Leipold AP

Wild owner defends coach, feels team took step forward

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When the Minnesota Wild acquired forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter last year, the question was how much the team instantly improved. The 2011-12 Wild didn’t come close to making the playoffs, but with two new star players on the roster, there was excitement about the franchise’s future.

In the end, they barely made the postseason in 2013 and were eliminated in five games by the Chicago Blackhawks. With that in mind, Wild owner Craig Leipold was asked how he viewed the 2013 campaign.

“I would say success,” Leipold told the Star Tribune. “Clearly moved forward, got better [but] feel a little empty. I feel like we didn’t accomplish what I thought we had the ability to do.”

Leipold feels the team is moving in the right direction and when the speculation about Wild coach Mike Yeo’s job being on the line was brought to him, he was quick to defend the bench boss.

“I can just tell you that we like Mike,” Leipold said. “He’s our guy. If some list puts him on the hot seat, that’s just people doing that. That’s not going to affect us.”

He also feels the team had some tough breaks that might have contributed to the way their season ended. Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville both suffered late season injuries and even when Pominville returned “he wasn’t himself.”

On top of that, they lost starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom during the warmups for Game 1 of their first round series.

“That stuff just doesn’t happen,” Leipold said. “That’s like a movie. So those are some of the reasons we feel like we just didn’t have the breaks. But we also didn’t achieve what we thought we could do.”

Going forward, Leipold doesn’t expect the team to be aggressive on the free agent market because they don’t have the cap space for that, but “everything’s on the table” as far as trades go.

He doesn’t think the Wild have the same depth as the Blackhawks team that defeated them, but he doesn’t believe the gap is big.

“Yeah, we’re a couple players off, but we’re not that far off,” he said. “I do believe that.”

WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Penguins from Heinz Field

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 15: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins go toe-to-toe prior to fighting during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 15, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going to take their rivalry outside on Saturday.

The Flyers visit the Penguins in a Stadium Series clash at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch the action on NBC or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field

Kris Letang won’t play in outdoor game; Schultz game-time decision

NHL On NBC: Penguins, Flyers meet in Stadium Series

Giroux: ‘It’s all business’ between Penguins and Flyers at Heinz Field

We have a (minor league) trade to announce: Coyotes and Bolts swap AHL forwards

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  Vice President & General Manager, Alternate Governor Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes have made a minor league trade.

The Bolts on Saturday acquired right winger Stefan Fournier from the Coyotes in exchange for right winger Jeremy Morin, who has played 82 career NHL games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Fournier stands six-foot-three-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has two goals and four points in 29 games with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the AHL.

Morin, who has spent the majority of his pro career in the Blackhawks organization, has been a productive minor league player over the years. He has nine goals and 21 points in 43 games this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

 

 

Blue Jackets chase Greiss from Islanders net

FILE - In this March 12, 2016, file photo, New York Islanders goalieThomas Greiss pauses during the team's NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins in Boston. Greiss has received the bulk of the starts after starting goalie Jarsolav Halak was injured last month. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
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The New York Islanders entered today with a three-game winning streak and holders of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

But yeah, it’s been a disastrous start for the Islanders on Saturday. The Blue Jackets scored three times in the first period, chasing Thomas Greiss from the New York net after he stopped 14 of 17 shots faced.

Jean-Francois Berube entered the game to begin the second period and promptly surrendered a goal to Josh Anderson, who scored his 12th of the season.

Video: The Ducks and Kings brawl — again

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Oh, look at that: Another heated melee involving the Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings.

You’ll recall a first-period fight fest in a pivotal Pacific Division game between these teams almost one full year ago. On Saturday, in another meeting between these California rivals, the Ducks and Kings were once again at odds.

This latest conflict? Well, Corey Perry was involved. Again. (Last year, order had been restored during a brief scrum before Perry gave an extra shot to a Kings player, resulting in mayhem.)

Perry was called this time around for interference on Anze Kopitar. Kings players, as you might expect, suddenly rushed over before Nate Thompson and Brayden McNabb squared off in the main event.