Logan Couture

McLellan: ‘Elite’ Couture driving Sharks’ bus right now


For years, the guys leading the charge in San Jose have been Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle.

But according to Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, there’s a new leader emerging — Logan Couture.

“The way he’s been playing lately, he’s been driving our bus right now,” McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News. “He’s the head guy and he’s making it happen and we’re happy for him.

“He’s elevated himself into an elite role — he’s penetrated into that leadership group and solidified his place there.”

Couture, 24, led the Sharks in goals this year (21) and tied Joe Pavelski for the team lead in game-winning tallies, with five.

Yet it’s his emergence as a defensive force that’s really raised eyebrows. He tied Martin Havlat for a team-best plus-7 rating and, along with Marleau and TJ Galiardi, has formed San Jose’ top shutdown line.

Couture also led the Sharks with 51 blocked shots in the abbreviated season, second among all NHL forwards (only New York’s Ryan Callahan had more).

Looking ahead, it’s possible Couture will match up with Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler in the opening playoff round.

Thornton drew the majority of the assignment during the 2011 Western Conference finals, but Couture said he’d relish the opportunity to square off against the 2011 Selke Trophy winner this time around.

“He battles, he’s a competitor, he’s hard on pucks. He just makes it tough to play against,” Couture said of Kesler. “He’s just one of the tougher centers to play against in the Western Conference.

“I look forward to the challenge if we do happen to match up against him.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.

Video: Flyers lose Schultz after big hit from McIlrath


It looks like the injury bug has taken another chunk out of the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers, who are already without Mark Streit, Ryan White and R.J. Umberger, have now lost Nick Schultz to injury.

Schultz left Saturday’s game against the Rangers in the first period after taking a hit from Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn went after McIlrath right after he delivered the hit and both players dropped the gloves.

Schultz did not return.

You can watch the entire sequence by clicking on the video at the top of the page.

The 33-year-old has just one assist in 23 games, but he leads the Flyers in blocked shots with 54.