Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Sutter

Torts admits Canucks are ‘fragile’


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.”

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?