Winless in their last five, the Vancouver Canucks are a “fragile” team.
Head coach John Tortorella didn’t hesitate to admit it last night after the Pittsburgh Penguins scored twice in the final 71 seconds to tie it, ultimately winning 5-4 in the shootout.
“But that’s part of growing as a team,” said Tortorella, notably calm and composed after such a tough loss. “That’s what’s on us. Yeah, I think it’s fragile. I think all teams get in this state; it’s how quickly you can get out of it. That’s the important thing for our club right now; it’s how to change the momentum.”
Last night’s blown lead wasn’t the first of the season for Vancouver. In fact, it wasn’t even the first in the last week. Sunday in Anaheim, the Ducks tied it with 87 seconds left and won in the final tick of overtime.
For the Canucks, it sure feels a long way from 2010-11, when, if anything, they were accused of overconfidence and arrogance.
It also won’t get any easier anytime soon. Friday, the Blues pay a visit to Rogers Arena. Then, it’s a three-game trip to Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix.
“The state of our team right now, we’ve gotta just try to get the positives and build off it,” said Tortorella, who seemed pleased with the overall performance versus the Penguins, save for the late collapse.
“There’s no sense in whining about it. There’s no sense in looking for excuses. We just have to continue to try and get better as a team.”
Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.
Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.
In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.
Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced that three KHL players have been suspended after testing positive for banned substances.
Here’s an excerpt from the KHL’s website:
The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances.
Derek Smith tested positive for a category S6.а stimulant.
Andrei Konev tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant.
Danis Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents.
Zapirov, who was part of Team Russia at the 2010 Olympic Games, has been banned from suiting up in “competitive hockey” until May 22, 2019. Konev will be unable to play until Nov. 19, 2017, while Smith, who is Canadian, will be suspended until Sep. 2, 2018.
Smith, 32, played in 94 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames between 2009-10 and 2013-14.
The Arizona Coyotes have a new head coach, but Rick Tocchet still has to fill out the rest of his staff.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the ‘Yotes might be looking to add John MacLean to their coaching staff.
MacLean, 52, spent six years as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils (2002-2009) before becoming the head coach of their AHL affiliate. After one year of coaching in the minors, MacLean was promoted to head coach of the Devils. His tenure didn’t last very long, as he was fired after just 33 games (they were 9-22-2 under his watch).
He spent the following three seasons as an assistant in Carolina, but he was let go after the 2014 season.
MacLean hasn’t been back behind an NHL bench since being let go by the ‘Canes. Instead, he’s served as a hockey analyst on various television networks.
—Tocchet wants Coyotes’ young players to be ‘creative’ and ‘calculated’
—Tocchet brings lessons from past mistakes (and successes) to Coyotes
The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with goalie Robin Lehner, as they inked him to a one-year, $4 million contract on Tuesday morning.
Lehner and the Sabres were scheduled to have their hearing on July 27, but that obviously won’t be necessary anymore.
The 26-year-old played a career-high 59 games in 2016-17. He finished the year with a 23-26-8 record, a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.
There’s no doubt that he’s a talented netminder, but he’s had his share of struggles when it comes to staying healthy and being consistent. Of course, the team in front of him hasn’t been very good either.
Both of Buffalo’s goalies (Lehner and Chad Johnson) will have something to prove this season because they’re both on one-year contracts. When their deals expire next summer, Lehner will be a restricted free agent again, while Johnson will be free to test the market on July 1st.
The Sabres now have just over $10.9 million in cap space with RFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Nathan Beaulieu and Evan Rodrigues still needing new contracts.
A huge extension for Jack Eichel is also on the horizon, but his new salary won’t count on the cap until 2018-19.