John Tortorella went as far to say that the Vancouver Canucks were “fragile” on the heels of their losing streak climbing to five games, yet what does it say about a team when you win a dog fight?
That’s how Mike Santorelli described the end of Vancouver’s 2-1 win against the St. Louis Blues on Friday, as PHT’s own Cam Tucker reports.
However you describe it, the Canucks ended their five-game skid while the Blues saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end thanks to this result. Santorelli scored the clinching goal in the third period while Eddie Lack came through for Vancouver, making 30 out of 31 saves.
Really, the Canucks probably deserved better during their five-game lull. Three of those five contests ended beyond regulation and only won loss (3-1 against the Kings in Los Angeles) came by more than one goal.
The Canucks better rest this weekend, as the next week could be awfully trying; they face the Kings in Los Angeles again on Monday, the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday and then turn around for a road game against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday. In other words, Vancouver better be ready for another dog fight or three.
(Interestingly, the Blues face the same three opponents next week, although all three games take place in St. Louis and obviously in a different order).
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.