We don’t have any extra guys right now, so everybody’s comfortable.

“The comfort level is going to be out the door, because A, we’re going to be looking at recalling some people, or obviously we picked up Bobby Butler on waivers. I’m sure our management and scouts are out there looking. I know the last couple days they’ve met, and trying to improve us.

“So that’s what it is right now. Now we’re not playing good as a hockey team, and then we’re not winning games where you have to win hockey games.”

The next two weeks will prove to be pretty crucial for the Preds.

They’ll get most of this week off, returning on Friday for a two-game homestand against the Oilers (Friday) and Wild (Saturday.)

After that, it’s off on another roadie — this time, a trek through Dallas, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Columbus that will see the Preds play five games in seven nights.

Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.

Flyers’ Gagner to miss another week after Malone hit

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The nasty blow Sam Gagner took in Monday’s game against Carolina will keep him on the shelf for a little bit.

On Wednesday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall said the club expected Gagner to be out around a week with injuries suffered on the hit, delivered by ‘Canes forward Brad Malone (per the Inquirer).

Gagner suffered a fairly significant facial laceration, which forced him from the game entirely. He didn’t practice on Tuesday and, in a corresponding move, the Flyers called up Colin McDonald from the AHL to fill Gagner’s spot on the roster.

This is the second facial injury Gagner’s suffered in recent years. He’d previously had his jaw broken by an errant Zack Kassian high stick, while he was with the Oilers and Kassian the Canucks.

Prior to getting hurt, Gagner had two goals and five points in 18 games, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.

‘It’s absolutely not true’ — Lemieux denies report of ‘big falling out’ with Crosby

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 5:  Sidney Crosby #87 and Mario Lemieux #66 of the Pittsburgh Penguins share a few words during a break in action against the New Jersey Devils in their NHL opening night game at the Continental Airlines Arena on October 5, 2005 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Devils won 5-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just hours after Matthew Barnaby went on the radio and said he’d heard that Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux had had a “big falling out,” Lemieux came out and denied it.

“It’s absolutely not true,” said Lemieux, per the club’s Twitter account. “It’s silly.”

Today marked the second time in less than two weeks that the Penguins have been forced do some damage control.

Last week, the Penguins insisted that they weren’t actually “mad at each other,” as Evgeni Malkin had put it after a bad loss to New Jersey.

“He did not mean we are mad at each other,” said Crosby. “He meant we are frustrated.”