Winless in their last five — including Tuesday’s lamentable 3-2 shootout loss to Florida — and struggling badly to score goals, the Vancouver Canucks had some new forward lines yesterday at practice.
Chris Higgins – Henrik Sedin – Jannik Hansen
Daniel Sedin – Mike Santorelli – Ryan Kesler
Alex Burrows – Brad Richardson – Zack Kassian
Jeremy Welsh – Tom Sestito – Dale Weise
(Extras: David Booth and Zac Dalpe)
But there wasn’t a ton of thought given to the latest combinations, according to head coach John Tortorella. With just six goals scored in the last five games, the Canucks are just hoping something — anything — will work.
“We’re throwing it against the wall here a little bit and see what sticks,” said Tortorella, per The Province. “I’m being honest with you. I don’t like splitting up, and one thing I know that works is Santorelli and Higgins. But again, we haven’t scored and I’m not sure where it goes or how long it goes and we’ll see if we can find our way.”
Vancouver hasn’t played poorly the entire five-game winless stretch. The Canucks probably deserved a better fate in games versus San Jose and Dallas, but the Florida effort was different, with Tortorella calling it “easily our worst game of the year.”
Tonight, it’s the Columbus Blue Jackets paying a visit to Rogers Arena. Tomorrow, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Canucks are already six points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They need to start winning some games.
“In the past, we didn’t look at the standings because we didn’t have to,” said captain Henrik Sedin. “Now, it’s so tough.”
Related: Booth needs to ‘make the same sort of effort everyone else is making,’ says Canucks GM
Desperate for a win and hosting the NHL-leading Washington Capitals, the Minnesota Wild be without defenseman Jared Spurgeon for a second straight game.
“No Spurgeon tonight,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said this morning. “He’s not ready.”
Spurgeon has already missed one game, Tuesday’s 4-3 OT loss to Dallas. He suffered a “deep bruise” Saturday in St. Louis, and his status for this Saturday’s game against Boston is uncertain.
The Wild are also missing d-man Jonas Brodin, currently on injured reserve with a broken foot.
That’s two significant injuries on the back end, as Spurgeon and Brodin each average over 20 minutes in ice time.
In a related story, Ryan Suter played a season-high 33:15 against the Stars, while AHL call-up Mike Reilly was out there for just 12:27.
Related: Yeo was ‘disappointed’ to see Hoppy the rabbit holding a ‘YEO MUST GO’ sign
Perhaps Joel Quenneville was right to storm out of Tuesday’s press conference after expressing frustration with a disallowed goal.
On Thursday, Quenneville told reporters the NHL didn’t agree with the call made during Chicago’s 2-0 loss to San Jose — a decision in which Brandon Mashinter’s tally was wiped out, after officials judged Dennis Rasmussen had interfered with Martin Jones.
Mashinter’s disallowed goal came just days after Chicago was on the wrong end of another overturned marker. Last Thursday the ‘Hawks had one during an eventual win over Arizona, a call that sent Quenneville into histrionics on the bench.
Coach Q said storming out of Tuesday’s postgame presser was a culmination of calls going against his club, adding that the league provided a more detailed explanation of how and why these decisions are being made.
“I just think, we had a couple of occurrences in a short amount of time so obviously a little frustration there,” Quenneville said, per ESPN. “But we did speak to the league and got some [clarification] on the play.
“I just think there’s education across the board and you have a lot of people in the middle of the process making the decisions. As long as we’re getting right is what we’re looking for.”
From our friends at CSN Chicago:
Artemi Panarin will miss his second consecutive game due to illness and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars Thursday night at the United Center.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Panarin’s illness is “hopefully not long term, but he’s definitely out tonight.” Quenneville added that it’s comparable to what ailed Jonathan Toews prior to the All-Star break. Toews played through his illness for about a week but finally had to sit out the third period of the Blackhawks’ Jan. 26 game at Carolina. Toews also missed the All-Star weekend due to that illness and was suspended against Colorado on Feb. 2.
Panarin has 18 goals and 34 assists in 56 games, his 52 points by far the most among NHL rookies. Detroit’s Dylan Larkin is a distant second with 38.
This morning, Richard Panik skated in Panarin’s spot with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane.
Christian Ehrhoff has cleared waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
The Kings made the 33-year-old defenseman available yesterday. It’s expected he’ll be assigned to AHL Ontario, with 23-year-old d-man Kevin Gravel getting called up.
“Nothing wrong with Christian Ehrhoff,” coach Darryl Sutter told reporters Wednesday. “We’re not exactly world beaters here. We don’t have the best defense in the league or the best team in the league. We’re trying to get better in a hurry.”
In addition to the Ehrhoff news, goalie Peter Budaj has been added to the Kings’ roster on the NHL’s media website, meaning Jonathan Quick (reportedly “day-to-day” with an injury sustained Tuesday in Boston) could miss some time.