Luongo, Kruger

BREAKING: Canucks could use a win tonight


By the end of the night’s action, the Vancouver Canucks could be six points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, and in fairly big trouble.

Or, they could be two points back, and things wouldn’t look quite so bad.

So yeah, tonight is sort of pivotal, given the way the standings look right now:


The Canucks host the Kings tonight, while the Coyotes are in Nashville and the Wild entertain the Blues.

The last time Vancouver missed the playoffs was 2007-08, when players like Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison were still with the club. Since then, the Canucks have won a pair of Presidents’ Trophies and made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. So the concern at the team’s current place in the standings is understandable.

Also understandable is the frustration. With the exception of Tuesday’s shootout loss to Florida, the Canucks have actually played quite well in recent home defeats. They got unlucky in a 2-1 overtime loss to San Jose; they outshot Dallas, 43-23, and lost by a goal; and on Saturday, it was a nine-second lapse versus the Blackhawks that cost them.

Based on possession stats like Corsi and Fenwick, the Canucks are one of the best teams in the NHL. But hockey games are decided by goals, and an inability to finish chances has cost Vancouver. Per Extra Skater, the Canucks’ shooting percentage is just 7.8, 24th overall.

Alex Burrows is the poster child for Vancouver’s snakebitten forwards. In 13 games, the 32-year-old has no goals on 42 shots. No NHL forward has that many shots without at least a goal.

“The worst part is you feel like you let your teammates down and it’s not a good feeling,” said Burrows, per The Province. “A goal here and there could change the storyline at the end of the night. You have to put in the extra work. Work harder in the gym and on the ice and prepare harder. Eat better and sleep better and if you do all those things, you’re going to get your luck.”

Burrows has a career shooting percentage of 13.1, so it’s not like he’s known for lacking finish.

Granted, the Canucks still have 57 games to pull themselves out of their Western Conference hole. Goalie Roberto Luongo said today that he doesn’t “look at the standings right now.”

Then again, he doesn’t really need to, given the constant reminders from media and fans.

Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

Here are the full rosters:


NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).

Goalie nods: Andersen’s ‘flu-like symptoms’ mean Khudobin starts versus Flames

Anton Khudobin, Frederik Andersen
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With Frederik Andersen experiencing “flu-like symptoms” (PHT diagnosis: it might be the flu), the Anaheim Ducks will turn to backup Anton Khudobin for tonight’s home game versus Calgary.

Khudobin could, in turn, be backed up by Josh Gibson, recalled today from AHL San Diego. The Ducks have officially listed Andersen as “questionable.”

Khudobin (3-3-0, .917) has not started a game in over a week. His last action came exactly a week ago, after Andersen got the hook versus Nashville.

Andersen may or may not travel with the Ducks for tomorrow’s game at Arizona.

The Ducks, of course, are coming off a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay, a result that produced the following quote from Ryan Kesler:

After a four-game winning streak to start November, Anaheim has since dropped five of its last seven.

Karri Ramo will be in net for the Flames. After a terrible start to the season, he’s been much better lately, allowing just eight goals combined in his last four starts.


Craig Anderson for the Senators. Antti Niemi for the Stars.

Torts: Jackets still need more ‘bite’

John Tortorella

The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.

The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.

Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.

“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”

The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.


— The Canucks need ‘more bite’

The Rangers are better when they have ‘more bite’

Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer


The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.

Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.

The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.

According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.

“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”

In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.

Related: Where’s the depth in San Jose?