Jared Cowen

Cowen contract talks hit ‘stalemate,’ says Sens asst. GM

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Jared Cowen has already missed the first few days of Ottawa’s training camp and, by the sounds of it, he’s in line to miss many more.

That’s what Senators assistant GM Tim Murray told the Ottawa Sun on Friday, saying talks between the club and Cowen, the prized RFA defenseman, have stalled.

“We both made proposals a day apart. They turned down ours and we turned down theirs. I guess we’re at a stalemate,” Murray explained. “We’ve talked a lot. I have to say we’ve closed the gap a little bit but it seems to me we’re at a stalemate.”

The Cowen negotiations have been acrimonious for a while.

Last week, reports from the Sun claimed Ottawa tabled an eight-year, $28 million deal similar to the one Isles defenseman Travis Hamonic (seven years, $28 million) signed in July.

It seemed as though Ottawa wanted to lock up Cowen for as long as possible, to avoid him going to arbitration (he has rights next year) or losing him as a UFA.

While intriguing, a long-term deal failed to gain traction and now appears off the table.

The new focus is on a four-year pact.

Here’s more, from the Sun:

While Murray and Cowen’s agent Rick Valette held talks as recently as Tuesday, neither is willing to budge. Sources told the Sun the Senators have offered Cowen a four-year, $11.2 million deal while he is seeking $12.2-to-$12.6 million on the same term.

“They felt they were leaving too much money on the table,” said Murray. “We’ve been talking four year deals. I have no problem saying that.

“Four year deals is fair to both sides. He gets to establish himself as a top player.”

Murray added he doesn’t “know what [Valette] is thinking on this,” and that “it has taken us two months to get in the same stratosphere on a four-year deal.”

Cowen — a towering presence at 6-foot-5, 230-pounds — missed almost all of last year recovering from hip surgery, part of why he’s yet to cement himself as a “top player.”

The hulking rearguard did play all 82 games in 2011-12 (his rookie campaign) scoring 5G-12A-17PTS while leading all Sens defensemen in hits.

In the ’12 postseason he upped the ante in a seven-game loss to the Rangers, leading all skaters with 28 hits.

Hitch’s recipe for more goals is a pretty simple one

Ken Hitchcock, David Backes, Dmitrij Jaskin, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund
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Ken Hitchcock wants the Blues to spend more time attacking and less time defending.

Because hockey isn’t rocket science, that’s why.

“To score and win games in the National Hockey League…you have to spend as much time in the offensive zone as you can,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch.

“When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, you’re forechecking more. When you’re occupying the offensive zone more, the goalie has to make saves. They’re having to defend more. And the opposing team takes penalties on you. So they’re all connected. … What I want to see from us is staying on the puck for longer stretches.”

According to the stats, the Blues have not been spending as much time in the offensive zone as we’re used to seeing from them. In fact, in their last 20 games, they rank in the bottom third of the league in score-adjusted Corsi. That compares to their first 20 games when they were in the top third.

The result is fewer shots, and more importantly, fewer goals. The Blues have fallen all the way to 25th in offense, averaging just 2.37 goals per game. Last year, they finished fifth (2.91).

Yes, some of that may be due to the absence of Jaden Schwartz, and he should be back soon. But there’s a reason people are watching GM Doug Armstrong as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. This team could probably use another piece up front.

The Blues host Minnesota Saturday.

St. Louis has scored just five goals in its last five games.

Goalie nods: Lindback ‘really excited’ for first start in almost three weeks

Anders Lindback
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Tonight in Anaheim, Anders Lindback will make his first start for the Arizona Coyotes since Jan. 16.

The Coyotes have been riding rookie Louis Domingue since just before Christmas, but Domingue has allowed five goals in each of his last three starts, including last night’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.

Lindback’s last appearance came Tuesday in relief, when he allowed one goal on 10 shots in a 6-2 loss to the Kings.

Lindback was in goal for one of Arizona’s three victories this season over Anaheim, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 9. However, his .896 save percentage ranks among the lowest in the league.

Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.

Elsewhere…

— No word yet on a Penguins starter in Tampa, but Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes in Winnipeg, where Connor Hellebuyck is expected for the increasingly desperate Jets.

— Joonas Korpisalo was solid last night in Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have not announced their starter for tonight’s game in Calgary. Karri Ramo will be in goal for the Flames.

A ‘pretty solid two-way player,’ Sundqvist to make NHL debut for Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins' Oskar Sundqvist (49) collides with Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of a NHL preseason hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The latest Penguins injuries, these ones to Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr, have led to an opportunity for Oskar Sundqvist.

Sundqvist will make his NHL debut for the Penguins tonight in Tampa. The 21-year-old center has five goals and 11 assists in 39 AHL games this season.

“Sunny’s a pretty solid two-way player,” coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Tribune-Review.

“I don’t think he’s going to dazzle you with flashy plays, but I think he’s a guy who plays the game the right way. He’s hard to play against because of his size. He’s got a long reach, and he’s got a good stick.”

Sundqvist was selected 81st overall by the Pens in 2012. He’ll become the fourth player out of that Pittsburgh draft class to make his NHL debut, after Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, and Matt Murray.

Veteran Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the second line, skating with wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel.

Related: Nick Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury

John Scott’s wife gives birth to twin girls

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As if John Scott wasn’t already having a great week, now he’s the proud father of twin girls.

The Montreal Canadiens shared the good news via their Twitter account today.

Scott, the unlikely 2016 All-Star Game MVP, is currently back home in Michigan; however, he’s expected to resume his career at some point with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

When, exactly, he suits up for the IceCaps remains to be seen, but it won’t be tonight or tomorrow.

Related: Therrien on Canadiens possibly recalling John Scott: ‘You never know’