They can’t score. They can’t hold on to the lead. And so the Vancouver Canucks will head into the Olympic break having lost seven straight games.
The Canucks claimed a 1-0 lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs after two periods but gave up three unanswered goals in a 3-1 loss before a national Canadian television audience. Dating back to the end of December, the Canucks have just four wins in their last 20 games, and have fallen out of a playoff position in the battle for the two Western Conference Wild Card spots.
Injuries have taken their toll. The Canucks were without captain Henrik Sedin, who is out with a rib injury and will miss the Sochi Olympics as a result. Mike Santorelli is gone for the remainder of the season after shoulder surgery. No Kevin Bieksa or Chris Tanev on the blue line, either.
Toronto’s goals – from former Canuck Mason Raymond, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk – came in a span of four minutes and 42 seconds. The Leafs got a fortunate bounce on the van Riemsdyk goal – the puck deflected up in the air and then hit off the body of Canucks’ defenseman Alex Edler and past Roberto Luongo.
The Leafs have now 11 wins in their last 14 games. So tonight’s match-up started as two teams headed in opposite directions and it finished that way, too.
The Leafs did, however, lose forward Jay McClement with an upper-body injury, the club announced at the start of the third period. McClement crashed awkwardly into the boards in the second period.
Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.
Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.
Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.
This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.
With the start of the regular season just around the corner, it looks like Robby Fabbri will not only make his NHL debut on Thursday, but also get meaningful minutes.
During Sunday’s practice the 19-year-old forward played alongside Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz. Nothing is set in stone, but that combination did gel.
“I think we want to look at what the combinations look like now rather than do it at the start of the season,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re looking at a hard match line and we’re also looking at taking advantage of speed and skill off the rush.
“I really liked what I saw today. I really liked Lehtera’s line, they looked very dynamic off the rush.”
The top line of Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Tarasenko seems like a good bet to play together for the time being. Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz will stick together on the second line while Dmitrij Jaskin and David Backes can expect to be regular partners on the third unit. The X-factors will be Fabbri and Troy Brouwer as Hitchcock has left the door open to alternating between the two of them on the second and third line depending on the opponent.
Fabbri was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is looking to make the leap after a brief stint in the AHL last season. At the OHL level, he’s been a dominate force with the Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games in 2014-15.