While he wouldn’t come out and say it, Islanders head coach Jack Capuano was none too pleased with Evgeni Nabokov’s performance in Tuesday’s 5-4 OT loss to Vancouver.
“I’m not going to talk about the goaltending,” Capuano told Newsday. “Their goals are tough to explain tonight. It’s not like there were a lot of breakdowns.
“We’ve got to move on.”
The Canucks loss was Nabokov’s second straight iffy outing. He wasn’t especially sharp in a 4-3 loss to Carolina on Saturday either, allowing four goals on 23 shots (though, to be fair, Nabokov appeared shaken up on a collision with defenseman Matt Carkner midway through the second, but stayed in the game.)
The Isles came into this season with a big question mark in goal. Nabokov was exposed during last year’s six-game loss to Pittsburgh in the opening playoff round and his backup, Kevin Poulin, entered this season with exactly 21 games of NHL experience.
But now it sounds like Poulin might be getting his big break.
The 23-year-old ‘tender will apparently get his big shot in the not-too-distant future, a real chance to play extended minutes for the first time in his career.
“If Poulin plays well, he’s going to play more,” Capuano said.
Poulin’s only appeared once this year — stopping 25 of 28 shots in a 3-2 loss to Chicago — but could be back in goal soon. The Isles play a Friday/Saturday back-to-back against Pittsburgh and Philly, then have a big home date against the Rangers, their in-state rivals, on Tuesday.
With training camp and the preseason now in full swing, it appears the Bruins are bringing in a veteran blue liner — at least on a professional tryout.
On Friday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that unrestricted free agent blue liner Christian Ehrhoff is about to join Boston on a PTO following his showing at the World Cup of Hockey.
In six games with Team Europe, Ehrhoff had three assists — all at even strength — and nine shots on goal.
Ehrhoff is now 34 years old, and the Bruins already have a pair of seasoned defenders in Zdeno Chara (39 years old) and John-Michael Liles (35 years old) on their roster. Adam McQuaid turns 30 years old in October.
He was most productive during two seasons in Vancouver, a puck-moving defenseman that could effectively skate the puck out of trouble and move the attack that way if need be. But that was from 2009 to 2011. His production has dipped, especially over the last three years.
He was also pivotal to Vancouver’s power play, especially in 2011 when the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy and made it to the Stanley Cup Final — against Boston.
Again, that was five years ago.
Lehner (forearm contusion) to miss preseason game versus Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.
“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.
“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”
(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)
Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.
The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.
McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious
It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.
The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.