jasonspezzagetty

Spezza admits ‘picture is not looking good’ for Sens’ playoff chances

4 Comments

After a rough weekend in which they only managed to secure one point from two games, the Ottawa Senators know their playoff outlook appears grim.

Just ask the captain.

“The picture is not looking good right now,” Jason Spezza said, per the Ottawa Citizen. “So we can’t look at it.”

Ottawa came into this weekend essentially needing all four points, but saw those hopes dashed after blowing a 4-1 lead over Montreal with less than four minutes remaining on Saturday — eventually losing in OT — then losing against Colorado on Sunday despite outshooting the Avs 39-22.

As such, the Sens are now in serious danger of missing the postseason for just the third time in the last 17 seasons — and missing would be a major disappointment. Losing long-serving captain Daniel Alfredsson to free agency in the summer was a potential foreshadow for struggle, and the team looked shaky out of the gate by going just 10-11-4 over its first 25 games of the season.

That said, Ottawa did rally to go into the Olympic break in reasonably good shape — 26-22-11 — and ID’d itself as a buyer at the trade deadline, sending a pair of picks to Edmonton in exchange for Ales Hemsky.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of reaction owner Eugene Melnyk will receive should the Sens miss the playoffs. He’s been highly-criticized throughout the year for both how the Alfredsson situation played out, and the club’s internal salary cap — Ottawa is operating at around $56 million, and part of the Hemsky deal was contingent upon Edmonton picking up some of his salary.

That review might be a bit premature, though, because it’s not like the Sens are throwing in the towel on this season just yet.

“We’ve got to win games,” Spezza said. “We’ve got 15 games left. We’re not going to throw in the towel right now. We’ve still got to play the games. We’re frustrated with this weekend, especially because we knew it was an important weekend.

“But we’ve got 15 games left. Let’s see if we can put something together here. I’ve seen it done before.”

Video: Pavelski gives Sharks the lead as they look to clinch berth in Stanley Cup Final

Leave a comment

Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.

Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.

For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.

The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.

San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.

Canucks trade Jared McCann to the Panthers for Erik Gudbranson

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Jared McCann #91 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have made a trade — and it’s a big one.

As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two main components are forward Jared McCann, who just completed his rookie season with the Canucks, and 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has played five seasons with the Florida Panthers.

Here are the details:

McCann is the second draft selection of the Jim Benning-Trevor Linden era, taken 24th overall in 2014. As a 19-year-old rookie armed with a big-league wrist shot, he scored nine goals and 18 points while averaging 12:31 of ice time per game in 69 games.

The Canucks had the option of sending McCann back to junior last season and not burning a year of his entry-level deal, but they chose to keep him in Vancouver for the entire year.

One particular aspect of his development, particularly this off-season, was a need to get physically stronger, which was something that could be exposed at times in the defensive end against bigger forwards.

Gudbranson, selected third overall in 2010 and signed to a one-year, $3.5 million extension earlier this month, certainly gives the Canucks size on the back end at six-foot-five-inches tall, a physical presence and a right shot on the blue line, but he has managed only 13 points as a single-season career best and that was in 2014-15.

The Canucks also gave up two picks in this year’s draft.

 

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Leave a comment

It has been an Eastern Conference Final full of twists and turns in the plot.

Exhibit A: The goaltending situation for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

That began right away, in the first period of Game 1 when Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice with a lower-body injury. Since then, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been The Guy for the Lightning, which will face the Penguins in a Game 7, winner-take-all contest, in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Of the many storylines heading into this contest, one that stands out is it’s expected to be a goaltending duel between the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy and the Matt Murray, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.

(Remember when Penguins coach Mike Sullivan went with Marc-Andre Fleury to start over Murray in Game 5, only to switch back to Murray for a must-win Game 6? Another plot twist.)

Bolts head coach Jon Cooper had previously left the door open to the possibility that Bishop could return in this series. On Wednesday, however, he told reporters he’ll meet with his staff but does not anticipate Bishop being in for Game 7.

“I think Andrei is the big reason we’re in Game 7,” said Cooper.

“He’s made big save after big save for us. The one thing that I do like that’s happened to him finally in this series is, you know, he finally started a playoff game and won, whereas his other playoff wins were always in relief, and he’s won in Pittsburgh. So you’ve got to like the kid feels pretty comfortable playing there, and we like that.”

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 6

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues, Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks, and Joe Thornton #19 argue with a referee during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch

On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott

The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko

Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday