‘Canes GM Rutherford ‘about as frustrated as you can get’

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On Mar. 12, the Carolina Hurricanes were 15-9-1, sitting third in the Eastern Conference with 31 points, looking good for a playoff spot.

Fast forward to today — just 23 days later — and things look decidedly less rosy.

The ‘Canes are in a tailspin, having lost nine of their last 10, and head into tonight’s game against Tampa Bay sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference.

That’s drawn the ire of GM Jim Rutherford, who said he’s “about as frustrated as you can get” over Carolina’s struggles.

“We’re not sitting here saying [the season’s] over,” he told the Raleigh News and Observer. “But the most frustrating thing is that in the first part of the season we showed what kind of team we had — and we played very well.”

Carolina’s slide has coincided with a number of crucial injuries. Starting netminder Cam Ward (sprained MCL) was lost for the regular season, and backup Dan Ellis missed time with a skate laceration.

Top defenseman Justin Faulk has been out with a knee sprain of his own, and the No. 2 defenseman — Joni Pitkanen — broke his heel bone on an icing chase this week, which ended his season.

Tuomo Ruutu’s only played in four games after undergoing offseason hip surgery, and checking forward Chad LaRose missed extensive time with a concussion.

Add it all up, and you’ve got a team struggling to overcome a massive stretch of bad luck and worse health.

Now, the Canes are four points back of Winnipeg for the Southeast Division lead and five back of New Jersey for the eighth and final playoff spot.

What makes this slide even more frustrating is that Carolina spent big bucks to assemble its current team: $35 million for Alex Semin, $60 million for Jordan Staal and $34.35 million for Jeff Skinner.

It’s something Rutherford alluded to in voicing his frustrations.

“We spent more money on our team this year. I believe we had a team in place that was a very good team,” he explained. “But when I talk about it coming at a worse time, this is a year we have decided to raise ticket prices and do different things.

“That doesn’t sit right with the paying customer, when they watch a team that was so good in the first half and a team that wasn’t good in the second half.”

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.

MacArthur, Senators end Bruins’ season in OT after controversial calls

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It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.

Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.

Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.

People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.

Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.

The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.

Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.

Bergeron takes advantage of slow Sens change, sends Game 6 to OT (Video)

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Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?

Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.

Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.