Cory Schneider

Canucks’ Schneider: ‘It just seems like a lost year’

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In the wake of an opening-round sweep — and their second opening-round loss in a row — the Canucks are facing many questions about what the future has in store.

One player, though, summed up the present quite succinctly.

“It’s frustrating,” Cory Schneider told the Globe and Mail. “It just seems like a lost year for some of these guys and myself included.”

“Lost year” might be the perfect way to sum up this season, especially in goal.

Schneider spent the first year of his three-year, $12 million deal embroiled in an awkward situation while Roberto Luongo spent his 13th NHL campaign as an overpaid backup, appearing in a career-low 20 contests.

The situation in net overshadowed the entire season and hamstrung the Canucks on a number of fronts.

Not a day passed without questions about the Schneider-Luongo saga, and the financial pinch — the two ate up $9.3 million of cap space — stuck out like a sore thumb.

When looking at the collective age of the club, the “lost year” comment rings especially true, and has to burn.

Core players like Dan Hamhuis, Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin are all now on the wrong side of 30 and, by the start of next season, so too will Chris Higgins.

As such, GM Mike Gillis is receiving a tremendous amount of heat for his decision to stand largely pat (or stubborn, depending on your perspective).

Here’s Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun:

Meanwhile, Canuck management is carrying a plethora of albatrosses into the off-season — roughly $13.8 million worth of wasted contracts with Roberto Luongo twiddling his thumbs, Keith Ballard evidently consigned to the discard heap and the ever-injured, grossly overrated David Booth taking up space — and unless Gillis can go, cap in hand, to owner Francesco Aquilini and ask him to buy out a couple of them, and eat some of Luongo’s salary in order to move him, they will be hamstrung when they try to re-stock the shelves…

…And still we search in vain for the compelling reason to fire Vigneault that’s such a popular theme as this team’s era of excellence winds down, and Gillis’s loyal cornermen try to misdirect the responsibility.

Anyone who thinks that arranging the forward lines differently, or changing the defence pairs, or putting this player or that out on the ice at the end of a game would have made the difference is dreaming in Technicolor.

Should be an interesting offseason in Vancouver.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”