Henrik Sedin, Nicklas Jensen, Jason Garrison

Playoff bubble watch — Canucks edition


This may be the last week we can do a bubble watch for the Canucks, so let’s get it in while there’s still a mathematical possibility of Vancouver making the playoffs.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Canucks have a 2.0 percent chance of making the postseason. But…BUT…if they win all 10 of their remaining games, that probability leaps all the way to 87.0 percent.

OK, so it’s very, very unlikely that Vancouver gets in. Basically, the Canucks need to be almost perfect — and there hasn’t been a whole lot to suggest they’re capable of being that — and/or hope that both Dallas and Phoenix choke.

source:  Safe to say, once this season’s hope has been officially extinguished, there are going to be some big decisions for this club to make. And it will start with general manager Mike Gillis. Because whoever is making the personnel decisions — be it Gillis or a new general manager — will have to decide whether to keep John Tortorella behind the bench, and then whether to trade the likes of Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler, or anyone else that can help the team “get younger, faster and stronger.”

Vancouver last missed the playoffs in 2008. Since then, the Canucks have enjoyed their finest stretch of play since the franchise entered the NHL in 1970. Two times they won the Presidents’ Trophy. They had a trip all the way Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. A Hart Trophy and Art Ross for Henrik Sedin. Another Art Ross for Daniel Sedin. A Selke for Kesler.

Is it the end of an era? Or, can an offseason retooling — as opposed to a full rebuild — bring Vancouver back into contention?

At the very least, Canucks fans have reason to keep watching in young Nicklas Jensen, the 2011 first-round pick who’s scored three times since being called up from the AHL earlier this month.

“I think it’s great for the organization, not just for the team now, but for the future to see guys coming in and pushing for spots,” said Henrik Sedin. “It’s when you have young guys pushing for spots from below and that’s something we haven’t had for … 10 years.”

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

Leave a comment

Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

Leave a comment

Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.