Lindy Ruff

Stars’ Ruff gets 600th win vs. long-time team Sabres


Lindy Ruff won 571 games as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, so it only seems fitting that his 600th came against his old team as the Dallas Stars bested Buffalo 3-2 on Monday.

Here’s video of the game-winning goal, which was credited to Alex Chiasson:

Whether they decide to dangle him in a trade or not, Stars veteran Ray Whitney had a nice night, collecting two assists. The Stars hammered 37 shots on Jhonas Enroth, who kept Buffalo in the game despite a serious disparity in play.

Chris Stewart didn’t have the greatest debut (or some wonder, lone appearance) in Buffalo, registering a -2 rating in 17:24 minutes. Jaroslav Halak watched the game – likely to keep him healthy in case the right trade offer comes – but Matt Moulson continues to pump up his trade value, as the forward added two assists today.

With the Minnesota Wild also winning today, the Stars kept pace with the West’s bubble teams. Here is how the West wild card race looks as of this evening:

Two wild card teams

Minnesota: 75 points in 62 games played
Dallas: 68 points in 61 GP

Bubble teams (cutoff at 60+ points)

Winnipeg: 66 points in 62 GP
Vancouver: 66 points in 63 GP
Phoenix: 65 points in 61 GP
Nashville: 62 points in 61 GP

Ruff already won his return home to Buffalo. It’s possible the former Sabres coach might just squeeze into the playoffs thanks in part to victories against Buffalo, but the Stars still have a long way to go.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado